There is no shortage of religious denominations – almost as many ‘flavors’ as Baskin Robbins offers for their ice cream selection. Some of the more well-known are Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Pentecostal, and Presbyterian, just to name a few.
Each different denomination believes that it is the only ‘right’ one and that all the others are wrong or defective in some way. The Catholic Church even issued an official edict almost two decades ago stating just as much about other religious denominations and claiming that ‘religious truth’ can only be found in the Roman Catholic Church.
Note: This post was actually going to be about denominations in general, but the Catholic Church provides a wealth of blog content all by itself. So we will go with one subject for the moment – and likely anger quite a few people who adhere to Catholic dogma.
Speaking of the Catholic Church…
I am not trying to single out Catholicism. I was, after all, ‘raised’ Catholic. But – – –
The Catholic Church is – – – quite unusual. It (as an entity) is quite full of itself, despite the Biblical statement that ‘pride goeth before the fall.’ (Any denomination that considers itself to be the ultimate authority and only place where religious truth can be found is overwhelmed in hubris.) Judgment is reserved for God alone, not God and the Catholic Church. There is a list of ‘infallible dogmas’ of the Catholic Church, and some of them are peculiar or outright bizarre, especially when you wonder how they came to such conclusions without Biblical backing of their statements.
For example, #3 on a list of 255 infallible dogmas says that ‘God’s nature is incomprehensible to men.’ I presume the Catholic Church forbids members from reading the Bible, then, because God’s nature is clearly present and elucidated in many parts of the Bible. In point of fact, God wants us to know his nature and achieve a closer, more personal relationship with him.
#106 states that ‘after the birth of Jesus, Mary remained a virgin.’ There is no foundation whatsoever for this in the Bible, and the Bible actually goes on to refer to the brothers of Jesus (which some people say is a general ‘mankind’ reference). In a day and age when large families were common and Jesus’ Earthly family was a ‘common’ one, why wouldn’t Mary and Joseph have had other children after the birth of Jesus? It defies logic to think that they would live a celibate lifestyle in defiance of accepted standards of the day. Item #108 on their list says that ‘Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven.’ I haven’t personally researched this in the Bible, but I think the Bible is silent on the subject. Drawing your own conclusions is considered ‘adding to’ the Bible’s contents, which is specifically prohibited in the Book of Revelation. The Catholic Church did not decree the ‘assumption of the Virgin Mary’ to be part of their infallible dogma until 1950.
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.
Moving on, item #133 says that ‘grace can be increased by good works.’ No, no, no. You cannot ‘work’ your way into heaven, you cannot ‘work’ your way into a higher state of grace, you cannot ‘work’ your way into becoming more saved or more blessed or more beloved of God. God has NO respect of persons (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, Ephesians 6:9, 1 Peter 1:17), which means we are all saved, blessed, loved, and granted grace on equal footing with each other. Sure, good works makes you feel better – but it won’t make God love you more, give you more grace, or bestow upon you a higher ‘status’ than anyone else. Items #135 and #136 on this list also deal with how ‘good works’ can improve your status with God. The Catholic Church really needs to READ the Bible, instead of trying to create it for themselves.
Item #142 says that ‘the powers bestowed upon the apostles have descended to the bishops.’ Again, no. The powers that Jesus bestowed upon the apostles through the gift of the Holy Spirit are available to anyone with faith. If you believe you can move mountains through your faith in Jesus, you can. If you believe you can heal a person of an ailment or illness through your faith in Jesus, you can. If you believe you can raise the dead through your faith in Jesus, you can. Jesus did not say that these ‘powers’ were specific to a certain class of people, and he definitely didn’t add an addendum that only Catholic bishops were endowed with such powers. (See 1 Corinthians 12:1-14)
Item #149 says that ‘Christ is the head of the Church.’ The Catholics need to pay attention to that. Much of what they claim to be true, incontrovertible, infallible, or beyond contestation is so anti-Biblical that it is practically heresy or blasphemy. If they claim Christ is the head of the Church, they need to start following Christ’s teachings and guidance more closely and thoroughly, without revision to suit their beliefs.
Item #153 says ‘the Church founded by Christ is unique and one.’ That is true, but Jesus did not create the Catholic Church. He didn’t create a church of any denomination. We are one body in Christ with many members, which means we are non-denominational, and any division into denominations is a violation of Biblical edict.
Item #157 says ‘membership of the Church is necessary for all men for salvation.’ This is absolutely not true. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that church membership is required for salvation. The Bible tells us that salvation is granted through belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior. The Bible also tells us that we, individually and collectively, are the church – not a building or official organization or corporate empire (i.e., the Catholic Church).
Item #160 says that ‘it is permissible and profitable to venerate images of the saints.’ Again, the Catholic Church is rewriting the Bible to suit themselves. Graven images of any kind are not to be venerated, according to the Bible. This doesn’t matter if they are images of the saints (who are ‘sainted’ by Catholics, not by God) or the Pope himself.
#177 in the list of Catholic dogmas says that ‘baptism effects the remission of all punishments of sin, both the eternal and the temporal.’ Again, contrary to Biblical statements and typical of Catholic rewriting of the Bible. The blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, effects the remission of all punishments of sin. Nothing else does so. That is why God sent his Son to be sacrificed for our sin debt. Otherwise, we could have all just been baptized and there would have been no need for Jesus’ death at all.
Items #205 through #209 discuss the Catholic Church’s power to remit (forgive) sin, whether it was committed before or after baptism. Once again – wrong! The only ‘power’ that exists to remit or forgive sin is the power of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross at his crucifixion. Jesus did not bestow upon anyone or anything the power to forgive sins.
Item #212 claims that the confession of sins (to a priest) is necessary for salvation. Wrong again. The only thing necessary for salvation is faith in Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15). The Bible also tells us that our transgressions should be confessed to God, not to another fallible human being (and does not specify that it is necessary for salvation!).
There are many, many more things believed and taught by the Catholic Church that are wrong and just plain contrary to the teachings of the Bible. It is irresponsible for such a powerful organization to so blatantly and willfully mislead the enormous flock that looks to it for wisdom and guidance about spiritual matters. Even the smallest misstep can cause massive misdirection!
If you are a follower of Catholic dogma, I am not going to apologize for angering or offending you. You need to be angered or offended. Maybe you will be compelled to open your own Bible and find out for yourself what God wants from you and is offering you.
The Bible is the ONLY authoritative source for God’s knowledge, wisdom, grace, truth, and salvation.