By Aude McKee
I. History abundantly shows that any time men lose respect for the absolute and complete authority of God’s Word, there is no stopping place. As the Holy Spirit stated in 2 Timothy 3:13, “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
A. As men first began their “progress” away from divine authority, their steps were “small.”
B. Eventually, enough of these steps were put together to carry the church from Jerusalem to Rome – from the church Jesus built to Catholicism!
II. In our last lesson we gave our attention entirely to Catholicism’s attitude toward authority. We noted these points:
A. Catholics claim the Bible is a Catholic Book.
B. The Scriptures are not inspired and are not infallible.
C. The Scriptures are not sufficient as a rule of faith and practice.
D. Traditions are an authority equal with the Old and New Testaments.
E. The common man is unable to interpret the Scriptures.
F. The Pope is infallible when speaking ex cathedra.
G. Peter was given primacy – he was the first pope.
III. In this lesson, we notice some of the beliefs and practices of Catholicism that are outgrowths of their attitude toward authority.
I. Celibacy (Unmarried Church Officials).
A. The doctrine began in the 4th century. Celibacy was first enjoined at Rome by Gregory VII in 1073.
B. The Council of Trent made the doctrine official church doctrine with the following proclamation:
“If anyone saith that the marriage state is to be preferred before the state of virginity, or celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be united in matrimony, let him be anathema” (Tenth canon, Council of Trent). The same Council decreed: “Whoever shall say that the clergy constituted in sacred order, or regulars, who have solemnly professed chastity, may contract marriage and that the contract is valid, let him be accursed.”
C. In the past, the Church of Rome had imposed universal celibacy on all the “clergy” from Pope to Priest, and from the lowest deacon to the highest Bishop.
1. In Vatican II, pressure was brought by liberal bishops for relaxation of the celibate standards.
2. The law was relaxed only slightly and that for deacons. Men “of more mature age,” already married, were allowed to continue in the married state, but for younger men, the law of celibacy remained intact.
3. The Catholic Church’s attitude toward sex and women was expressed by Pope Paul, when in addressing the 13th Congress of the Italian Women’s Center in 1966, he said: “Conjugal chastity . . . through out the centuries has redeemed women from the slavery of a duty submitted to through force and humiliation.”
D. Bible teaching.
1. Matt. 8:14; 1 Cor. 9:5. Catholic argument that Peter divorced his wife falls in 1 Cor. 9:5. Paul says he was “leading her about.”
2. The teaching in 1 Cor. 7 was in view of “the present distress” (v. 26).
3. Gen. 2:18 is as true today as it was in the beginning.
4. Note 1 Tim. 5:14. The Catholic Church commands certain women not to marry.
5. In the Lord’s church, a bishop must:
a. Be married (1 Tim. 3:2).
b. Have children (1 Tim. 3:4). Note: The Lord’s church and the Catholic Church are two different bodies. Christ rules his (Col. 1:18).
II. The Sacraments.
A. “A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. . . The sacrament gives the grace, which it signifies, by some inherent power attached to the outward sign by Christ Himself, or as theologians say, ex operato, that is, by performing the work which Christ has instituted” (Question Box, p. 747).
B. We notice each of the seven sacrament briefly:
a. Children must be “baptized” (because they are “born in sin”). “The teaching of the church is simply this: Baptism is necessary for children as well as for adults, in order that they may be saved.” “Every child born into this world has the guilt of original sin upon its soul. . . Original sin excludes from heaven unless forgiven. It is forgiven only by baptism. Hence when an unbaptized child dies it cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. . . The soul of the child will not go to heaven, it is true; but neither will it go to a place of torments; it will go to what is called the limbo of infants” (Ibid., pp. 1,5).
b. Baptism can either be by pouring or immersion. “Catholic teaching is that baptism by immersion was very common in Holy Church; but in the course of centuries baptism by pouring has become the common practice because it obviates numerous inconveniences” (Ibid., p. 4). Note the change and the reason for changing!
c. Baptism of desire can replace water baptism. “This brings us to the important point of baptism of desire. In case of necessity this baptism will suffice for salvation” (Ibid., p. 2).
d. Bible teaching on these points:
(1) Matt. 18:3; 19:14; 1 John 3:4.
(2) Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12. By their own admission the word “baptize” is from a Greek word meaning “to dip into water” (Ibid., p. 4).
(3) Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21.
a. Catholics admit that this “sacrament” has no basis in Scripture. “It is not easy to decide when this Sacrament was instituted by our Lord, as Holy Writ does not clearly state it” (Ibid., p. 712).
b. This “sacrament” is defined thus: “A sacrament of the New Law in which a baptized person receives the Holy Ghost, is strengthened in grace and signed and sealed as a soldier of Jesus Christ. The minister in the Latin rite anoints with Chrism and imposes hands, saying, ‘I sign thee with the sign of the cross and confirm thee with the Chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost'” (Catholic Dictionary, p. 122).
3. Holy Eucharist.
a. “A sacrament of the New Law in which, under the appearances of bread and wine, the Body and Blood of Christ are truly, really and substantially present, as the grace-producing food of our souls. Moreover, ‘it is very true that as much is contained under either species as under both; for Christ, whole and entire, exists under the species of bread, and under each particle of that species; and whole under the species of wine, and under its separate parts'” (Ibid., p. 186).
b. Bible teaching:
(1) Jesus was alive when the Lord’s Supper was instituted (Matt. 26:26-30).
(2) “This is my body . . . my blood” is figurative language. (See John 10:9-11; 15:5. Was Jesus a literal door, shepherd and vine?)
(3) 1 Cor. 11:23-34. These Christians were eating bread and drinking the cup (v. 26) in memory of Jesus’ body and blood (vv. 24-25).
c. Beginning in 1415 (Council of Constance) the cup was withheld from the “laity” (see Mk14:23). Those who have attended a Catholic service more recently know this has been changed.
a. “After hearing a penitent’s confession and before giving him absolution, a confessor (priest) must impose a penance. While such a penance rarely nowadays bears any real relation to the gravity of the sins confessed, it must be in some sense proportionate thereto” (Ibid., p. 397).
b. Bible teaching:
(1) Repentance (change of mind about sin) is commanded in the New Testament but penance is unheard of.
(2) Luke 13:1-5; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30; 8:22.
5. Extreme Unction.
a. “A sacrament of the New Law in which, by anointing with oil and the prayers of the priest, health of soul and (sometimes) of body is conferred on a baptized person who is in danger of death through sickness” (Ibid., p. 194).
b. James 5:14-15 is given as Bible authority. These elders of James 5 were married men (Tit. 1:5-6); they were not unmarried priests in the Roman Catholic Church.
c. Each church in New Testament days had a plurality of elders. So, “call for the elders (plural) of the church.”
d. These elders may have had the hands of the apostles laid on them (Acts 8:17-18) and thus been able to perform the miracle of healing (1 Cor. 12:9).
6. Holy Orders.
a. “A sacrament by which bishops, priests, and other ministers of the Church are ordained and receive the power and grace to perform their sacred duties. In addition to the effects and sanctifying grace and sacramental grace, this Sacrament likewise imprints an indelible character upon the soul. Hence, one who is validly ordained priest cannot be deprived of his priesthood, even though he can be suspended from the exercise thereof; nor can he by his own free will, by heresy or apostasy, for example, lose the character imprinted on his soul” (Question Box, pp. 469,470).
b. By this “sacrament” a “layman” is changed into a “clergyman.” Now he has the power to bless anyone or anything, rule the flock, administer the “sacraments” and forgive sins! The Roman Catholic Clergy claims to possess powers even the Lord’s apostles never possessed.
a. “The Sacrament of Matrimony is a contract between a man and a woman both of whom are baptized and free to enter into the contract, to live together for the purpose of begetting and rearing children and of cherishing one another in a common life.” “The marriages of the unbaptized are not sacramental” (Catholic Dictionary, p. 333).
b. In the past if a non-Catholic were to marry a Catholic, the Catholic Church required the non-Catholic to sign the following “prenuptial contract”:
I, the undersigned, not a member of the Catholic Church, wishing to contract marriage with the Catholic party whose signature is also affixed to this mutual agreement, being of sound mind and perfectly free, and only after understanding fully the import of my action, do hereby enter into this mutual agreement, understanding the execution of this agreement and the promises therein contained are made in contemplation of and in consideration for the consent, marriage, and consequent change of status of the hereinafter mentioned Catholic party, and I, therefore, hereby agree:
1. That I will not interfere in the least with the free exercise of the Catholic party’s religion;
2. That I will adhere to the doctrine of the sacred indissolubility of the marriage bond, so that I cannot contract a second marriage while my consort is still alive, even though a civil divorce may have been obtained;
3. That all the children, both boys and girls, that may be born in this union shall be baptized and educated solely in the faith of the Roman Catholic Church, even in the event of the death of my Catholic consort. In case of dispute, I furthermore hereby agree fully that the custody of all children shall be given to such guardians as assure the faithful execution of this covenant and promise in the event that I cannot fulfill it myself;
4. That I will lead a married life in conformity with the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding birth control, realizing fully the attitude of the Catholic Church in this regard:
5. That no other marriage ceremony will take place before or after this ceremony by the Catholic priest.
In testimony of which agreement, I do hereby solemnly swear that I will observe the above agreement and faithfully execute the promises therein contained, and do now affix my signature in approval thereof.
(Signature of non-Catholic party)
c. Some time back an article appeared in the newspaper entitled, “Pope Eases Marriage Bans.”
“The non-Catholic partner to a mixed marriage still must be asked to promise to place no obstacle in the way of education of children in the Roman Catholic faith. If, however, the non-Catholic advances serious objections of conscience, the Bishop is instructed to refer the case to the Holy See for judgment. The intention is expressed to rule on such cases in Rome in the ‘most fervid sense of charity.”‘ (Emphasis mine, A.M.) Not much “ease” here!
“In ordinary circumstances, both Catholic and non-Catholic partners should make their pledges with regard to children in writing, as in the past. But the local bishop is authorized to eliminate this requirement and to rule on whether reference to it should be made in the marriage contract.”
d. On October 31, 1979, I called the priest at the Catholic Church meeting at 1041 Central Ave., Knoxville, TN, and he gave me the following information concerning the requirements for a non-Catholic to marry a Catholic:
(1) The non-Catholic must be free to marry that is, not divorced.
(2) The non-Catholic must agree not to interfere in any way with the Catholic’s religion.
(3) The non-Catholic must have five or six (four months, another priest said) meetings with the priest prior to the ceremony.
(4) The Catholic party must sign a paper agreeing that the children born to the union will be brought up in the Catholic religion, and that all the children born to the union will be baptized as infants.
(5) When the Catholic party signs these papers, the non-Catholic party must be present and thus agree to the stipulations.
(6) The marriage must be performed by a Catholic priest.
A. “The place and state in which souls suffer for a while and are purged (thus the name “purgatory”) after death, before they go to heaven, on account of their sins” (Catholic Dictionary, p. 437).
B. This unscriptural doctrine has encouraged other Catholic promotions:
1 . Indulgences (the remission of the temporal punishment due to those sins of which the guilt has been forgiven).
2. Enlisted people to engage in Crusades.
3. Contributed to extermination of heretics.
4. Used to raise money to build cathedrals.
C. Bible teaching: Heb. 9:27-28; Rev. 22:40-12; Eccl. 11:3.
IV. Veneration of Relics.
A. “The corpse of a saint or any part thereof; any part of his clothing; anything intimately connected with him. The veneration of relics can be traced at least to the middle of the 2nd century and was regulated by the Council of Trent, which directed that no new relics should be admitted without episcopal authentication” (Ibid., p. 448).
B. It is said that Rome has the comb of the rooster that crowded for Peter; bones of the apostles, wood from the cross, etc.
C. This is grounded in heathenism and superstition not divine authority.
A. “The images especially of Christ, of the Virgin Mother of God, and of other saints, are to be had and kept in churches and due honor and reverence paid to them; not because it is believed that there is any divinity or power in them or that anything may be asked from them, or that any faith may be put in them . . . but because the honor shown to them is referred to the prototypes which they represent; so that through these images which we kiss and before which we bow with bared heads, we worship Christ and honor the saints whose likeness they display” (Council of Trent).
B. Joe Malone, in “Why I left the Catholic Church” (p. 219) states: “Life Magazine, reporting the ceremonies in Ottawa, Canada, in June, 1947, at the Marian Congress, pointed out that a great procession of devout people knelt and kissed the foot of the giant statue of Mary ‘until the paint wore off its toes.”‘
C. Bible teaching.
1. Ex. 20:4-5; Rom. 1:21-25; Acts 17:29-30.
2. What about pictures of Jesus today?
a. Who knows what he looked like?
b. Did he have long hair (1 Cor. 11:14)?
c. Jesus left us what he wanted us to have to remind us (Luke 22:1920). Are the Lord’s arrangements sufficient?
A. Three basic false assumptions:
1. Immaculate Conception
“By authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a special grace and privilege of the Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved free from the stain of all original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore is to be firmly and steadfastly believed by all the faithful” (Ex cathedra declaration of Pope Pius IX, December 8, 1894).
a. This false doctrine was invented to escape the consequences of the false doctrine of hereditary total depravity.
b. See Matt. 18:3; 19:14; Ezek. 18:19-20.
2. Perpetual Virginity. “It is also a Catholic faith that our Lady remained a virgin throughout her life” (Catholic Dictionary, p. 548). See Matt. 1:24-25; 13:55-56.
3. Bodily Assumption.
a. Made an official dogma November 1, 1950.
b. “The modern movement to have the belief included as Catholic Dogma was started in 1863 when Isabella II, queen of Spain, asked Pope Pius IX for a papal ruling on the. matter. Catholic belief in the bodily assumption is based on the statement of Saint John of Damascus, born about 676, that her tomb, when opened upon the request of Saint Thomas, was found empty and the apostles therefore concluded that the body was taken up to heaven” (from a Vatican news release carried in the newspaper in the fall of 1950).
B. Mary is called the “Mother of God.” Prayers are made to her.
1 . “Mary is the Mother of Jesus, Jesus is God, therefore she is the Mother of God. . . . Mary is the spiritual mother of all living; Catholics venerate her with an honor above that accorded to other saints, but differently from the divine worship given to God only; they pray to her, and she in heaven intercedes with her Son, God the Son, for them” (Catholic Dictionary, p. 329).
2. See 1 Tim. 2:5 and John 14:14. Jesus is the only mediator and prayer is to be made to God in the name of Jesus Christ!
3. No special honor is accorded her in the New Testament. See Luke 11:27-28. The Lord honors. people for their obedience to his teaching!
1. These teachings only scratch the surface of Roman Catholic Dogmas.
2. These help us to see how far men can go away from God when once they begin to delve into human wisdom.
3. We love our Catholic friends and neighbors and trust that these lessons will better to equip us to help them return to the truth that will free from sin.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 14, pp. 422-423, 435-436
July 21, 1988