Thursday, February 17, 2011

Unbiblical Practices of the Catholic Church

I was born and raised as a devout Roman Catholic, and served as an altar boy for many years until about age sixteen. You can read my testimony online about how I was lost in sin when Jesus found me at age nineteen. But since the day He came into my heart, I’ve never been the same.

From that moment, I decided that I wanted the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth. So I decided that I would go to God’s Word to find it, rather than church catechisms. Wherever God’s Word confirmed what I had been taught as a Catholic, I retained that belief or practice. But wherever God’s Word contradicted Catholic doctrine, I rejected the doctrine and embraced the teaching of Scripture.

I’d like to begin by saying that many of my dearest friends and family are devout Catholics, and this is in no way meant to be a shot at them. I still love them and care for them. But this is about the false teachings found in the Catholic Church that are hurting those very same people, whether they realize it or not. It’s because I care about those in the Catholic Church that I feel compelled to write this. Eventually I may publish additional posts here exposing the false teachings of other Christian denominations, including Protestant ones, and other religions.

But for now, these are just some of the things practiced and taught in the Catholic Church that are unbiblical:

Priests Forbidden to Marry
It's a well-known fact that Catholic priests are not allowed to marry. Yet there is no place in Scripture where we find that those who have oversight in the Church must remain celibate. In fact, the apostle Peter, whom the Catholic Church teaches was the first pope, was married.

“Mark’s gospel records that “When Jesus came into Peter's home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him.” (Mat 8:14-15)

The apostle Paul warned against those who forbid others to marry. He wrote: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.” (1Ti 4:1-3).

Paul also wrote to the Corinthians regarding the fact that he had the right to take a believing wife, just as Peter and the rest of the apostles, as well as the brothers of the Lord Jesus had done. He stated: “Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” (1Co 9:5).

While those who remain single are better suited to maintain undivided devotion to the Lord, not all are able to do this. When priests who are forbidden to marry burn with passion, they have been known to satisfy their desires on innocent prey, such as children. This has hurt countless thousands of people and brought enormous disgrace upon the Catholic Church, as well as the name of Christ.

Clergy-Laity Distinction
As I noted in my blog on this topic, it is unbiblical to make a distinction between clergy and laity. Scripture teaches that there must be no divisions in the Body. All disciples in the kingdom of God are priests (1Pe 2:5,9-10; Rev 1:6).

The use of titles
The Catholic Church is very hierarchical and uses many titles. For example, when addressing the following people in person, you must call the Pope "Holy Father," while a Cardinal is "Your Eminence," an Archbishop is "Your Excellency," and a priest is "Father." All of these titles are completely unscriptural.

This was another main point in my blog on the clergy-laity distinction. As I stated there, we have only One Leader, and His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself taught us not to use titles like “Father,” “Leader,” or “Rabbi” to distinguish ourselves or set ourselves apart from other believers. He said, "But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Mat 23:8-11). So we should not use titles of any kind, such as “Father,” “Bishop,” "Reverend," "Most Reverend," "Right Reverend," etc.  The Lord doesn't know you by that.  He knows you by your name. You shouldn’t let anyone address you with titles, and you should not address anyone with titles.

Focus on Mary
The Catholic Church has a very strong focus on Mary, even to the point of being idolatrous. They teach that one must trust in her as Queen Mother. They teach that she is not only the mother of Jesus but our mother also. Most devout Catholics pray the rosary once each day, which is a series of ritual recitations that are repeated to Mary. There are fifty of these recitations to Mary and only ten to the Heavenly Father. That’s a five to one ratio, revealing an extraordinary emphasis on Mary. This goes against Jesus teaching to pray to the Heavenly Father (Mat 6:9), and His warning not to pray with vain repetition like the pagans do, thinking they will be heard because of their many words (Mat 6:7).

Likewise, as I mentioned in my blog on Bearing Christ Within, when people sought to emphasize Mary, Jesus corrected them. “One of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed." But He said, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it." (Luk 11:27-28). He clearly said, “On the contrary,” when he responded to them, showing that he disagreed with any special emphasis on Mary.

On one occasion, when Jesus was told that His mother and brothers were looking for Him, He responded by saying that His mother and brothers are those who do the will of His Father in heaven. "While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, 'Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.' But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, 'Who is My mother and who are My brothers?' And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, 'Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.' " (Mat 12:46-50). He gave no special recognition to Mary above other people, and neither should we.

Mary is a precious woman of God who is now in heaven. She is not the Queen of Heaven. The King of Heaven is Jesus, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords; the One who says: "I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. (John 14:6-7).  And He has no queen.  There is none beside Him, except the Father.

For more about this matter, click here to see the text of a visit to hell on January 4, 2010 by Angelica Zambrano. You may also read what Jesus Christ told Bernarda Fernandez during her visit to heaven (see here).

To those worshiping idols of any kind in any way, especially the Roman Catholics, the Lord says you should stop doing that or else He will crush you and cast you from His sight into the lake of fire, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, and their smoke shall rise forever (see Messages from the Lord for Catholics Worshipping Idols).

Immaculate Conception
The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was without stain, which in Latin is called macula. This is where the false teaching of the immaculate conception comes from. They teach that she was preserved by God from the original sin. They teach that she "was free from any personal or hereditary sin".

Yet in the Word of God we find that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23). This includes Mary. The Scripture does not teach that Mary was without sin. In fact, she herself said, "My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (Luk 1:46-47). She called God her Savior, not “a savior” or even “the savior”. She referred to Him as her personal savior, indicating that she too was relying upon Him to save her.

Perpetual virginity
The Catholic church teaches that Mary remained a virgin after she gave birth to Jesus. While it is well established in Scripture that she was a virgin at the time of Jesus’ conception and birth, no where does it teach that she remained a virgin afterward.

Scripture states that “Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” (Mat 1:24-25). It was only until she gave birth to Jesus that Joseph kept her a virgin. After that they had normal union together.

We know this, because the Scripture records that Jesus had numerous siblings, including brothers and sisters. The apostle Paul referred to “the brothers of the Lord.” (1 Cor 9:5). One of them was James, who wrote the book of the Bible by the same name.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, on one occasion Jesus was beckoned by His mother and brothers. "While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, 'Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.' But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, 'Who is My mother and who are My brothers?' And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, 'Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.' " (Mat 12:46-50). It’s very clear that Jesus had brothers.

The people in His hometown did not believe in Him, because they watched Him grow up as a boy, and could only see Him as the carpenter’s son. When they said so, they referred to his brothers, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, as well as his sisters. "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? "And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" (Mat 13:55-56). Jesus was not an only child, but the oldest of several children. Mary gave birth to other children after He was born and was not a perpetual virgin.

Mary as Co-redeemer
The Catholic Church refers to Mary as a co-redemptrix, which means a redeemer alongside Jesus Christ. This is completely unbiblical. As I explain in my blog called Christ Alone, we are redeemed only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary, not through any other.

All around the world there are supposed appearances of Mary. The message is always about coming destruction and that people need to pray the rosary daily or they will perish. Devotion to Mary is emphasized in these messages. But this is not the gospel. Jesus said all “those who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). That is the true gospel. Believe in Jesus and be saved.

Assumption of Mary
The Catholic Church teaches the assumption of Mary. That is, she was "taken up body and soul into heaven," at the time of her death. She is there "exalted as Queen of the Universe." There is no such teaching in Scripture about this. We know that Jesus ascended into heaven after His death, burial and resurrection. But not Mary. And to say that she is the Queen of the Universe is completely contrary to Scripture. You will find no place in Scripture where there is a queen of the universe or a queen of heaven, as Mary is also called.

What you will find is that hundreds of years before Christ, there were pagans who worshiped the so-called Queen of Heaven. The Jews began to copy this pagan practice, and it brought the judgment of God upon them. The Lord told the prophet Jeremiah not to pray for them. He said He would not hear the prophet's prayers for them. " 'The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods in order to spite Me. Do they spite Me?' declares the LORD. 'Is it not themselves they spite, to their own shame?' Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and on beast and on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and not be quenched.' " (Jer 7:18-20).

So those who exalt Mary as the Queen of Heaven or Queen of the Universe are continuing this same pagan practice that angered God long ago and caused Him to pour out His wrath on those who were doing so.

Emphasis on Relics
In the Catholic Church, there is a great emphasis on relics. There are many bits and bones that they claim belong to certain saints of long ago. And when people visit the places where these are kept, they hope to receive some kind of blessing for touching the box containing them.

For example, where we live in Hungary, the right hand of Saint Stephen (the country's first king) is called the Holy Right. It is reverenced, because with this hand he held his crown over his chest, as he lay upon his deathbed, while he prayed to Mary and asked her to be the Queen of the Hungarians. To this day, the Hungarians recognize her as their queen and his hand is kept as a relic in Saint Stephen's basilica in Budapest.

But this is also an unbiblical practice. No place in Scripture are we instructed to venerate objects or relics. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence of this kind of idolatry in the Catholic Church around the world, and I strongly urge you to visit the Ivarjed website that has a photo journal of these horrible acts of paganism, so you can see for yourself what they do.

Emphasis on Days and Years
There is an emphasis on special days and years in the Catholic Church. Many of the holidays celebrated by the Catholic Church were originally pagan festivals that were borrowed and given Christian meaning. Yet this is also unbiblical, as I have pointed out in The Self-Help Gospel. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians saying, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.” (Gal 4:9-11).

Confession to a Priest
In the Catholic Church, it is required to confess your sins to a priest. But in Scripture, we are taught to confess our sins to one another, never to a priest. James wrote: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (Jam 5:16)

Emphasis on Saints
Another common practice in the Catholic Church is to venerate certain holy and devout people that have been recognized officially by the Catholic Church as “saints.” As I explain in my blog called Saints Alive, all those who believe in and follow Jesus are saints, which means “holy ones.” There is no place in Scripture that teaches that only certain disciples of Christ are saints and others are not. And we are never taught to talk to the departed saints. Yet this is a common practice of the Catholic Church. It goes directly against the Scriptures that teach us to pray to the Father in Heaven (Mat 6:9), and the warnings in Scripture not to contact the dead (Deut 18:10-11).

There is only one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul wrote: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1Ti 2:5). Neither the priest, nor Mary, nor the angels, nor the departed saints can be our mediator. Only Jesus Christ can fulfill this role. He Himself said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (Joh 14:6)

Emphasis on Works Rather than Grace
The Catholic Church emphasizes that man must work for his salvation, which is contrary to Scripture. In my blog called By Faith Alone, I explain from Scripture how we are saved by grace through faith alone. The apostle Paul wrote: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8-9). He was very clear that it is not by works that we are saved. Rather, it is a gift from God.

Teaching on Purgatory
The Catholic Church teaches that there is a place called purgatory, where people will go if they have believed in the Lord but not lived a good enough life. You could spend millions of years there suffering untold torments for your sins, but if people pray enough for you, you will eventually be released into heaven.

They teach that you need to do things to earn indulgences in order to lessen your time in purgatory. For example, it is believed that by kneeling and kissing the amethyst ring of a bishop, you obtain indulgences.

This whole dogma of indulgences began in the sixteenth century when Pope Leo X needed money to build Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. He wrote a papal bull “granting indulgences to all who should contribute to building of the new church of St. Peter.” A Dominican preacher named John Tetzel went about telling people that if they gave money toward the building project that they would earn indulgences for their dead loved ones, so that they would spend less time in purgatory.

In my blog called Eternal Destinations, I explain the Biblical teaching on heaven and hell. These are the only two possible places where a person may go when they die. The Bible does not teach anything about purgatory. Those who are not saved will perish in hell, and those who believe in Jesus will be saved. There is no purgatory, for if there was one, Jesus would have said so. Instead, there is Hell, the lake of fire, the precious New Jerusalem, and the Paradise. But there is no purgatory; IT'S A LIE FROM THE DEVIL. THERE IS NO PURGATORY.

For more about this matter, click here to see the text of a visit to hell on January 4, 2010 by Angelica Zambrano.  I'd like to invite you to visit Eternal Destinations, where you will find many other testimonies, as well, from those who have been shown hell.

Infant Baptism
The Catholic Church baptizes infants, which has no basis in Scripture. We do not find one single instance of baby baptism in the Bible. Even Jesus was not baptized as a baby. Water baptism is meant to be an outward sign of what we have already demonstrated by our repentance and faith in Christ. Therefore, to be baptized before conversion has occurred is like putting the cart before the horse. For more on this topic, please see my article, Why Infant Baptism is Not Scriptural.

Traditions of Men
There are many traditions in the Catholic Church. One such tradition is kneeling and kissing the ring of the bishop. Another is to make the sign of the cross over one’s chest. Another is devotion to the infant Jesus. Then there’s wearing the brown scapular, wearing the miraculous medal, remembering the feasts of Mary, keeping the first five Saturdays, pilgrimages to Rome and various shrines, lent, advent, incense, bells, candles, cords, cards, and many other things that are not taught in Scripture.

As I explain in my blog on Sola Scriptura, the Word of God must be our sole rule of faith, nothing else. The Catholic Church places the traditions of the church above Scripture, and they nullify the Word of God through their practice of them. This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” This is why many Catholics will reject everything written in this blog, regardless of the fact that it is entirely based upon God's Word. Sadly, they will stand by the traditions of the church, rather than obey the Word of God.

The Lord has warned those practicing the traditions of men.  Those who attend festivals in the name of worshiping idols or in remembrance of anything, He shall crush them and cast them into the lake of fire (Mt 15:1-28). For more on traditions of men, see Tradition vs. Truth.

Putting it All Together
There are many things taught and practiced in the Roman Catholic Church that go directly against the teachings of God’s Word. These include purgatory, traditions, consecration to Mary, emphasis on works, saints, relics, and idols; confession to priests, mediators, Immaculate Conception, perpetual virginity of Mary, the use of titles, the clergy-laity distinction, and forbidding priests to marry.

Before I came to know Christ, I asked the Lord if he wanted me to go back to the Roman Catholic Church.  And He told me not to do so!  That was before I understood any of the things I have presented in this blog.  It was the leading of the Holy Spirit to come out of her (see full testimony here).

The Lord wants you to know that if you are worshiping any idols, you are evil and occult; you are not the Lord's people.   You must repent and should stop doing that or else He will crush you and cast you from His sight into the lake of fire, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, and their smoke shall rise forever.

I would like to challenge those who believe and follow these things to search the Word of God and personally find out what it teaches. I would encourage you to pray to the Heavenly Father and ask Him to show you the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. Then read the Bible, particularly the New Testament, and expect God to reveal the Truth to you. The Truth will set you free. And whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: I strongly recommend viewing the videos I have posted on my Eternal Destinations blog about a young Ecuadorean girl named Angelica, who has visited hell twice.  She testifies to some things about the Catholic Church that she saw in hell, which are directly relevant to the topic of this blog.  Don't miss Angelica Zambrano's First Visit to Hell, Angelica Zambrano's Second Visit to Hell, The Truth About the Roman Catholic ChurchMessages from the Lord for Catholics Worshipping Idols, Former Pope in Hell Declared a Saint, Pagan Symbols of the Popes, and Visitation of Jesus to Samuel Oghenetega. I also suggest visiting the Ivarjed website that has a photo journal of some horrible acts of paganism in the Catholic Church, and Jack Chick's page on Catholicism. You may also like the other posts in this blog, such as Why Infant Baptism is Not ScripturalExposing Heresy, Accurately Handling the Word of Truth, Tradition vs. Truth, Pope Frances Supports Homosexuality, and Catholic Priests Molesting Children. You may access more of my articles on the Main Directory of this blog, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.