A misunderstanding of Christianity by the Roman Catholic Church

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This essay stems from the belief of Christianity through salvation by faith and not by works or sacred teachings other than the bible.

Submitted: September 20, 2016

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Submitted: September 20, 2016

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A MISUNDERSTANDING OF CHRISTIANITY BY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

By Morgan Rhoda

 

In order to provide a factual and well documented paper, we need to clarify a number of observations made about the catholic church through extensive research into its history and its present status. This paper begins by highlighting the Roman Catholic church and distinguishing the differences in doctrine between Catholicism and Roman Catholicism. The three key areas of focus are (1) Criticism of the doctrine, (2) Historical issues and (3) Child molestation and sexual abuse.

 

Being Catholic is accepted by all Christians as one of the four marks of the church described in the Nicene Creed. Roman Catholicism differs, as it is considered to be catholic ‘in communion with Christ, through the Pope’. Roman Catholicism branched from Catholicism as a whole when it became intertwined with the Roman empire, through the Roman Emperor Constantine. I consider my beliefs to stem from the protestant movement. A movement that believes solely in the teaching of the bible. The Roman catholic churches differ, as it believes that the bible alone is insufficient. They believe that the bible and Roman Catholic tradition are necessary for salvation.

 

I should start off by saying that I do not dismiss the need for a pope. The bible itself clarifies the importance of having a pope. Matthew 16:18-19 is a key scripture in this regard. Christ ordained Peter as leader of the apostles and the church. Not only did Christ ordain Peter as leader, but made him infallible when he acted and spoke as the representative of Christ on Earth. This was then passed on to Peters successors, a practice still evident in Roman Catholicism. However, I believe that the popes only purpose on Earth is to represent Christ. Nothing more. Roman Catholics hold the belief that the pope is the only living person who can intercede for us. This is false. Christ gave His life so that we can have a direct path to God, through prayer, fasting and meditating on His word. Catholicism holds the belief that priests are considered to be earthly intercessors. My personal belief is that Christianity does not require priests. According to catholic doctrine, a priest is seen as a mediator between God and man. Through the death of Christ, we already have a direct link to God and we have no need for any mediator. Recognizing the priest as a mediator between ourselves and God is an unbiblical practice.

 

Criticism of the doctrine:

 

In this section we observe the doctrine or dogma of the roman catholic church, a doctrine I consider to be false and a complete misconception of Christianity.  

First we observe the catholic churches understanding of grace. Titus 3:4-5 tells us that it is because of Gods love for us that we receive His grace. He saved us because of His mercy, not because of the deeds we have done for Him. Mankind has done nothing to earn the grace of God. Mankind can do nothing to earn the grace of God. Grace is the daily reward for believing that Christ died on the cross for our sins. According to scripture, salvation is through Christ alone. The teaching of the roman catholic church stands in contrast to this. They preach a gospel of salvation through works, not by faith in the grace of God. The Council of Trent affirmed this belief by stating the following: “Hence, to those who work well unto the end and trust in God, eternal life is to be offered, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Christ Jesus, and as a reward promised by God himself, to be faithfully given to their good works and merits.” Here we observe that grace is something you earn. It seems that the catholic church believes that we owe a debt to Christ because He died on the cross for our sins. This is a false teaching, Christ died on the cross because of His love for us and His desire to have a relationship with us.

 

A second area of focus is the roman catholic belief of purgatory. By definition, purgatory is an immediate state after physical death, in which those destined for heaven undergo a process of purification, to achieve the holiness necessary to enter heaven. Yes, the bible does mention purgatory, but it is mentioned in Maccabees, a book that was not considered to be part of the first bible until it was included by the Council of Trent. Thus, Maccabees is considered to be part of the Apocrypha, which is mentioned in the following section Maccabees goes on to state that atonement was made for the dead so that they may be freed from sin. I believe that purgatory contradicts the clear teaching in scripture, making it a catholic tradition of belief. Most books in the bible, especially the New Testament, contradict the notion of purgatory. Sins can not be paid off in the next life, they can only be forgiven in the present.

 

Thirdly, we observe the nature of the Apocrypha, a number of books added to the bible. Protestants consider the Apocrypha to be a false teaching. The Apocrypha books appeared after the cessation of prophecy, therefore they cannot be regarded as inspired. The activities that take place in these books are also never cited by Christ or the Disciples. The Roman Catholic church did not canonize the Apocrypha until the Council of Trent, because it contained material not supported by the catholic doctrine. Material such as praying for the dead, purgatory and immoral practices such as magical incantation, lying and suicide. The Apocrypha denies all notions of inspiration and contrasts the New Testament in a number of ways. A common argument by the catholic church is that early Christians quote from the Apocrypha, therefore it must be true. This is false because early Christians quoted from all kinds of uninspired writings other than the Apocrypha, which was never added to the bible. The Apocrypha is never mentioned in the New Testament, not once. I believe that this is enough factual information to disregard the Apocrypha from the Holy Bible.

 

I will bring forward a common observation made by many about the catholic church; why do Catholics pray to Mary? Through extensive research of the Bible, I believe that Christians should not pray to Mary, or any of the patron saints. This practice is entirely unbiblical. Biblical scripture teaches us that we must pray only to God, through Christ, the one and only mediator. Many Catholics argue that they are not praying to Mary or any of the saints, they are asking them to intercede on their behalf. However, this practice has no biblical basis. Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we are able to approach the throne of grace with confidence. The notion that Mary can be prayed to because she has a “direct and closer link” to Christ is blatantly unbiblical. If Christ alone is interceding for us, why is it necessary for any other saint or person to do so? Only God can hear our prayers, no limited presence in heaven or on earth is capable of this.

 

To conclude this section, I will make a few observations regarding the practice of infant baptism, a common practice of the catholic church. This sacrament, which is one of many, involves a process whereby an infant is sprinkled with oil or water. This practice is also unbiblical. The bible makes clear a number of questions regarding baptism; who shall be baptized? what is baptism? why should one be baptized? Jesus answered the first question when He commands His disciple to go into the world, preach the gospel and baptize every believer. Note that Jesus made ‘believing’ a condition of baptism. One must believe in order to be baptized. This defeats the practice of infant baptism, as a newborn child is innocent and has not yet made the decision to believe in God. The second question can be answered by observing the writings of Paul. In Romans, Paul states that we are buried with Christ through baptism and we will rise up like Christ did, so that we may walk a new life. In order to walk a new life, one must have walked an old life. This also defeats the practice of infant baptism. The final question can be answered by Peters words in the book of Acts. Peter replies to a sinners question when he asks “What shall we do?”. Peter instructs them to repent and be baptized. If a sinner does not repent, he won’t be saved. If a sinner is not saved, he cannot be baptized.

 

 

 

Historical issues:

 

Although there are a number of historical issues that have put the roman catholic church in the spotlight, this section will only highlight two of them: The attack on enlightenment by the roman catholic church and the canonization of Thomas More.

 

Famous Italian astronomer and physicist, Galileo Galilei, is well known for a fact we now take for granted; that the earth revolves around the sun. The catholic church was an organization that assaulted those who dared to communicate any other ideas other than their own. The idea that the earth revolves around the sun was an idea that the catholic church did not agree with. Galileo was charged, tried in court and placed under house arrest for his claims. The catholic church adopted the role of the victim during the enlightenment era, accusing enlightenment thinkers of attacking the church. This was not the case; the dispute was not a matter of religion vs science. It was a dispute between two scientific viewpoints. One held by the church, which was proven to be false and one held by Galileo, that was proven as a fact.

 

Before I go into the history of Thomas More, I would like to provide readers with a brief description regarding the process of canonization. The process for canonization is an act whereby the Roman Catholic church declares that a person who had died was a saint, and is then added to the canon (list) of saints. The process only begins five years after the individuals’ death. The church investigates the candidates’ writings to see if they possessed any “purity of doctrine”. Another element of investigation is whether the candidate performed any miracles. Once the candidate is declared to have lived a life of heroic virtue, he or she is then declared Venerable. The next step is beatification. A candidate must be declared blessed through virtue of Martyrdom, or be credited with a miracle. Another miracle must be declared after beatification, thereafter a formal declaration of sainthood is achieved.

 

The canonization of Thomas More is a rather difficult topic to communicate and this is for a number of reasons; Either the catholic church refuses to speak about the topic or they have never even heard the name. I stumbled across Thomas More whilst watching an interview by Stephan Fry. He claimed that Thomas More cannot be considered a saint because of his history and that recognizing a man such as Thomas More as a saint speaks to the falsehood of the catholic church. The catholic church recognizes Thomas More as a saint due to his denial of King Henry as a superior to the pope. He was also acknowledged for his humanitarian work in England. What many Catholics refuse to acknowledge is that Thomas More was a murderer, who burnt people for reading the bible in English. More took delight in burning protestants for this act and for harboring and reading banned books. This is a man who betrayed Christianity when he led it violently and intertwined it with court politics. He also betrayed politics when he surrendered it to the defense of Catholicism. The Vatican agreed that Thomas More was worthy of becoming a saint and was declared so by Pope Pius XI, in May 1935. The same man who believed in enforcing beliefs on others through persecution and execution.

 

 

Child molestation and sexual abuse

 

Perhaps the more sensitive of all the topics surrounding the catholic church. One that is often evaded or rationalized through ignorant argument instead of historical evidence and statistically accurate research. The catholic church has failed to address the issue of child molestation within their religious community and this is evident when looking at a number of statistics. The catholic church defends this accusation by saying that it is constantly singled out by the media regarding this matter. I agree that child molestation happens everywhere and that most catholic priests would never harm a child. The problem is not that the catholic church has not come forward and admitted to this issue, it is that the catholic church has done little to prevent this from happening. It also has not done much in offering a reason as to why child molestation occurs in the church. In recent years, thousands have come forward claiming sexual abuse from priests in the roman catholic church. Instead of removing the priest from his duties, the catholic church attempted to move the priest to another parish. The important task is to break down the reason/s as to why child molestation takes place in the catholic church. The main argument is the unbiblical requirement that priests be celibate. Celibacy is not useful to the ministry of God. It is not a pre-requisite, nor is it a commandment. It is also unbiblical for any church to require celibacy from any of its leaders. The requirement of celibacy on priests is a likely contributor to sexual abuse by men whom God never intended to be celibate. Being forced into celibacy can be a direct influence on sexual abuse. Another observation is that a number of men see priesthood as a means of coping with sexual urges, therefore remaining celibate helps to control these urges. When these men give into their sexual desires, it often results in unnatural acts of pedophilia and homosexuality. Regardless of the causes of sexual abuse in the catholic church, I strongly believe that priests who are guilty should be arrested and punished as any other pedophile would be.

 

I conclude this paper by stating that I do not doubt that many Roman Catholics truly love and believe in God, desire to minister the truth across the world and would never intend to harm anyone. My only disagreement with the catholic church is that I believe its traditional practices to be false and unbiblical.


© Copyright 2017 Morgan Rhoda. All rights reserved.

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