Most of us are not strangers to the often-heated disagreements between Catholics and Evangelicals on the topic of Justification. Are we saved by faith and works or by faith alone? These debates are often centered on James, Chapter 2. Since James plainly states that faith without works is dead, Catholics easily accept the notion that their faith requires cooperation on their part. If that is true, to what degree is it true? So often these debates get convoluted in the philosophies of faith /works and faith alone. But what really matters are the specifics; and it is in the specifics that is the substance that fuels the power that drives the Catholic hierarchy.
Countless hours have been wasted on both sides of the debate over generalizations regarding faith, works, and free will. What is seldom discussed are the legalistic aspects of the Catholic religion that manipulates people into believing that their salvation is dependant upon the leadership of the Catholic Church. By their own authority, the Catholic Church has formulated laws that its subjects, the Catholic faithful, are bound to keep under penalty of damnation. When a Catholic slips up and disobeys one of the “mortal sin” laws, which often happens, the only way for them to return to a state of grace is through the Catholic priesthood, which involves confession and penance.
Over the centuries the Catholic Church has convinced the Catholic faithful that they, the Catholic hierarchy, are the authority of Christ. And from that authority they have devised a system of salvation that distorts the apostles teachings, robs Christians of their liberty, and shamelessly exults themselves above the authority of the apostles’ doctrines. Here are just five ways in which the Catholic system does that:
It denies the power of God via the gift of the Holy Spirit within individual believers
Catholics are lead to believe that their advocate with God is their priest, but the Apostle John says our Advocate is Christ.
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1John 2:1-2)
The Catholic Church brings damnable charges against its people, but the Apostle Paul says they have no power to do that.
“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” (Rom. 8:33)
It espouses a Master/servant relationship rather than a Father/child relationship
Catholic law brings bondage upon its people, producing an ever-present fear of losing their salvation if they should happen to stumble. The Apostle Paul said we were delivered from that kind of fear.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Rom. 8:14-16)
Here is something for parents to consider: If your child disobeys you, would you send them away and demand they make restitution through an advocate before they can return home? That is exactly how the Catholic Church views the relationship between God and the Catholic laity. If we saw this exemplified in someone’s family, we would be appalled and protest, “Where is the love of the parents?” Indeed, a Catholic should ask, “Where’s the love of God?”
It robs Catholics of their liberty in Christ
Catholic law is akin to what the Judaizers did to the churches of Galatia, which prompted Paul to write,
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:1-3)
It creates anxiety
In a legalistic system of salvation, one cannot help but to feel anxious about their status with God. It is a burden not intended for the children of God.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mat. 11:29-30)
It promotes a different doctrine of salvation than what was delivered by the apostles of Christ
The parable of the sower and the analogy of the Vine and its branches are two very good examples of why the Catholic system of salvation is unbiblical.
In the parable of the sower, the ground represents the hearts of people who receive the word of God. The good soil represents those who become the children of God. Notice, they grow and bear fruit, some a little, some a lot, but none of them are said to become fruitless and die. Now compare this to the analogy of the Vine and its branches found in John 15:1-6. It is not the fruit-bearing branches that are cut off from the vine, but the barren branches are cut off. These fruitless branches are the same as the plants in the parable of the sower that grew among the weeds; they think they are in Christ but in reality they bear no fruit because they do not abide in Christ.
The Catholic system of salvation suggests that fruit-bearing Christians live precariously on the Vine, shedding their fruit with one swift mistake resulting in them being cut off. Then by the power of the Catholic Church, they are able to work their way back into the grace of God who grafts them back into the Vine so they can begin to repeat the cycle. But Jesus said,
“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2)
The Catholic understanding of justification is impossible to reconcile with the Bible. The only purpose behind such a system is to quench a thirst for power that some desire to have over others.