So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. (Revelation 2:15)
I took a brutal browbeating over my last article “False Religion: Protestantism” – not from unbelievers, but from Christian brothers and sisters. Granted, the title, on a cursory view, appears to be all-inclusive, but I wanted it to be provocative. The fact is that my focus was on “liberal” Protestantism and not Protestantism in general. But more than that, Jesus said, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5). How can we honestly critique or criticize what others believe without first taking a hard look at the beam that is in our own eye?
I believe I did that with my last post, so now let us examine the false religion of Roman Catholicism from an objective perspective. If the reader has been following my previous articles on false religions, the reader will recall I am evaluating false religions based on four characteristics: (1) the denial of the God of the Bible, (2) the denial or rejection of the deity of Christ, (3) the rejection of the Bible as the inerrant, infallible Word of God and (4) the teaching of salvation through the works or efforts of the individual believer.
Superficially, one might say that the Roman Catholic Church does not deny the God of the Bible or the deity of Christ. As I pointed out in my last post, “False Religion: Protestantism,” it is not necessarily what a religion professes to believe that matters, but rather what their practice demonstrates that is the true indicator of what they believe. So it is with the Roman Catholic Church; therefore, I need to begin with the last two characteristics to demonstrate that in practice, the Roman Catholic Church denies the God of the Bible and the deity of Christ.
The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) rejects the authority of the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God. The RCC discourages parishioners from studying the Scripture for themselves claiming that it is too difficult for them to understand. Parishioners are taught that only a priest can give Scripture its proper interpretation, when in fact, priests are generally trained in church dogma only and not in the study of Scripture. The end result is that the RCC has an army of “blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). The RCC teaches that Scripture along with tradition must be accepted and honored with equal reverence. In other words, the traditions of men are just as valid as God’s Word. In doing so, they supplant the authority of God with an authority of their own. Up until the 16th century, the “Catholic” Bible contained only 66 books, but in the 16th century the Apocrypha was added to justify the doctrine of Purgatory. In adding to Scripture, the RCC ignores God’s warnings against adding to or taking away from Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18).
Having stripped the Bible of its authority, the RCC has elevated the word of the Pope above the Word of God so that “by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, [he] has full supreme and universal power over the whole church, a power he can exercise unhindered.” As such, the RCC teaches a different gospel of salvation. Since the RCC has assumed supreme authority over Scripture, it now dictates the requirements for salvation. Salvation can only be found in the Catholic Church. The Catholic believer is obligated to comply with the requirements or “sacraments” of the Church. There are seven: (1)Baptism (typically as an infant), (2) Confirmation, (3) Eucharist, (4) Confession and Penance, (5) Holy Unction (anointing of the sick and last rites), (6) Holy Orders, and (7) Matrimony. In addition, the good Catholic must practice church membership, obey the commandments, and do good works. The good Catholic lives with the constant threat of failing at any point and dying in that condition, at which point the poor soul ends up in purgatory and special masses must be held (at a price to surviving family members, of course) until the full atonement is satisfied and the soul can enter into heaven. How many masses will be required is anybody’s guess. “The pope [sic] claims to have the power to transfer the merits of one sinner to another to reduce their punishment for sin.” The Bible teaches that “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, emphasis mine). But the RCC says, “If anyone says the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, let him be anathema.” Furthermore, the RCC “condemns with anathema those who say that indulgences are useless or that the Church does not have the power to grant them.” “Rome also condemns anyone who believes they are assured of eternal life.” The Bible says, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). That word “accursed” is the same Greek word, anathema that the RCC uses.
When the word of man is made superior to the Word of God, and the Gospel of Grace is replaced with the gospel of works, the RCC has effectively set itself in the place of God to decide what is right and what is wrong at the whim of a mere mortal man – the Pope. In effect, then, the RCC has denied the God of the Bible, and by their continuing practice of the mass (which brings Christ down from heaven and sacrifices Him anew), they have denied the deity of Christ “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10, emphasis mine). By offering prayers to the saints and confessing sins to a priest, the RCC has replaced Christ as the sole mediator between God and man. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). So, by the criteria I formerly laid out, Roman Catholicism is a false religion.
One final indictment that may not exactly fit the four characteristics of a false religion is the charge leveled by Jesus Himself in our beginning verse: “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate” (Revelation 2:15). The word “Nicolaitans” is a transliteration of the Greek compound word Nikolaitēs. The first part comes from the Greek word nikaō meaning to subdue or to conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory over. The second part comes from the Greek word laos from which we get our word “laity” meaning people. So, the Nicolaitans are those who subdue, overcome or conquer the people, and in this case, Jesus was referring to His Church. This is exactly what the RCC has done. They have set up a hierarchal system where the highest ranking member is the Pope who sets himself up in the position of Christ and rules the people by fiat. Such rule goes against Scripture and defies Christ, Who emphatically states that it is a thing He hates. That is a strong indictment from the One Whom the Pope claims to represent.
Is it possible for a Catholic to be saved? Yes, of course it is. Salvation, according to the Bible, is an individual matter that has nothing to do with religion, as I have stated in previous articles. My question is, why would someone who is saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) want to continue in bondage to the Church of Rome? Instead, the Word of God urges, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).
 Mike Gendron, “Roman Catholicism-Apostolic or Apostate?” http://www.worldviewweekend.com/news/article/roman-catholicism-apostolic-or-apostate/, accessed September 12, 2014.
 The New Catholic Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 882.
 Mike Gendron, “Roman Catholicism-Apostolic or Apostate?”
One response to “False Religion: Roman Catholicism”
Here is an article that dove-tails quite nicely with this week’s post: