THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
"The Catholic Church had an embryonic beginning. The early church departed from the simplicity of a congregational form of government, guided by the New Testament as the only Rule of Faith and Practice, and permitted more and more authority to be vested in the bishops of the various churches. By the middle of the second century the church was well united under the authority of the bishops who gradually came to be regarded as successors to the apostles. In opposition to the heresies creeping in, the church came to be called the catholic or universal church. The adoption of a creed as the rule of faith and practice in the third century put forth the bud, the union of church and state under Constantine, and the writing of the Nicene Creed in 325 brought forth the flower; while the setting up of a papa or pope as the ecclesiastical head of the church, culminating in the doctrine of his infallibility in 1870, produced the fruit as manifested in the Catholic Church of today." (Churches of Today In the Light of Scripture, L. G. Tomlinson, p. 17)
The Roman Catholic Church suffered a severe split in 1054, when a controversy over the wording of the Nicene Creed (along with jealousies) caused the Bishop of Constantinople to break away from the pope's influence, thus forming the Eastern Orthodox (Greek Orthodox) Churches.
From a study of church history, it is quite easy to see the gradual development of the Roman Catholic Church (see Lesson One). While the Roman Catholic Church claims succession from the apostles, the Bible shows many, many apostasies in this church which has been formulated and fostered by the wisdom of men.
BASIC DOCTRINES OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
I. THE INFALLIBILITY OF THE CHURCH.
A. Roman Catholic Church Claims:
1. "Infallibility: A special gift whereby the Church is preserved from teaching error in matters of faith and morals. This is seen as a direct effect of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church." (Catholic Word Book, Reprinted from the 1973 Catholic Almanac, p. 23.
2. "All interpretations of Scripture ultimately are subject to the teaching authority (magisterium) of the Church, a power given by God to the Church precisely to guard and interpret His message correctly." (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Vatican Council II, "Divine Revelation," p. 13)
3. Sources of authority for the Catholic Church:
a. The Bible (Old and New Testament).
b. The Apocrypha - Books of unknown origin. Established as equal with Biblical writings by the Council of Trent, 1546.
c. Sacred Tradition - Unwritten, oral teachings handed down from and His apostles through the Church and Church Fathers to the present.
d. "Her supreme rule of faith ever has been and ever will be the scriptures together with sacred tradition." (Ibid., p. 20, emp. added)
1. The church has the responsibility to teach and spread the truth - 1 Tim. 3:15; Matthew 28:19-20.
2. The church has not been made the final and ultimate "court of appeal" when it comes to interpreting the Bible (No such Bible teaching).
3. The Scriptures are for all, and understandable by all - Acts 17:11; Eph. 3:3-4; 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:15.
4. Consider Matthew 16:18 (Used to defend their position). Here, Jesus assures the building and the perpetuity of His church -- He did not promise to make the church infallible! (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Rev. 3:14-16)
5. Source of authority? The Bible is sufficient - 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3; Jude 3. (Matt. 21:23-27)
6. The "tradition" of the apostles is the inspired word of truth - 2 Thess. 2:15; 1 Cor. 11:2.
a. Teachings handed down from the apostles to the Christians which was first spoken, then written.
b. The word of God - 1 Thess. 2:13.
II. THE PAPACY.
A. Roman Catholic Church Claims:
1. The Primacy Of Peter.
a. Use three Bible texts in an effort to defend this doctrine: Matthew 16:18-20; Luke 22:31-32; John 21:15-17.
b. "Because he was given the task of guiding the faithful, Peter received supreme authority over all;...." ("The Papacy: Expression Of God's Love," p. 6)
2. The Pope - Head of the Church and Vicar Of Christ.
[Vicar: "One deputed or authorized to perform the functions of another; a substitute in office; a deputy, the pope as representing Christ on earth" (Dictionary.com)]
a. "According to Catholic doctrine, bishops are indeed the successors of the Apostles, and each bishop, from this fact, possesses the right to bind and to loose." (Ibid., p. 25)
b. "Only the Catholic Church... does not cease to recognize the Bishop of Rome as head of the universal Church, and to honor him as the direct successor of Simon Peter. (Ibid., pp. 12-13)
c. "The Pope is the Vicar of Christ; he rules as the visible head of the Church upon earth for the welfare of all the faithful. He is the Bishop of Rome, the Patriarch of the West, the Supreme Pontiff, the Servant of the Servants of God." (Ibid., p. 4)
-THE BIBLE (cf. 2 Thess. 2:3-4):
1. The Apostles Did Not Have Rank Established Among Themselves:
a. Binding and loosing authority given to all apostles - Matt. 16:19; 18:18; John 20:23.
b. Distinctions warned against - Matt. 20:25-28; 23:8-12; cf. 2 Cor. 11:5; 12:11.
2. Christ Is Head Of His Church - Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18; 1 Pet. 2:4-6.
(No "vicar" appointed on earth!)
3. Christ Is The Foundation Of His Church (not Peter) - 1 Cor. 3:11; Acts 4:10-12.
4. Peter Was Not A Pope:
a. Peter was married - Matt. 8:14; 1 Cor. 9:5.
b. Peter refused worship - Acts 10:25-26.
c. Peter was an elder - 1 Pet. 5:1.
5. Peter Was Not Infallible - Gal. 2:11-14. (No man is! - Rom. 3:23; Gal. 6:3; 1 Jno. 1:8, 10)
C. History: First Recognized Pope - Boniface III, 606 AD.
III. THE SACRAMENTS.
[Sacrament: "Something regarded as sacred...a symbol or token...a solemn oath." (Webster's New World Dictionary)]
A. Roman Catholic Claims:
1. "The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the body of Christ, and finally, to give worship to God." (Vatican Council II, On the Sacred Liturgy #59)
2. "Through the sacraments, which are the continuing actions of Christ in His Church, He carries on here and now the work of salvation. He is now to be known and encountered in those sacred outward actions or signs He uses in the sacraments." ("Christ's Seven Sacraments," p. 2, emp. added)
3. "Sacraments are signs and gestures of the Lord's loving work of salvation which continues through history." (Ibid., p. 20)
1. This concept is foreign to the Bible.
2. Romans 5:21 - "Grace reigns through righteousness." We receive grace (favor) from God when we live righteously (Acts 10:34-35; Titus 2:11-12).
B. The Roman Catholic Church Has Seven Such Sacraments:
a. For infants as well as adults.
b. Sprinkling is sufficient.
c. "Baptism of Desire" - The desire to do all that God wants out of love for Him.
d. "Baptism of Blood" - Martyrdom for the faith of Christ.
a. For believers (not infants) - Mark 16:16.
b. Immersion - Acts 8:38; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12.
2. Confirmation. RCC teaches that in Confirmation one receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit to make him strong and perfect in the faith.
a. "Confirmation" is not taught in the Bible.
b. The Christian gains strength through prayer, Bible study and encouragement from faithful brethren (Heb. 4:16; 1 Pet. 2:1-2; 2 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 10:24-25).
3. Penance or Confession. Teach that a priest absolves one's sins upon confession of them to him.
a. God forgives sins - Mark 2:5-10; 1 Jno. 1:9; 2:1.
b. Confess and pray to God - 1 Jno. 1:9; Acts 8:22.
4. Holy Eucharist. The bread and wine become the actual Body and Blood of Christ in the Consecration at Mass (Transubstantiation).
a. Matthew 26:26-28 - Was not literally His body and blood -- He was "outside" the bread and fruit of the vine!
b. 1 Cor. 11:23-26; 10:16 - A memorial, a proclamation and a communion. Not another sacrifice of Christ - Hebrews 10:12.
5. Marriage (Matrimony). Marriage between Catholics is a sacramental contract which provides grace from God to the couple. It can never be dissolved.
a. Silent regarding marriage as a "sacrament" for Christians.
b. Marriage was ordained by God for all of mankind (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6; Heb. 13:4).
c. One reason for divorce and remarriage: fornication (sexual immorality) - Matthew 19:9.
6. Holy Orders. Ceremonies by which bishops, priests and officers of the Church are ordained into office.
-No such ceremonies found in the New Testament. (Col. 3:17; Heb. 8:4; 1 Pet. 4:11)
7. Anointing of the Sick or Extreme Unction. Anointing to give health and strength to the soul (remission of sins) and sometimes to the body when one is at the point of death.
a. James 5:14 - When sick, medicinal assistance along with prayer.
b. While Catholics claim this is effective even after death, the Bible teaches no such practice.
IV. OTHER MAJOR DOCTRINES OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
A. The Priesthood.
1. RCC: The priest is the means of access between the sinner and God.
"....the priest acts in the place of Christ Himself." ("The Catholic Priesthood -- Training And Ministry," p. 12)
-THE BIBLE: There is one Mediator and Advocate -- Christ! (1 Tim. 2:5; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1)
2. RCC: Duties include administering most of the sacraments and preaching the word of God.
"It is the duty of a priest to offer sacrifice, says the ritual ordination. But the sacrifice that he offers is that of Christ Himself." (Ibid., p. 2)
-THE BIBLE: All Christians are priests - 1 Peter 2:5, 9. Christians sacrifice themselves to God - Romans 12:1.
3. RCC: Requires celibacy and poverty of priests.
-THE BIBLE: 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 1 Cor. 9:5; 1 Cor. 9:14; 2 Cor. 11:8; 1 Tim. 6:10.
1. RCC: Degrees of sin.
a. Mortal sin - "Involving serious matter, sufficient reflection and full consent -- results in total alienation from God, making a person dead to sanctifying grace, incapable of performing meritorious supernatural acts and subject to everlasting punishment." ("Catholic Word Book," Reprint of 1973 Catholic Almanac, p. 40)
b. Venial sin - A lesser violation which injures friendship with God (but does not dissolve it).
-THE BIBLE: No degrees of sin - Isa. 59:1-2; Rom. 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:56; Heb. 3:13.
1. RCC: "The state or condition in which those who have died in the state of grace suffer for a time before they are admitted to the glory and happiness of heaven. In this state and period of passive suffering, they are purified of unrepented venial sins, satisfy the demands of divine justice for temporal punishment due for sins, and are thus converted to a state of worthiness of the beatific vision." (Ibid., p. 35)
-THE BIBLE: Hebrews 9:27; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Peter 2:9 - No second chance.
D. Mariology (The Veneration of Mary).
[Veneration: "The act of venerating, or the state of being venerated; the highest degree of respect and reverence; respect mingled with awe; a feeling or sentimental excited by the dignity, wisdom, or superiority of a person, by sacredness of character, by consecration to sacred services, or by hallowed associations." (Dictionary.com)
1. RCC: Mary, the "Mother of God."
a. Mary did not impart Jesus divine nature to Him -- He existed before His physical birth - John 1:1, 14.
b. "The mother of Jesus" (John 2:1; Acts 1:14) and "the mother of my Lord" (Luke 1:43).
2. RCC: The Immaculate Conception. (Proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854)
a. "The preservation of Mary from inheriting the stain of original sin is commonly called the Immaculate Conception." (The Mother of Jesus, p. 20)
b. "She was conceived immaculate by her mother...." (Ibid.)
c. Also believe Mary was never guilty of personal sin. (Council of Trent, 1547, 23rd canon on justification).
a. Sin is not inherited - Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 5:12.
b. Only Jesus was free from committing sin - Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22.
3. RCC: The Perpetual Virginity Of Mary.
a. "In the fourth century ever-virgin became a popular title for Mary." (The Teaching of Christ, p. 119)
b. Logical extension of Immaculate Conception. Otherwise, her other children would have been born without "original sin!"
-Mary had other children - Matthew 1:25; 13:55-56; Acts 1:14.
4. RCC: Mary's Bodily Assumption. (Proclaimed by Pope Pius XII in 1950)
"That Marys body did not decompose in the grave but was reunited by God to her soul and after her death, and that she was thus taken to her eternal reward in heaven, is the teaching of the Catholic Church which is commonly called Mary's Assumption." (The Mother of Jesus, p. 24)
- Jesus ascended, not Mary - John 3:13.
5. RCC: Mediatrix.
"By her maternal charity, Mary cares for the brethren of her son who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led to their happy fatherland. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix and Mediatrix." (The Documents of Vatican II, pp. 91-92)
-One Mediator between God and man....Jesus - 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 7:25; 1 Jno. 2:1.
V. ORGANIZATION OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
A. Hierarchical In Structure.
1. Pope - Supreme authority in matters of faith and discipline.
2. College of Cardinals - Advisors to the pope; Supervise the administration of the church.
3. Archbishops - In charge of archdiocese and has precedence in that province.
4. Bishops - Ruling authority in a diocese.
5. Priests (Parish Pastors) - Serves a parish; Celebrates Mass and administers the sacraments.
6. Deacons - Can be married; Preach, baptize, officiate at weddings and distribute Holy Communion.
B. Ecclesiastical Councils.
1. General Council - Called by the pope; Composed of all Catholic bishops in the world; Its actions on doctrine and discipline must be approved by the pope.
2. Plenary or National Council - Bishops in a country; Actions must be approved by the pope.
3. Diocesan or Provincial Council - Apply the decrees passed on by the other councils.
1. No world-wide organization of the church in the New Testament.
2. Local organization - Acts 14:23; Phil. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:2.
3. No councils to make or establish doctrine - cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. How do you think the doctrine of an infallible church affects the Catholics attitude toward personal involvement in investigating the validity of the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church?
2. What sources do Catholics use to establish authority for their doctrines and practices?
3. How do Catholics define "tradition?"
4. Give one scripture Catholics use in support of their "Primacy of Peter" doctrine, and know how it is used.
5. When was papal infallibility established by the Roman Catholic Church?
6. What does "Vicar of Christ" mean?
7. What is the purpose of the sacraments? Name the seven sacraments of Roman Catholic Church.
8. What transformation do Catholics believe occurs in the Holy Eucharist?
9. Who is man's mediator between him and God? Give scriptures to support your answer.
10. What classifications of sin exist in Catholicism?
11. What is purgatory?
12. How does the Catholic doctrine of Mariology illustrate the development of dogma Catholicism?
13. What is the Immaculate Conception?
14. Prove from the Bible that the Perpetual Virginity of Mary is false.
15. What did the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) announce about the Virgin Mary?