By Natalie Hardt|2019
The Roman Catholic Church is comparable to the Pharisees in the first century. Roman Catholic Church does not preach the Gospel, but rather has high-jacked and manipulated it. Many reputable theologians and Evangelical leaders compare this religion to a cult.
Disclaimer: before I proceed on this topic, I want to say that I am not trying to offend people, but rather call out the Roman Catholic Church for what it is. It is not loving others if one is more concerned about feelings or offending than speaking the truth especially concerning salvation; therefore, Catholics are the mission ground and must learn the truth. There are many that think it is not a big deal and that all religions are basically the same. Catholicism is not the same as Christianity. The Catholic Church was born in the 3rd – 4th century, when it broke away from the Orthodox Church that was born in the 1st century. The first believers to call themselves Christians where believers in Antioch, Syria.
All people should be able to have direct access to the Word of God. When a peoples cannot read nor understand God’s Word, the more vulnerable they become to “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15-20), for scripture warns us “…false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24 ESV). Before I became a Christian, I wanted the cute stories I heard growing up about the Virgin Mary (Mary) appearances to be true; I am here to say, they are not from God. Catholic counterarguments have included “so many people have seen and heard from these apparitions, how can everyone be wrong?” My response is YES, they are wrong and so is the Roman Catholic Church.
Scripture clearly identifies Satan as an angel of light, an imitator of God:
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness…” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15 ESV).
Biblical scripture in no way shape or form supports the various titles and roles the Roman Catholic Church has attributed to Mary, such as “Queen of Heaven” and “Mother of God”; titles that go back to ancient civilization goddess worshipping peoples (MacArthur, 2015). Examples include Solomon, of whom turns from God to follow his foreign wives that worship false gods/goddesses.
“He [Solomon] followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites” (1 Kings 11:5 NIV). To worship Molek and other gods like this involve infant sacrifice (Leviticus 20). The wisest man to ever live and son of King David of whose line will come Messiah, will turn his heart and mind from the living God to worship idols/fake gods (1 Kings 11:9), “He [Solomon] took the carved Asherah [goddess] pole he had made and put it in the temple, of which the Lord had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever”” (2 Kings 21:7 NIV). Scripture warns against falling prey to false gods/teachings; therefore, be armed with the Word of God, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24 NIV; Ephesians 6:11). What happens when the elect – bishops and popes – corrupt either the Word of God and/or the interpretation of it? You get false religions like the Roman Catholic Church.
The Books of the Bible were already established by the time Saint Jerome (347-420AD) decided to translate the Bible in Latin, a language no longer spoken nor understood by the masses; this version of translation became known as the Vulgate. Jerome does get push back from colleagues; however, it will be the 15th and 16th centuries when Desiderius Erasmus identifies errors with the Vulgate translation, including passages surrounding Mary. Around the same time Erasmus was causing trouble for the Roman Catholic Church, Martin Luther was also making his stand against the church and pinned his 95 theses on the church doors in Wittenberg that launched the Reformation.
One of the most controversial translations concerning the Vulgate is the moment Angel Gabriel speaks to Mary, “hail one that is full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:28 NIV), as opposed to the previous interpretation of “one who has found favor”. The error concerning the Latin version is that the correct translation should have been “gratificata” which means doing favor versus “gratia plena” which means full of grace. Being full of grace signifies void of sin, which is inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus and evident throughout the Old and New Testaments. “…and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:7-8 ESV).
Worship of false gods and superstitious beliefs go back to ancient civilizations with Nimrod and the Tower of Babel to the Canaanites (worship Baal), Assyrians, Babylonians, to the Greeks and Romans. In this same vain, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates with parades and festivals that display costumes and pageantry worship for Lady of Fatima, Lady of Guadalupe, Lady of Pontmain, and many more, “The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven [Ishtar goddess]. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger” (Jeremiah 7:18 NIV); and “But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.” (Jeremiah 22:18 NIV).
Mary worship as if she is responsible or part and partial to one’s salvation is blasphemous, a complete and utter false teaching that prevents people from knowing the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father! Popes and bishops today are reflective of first century Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) with their costumes, prestige and legalism. Jesus describes these corrupt religious leaders, the Pharisees like this, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 NIV). Satan infiltrates God’s plan through confusion that goes clear back to the Garden of Eden when the serpent subtly coerces Eve to doubt and question God. Satan works at taking as many souls with him because he knows his time is almost up, “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10 NIV).
Satan Sows Discourse
Satan does not waste any time weaving discourse and sowing confusion surrounding God’s Word. The Apostles were spreading the Gospel and planting churches, as well as defending the faith against heresies and the circulation of corrupt versions of scripture, “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32 ESV). The Roman Catholic Church may have its roots in Judaism and Christianity, but by the 3rd and 4th centuries it will change and compromise. Examples include combining the resurrection celebration with the celebration of pagan goddess Eostre/Ostara and renaming it ‘Easter’; adding the office and position of the papacy as head of the church; and fabricating ritualistic acts such as praying with a rosary, devotionals to the immaculate heart, and inventing purgatory as part of salvation. All of these are blasphemy! This begs the question, how can this happen?
A combination of popes and bishops/archbishops being among the few that could read and write and the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476AD, popes and bishops gain power, prominence, and influence over emperors. Popes and other religious leaders are being called ‘father’, an abomination for that is reserved only for our Father in heaven. Moreover, there is no further need for the Levitical system (Jewish priesthood) because Jesus has filled the position of High Priest of whom intercedes on our behalf. Prior to the resurrection, the Jewish High Priest would make the once a year sacrificial atonement for the Nation of Israel by going into the section of the Tabernacle/Temple referred to as the Holy Holies (Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9). Scripture records the Jewish Temple’s veil being torn top to bottom the moment Jesus’ work on the cross is complete. This veil is more like a thick fabric and approximately 60 ft. high that separates the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split” (Matthew 17:51 NIV).
The ‘rosary’ and its use when praying is an example of manner that does not glorify Jesus Christ, but rather praying to a sinful human being, Mary (all people sin). Jesus specifically says, “But when you pray go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret…”” (Matthew 6:6 ESV), not go seek out a priest or church leader and confess. Then there is the matter of repetitive chants, also unbiblical and blasphemous, as when the priest instructs to repent by saying 10 Hail Marys, “use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matthew 6:7 KJV).
Recognizing False Doctrine
Reading Scripture is the best defense against false teachings; I can confirm the below statement from Lucia is inconsistent with Scripture and is NOT from God.
“Lucia made some requests for sick people, to which Mary replied that she would cure some but not others, and that all must say the rosary to obtain such graces, before continuing: “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary” (theotokos.org.uk).
The apparition says “to obtain such graces” which falls in-line with good works and is actually central to the Catholic religion and not to Scripture. Faith alone in Jesus ‘alone’ brings salvation, there is nothing a person can do to earn grace from God. Then there is the nonsensical statement inconsistent with scripture, “sins committed against the immaculate heart of Mary” that puts Mary on a level equal or even above God the Father, Jesus, the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – the Trinity. Not only have Catholic leaders twisted the Word of God, they have led many down the wrong path that will be met with punishment; those given more responsibility, comes greater expectations, rewards, and punishments, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as they will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1 ESV).
Purgatory is unbiblical, there is no pit-stop, some waiting room before being judged! This is complete and utterly false and another example of false biblical interpretation of the Gospel. The Catholic Church developed a system where one can apply merit, for a fee to loved ones in purgatory so they may complete their journey to heaven, this is completely erroneous and shameful. This is further evidence of how far from the true Gospel, the Roman Catholic Church has gone. As the church became church/state, it would have to behave like any government that protects itself from enemy forces. The Catholic Church had to come up with a way to justify war-ing via the crusades that eventually led to the buying and selling of salvation through what was known as indulgences. By the 4th century and well into the 11th century, the Roman Catholic Church is not being led by the Holy Spirit as it spirals further into decay as a result of preaching false doctrine.
The incorrect Vulgate interpretation of Matthew 4:17, says “Then Jesus began to preach and say: “‘do penance, for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near””; the correct translation is ‘repent, for the kingdom…’. Catholicism puts human effort as having a role in redemption, as if one can earn their way to heaven. Apostle Paul goes into detail about the result of good works due to deposited grace by the power of the Holy Spirit. God knows our true motivations and desires because He knows the hearts and minds of men (scripture), “…it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:9 ESV). Only the Holy Spirit has the power to transform from within – the hearts and minds of believers in Christ.
Other false teachings perpetuated by the Roman Catholic Church include abstinence from marriage during the reign of Pope Benedict VIII and Pope Gregory VII, as late as the 11th century. There are unholy reasons for this including the church’s way to ensure no responsibility for a family when a pope dies (MacArthur, 2015). Scripture clearly teaches that it is by choice that one may choose to abstain from marriage, it is not a mandate. Scripture mentions Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law in Luke 4:38, and Apostle Paul’s choice to be celibate in 1 Corinthians 7.
Catholicism has moved far from its Judaism and Christian roots; however, the true Word of God remains. The Bible is referred to as ‘Canon’, a Greek word that means ‘rule’ because the Canon is the measuring stick. All the Books of the Bible are consistent divinely inspired writings by approximately 40 different authors on 3 different continents. The books were scrutinized for canonization that includes answering a set of questions: 1) was the book written by a prophet; 2) miracles authenticate writer, confirming his message; 3) does the writing tell the truth about God without contradictions; 4) does the writing have a divine capacity to transform lives; and 5) did the people it was written for accept it as God’s Word (McGrath, 2012). The Word of God is relevant today as it was more than 2,000 years ago with the Old Testament long established centuries prior. Jesus often quotes from the Septuagint (Greek translation of Hebrew text) in His teachings and when He debates the Pharisees. The New Testament books were written, circulated, and accepted long before the Vulgate, the councils reaffirmed which 26 books would make up the New Testament (i.e. Nicene, Constantinople). These writings were always meant to go directly to the people in a language they understood which is why Jerome’s translation in the Latin was met with much scrutiny.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1 John 4:1-3 NIV).
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 ESV).
Jesus gives the Great Commission to the 12 Apostles, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28: 18-20 NIV). When Jesus ascends to heaven, the church begins and so will Satan’s attempts to copy God and thwart His plan. First century church struggled in a pagan world much like today. Corinth struggled with immorality; Colossae had its mystics; Ephesus encountered false teachers; Thessalonica had end of time freaks; and Philippi were complainers (Muehlhoff, T., & Lewis, T. V. 2010). By the time we get to the Apostles to the Apostles, known as the Patristic Era (100-500AD), there are two schools of thought, Alexandria in Egypt (Alexander the Great established) that takes a philosophical approach (Greek), and the school of Antioch in Syria, where Apostle Paul and Barnabas plant the first church of believers that call themselves Christians.
The Humanness of Mary
We get another glimpse into Jesus’ family in Matthew “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:54-58 ESV). Jesus was known to have brothers and sisters, His brother James authored Book of James; moreover, Mary speaks of her Lord, “And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:46-49 ESV). Mary knows she is human and in need of a Savior, “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23 ESV). Finally, it does not go without escape how Jesus speaks to His mother, as in the Cana Wedding where He says, “Woman (Mary), why do you involve me?” and “…My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4 NIV). Then there is the moment Jesus is speaking to a group in a home and it says, “Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12: 47-50 ESV). Mary is a Bible heroine and one to be loved, just not in the way she is depicted by the Roman Catholic Church. Jesus must get all the glory – ALL.
“Surely there is not a righteous man [or woman] on earth who does good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV).
CNS photo/Paul Haring. 2018. Retrieved from https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2018/03/03/pope-francis-establishes-universal-feast-day-blessed-virgin-mary-mother-church
MacArthur, J. (2015). Exposing the Idolatry of Mary Worship parts 1-4. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/RbDn_KU7BqU
McGrath, A. (2012). Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought.2nd edition. Retrieved from http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var2=750
Muehlhoff, T., & Lewis, T. V. (2010). Authentic communication: Christian speech engaging culture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. Retrieved by: http://gcumedia.com/digital-resources/intervarsity-press/2010/authentic-communication_christian-speech-engaging-culture_ebook_1e.php
Theotokos Catholic Book. Words spoken by Mary at Fatima. Retrieved from http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/approved/words/wordfati.ht