Grace and peace, saints.
Today we begin a series which asks the question, “What Do Roman Catholics Really Believe?” I was moved to do this series by something I saw while reading through A Practical Catholic Dictionary, a book written for “Catholic and non-Catholic readers who want a dictionary of Catholic words that is neither too technical nor too specialized for ordinary needs.”
I bought the book in order to better understand the Catholic faith, which claims to be Christian, but has many beliefs, traditions and terminology that are neither found in the Bible, nor held or used in the Protestant (Christian) Church.
On page 96, the dictionary gives the following definition for fortunetelling:
“Attempting to tell what is going to happen in the future by the reading of the lines on the palms of the hands, looking into a crystal ball, or any such superstitious means. Fortunetelling is forbidden by the first commandment of God, because it gives to a creature (the fortuneteller) the power which belongs to God alone.” [p. 96; parentheses in original, boldface mine.]
As I read this, I was struck by the fact that this simple, but, true statement confirms that the very foundations on which the Roman Catholic Church rests ought to be forbidden also, because they “give to creatures [created things] the power which belongs to God alone.” The foundations of the Roman Catholic Church are its priests, its popes, and the Virgin Mary; and all of these have been given powers and attributes which belong only to God.
The Roman Catholic priest, for example, has the authority to hear confessions (when a Catholic confesses his sins) and is believed to have the power to grant “absolution” or forgiveness of sins. Additionally, the Roman Catholic Pope is known as the Vicar or Substitute of Christ and holds the title of Holy Father, a title of God the Father. And, the Virgin Mary, a statue which Catholics believe is the mother of Jesus Christ, holds the title of Mediatrix and is believed to be Co-Redeemer with the Lord Jesus.
I was instantly led to share this information with you, because I occasionally receive comments from Roman Catholics and professed Christians alike who feel I should devote more energy to finding ways to unite Roman Catholics and Protestants rather than revealing the true nature and intent of the Roman Catholic Church, an activity which they find divisive.
But the Lord Jesus, through the Apostle Paul, said that we should not be “unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Jesus also said that we should “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11). We should, therefore, not seek to fellowship with those who do not share our faith; for, to do so, is to be unequally yoked (unbalanced) and unfruitful. Jesus said that any tree that didn’t bear fruit would be cast into the fire. We should also remember that the Lord Jesus gave us the Great Commission, commanding us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to the unsaved.
Each of us needs to determine for himself if Roman Catholicism is true Christianity, because if it is not, then to fellowship with Roman Catholics is to be unequally yoked. We should therefore examine what Roman Catholics believe and practice because, if what they believe and practice conforms to what the Bible says Christians ought to believe and practice, then, we should by all means embrace Catholics as brethren. But, if what Roman Catholics believe and practice does not conform to what the Bible says Christians ought to believe and practice, then, rather than seek fellowship with them, we ought to obey the Lord Jesus and evangelize them and pray for their salvation.
To help us determine what Catholics believe, therefore, we will examine A Practical Catholic Dictionary and see if it lines up with the Bible. Many Roman Catholics say that the only difference between them and Protestants is that the Roman Catholic Church has “a different worship tradition.” If their worship traditions are contrary to the Bible, however, then it means that their worship traditions are not only different, but unbiblical. And unbiblical is not Christian.
A Practical Catholic Dictionary has the nihil obstat and imprimatur (in effect, the seal of approval) of the Roman Catholic Church, which certifies that the book has been examined and determined to contain “nothing opposed to [Roman Catholic] faith and morals.” We can be assured, therefore, that what it says the Roman Catholic Church believes is what the Roman Catholic Church says it believes.
It should be added that because a great deal of Roman Catholic doctrine comes from tradition, much of which is oral, it would be impossible for us as non-Catholics to learn everything a Roman Catholic knows and believes. But, that is not our aim. To make an informed decision, it should be enough for us to examine that which is readily available. If necessary, I may also use other sources which may or may not be approved by the Catholic Church.
We pray this series will be of benefit to both Christians and non-Christians.
The Still Man