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Under His Wings II
Roman Catholicism



The Heart of the Roman Catholic Religion

By: Robert M. Zins Th.M.

When given an opportunity to summarize the Roman Catholic religion and perhaps present the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we must begin with the sacraments. Roman Catholics are taught to place their trust in their priests who perform religious rituals called sacraments. There are seven sacraments in the Roman Catholic religion. Since one is Holy Orders, for a celibate priesthood, and another is Holy Matrimony, no one person can receive all the sacraments. That the sacraments are necessary for salvation is not in doubt, according to Rome:

The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. New Catholic Catechism Paragraph #1129.

True Christians, born from above, convinced of the sole authority of Gods Word alone for faith and practice, know full well the danger of all man-made religious systems. The Roman Catholic sacramental scheme may very well represent the pinnacle of mankinds attempt to construct a religion based upon a semblance of biblical interpretation. But Roman Catholicism is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nor is her sacramental process the way in which salvation is given freely by God.

Entry into heaven is offered by God to lost sinners on the basis of faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christs redeeming atonement. Such faith consists in confidence that Christ alone, at His cross, suffered and died for all of the sins for His Church, which is the Body of Christ. Such a faith has complete trust in the promises of God in Christ Jesus. One of those assurances is eternal forgiveness of all sins and corresponding punishments based entirely upon the satisfaction of Christs death. Such faith takes the righteousness of Christ as the complete ground of justification. Such faith grasps Christs righteousness immediately and eliminates all religious philosophies that would interpose a false faith in a mediatorial man-made system. The Roman Catholic religion sets herself up as the arbitrator between man and God. True Christianity knows of only one mediator between God and man i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ. True Christianity cannot conceive of any other go-between and denies the necessity of a negotiator between poor lost sinners and Jesus Himself!

Hence, the entire Roman Catholic sacramental system falls when seen in the light of the Christians access directly to God via a direct route through Jesus alone.

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16.

This drawing near with confidence, spoken of in the above Bible passage, is through faith alone based upon confidence in what Christ has done for His people. It is not in the least dependent upon faithfulness to any sacramental program or contingent upon a priestly class of men. No, the Christian access to God is immediate, free and clear, based upon the blood of Christ alone.

In contrast, Roman Catholics are taught to place their faith in their religion. They have a great deal of confidence that the mediatorial intervention of the Roman Catholic hierarchy will not fail to guide them into the truth of Gods Word. Unwilling to look at the Bible on their own, Roman Catholics place explicit trust in their religious leaders to guide them toward heaven. This is a fatal and eternal mistake. The Bible does not teach a sacramental salvation.

It is very sobering to consider that most of Romes teaching comes from one or two misinterpreted and misapplied Bible verses. For instance, virtually all of Romes teaching on regeneration, baptism and justification comes from her sacramentalizing of John 3:5. We would point out that the third chapter of John nowhere mentions infants, baptism, justification or the non-biblical term sacrament. Yet, it is from John 3:5 that Rome insists that the Spirit of God can be manipulated through the use of water in a priests hands to forgive the original sin of infants and start the process of justification. All of this is based upon the erroneous teaching that the water of John 3:5 must refer to Christian baptism and Christian baptism is to be administered by adult priests in order to cleanse infants from sin. We ask our readers to consider John 3:5 and its surrounding context. Does it teach the foundational pillar of Roman Catholic sacramental salvation?

Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5

There are fully five satisfactory explanations as to what the Lord may have been referring to when He said, unless one is born of water and the Spirit. Roman Catholic infant baptism, for forgiveness of sins, to start a process of a supposed incremental justification, is not one of them. We review this passage extensively in our book on Roman Catholicism.

Furthermore, we encourage everyone to examine Acts 8:17. This is the passage of Scripture mustered up by Rome to support their sacrament of Confirmation. Aside from the fact that there is not a word in the rest of the New Testament about the necessity of laying on of hands for the receptivity of the Holy Spirit, this passage lends no support either. The Holy Spirit cannot be manipulated by religious prelates to leave a so-called imprint on the heart of those participating in Roman Catholic Confirmation.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:14-17

Apostles from Jerusalem, in the first century, laying hands upon the people of Samaria, validates the prominence of Peter in the fulfillment of the great commission, as well as certifying the ministry of Philip, but does not equal Roman Catholic Confirmation. The remainder of the Bible teaches us that the only prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit is faith! This historical incident is the only exception and serves to illustrate the validation ministry of the early apostles.

Perhaps the heartbeat of Roman Catholic sacramentalism is to be found in her Mass. Roman Catholics are taught to believe that the Mass is a re-presentation of the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As such, the Mass takes on all the elements of a propitiatory sacrifice. It is said of the Mass that it is a real, although un-bloody, sacrifice for forgiveness of sins. In Roman Catholic parlance, the Mass is the re-creation of the moment of Christs sacrifice. This confusion is compounded by Romes insistence that the wafer of bread in their un-bloody sacrifice actually can be transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Hence, Rome believes in the spectacle of a piece of bread becoming Jesus and then ingested for forgiveness of sins. Nothing could be more foreign to the Christian than this. The Bible nowhere teaches such bizarre things. Christians the world over reject such contentions as nothing more than voodoo and modern priestcraft. The Bible over and over again asserts that Jesus died one time and that faith in His historical atonement is all that is necessary for forgiveness of sins both past and present and future. There is absolutely no need for the Roman Catholic Mass.

By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:10

For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. Hebrews 10:14

In closing, we should mention a word about the priesthood, penance, and the Roman Catholic religion in general. The Lord Jesus Christ did not give the special power of forgiveness to a priestly class who would then dispense forgiveness of sin based upon penance. Rome appeals to John 20:21-23 as a proof text for their allegations. Let us examine this text.

Jesus therefore said to them again, Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me,
I also send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained. John 20:21-23

The key to this passage is to understand the manner in which sins are to be forgiven. We search in vain for a confessional box in the New Testament. We cannot find a single solitary example of an apostle hearing the confession of a parishioner. It is the consistent testimony of the New Testament that forgiveness of sins is based upon confession to God and repentance toward God. Initially, one becomes a Christian through faith and repentance. Conviction of sin followed by faith and repentance is the essence of the Christian experience. However, due to the nagging sin that ever remains a part of our fleshly existence, there is a need of cleansing. This cleansing of sin is experienced throughout the Christian life by confessing our sins to one another and seeking reconciliation with God by confessing our sins to Him. There is no need for an earthly mediator. Christians go through Christ for salvation, justification, redemption and reconciliation!

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

The power given to the apostles in John 20 has nothing to do with confessional boxes, assigning of penances or special powers of priests. It must be seen in the broader picture of the proclamation of forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ. Just such a picture is given to us by the Gospel of Luke.

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Luke 24:45-47

There are perhaps many other facets of the Roman Catholic religion upon which we could dwell. The terror of purgatory, the historical tyranny of Popes, the real tragedy of placing tradition on a par with Scripture could fill volumes. In our present day we see the re-making of Mary in Rome. She is elevated to the heights of Roman Catholic imagination. We could further ponder the ecumenical movement spearheaded by modern Rome. But the heart of the matter is Romes sacramentalism. This is what separates Rome from the Gospel of Christ. By insisting upon a sacramental salvation, Rome is forever outside of the Bible and remains lost in the labyrinth of her own traditions, religious rituals and humanly conceived auto soterism i.e., self salvation.

By Robert M. Zins Th.M.