I hope I don’t offend any of my Catholic friends, but I just read about some of their beliefs and it jut seems crazy. It seems like their view of Scripture has just kind of watered down things and confused them over the years. Here are some of the things they believe:
1. Authority comes from the Scriptures (which include some extra Apocryphal books), but tradition is also considered authoritative as well as the popes. The Popes are able to interpret the Scriptures however they’d like and the people are to obey – the difficult thing is that one pope may interpret things one way, and then a few years later, another pope can come and and say that he was wrong. To me it just doesn’t seem like that represents the unchanging God very well.
2. Salvation can only come to those who are members of the Roman Catholic Church. According to Paul Enns, it is considered the “only ark of salvation and anyone who does not enter it must sink in the flood.”
So salvation is – to believe in Jesus Christ and join their church? I guess Jesus’ death and resurrection wasn’t enough to save me? His grace isn’t enough according to them.
3. Mary – Jesus’ mother is worshipped by Catholics. She is considered to have “perpetual virginity” and to be “sinless.” (How did she have any other children and still be a “perpetual virgin?) According to Enns, they also believe that no one can come to Jesus unless he/she goes through the Mother. This is why they pray to her. Another interesting point is that they believe her body did not decompose when she died, but that she was resurrected with her same earthly body. I guess that she could keep that body in heaven since it was sinless.
4. Purgatory – When you die, you go to heaven, hell, or purgatory. Purgatory is like a jail for people who have sin which has not been paid for. (Since Jesus’ death wasn’t enough.) You can stay there for varying amounts of time depending on your degree of sinfulness. But the good news is that your living relatives can pray and do good works to shorten your stay. None of this is Scriptural by our standards, but by using their extra books, they find validation.
5. Communion – Catholics believe in a concept called “transubstantiation” in which the bread and wine actually become Jesus’ flesh and blood when the priest blesses them. Yuck!!! I don’t know about you, but I don’t wanna eat anybody’s flesh – even Jesus’. I also don’t think He asked us to do anything but remember His sacrifice symbolically. At the Lord’s supper, Jesus used bread and wine.
Well, these are just a few of the ideas from Catholic Theology. It’s sad to me that so many people could be led astray simply because the Scriptures have not been upheld. By putting man’s (popes) opinions in as high a position as the Scriptures, they have confused their theology. God’s word has been mixed with man’s opinion and it has hurt them tremendously whether they realize it or not.
How does this change my life? With this understanding, I find myself with a bit more compassion for my Catholic friends. I understand what to pray for a bit more now, and if given the opportunity, I know what kinds of questions to ask to lead them into conversations about faith.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 527-539)