I have seriously considered converting to Catholicism for some time now. I have received good advice from good people and negative advice from people who supposedly think they know everything there is to know about the Catholic Church. I know I can contact a parish (church) but I feel I need more advice from those who KNOW about this and who UNDERSTAND my feelings. I have had BAD experiences in other churches and I dont think Catholicism will frighten me! I've seen and experienced abuse, (I was an abused child) so I am NOT afraid of a Priest for Pete's sake! I've heard enough about that!(although I DO NOT tolerate child abuse of any kind!!) I just want to feel closer to God and I want to feel more grounded and truly aided and loved by God for once instead of some redneck preaching racist jokes or anti-semetic garbage! I've had enough of that too. Long story. No time to elaborate there. But your advice/help is greatly appreciated.
Ever since Martin Luther's cry of "sola scriptura" (Scripture alone is our authoritative source of truth), there has been an on-going debate between Catholics and Protestants as to whether the truth is to be found in the Bible alone, or in the Bible plus "Tradition". I will discuss tradition and the doctrine of infallibility later in this paper.
God gave us the Bible to teach us, to guide us, to correct us, and to enable us to lead Godly lives. Through the Bible, God reveals Himself and His ways to us. Scripture says:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105)
"The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes." (Psalm 19:7-8)
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." (John 17:17)
"…receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:21)
"The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." (Psalm 119:131)
"…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32)
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." (Romans 15:4)
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matthew 24:35)
"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." (Isaiah 40:8)
"Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89)
If Christianity really works, then it has to work under all circumstances. That includes working for new converts who are isolated in prisons and have no Bible and no fellow Christians to help them. That kind of thing is happening today in some Muslim nations. You can get information about this from a ministry called Open Doors. (See the Endnotes.) [Note 1]
God has provided for such situations by giving us the Holy Spirit, who helps us remember things (especially Scripture) and enables us to understand the things of God. (See John 14:26 and 1 Corinthians 2:9-16.) It is through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we are able to understand Scripture.
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit (the Comforter) "will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13; see John 16:7-15). Jesus said, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26) (Scripture quotations are in the King James Version.)
The Apostle John said, "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." (1 John 2:27) I don't really understand what "the anointing" means, but this Scripture clearly shows that in some way God has enabled us to learn what we need to know directly from Him.
2 Peter 1:3 says: "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue". In other words, God has already provided us with what we need for life and godliness. It is valuable to have Bibles and pastors and teachers. If they are available, then we should benefit from them as much as possible. But if those things are not available, then God is powerful enough to enable us to live godly lives without them. Jude 1:24 says that God is able to keep us from falling.
The Catholic Church officially states that Catholic tradition is equal in authority to the Bible. [Note 2] The problem is that Catholic tradition consists of various expressions of worship and belief of the Catholic people. [Note 3] It is nebulous. It keeps changing. You cannot find it written in one place. You can't really put your hands on exactly what it is.
My paper entitled "Mary Worship? A Study of Catholic Practice and Doctrine" gives information about tradition and the doctrine of infallibility. I have repeated it in Appendix B. For a real understanding of the subject I strongly recommend that you read pages 229 to 309 of the book "The Gospel According to Rome" by James McCarthy. Anybody who is serious about understanding the fundamental issues of Catholicism should read this book. You can go on-line and use a search engine to check his references to the "Catechism of the Catholic Church". (See Note 2) If you want a more thorough understanding of the historical aspect of tradition and infallibility, then read pages 22 to 71 of "The Church of Rome at the Bar of History" by William Webster.
For Jesus' evaluation of the religious traditions of his time, read Mark 7:1-13 and Matthew 15:1-9. Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees because their traditions nullified the Word of God. He used Scripture to measure the validity of their religious traditions. He was distressed because the religious leaders of his time considered their traditions to be equal in authority to Scripture. He rebuked them saying, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:8-9) In Mark 7:8, Jesus says, "For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the traditions of men". (See Mark 7:6-8.)
The Bible clearly tells us that we are not to add to Scripture or take away from it. We need to stay with what has been written.
Deuteronomy 4:2 says, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." In other words, adding to Scripture results in disobeying God. If we say that Tradition is equal in authority to Scripture, then we can no longer use Scripture to test Tradition, like Jesus did. Instead, we are allowing Tradition to determine how we interpret Scripture. Either this is "adding to Scripture" or else it is perilously close to it.
Deuteronomy 12:32 says, "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." Proverbs 30:5-6 says, "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Revelation 22:18-19 warns that adding to God's words can cause a person to have their name be removed from the "book of life".
The doctrine of papal infallibility is based upon Matthew 16:18 in which Jesus tells Peter, "And I say unto thee, That thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." A huge doctrine with immense historical consequences has been built upon one short verse. The question is, does the rock on which the church is built represent Peter or does it represent Jesus?
Peter himself answers this question when he says that Jesus is a living stone (1 Peter 2:4). (This is a Messianic prophecy which Peter quotes from Isaiah 28:16.) The Apostle Paul says that Jesus Christ is our spiritual Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). In Romans 9:31-33, Paul says that Jesus was a rock of offense for the Israelites who were trying to be saved by works of the law instead of by faith.
In the New Testament there are three words for "stone". "Lithos" means a stone like a mill stone or a stumbling stone. The other two words are "petra" and "petros". "Vine's Expository Dictionary" says, "'Petra' [Strong's number 4073] denotes 'a mass of rock,' as distinct from 'petros,' [Strong's number 4074], 'a detached stone or boulder,' or a stone that might be thrown or easily moved."
In Matthew 16:18, the word for Peter is "petros," a detached stone that can easily be moved. The word for the rock on which the church is built is "petra," a mass of rock. Other examples of the use of "petra" show what a huge mass of rock is meant by the word. They include the man who built his house on rock, as opposed to sand (Matthew 7:24-27) and the tomb where Jesus' body was put, which was carved out of a rock (Matthew 27:60).
Debating the fine points of a language that most of us don't understand (Greek) is not the only way to approach this problem.
The Bible commends the people of Berea because they "searched the Scriptures daily" in order to "see whether these things were so". (Acts 17:10-11) God wants His people to check everything against Scripture.
In the days of the Apostle Paul, the Scriptures consisted of the Old Testament. The New Testament was in the process of being written (Paul and other apostles were writing letters and Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were writing the Gospels). Paul's epistles constitute about one-fourth of the New Testament. These are Scriptures that we study, and that theologians analyze. Paul was one of the leading theologians of his time. In addition, he had been to the Third Heaven where he had seen mysteries that he was not allowed to tell us about. (2 Corinthians 12:2-4) But the Bible does not criticize the Bereans for questioning what the Apostle Paul taught them. Rather, it commends them for checking it out for themselves by comparing his teaching with Scripture.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (According to "Strong's Concordance," the word "prove" means "to test".) God requires that every man and woman test all things for themselves.
However, the Catholic Church teaches that only the Magisterium of the Church (the Pope and the bishops in communion with him) has the right to interpret Scripture. People like you and I (and the Bereans) are not allowed to interpret Scripture for themselves. [Note 4]
Where does the Catholic approach leave Christian prisoners in countries where there is persecution? All they have to go on is prayer and their memory of Scripture. They can't read a Bible. They can't consult with a priest or bishop. They are often doing well if they get to see any Christians at all. Would God set up a system that doesn't take care of His most faithful followers, those who are willing to pay the highest price for serving Him?
Catholicism teaches that Christians are supposed to "receive with docility" any directives given to them by Church authorities. [Note 5] According to "Webster's Dictionary," "docile" means "disposed to be taught; tractable; as, a docile child". The word "tractable" means "capable of being easily led, taught, or controlled; docile."
That doesn't sound like Berean men who are studying the Scriptures to see whether or not what the Apostle Paul taught them is Biblical. Rather, it sounds like a young child who accepts without question whatever his parents tell him. In fact, I believe that is precisely what Jesus warned us against when He told us to "Call no man father". (Matthew 23:9)
On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The Pope said that if anybody "dares" to even think anything contrary to this dogma, then that disagreement will shipwreck their faith, cut them off from the Church, and make them become "condemned". And if anybody in any way outwardly expresses their disagreement, then they are subject to "penalties established by law". [Note 6 gives a link to this papal bull.]
The Pope's reference to legal penalties is significant because a man had been executed for heresy 28 years before this papal bull was issued. In 1826, a Spanish schoolmaster was hanged because he substituted the phrase "Praise be to God" in place of "Ave Maria" ("Hail Mary") during school prayers. [Note 7]
Did Jesus treat people like this for disagreeing in their hearts with something which He or the Apostles told them? With amazing patience He kept on teaching the crowds of people, healing the sick and demonstrating the love and the power of God. When His disciples didn't understand His teachings, He explained them. (Luke 8:5-15) When the rich young man turned away from Jesus, He didn't rebuke him or threaten him. He let him go. (Matthew 19:16-22) In John 6:48-68, Jesus gave a teaching that was difficult for people. Many of His disciples left him and no longer followed Him. He asked the Twelve, "Will ye also go away?" (Verse 67) He didn't threaten them or rebuke them. He didn't try to force them to believe what He taught them. He left them free to believe or not believe, to stay or to leave.
Now if Jesus didn't demand that people believe His teachings about morals and doctrine, then how can anybody else validly do it? Nobody else has the purity of doctrine, or the purity of heart, that Jesus did.
There was one occasion when James and John wanted to call down fire on some Samaritans who wouldn't listen to them. Jesus rebuked them saying, "You know not what manner of spirit ye are of." (Luke 9:55-56; see Luke 9:51-56.)
Look at how Jesus responded to "doubting Thomas". All of the Apostles except Thomas had seen Jesus after the Resurrection. Jesus had repeatedly told his Disciples that He would be crucified and then resurrected on the third day. In spite of all that, Thomas said that he wouldn't believe unless he put his finger into the holes from the nails, and put his hand into the wound in Jesus' side. When Jesus appeared again, did He rebuke Thomas? No. Did Jesus call down curses and anathemas on Thomas for not believing what the Apostles had said? No. He invited Thomas to put his finger into the nail holes and to put his hand into the wound in Jesus' side. In other words, he invited Thomas to check it out for himself. (See John 20:24-29)
Look at a theological confrontation that occurs in Galatians 2:11-16. Peter made a decision that was theologically incorrect. Paul publicly scolded Peter "to his face" for it, and then he wrote to the Galatian church about it. We have no record that Paul was rebuked for this. He certainly wasn't embarrassed by it because he used the incident as a teaching illustration in his Epistle to the Galatians.
According to the Catholic Church, Peter was the first pope. How does Peter address people? Does he demand that they believe what he says? Read the two epistles of Peter. (They are short.) In 1 Peter, he identifies himself as "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:1). In 2 Peter, he identifies himself as "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1). He does not set himself apart as being in a higher position of authority than the other apostles.
It is Peter who tells us that all Christians are "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people". (1 Peter 2:9) He tells us,"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:5) Peter (supposedly the first pope) says that every Christian man and woman is a priest, and that our spiritual sacrifices can be acceptable to God.
Dangers of Infallibility
When the Disciples asked Jesus what the signs of the End Times would be, the first thing that He said was, "Take heed that no man deceive you." (Matthew 24:4) The main sign of the End Times is deception.
If every Christian reads the Bible and checks things out against Scripture (like the Bereans did), then the devil and his demon cohorts will have a tough job deceiving each of the Christians individually.
However, if Christians are required to accept whatever the Pope says "with docility" (like a trusting, unquestioning child), then the devil's job is much easier. If he can just deceive the Pope to the point where he declares an error to be doctrine, then the devil has successfully deceived everybody who is under the Pope's authority.
I wrote this paper because I'm afraid that this is precisely what is going to happen. There is something supernatural which has been appearing as "Mary". She is trying to get the Pope to proclaim that Mary is Co-Redemptrix (she and Jesus together redeemed us from sin). [Note 8] She says that she will put her "sign" on the foreheads of her followers during the End Times. According to "Webster's Dictionary," one of the definitions of the word "sign" is "mark". So "Mary" wants to put her mark on people's foreheads. [Note 9]
The Bible says that Satan can appear looking like an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14) I am afraid that this false "Mary" will lead the Catholic Church into deception. If she can deceive the Pope into declaring false doctrines, then the entire Catholic Church will be required to believe them.
She will be difficult to resist. She is beautiful and persuasive. An encounter with something supernatural like this can be overwhelming. It is difficult to keep a clear mind and "try [test] the spirits whether they are of God". (1 John 4:1)
The Apostle Peter was so deceived by the devil that Jesus rebuked him saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Matthew 16:23, Mark 8:33, Luke 4:8) The devil successfully deceived Peter concerning an important matter of faith (the death and resurrection of Jesus, as prophesied by Jesus Himself). So how can the popes (who claim to be the successors of Peter) say that the devil is incapable of deceiving them?
It has been said that "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." [Note 10] When you give any one man (the Pope) or group of men (the Magisterium) the power to define what people are required to believe in order to be able to go to Heaven, then you invite abuses of power.
History is full of examples of this abuse of power. There are popes who came to power by murder, by armed conquest, and by buying the papacy. Many popes openly fornicated with women and with boys. Some popes were incredibly cruel. For example, Pope Stephen I've condemned a man to be killed by having little pieces of his body cut off of him every day until he died. Pope Benedict IX was bisexual, he had sex with animals, and he gave orders for people to be murdered. He also practiced witchcraft and Satanism. [Note 11] (Please forgive the gory details, but I can't make my point without mentioning them. I've tried to keep it to a minimum.)
Obviously, not all popes are like that. But some were. There is no guarantee that it won't happen again.
David Yallop wrote the book, "In God's Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I." Vatican insiders asked Yallop to investigate the death of John Paul I because they suspected that he was murdered. Yallop did his homework. His information comes from interviews with Vatican insiders and Mafia gangsters. He gives a revealing and disturbing picture of life in the Vatican, including a quotation of Pope John Paul I to a visiting relative. The Pope said, "There are two things that are hard to find in the Vatican: the truth and a good cup of coffee."
I realize that there have been scandals in many Christian denominations throughout Church history. Jesus warned us about wolves in sheep's clothing. (Matthew 7:15) Therefore, we should not be shocked when we discover some of them.
In Matthew 7:15, Jesus is talking about false prophets. Prophets are people who claim to speak for God. That is precisely what the Pope does. He claims to be the vicar (representative) of Christ. The Magisterium also claims to speak for Christ. The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" says that whoever listens to the Pope and the bishops (the Magisterium) is actually listening to Christ. [Note 12]
There have been tares among the wheat, and wolves among the sheep, throughout Church history. No denomination has been perfect. However, only the Catholic Church claims to be infallible. That claim makes wolves in sheep's clothing far more dangerous because of the power that it gives them over the minds (and therefore the lives) of other people.
Jesus promised us that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. That requires the supernatural intervention of God. According to the Bible, God has done this by sending us the Holy Spirit to teach us and to guide us. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that Scripture is the key to sound doctrine and instruction in righteousness.
According to the Catholic Church, God has miraculously protected the popes from making errors when they make pronouncements about faith or morals. This idea has a natural appeal. We would all like to have magical protection from error. Also, it is nice to be able to be passive spectators, receiving "with docility" whatever our superiors give us, without having to face the responsibility of checking it out for ourselves. But attractive or not, this idea is not supported by Scripture or by Church history. (See the Appendix.)
What is our source of authority? God. He reveals Himself and His ways in the Bible, which He has given us for instruction in doctrine and in how to live a Godly life. (2 Timothy 3:16) And He has sent the Holy Spirit to enable us to understand Scripture, and to "guide us into all truth." (John 16:13)
I have a challenge for you. It will require some work on your part, but it will be worth the effort.
I have discussed the question of our source of authority. Now, I want to demonstrate it to you. You have thought about the issue. Now, I want you to personally taste the difference between Scripture and Roman Catholic tradition.
I can't do this for you. You have to experience it for yourself, in order to understand.
Before reading the rest of this chapter, please ask God to give you wisdom and discernment. (James 1:5)
I want you to read some statements by Pope Pius IX. They are from his encyclical, "Ineffabilis Deus". You can read it online. Some Internet addresses are below. If they don't work for you, then you can do an Internet search for "Ineffabilis Deus."
Please read the sections, "The Definition" and "Hoped-for Results." They are near the end of the encyclical. You can find them quickly by searching the web page for "The Definition." (When you have the encyclical online, go to EDIT. Select FIND. Type "The Definition." Then hit ENTER.) "Hoped-for Results" comes immediately after "The Definition."
We are going to compare what Pope Pius IX said about Mary, with what the Bible says about her. In reading the material, please pay attention to the tone of the writing, as well as to the contents. Please notice how the Pope speaks-his attitude, his bearing, his approach towards his readers, and the general tone of his writing.
Please notice how you feel while you are reading the encyclical. Sometimes we can "sniff" things that our intellects don't pick up. We have expressions reflecting that. For example: "There's something fishy going on." It means that something doesn't smell right-I don't know what's wrong; I can't explain it; but there is something wrong here.
I'll give an example from my own life. When I was a Catholic, I used to recite certain special prayers in order to earn indulgences on behalf of the "poor souls in Purgatory." One day, while I was doing it, something just didn't feel right about it. I stopped doing it. Months later, I realized that reciting prayers is not praying. If my reason for saying the prayers was to earn indulgences (rather than sharing my heart with God), then I wasn't praying. Years later, I realized that Purgatory doesn't even exist. My "sniffer" picked up the problem long before my mind understood it.
I'm asking you to activate your "sniffer" when you read this encyclical. You can ask God to help you do it.
This papal bull is as official as they can get. It is an "infallible" pronouncement of Catholic doctrine. The Pope who wrote it is on his way to becoming a canonized saint. Pope John Paul I beatified him on September 3, 2000. (You can read about this online.)11 Beatification is the last step before canonization.
* * * * * * *
Have you read the material from the encyclical? If so, then please read what the Bible says about Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The first two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, and the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke, have information about the infancy of Jesus, and the time when He was in the Temple, asking questions of the religious leaders. Those Scripture passages are too long to quote here. You can read them in your own Bible. I have quoted all of the other Scripture passages about Mary, the mother of Jesus. (In searching for the word "Mary," I found more references to other women named Mary than I did for Jesus' mother.)
Some women went to the tomb after Jesus was crucified. They included women named Mary, but the mother of Jesus is not mentioned as being one of them. Matthew 28:1 refers to: "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary." Mark 16:1 says that they are: "Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome." Luke 24:10 refers to: "Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them." So the "other Mary" in Matthew 28 is Mary, the mother of James. (Presumably, "Mary the mother of James" refers to the disciple James and not to the man whom Paul referred to as, "James the brother of Jesus.")
Aside from the infancy and childhood of Jesus, the following Scripture passages are the only ones that refer to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Here is what the Bible says about her:
"While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:46-50) (Also see Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21.)
"Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house." (Matthew 13:55-57; also see Mark 6:1-6; Luke 4:16-31.)
"And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." (Luke 11:27-28)
"And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him." (John 2:1-11)
"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." (John 19:25-27)
"Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Phillip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." (Acts 1:12-14)
"But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made unter the law." (Galatians 4:4)
The Scripture passages that I just quoted, plus the first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, are all of the passages that refer to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Bible doesn't tell us much about her.
I asked you to read two sections from the Pope's encyclical. The first one was, "The Definition." It has two parts: the actual definition of the dogma, and a warning not to doubt or disagree with the dogma. How did you feel when you read the warning? What was the tone of the warning? What was the Pope's attitude towards his audience?
The second section that I asked you to read was, "Hoped-for Results." How did you feel when you read it? What is the tone of the writing? What is the Pope's attitude towards Mary?
How did you feel when you read the quotations from Scripture? If you are not used to using the King James Version of the Bible, then it would be good to read those passages in your own Bible, in the translation that you are familiar with.
What is the tone of the Scripture passages? What is the attitude towards Mary? What is the approach towards the readers?
How much prominence does the Bible give to Mary? Compare that with what the Pope said about her.
In the section of the encyclical called, "Hoped-for Results," what did the Pope say about Mary? We know that she was the mother of Jesus. What else did the Pope say about her? Are any of those statements supported by what the Bible says about her?
You may have noticed that the Pope said that Mary would enable the Catholic Church to "reign." He said that, because of Mary, Rome would rule from "the river" all the way to the "ends of the earth"-in other words, throughout the world. ("The river" refers to the Tiber River, which is in Rome. The Vatican is located next to the Tiber River.) Look at Mary, as portrayed in the Bible. Would she want to create a super-power that would rule over the nations?
It is worth noting that, in the Bible, the last thing we hear about Mary, the mother of Jesus, is in the first chapter of the Book of Acts. She was in the upper room, with about 120 people, before the Holy Spirit came upon them on the Day of Pentecost.
Galatians 4:4 does refer to her, but only to say that Jesus was "made of a woman." It is a way of referring to the Incarnation of Jesus, rather than giving new information about Mary.
Scripture tells us about a woman who gave Mary special prominence and praise. It also records what Jesus had to say about it. The Bible says:
"And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." (Luke 11:27-28, emphasis added)
Please ask God to give you His perspective about the passages that you read from the papal encyclical.
If you are a Catholic, then you may be so familiar with this kind of writing that you don't notice what it really says. If that is the case, then please read the section, "Hoped-for Results," again. Read it slowly. Think about what it says. There is a lot at stake here. The Apostle Paul said:
"Beware lest any man spoil [ruin] you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Colossians 2:8)
The following information is taken from my paper, "Mary Worship? A Study of Catholic Practice and Doctrine". It comes from the section entitled, "How Did We Get Here?" I've repeated that information here for people who have not read the paper.
The Early Fathers used Scripture as the standard against which they tested Church tradition. The modern Catholic doctrine that Church tradition is equal in authority with the Bible is contrary to the writings of the Early Fathers. [Note 13]
According to the official teaching of the Catholic Church, Catholic men and women are not allowed to believe what they read in the Bible without first checking it out with the Catholic Church. They are required to find out how the bishops of the Church interpret a passage and they are to accept what the bishops teach "with docility" as if it came from Jesus Christ Himself. They are not allowed to use their own judgment or follow their own conscience. They are required to believe whatever the bishops teach without questioning it. [Note 14]
The Catholic Church teaches that when the bishops officially teach doctrine relating to faith and morals, then God super-naturally prevents them from making any errors. This is called "infallibility". It applies to official councils, such as the Second Vatican Council. It also applies to other teachings, as long as the bishops and the Pope are in agreement about them. [Note 15]
The Pope is said to be infallible whenever he makes an official decree on matters of faith and morals. According to Catholic doctrine, it is impossible for the Pope to teach false doctrine. Catholics are expected to obey the Pope without question even when he is not making an "infallible" statement about doctrine. They are expected to submit their wills and minds to the Pope without question. [Note 16]
The Early Fathers, and the theologians and canon lawyers of the Middle Ages, never taught that the bishops or the Pope were infallible. This is demonstrated by the fact that in 680 A.D. the Sixth Ecumenical Council condemned a pope as a heretic. It was not until the fourteenth century that the theory of infallibility began to emerge. With the development of this theory came a change in the interpretation of some biblical passages. [Note 17]
The history of the early Church shows that the Bishop of Rome was considered to be just another bishop. For example, Pope Gregory (590-604 A.D.) explicitly stated that all of the bishops were equal. He specifically repudiated the idea that any one bishop could be the supreme ruler of the Church. [Note 18]
The claim for papal infallibility does not stand up to the test of history. For example, Pope Zosimus (417-418 A.D.) reversed the pronouncement of a previous pope. He also retracted a doctrinal pronouncement that he himself had previously made. Pope Honorious was condemned as a heretic by the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-681 A.D.). He was also condemned as a heretic by Pope Leo I, as well as by every other pope until the eleventh century. So here we have "infallible" popes condemning another "infallible" pope as a heretic. In 1870, the First Vatican Council abolished "infallible" papal decrees and the decrees of two "infallible" councils. [Note 19]
In the seventeenth century, the Catholic church officially condemned Galileo as a heretic because he taught that the earth revolves around the sun. This did not conflict with the Bible or with the teachings of the Early Fathers. However, it was contrary to seventeenth century Catholic theology. The Greek philosopher Aristotle taught that the sun revolves around the earth. Aristotle influenced Thomas Aquinas, a thirteenth century theologian and "doctor of the Church" whose theology had a major impact on the Catholic Church. Some modern astronomers believe that Galileo was right. Others believe that Einstein's theory of relativity makes the question irrelevant. [Note 20] Either way, Galileo was not a heretic for disagreeing with Aristotle. The "infallible" pronouncement of the Catholic Church regarding Galileo's teaching was wrong.
The doctrine of Assumption of Mary was officially declared to be a dogma of the Roman Catholic faith in 1950. This means that every Roman Catholic is required to believe this doctrine without questioning it. However, as we will see, the teaching of the Assumption originated with heretical writings which were officially condemned by the early Church.
In 495 A.D., Pope Gelasius issued a decree which rejected this teaching as heresy and its proponents as heretics. In the sixth century, Pope Hormisdas also condemned as heretics those authors who taught the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. The early Church clearly considered the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary to be a heresy worthy of condemnation. Here we have "infallible" popes declaring something to be a heresy. Then in 1950, Pope Pius XII, another "infallible" pope, declared it to be official Roman Catholic doctrine. [Note 21]
USE OF THIS ARTICLE
I encourage you to link to this article. You have permission to quote from this article, as long as you do it fairly and accurately. You have permission to make copies of this article for friends and for use in classes.
Aardsma, Gerald E. "Geocentricity and Creation", "Vital Articles on Science/Creation," July 1994, Impact No 253. Santee, California: Institute of Creation Research. It is available on-line:
"Catechism of the Catholic Church". Washington, DC: U.S. Catholic Conference, 2000. This book comes in numerous editions and languages. Because it has numbered paragraphs, statements can be accurately located in spite of the variety of editions.
Heintz, Peter. "A Guide to Apparitions of Our Blessed Virgin Mary," Part I, 20th Century Apparitions. Sacramento, California: Gabriel Press. This is a Catholic book. It covers 60 apparitions in detail. It is methodical, with 33 categories of information for every apparition. The book is out of print. According to the publisher (who is now out of business), copies of the book were sent to major Marian institutions. The book can be obtained from the following web site:
Johnson, Paul. "A History of Christianity. New York: Simon & Schuster, a Touchstone Book, 1995". The author is Catholic.
McCarthy, James G. "The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God". Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1995. The author is a former Catholic.
Webster, William. "The Church of Rome at the Bar of History". Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1996. The author is a former Catholic.
Yallop, David. "In God's Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I." This was originally published by Random House in 1985. The latest publication was by Trans World Publishers in 1994.
1. Open Doors has been smuggling Bibles and other Christian materials into Communist and Muslim nations for over forty years. They have a free newsletter which tells what our persecuted brothers and sisters are enduring around the world. Their web site address is:
2. “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” paragraphs numbered 80, 84, 86, and 97. The “Catechism of the Catholic Church ”comes in numerous editions and languages. Because it has numbered paragraphs, statements can be accurately located in spite of the variety of editions. You can get the book in regular bookstores and at Amazon.com.
3. "Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs numbered 78, 98, 113, 2650, and 2661.
4. "Catechism of the Catholic Church," paragraphs numbered 85, 100, 891, and 2051.
5. "Catechism of the Catholic Church," paragraphs numbered 87, 1310, and 2037.
6. "Ineffabilis Deus" ("Apostolic Constitution on the Immaculate Conception"). Encyclical of Pope Pius IX, issued December 8, 1854. Near the end of this papal bull there is a section called "The Definition." The statements that I described are in the last paragraph of that section. If these addresses don't work for you, then do a search for "Ineffabilis Deus."
7. Paul Johnson, "A History of Christianity," page 308.
8. Peter Heintz, "A Guide to Apparitions of Our Blessed Virgin Mary," pages 100-114.
9. Peter Heintz, pages 125-129.
10. I believe that this quotation comes from Lord Acton, but I'm not sure. Whatever the source, the quotation is widely known.
11. Paul Johnson, “A History of Christianity.” This book shows many examples of abuses of power in the chapter “From Martyrs to Inquisitors” (pages 67 to 124). (Paul Johnson is Catholic.) The book “Vicars of Christ” by Peter de Rosa also has numerous examples of abuses of power. (Peter de Rosa is a Catholic and he used to be a priest.)
12. "Catechism of the Catholic Church," paragraphs numbered 87, 862, 891, and 2051.
13. William Webster, "The Church of Rome at the Bar of History," pages 22-33. For a description of how pious practices can become official Catholic doctrine, and how this conflicts with both Scripture and the writings of the Early Fathers, see James G. McCarthy, "The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God," pages 281-309.
14. "Catechism of the Catholic Church," paragraphs numbered 85, 87, 100, 862, 891, 939, 2034, 2037, 2041, and 2050.
15 "Catechism of the Catholic Church," paragraphs numbered 890, 891, 939, 2033, 2034, and 2049.
16. "Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs numbered 892, 2037, and 2050.
17. William Webster, pages 34-55.
18. William Webster, pages 56-63.
19. William Webster, pages 63-71.
20. Gerald E. Aardsma, "Geocentricity and Creation," in "Vital Articles on Science/Creation," July 1994. Information about Aristotle's influence on Thomas Aquinas comes from a class on Metaphysics which I took at a Catholic college.
21. William Webster, "The Church of Rome at the Bar of History," pages 81-85.
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Copyright 2001 by Mary Ann Collins. All rights reserved.
Devotion to Mary
As a faithful Catholic, and later as a nun, I was devoted to Mary. The prayers and practices were so familiar. They were taught to me by sincere people. I prayed the rosary, including rosary novenas. I wore a Brown Scapular and a Miraculous Medal. I visited shrines that honor Mary. I had beautiful statues of Mary. I attended special services where we prayed to Mary and recited a litany of titles honoring her. I read books about apparitions of Mary, and dreamed of visiting Lourdes and Fatima. I participated in processions honoring Mary. A statue of Mary was put on a platform that was decorated with flowers. There were poles on the platform, so that men could carry it. The men walked through the streets, carrying the statue on the platform. We walked behind the statue, singing songs in Mary’s honor.
Was this worship? At the time, that question never occurred to me. Now, looking back on what I did, I believe that it was.
How can you tell what a person’s real priorities are? Watch what he or she does when faced with a life-threatening situation.
Pope John Paul I was shot by an assassin on May 13, 1981. While the ambulance was rushing him to the hospital, the Pope did not pray to God or call on the name of Jesus. Instead, he kept saying, over and over: “Mary, my mother!” Polish pilgrims placed a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa on the throne where the Pope normally sat. People gathered around the picture. Vatican loudspeakers broadcasted the prayers of the rosary. When the Pope recovered, he gave Mary all the glory for saving his life, and he made a pilgrimage to Fatima to publicly thank her.
Another test of a person’s priorities is what he or she does with money. Jesus said: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34)
Some statues of Mary wear real crowns, which are made of gold. Vast sums of money are spent on some special statues of Mary. For example, a cathedral in Saragossa, Spain, has a statue of Mary that wears a crown made of 25 pounds of gold and diamonds, with so many diamonds that you can hardly see the gold. In addition, the statue has six other crowns of gold, diamonds, and emeralds. It has 365 mantles that are embroidered with gold, and decorated with diamonds and other jewels. It has 365 necklaces made of pearls and diamonds, and six chains of gold set with diamonds.
In Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, preparations are underway to construct a 305-foot statue of Our Lady of the Rosary. (It will be as large as the Statue of Liberty.) There are also plans for chapels, conference rooms, apartments, a food court, observation decks, and radio and TV stations. The statue will be part of a 500-acre “Mystical City” complex.
It is traditional to have processions in honor of Mary. They range in size from a few dozen people to multitudes. At Fatima, Portugal, crowds of over a million people gather on the anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. The celebration includes a procession of a million people, who follow a statue of Mary and sing songs praising her.
One traditional prayer in Mary’s honor is the “Hail Holy Queen,” which is known in Latin as the “Salve Regina.” It is traditionally included as part of praying the rosary. Please read this prayer and ask yourself: “Does this sound like worship?” It says:
“Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy! Our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping, in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.”
Alfonsus de Liguori (1696-1787) was a principal proponent of the Marianist Movement, which glorifies Mary. He wrote a book called, “The Glories of Mary,” which is famous, influential, and widely read. In this book, de Liguori says that Mary was given rulership over one half of the kingdom of God. He said that Mary rules over the kingdom of mercy, and Jesus rules over the kingdom of justice. De Liguori said that people should pray to Mary as a mediator, and look to her as an object of trust for answered prayer. The book says that there is no salvation outside of Mary.
Some people suggest that these views are extreme, and not representative of Catholic Church teaching. However, instead of silencing de Liguori as a heretic, the Catholic Church made him a canonized saint. In addition, he is a “doctor of the Church” (a person whose teachings carry weight and authority). Furthermore, his book is openly and officially promoted by the Catholic Church, and his teachings have influenced popes.
Pope Pius IX reigned from 1846 to 1878. He said that our salvation is based upon Mary.
Pope Benedict XV reigned from 1914 to 1922. He said that Mary, with Christ, redeemed mankind.
The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” says that Mary has a “saving office” and her intercession brings us our salvation. (“Catechism,” paragraph 969.)
A lay movement called “Vox Populi” (Voice of the People) gathers signed petitions to send to the Pope, seeking to have him officially declare that Mary is Co-Redemptrix. This doctrine says that Mary and Jesus are Co-Redeemers. (I have seen photographs of crucifixes that show Jesus hanging on one side of the cross, and Mary standing on the other side. She isn’t nailed to it, but visually, she looks as essential to our salvation as Jesus does.) Over six million signatures have been sent to the Pope, representing 138 countries and all seven continents. This doctrine is supported by over 40 cardinals and 600 bishops worldwide.
The Catholic Church exalts Mary as an idealized, larger-than-life, perfect mother. However, the Bible shows that, at one point, Mary misunderstood Jesus’ ministry. Mary and Jesus’ brothers tried to make him stop ministering. This is described in Mark 3:20-35. The first two verses say:
“And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.’” (Mark 3:20-21)
According to “Strong’s Concordance,” the Greek word that is translated “friends” has a variety of meanings, including “kinsmen.” However, we don’t have to depend on the exact meaning of the word here, because it will be made clear in verse 31.
“Strong’s Concordance” defines “lay hold on” as “to use strength, I.e. seize or retain.” It defines “beside himself” as “become astounded, insane.” In other words, these people thought that Jesus didn’t know what he was doing. They intended to take charge of the situation.
Verses 22 through 30 describe a confrontation that occurred between Jesus and the scribes. Then we get back to the people who thought that Jesus was “beside himself” and intended to “lay hold on” Him. The Bible says:
“There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)
COMPARING SCRIPTURE WITH
CATHOLIC DOCTRINES ABOUT MARY
My sources for this section are the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” and the Bible. The “Catechism” summarizes the essential and basic teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It was approved by Pope John Paul I in 1992. It has numbered paragraphs, which makes it easy to find things. It is available online with a search engine. You can search by paragraph numbers or topics. (Information is in the Notes.)
For each doctrinal category, I will indicate the Catholic doctrine, followed by the appropriate references from the “Catechism.” (I will say “Catechism” followed by the relevant paragraph numbers.) I will follow this with quotations from the Bible that relate to the doctrine.
The last book in the Bible is called the “Book of Revelation” in Protestant Bibles. It is called the “Apocalypse” in Catholic Bibles. I will refer to it as “Revelation.”
Catholic doctrine says that Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin, from the first instant of her conception. (“Catechism” 491, 492, 508). However, according to the Bible, Mary knew that she needed a savior. The Bible records Mary’s words to her cousin Elizabeth:
“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour ” (Luke 1:46-47)
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was first introduced by a heretic (a man whose teachings were officially declared to be contrary to Church doctrine). For centuries, this doctrine was unanimously rejected by popes, Fathers, and theologians of the Catholic Church.
Catholic doctrine says that Mary, “the All-Holy,” lived a perfectly sinless life. (“Catechism” 411, 493, 508) However, according to Scripture, all people have sinned. The Bible says:
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God...” (Romans 3:23)
“Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy...” (Revelation 15:4)
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one...” (Romans 3:10)
There is only one exception, one sinless person. Jesus Christ is the only human being who was never soiled by sin. The Bible says:
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
“Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth...” (1 Peter 2:22)
The Bible tells us that the parents of John the Baptist were “righteous before God” and that they were “blameless.” (Luke 1:6) If Mary was sinless, wouldn’t the Bible have told us so? It says that she was “highly favoured” and that God was with her. (Luke 1:28) But it does not say that she was sinless.
Mary herself said that she needed a Savior. If God was her Savior, then Mary was not sinless, because sinless people do not need a Savior. The Bible describes it as follows:
“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” (Luke 1:46-47)
In the Book of Revelation, when they were searching for someone who was worthy to break the seals and open the scroll, the only person who was found to be worthy was Jesus. Nobody else in Heaven or on earth (including Mary) was worthy to open the scroll, or even look inside it. (Revelation 5:1-5)
Catholic doctrine says that Mary was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Jesus. (“Catechism” 499, 510) However, the Bible says:
“Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” (Matthew 1:24-25)
“Till” (until) means that, after that point, things changed. Joseph did eventually “know” Mary (have sexual relations with her). (See Genesis 4:1, where Adam “knew” Eve, and she conceived, and had a son.) In addition, “firstborn son” implies that there were additional sons.
Mary and Joseph had at least six children. The Bible names four brothers of Jesus. It also says that he had sisters. The Bible says:
“And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?” (Matthew 13:54-56; also see Mark 6:2-3)
When I was a Catholic, I was taught that the word for “brothers” in this passage was a general term that could refer to any kind of kinsman, including cousins. I was taught that Mary was not the mother of these “brothers,” and therefore these “brothers” did not interfere with her virginity.
The Hebrew language has a general term that can mean brothers, cousins, or other kinsmen. However, the New Testament was not written in Hebrew. It was written in Greek. The Greek language is very precise. It makes it quite clear whether or not people have the same parents.
According to “Strong’s Concordance,” the Greek word used here for the “brothers” of Jesus is “adelphos.” It means, “from the same womb.” These are men who have the same mother. “Adelphos” is also used to describe the brothers of Jesus in Matthew 12:46; John 2:12; John 7:3; and Acts 1:14. “Adelphos” is used to describe “James the Lord’s brother” in Galatians 1:19. “Adelphos” is also used to describe the brothers Peter and Andrew (Matthew 4:18), and the brothers James and John (Matthew 4:21). “Adelphe” (the feminine form of “adelphos)” is used to describe Jesus’ sisters (Matthew 13:56)
The Greek language has another word that is used for relatives who don’t come from the same womb. The word “suggenes” is used to describe Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth (Luke 1:36). “Suggenes” means, “a blood relative.”
Some people who were raised Catholic may wonder why I am talking about Greek and Hebrew words, because they remember hearing the Bible read in Latin during Mass. The Old Testament was written by Israelites who spoke Hebrew and Aramaic. It was written primarily in Hebrew, with some Aramaic. (Jews in modern Israel still speak Hebrew.) The New Testament was written in Greek. This was the common language of the people who lived in the eastern area of the Mediterranean Sea. Greek had been widely spoken since the reign of Alexander the Great. In the fifth century, Saint Jerome translated the Bible into Latin. Until the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Bible was read in Latin during Mass.
Greek is a very precise language. The Greek words used for “brothers” and “sisters” in Matthew 13:54-56 make it clear that Mary was their mother. So why does the Catholic Church insist that she wasn’t?
Perhaps it is because of Saint Augustine. His essay, “On Marriage and Concupiscence,” influenced the Catholic Church for 1,500 years. Augustine said that if couples have intercourse in order to have children, without wanting to gratify their sexual desires, that is good. If they want to have children, but they also want to gratify their sexual desires, then that is a forgiveable sin that is allowable within marriage. If they want to gratify their sexual desires, and they don’t want to have children, then what they are doing is as bad as adultery or prostitution.
Since the marriage bed was thought to be sinful, it is not surprising that Catholic theologians did not want to think of Mary as being a normal wife.
MOTHER OF GOD
Catholic doctrine says that, because she is the mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God, Mary is therefore the Mother of God. (“Catechism” 963, 971, 2677). However, this is opposed to Scripture. The Incarnation means that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. Mary was only the mother of Jesus as man. She was not the mother of Jesus as God.
According to the Bible, the world was created through Jesus. This was long before Mary was born. Scripture says:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds...” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
“For by him [Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things [including Mary] were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:16-17)
Jesus existed before the world began. He created everything (including Mary). Jesus came first--not Mary. Jesus said:
“And now O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:5)
MOTHER OF THE CHURCH
According to Catholic doctrine, Mary is the Mother of the Church. (“Catechism” 963, 975). However, this is not seen in the Bible. The Book of Acts gives a picture of a group of people praying together. Mary is mentioned as one of them, but nothing indicates any special prominence. The Bible says:
“And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Phillip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” (Acts 1:13-14)
Mary was probably in the Upper Room when the tongues of fire fell upon the 120 disciples. However, she is never mentioned again in the Book of Acts, which is our only historical record of how the Church was born. She is also not specifically identified in the epistles. Paul did send greetings to “Mary,” but that was a common name. The Gospels and the Book of Acts refer to “Mary the mother of Jesus,” in order to distinguish her from other women named Mary.
It is notable that John, who took Mary into his home after Jesus was crucified, did not mention her in his epistles. He only mentioned her twice in his Gospel (the wedding at Cana and the crucifixion of Jesus). John mentioned Mary Magdalene more often than he mentioned Jesus’ mother.
Catholic doctrine says that, at the end of her life, Mary was taken up (“assumed”), body and soul, into Heaven. (“Catechism” 966, 974) However, there is no biblical reference to the assumption of Mary. The Gospel of John is generally believed to have been written around 90 years after Jesus was born. If Mary had been supernaturally assumed into Heaven, wouldn’t John (the disciple that Mary lived with) have mentioned it? When Enoch and Elijah were taken up to Heaven, the Bible recorded it. With Elijah, it was recorded in some detail. (See Genesis 5:24 and 2 Kings 2:1-12.)
The Assumption of Mary was officially declared to be a dogma of the Roman Catholic faith in 1950. This means that every Roman Catholic is required to believe this doctrine without questioning it. However, as we will see, the teaching of the Assumption originated with heretical writings that were officially condemned by the early Church.
In 495 A.D., Pope Gelasius declared that men who taught that Mary was assumed into Heaven were heretics. In the sixth century, Pope Hormisdas also condemned men as heretics for teaching it. “Infallible” popes declared the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary to be a heresy. Then, in 1950, Pope Pius XII (another “infallible” Pope) declared it to be official Roman Catholic doctrine.
Catholic doctrine says that people should invoke Mary as Advocate and Mediatrix, and her prayers contribute to our salvation. (“Catechism” 969). It says that we can trust Mary to take care of our concerns and our petitions. (“Catechism” 2677) However, according to the Bible, Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and mankind. Scripture says:
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus: Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6 )
“Wherefore he [Jesus] is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)
“In whom [Jesus] we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” (Ephesians 3:12)
If Jesus is constantly interceding for us, and He is able to save us “to the uttermost” (utterly, completely), then He doesn’t need Mary’s help. If we can approach God with “boldness” and “confidence,” because of our faith in Jesus, then we don't need Mary’s help, either.
QUEEN OF HEAVEN
Catholic doctrine says that God has exalted Mary in heavenly glory as Queen of Heaven and earth, and she should be praised with special devotion. (“Catechism” 966, 971, 2675) However, in the Bible, “Queen of Heaven” is the title of a pagan goddess. God was angry with His people for worshiping her, and He brought judgment on them because of it. (Jeremiah 7:17-20; Jeremiah 44:17-28) The Bible makes it quite clear that only God’s name (not Mary’s) is to be exalted. It says:
“Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.” (Psalm 148:13)
When people tried to give Mary special honor and pre-eminence, because she was His mother, Jesus corrected them. The Bible describes this incident, saying:
“And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” (Luke 11:27-28)
Jesus is saying that we should not give special honor to His mother. What matters is that we hear and obey the Word of God. We need to concentrate on that. Jesus’ response clearly shows that He did not want people to be distracted by giving undue honor or attention to Mary.
In chapters four and five of the Book of Revelation, we are given a quite detailed picture of Heaven. God is seated on the throne, surrounded by 24 elders and four living creatures. The Lamb (Jesus) is standing in the center of the throne. Thousands upon thousands of angels circle the throne, singing God's praises. And Mary is not in the picture at all. If she is the Queen of Heaven, then why is she not mentioned?
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
How did modern Catholic doctrine about Mary wander so far away from what the Bible says? Two reasons are: (1) the importance given to Catholic tradition; and (2) the doctrine of papal infallibility.
The Catholic Church officially states that Catholic tradition is equal in authority to the Bible. (“Catechism” 80, 84, 97) This tradition is based on the religious practices and beliefs of the Catholic people. (“Catechism” 78, 113, 2650, 2661) Therefore, it is constantly subject to change. It is also subject to unchristian cultural influences. Because tradition is difficult to define, Catholic theologians can make it appear to mean whatever suits their purposes at any given moment.
The Early Fathers used Scripture as the standard against which they tested Catholic tradition. The modern Catholic doctrine that Catholic tradition is equal in authority with the Bible is contrary to the writings of the Early Fathers.
According to Jesus, Scripture is the plumb line for measuring everything else. He judged religious traditions by comparing them to Scripture. When religious traditions contradicted Scripture, he condemned them. The Bible says:
“Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” (Mark 7:1-13 )
This shows clearly that nothing is equal in authority to Scripture. The Bible stands alone as the standard by which all other things are to be judged.
According to the official teaching of the Catholic Church, Catholic men and women are not allowed to believe what they read in the Bible without checking it out with the Catholic Church. They are required to find out how the Catholic bishops interpret a passage, and they are required to accept what the bishops teach, as if it came from Jesus Christ Himself. They are not allowed to use their own judgment, or to follow their own conscience. They are required to believe whatever the bishops tell them, without questioning it. (“Catechism” 85, 87, 100, 862, 891, 2034, 2037)
The Catholic Church teaches that the Pope is infallible whenever he makes an official decree on matters of faith and morals. According to Catholic doctrine, it is impossible for the Pope to teach false doctrine. Catholics are expected to obey the Pope without question, even when he is not making an “infallible” statement about doctrine. They are expected to submit their wills and minds to the Pope without question. (“Catechism” 87, 892, 2037, 2051)
APPARITIONS OF “MARY”
Something has been appearing to people. It claims to be the Virgin Mary. Often only one person, or a few people, can see it. In some places, many people can see it. These apparitions are sometimes accompanied by supernatural manifestations, such as physical healings.
Some apparitions (such as the ones in Lourdes and Fatima) have been officially approved by the Catholic Church. Official approval means that Catholic Church hierarchy has decided that an apparition is a valid supernatural event, the thing that is appearing is the Virgin Mary, and nothing that the apparition has said or done is contrary to Catholic doctrine.
If these really are supernatural events, how do we know that they don’t come from the devil? The Bible warns us that the devil can appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and he can cause deceptive supernatural events (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
Millions of Catholics make pilgrimages to places where “Mary” has appeared. Pope John Paul I has encouraged this, by visiting many apparition sites himself. He has a special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima (an apparition that appeared in Fatima, Portugal).
When Pope John Paul I was shot, he prayed to Mary, instead of praying to God. He believed that Mary saved his life. The Pope made a pilgrimage to Fatima to thank her, and to consecrate the entire human race to her. The video, “Catholicism: Crisis of Faith,” shows the Pope bowing down before a statue of Mary and kissing its feet.
Millions of pilgrims go to shrines that honor apparitions of Mary. Every year, fifteen to twenty million pilgrims go to Guadalupe in Mexico, five and a half million go to Lourdes in France, five million go to Czestochowa (Jasna Gora) in Poland, and four and a half million go to Fatima in Portugal. Special dates draw huge crowds. On August 15, half a million pilgrims go to Czestochowa. On October 13, a million people go to Fatima. On December 12, 1999, five million pilgrims went to Mexico, to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Are these pilgrims worshiping Mary? You can observe them and come to your own conclusions, thanks to the video, “Messages from Heaven.” (You can watch it online.)
If you watch the video, you will see the Pope bow in front of a painting of Mary and cover the area with incense. You will see a million pilgrims walking in a procession, following a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, and singing songs in Mary’s honor. You will see several million people in a procession following a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe. You will see the largest assembly of bishops and cardinals since the Second Vatican Council, gathered together to join Pope John Paul I in solemnly consecrating the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Our minds can be deceived, and so can the minds of bishops and popes. Only the Bible is totally trustworthy. The Bible warns us:
“Beware lest any man spoil [ruin] you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12; also see Proverbs 16:25)
When religious traditions conflict with the plain meaning of Scripture, then we need to discard those traditions. We cannot afford to do otherwise, because our eternal destiny is at stake.
I am a lay catholic in my late 30's, and perhaps there are people better qualified in the catholic church than me to advise you. As a native of Ireland, I come from a stong Catholic tradition where there have literaly been wars fought between catholics and protestants, and where catholics were persecuted .Ironically, if both traditions lived by their faith they would not go to war with anybody. I am a practicing catholic, but I have no more saintly or enlightened insights than anybody else. While I do question some aspects of the Church, and it is true that individual members have given it a bad name ( e.g. child abusing priests - whom I don't defend for one second!), and great wrongs have been done in the name of catholicism (e.g. conquests and killings in south and central america by the spanish conquitidores , if I have the spelling right) , and at times the church has been clearly wrong (e.g condeming Galleleo as a heretic for saying the earth was round), I still see it's advanatages and purpose.
The Catholic church will speak out on wrongs, and will provide good moral guidance. It is not a religion that preaches hate and Catholics are directed to 'love your neigbor', and indeed' love your enemy' and are guided to leave the world a better place. We need strong guidance as the absence of such leads to situations such as the rise of Hitler and his ideas. Sometimes these teachings are not easy to abide by e.g the teachings on contaception, homosexuality.
Some aspects of the catholic faih, indeed the central aspects, are matters of faith, and are difficult to excplain. Our belief is that the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ, God himself, at the consecration. Obviously, this is diffult to prove. I have heard of miraculous events taking place at the time of the consecration during the mass. I have also heard of miraculous events (cures etc.) takng place at catholic shrines, even shrines that are not internationally or even nationally remowned. I once met the man that was the 63rd person to be cured at Lourdes. His story is that as a young man he developed what I re-collect was bone cancer. All hope looked lost for him, and his mother wanted him to go to Lourdes, but he had difficulty in this as he had to do service in the italian army, and couldn't get out of it. However, he managed to get going and he was cured. His recorvery is regarded as a miracle by medics. This was in the 40'sor 50's or may be 60's - I can't rememver. I met him two years ago or so. Type 'cures at Lourdes' into google and see what comes up. However, such happenings, while not possible to undertand in a logical manner, increase our faith, or do so in my case.
All of this may not be help to you. You might ask what does the church have to offer over any other church, or indeed you could ask what does any other church offer over the catholic church? For me it's a matter of faith, re-inforced by happenings such as I described. I believe but don't fully understand. I do know that if I live by my catholic faith I will leave this world with a clear conscience, and leave it a better place for I being here, and will hopefully go to our reward in the next life. I don't believe everthing thathas been told or done by the church was correct, nor do I cling to what the bible says in its entirety. Evangelical protestants seem to have a lower regard for the Blessed Virgin Mary than the catholic church, appear to me to hang on the word of the bible, and protestents to my knowledge don't believe that our lord is present at the consecration. I don't want to state that this is a selling point for I don't look at this in those terms - it is a major difference though. Choosing onw church over another is not like buying a car , as i am sure you know, for such a think can be treated rationally. My own opinion is that to have a chrstian faith and practice it is better than to have none or not practice it, and also I have seen non-practicing people doing the most christian works. Only God and judge us all at the end of the day.
I found it very interesting that some of the churchs such as the catholic church in Iraq (where they still speak amharic, the language of Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary), and also the faith what I know of christianity in Ethiopia is so similar to Roman Catholicism, despite the number of years that has passed since the death of our lord, and their isolation from mainstream catolicism.(sadly, I think many of the Iraqi catholics are being persecuted and hunted out by their islamic neighbours and are offered no protection by the either the forces in power there).
Perhaps read a book called 'From Gangland to Promised land' by John Pridemore ISBN 0-9547321-3-8, which tells the story of how an east london drug dealer converted after an experience he believed to be , or maybe a biography of Pope John Paul II , by Garry O'Connor ISSN 1751-0945. The latter gives a semblance of what I aspire towards, and his influence on the world. The former dscribes the incident where the author felt he came into contact with God and the uplifting experience he felt, as well as his life before and after.
Read the Bible and pray. Ask the Lord to lead you to a church that honors Him. Catholocism is not the way to go. They hold to some very un-Biblical doctrine. The reason I say read the Bible and pray is because the Bible is God's word. He speaks to us though it.
The church won't help you with your conversion. Conversion to Christianity is between you and God. There's only one way to go God and that's through Jesus. You will not get to God through a church, I will promise you that. You must go to Christ. You will find Him if you seek Him (with all your heart). He promises that in the Bible.
Here are some things you need to do if you want to be saved. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so we all deserve to go to hell. Those who refuse salvation through Christ alone (rejecting God's provision and plan for salvation) will perish. You must ..
1. Confess that you're a sinner (everytime you lied, stolen anything (even small), looked at someone with lust (Jesus says that's the same as adultry), dishonered your parents, taken God's name and used it as a curse word, etc) you have sinned and violated God's commands. I've only mentioned five commandments out of 10 (plus other commands thorughout scriputre). If you're guilty of breaking one of these, God says you're guilty of violating the whole law.
2. Turn away from your sinful way of life and turn to Jesus. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to grant you eternal life. Then follow Him and make Him Lord and Savior of your life. He promises He will never cast anyone away who comes to Him. He says those who believe in Him will have eternal life. He will give you a new heart (that loves God and desires to obey vs. your old self who doesn't want anything to do with God). The Bible says (in 1 John) that those who follow Jesus no longer walk in darkness. You won't be perfect, you'll make mistakes, but when you do sin you must confess and turn from the sin. God says He's not mocked. We reap what we sow. Those who live in continual, unrepentent sin will reap death (eternally).
You don't get saved by going to church, reading the Bible, obeying the 10 commandments. If you count on anything you do to save you, you will fall short. You must count on the finished work of Jesus's death on the cross. The death He died, He died for those who repent and place their faith in Him. Only His blood washes away sins.
I think you'll find ww.wayofthemaster.com very helpful in explaining God's plan of salvation. I highly reccomend taking the "Are you a good person" test on the website. I hope you'll be saved and that I'll meet you in Heaven someday! God bless.
The best way to learn about the Church is, as Jesus says, "Come and see." (John 1:39) Really. Come to a parish celebration, or several, and see what we are about. Come to faith sharing--Here in Bismarck Diocese, most parishes are going through the Why Catholic? program. Come and talk to a friend, a greeter, the pastor. Come and pray with us. Even better, come and join us as a member, and celebrate fully with us.
You will find, I hope, that there are faith-filled people in the Church. Not all, naturally. Many are Catholic only because their parents were, or because they are afraid not to be members, and so on. But there are also committed, intelligent members with a vibrant faith life.
I cannot promise that you will not have further bad experiences. We are all sinners, except for those members who are saints in heaven. After all, anyone who were perfect would have no need for the Church! But, as we have been forgiven by God, God who cares enough for us to send his own Son to bring us back to life as it should be, so we too must practice forgiving one another. We even proclaim that every time we pray the Lord's prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us."
I cannot promise you will not meet abusive people, but the Church is certainly committed to dealing quickly and effectively with abuse. All US dioceses have policies that creditable accusations of abuse, by priests or others, lead to immediate suspension from active ministry, so the chance of serial abusers is very low these days.
I cannot promise you will not meet with racism or antisemitism, but I certainly hope you will not hear it from the pulpit! That is no place for it, and the Catholics I know would not put up with it. If you hear it, even as a non-member, please let the local Bishop know, so he can deal with the situation!
You say, "I just want to feel closer to God and I want to feel more grounded and truly aided and loved by God for once.." Well, I suggest that you come into any nearby Catholic Church. Sit somewhere where you can see the Tabernacle and its nearby red Sanctuary Lamp. That lamp reminds us that Jesus is present here. Sit and pray and bask in God's loving presence. Then, when you are ready, come and join us, and really learn what God's living presence is like.
We are a group of young catholic lay people working to establish God's kingdom on earth. we have worked for the last 12 years as a group working hard to bring the light of Faith to the people of India. Examining the various protestant objections to conversion to catholicism, I would say that I have heard it all before and there is not even one that merits a reply. however if you have any doubt please feel free to contact us. Jesus christ did not write a book saying "belive everything that is written here." He founded a church and it was the church that compiled the bible declaring with her infallible authority that books written even by authors such as Mark and Luke (who were not even apostles) were inspired by the Holy spirit. Incidentally there are hundreds of books written by various authors bearing the names of apostles which the church has rejected as not being part of the Holy scripture. Thus, the protestants have stolen one of the doctrines of the church (regarding what books were inspired) and use that doctrine to attack other doctrines of the catholic church in typical rationalist style. If you sincierely seek the truth, you will certainly come to the catholic church which is the only bride, the true Mystical body of Christ.
There is an incident in which a pentecostal girl who prayed for six months seeking to know the truth of which is the real church had at length her doubts answered by our lord Jesus Christ himself. We have translated a part of it, and will be glad to send it to anyone who is sincerely seeking the truth. Our email Id and some other matters which the Lord had revealed to us regarding His plan in creating man are briefly mentioned in our website with the url http://consolata.brinkster.net.
I respectfully beg to differ. While the Catholic Church does have extensive doctrinal development, they look back to the Scriptures, cherish them, read them at every liturgy and sacrament. They are the truest guide to all we do. We may differ from other churches in how we interpret them, but the Catholics do hold to the Bible. As a side note, I find that even the evangelicals who insist on a literal interpretation of every word of the Bible are willing to accept a symbolic meaning sometimes, such as for John 6: 52-58, or Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:17-19, and 1 Cor 11:24-26. We Catholics insist on the simple meaning of the words "This is my body... This is my blood." Others differ. Yet, if it is not, from the earliest days of the faith, seen as truely his flesh, then why does one who eats and drinks unworthily "have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord"? Paul clearly believes the bread and wine are now the Body and Blood of Christ.
But, back to my main point. The value of a Church community is to keep us honest. By ourselves, even doing our best to follow God, or the Spirit's call, it is easy to go astray, to deceive ourselves badly. But, as Church, we have Jesus' own promise that "the gates of hell will not prevail against it [the Church]" in Matthew 16:19, and that he would send the Holy Spirit to keep us faithful in the truth (John 14--17, esp. 14:26, as well as 1 John 4:13). We, by God's choice, are persons with a body. God uses our body, and our human relationships, to help save us. And one important means is membership in a Church, showing up for liturgy, and all the rest.
Hi I deeply sympathize with you, I've spend 15 years battling simular things so here is what I've learn't along the way. Don't join a Catholic Church they won't help. Spiritual abuse is strife in any church. Did you know you don't have to go to church (I bet that has shocked you). The church won't lead you to God although I won't rule out all but most. If you have a some christian friends get together to pray and seek Father God, do a study together - That is church. Get strong in your Faith towards God, be open to regional conferences - these are usually very good. For the time being I suggest Mark Virklers books etc, http://ww.cwgministries.org He will guide you through how to have a relationship with the Almighty God. I'd recommend all his study guides especially Dream interpretation. Foundations of Christian Living by Bob Gordon is an excellent study. Get books on the Father heart of God, nothing else-stay away from HOW TO books. Stay away from performance based churches that want your TIME, TALENT, TITHE (give as the He says not man says, if you don't hear God then don't do it, if in doubt leave it out). Church is ment for rest and peace not striving. Remember it is a loving relationship and freedom/liberty with Father God, it is man that lays the laws down to restrict you getting to GOD including the church. So go for it and reach His Throne. Worship Him and watch Him speak to you especially in your dreams. Later on Father God will guide you to a great church, just be open. Forgive and love. Hope this helps.
My step-dad is a pastor and I grew up Christian. I was allowed to pick my religion and was exposed to many different ones, as my real father was Unitarian. The Catholic church is VERY strict and if you're planning to have children it's hard on them. Many of my friends who are Catholic hate going to church and feel that the bible is taken too literally there. You also cannot use birth control, condoms, or anything that keeps you from having children, there goes the safe sex for teens! Also, it would be hard for them to know you had been sexually abused as they like to live a sheltered life usually.
My step-dad grew up Catholic and I've been to Catholic churches before. It's a really hard religion to be in and personally, I think being Christian or Jewish is easier.
I would definitely recommend Lutheran, Presbyterian, or United Church of Christ (UCC) as they are all pretty liberal. UCC is probably the most accepting church I have ever been to and, despite the fact I'm stuck going to Christian churches as I'm Jewish, they are the most understanding. My step-dad is a Presbyterian pastor, so that's what I grew up with, but because I'm pro-choice and for homosexuality, I started going to a UCC with my mother and enjoy it a lot. They do a lot of outreach programs and are very understanding to sexual abuse, as I was sexually abused a few months ago and they totally understood.
I would definitely google "religion test" and take one, as they can be VERY helpful.
Hope I helped!
You posted 2 incredibly lengthy, amazingly anti-Catholic (some bordering of hate speech) posts to the question that was asked, I must ask why you would try to derail someone who is trying to get closer to God?
I also must ask if you feel as though you wasted your entire life as a nun? You say that you used to be a nun, and so I will not specifically question you on this, however, I find it interesting that you quote only from the KJV. Most former Catholics would probably quote from a different translation that wasn't from the 16th century. Now, if I felt it were my Christian duty to convert Catholics into Protestants, it would seem that my story would carry more authority if I said that I used to be a nun-even if it wasn't true. This however, is not an accusation of deception, but rather just a curious observation.
I also feel compelled to wonder if as a former nun, you ever felt anything while partaking of the sacraments? and if not, then why did you become a nun in the first place? Were your confirmation and the taking of your vows a lie?
Because this has gone on long enough I will also refrain for now from pointing out the logical fallacies of sola- scriptura or all of the places where you miss-quoted or flat-out lied about either Catholic teaching or in regards to the Catechism, but these will probably be something that will be covered in the future.
I do wish you Peace, may the Peace of Christ be with you,
I am pleased to hear that you are interested in the Catholic Church. I converted to Catholicism from Aethism nine years ago, and I couldn't be happier. If you are interested in learning more about Catholicism I highly suggest reading some fantastic books: The Ignatius Bible (the revised standard version - Catholic Edition), the Catachism of the Catholic Church, Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating, just about anything by G.K. Chesterton, Suprised by Truth by Patrick Madrid, Rome Sweet Home by Dr. Scott Hahn and Kimberly Hahn, and How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Dr. Thomas Woods, Jr. Most of these authors are converts to Catholicism from various protestant sects. Please keep in mind that the Catholic Church is the only Christian church established by Christ, dates back to the time Christ, and is the Christian religion that compiled and kept the Bible in tact. (Please keep in mind that the Greek Orthodox Church Schism from the Roman Cahtholic Church happened in 1054, followed by Martin Luther and others from the 16th century to today.) Other places you can obtain answers are: The Coming Home Network (organization made up of Protestant ministers that have converted to Catholicism) and Catholic Answers. I would also suggest reading the Early Church Fathers (writings of first through fourth century Catholics).
May Our Lord Jesus Christ bless you always,
The best advice I can give you is the most important advice anybody can give you on such an important decision as this. Pray, pray, pray. God hears all sincere prayers and answers them. Put God first, others second, and yourself last, help others less fortunate as you, be kind, loving, and honest.
If you are a 'truth-seeker' then you will find Him and what He wants you to do. When I was still a teenager I wanted to know God, so I started attending the RCC. I went many times, but found many errors in their teachings. They did not teach the Bible, but the teachings of men. So, I went to the Mormon church and found errors there too. Then I went to the Jehova Witness church...more bible errors. I continued my search for the truth for many years until I found the Seventh Day Adventist Church. That was over twenty years ago.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church teaches the Bible and the Bible only. Check out a site: www.bibleinfo.com. There you will find nearly 400 Topics with answers taken from the Bible. You can also check out: www.amazingfacts.com. Here you can watch Doug Batchelor and many other leading Christian men teaching the Bible. There are online Bible lessons too.
Whatever you decide to do or not to do, allow God to be your guide. If you have a sincere heart and desire to know Him, He will show you the way.
God bless you! I will pray for you, Lulu
I hope that the original poster is still paying some attention to this thread. Three brief things to say:
1. There are answers for all the objections to the Catholic Church that have been raised here. Unfortunately, this is not the place to examine them all, and I don't have the time to do it right now, although I might later if they are raised one at a time.
2. The Catholic Church is the "true Church" in the sense that it is a historical reality. It really is the entity that claims and traces its roots all the way back to Christ, and all other Christian Churches or Ecclesial Communities are obligated to indentify themselves with their relationship to it.
3. The Bible exists as we know it today based on the Catholic Church's authority and scholarship. The bishops decided which books were to be included because of the apostolic nature of their office. Other things that the majority of Protestants also believe in (such as Jesus being fully God and fully man) also have their roots in the Tradition of the Church, which has been handed on faithfully since the time of Christ (see Mt 16:17-19; 28: 19, 20; 2 Thes. 2:15; 1 Tim 6:20; Pope Bl. John XXXIII opening address to Vatican Council II).
Hi, I hope you get to read this and it helps. The key thing you wanted to know is how to get closer to God and not about churches, and the best way to get closer to someone is to get to know the person.. in this case God. God is not a stranger, neither is he far away, he just waiting for you to realise he is right there waiting for you to turn to him.
It is important to go to church to fellowship with other people and also to be encouraged. In no way am I saying church is not important, but the key thing is a relationship with God and not the church, when you know him and hear God, he will tell you where to go.
A lot of times people go over board and spritualise a lot of things, but from what I know as a christian so far, the most important thing is to get to know God and he will direct you to a church you need to go.
The key thing to getting closer to God is to Read the word (bible) and Pray. God is always listening, so pray (speak to him), he is listening, and if you really mean it, he will bring the right people and situations to you. And if you're listening, he will talk to you.
(if this helped and you need to contact me email me at email@example.com)
Well, you've gotton it all wrong, the Catholic church doesen't try to scare you, I am Catholic. We love each other. We live by oral values, we reject all of Satins teachings, and folow God and Jesus. We turn away from sin, and help each other.
-I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell. [See Calvin]
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
The Catholic church believes in good things. The catholic church also teaches moral values.
I'm sure you've received other answers by now, but I just came across your question this evening. Any Roman Catholic church parish would be able to answer your specific questions about conversion. There is a formal program of religious education that would probably be very helpful to you. Much as in any Christian church, each Catholic parish has its own character, depending on who the pastor is and the nature of the congregation. Unlike many of our Christian brothers and sisters, you will find minimal differences in theology or in the nature of the worship service (Mass) from parish to parish. From my point of view as a lifelong Roman Catholic, the most important thing is your faith in Jesus Christ. For me, the Roman Catholic religion helps me to live that faith.
I'd be glad to answer (or find out the answer) to any specific questions you have, but I'd encourage you to attend a Sunday Mass at a couple of parishes near you and then approach the pastor of the parish where you feel most comfortable.
I know its been some months since you posted your question, but God works in mysterious ways! I just have to say one thing, You dont have to go to a church to find Gods love! He is right there, read the bible, (I recommend King James Version) I too was in your predicament, my life was hell, I suffered beatings,abuse and mental torture. My litle sister was killed outright in front of me in a tragic accident, it was then I could beare no more! After many weeks of grief I realised could not get through this by myself, I dropped to my knees in the middle of my kitchen I cried in a loud voice "LORD please help me I can bear no more!" tears streamed down my face as I spoke out aloud " Show me the right way Lord, just guide me in the right way and I will follow" That was ten years ago! Stacey I have never been so happy! From that day God turned my life around, he was always there he was just waiting for me to turn to him. God tells us "Seek and you will find" I am a Christian not Catholic, LDS or AOG
There is no one correct denomination. The fact that the Mormons and Catholics believe theirs is the only correct denomination is against what the Bible says about the Church. My name is Bekky, I'm 20 and I'm a youth leader at my church. I go to an AOG Church but grew up in the Uniting Church. One is pentecostal and one is traditional! Both are loving and accepting. I've been a Christian since I was 13, and would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have! The most important thing you can learn about God is that he loves you, and to really learn that deep inside your heart, not just in your head! He wants to bless you, he treasures you as a King treasures his daughter as a princess! If you want I can personally lead you through the conversion process, however, as Catholics believe they are the only true Christians, if you wish to join their church you will have to do things their way, and be baptised into their church, so I can't really help much with that! Good luck, and God Bless you!
I see you've had lots of answers. Some I found very useful. I must say I don't care for most Christian doctrine. For the main reason that they put traditions of man before G-d's word. One should read the bible but also study each word with in it. You need to understand why something has been translated as it is and why churches decide some bits are more important than others. When you go into catholicism they many times pray through saints, take money as a way to absolve sins (in some ways this has stopped), hold to the belief that Mary was more than just a woman. In many ways they hold onto pagan traditions that came before the church.
The traditions of people should never come before G-ds word. I keep the biblical feast days, I don't celebrate easter or Christmas, but do celebrate Passover and Sukkot. I even try to follow the well-being laws that are applicable today in Leviticus.
Why do you call the catholic church the Church?
note* I am more Messianic Jewish in my belief system.
It looks like you've got a lot of answers. I'm a mormon personally, but I'm not trying to convert you to become mormon so don't worry haha. I think you should pray about it. Your closeness to our Heavenly Father only depends on your relationship with him. I think you should ask Him, not other people, what you should do about joining a certain church you are investigating. Ask God if Catholicism is what you should be involved with.
I've found through prayer and the the spirit (the Holy Ghost) that the LDS Church (the mormons) is Christ's church on the earth today. I love so much being apart of it. I don't expect you to just believe me though obviously, because everyone's religion is precious to them. But I think you should pray and gain that good relationship with our Heavenly Father and ask Him if Catholicism is what you should be a part of, or if you shouldn't. He will help you figure out what you should do. If you have any questions go ahead and firstname.lastname@example.org
First, I commend you for seeking a church. That's a huge plus. Asking questions is a good idea, and if you join the Catholic church, you'll find they will teach you the biblical basics; i.e. God created the world, He had a Son, died on the cross, etc. However, Jesus makes it very clear in the bible, that the only way to heaven is believing in Him, receiving Him as Saviour, and admitting sin. Yes, the Catholic church believes in confessing one's sin, in Jesus himself, and that there is a heaven and hell. What they won't teach you is how you can be born again. That, is crucial to see heaven.
If you choose to join the Catholic church, then good.; but please, ask Jesus in your heart to seal your life in heaven. You don't need to spend any dough, or hire anybody to accomplish that. Heck, if you don't believe me, read it for yourself in the bible. You can find it in John 3, verses 1-21.
Relax, you're on the right track
I know this post is very late, but I stumbled across your question while searching for Pirate birthday party tips. Go figure! My heart went out to you, and I wanted to offer my humble advice. I firmly believe that you have to go where God is leading you to go! My hubby is Catholic, and I am protestant, but we have always gone where God led AND where we both felt comfortable, welcome and ministered to. You said you had bad experiences in other churches. It will likely be the same at ANY church you attend. Let's face it: people are just that, people. They will make mistakes. They won't be perfect Christians. Some church goers may not even really care about following God's plan for their life. Find a church that relies on the Bible, brings you closer to God, and teaches you how to live your new faith walk on a daily basis. Pray about it, and God will whisper in that still, small voice where you should be. I've just said a prayer for you, too. Blessings!
There is much confusion in the world today, but, remember... God is not confused... nor is he in the religion business... he is about relationship.. with you.. his child.. he wants to share himself with you... this is lost in many churches... sorry to say, but it is the truth... Get alone with God.. read your bible.. get to know him... and him alone... then, as you learn of him, and begin to hear from him, let him lead you where he will. He moved his disciples around, by the power of his spirit, there is nothing in scripture that says you have to stay at one place... or even in a place.. we are the church... the temple not made by hands... and where two or more are gathered, in his name, he is in the midst... that is all you need... your bible, and time with him... and he will put you in the right fellowship, even if it is 2 together, on a hill.. in peace... Praise God.. where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty... God Be with you...
I think the most important part in choosing a church to join is to make sure that you are taking a serious look at the gospel of the church and not the rules and its people. I am mormon and have run into my fair share of "bad mormons", judgemental mormons", etc. I have also run into my fair share of the same in other religions. I grew up with a mormon mother and a catholic father and was able to "choose" which was best for me. I studied what each church meant and what my overall goal was. My goal was to become closer to our Heavenly Father and Christ. Throughout experiences in my life,I have been able to do so through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I think it is important for EVERY person on this earth to have a relationship with God and Christ. That can come no matter what religion you are..so maybe that should be your focus first, talk to Them and then go from there. Good luck and I wish you peace.
I was born and raised in a Catholic family; my mom converted when she married my dad, and I know for a fact that she does not regret it at all. I too have experienced child abuse, and although some people say that praying to God won't do anything, I disagree. God always answers your prayers no matter what, but sometimes you just have to look hard for that answer. I think that it's great that you are considering converting to Catholicism and feel closer to God-an d I support your decision 100%. Even if you don't convert, just remember that God will always love you for who you are, no matter what, Catholic or not.
"God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the same time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out."
-First Corinthians, Chapter 10
I hope this helps
What about learning to be skeptical of religions themselves? You can arrive at this by beginning to learn about the worlds religions and finding out the commonalities between then and how their beliefs and practices are generally put in place by their leaders pretending to interpret their various writing.
For instance, some people here quoted at length on how you should not become a catholic. Why should she do that when some people take great comfort in the typical catholic mass?
Another person said you should not be afraid. Obviously you are concerned at this point.
My feeling is that you should read as much as you possibly can about the religion that you're about to join instead of going in blindly. Read both the pros and cons of it. You may decide that this is for you, and then again... you may decide that you want no part of it.
(Me? I'm agnostic)
I am curious to know how these answers have helped you. I would also like to pray for you more intelligently. Will you share how the Lord is becoming more real to you? I wonder if you have read some verses in your Bible and what they meant to you? Sometimes its hard to even know where to start in the Bible! Some start in Genesis and bottom out around Leviticus... Sometimes I read whichever day it is in Proverbs. For example, today is the 13th so I would read Proverbs 13. If you go online and look up "Synopsis of the books of the Bible" you might be able to get an overview and then read a section that you felt interested in. The Bible is God's love letter to you (I am sure you have heard that befoe) but it is pretty much true among other things. The condition God attaches to finding Him is that we seek Him with our whole heart.
MAy the Lord Bless you!
im assuming you are christian if you are stay a chrisitian. not to be mean but catholic churches have to many procedures and things that are not in the bible and heve nothing to dowith Jesus' teachings. but at the same time christian churches arent always preaching the right thing I am christian and im part of a movement I guess you can call it the called the body of christ I urge you to try it there are many of these churches that are all over the country they will help you become closer to God if you are not christian I strongly urge you to join the body of christ and you will find many people who are there I've been to many fellowships with other churches in the body of christ and they are very supportive. PLEASE contact me and I will give you some locations near you thank you
and even if you don't find a religion that you really like you DONT have to follow a certain religion- yes its good to go to church (try a non-denominational church) to learn more about god and to publicialy say that I love him and im not ashamed of it- but you donthave to follow a certain religion. I love god wiht my whole heart- since forever- but I think thaveing a certain religion to follow puts your relationship with god ina box and it not supposed to be like that.. religion has totally lost its focus. its been taken off god and put onto pointless rituals and meaning less words...life and oyu relationship wiht god is about you and god- take a chance to explore that!! itswonderful!-- any questions- the bible (christianity.com) or email@example.com
First of all, I want to commend you for taking a step in the right direction. Wanting to worship your Savior is definitely a righteous desire. I'm glad that you're doing something about that.
I think it's great that you've been getting so many different opinions on this site. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), for example. Anyways, I want you to make sure that before you make a decision to join any church that you find out what it's about. Do your research. Read the books, study, and most importantly, pray. Ask your Heavenly Father. Present him with your decision and ask Him if it's right.
Do anything you can to get closer to your Savior, and to find the truth. If you want to talk more, message me.
For me as a convert from the Protestant Church myself, I found that there were two major forces that were driving me to the Catholic Church.
1) is the actual blood and body of Christ- it's powerful enough that I had a vision.
2) is the authority that comes form the church that was started by Christ- each and every priest can trace their line back to one of the apostles. Each priest had hands laid on them by a bishop who had their hands laid on them somewhere by a bishop... going all the way back to one of the apostles who had Christ himself lay hands on them. That authority is where the main separation lies. That is why priests have the authority to forgive sins (John 20:23) and why only priests can consecrate the Eucharist.
Dear frustrated. Be encouraged. It sounds like God is pursuing YOU! I find that when I want to get closer to God and sense His presence (And don't want all the churchy preachy stuff that goes with that), I get back to basic prayer. I know that may sound silly, but you seem savvy enough to know the difference in rote prayer and really praying to God straightforward and nothing fancy. It's comforting to know that God hears and answers my prayers before I even pray them! If it is closer walking with Him - that is exactly what I ask for.
Also, I use "Morning and Evening" by Spurgeon (A devotional from 1898) and I am now reading form the Backpackers Bible (easer reading that my beloved King James) hope that helps! Love to you and prayers for you.
you know I have been reading the responses and what Caroline hampton keeps saying is crazy! First of all we all have to decide what we feel is right in order to get to God, and its not up to anybody else's belief as to which religion is right or wrong as the Holy Ghost will guide us, and not man/woman.
There is fault in all religions as things have been changed and also distorted. But, God will not let you fall if you truely believe in Him and his son Jesus Christ as your Saviour.
God is going to give us more chances, than just this one time on earth. Since we know that we still have the 7 year Tribulation and then the 1000 year reign. So, just try to keep yourself as close as you can to God, let God lead you the rest of the way.
I hear a lot of Catholics saying they "Really" don't believe it... Yes you can tell, by the way a person lives his life, Does he REally Act Christ like?? A Real Christian will, he will know a lot more about Christ and his life, How he loves us... Catholics tend to not even pray to Christ, only know the Rosery, only do what they were taught by the church. Ask yourself, what is more importent, That big cross that you bow down to on Sunday? Or do you really have a PERSONAL relationship with the (Man - God) that Died there, and arose again, and is NOW at the right hand of the THRONE OF GOD. Do you pray to HIM morning and evening???
There are Catholics who truely love God and there are those who go for the ritualism, and then there are those who do it because they have always done it. The same as all religions. the bible also calls us to not forsack the assembling of ourselves. Where familiarty in any situation be it work, school, family, it all breeds the good and the bad as long as there are people involved there will be the good and the bad, catholics, mormons. aog any group is susceptible to abuse in many forms. You have to ask your self what are you looking for thats what you will find. If you look for it God will answer.
Lacubnita said:"God is going to give us more chances, than just this one time on earth. Since we know that we still have the 7 year Tribulation and then the 1000 year reign"
I just want to point out that this belief is misleading. The Bible does not say there will be other chances to get to heaven, but just one.
I'm sure Satan would love for people to believe that though, because then people would be thinking 'oh, I'll not worry about being a Christian now...I'll just live the way I want because I know I'll have other chances to follow God later' Can you see how dangerous that concept is?
I have nothing against Catholics but I'm just saying religion is not impostant it's all about your relationship with God. And has far has catholics they go through the priest to confess. The thing I don't understand is why you going to the priest if you can talk to God urself get on your knees and talk to God experience him for urself why are you talking to a priest about it. But yeah it's all about your relationship with God about you and him no one else religion is not important it's about your beliefs what you belive in. talk to God he'll direct you read the bible
My brother converted to Catholicism. Assuming you've already been baptised in a Christian church it starts with classes Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults RCIA. Here you learn about RCC teachings, the structure and hierarchy of the church, etc. The steps to become Catholic last about a year and at the end after learning all about the church you still wish to convert you can.
Of course there are lots of churches. You can look into several while you are deciding and in the end the more you learn about each branch the more educated your choice will be.
womanofvirtue is right as far as "you can't get there without God" The Bible also teaches that we must worship with those of like mind, meaning in church. Also, the Bible also says "if you love Me, keep My commandments" The ten commandments are written on our hearts. We all know what is right and what is wrong, the ten commandments just helps us know what sin is.
The fourth commandment starts with "Remember" and that is t he only one that is usually forgotten. God said to keep all ten, not all nine.
I hope this helps, God bless you in your search.
it depends where you are in your growth. some can handle only the milk of the word like a child and for them the catholic church that really requires only your level of commitment. they can sin on mon and ask forgiveness on sat its all gone. then the evangelical and a little more meat. The older they get in God the more loving, forgiving, and tolerant they get. so where are you at. Jesus hung out with sinners and help them to see the love. and the only ones he had a problem with were the religious that thought they were better than others.
i am a 14 year old practising catholic and have been ma whole life
until recently church has seemed rather boring but i just took my cinfirmation n now i have a new lease on the way the church teaches. i think you should go to the R.C.I.A and give it a go if you dont like it then you can give up and try another faith or somethign but it is worth a go and the whole parish will help and supposrt you
however try going to mass for a while beforehand and make some friends as you will need a sponsor a few of the masses
Catholicism is not for everybody. I attend a catholic as was i baptized in a catholic church. but i do not agree with all of the "rules" of the catholic religion. just be 100% sure about converting before you convert. I love the catholic church, but there are somethings that i would change if given the opportunity. but who am i to change anything? Pray about your decision before you make it. Listen to what God has to tell you but praying reading the bible and listening with your heart and not with your head.
I'd like to agree with confused18 on the point that it's not about religion, it's about you're relationship with God. Catholic is a form of Christianity, right? Out of all the many different branches of Christianity, what is the common denominator? Love for God. What is the purpose of all of this? eternity in heaven right? You can get to heaven without religion, but you can't get there without God. That's all you need. Concentrate on spending time with Him and learning more about Him and you're all set.
I'm not a Catholic (but I am a Christian). I have a Catholic friend who worked for the 'Centre for Catholic Renewal' or something with a similar name. She found this 'Renewed Catholicism' really met her need to become closer to God, as you mention. Maybe you could search the internet using these words and find some advice/churches near you. I hope this helps - anyway, ' seek and you will find'!
so your telling me you want to convert...TO christianity, wow ok. id said contact your local church but I would seriously looking something else I mean sure hope is good but ill tell you, I was raised roman catholic and religious people can be crazy as h3ll. in my opionion its very chovenistic and sexist and bent into context from not so reliable sources.
Don't let past experiences cause you to change your beliefs. People will fail you but God never fails. Sometimes God allows us to see the negative side of thing to teach and show us how not to be. May He trying to get your purpose out of you. For the are so many other people feeling the same but are struggling because they don't know who they are.
chasac I think what you said was right on. Many Catholics believe that if you are not a Catholic in good standing then you'll never go to heaven. I just learned this while searching thru the authentic Catholic site. I was shocked!
Anyway, we all should follow God not Mary or the pope. Jesus is our Creator, our God, our Father. Nobody else
Go to ww.equipt.org The Catholic church teaches many errors. Why do you think this church has had so many problems?
Go to a church that does not conflict with the bible. the bible is your only true resourse.
I should say recourse if some one or some thing tries to misguide you. Because conversion is your first step, on a journey.
No one can tell you what you should choose but you. But I'll say this. Find an LDS church, go there just once (i dont want to pressure you), and I promise you will feel something there you can't find anywhere else. You will feel comforted, so comforted and warm inside that you will almost explode. Trust me, it's the true church.
I was a catholic. I went to a catholic school with nuns and everything. I dont believe there is a God. There are too many faults, inconsistencies. I know this probably isnt what you want to hear but this is my view upfront. Have you ever read 'The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail'? Or 'The DaVinchi Code'?
Hi, just a question, please no one get mad because I'm just wondering. What was it that made you choose to want to convert to Catholicism to be closer to God, instead of another? And another question, have you had any bad experiences with Christianity? or Christian churches?
One problem I have with this site, How long does a question last. everything turns into a debate the question was passed over and glossed over with debates on personal preference. just talk to God and look for a bible believing church.
i'm cathloic..the church has some good points and some bad ones too. All I can say is, If you are intrested in converting, check it out, and you also do not have to believe in ALL of the church's views
Everywhere there are good and bad people. Don't expect that by joining the Catholic Church everything will be perfect. But i tell you, just join. Anyway, you have all the freedom to go or to stay.
Over a year later, and the member in question disappeared 9 months ago :(
WOW like the whole bible up there.. lol well do wa u want im a chrisian and love it :)
Just follow what you think is right
Have you made any decisions?