Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity
Bob Jones illustrates why Paul is the true founder of Christianity, in particular Protestantism. Why does Bob never quote Jesus?
Often, when Protestants criticize Roman Catholic doctrine, apologists will claim that the Catholic Church has changed its position in recent years. Defenders of Catholicism contend, for example, that the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent (1545-63) are no longer relevant. For that reason, the following citations of Catholic teaching are drawn from the most recent official summary of Catholic belief, the Catechismus Ecclesiae Catholicae (Catechism of the Catholic Church).
The numbers given in parentheses after each citation refer to paragraph numbers in the English version of that work: Catechism of the Catholic Church (Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1994).
Since the media has called so much attention to the differences between Bible-believing Christians and Roman Catholicism, perhaps it would serve a good purpose to list a few of those differences in belief.
|Scripture and Tradition|
The Bible and Tradition are equally authoritative channels of God's revelation. "Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence" (82). "'Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God,' in which, as in a mirror, the pilgrim Church contemplates God, the source of all her riches" (97). "We believe all 'that which is contained in the word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church proposes for belief as divinely revealed'" (182).
|Biblical Teaching |
The Scripture alone is the authority and guide for salvation and every facet of the Christian life. In II Timothy 3:15-17 Paul tells Timothy that "the holy Scriptures . . . are able to make thee wise unto salvation." Furthermore, Paul says that the inspired Scriptures are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," making the Christian "thoroughly furnished" (completely equipped) for "all good works." No other source of revelation is needed.
Justification, by which a person is made righteous before God, is through faith and good works. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man" (1989). "With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted to us" (1991). "Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy" (1992).
Justification is the act by which God declares-not makes-the sinner righteous by imputing (or crediting) Christ's righteousness to the sinner; He imputes this righteousness without regard to any good works performed by the believer. Paul points out that this was the case of Abraham (Rom. 4:1-8) who "believed God, and it was counted [imputed or credited] unto him for righteousness." Abraham believed "on him that justifieth the ungodly." "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal. 2:16).
|Good Works and Salvation
Good works are necessary to maintaining and improving one's salvation. "No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods" (2027). "The church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation" (1129).
Salvation is completely by grace through faith apart from works. The apostle Paul wrote to Titus that it is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us" by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, "that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs" (Titus 3:5-7). Elsewhere Paul says that it is "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-10).
There is an intermediate state, called Purgatory, in which Christians are purified by paying the temporal penalty for any sins they did not pay for through confession and penance while on earth. "All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect" (1030-31).
|Biblical Teaching |
There is no evidence in the Bible for any state in the afterlife other than heaven or hell. Furthermore, the Bible asserts that Christ's sacrifice is sufficient to liberate the believer from all condemnation in this world and the next. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth" (Rom. 8:33). Christ "is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him" . Paul says that "to be absent from the body" is "to be present with the Lord" (II Cor. 5:8).
The pope, when speaking officially on religious matters, is infallible (protected from error) in his pronouncements. "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful-who confirms his brethren in the faith-he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals" (891).
|Biblical Teaching |
The reply to this teaching is the same as that concerning the Catholic use of Tradition. The Bible contains all truth sufficient for salvation and for Christian living (II Tim. 3:15-17). Therefore, no doctrinal pronouncement of any pope is binding on the conscience of a Christian unless such a pronouncement reflects the teachings of Scripture.
|Intercession of Mary and the Saints
The virgin Mary and the saints intercede for believers and share in Christ's mediation. "Taken up to heaven she [Mary] did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix" (969). "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . [T]hey do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus. . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped" (956).
|Biblical Teaching |
Paul states plainly that "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Tim. 2:5). God hears Christians without intermediaries: "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us" (I John 5:14). Also there is no special class of "saints," for all believers are saints because they "are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints" (I Cor. 1:2).
|Immaculate Conception of Mary
At her birth, the virgin Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin inherited from Adam. "Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, 'full of grace' through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: 'The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin'" (491).
|Biblical Teaching |
The Bible teaches the universal sinfulness of humanity (Rom. 3:10-18, 23) and makes specific exception from this sinfulness only for Jesus Christ (II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15).
|The Mass |
Each time it is performed, the Mass, or celebration of the Eucharist, is the literal offering of the real body and blood of Christ in sacrifice under the signs of bread and wine. "Because it is the memorial of Christ's Passover, the Eucharist is also a sacrifice. The sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution: 'This is my body which is given for you' and 'This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.' In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he 'poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'" (1365). "The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: 'The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.' 'In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner'" (1367).
|Biblical Teaching |
The Bible teaches that Christ's sacrifice was a one-time, "once-for-all" sacrifice that need never be repeated. "So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many" (Heb. 9:28). Christians "are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God. . . . For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Heb. 10:10-14).
It is obvious that these positions are mutually exclusive. They cannot both be believed and embraced at the same time. One is right; the other is wrong. The Protestant Reformation, the break with Rome under Luther in the 1500s, was over these and other major differences. At Bob Jones University we believe the Bible. We desire that every person outside of Christ, be he Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Islamic, Jewish, Mormon, or whatever, should come to put his faith in Christ alone through the revelation of Himself that He has given in the Scriptures, His Holy Word, the Bible. We have no other authority!
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