Today, the Christian who opposes Roman Catholicism is heading for big trouble! We are now in an ecumenical world and all 'Christian' faiths are expected to join with each other. The fact that they do not believe the same things is, apparently, nothing to worry about. And the fact that Roman Catholicism does not teach the same things as the Bible teaches concerning salvation, etc., is of no consequence. There are faithful witnesses against Roman Catholicism, whose work is vital and illuminating, so we are content to leave a more thorough criticism to them. This Outline merely wishes to give a very brief introduction to a blunt truth - that Roman Catholicism is a cult. It is NOT part of the Christian Church and so it is not Christian at all. What it teaches is heresy and lies. A cult cannot act in any other way.
It is also a fact (as with many other godless cults) that within the Roman Catholic fold there are a handful (and I mean a handful!) of Christians who, for reasons known only to themselves will not, or cannot, get away from Romanism. They, however, are exceptions, who do not alter the charge made against Roman Catholicism, or the command to come out from it.
Although Romanism is so obviously a cult of great significance, it is rarely listed as a cult by observers. In 'The Theology of the Major Sects' by John H. Gerstner (publ. Baker), for example, no mention is made of it at all. Why use the word 'sect' to describe false religions? It is generally stated that a sect is a section within a larger body which has similarly based views. A cult is often stated to be a system of religious worship, but applied to non-Christian groups.
It is usual to contrast Romanism with Protestantism or with Evangelicalism. Frankly, I am not personally interested in these contrasts, worthy though they are. There is only one contrast we should make: that which exists between a supposed 'church', and its claimed basis for belief. In the Romanist issue, that basis is God's word, scripture. All other contrasts are secondary.
We must go deeper than that. The reason is that many 'sects' within the Christian Church (some call all denominations 'sects', and I have some sympathy with that definition) hold differing views. What makes one group ‘Christian’ and the other not? What deviance from God's word is allowable before a group may legitimately be called a cult?
This writer proposes that to qualify as a religious cult, a group has mainly to negate God's word relating to salvation (there are other reasons). This key doctrinal issue involves the position and role of Christ, election, the matter of repentance, the way to salvation, the meaning of 'Church' and so on. That is, those central doctrinal teachings that have been loved and taught for centuries under the general umbrella of 'Protestantism'.
Salvation is through the Lord Jesus Christ alone. It is a free gift of God which cannot be earned. Indeed, neither can it be rejected by those who are the elect. The elect merely have to acknowledge the gift or, as some say, 'accept' it. This includes the element of repentance (there is far more to this of course). Jesus Christ taught that we do not need priests as in the old times; priests stood between God and men, but now that He is Chief Priest, all Believers become priests and members of God's holy household. There is now no need for the intervention of earthly priests and New Testament pastors have no resemblance to them at all. Salvation is strictly between an individual and God and it can never be lost. These are all scriptural truths that cannot be altered. They are at the centre of what it is to be a Believer. That is why Paul says that anyone who brings 'another gospel' to us is bringing 'no gospel'. That is, they are liars and frauds.
On these central issues Roman Catholicism fails miserably! To be saved, according to the 'rules' of the Roman Catholic organisation (we should not give it credibility by calling it a 'church'), one has to follow the teachings of Romanism and obey the priests. On this count alone, Romanism is heretic. In the place of repentance is the confession box, where a priest hears the sins (and the perceived sins) of adherents. He will then 'absolve' them of their sins, so long as they do this or that in penance. Thus, the priest stands between God and men and claims to absolve sins on God's behalf. This takes the place of personal repentance before a Holy God. It is therefore invalid and, again, heresy. The pope, too, claims to be Christ's substitute on earth!
Part of the Romanist salvation process is to attend and take 'Mass'. In this heinous act, priests claim to literally call-down Christ from heaven. He obediently comes down and somehow or other (?) changes Himself into a round biscuit! This biscuit is then swallowed. The wine in Mass becomes the literal blood of Christ. Thus, in many thousands of Masses every day, Christ ‘literally’ changes into biscuits and wine! Behind this mockery of Truth is the teaching that Christ is sacrificed daily for our sins, by the priests. This is outright blasphemy. Christ died once for our sins and once only. (1 Corinthians 11 gives an account of the Lord's Supper. The wording clearly indicates that this enactment is symbolic and not real in any way).
Romanism teaches that Christ's sacrifice on the cross was not sufficient. This brings in many other heresies and errors. For example, it would mean that Christ (although God) was not able to provide salvation for all who are elect; it means that He made a mistake by not being able to do so; it means that God needs priests to 'help' Him administer salvation, and so on.
The Church of Jesus Christ is made up solely of the saved...those saved before time began, by God. They are elected and saved by a direct act of God. But in Romanism, all who subscribe to the Roman Catholic organisation's teachings and to its officers, from popes down, are 'members' of that 'church'. By being dutiful and obedient members of Romanism, doing everything required of them, they are 'saved' and will enter heaven, though not necessarily straight away - they will have to work their way through purgatory first! Of course, if they pay huge amounts of money to the organisation during their lifetime, people can 'shorten' time spent in purgatory. Also, when they are dead, their relatives can buy chunks of time off their punishment. There is much, much more to Romanism that is repugnant.
What can we do about this? We must never allow Romanism to keep its cloak of respectability: call it an organisation, not a church; never call it Christian; always call it a cult; do not show deference to priests, popes, nuns, or any other official; never give to its charities - and say why; never join in prayer or with any other 'Christian' worship in ecumenical services. Pray for those trapped in the clutches of Romanism; treat them with respect, but never treat their religion with respect... God does not!
Note: Even the Christian Research Institute, USA, an otherwise ‘sound’ body, accepts the RCC as a valid church – so beware! It is error to suppose that the RCC is in any way a true church with just a few ‘mistakes’.
© July 1993
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