Again, it is the old, old story: “If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Mat. 15:14).
LET US LOOK AT the doctrines of the immaculate conception (of Mary) and the assumption of the Virgin Mary (into heaven).
The immaculate conception of Mary does not, despite widespread belief to the contrary, insist that Mary was also born of a virgin. It states that Mary was uniquely, in all the aeons of human history, the only person born without original sin (the legacy of sin brought to us all by Adam). By declaring Mary to be born without the human inclination to sin, the Catholic Church makes her, in effect, divine, thereby, constructing a quadrinity to replace the traditional Trinity. It adheres tenaciously to this doctrine despite the irrefutable proof presented by Mary’s own words:
“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Lk. 1:46-47).
Here Mary stated her actual need for a Saviour, certifying herself to be human and, therefore, a sinner.
Also, there is the matter of Mary being suddenly taken bodily into heaven. (We say suddenly because no one knew about Mary’s physical translation before it was unexpectedly announced by the Vatican in 1950.)
The Bible does speak of two human beings who were translated (taken up bodily), but these were Elijah and Enoch. Unfortunately, there is not a hint in Scripture of Mary having joined this illustrious company. Again, however, as is often the case, church officials within the Catholic faith do not let this trouble them. Once a new doctrine has been announced ex cathedra, it becomes “gospel truth” forever - even when the announced fact contradicts the real truth in the real gospel.
Then, there is the sacrifice of the Mass. Again, we have here a basic Catholic doctrine, yet it is totally contrary to what is taught in the Bible.
Further, there is papal infallibility, which has no basis or hint of scriptural approval. As a matter of fact, when Cornelius, a God-fearing man, fell down at his feet, Peter (who is claimed by the Catholic hierarchy as the prototype for all popes) told him:
"Stand up; I myself also am a man” (Acts 10:26).
There is no hint of papal infallibility here.
Despite the fact that none of these beliefs have any basis within Scripture, each is embraced as official doctrine of the Catholic Church. As stated, not only are these doctrines not scriptural, but they also teach a false way to salvation:
“Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by Me” (Jn. 14:6).
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep … He who enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber … I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (Jn. 10:7, 1, 9).
As there is only one way to salvation (as delineated any number of places in the Bible), any other system or method will cause untold millions of people to die lost. Obviously, church (human) tradition has taken precedence over the Word of God within the Catholic Church, with awesome and eternal suffering the end product of adherence to such policies.
The authorized version of the Bible consists of 66 books - from Genesis to Revelation. In the Catholic Bible, however, some of these books do not appear, and other books are added. These spurious writings are considered by the Catholic Church to be the Word of God. Eleven of these writings have been accepted by the Catholic Church as inspired by God and are included in the Roman Catholic canon. As such, they are found within the Douay Version, which is the accepted Catholic Bible.
We believe these books are false, and here are the reasons:
As far as the Old Testament was concerned, these particular books were not included in the Hebrew canon of Scripture.
None of these spurious writings (the Apocrypha) were ever quoted by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, or any of the other writers in the New Testament. They did frequently quote from other books included within the canon of Scripture.
Josephus, the widely respected Hebrew historian, expressly excluded them.
Divine inspiration is claimed by none of them.
The books known as the Apocrypha have historical, geographical, and chronological errors.
For the most part, they teach and uphold doctrines that are contrary to Scripture. For instance, lying is sanctioned in certain cases, and magic is advocated and practiced in others.
As literature, they are considered to be myth and legend.
Their spiritual (and even moral) content is far below the standard of either the Old Testament or the New Testament.
In comparison to the Old Testament, the majority of these questionable books were written much later than those considered to be authoritative and inspired.
So, the Roman Catholic Church has added books to the generally accepted Bible and has officially declared these books to be God-breathed and God-inspired, when they obviously are not.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS ATTEMPTED TO KEEP THE BIBLE FROM HER MEMBERS
In pre-Reformation days, attempts by bold, individual Catholics to translate and widely distribute the Bible in the common language were met with violent and harsh opposition from those in power within the Catholic Church. During the Protestant Reformation, reformers (who did bring the Bible to the people in the common languages of their areas) left the Roman authorities aghast and violently opposed to such efforts.
During modern times, the Roman Catholic Church, in a lukewarm concession to common views, has made the Bible available to its people, but has done little to encourage Bible reading or to develop real Bible knowledge among practicing Catholics - even though it professes to believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Word of God.
In fact, in many countries where the Catholic Church holds a dominant position, reading or distributing the Bible is still discouraged. Consequently, lay Catholics - and, sorry to say, most priests - remain totally ignorant of the Word of God. They know a few isolated verses (and these, more often than not, are out of context), which are chosen for distribution to the laity because they appear to support Catholic doctrine. Otherwise, the Bible remains an almost totally unknown book to the average Catholic.
We have received scores of letters from individual Catholics who have questioned their priests about particular passages or doctrines and have been told that they do not need to try to interpret the Word of God for themselves; the priests will do it for them. Consequently, they are still actively discouraged from reading anything in the Bible, and the reason they are discouraged is that (as previously stated) the Word of God is frequently in direct opposition to Catholic traditions and beliefs. If the average Catholic finds this out, it can be disturbing to him.
The Catholic Church teaches that the layman should not read the Bible as it may disturb him, but they do not go into any depth of detail on just what may disturb him. The sad fact is that the average priest, who is supposed to interpret the Bible for his flock, knows little more about it than the layman.
To be brutally frank, I am sure there must be some priests somewhere who do have some Bible knowledge, but I have never met one personally. They are trained in Roman Catholic tradition, but they are not trained in the Word of God. Sadly, it would do little good if they were given Bible training simply because most priests are not saved!
The average priest has never met the Lord Jesus Christ as his own personal Saviour. As a consequence, his training and orientation are intellectual rather than spiritual. So, what we find, even when the priest does endeavor to share the Word with the laity, is rather a shared ignorance — which can be catastrophic.
Again, it is the old, old story:
“Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” (Lk. 6:39).
I believe the foregoing demonstrates why so many Catholic Charismatics deviate so far from Scripture when they receive “experiences of the Spirit” to replace the written Word. For example, Catholic Charismatics often give utterances in tongues which, in the interpretation, exhort their followers to be more faithful to Mary. In the written Word of God, we find, however (and, here again, based on the words of our ultimate spiritual authority, Jesus Christ):
“When the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me” (Jn. 15:26).
Quite obviously, these supposed spiritual manifestations are being generated out of the mind of the speaker and not from the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Why is this so common? It is because the Catholic Charismatic rarely has any solid biblical grounding on which to judge his relationship with God. Therefore, these “experiences of the spirit” (which are not the Holy Spirit) go in all directions. Every experience of the spirit must be based (and judged) on the Word of God:
“In the Law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people … How is it then, brethren? when you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret … Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge … The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (I Cor. 14:21-32).
THE INFALLIBLE INTERPRETER OF THE BIBLE
As practiced within Roman Catholicism, the Bible is a captive of the institutional church hierarchy. There is no room whatsoever for the marvelous operation of the Holy Spirit, who illuminates the believer and quickens the Word to him as He empowers that believer to discern and interpret.
Instead, we have the Catholic Church, which considers itself to be infallible in its interpretation of the Bible, acting as the ultimate and unquestionable authority over its own pronouncements. We thus have a situation where the same body who issues statements certifies them as scriptural — even when they are obviously direct contradictions of the Word of God! When this unusual situation is pointed out to Catholic authorities, however, they simply state that the church is infallible.
So, where is the problem?
The problem obviously lies in the fact that individuals are actively discouraged from delving into God’s Word themselves and thus developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Instead, they are advised to leave this “potentially dangerous” or “potentially disturbing” practice to the “experts.” When they do, they then are delivered a product that is certified by the same people who prepared it. Is it surprising that hundreds of millions of people are led astray?
THE CATHOLIC PEOPLE, SADLY, ARE NOT A “PEOPLE OF THE BOOK”
The Word of God has to be the foundation for all religious beliefs. If it is not, any kind of bizarre deviation can be made to appear as solid asphalt for those trying to find the road to God. Basically this is the problem within the Catholic Church. It has almost totally abandoned God’s Word (if it ever knew it). Church tradition has become the foundational underpinning for all Catholic tenets of belief, and where the foundation is rotten, all else is suspect.
One former Catholic priest stated, “I do not ever recall seeing a Bible in any Catholic grade school I attended.” He went on to say that the first Bible he ever saw was carried by a Protestant youngster as he made his way to Sunday school. Actually, the Bible (in practice if not in principle) is effectively excluded from all Catholic worship, that is, with the exception of those brief and safe passages read every Sunday as “the gospel.”
In conclusion, the foundational beliefs of the Catholic Church are built not on the Word of God but on the traditions of men. Having made a number of statements that the liberal press and the Catholic hierarchy will seize upon as anti-Catholic, rather than close this chapter with something out of my own mind, I will quote the ultimate authority on all spiritual matters, Jesus Christ:
“Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition” (Mk. 7:9).
Also, as the psalmist David said:
“Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).