Roman Catholicism… REALLY?

I grew up Roman Catholic. I know some very fine Catholics who are saved beyond a doubt. However, I know just as many, if not more who are not. But that’s not my problem with the Roman Catholic Church, as I know just as many protestants who are not saved.

Let me try to voice some of the problems I have with Roman Catholicism.

Until recently, the church frowned on people knowing their Bible.

Catholicism is often married to some local heathen religion, rather than sticking to what the Word of God says.

One Catholic (a former Protestant minister) said, “In the end you need an infallible interpreter and His name is Peter and his successor is Benedict XVI. This is the one church that won’t change its view on morality or doctrine because it has been promised by Christ that our doctrines are the Truth.”

I don’t get calling Peter infallible interpreter. We know that Peter was not infallible before Christ died.

Mark 8:33

“But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

And we know Peter was fallible afterwards:

Galatians 2:11-12

“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.”

 Granted, I accept God inspired Peter to write his epistles. But to call him an infallible interpreter, and to suggest he had a successor is to go beyond biblical evidence. The latter is only based on the arrogant desires of Stephen bishop of Rome around AD 253-257, and the importance the church of Rome took on during Constantine’s reign. Until that time, all the bishops of a geographic area were under the authority of a single bishop, and all bishops the various geographic areas were considered to be equals.

What makes the Roman Pope more likely to have primacy rather than the bishop of Jerusalem or any other area? What makes the Pope position (the leader of the church, if there is one single leader on earth) move from Peter to a church leader in Rome, instead of to the Apostle John, who lived much longer than Peter, and was the disciple whom Jesus loved? This especially becomes an important question since all the Apostles led the church as equals.

I have heard it said that Peter is the rock upon which Christ would build His church. But in fact, this goes against scripture.

The scripture verse used to support this is:

Matthew 16:18

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Catholics believe the church was founded upon Peter (and so making Peter the first ‘pope’) because Peter means rock. But Christ was not speaking of Peter as a person upon which the church would be built, but that the faith Peter had made him a stone, which would be used to build the church, with Christ Himself as the foundation stone. This is the only reading of this scripture which aligns with the other scriptures saying CHRIST is the rock upon which the church is built.

Let us look at the context of this verse, following the normal  hermeneutic process  of looking at the greater text and then looking at other Scripture passages that relate to the subject in question.

Matthew 16:15-18 

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and ON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD BY CHURCH, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 

Now, we do not know if Jesus spoke in Aramaic or Greek, but even so, Peter DOES mean rock. But this does not mean Christ was saying that Peter would be the foundational stone upon which He would build His church. If this were the case, it would contradict other scripture that clearly stats otherwise.

Christ warned the Jews of what would happen, that they would reject Him, and He would become the capstone.

Psalm 118:21-23

 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;  you have become my salvation.  22 The stone the builders rejected  has become the capstone; 23 the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

Mt 21:42:43

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes”? 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

Mk 12:10-12 is similar, except vs 12 adds,

“Then they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.”

If Peter was the foundation upon which the church was built, why would Peter saying exactly CHRIST is the foundation stone in 1 Peter 2:6?

6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I LAY A STONE IN ZION, A CHOSEN AND PRECIOUS CORNERSTONE, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 

And then in Acts 4:8-12, we see Christ is the capstone.

Acts 4:8-12 

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. HE IS THE STONE YOU BUILDERS REJECTED, WHICH HAS BECOME THE CAPSTONE. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

Note, CHRIST is the cornerstone, the foundational stone used to construct a building, as well as the capstone (the finishing stone in a building). Salvation is found in no one else.

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the SPIRITUAL ROCK that accompanied them, and THAT ROCK WAS CHRIST.

Even the people of Israel who left Egypt ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; the SPIRITUAL ROCK WAS CHRIST.

Ephesians 2:19-21 

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with CHRIST JESUS HIMSELF AS THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE. IN HIM THE WHOLE BUILDING IS JOINED TOGETHER AND RISES TO BECOME A HOLY TEMPLE IN THE LORD.

It is CHRIST who is the chief CORNERSTONE of the WHOLE BUILDING, a HOLY TEMPLE (the church), not Peter.

People who believe Christ is the Son of God are living stones – speaking of the faith believers have. Peter showed he was a stone (of faith) because He said Christ was the Son of God.

Even Peter Himself said believers are living stones and CHRIST was the foundational stone used to build God’s spiritual house.

1 Peter 2:5-8

YOU, also, LIKE LIVING STONES, ARE BEIING BUILT INTO A SPIRITUAL HOUSE to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through JESUS CHRIST. For in Scripture it says: “See, I LAY A STONE IN ZION, A CHOSEN AND PRECIOUS CORNERSTONE, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, THIS STONE IS PRECIOUS. But to those who do not believe, “THE STONE THE BUILDERS REJECTED HAS BECOME THE CAPSTONE, AND A STONE THAT CAUSE MEN TO STUMBLE AND A ROCK THAT MAKES THEM FALL.” They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for.

GOD laid the cornerstone in ZION. For those who believe, the STONE is precious, and is the CORNERSTONE for the SPIRITUAL HOUSE being built of LIVING STONES (people who BELIEVE) – the church! For those who do not believe, the STONE causes men to stumble, the ROCK makes them fall.

So no, Peter is not that upon which the church was built. Christ was. It was believers of Christ being the Son of God who were used (as stones) to build it with.

Also given the problems I see in the history of Papal bulls contradicting one another, I find it difficult to accept the idea that any pope is any more infallible than any other man. Also, given that the Catholic church has changed what it says is right/wrong, (the inquisition and the refusal to allow translation of the Bible for instance) I don’t accept that the church does not change its position on morality.

If the popes are supposed to be infallible, why have later popes contradicted previous ones?

Also, where in the Bible did Christ promised the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are the truth (since the RCC never existed as a separate entity until the split from the Eastern Orthodox Church)? 

Since Christ often spoke in parables and used images, I have difficulty with the idea of transubstantiation, which I deal with in another post.

I also have difficulty with the idea of praying to Mary and other ‘saints’, when God said we are to worship HIM and HIM alone, and Christ and the Holy Spirit are our only intermediaries between us and God the Father, and we are not supposed to ‘consult spirits’ (Saul paid the price for that).

Romans 8:27

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

Romans 8:34

Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Hebrews 7:25-26

25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

I also have problems with the idea of a perpetual virginity for Mary. Notice that Scripture says Joseph had no sex with Mary until she gave birth to Jesus. This says she was a virgin when Jesus was born, but the word ‘until’ implies afterwards Joseph had sex with her.

Matthew 1:24-25

 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her UNTIL she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Also, she had other children later – at least James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon, as well as at least two sisters.

Mark 6:3

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary‘s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Also, When one uses the term ‘firstborn’, this implies there are other children born afterwards.

Luke 2:6

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus and when she delivered Him, but she was not one afterwards; she had sex and gave birth to other children.

I also have a problem with the penance and pardons/indulgences (Christ paid the price for all sins for all time for all who believe).

I have a problem with unmarried priests (especially since if Peter is supposed to be an example, he had a mother-in-law, which implies he had a wife).

In regards to Mary and saints acting as intercessors for people between God and Man, Scripture says otherwise.

1 Timothy 2:5

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

In regards to whether water baptism is required for entrance into heaven,
Christ HIMSELF said we need belief in Christ for eternal life- not baptism.

John 3:36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

John the Baptist said

Mark 1:8

I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

John 3:3-6

3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. ” 4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

Note, that Christ told us what it means to be born of water, that which comes from the mother’ flesh with an infant’s birth (flesh gives birth to flesh). In the same way, He told us what it is to be born again, Spirit give birth to spirit; that is to say to be born spiritually from the Holy Spirt.

Christ said we need to believe to have eternal life, not mentioning baptism,

in John 3:15-18

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Of course, water Baptism is commanded, but it is an issue of obedience, not salvation. If you believe, you will obey, which is exemplified through baptism.

Mat 28:19-20

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

But without faith, the obedience does not count.

Mark 16:15-16

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

We see that simple water baptism is insufficient, we must be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 

Acts 8:14-16

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Jailer and his family household believed, and only later were they baptized, note that nothing indicates infants were present. In fact, no scripture indicates infant baptism is appropriate. In this case, water baptism followed baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 16:31-33

 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.

Some people want to believe that all households have infants. However, this is not necessarily the case.  I have a household, with 5 kids living in it, none of them infants, but one is an adult. It is not true to say a household normally has infants. It IS true to say that a household, that has children, has an infant AT ONE POINT IN TIME.

Paul said we were baptized by the Holy Spirit not water.

1 Cor 12:13

13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

According to Paul, we were saved through the washing of the rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, not water.

Titus 3:4-5

4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

Sometimes people want to say that we must confess with our mouths to be saved. Again, this is based in Scripture.

Romans 10:9-11

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Again, to understand this scripture correctly, one must take all associated scripture into mind. Jesus said that if you believe, you have eternal life. James, the brother of Jesus said that you must have a living faith.

John 3:16

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

James 2:17-19

17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Paul said the same thing, but in a slightly different way.

Acts 26:20

20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

Paul said something else. He said we can do nothing to earn our salvation.

Ephesians 2:7-9

in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

So the best understanding for these verses is that we can do nothing to earn our salvation. The one thing these verses all have in common is belief, or faith. The other thing these verses tell us is that our faith must be exemplified, or shown, through something we do. If our faith does not change us to put it into practice, then we must question whether we have true faith. So it is not the baptism that saves us, it is faith in Christ, the baptism proves we are saved. Belief justifies us before God, the confession that shows we are saved.

I also have a problem with the idea that priests can not marry, since Paul said that those who did so were hypocritical liars who follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

1 Timothy 4:1-4

 1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

I have a problem putting the church and church teaching on equal footing with the Bible.


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