Several years ago I heard a Baptist pastor, who had ministered in the Salt Lake region as a church pastor describe the Mormon religion as Satan’s greatest counterfeit. And as I have indicated in the first part on this topic, he had justifiable reason for that identification.
However, Joseph Smith only showed up in the early 1800s, and Satan would not have held back his deceptions for so many centuries just for that so-called “latter-day revelation” of God’s failure to initiate a workable plan of salvation for mankind in the beginning.
Like that garden plot you spent so much time getting ready for the spring planting, the first thing that shows up are those devilish weeds that are trying to choke out anything desirable and worthwhile.
In that Matthew 16 passage where Jesus declared the beginning of His Church we find the beginning, also, of a parallel religious body that springs out of a humanistic foundation based on Peter, the pebble or stone (petras),and not the Rock or boulder (petra) of the deity of Jesus Christ as identified to Peter by the Spirit of God. Here is that passage:
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’
Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven’” (Matthew 16:15-19).
It is interesting that the Holy Spirit led Matthew to precede this context with Jesus warning the disciples to beware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees and Sadducees, meaning their doctrine, which basically was the binding legalism of the law. That is, the human efforts, the performance of “flesh and blood” instead of faith as the means of pleasing God.
Then He shows that His deity cannot be known by human effort but only by revelation from God. That distinction is then made between the Rock of His true identification and Peter, a mere human of flesh and blood limitations. Yet, He puts in this mere human the keys to the kingdom of heaven and certain authority along with it. The meaning of this authority deserves a more lengthy discussion at a later time, and I will deal with it again in Part 3 of this series.
Before discussing my observations of doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church and their comparison with the Scriptures, I must say clearly that there are many, many beautiful and wonderful people in the Catholic Church.
The deceptions they are exposed to come from a higher spiritual order, from Satan himself. I mean no harm, no offense to innocent believers in that arena, but my intent is to highlight the Scriptures in comparison with that church’s doctrines and traditions that are claimed as equal to the Word of God.
I must also add that I am a layman, not a theologian, and one who is on the outside, looking into an organization that is centuries old. But, I might add, the Scriptures are even older, and I, as an outsider, can make an objective comparison and analysis of the issues.
Shortly after the Matthew 16 conversations about the identity of Jesus and the establishment of His church, He began to teach the disciples that He was going to Jerusalem where He would be killed and would rise again the third day. Peter did not like that idea and told Him so. Here is that passage:
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
“Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’
“But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matthew 16:21-23).
When man injects his “flesh and blood” opinions and ideas into God’s plans and methods, God sees them as directly from Satan. And here, He says so, even as He looked into the face of Peter!
So when Jesus established His Church on the foundation of His deity, Satan also established his greatest counterfeit, based on the man, Peter. But the apostle Peter was not a party to it. The Roman Catholic Church apparently had no specific beginning date unless it began as the church at Rome, to which Paul wrote his epistle about the year A.D. 58.
If that entity was the roots of the later organization, then it became the Roman Catholic Church about A.D. 310 when Constantine incorporated it into the Roman government as its State Church. He allegedly had the Pope “baptize” the soldiers as they rode out to war by sprinkling them with a leafy branch as they rode under it.
When I walk into a Catholic Church, I see two things that are most prominent. One is a statue of a woman holding a baby, and the other is a cross with a figure of a person hanging in death upon it. It just recently came clear to me the subtle message thus presented: Both are silent witnesses of the dominance of mankind over deity, the deity of the son of God.
Satan has always wanted to display dominance over God in every way that he can—by displaying Jesus, the Christ child, in the care of a physical being, and Jesus, the man, dead at the hands of mankind. But God knows Satan’s time is coming, soon!
Some of the false doctrines and practices of the Roman Church and Scriptures to the contrary:
1. Worship of Mary as Co-redeemer and Deity. In Luke 1:38, after the angel had told Mary of God’s plan for her to bear the Holy One, she said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And in her song of joy, beginning at Luke 1:46, she exclaims this: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (Mary also needed a savior.)
2. The perpetuity of Mary’s virginity. That is, she had no other children. Mark 3:32, however, says this: “And a multitude was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, ‘Look, Your mother andYour brothers are outside seeking You.’” Those who deny this to be a family seeking Him, say they were His “brothers in faith.”
However, they were distinguished from the multitude around Him. The clincher, though, is the apostle Paul, who called James “the Lord’s brother” in Galatians 1:19, where Paul also identified James as an apostle: “But I saw none of the other apostles except James,the Lord’s brother.”
3. The doctrine of transubstantiation. This was invented by Augustine (A.D. 354-430), who also was the early proponent of the worship of Mary and her continual virginity. The practice maintains that in Communion (the Mass), the wafer mysteriously turns into the actual body of Christ and the wine into His blood, thus solving the problem found in John 6:54 where Jesus says, “Whoever eats Myflesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
This statement, for the Catholics, is the basis for the belief that if the wafer and the drink are not taken regularly, the member loses his salvation. Jesus expands on it in the context, and in John 6:63, He says this: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
By this clarification from the Lord, Himself, even if the wafer and drink did become the flesh and blood of Christ, it would not transfer any spiritual benefit to the partaker (i.e. “the flesh profits nothing”). The only truly spiritual thing we have, which is also physical, is the inspired Word of God, the living Word. Augustine again injected “flesh and blood” into God’s business and produced a corrupted and false doctrine.
4. Salvation is accomplished by baptism (sprinkled) and joining the Catholic Church, and maintained by regularly partaking of the communion sacrament described above. They maintain that baptism in the church is essential for eternal life. However, for example, when the Philippian jailer cried out, “What must I do to be saved?,”
Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31). He and his family, who also believed, and so, they were baptized. Many other verses and passages make no mention of baptism when discussing the way of salvation. (See John 5:24, John 6:37-38, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 10:9-10, and 1 John 5:11-13.)
5. Purgatory, the doctrine of “half-way house” purging of sins before getting to heaven. Payments to priests for prayers to speed up the purging process have brought millions into the church over the centuries.
However, the sins of true believers have already been purged by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, followed by His resurrection. This doctrine negates the truth of that one sacrifice. For the unsaved person, Hebrews 9:27 tells us, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment….” No stopping off place there at all! There is a judgment for the believer, but it is not regarding salvation. See 2 Corinthians 5:10 and 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.
Also, in the account of the rich man and Lazarus, in Luke 16:19-31, Jesus said there was a “certain” rich man and a “certain” beggar (named Lazarus), indicating real people. The rich man died and went directly to a place of torment without hope of deliverance, while the beggar, being pictured as with favor from God, went to the Paradise of “Abraham’s bosom.” No “half-way houses” here, either!
Remember that the Roman Catholic Church is founded on Peter, the pebble, not Jesus Christ—the Rock, or boulder of truth that “favors the things of God and does not favor the things of men,” as Matthew 16:23 tells us.
There are more “devious doctrines” to uncover in this list as well as in other man-made religious practices, and we will continue the process in Part 3.