Category Archives: Catholic Questions

Is the Roman Catholic Mass Biblical?

The Catholic Mass is a daily ritual performed by Roman Catholic priests.  Because the Sunday morning mass is the most well-attended mass of the week, many believe that the event is essentially equivalent to the Sunday morning Worship services held by Protestant churches.  This could not be further from the truth; there are a number of practices that set the Catholic Mass apart from Christian Lord’s Day worship.  The events of the Mass demonstrate the vast and unbiblical amount of power vested in the Roman Catholic Priesthood and should be very concerning to Bible-believing Christians.

Perhaps the most notable, and most troubling, aspect of the Mass is the sacrament of the Eucharist.  According to Paragraph #1336 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), the Mass seeks to “re-present” Jesus as a sacrifice during the observance of the Eucharist. CCC Paragraph #1367 communicates that the atoning Sacrifice of Jesus and the Eucharist are one in the same.  In other words, every time the Catholic Church observes the Eucharist during Mass, it is re-sacrificing Jesus. John O’Brien explains this well in his book The Faith of Millions, “The priest brings Christ down from heaven and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal victim for the sins of man, not once but a thousand times.”  These doctrines, as presented in the CCC, conflict with the biblical account.  As recorded in John 19:30, Jesus exclaimed “Tetelestai” as he died upon a Roman cross.  This verb is often rendered in English translations of the Bible as “It is finished!”. Its use indicates that the sin debt of the elect, for whom Christ died, has been paid in full.  The Greek perfect tense in which this verb is presented indicates that the debt has been paid in full with a perpetual effect; it has been paid in full once and for all.  Since the sin debt of the elect has been fully and perpetually paid, no further works are needed; Jesus need not be re-sacrificed in the Catholic Mass. The author of Hebrews put is this way “Christ (has) offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins.” (Hebrews 10:12 ESV).

The work that Jesus did on the cross was complete and is sufficient.  Because the Roman Catholic Church is centered around the false Roman Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist, Christians should neither attend nor promote it.  Doing so, only supports and perpetuates the unbiblical claims of the Roman Catholic Church and its powerful class of priests.  Priests are not only in control of the Eucharist, which is an essential sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church, they are also vested with the power to forgive sins.

CCC paragraph #1461 states that priests have, “the power to forgive all sins.” In CCC paragraph #1468, it is asserted that Indulgences can actually reconcile sinners with God. Furthermore, CCC paragraph #1471 affirms that indulgences (which are a remission of some or all sins) can even be applied to the dead. The Roman Catholic system of confession, indulgences, and penance is a system of works righteousness. Paul wrote in his epistle to the Galatians, “…we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16, ESV) Paul wrote a similar statement to the Ephesian church, “…by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV).  Paul’s statements contradict the Roman Catholic doctrines of Confession and Penance.  According to these doctrines, one must confess his sins to a priest at least once a year and perform the penance prescribed for those sins in order to receive saving grace. These doctrines were codified in Canon 21 by the Fourth Council of the Lateran and are included in paragraph #1424 of the CCC.

The Catholic Mass and the Catholic Priest are unbiblcial and should be repudiated by bible-believing Christians.

Source: Is the Roman Catholic Mass Biblical?

Catholic Questions: What Is the Cause of Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church?

 

In recent years, hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals have come forward claiming sexual abuse from priests in the Roman Catholic Church. Numerous “pedophile priests” have been identified. Sadly, rather than defrocking the priests (removing from the priesthood), the Catholic Church has in most instances attempted to cover up the sexual abuse by transferring the offending priest(s) to different parishes. The scandal and attempted cover-up continues to expand, reaching all the way to the papacy itself. So, what is the cause of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church? Why does pedophilia seem to be such a common problem among Roman Catholic priests?

First, let us be abundantly clear, as an Evangelical Protestant Christian organization, we have strong disagreements with virtually every area of Roman Catholic doctrine and practice.

Second, with the priesthood of all believers and Jesus’ fulfillment/completion of the Old Testament sacrificial system and priesthood, we do not believe the New Testament instructs that there should even be priests. Biblically speaking, a priest is a mediator (primarily through sacrifices) between God and man. With Jesus as our High Priest, we already have direct access to God (Hebrews 4:14–16) and have no need for any other mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).

Third, it is important not to take the horribly evil actions of some Roman Catholic priests and attribute them to the entire Roman Catholic priesthood. While we strongly disagree with Roman Catholic doctrine and practice, we have no doubt that many Roman Catholic priests truly love the Lord Jesus Christ, truly desire to minister to people, and would absolutely never molest a child. It is impossible to discover how many “pedophile priests” have been, or still are, active in the Roman Catholic Church. Whatever the number is, it is surely an exceedingly small percentage. The vast majority of Catholic priests has never, and would never, molest or harm a child in any way.

Back to the question at hand, what is the cause of the sexual abuse that has taken place in the Roman Catholic Church? Our contention is that the unbiblical requirement that priests be celibate is a primary cause. It is biblical to say that celibacy can be useful to ministry (1 Corinthians 7:32–34). At the same time, it is completely unbiblical for any church to require celibacy of its leaders. In the qualifications of church leadership (1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:6–9), the apostle Paul assumes that bishops, elders, overseers, and deacons will be married and have children. While these qualifications should not be viewed as requiring marriage/family to serve in church leadership, they are most definitely an allowance for married men to serve as leaders in the church. It is, therefore, completely anti-biblical for any church to require celibacy of its leaders.

The unbiblical requirement of celibacy on priests in the Roman Catholic Church likely contributes to sexual abuse in that men whom God never intended to be celibate are forced into celibacy, resulting in sexual tension and stress. Also, the stricture of celibacy is appealing to some men with abnormal sexual tendencies who view the priesthood as a means of keeping their desires under control. These men find that external rules do little to change the heart, and, when they give in to sexual temptations, the result is unnatural sexual acts, such as homosexuality or pedophilia.

Compounding the problem is the Catholic teaching of “once a priest, always a priest.” The fact that the “sacred ordination” cannot be invalidated has contributed to a reluctance to defrock pedophile priests. When abusive priests are transferred to different parishes, the same behavior is repeated. Also, lax rule enforcement and cover-ups have encouraged the application of pedophiles to the priesthood. Many pedophiles see the priesthood as a means of easy, unsupervised access to children.

Whatever the cause of the sexual abuse in the church, pedophile priests should be arrested and punished just as any other pedophile would be. Anyone covering up or, by negligence, enabling pedophilia in the church should be prosecuted. A priest who has sexually abused anyone should never be allowed back into church leadership, as he could most definitely not be considered “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2).

The pedophile priest scandal in the Roman Catholic Church is absolutely horrid. There is nothing more antithetical to the message of Christ than priests sexually abusing children. May God use this scandal to awaken the church of Jesus Christ to the presence of apostates within the church and to strongly motivate the church to be fully biblical in all of its beliefs and practices.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: Do Catholics Worship Idols / Practice Idolatry?

 

Sadly, our Catholic friends and family members have been indoctrinated to believe that the use of statues, relics, and other articles is acceptable and even necessary for worship. They have been taught by the Roman Catholic Church that the images and icons used in the church are not actually “worshiped” but are simply “visual aids” to worship.

The Catholic Church long ago began making allowances for the idolatrous use of images by the way they reference the Ten Commandments. In the Catholic catechism and in most official Catholic documents, the first and second commandments are combined and then summarized with “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have other gods beside Me.” Suspiciously absent is what comprises the second commandment in the Protestant numbering of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not make any graven images.”

While it is understandable for “you shall not make any graven images” to be considered an aspect of “you shall not have other gods beside me,” based on the history of idolatry involving graven images throughout biblical and extra-biblical history, it seems unwise to not include “you shall not make any graven images” in every listing of the Ten Commandments. The omission seems especially suspicious in light of the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has long been accused of the idolatrous use of graven images.

There are good reasons for not using images in worship. First of all, the use of physical images to “aid” worship violates the command to worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23–24). Also, no one knows what God looks like, and John 1:18 is clear concerning this truth: “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” And, because God is Spirit (John 4:24a), it is irreverent to delineate Him as an iconic representation. No one alive knows what Jesus Christ looked like in the flesh, and, since there were no cameras when He walked the earth, the only description of His appearance is found in Isaiah 53:2–3, which says that He had “no stately form or majesty.”

The lack of a physical description of Christ has not stopped the Catholic Church from depicting Him. Throughout Catholic churches, institutions, convents, monasteries, and every other Catholic-affiliated building and shrine, there are paintings of God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary, Joseph, and a myriad of canonized saints. There are statues in abundance; there are relics, such as bone fragments, said to have belonged to certain saints. Some shrines even contain pieces of wood purported to be part of Jesus’ cross. All of these things are held to be sacred objects worthy of high regard. The idolatry is rampant and fairly obvious to non-Catholics, yet Catholics do not believe they are committing idolatry. They have been cleverly taught to believe that they do not worship these idols; they simply “venerate” them. The problem is that “veneration” still gives honor and reverence to something and/or someone other than God; therefore, veneration is idolatry.

Yes, Catholics do practice a form of idolatry, in violation of God’s command. The best way to reach our Catholic friends with the gospel of grace is to pray that the Holy Spirit will draw them and that they will respond to the Spirit’s leading. Their eyes and hearts are blinded by the false teaching they are continually hearing, and, until they begin to seek the truth, we must leave it in God’s capable hands. As we pray, we must keep loving them and trust that God will prepare the soil of their hearts (Luke 8:11–15). Never give up hope; the Holy Spirit does miracles every day.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: Is the Catholic Concept of Absolution Biblical?

 

One common definition of absolution is “the formal remission of sin imparted by a priest, as in the sacrament of penance.” The Roman Catholic Church centers its teaching on the need for absolution, and the priest’s role in obtaining that forgiveness, on a single passage in the Gospel of John. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; If you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23). But does this passage teach the necessity of the Catholic practice of absolution? Does the Bible speak of or condone the practice of absolution?

Regarding the forgiveness of sins, the Bible is clear that God alone can forgive sins (Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21), and Christ, being God, has the power to do so, but He never communicated any such power to His apostles, nor did they ever assume any such power to themselves or pretend to exercise it. In fact, it is the mark of antichrist to attempt anything of the kind because, in doing so, one usurps the divine prerogative and places himself in God’s seat. Rather, John 20:23 is to be understood only in a doctrinal or ministerial way, by preaching the full and free remission of sins through the blood of Christ, according to the riches of God’s grace. To as many as repent of their sins and believe in Christ, all disciples of Christ can confidently declare that all their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake and to His glory.

In John 20:23, Jesus is speaking directly to His disciples. It is important to note here that He is not just talking to the 11 apostles but also to other followers of Jesus called disciples (see Luke 24), as well as to all who would ever follow Him. This is important because the Catholic Church holds that only their priests (through a “passing of the absolution torch” called apostolic succession) have the authority to grant absolution.

If absolution from sin is the meaning of Jesus’ words in John 20:23, then we must ponder exactly what His intention was when He gave His followers authority to forgive sin (or not). Did He make them judges and invest in them power to pass judiciary sentence, granting or withholding divine pardon, as the Catholic Church teaches? Or did Jesus make them His ambassadors to proclaim forgiveness through faith in His name, as Christians believe? In other words, can a sinner receive forgiveness directly from God through faith, or must he avail himself of the Catholic priest’s mediation? The Bible is clear: no priest is needed to mediate between God and man, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). The Catholic teaching of absolution is not scriptural.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: Did Jesus Mean that We Should Never Refer to Our Earthly Father as ‘Father’ (Matthew 23:9)? Is It Wrong for Catholics to Refer to Their Priests as ‘Father’?

 

It would be confusing for God to give the fifth commandment in Exodus 20:12: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” and then later in the Bible to restrict us from calling our earthly father “father.” Matthew 23:9 states, “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and He is in heaven.” The context of Matthew 23:9 tells us that referring to your biological father as “father” is not what Jesus is speaking about.

In Matthew 23:1–12, Jesus is denouncing the Jewish scribes and Pharisees for rejecting Him as their Messiah, in particular for their hypocrisy in elevating themselves above others with titles such as “teacher” and “master.” The Jewish teachers affected that title because they supposed that a teacher formed the man, or gave him real life, and they sought, therefore, to be called “father,” as if they were the source of truth rather than God. Christ taught them that the source of all life and truth is God, and they ought not to seek or receive a title which properly belongs to Him.

This denunciation is equally relevant for today. In no way should any person look up to, follow, or elevate a human leader in any religious or church organization above Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Head of the Church, His body, and our one and only Master and Teacher. He alone is the author of our salvation, source of comfort in difficulties and strength to live the Christian life, and the only One to whom our prayers should be directed.

Roman Catholics call their priests “father” and the pope is called “the holy father.” This is clearly unbiblical. The priest as “father” is problematic. Catholic priests are doing precisely what Matthew 23:9 condemns by allowing the term “father” in a spiritual sense be applied to them. In no sense is a priest or pastor a “spiritual father” to a Christian. Only God can cause a person to receive “spiritual birth”; therefore, only God is worthy of the title of “Father” in a spiritual sense.

In the case of the “holy father,” there is no doubt this is unbiblical. No man can take on the title of “holy” anything, because only God is holy. This title gives the pope a status that is never intended for any man on earth. Even the apostle Paul referred to himself as the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and cried out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:14). Clearly, Paul made no claim to holiness. Although as Christians we have exchanged our sin for the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), holiness will not be attained until we are in heaven and have left the last vestiges of our sin natures behind. Until then, the pope has no more holiness than the average Christian and is not entitled to be called “holy father.”

But there is no reason not to call our earthly parents “father” and “mother” because in doing so we are not giving them an elevated title or position that belongs to God. Our earthly parents are worthy of honor, not just on one special day of the year (Father’s Day, Mother’s Day), but we are to honor our parents daily in the spirit of Exodus 20:12, Matthew 15:4, and Ephesians 6:1–3.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.