—-Roman Catholicism: the Other Christianity?

Matthew 7
21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

[See also: Benedict says stuff: FOXNews.com – U.S. & World News – Pope Encyclical Mandates Charity from the article on the Other Page.]
This topic keeps coming up, probably because the discipline required to counteract it causes so much pain on both sides. I grew up with Catholic schoolmates…there are quite a few Catholics in our extended family. I’m not saying these things out of hatred or anger at Catholics. There have been many examples of courageous and positive role models among Catholics in recent memory—John Paul II, Teresa, and others. A lot of peoples’ favorite author and one of mine, J.R.R. Tolkein, was Catholic. In the referenced news story, Benedict has said some things that sound remarkably like real Christian theology. Are we to conclude that these genuinely admirable individuals and their contributions to humanity somehow missed the point, fell short of the mark, and ultimately failed to meet God’s requirements for Salvation?

Romans 3
23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

We continue to believe and teach, as Paul did, that our Salvation is solely in our faith in Jesus, in our acceptance of His Sacrifice which reconciles us to God (Romans 10:9-11).
In 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, Paul proclaims the things that Love worthy of God is not. Contrary to all human expectation, it is possible to have superhuman wisdom, to give everything we have to the poor, and even give up our lives for others, and still utterly miss the point. What is this “Love” that Paul is talking about? John also speaks to the subject:

1 John 4
8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Last year, we visited churches in France and the Vatican. I stood in these architecturally awesome places, and felt that deathly emptiness imbued with an overpowering aura of unapproachable superiority that can only come from an appalling ignorance of God. This is that horrific and ancient cult that teaches the “ascension and coronation of the virgin”, and the “eternal ever-virgin”, and leads people to worship ground-water seepages on underpasses and wrinkles in screen doors, and to travel to obscure grottos in Eastern Europe to see apparitions of their “great lady”, and so lures them away from the freely offered Grace of God’s Love in the person of Jesus Christ, and the Power that rescues hopeless sinners like all of us and changes their lives forever.
If your faith is in foolishness the people have made up because God’s Way doesn’t meet their expectations, you are going to live and die separated from His Love. Even very good and noble people are not good and noble enough to meet God’s standards apart from the Grace that comes through Jesus Christ. There is still time for the rest of us.


8 responses to “—-Roman Catholicism: the Other Christianity?

  1. Interesting, that for all the hatred in your last paragraph, you still made a pilgrimage to the Vatican in Rome.

  2. I’m afraid you describe the Catholic Church that exists only in your own mind and in the propaganda you’ve swallowed.

    It might help if you actually learn what the Catholic Church truly is before you begin to tell other Christians that they’re going to hell for being Catholics.

    Then again, you can continue to blaspheme against the Lord and his body. I’m sure that will spread the Gospel quite well!

  3. Well, at least I finally provoked non-spam comments. Now I discover that I didn’t have all the options set up.

    Anonymous, there’s a difference between legitimate criticism and “hatred”. I think I covered the “hatred” issue pretty well. (In fact, the recent postings were actually directed mostly to the other Baptists.)
    The “pilgrimage” wasn’t religious. Christians have no need for Holy sites, other than the one in their hearts occupied by the Holy Spirit.
    Most of my interest in St. Peter’s and the French Gothic cathedrals, for example, stems from my engineering background. That Michelangelo topped off his artistic career by designing much of the architectural wonder of St. Peter’s and its two-layered dome is of great historical and technical interest. That he also had to hide his designs until construction began to avoid constant political meddling is perhaps symptomatic of his environment.
    We also sent postcards from the Vatican post office to various friends and family, noting that they were postmarked from the world’s smallest nation.

    “Holy”, please provide a reference to Scripture to show me what blasphemy I might have committed. The charge would require that I have spoken in contradiction to God’s Word. Although I may indulge in anger a little too often, that’s not the same as blasphemy.
    As I mentioned in the article, I have about as much experience with Roman Catholicism as is possible without actual participation. There is a significant number of recent converts from Catholicism in our local Church, so I also have some basis for understanding aside from my own experience as well.
    I would like to understand the Scriptural basis for such doctrines of the Roman Catholic church as the “ascention and coronation of the virgin”. (I didn’t happen to get any pictures of that basilica) The only Scriptural refenence I know of for the “queen of heaven” is from Jeremiah, and that isn’t very supportive of the concept. Please explain.

  4. …about what I expected. A week later, and no response.

    If you’re going to post cut-and-paste comments, and least be ready with cut-and-paste Scriptural references to support them.

    …and if the religious practices which you characterize as “Christian” have no basis in the Christian Scriptures, what should that be telling you?

  5. Sorry for the delay in responding; however, I’ve been ill with the flu that’s been going around.

    My main point is that you went from the beautiful and loving Book of Romans to a fairly ugly ending paragraph.

    I fail to see how phrases like “unapproachable superiority”, “appalling ignorance of God”, and “horrific and ancient cult” are “legitimate criticism”. They seem more like name calling than factual arguements.

    I’m just a bit sad that you were able to enter a place where God has been worshiped for nearly a millenium (centuries before America was discovered) and not feel any connection to the early church, our Christian ancestors, or the real presence of Christ. I was positively thrilled when, living on Crete, I had the oportunity to worship at the Church of St Titus, which Paul established. Cold, windy, drizzle, no roof, barely any walls and yet I was in communion with Christians from nearly 2000 years before.

    I do understand your phrase “deathly emptiness imbued” as I feel that emotion when in most Protestant churches. Although I never felt that in any of the old Anglican churches and cathedrals in England.

    While your comment concerning wayward Catholics in your Church is meant to persuade and add gravitas, I am more persuaded by the testimonies of these non-Catholic men of the cloth.

    Marcus Grodi

    Scott Hahn

    and the more than 40 other similar testimonies

    God bless and keep you on your journey home…

    – Timothy

  6. Hi Tim—
    Even the “beautiful and loving Book of Romans” wasn’t uncritical. Paul wasn’t “nice” to the Romans or the Corinthians, and he certainly didn’t hold back when he wrote the Galatians! He wrote the way he did because he cared what happened to them!
    For an example of “ugly”, see the third picture in my next post. We paid a small fee to see the “treasury” of Notre Dame in Paris; a collection of presumably historic vestments and utensils, and dozens of jars of nasty, blackened knuckle bones and other skeletal body parts. They had both of this poor guy’s femurs in gold boxes on pillows. It took months to get that image out of my head. The morbidity of the place was literal as well as figurative and spiritual.
    [I had a few things to say earlier about morbidity problems among Baptists. The Baptists would “protest”, incidentally, that they aren’t Protestants, because they didn’t derive their religious practices from “reformation” of Roman Catholicism. They still frequently manage to make their own style of hellishness out of church-going.]
    We could bandy architectural metaphors at length, but this is all unresponsive to the original question: What does Catholic religious practice have to do with the teachings of Jesus? Does this worship/adoration of the “virgin”, “ascension and coronation” business have any basis in the Law, the Prophets, or the Gospels, or is it simply a rebadged Ishtar/Asteroth/Juno/Hera/”queen of heaven” for people to cling to so they won’t have to be challenged with the Truth that would otherwise change their lives (2 Corinthians 5:17)?
    Catholics use some of the most convoluted “theology” I have ever heard to demand that Mary was “ever-virgin”—that His “adelphoi” were “cousins”, that Joseph was married to another woman named Mary…Why? To what conceivable advantage?!
    Why do you need this horrific baggage of dead mens’ bones and renamed goddesses, when you can simply learn what Jesus said and did, accept His Sacrifice by faith (Romans 8:1-4), and put His words into action in your life?

  7. I’m sorry, Tim, but I just don’t have the column inches to continue the discussion in this direction, or to publicize other discussions that may or may not be responsive to the question at hand. You mentioned a Protestant minister named Hahn, but didn’t supply a link.
    Again, if there is no basis in the Gospels or the apostles’ letters for what you think of as Christianity, you’re mistaken. Let’s leave the bones and the stones, and talk about the Spiritual basics of the faith.
    But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26, NIV).

  8. Oh, I met the “other Mary” theory in several places on the Web. It is probably of recent origin, since the contrived reinterpretation of the Greek “adelphoi” doesn’t exactly resonate.

  9. Guys? Oh, well…can we at least conclude by your lack of relevant response that your “belief system” has no basis in Jesus’ teachings or Example, or in any other place in the Law, the Prophets, the Gospels, or the letters of the apostles? It is by every reasonable definition a completely different religion from Christianity, which necessarily implies some reference to what Jesus said and did.
    Okay, so you obviously can expound whatever crank theology you wish, along with the Scientologists, the Mormons, the Adventists, the Witnesses, the Branch Davidiwhatits, and so on and on. The deep, genuine offense is that this institution presumes to authoritatively teach these preposterous legends to others in the Name (cp. Matthew 23:13-15). Can you at least explain why?–>

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