A Biblical Response to Catholicism

October 6, 2001

IMPORTANT: 1.  Blue Highlights [Student Notes] = For Further Study Only and were NOT used
     in the presentation to the church!

Welcome! Assure them of the desire to be accurate – the hours of research, the number of resources used, the goal of integrity and seeking to be fair and honest with Catholic views, but truthful.

A. Purpose/Goals of this Series:
1.  Purpose:
>  Our purpose is to instruct our church family on the teachings and beliefs of various world religions, in contrast to Biblical Christianity.
2.  Goals:
1.  To accurately present in a culturally sensitive manner the specific world life views of various world religions.
2.  To demonstrate how each world religion differs from Biblical Christianity.
3.  To equip our church to respond Biblically to the claims of these world religions
-  It is not our desire in any sense to make fun of those who believe something different than we do – I’m certain that many who hold other beliefs are very sincere in those beliefs
- However, sincerity it not the standard of truthfulness
- Proverbs even warns us about our sincerity:
• Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
B.  Ground Rules
1.  We are not speaking in a spirit of ill will (but we will not ignore obvious error)
2.  There WILL be disagreements and differences.
- I want to point out that there are Catholics who truly know the Lord as their Savior.  The issue of salvation is not based on what church you attend, but rather on the issues of the heart in response to the Word of God.
- There are some Catholics who are truly Christians and have chosen to stay within the Catholic Church in an effort to make a difference – either theological, evangelistically, etc.
- While we may differ with that decision, nonetheless, an effort is being put forth to make a difference for Christ.
3.  Learn what we can about other religions while better understanding our own
- We are going to begin our session a bit differently – take a quiz!
- The following questions need to be answered TRUE / FALSE
-  We will give you the correct answers later in the session.
True / False
1. Catholics believe that the Bible is infallible.
2. Catholics believe in the Trinity.
3. Catholics believe in deity of Jesus Christ.
4. Catholics believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
5. Catholics believe in the absolute necessity of the atonement of the death of Jesus.
6. Catholics believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus and all believers.
7. Catholics believe in the literal and physical return of Jesus to this world.
8. Catholics believe in an eternal heaven and eternal hell.
9. Catholics believe in moral absolutes.
10. Catholics believe that in Adam all have sinned and all men must suffer the consequences of that fall.
11. Catholics believe that the church was built on Christ, the chief cornerstone.


It’s true that Roman Catholics and conservative evangelical Protestants often find themselves on ‘common ground’ fighting the same enemies – particularly the secular world in issues such as abortion, homosexuality, drugs, crime, and even family values.  These issues, and other like them, do have a moral and theological foundation.  And there is significant agreement upon how a person is to respond to these and other issues of our cultural life . . . and even life as an individual or as a family.

While we may share some of the same beliefs, there are also differences – BIG differences in areas of theology.

In our study this evening, we want to present the following:
1) A few CLARIFYING POINTS about Roman Catholic doctrine
2) ‘COMMON GROUND’ between Roman Catholics and what we believe
3) DIFFERENCES with Roman Catholic teachings and what we believe the Bible teaches

There is a lot of history about these differences; there have some battles fought and some lines drawn in the sand regarding many doctrinal issues.  On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 theses at Wittenberg and began the Reformation.  While there is too much history for us explain in one evening, we do want to offer a comparison of this world religion to our understanding of the truth from God's Word.

  I.  Clarifying points about Roman Catholic doctrine.

-  Because there are some misconceptions about Roman Catholic doctrine, we want to be fair and represent the Catholic position on these issues – as we would want to have our view accurately represented.
- We want to point out the distinction between Catholic DOCTRINE (what the Roman Catholic church believes) and actual practice (what the Roman Catholic church actually does)
-  We will deal more specifically about some of these later in our discussion.
A.  Catholics do not worship Mary.
-  Because the Holy Spirit said she was blessed among women, Catholics believe the human who should be most honored is Mary.  But they do not actually ‘worship’ her as they worship God.
-  We do believe the Catholics have some erroneous views about Mary that we will discuss later – but must point out that they do not believe in the worship of Mary on the same level that you would worship God.
[Student Notes: Catholics make the distinction between latria vs. hyperdulia vs. dulia. Latria is the adoration due God alone. Hyperdulia is given to Mary (veneration due Mary because of what the Scriptures say about her). Dulia is veneration due saints and angels (as we would give to someone we would highly respect and honor).]
B.  Catholics do not believe that the Pope is infallible in all that he teaches.
-  However, they do believe that the Pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra as the official teacher and interpreter of Scripture and Christian doctrine.
- We will address that later in our study.
C.  Catholics do not believe that there are three final destinies:  Heaven, hell and purgatory.
-  In fact, only believers go to purgatory and then eventually get to heaven. Purgatory is necessary to pay the temporal consequences of your sins.
“While their eventual departure from purgatory to heaven is sure and definite, the time of deliverance is uncertain and the rate of cleansing variable.”  -- Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, p. 1185.
D.  Catholics believe that grace is essential to salvation.
- Catholics firmly believe that a person cannot be saved apart from the grace of God; the problem comes in what is added to grace to make salvation possible.
- But to say that a Catholic does not believe that grace is essential to salvation would be inaccurate
E.  Catholics do not believe in worshipping the images of saints.
-  When they bow before saints, pray to Mary, or light candles, they believe the image is only a visible reminder of the saint – a symbol of the person to whom you are talking -- but they explicitly state it is idolatry to worship images.
F.  They don’t believe that Mary should be prayed to in the same way as praying to God.
-  What they do believe is that you can pray to Mary or saints and not worship them in the Latria [reserved only for God].  They believe that you can go to Mary and she will go to God just like she went to Jesus at the wedding at Caana.  In essence, you are praying through Mary.
- Now, we would differ theologically with even that position – but it is incorrect to say that Catholics pray to Mary in the same way a Catholic prays to God.

II.  Common ground that we share with Catholics

-  While it may surprise you, we do share some common ground doctrinally with the Roman Catholic Church.
- Let’s look at a few examples:
1.  Inerrancy of Scriptures:
-  Both Catholics and Protestants greatly respect the Scriptures -- Both groups agree that the 66 books of the Protestant Bible are the verbally inspired Word of God. They came from God through men and are without error.
-  While Catholics agree with us that the Bible is infallible, they ALSO say you need an infallible interpreter of the Bible.  That infallible interpreter is necessary because the Bible itself is not clear enough for you to understand it with certainty for your eternal salvation.
- Therefore, God has given us an infallible Bible with an infallible interpreter, the successor to Peter, the bishop of Rome, the Pope.
2. Trinity
-  Catholics believe in the Trinity, as do all orthodox Christians.  There is one God who is manifested in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – all are God.  The divine essence is common to the three Persons, and they are not separable.
-  God is one in His eternal and unchangeable essence, yet three distinct Persons. 
3. The deity of Jesus.
-  Jesus is God, conceived miraculously in Mary’s virginal womb, born in Bethlehem, lived in Nazareth, was crucified and resurrected bodily.  He has all the attributes of God – therefore, He is God.
4. The ‘Virgin Conception’ of Jesus
- We used this phrase on purpose because the ‘virgin birth’ means different things to different people – there are difference even between what we mean by the ‘virgin birth’ and what the Roman Catholics believe/teach.
- By ‘virgin conception’ we mean that Jesus’ conception in the womb of Mary was not the result of a sexual relationship.
- Mary conceived the Christ-child through a supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit – it was a miracle of God that had never been done, nor has it been repeated since!
Point:  We are in agreement with Roman Catholics on the fact that Jesus’ conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary was a miraculous act of God!
[Student Notes:  For further study, see Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, p. 756-775, where he deals with the significance, the evidence, the objections, and the theological meaning of the virgin birth.]
5. Absolute necessity of the atonement of the death of Jesus.
- This comes as a surprise, but Roman Catholics believe in the absolute necessity of the death of Christ on a cross as an atoning sacrificial payment for our sins. There is no salvation apart from the death of Christ on the cross.
- Without His death there would be no meaning to the mass or the sacraments.  Jesus had to die on the cross
• sacraments are a visible sign or a means whereby God imparts grace, or Divine life, to a person who is worthy to receive it.
• These differ from ‘ordinances’ [for us, baptism and the Lord’s Table] in that ordinances are simply memorials, or reminders – they impart no grace or life.
6.  Bodily resurrection of Jesus and all believers.
- Roman Catholics believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus and all believers. Jesus Christ resurrected in His same physical scarred body that had been crucified on the cross.
7. The literal and physical return of Jesus to this world.
- Jesus will return in the same body in which He ascended and will reign in this world in the same body that He had while on earth and after the resurrected from tomb.
- As to the time of and the events surrounding the second coming of Christ, Catholicism does not have the variety that exists among evangelical theologians.  However, the major points of Christian end-times or eschatology are there.
8. An eternal Heaven and eternal Hell.
- People who have made Jesus their Savior will abide in Heaven for eternity and those who reject God’s plan of salvation will be conscious in suffering and torment for eternity in hell.  To the Catholics, hell is a literal place of torment where there is fire, pain, suffering, for all eternity.
9. Belief in moral absolutes.
- There is a common core to Catholic and evangelical ethics.
- Both believe in moral absolutes rooted in the nature and will of God and revealed through God's self-disclosure to humans in both nature (general revelation) and Scripture (special revelation).
- Catholics and evangelicals are opposed to moral relativism. They believe there are moral absolutes that God has given believers and unbelievers on which all society should base their government – these are called the natural law (from Romans 2:12-15). This universal moral law serves as a common basis for all human actions and for universal human rights.
10. View of Man
- There are essential similarities in the Roman Catholic and evangelical views of humanity's origin, nature, fall, and destiny. Both agree in the dignity of human beings because we are made in the image of God.  We both believe that in Adam all have sinned and all men must suffer the consequences of that fall.
11. The Church
- We agree that the church was built on Christ, the chief cornerstone (1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20). The Christian church did not begin until after Christ said, "I will build [future tense] my church" (Matthew 16:18).
- God has always been interested in dealing with individuals in the context of a community of believers.
- Now, while we do have areas of agreement, we believe the Catholics have ADDED to the fundamentals, in essence, changing the very nature of those doctrines

III.  Where we differ with Catholicism

[Student Notes:  One of the reasons some many Catholic laypersons are converting to evangelicalism is that they did not find a dynamic personal relationship with Christ in their Catholic church. The reality is often lost in the ritual.

The Catholic Church offers:  (1)  Aesthetics: Catholicism is ritualistic and has beautiful art and majesty – this is offered within the church. However, in many cases, these elaborate churches exist in slums of the community.  Money/wealth goes to the church and even expected for indulgences, etc. rather than being used to meet the needs of the people of the community.  (2)  History: Catholicism is an old and established religion.  In fact, our Protestant ‘roots’ grew out of this religion. 
(3) Philosophical Intellectual history is unparalleled in Protestant tradition. Catholics have older philosophical tradition. But Aquinas, Anselm, Augustine didn’t believe in the infallibility of the Pope and Immaculate Conception because they hadn’t been proclaimed.  (4)  Psychologically and sociologically: There is an unmatched hierarchy with a unified authoritative system.   There is a sense of ‘community’ and ‘security’ within the system.  Somebody with authority is there to make the important decisions and is there for me if I need help.]
- We want to make sure that everyone understands that God tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, He also commands us in 2 Timothy 2:15 to ‘rightly divide the word of truth” and to be ‘discerners of doctrine’ (Hebrew 5:14) – to be ‘Bereans and search the Scriptures to see what is true’ (Acts 17:11).
-  The first area of difference is in . . .
A.  The Authority of the Scriptures
- This point is so important because your source of truth determines your beliefs and actions – if your source of truth is inaccurate, then a person’s eternal destiny and final judgment before God can be affected.
1.  Catholics have added books to Bible – the Apocrypha and tradition
- We both affirm the inspiration and divine authority of the 66 books of the Protestant canon (canon = measuring stick; over time, the word came to be used metaphorically of books that were ‘measured’ and thereby recognized as being God's Word – 39 of the OT, 27 in the NT)
IMPORTANT:  Canonicity deals with the recognition and collection of the God-inspired books – canonicity is determined or established authoritatively by God, it is merely discovered by man.
- However, Catholics have ADDED the Apocrypha to the ‘canon’ (Apocrypha = seven books and four parts of books of doubtful authenticity and authority written during the 400-year period between the Old and New Testaments)
[Student Notes:  The Roman Catholic Apocrypha consist of:  Tobit, Judith, the Additions to Ester, the Additions to Daniel (the Prayer of Azariah and the Three Young Men, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon), the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (also call Sirach), Baruch (also call 1 Baruch), the Letter of Jeremiah, 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees. – Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, Ron Rhodes, Harvest House, 2000.]
  Note:  Roman Catholics actually refer to the Apocrypha as ‘deuterocanonical’ books, literally. "second canon” but does not have secondary status among the Roman Catholics.
- Jews wrote the Apocrypha books between 250 B.C. and 100 A.D.  Nearly 1,500 years later, the Roman Catholic Church infallibly pronounced them as part of the canon at the Council of Trent in A.D. 1546. 
- This Council occurred 29 years after the October 31, 1517 date when Martin Luther tacked his 95 theses in Wittenberg.  Luther stood firmly on the Bible alone as the authority of faith/practice - “Sola scriptura”.
- Luther criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not having scriptural support for such doctrines as praying for the dead.  Luther believed Hebrews 9:27 “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”
- Doctrinally, the Apocrypha in 2 Maccabees 12:45-46 supports prayers for the dead.  But Luther responded that this book was not part of Scripture – and the NT does not support this teaching
2.  The tests of canonicity
1)  Authorship – was the book written by a prophet, or an apostle or an accredited spokesperson for God?
-  God determined which books would be in the Bible by giving their message to a prophet, an apostle, or an accredited spokesperson for God.  Only the books written by these individuals are inspired and belong in the canon of Scripture.
-  While God determined canonicity by propheticity, the people of God had to discover which of these books were prophetic. This was done immediately by the people of God to whom the prophet wrote, not centuries later by those who had no access to him nor any way to verify his prophetic credentials.
-  Immediate contemporaries confirmed a prophet of God through divine miracles (cf. Exodus 3:1-3; 1 Kings 18; Acts 2:22; 2 Cor. 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4) and fulfilled prophecies.
-  Deuteronomy 18:18 teaches that only a prophet of God will speak the Word of God
• Deuteronomy 18:18 'I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.’
-  2 Peter assures us that Scripture is only written by men of God:
• (KJV) 2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
- In Galatians 1, the apostle Paul argued support for the book of Galatians by appealing to the fact that he was an authorized messenger of God – an apostle!
- No apocryphal book claims to be written by a prophet and one apocryphal book, 1 Maccabees 9:27, even disclaims being prophetic.
2)  Authority – does the book claim to be the Word of God?
- The NT and OT books claim for themselves the qualities and character of the very Word of God -- the OT contains over 3,800 claims to inspiration
- The NT books claim to be inspired (lit. God-breathed; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Peter 3:16), but the Apocryphal books nowhere even claim to be inspired.
3)  Validation – does Christ and the NT writers validate the OT and/or the Apocrypha?
-  The NT writers and Christ certainly validated the OT in several ways:
• Endorses the account of Jonah – Matthew 12:40
• Verifies the authorship of Daniel – Matthew 24:15
• Quotes from Isaiah 6, 29, 42, 50, 53 – Matthew 13, 14, 15
• Verifies the inspiration of the Genesis account of creation – Matthew 19:4-6
• Confirmed the Genesis flood and life of Noah – Matthew 24:37-39
• Directly quotes from Deuteronomy 8:3
-  Although there may be NT allusions to the Apocrypha (cf. Heb. 11:35 with 2 Maccabees 7, 12), there are no clear NT quotations from it. 
-  They are never cited with introductory phrases like "thus says the Lord" or "as it is written" or "the Scriptures say," such as are typically found when canonical books are quoted.
4)  Contents – does it agree with or contradict the rest of the Scriptures (unity principle)
-  The Apocrypha contains doctrine that contradicts the Word of God – examples:
• Doctrine of the Mass – 2 Maccabees 12:42-45 vs. Hebrews 7:27
[Student Notes:  Hebrews 7:27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.]
• World created out of preexistent matter (Wisdom of Solomon) vs. Genesis 1
5)  Universality – are the writings accepted and received by the church universally?
- Especially the early church
- From time to time, false epistles were written – Paul even addressed that in Galatians, “If any write any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed.”
- Roman Catholics often argue that the Council of Rom (A.D. 382), the Council of Hippo (A.D. 393), and the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397) accepted the Apocrypha. 
- But the fact is, some of the councils, such as the local councils of Hippo and Carthage in North Africa, were heavily influenced by Augustine, a very powerful voice in the acceptance of the Apocrypha.
- But Geisler/MacKenzie in their book, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals, have provided strong evidence showing how ill-founded Augustine’s position was (p. 162)
- On the other hand, the Jews of Palestine, including the Jewish Council of Jamnia in A.D. 90, rejected the Apocrypha.  This is understandable in view of the fact that there were no Jewish prophets that lived during the 400-year period between the Old and New Testaments.
[Student Notes:  Josephus, ancient Jewish historian, rejected the Apocrypha, Philo, a Jewish teacher who lived in the 1st century, quoted from virtually every OT canonical book, but never once quoted from the Apocrypha. See additional comments on p. 36, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, Ron Rhodes]
[Student Notes:  Additional reasons for excluding the Apocrypha from the Canon -- 1.  While the New Testament quotes mostly from the Septuagint, which contained the Apocrypha it is not certain that the Septuagint (LXX) of the first century contained the Apocrypha and Jesus and the apostles never once quoted them.  2. Further none of the great Greek manuscripts (Aleph, A, and B) contain all of the apocryphal books and the oldest manuscripts (B or Vaticanus) totally exclude the books of Maccabees. 3.  Evidence indicates that the Qumran community did not view the apocryphal books as canonical .  4.  Evidence indicates the Protestant (“Palestinian”) Old Testament canon, WITHOUT the Apocrypha, was the canon of Jesus, Josephus, and Jerome, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Athanasius.]
Point:  The Roman Catholic Council of Trent infallibly proclaimed the Apocrypha as part of the inspired Word of God 1,500years after the books were written and in an obvious defense against Protestantism.
B.  Salvation by grace alone and faith alone
1.  Catholics have added works to faith.
- Maybe you’ve heard the statement:  “We all serve the same God – we’re just getting to heaven different ways.”  Is that really true?  Is that way of thinking consistent with what the Bible teaches?
- Every Catholic believes that salvation comes from grace and that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead and faith is a necessary condition for salvation. But Catholics say you must live a life of good works and based on those good works it will be determined if you will be granted heaven.
- We believe that the Bible is categorically opposed to that based on the following:
• Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
• Romans 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.
• Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.
-  We believe salvation is by grace alone (sola gratia) apart from any good works.
Point:  The distinguishing salvation doctrines of the Reformation, then, are grace alone and faith alone (sola gratia and sola fide) through Christ alone and based on the Scriptures alone.
2.  Catholics have added their view of the sacraments
-  While Roman Catholic theology claims that there is no salvation apart from God's grace, their view of the sacraments tends to take away in practice what they have affirmed in principle.
- Catholics confuse reward of salvation and reward for service. We believe that while we are saved by faith alone, nevertheless, the faith that saves us inevitably produces good works. We are saved by faith and for works. Works are not a condition of justification but a result of it. (James 2:18; Ephesians 2:10)
• James 2:18 But someone may well say, "You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."
• Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- If we must live a life of works as a condition for getting to heaven, then works have nullified grace.
• Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
a.  The Catholic Arguments for Salvation by Sacraments.
- The sacraments are at the heart of Roman Catholic religious practices. There are seven sacraments, (baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, [holy] order, and matrimony) all of which are causes of God's grace on His church.  A sacrament has two aspects: the OUTWARD SIGN and the INNER GRACE conveyed by it. 
-  This being the case, salvation is dependent on performing the works of the sacramental system. It is not really by grace alone through faith alone.
b.  The Eucharist is the most important of all sacraments to Catholics.
- The Roman Catholic teaching of transubstantiation holds that, during communion, the wine and bread are transformed into the actual body and blood of Christ and that at every mass Christ is sacrificed afresh.
- We believe Christ died and atoned for sin once and for all, and since the believer is justified by faith on the basis of that one-time sacrifice, there is no need for repeated sacrifices.
• Hebrews 7:27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
- In addition, it not necessary to take Jesus literally when He said, "this is my body" or "eat my flesh."  Jesus often spoke in graphic parables and figures. A literal understanding in this context would have been suggesting cannibalism.
- Also, it is not possible to take a literal view of Jesus’ statements because when He said of the bread in his hand "this is my body, " no disciple present could possibly have understood Him to mean that the bread was actually His physical body since he was still with them in his physical body, the hands of which were holding that very bread!
[Student Notes:   Every Catholic genuflexes (crosses himself) as he enters the sanctuary because of the consecrated host at the altar. It is an obligation of Catholics to worship the bread and wine.  We would view that as idolatry. The Bible says you should not worship or make graven idol or bow down before them (Exodus 20).  Catholics reply that they are worshipping God. Our response is:  It doesn’t matter; don’t make idols and don’t bow down before them. Pagans don’t worship their idols either, they worship the spirit behind the idol. So what is the difference?]
c.  Infant baptism
- The Roman Catholic Church teaches that every newborn child must be baptized.’
- According to them, an infant receives the benefits of Christ’s death through the sacrament of baptism.
“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments.  Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission:  Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church [1213]
- We believe that justification is by faith alone:
• Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
• Romans 4:3 Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
• Romans 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
C.  The relationship to Mary.
- We share with Catholics many similar beliefs about Mary:
• She is the most blessed woman on the face of the earth
• She was a virgin when she conceived Jesus and REMAINED a virgin until after the birth of Christ!
• She is a great model of the Christian life, a noble and virtuous woman.
1.  Catholics have added an exalted view of Mary to their teachings
a. Veneration (worship) of Mary
- Catholics believe that Mary should be respected above all women.
- We believe that while Luke 1 says she was the most blessed person among women because she carried the Son of God in her womb (Luke 1:28,35, 42). But there is no evidence that she should be exalted or receive special veneration (hyperdulia) short of God.
- There is not a single instance in the NT where veneration was given to Mary.
- In addition, the Scripture forbids us to:
• bow down in veneration to any creature, even angels (Col. 2:18; Rev. 22:8-9).
• make "idols" of any creature or even "bow down" to them in an act of religious devotion (Exodus 20:4-5).
Note:  To call Mary "Queen of Heaven," knowing that this very phrase comes from an old pagan idolatrous cult condemned in the Bible (cf. Jer. 7:18), only invites the charge of Mariolarty, which is idolatry.
Point:  Despite theological distinctions to the contrary, in reality, there is often no real difference between the veneration given to Mary and that given to Christ despite the Catholic church's use of verses showing that we should "honor" our parents (Deut. 5:16) and our rulers (Rom. 13:1-7).
b.  Perpetual virginity of Mary
- The Lateran Synod of A.D. 649 was the first to stress the threefold character of Mary's virginity claiming that Mary was a Virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus Christ. Based on Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:18, and Luke 1:26 (cf. Gal. 4:4) we both agree that Jesus was conceived of a virgin.
- But we would disagree with the Catholic view on the perpetual virginity of Mary for two important reasons:
1)  Matthew 13:55 – There are clear references to Jesus' brothers and sisters in the context of His immediate family.  The Greek term for "brother" (adelphos) here is the normal word for "blood brother."
- Suggesting these "brothers" and "sisters" of Jesus were Joseph's children from another marriage as the Catholics teach would have meant Joseph's oldest son would have been heir to David's throne and not Jesus.  But the Bible affirms that Jesus was the heir (Matthew 1:1).
2)  Matthew 1:25 implies that Mary had sexual relations with Joseph after Jesus was born, "He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus."
c.  Sinlessness of Mary
- Pope Pius IX, pronounced infallible the immaculate conception of Mary.  Not only was Mary conceived without original sin, but she was free from every personal sin during her whole life.
- However, the Bible affirms her sinfulness.  Speaking as a sinner, Mary said, "my spirit rejoices in God my savior" (Luke 1:46). She was confessing her present need (after her conception) of a Savior. Why would she need a savior if she were sinless?
- Mary even presented an offering to the Jewish priest arising out of her sinful condition (Luke 2:22-24), which was required by law (Lev. 12). 
- The great Catholic scholar, Thomas Aquinas, rejected the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary believing it is inconsistent with the scriptural pronouncement on the universality of sin– namely, that ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
d.  Physical assumption of Mary
- Catholics believe that Mary was taken bodily into heaven – that she is the precursor of the resurrection. Mary is already there in bodily form. The doctrine was late in development and infallibly proclaimed ex cathedra in 1950.
- However, this teaching has no support in the early church fathers and there are no scriptural proofs.
e.  Mary as the co-redeemer
- Mary's cooperation in the incarnation has earned her this title since the 5th century.  This cooperative work with Christ in redemption conflicts with our belief in the uniqueness of Christ's atonement.
2.  The inherent dilemma in Catholic Mariology
- On the one hand, Catholic theology admits that everything we need as believers we can get from Christ, yet they exalt the role of Mary as the dispenser of all grace. For them, there is a hopeless dilemma.
- We believe that Mary, as the earthly mother of Jesus, was the channel through which God's grace entered the world.  But Mary is NOT the dispenser of God's grace to us.
- Catholics believe you should pray to God, but you can also pray to God through Mary. “Hail Mary” is a prayer to Mary.
- But 2 Timothy 2:15 clearly states, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men,  the man Christ Jesus.”
- Catholic belief that prayers can be directed to Mary and to the Saints.
- We believe that all prayers should be directed to God alone – “Our Father, who art in heaven” – it is a dishonor to God to not go to Him directly.
- When Christ died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom – the holy of holies became accessible by all believers – not just the high priest once a year who offered up the sacrifice for the people.
- Now, we are declared to be priests before God – we don’t go through Mary or any saint, we pray to the Father, by the Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ!
D. Catholics have added idols to worship.
- Catholics believe relics and images of the saints can be venerated in the ultimate worship such as the milk of Mary, bones of saints, pieces of Christ’s cross, etc. 
- We contend that Catholics are engaging in idolatry because it is wrong to use image of God in worship. Not only is there a total absence of worship of any creature or physical object in Scripture, there is an explicit condemnation of it!
- God clearly commanded his people not to make graven images or to bow down to them in an act of religious devotion (Exodus 20:4-5). Paul said that this was the same error of those who "revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator" (Romans 1:25).
E.  Catholics have added purgatory to heaven.
- While we agree that there are only two ultimate destination (heaven/hell), Catholics have added purgatory to heaven.
- Catholics believe there are temporal consequences (more the short term effects) for our sins on earth and that is what you pay for in purgatory.  Jesus paid the eternal consequences and the guilt of our sins. Every one in purgatory will go to heaven eventually.
- Catholics believe that only a few people will go directly to heaven. Purgatory is a period of temporal punishment for sins after death as a purification that takes place before one enters heaven.  This punishment involves some kind of pain or suffering that can be assisted by the prayers and devotions of the living. As to whether purgatory is a place, what the precise nature of the pain is, or how long one remains there, is not part of infallible teaching.
- We believe that Jesus died for our eternal life, but we still sin in this life, and sin has consequences – Galatians 6 says, whatever you sew you reap. Proverbs warns that the way of the transgressor is hard.
- But we disagree with the doctrine of purgatory primarily because it denies the all-sufficiency of Christ's atoning death.  When Christ died on the cross, he proclaimed, "It is finished" (John 19:30) – that is, there is nothing else that can be done to pay the price for man’s salvation [Greek verb is perfect tense, past action with on-going continuous results].
- Salvation by Christ's suffering on the cross was a once-for-all accomplished fact (Hebrews 10:14). Claiming Christians must suffer for our own sins is the ultimate insult to Christ's atoning sacrifice because that would say that there are consequences of sin for which Christ didn’t die.
- 2 Corinthians 5:8 teaches that upon death a person who know the Lord as Savior goes directly to heaven.  At death, believers immediately "leave the body and go home to the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8).  Unbelievers go to a place called ‘hell’ where they suffer and the worms never dies and the fire is not quenched, and they await the final judgment at the Great White Throne and then cast into the lake of fire for ever and ever.
- There is no indication in Scripture that people will be purified from their sins after death. Scripture teaches that death is final, and a destiny of woe or bliss is immediate.

F.  Catholics have added the infallibility of the Pope to the infallibility of the Bible.
- We agree on the infallibility of the Bible, but we deny the Pope’s infallibility when he speaks ex cathedra. But we differ over the limits of infallible authority.
- According to Roman Catholics, the teaching magisterium is infallible when officially defining faith and morals for believers.  The belief that is popularly known as the "infallibility of the Pope," was pronounced a dogma in 1870 A.D. at Vatican 1.  Roman Catholic scholars acknowledge that the pope is not infallible in everything he teaches but only when he speaks ex cathedra.
- Marin Luther, a leader in the Protestant Reformation against many Catholic doctrines, Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) Council of Worms (A.D. 1521): "Unless I am convinced by the testimonies of Scripture or evident reason-for I believe neither the Pope nor Councils alone, since it is established that they have often erred and contradicted themselves-I am the prisoner of the Scriptures. Here we stand; we can do no other.”
G.  Catholics have added the confessional to the priest
- The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Catholics must confess all serious sins to a priest in the sacrament of penance – [Note:  The issue of ‘serious’ sins (mortal verses venial) will have to be addressed at another time].
- The Church’s basis for this belief rests on John 20 22-23:
• John 20:22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and *said to them, " Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."
- The Church teaches that with those words the Lord gave priests the power to judge and to forgive Christians who had fallen into sin – the sacrament of penance, it claims, is the rightful application of that authority.
- However, we the Lord was not speaking to a group of ordained bishops or priests – His audience was a group made up of ten of the apostle with several other disciples
- There is therefore no reason to restrict the application to ordained clergy!
- In addition, Luke’s account [Luke 24:46-48] of the same event shows that Jesus was not establishing a sacrament of the church, but was speaking of the responsibility of His disciple to proclaim the gospel to the lost!
- Finally, Paul, John, and the author of Hebrews make it very clear that we do not need a priest to go between us and God:
• 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
• 1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
• Hebrews 4:16 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.
[Student Notes – Evidence for sola Scriptura: In addition to what has already been stated above, consider the following: 
1.  2 Tim. 3:16-17 teaches that the Bible alone is inspired and capable of saving, edifying, and equipping believers. Although this verse refers only to the Old Testament (v. 15), other passages show that the New Testament Gospels (1 Tim. 5:18; cf. Luke 10:7) and Epistles were considered "Scripture" too (2 Pet. 3:15-16). 
2. There is no reference to another instrument or source of authority other than the written Word (Gk. graphe) supporting the doctrine of sola Scriptura.
3. Jesus and the apostles constantly appealed to the Bible as the final court of appeal. The phrase "It is written," is repeated ninety times in the New Testament.
4. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for negating the final authority of the Word of God with their religious traditions (Matt. 15:3, 6).
5. The Bible warns "not to go beyond what is written" (1 Cor. 4:6; Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:5-6; Rev. 22:18-19). 
6. The Bible teaches that it is a revelation from God (Gal. 1:12, 2:1-2; cf. 1 Cor. 2:11-13) as opposed to the words of men. Since canonical revelation ceased at the end of the first century, sola Scriptura means that the Bible-nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else"-has infallible authority.
7. The Bible is clear without the aid of traditions to help us understand it. This does not mean that everything in the Bible is absolutely clear but that all doctrines essential for salvation are sufficiently clear. It is utterly presumptuous to assert that what fallible human beings write is clearer than what the infallible Word of God declares!
*  Our response to Catholic scriptural support for papal infallibility would be the following:
1.  Jesus' statement to Peter in Matthew 16:18
- The statement "upon this rock I will build my church" was NOT referring to Peter being the foundation of the church.  However, even if Peter is the rock referred to by Christ, he was not the only rock in the foundation of the church because Jesus gave all the apostles the same power ("keys") to "bind" and "loose" that he gave to Peter
• Matthew 18:18 "Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
- Also, Peter's role in the NT falls far short of the Catholic claim that he was given unique authority among the apostles and there is absolutely no reference to any alleged infallibility he possessed.
>  For example, Paul rebukes Peter for hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14).
- The apostolic powers were not passed on to anyone after their death.  The Apostles had to meet certain qualifications in the first place.  .
Point: The authority of living apostles has been replaced by the authority of the writings of the apostles!
2. Jesus statements to Peter in John 21:15-17
- The statements to "Feed my lambs," "Tend my sheep" and "Feed my sheep"  do not show that Peter alone, was given infallible authority to be the pastor of the whole Christian church but instead speaks to Peter's weakness and need for restoration!
- The are other passages that tell pastors to do the same thing:
• Ephesians 4:11-16
• 1 Peter 5:2 Shepherd the flock (KJV = ‘feed the flock) of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness.
Point:  While both sides believe the Bible is infallible, we deny that the church or the pope has an infallible interpretation of it.  The fact that a Pope can be fallible at any point even undermines the doctrine of infallibility!
Q:  If the pope can be fallible on one doctrine, then why not others?
[Student Notes – Additional responses to this issue:
3. The Problem of Heretical Popes. Pope Honorius I (A.D. 625-638) was condemned by the Sixth General Council for teaching the monothelite heresy (that there was only one will in Christ) means an infallible pope taught a fallible and heretical, doctrine.
4. The Problem o f the Anti-Popes. Another problem is the problem of having more than one infallible pope at the same time a pope and an anti-pope. There have been about thirty-five anti-popes in the history of the Church. How can there be two infallible and opposing popes at the same time? 
5.  The Problem of Galileo. Perhaps the greatest embarrassment to the self-claimed infallible church is its fallible judgment about Galileo Galilei (A.D. 1564-1642) who adopted the Copernican view that the, sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system. In A.D. 1616, the Copernican theory was condemned at Rome. Galileo was summoned by the Inquisition in 1632, tried, and on June 21, 1633, pronounced "vehemently suspected of heresy."]

IV.  How you can help?

A.  Develop friendships
- cultivating a friendship that is pleasing to God is very important – showing love to others, regardless of their religion, color of their skin, nationality, etc. is part for the 2nd greatest command to love your neighbor as yourself
- good friendships are built on mutual respect for each other to believe what he/she chooses – even though you may differ
B.  Encourage personal bible study
- let the Word of God speak – it is a powerful, living book that is the truth from God Himself
- each of us need to be Bereans and search the Scriptures – and honestly, Catholics and Baptists both can be guilty of failing to be good students of the Word and therefore we don’t know exactly what the Bible says about a particular issue
C.  Address the real problem and solution
- the real problem is not what church you attend, it’s the problem of sin and our relationship with God – only the Word of God the Holy Spirit can help us as we choose to obey God.
- we need to focus on that issue and what the Bible says about sin and its consequences.
- while we have ‘common ground’ with Catholics (review those), we also have great differences since Catholicism ADDS to the truth, resulting in false teaching that is contrary to the truth.
D.  Continue to learn
- the better you understand you understand your own faith, and the faith of others, the better able you will be to effectively communicate the truth on various issues
Roman Catholics:  Agreements and Differences, Geisler, Norman L. Ralph E. Mackenzie; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1995.
The Gospel According to Rome, James G. McCarthy, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon; 1995.
Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, Ron Rhodes, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon; 2000.
Catholicism in Crisis, video, produced by Harvest House Publications