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Why We Need to Question The Roman Catholic Church Part 3

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Why We Need to Question The Roman Catholic Church [1]

Doctrines of Deception: Is Rome Teaching the Truth?

 
Keith Green, who was saved along with his wife Melody, during the Jesus Movement of the 70’s, did more than just write great songs, he wrote the “Catholic Chronicles.” Keith, like so many others, was ill-advised to the idea of Catholics being un-saved, and accepted them as just another denomination of Christianity, and was taught to call them “brothers.” During Keith’s study be read something that floored him. According to his wife his awakening began like this,

“One day, Keith was reading a book about the Catholic Church. He came flying into the Kitchen looking very upset. "Mel, can you imagine this? Catholics are really devoted to Jesus – right? They build big churches, with beautiful statures and everything. But this book claims that some of them don't realize they can really know Jesus. Imagine – loving Jesus, but having no assurance of heaven."

Melody continues, “Keith read more books about Catholic doctrine, and as he did he started to feel that he should write something about it. He prayed for a long time – and got counsel from other Christian leaders. But the counsel was divided… Keith was torn, but in the end he believed the Lord wanted him to go ahead and write something. When Keith launched into the series he called "The Catholic Chronicles", he wrote a forward to clarify what he was trying to accomplish: “I want to make it completely understood that neither I nor anyone else at Last Days Ministries have anything at all personally against Catholics. We know of many loving, committed and sincere believers among their ranks. In fact, there are quite a few who receive our newsletter, even a priest in New England who corresponds regularly (and if you're reading this now – I love you!). – Keith Green”

In those “Chronicles” Keith presents a factual, balanced exposé of Catholic doctrine. For Keith, knowing the truth was the only thing that mattered. Many believe that it was that “truth” that cost him his life; I am personally not in that camp, and have no facts to cause me to believe otherwise. Nevertheless, religious persuasion can elicit strong, and sometimes, deadly responses from those being exposed, e.g. the Prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles, especially if those being uncovered have a history of such actions. In Keith's case the evidence seems to be clear that it was an instance of bad judgment, on Keith’s or the pilot’s part, in overloading a small plane.

Keith’s pursuit of truth and the message it brought forth resonates with the spirit of the Reformers. When the Holy Spirit touches our ears and eyes, our lips cannot be stilled, and Keith was no exception; what a great platform God provided him, if even for a short time, and his message of truth continues to this day.

Believers, like Keith, find themselves submersed in a world of mixture, and the ability to discern truth from error is the exclusive work of the Holy Spirit. Without an intense desire to know the truth, above all things, we are doomed to remain in a false sense of believing that we are doing the Lord’s will, by acts of charity, homeschooling our kids, smiling politely, reading Christian authors, or attending meetings in a religious building. When the desire for truth is rooted deep within our hearts, then God dispatches His Holy Spirit with shocking and humbling news that our imagined view of truth is greatly flawed. This is why we need to be always examining ourselves, to make sure that we are in the “truth,” and not in some gray area of cheap easy believism, or a stagnated holding pattern of self-assurance.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that jolted Keith into the stark reality of knowing the truth. A sampling of each chronicle is given. Click on the link to go and read the complete exposé.

One might wonder why, in a Scriptural expose of the doctrines of the Catholic Church, I would choose this subject The Roman Interpretation of the Lord's Supper (more commonly known as "Communion") for the first of the "Catholic Chronicles". Most Protestants (today, Protestants are considered to be members of any church or church-group outside the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches) would expect me to deal with what they might consider the more obvious departures from biblical foundation such as the worship of and prayers to the Virgin Mary, the infallibility of the pope, purgatory and prayers for the dead, the history of the torture and burning of accused "heretics" and such like that and no doubt in future installments we shall look in-depth at each of these.

But for this first article I believe that we should get right to the root, before we begin exploring the branches of Roman Doctrine and practice. And any Catholic who has even a small knowledge of his church knows that the central focus of each gathering (known as the "mass") is the Holy Eucharist.

THE EUCHARIST

The word "Eucharist" is a Greek word that means "thanksgiving". In the gospel accounts of the Last Supper, Jesus is described as "giving thanks" before breaking the bread (Luke 22:19), and so this word became a proper name for the Lord's Supper in the early Catholic Church. Today, it is more commonly associated with the elements in communion, especially the host or "wafer", although the ceremony itself is still called "The Holy Eucharist".

Now, you might be wondering why I'm taking so much time and effort to explain something as harmless as the ceremony known around the world as communion. If you've ever been to church at all, (Protestant or Catholic), you've probably taken part in a communion service. So why make all this fuss about bread and wine? Why? Because that's where the similarity between evangelical communion services and the Roman Catholic Mass ends, at the bread and the wine!

TRANSUBSTANTIATION

That 18-letter word above is a complete theological statement. . . and the name of a doctrine, out of which springs the most astounding set of beliefs and practices that has ever been taught in the name of religion. Very, very few people know what the Catholic Church actually believes and teaches concerning this subject. and I am convinced that even fewer Catholics realize themselves what they are taking part in. From earliest childhood, "This is the body of Christ" is all they've ever heard when the priest gingerly placed the wafer on their tongue. And as they grew up it was so natural and part of normal religious life, that their minds never even questioned the fact that Jesus Christ, Himself, was actually in their mouth!

It might be hard for you to believe, but that's exactly, literally, what "transubstantiation" means the Roman Catholic Church teaches their flocks that the bread and the wine used in the Mass actually, physically, turn into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ after the priest blesses it during the liturgy (ceremony). Although this in itself might shock you, it is really only the beginning. For the implications and practical conclusions of this doctrine are absolutely mind-boggling.

(other chapter headings)

EXCLUSIVE AUTHORITY

THE COUNCIL OF TRENT

THE WORSHIP OF THE HOST

WHEN DID THIS TEACHING BEGIN?

HOW ROME VIEWS THE BIBLE

CATHOLIC PROOF-TEXTS EXPLAINED

TRUE PAGAN ORIGINS

SO WHY DO THEY TEACH IT?

In Chronicle I [4], we thoroughly examined the doctrine of transubstantiation its history, practice, and real meaning. But we have waited for this second article to answer the question: Why? Why must there be present in the Mass the literal body and blood of Jesus? What purpose does it serve?

The answer is found in these startling words: "The sacrifice of the Mass is the same sacrifice of the cross, for there is the same priest, the same victim, and the same offering." ("The Roman Catholic Sacrifice of the Mass" by Bartholomew F. Brewer, Ph.D.)

And in the words of Pope Pius IV…

"I profess likewise that in the mass there is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory (conciliatory, to soothe the anger of, to win or regain the goodwill of, to appease, placate or make friendly, to reconcile – Webster's New World Dictionary and Harper's Bible Dictionary.) sacrifice for the living and the dead." (From the fifth article of the creed of Pope Pius IV.)

That is the incredible truth! The Roman Catholic Church believes and teaches that in every Mass, in every church, throughout the world (estimated at up to 200,000 Masses a day) that Jesus Christ is being offered up again, physically, as a sacrifice for sin (benefiting not only those alive, but the dead as well!) ("It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" Heb. 9:27.) Every Roman Mass is a re-creation of Jesus' death for the sins of the world. Not a symbolic re-creation! But a literal, actual offering of the flesh and blood of the Lord to make daily atonement for all the sins that have been daily committed since Jesus was crucified almost 2,000 years ago ("The Catholic Home Instruction Book", #3, P. 90.).

That's why the elements must become physically Jesus' body and blood, so that they can be once again offered for sin:

"The Holy Eucharist is the perpetual continuation of this act of sacrifice and surrender of our Lord. When the Lord's Supper is celebrated, Christ again presents Himself in His act of total surrender to the Father in death." ("The Spirit of Jesus" pp.89-90, Imprimatur: John Joseph Cardinal Carberry, Archbishop of St. Louis.)

"He offers Himself continually to the Father, in the same eternal act of offering that began on the cross and will never cease." ("Sons of God in Christ" Book 4, P. 117.)

"The Mass is identical to Calvary it is a sacrifice for sin it must be perpetuated to take away sin." (For Them Also, pp.289-299.)

The catechism of the Council of Trent required all pastors to explain that not only did the elements of the Mass contain flesh, bones and nerves as a part of Christ, "But also a WHOLE CHRIST". (Encyclopedia of Religions, Vol. 2, p.77.) Thus it is referred to as "the sacrifice of the Mass" and as "a renewal of the sacrifice of the cross"! ("A Catholic Word List" p. 45.)

THE COUNCIL OF TRENT ON "THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS"

BUT IS THIS THE BELIEF OF ROME TODAY?

BUT WHY "THE SACRIFICE" OF THE MASS?

BUT JESUS SAID "IT IS FINISHED!"

BACK TO THE BOOK

JESUS THE ONLY PRIEST

BUT ISN'T ROME CHANGING?

PAUL'S EXTREME WARNING

CONCLUSION: THE DEFINITION OF A "CULT"

". . . the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom. 6:23)

How blessed it is to know Jesus! His love, His mercy, His righteousness, His forgiveness! He has promised to "cast all our sins into the depths of the sea" (Mic. 7:19) and to separate us from our sins "as far as the east is from the west!" (Ps. 103:12).

This is the good news! (That's the literal meaning of the word "gospel" good news!) That is what the true church of our God has the privilege of proclaiming … "liberty to the captives"! (Lk. 4:18).

The reason I begin this article on the Roman Catholic view of salvation with such rejoicing in my Saviour, is because I have just finished reading a mountain of official (Roman) church literature on the subject, and I can honestly say, I have never had such joy in my heart of hearts about the finished work of Christ. As I scoured each page and read of penance, confession, venial and mortal sins, indulgences, purgatory, etc., I then had the infinite pleasure of searching the Scriptures to see what they had to say on these fundamental Catholic doctrines.

Oh what relief my soul found in the Scriptures! What holy joy! What clarity of light I saw, as the simple brilliance of God's mercy shown into my mind. If there is anything more beautiful than God's love and patience with man, it has never been revealed to mortals!

All this to say that I am bogged down with the information I have accumulated, and I will probably have to cover it all in this, Chronicle III, briefly touching on each subject, while always coming back to the main question: "According to Rome, how can a man or woman be saved from the consequences of his sinful nature and actions, and how can they gain assurance that they are in a right standing before God?"

If the future permits, I will come back in another installment and cover some of these subjects (particularly, purgatory and indulgences) in far greater depth and detail. It is our desire to see people find the true salvation that Jesus died for therefore, we must deal with that great (and most important) subject wholly, before taking the time to supply other necessary (and most revealing) subject matter.

THE CATHOLIC TEACHING ON SIN

MORTAL AND VENIAL SINS

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

CONFESSION

THE PRIEST'S ROLE

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

CAN A PRIEST FORGIVE SINS?

PENANCE

PENANCE AS A SYSTEM OF WORKS

PENANCE VERSUS REPENTANCE

THE BIBLICAL TEACHING ON GOOD WORKS

SALVATION BY GRACE

ASSURANCE OF SALVATION

CONCLUSION

The Roman Catholic Church is very proud of two distinct things: 1) that it has never changed, and 2) that it has changed very much! I realize that number 2 seems to contradict number 1, but anyone who has studied church history even briefly, will be able to grasp what I'm trying to say.

First, Rome is very emphatic about making clear these unalterable facts:

A. That she is the original and only church founded by Jesus Christ upon the earth.

B. That her head, the pope, has the authority handed down from the "first pope," Simon Peter, through "apostolic succession," (1) to sit in the place of Jesus as the undisputed leader of all true Christians on earth.

C. That her traditions and interpretations of scripture are the only basis for forming the rules and guidelines that Christians everywhere should live by.

D. And that her dogmas and doctrines, although they can be clarified, enlarged, or restated for the sake of changing times, can never, ever be abolished, contradicted, or altered. They are quite literally, "Canon Law."

On the other hand, modern Roman Catholics are immensely pleased with the reforms and evolution they have seen in their Church, especially since the cataclysmic "Second Vatican Council" (more commonly know as "Vatican II"). They point to how much has been done to open the way for "all Christians everywhere to finally come together!" This, of course, does seem very exciting, especially since Rome has been largely on the defensive since the Reformation. Starting with the Council of Trent in 1546, there has been one papal decree after another, which has completely make it impossible (even forbidden) for Catholics to have any "fellowship" with Protestants.

Ah, but "time heals all wounds" they say, and like everything else, the giant chasm between Protestant and catholic now seems with the passing of centuries, to appear like just a "little misunderstanding." And Vatican II, which included such sweeping reforms as allowing Mass to be said in the common local language, and no longer forbidding Catholics to read a Protestant Bible, or attend a Protestant church service, seemed to make the differences between Rome and the rest of the fragmented Christian world look very petty.

As you probably might guess, I do not believe this to be the case. In fact, in my research and studies I have only found the opposite to be true, Yes indeed, the Catholic Church is changing! It has probably never changed so much in all its history as during the past generation, but it has not changed one, single, solitary doctrine! Each and every point of dogma that has alarmed evangelical theologians for the past 400 years remains the same, exactly as written, and in full force!

But because of all the changed garments, all the reformed liturgies and ceremonies, and the resulting freedom of worship, Catholics everywhere (as well as many Protestants) have mistakenly believed that something substantial has really changed! But this is not a surprise, it has happened before many times in history. When you change the key, the instruments, or the rhythm of a song, almost everyone will believe you have a new song. Only those who listen carefully to the lyrics, or who know their music well, will realize that yes, the style is different, but the song is the same!

The whole thing seems so sad to me, when I realize how very few there are among Catholics (and Protestants) who really know what Roman Catholicism teaches. It is truly shocking! And what's even more alarming, is the potential for the devil to pull the wool over people's eyes because of their ignorance.

I have received many letters from Catholics in response to the first three Chronicles, which have basically said this: "The Catholic Church has really changed! why not use the current beliefs and teachings that are a result of Vatican II?" Believe me, in each of my articles, I was doing just that! I would be a fool to be refuting doctrines and teaching that are no longer being used. But because Catholic worship is based so much on ritual, ceremony, and symbolic outward forms, the average Catholic believes with all his heart that when he sees these surface things altered, that his church has really changed! You have only to look at the documents of Vatican II to see that this is not the case.

The Need for Vatican II

The Charismatic Movement

The Things That Vatican II Did Not Change

A Scholar Looks at Vatican II

Conclusion

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