Friday, April 05, 2024

What do Roman Catholics Believe? A Confessional Protestant Response to Ten Teachings of the RCC


We've been doing a teaching series in our Midweek Meeting at CRBC on World Religions and just started looking at Christian denominations. 

Notes from last Wednesday's Midweek Meeting (4.3.24) on the Roman Catholic Church (RCC):

Below is a summary of ten teachings of the RCC, along with paragraph references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition (1994, 1997).

Each teaching is followed by a Protestant response and Biblical prooftexts in support of the Protestant position.

1.      The Pope is the head of the church, following its founding upon Peter and his successors.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 100, 882, 891.

Response: Christ alone is the head of the church. The church was not founded upon Peter but upon his confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Prooftexts: Matthew 16:16-19; 18:18; 23:9-12; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18.

2.      The highest authority for doctrine and life is the magisterium of the RCC and its interpretation of Christian tradition.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 100.

Response: The highest authority for doctrine and life is Scripture (Sola Scriptura).

Prooftexts: 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21.

3.      The Deuterocanonical books (1-2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch [plus additions to Esther and Daniel]) are Scripture and should be included in the OT.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 120.

Response: The Apocrypha are a collection of uninspired writings. Among the reasons they are not received as Scripture: (1) They were not accepted by Jews as Scripture; (2) They were written in Greek not Hebrew; (3) They were not cited by Jesus and the apostles in the NT; (4) They contain errors (e.g., Judith 1:1 says the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar reigned in Ninevah, the Assyrian capital).

Prooftexts: Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Romans 3:1-2; Revelation 22:18-19.

4.      Salvation is a synthesis of grace and works. The sacraments are necessary for salvation.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1129, 1257, 1742, 2002.

Response: Salvation is a monergistic act of God alone. It is by grace through faith alone. Good works are a fruit of our faith but not the root of our faith.

Prooftexts: Jonah 2:9; Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 2:16; 2 Timothy 1:9.

5.      Mary is an object of special devotion as the mother of our Lord and is called a “Mediatrix.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 484-507, 964-975.

Response: Mary was an important early disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, but she was an ordinary sinner saved by grace. Devotion should be given to no one other than God himself. There is only one Mediator between God and man: The Lord Jesus Christ.

Prooftexts: Exodus 20:3; Matthew 12:46-50; John 3:30; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:23; 1 Timothy 2:5.

6.      In the Mass the sacrifice of Christ on the cross continues to be offered.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1364-1368.

Response: Christ’s death on the cross was a once for all sacrifice, to which nothing needs to be added nor can anything be taken away.

Prooftexts: John 19:30; Hebrews 9:28.

7.      In the Mass the bread and cup through transubstantiation become the literal body and blood of Christ.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1373-1381.

Response: the Lord’s Supper is a sacred meal for the church (“when ye come together in the church”) ordained by Christ himself. The bread and cup are spiritual emblems representing the body and blood of Christ, as Christ himself indicated in the Last Supper. The Lord’s supper is a memorial (“This do in remembrance of me”), a proclamation (“ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come”), and a recognition of Christ’s presence (“and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”).

Prooftexts: 1 Corinthians 11:18, 20, 23-26; Matthew 28:20.

8.      The officers of the local church are “priests” who cannot be married and have families.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1562,1579.

Response: The officers of the church are bishops (also called elders and pastors) and deacons. They are free to be married in the Lord and establish families. Peter and other apostles were married.

Prooftexts: Matthew 8:14; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 1 Corinthians 9:5; 1 Timothy 4:3.

9.      There are seven sacraments given to the church (baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, confession, last rites, holy orders, matrimony).

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1113.

Response: There are only two sacraments (ordinances) given by Christ: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Prooftexts: Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 22:19-20.

10. There is a place called purgatory where those who are not fit for heaven may go through a process of purgation (purification) until they are ready to enter heaven.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1030-1032.

Response: There is no place called purgatory. At death one either enters into heaven or hell. This assignment is made based upon one’s response to Christ in this life. There is no post-mortem opportunity for salvation or progressive sanctification.

Prooftexts: Matthew 10:32-33; Luke 16:19-31; 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Hebrews 10:27.


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