My personal journey.
I was raised as a Catholic by my devout Catholic parents. I faithfully believed and followed all the Catholic teachings, traditions, and sacraments. It was my soon-to-be wife who opened my eyes to the great chasm of difference between her protestant (Baptist) beliefs and my Catholic beliefs.
So what was I to do? Realizing the seriousness of my Catholic teaching that to leave the Catholic church would mean ex-communication and eternal hell, I certainly took it very seriously.
So I embarked on a long journey of study. The study began with my first wife (RIP) and I scheduling alternating counseling appointments with a Catholic priest and a Baptist minister. The result of those appointments made it easily clear that the priest knew little about the bible. I had always thought that the bible was the foundation of Catholicism and I was greatly surprised to find out I was wrong.
All the while my precious mother, a devout Catholic, was bombarding me with letters and phone calls because she truly believed I was condemning myself to hell. So firmly was her belief that she refused to attend my then-upcoming wedding.
The next step in my journey involved arduous long hours of Bible study, reading books, and inward contemplation. I found two major subjects upon which Catholicism and Evangelical Christians agree:
1.) There is one God who exists eternally in three distinct, but co-equal persons, Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit.
2.) Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, rose bodily from the grave, and ascended into heaven.
But I also found that there is a greater number of doctrines upon which the Bible and Catholicism do not agree because there is no scriptural support whatsoever for the Catholic positions:
DISAGREEMENT NO. 1 / SALVATION (This one issue was the “deal breaker” for me!)
According to the Catholic Church, salvation is not by grace alone through faith in Christ alone (as evangelicals believe). According to the Catholic Church, salvation is a process that relies upon being “good enough” and begins at the moment of baptism and then progresses and is maintained by a person’s participation in the Catholic Church’s “Seven Sacraments.”
DISAGREEMENT NO. 2 / Purgatory
The Catholic Church teaches that redeemed people who have trusted in Jesus Christ, will not go directly to Heaven when they die but to Purgatory to suffer through a time of purging that will prepare them to enter Heaven. This concept is not in the Bible.
DISAGREEMENT NO. 3 / Praying for the dead and to the saints. This is not taught in the Bible. We are to pray directly to God the Father in the name of His son Jesus.
DISAGREEMENT NO. 4 / MARY
The Catholic Church teaches that Mary…
• was immaculately conceived (that is to say, “free from all stain of original sin”)
• lived a sinless life
• remained a virgin after the birth of Christ
• was carried bodily up into Heaven at the end of her life
• plays a part in our salvation as a co-redeemer with Christ
Evangelical Christians reject all of these non-biblical teachings.
DISAGREEMENT NO. 5 / The Bible
Evangelicals believe the Bible is made up of 66 divinely inspired documents that God determined would make up the canon of Scripture. In 1546 at an event known as the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church added 11 more books to the Bible known as the “Apocrypha.” The study of why the Apocrypha is not considered worthy of inclusion n the Bible is a study unto itself.
DISAGREEMENT NO. 6 / The Authority of Church Tradition
Catholicism teaches that the authority for faith and practice rests not only on the Bible but upon the Catholic church’s “tradition” and “infallible” decrees of the Pope. Evangelicals believe that authority for faith and practice rests solely upon one foundation, the sixty-six books of Scripture. Mark 15:37 says that at the moment Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. I believe this is a portrayal of the fact that all people are granted direct assess to pray to God and eliminates any necessity of a priest or priesthood to intervene.
The final result of my studies was that I found it impossible to remain a part of a religion that has strayed so far from the simple gospel taught by Jesus himself. It became clear to me that if I wanted to be part of a church that was true to the Bible, I could no longer remain a Catholic. I was baptized in 1965 in a Baptist church and I have attended evangelical churches ever since.
I can truly say that I have always had total peace in that decision.
The study of Catholiism is vast.
I refer you to one such in-depth teaching by Charlie Campbell AT THIS LINK.
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AlwaysBeReady.com In-depth Bible teaching by Charlie Campbell. Esteemed Calvary Chapel Bible College instructor, pastor, and author.
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