Understanding Roman Catholicism
The One True Church
Does Catholicism still teach that it is the one true Church founded by Christ? Many think not, but there is no denying the church's official position:
"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." Pg. 214, #811
Referring to the Catholic church, the Catechism pronounces:
"In fact, in this one and only Church of God..." Pg. 216, #817
"First, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church." Pg. 220, #830
This "one true church" doctrine can be traced to one verse of Scripture, which, when compared with other Scriptures, is found not to teach this doctrine at all. When Jesus asked his disciples who He was, Peter responded:
"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Matthew 16:16"
Then Jesus answered Peter:
"... thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18
Catholicism contends that the Lord was referring to Peter as the rock, and has since built the entire Catholic religion upon that premise. But all other pertinent Scriptures declare that Jesus was referring to Himself as the rock, not Peter:
"... for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:4
Jesus is not only the rock, He is the chief cornerstone of the church:
"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;" Ephesians 2:20
Back in the Old Testament, it was prophesied that Jesus, whom men rejected, would become the cornerstone of the church:
"The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner." Psalm 118:22
Even Peter, allegedly the first pope, confesses that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the church:
"...by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth... This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner." Acts 4:10-11
"... the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner," 1 Peter 2:7
According to Scriptures, Peter is NOT the rock:
"For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?" Psalm 18:31
"... I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock..." Deuteronomy 32:3-4
"Truly my soul waiteth upon God... He only is my rock..." Psalm 62:1-2
"But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge." Psalm 94:22
Who is the head of the church
Despite all these Scriptures, Catholicism still claims that Peter was the rock and his successors are the head of the church:
"The sole Church of Christ (is that) which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it... This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successors of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him." Pg. 215, #816
But the Bible declares that Jesus Christ, not Peter or his successors, is the head of the church:
"And he (Christ) is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he (Christ) might have the preeminence." Colossians 1:18
"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him (Christ) to be the head over all things to the church," Ephesians 1:22
"But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:" Ephesians 4:15
The biblical "church"
When the Bible uses the words "the church," it always refers to all those who trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, not just to members of the Catholic church:
"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord..." 1 Corinthians 1:2
The Apostle Paul wrote:
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;" Ephesians 5:25
Paul was not a Catholic, yet he knew that Christ loved him and died for him. Certainly, no one would dare say that Paul was not a Christian because he was not a Catholic.
Would anyone suggest that God only loves Catholics?... or that He only died for Catholics? Such would be the case if the Catholic church was the only church.
Paul also proclaimed:
"And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us..." Ephesians 5:2
Can non-Catholics be Christians?
As the "one true church," Catholicism claims the right to determine who is or is not a Christian:
"All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church." Pg 216, #818
In other words, if you have not been baptized into the Catholic church, you are not a Christian. These are not my words, but the words of the official Catholic Catechism.
But according to Scripture, it doesn't matter if the Catholic church has accepted you or not. If your faith is in Jesus Christ alone, then He has already accepted you:
"To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he (Jesus) hath made us accepted in the beloved." Ephesians 1:6
At this point, you must make a few decisions:
- Is Peter really the rock? The Catechism says he is, but God's Word says he is not.
- Is the Catholic church the one true church? The Catechism says yes, but the Bible says no.
- Do you really believe that all non-Catholics will burn in hell?
Once again, the answers to each of these questions will be determined by which you choose to believe... the traditions of men, or God' s Word. Jesus asked the Pharisees a question which all Roman Catholics should ponder:
"Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" Matthew 15:3
Understanding Roman Catholicism © 1995 by Rick