But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. [2 Corinthians 11:3-4]
Hundreds of millions live and die in the Roman Catholic Church without ever hearing the true gospel. Instead, they are taught that the Roman Catholic Church, with its sacraments and indulgences and saints, will eventually get them from purgatory to heaven through countless masses and rosaries recited for them after they die.
Many points of Roman Catholic teaching contain sound biblical teaching. But the system is so overlaid and interwoven with non-biblical and even unbiblical ideas and practices that it seems to resemble what Paul called “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6). For many Catholics, the Catechism of the Catholic Church takes precedence over the inspired Scripture.
I remember as a child being brought up in the Catholic Church and attending Catholic school, we spent much more time studying the Catechism instead of the Bible. I recall sitting in the pews during Mass reading my Bible and being very confused with what I witnessed that seemed very contrary to the Word of God. When I asked my teachers about these issues, I was told to read my Catechism and not question the teaching of the nuns and priests.
Throughout history, in order to make converts, Rome has absorbed the paganism peculiar to each culture and dressed it in Christian terminology.
- Halloween, for example, is a confusing mixture of traditions and practices from pagan cultures and Catholic tradition. The traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain was blended with the Roman holiday of Feralia and Pomona. In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs, to replace the pagan festival of the dead. It was observed on May 13. In 834, Gregory III moved All Saint’s Day from May 13 to Nov. 1 and for Roman Catholics, this became an opportunity for remembering before God all the saints who had died and all the dead in the Catholic community. Oct. 31 thus became All Hallows’ Eve (‘hallow’ means ‘saint’).
- Most of the familiar traditional practices and symbols of Christmas, such as the Christmas tree, the Christmas ham, the Yule Log, holly, mistletoe, and the giving of presents, were adapted or appropriated by Christian missionaries from the earlier pagan midwinter holiday of Yule.
In the United States, Roman Catholicism hides behind a Christian mask and even claims to be evangelical. There is no such pretense in Catholic countries, where Rome long persecuted and killed evangelicals and still vigorously opposes them. In such countries there is no attempt to hide the obvious occultism, idolatry and worship of Mary.
The open paganism and idolatry involved in Roman Catholicism is a shock to American visitors to Spain, Italy, Central and South America. For example, in Brazil, Roman Catholicism is mixed with spiritism and in Haiti with voodoo. Haiti is said to be 85% Roman Catholic and 110% Voodoun. Every voodoo ceremony begins with prayers to Catholic saints.
What must I do to be saved?
Traditional Roman Catholic teaching holds that supernatural grace is necessary for salvation, but it must be combined with merit. No one can believe in Christ without grace, Catholics say, for faith is a gift of God. But certain works produce “merits of condignity” that prepare an individual to receive the grace to believe. After having received sanctifying (saving) grace, the believer is in a state of grace and can then earn true merits. By accumulating these true merits, called “merits of condignity,” he then can be saved as an act of God’s justice.
Catholic doctrine teaches that salvation must be attained by both faith and works, and that baptism is necessary for salvation.
The New Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude…”
The Bible, on the other hand, says…
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” [Acts 16:31]
Roman Catholic doctrine proclaims that anyone who believes in salvation by faith alone, or that baptism is not essential for salvation, is Anathema, or cursed.
Catholics say no one can be sure, in this life, of possessing eternal life. But this is what Jesus plainly promised:
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” [John 3:36]
The popular Roman Catholic dogma of the “Immaculate Heart” has no basis in the Bible, but comes out of the realm of the occult. Here we have a magical source of power and protection.
The “Immaculate Heart” is depicted as a visible object glowing within the bosom of Jesus or Mary, and often held in Mary’s hand. Devotion is directed to this mystical object in what becomes a subtle replacement of a personal relationship with Christ and devotion to Him. A primary purpose of the apparition of Fatima was to encourage devotion to this so-called Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In fact, this is borne out by another related Roman Catholic dogma: the Immaculate Conception. That heresy was first popularized through the efforts of British monk Eadmer in the twelfth century and was at last declared a dogma by Pope Pius IX in 1854. It teaches that Mary was “from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Christ Jesus the Savior of mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin” and that she remained without sin during her life.
Such is the false and idolatrous “Blessed Virgin Mary” of Roman Catholicism – an insult both to God and to the Mary of the Bible. She is looked to for the very pardon of sins and salvation that Christ procured with His own blood, and which He freely dispenses by grace to all who believe in Him. In the end, the denial of Mary’s place as a “sinner saved by grace” has the effect of deifying her.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)
Although the church teaches otherwise, many Catholics find their crucial identification with the church instead of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church like the Mormons consider theirs the one true Church, outside of which there is no salvation, and that its current head is the true representative of Christ on earth through apostolic succession. The Church is the dispenser of salvation through the rituals performed by its priesthood, without which mankind would be lost in spite of all Christ has done. Like Mormonism and other cults, Roman Catholicism denies to the individual assurance of salvation through a personal relationship with Christ and insists that salvation is not “by grace through faith” but must be earned through Church membership and obedience to her many rules and regulations including alms, good deeds, Rosaries, and suffering here and in purgatory, etc.
According to Roman Catholic teaching, men must suffer to pay their debts to God for sins which have been forgiven by Him, as if any suffering we endure could actually make a payment, were it necessary at all, and as if God’s forgiveness were somehow deficient. God’s mercy and forgiveness are boundless. If suffering is good for us, it is so exactly in the same sense as training is good for athletes, as fasting is good for the obese and gluttonous, as self-reproach is good for those who are prone to anger. God does not need these things, we do. Nor does He demand this “payment,” since His forgiveness and grace are free – after all, the word “grace” itself means “free gift.”
The Catholic Encyclopedia defines Purgatory as “the condition or state for those who have not totally alienated themselves from God by their sins, but who are temporarily and partially alienated from God while their love is made perfect and they give satisfaction for their sins”. The Catholic Church teaches there are some sins that can be forgiven after death, and forgiveness after death is possible. Since no one who has sin on his or her soul can enter heaven (Rev. 21:27), there must be a place of cleansing after death and before heaven. Roman Catholic doctrine teaches that most of us, because of our own failings will die either with the stain of some sin on our souls, or with some punishment due to sin still to pay, or both. Had we no purgatory to cleanse us of our filth, we could never hope to enter into eternal bliss.
If this is true, why did Jesus die on the cross?
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
It doesn’t say here that anything more needs to be done; nothing about penance, nothing about masses said for our benefit, and nothing about left-over stains that still need to be removed. If we’ve been forgiven of our sin and purified from all unrighteousness there is no need for a purgatorial state.
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” – Hebrews 8:12
Catholics will say that when we do something wrong to another, there are generally two issues to be addressed. One is seeking the forgiveness of the person who was hurt and the other is performing restitution. So if we die while still owing restitution to God, Catholics believe that our souls must pass through a cleansing state before entering Heaven. In 1 Cor 3:15, Paul tells us that each man’s works will be tried after his death. If his works fail, he will be the loser and yet he himself will be saved, though only as men are saved by passing through fire. This penalty can not refer to Hell since no one is saved from Hell. It can’t refer to Heaven since there is no pain in Heaven. Therefore, there must be some other state or process after our death.
This belief of the purification of the soul after death is rooted in the Second Book of Maccabees, where we read of how Judas Maccabees offered sacrifices and prayers for soldiers who had died wearing amulets, which were forbidden by the law; “Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out,” (2 Mc 12:43) and “Thus, (Judas Maccabees) made atonement for the dead that they might be free from sin” (2 Mc 12:46).
Certain sins “will not be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come” (Mt 12:32), at least suggests a purging of the soul after death according to Catholics. Pope St. Gregory (d. 604) stated, “As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.” The Council of Lyons (1274) likewise affirmed this interpretation of our Lord’s teaching.
Orthodox Christianity completely rejects any such intermediate state, since the doctrine of Purgatory appears nowhere in the Apostolic tradition and, in fact, denies the full efficacy of the free gift of grace and adoption which Christ offered us through His Incarnation, death, and resurrection.
Scripture says that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unpardonable. What might be that sin against the Holy Spirit?
Consider the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that bears witness to our spirit about Jesus Christ (Acts 5:32; Heb. 10:15). It is the Holy Spirit that carried along the writers of the Bible to write what they did about Jesus and his ministry of reconciliation. The Holy Spirit has been called the “comforter” as God’s love is poured out into our hearts (Rom. 5:5).
If one does not accept the finished work of Christ on the cross for our sins, rejects what the Bible writers said about that same finished work, and finds their comfort in the Eucharist which “cleanses us from past sins and preserves us from future sins…. ” or purgatory rather than the Holy Spirit, might that be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
If one rejects the truth that through the shed blood of Christ all sin is removed, then what mechanism remains to remove the stain of sin?
I’m afraid that if you do not accept Christ’s complete and total forgiveness, you will not EVER be forgiven, for there is no other way.
It is taught that many poor souls time in purgatory can be shortened by the prayers and good works of those of us who are still alive. Especially can a soul in purgatory be helped by having Holy Mass offered for that purpose.
The early Church preserved the belief in offering prayers for the purification of the soul. Pope St. Gregory said, “Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.” St. Ambrose (d. 397) preached, “We have loved them during life; let us not abandon them in death, until we have conducted them by our prayers into the house of the Lord.”
If those who are truly penitent die in charity before they have done sufficient penance for their sins of omission and commission, their souls are cleansed after death in purgatorial or cleansing punishments …. The suffrages of the faithful on earth can be of great help in relieving these punishments, as, for instance, the Sacrifice of the Mass, prayers, almsgiving, and other religious deeds which, in the manner of the Church, the faithful are accustomed to offer for others of the faithful.
Second Council of Lyons in 1274
Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has, from the Sacred Writings and the ancient tradition of the Fathers, taught in sacred councils, and very recently in this ecumenical synod that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls there detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar; the holy synod enjoins on bishops that they diligently endeavour that the sound doctrine concerning Purgatory, transmitted by the holy Fathers and sacred councils, be believed, maintained, taught and everywhere proclaimed by the faithful of Christ.
Council of Trent in 1563
It may be true that certain people have said that prayers for the dead or masses said for the dead will help them. Does that make it true? Scripture does not teach that. Scripture teaches after death comes judgment, not a second chance in some holding area until enough prayers are offered up for you.
Who are you going to trust? Man or God?