Catholicism & Ignorance
"Is Jesus God?" That was the subject that came up once in a discussion. The person that I was talking to seemed shocked that I thought Jesus was more than a prophet. The Trinity and Jesus' diety are two things that are believed by most Christian denominations, Roman Catholicism and other branches of Orthodox Christianity. That was probably the main thing that prompted me to ask a Catholic a related question.
I prefaced the question with "You've been a Catholic all your life, right?" and after getting an affirmative answer, I asked, "Why was Mary called the Mother of God?". The answer, "I don't know." The answer from a devout Catholic for almost half a century. I was amazed, and yet that confirms what someone had said to me; that Catholicism is largely based on ignorance, allowing the people to stay ignorant of the truth.
Roman Catholicism, however proper in many of their doctrinal beliefs, is focused on the church as an entity separate from the individual and focused on building and preserving that entity. Because that is in so much contrast to Jesus own instructions, and the personal worship and serving of him, I consider it a cult. Yes, there are some false teachings and particularly so in their pagan-based religious system, but the biggest heresy is the absence of truth. I'll try to detail that more later, but I need to tell the rest of the story.
A week or so afterwards, I got the opportunity to ask the question of a Catholic priest, to which he responded with a discussion of the "Holy Trinity". The topic moved a little and he then began to explain that Mary was conceived without sin. I asked where that was found in the Bible and he said it's that way because reason demanded that Mary was Immaculately Conceived. The discussion ended shortly but not without his statement that Protestants always have to have it written down, and it's not always written down. Since we didn't get to finish the discussion, I won't attempt to argue the point about the Immaculate Conception. Yet, it spotlights the main heresy of the Catholic church.
Catholicism is a priest based faith, with emphasis on faith in the church and its traditions. Because so much of the beliefs are not biblical, Catholics are dependent upon the priest to tell them what to believe. The faith is in essence, controlled by the "church". You can't question them because they are "ordained" by the church.
At the lowest levels devotion to the church and all of its functions is elemental to developing a "community" of believers. At another level, the members must show obedience to the church's mediator, the priesthood and the sacraments. Even marriage within the church demands obedience to the church. Oh, yes, devotion, the community of believers and the need to not be unequaly yoked are all Christian teaching in the Bible. But two things make Catholicism different in these. One is ignorance and the second is the object of the devotion.
The heresy is the idea that another priest is needed, after the Jewish priesthood. One of the primary elements of the gospel and the Christian faith is the fact that the old Jewish priesthood has been abolished, and that we believers can go into the holy place ourselves. The letter of Hebrews is clear about that.
"And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He [JESUS], having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God... For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified....
This is the covenant that I will make with them. 'After those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws upon their heart, and upon their mind I will write them, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.' Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith..."
Catholics can be devoted to the church for a lifetime and never have a personal understanding of the truth of the gospel. The Catholic system even encourages such ignorance. And the object of the Catholic church, the church itself (and all it consists of) is what make such ignorance possible.
Perhaps, the primary reason that Catholicism is so readily accepted is it demands little more than devotion. Devotion to an entity and a set of religious rituals. It's a lazyman's faith. The more spiritually lazy, the better. Even if you go to Catholic school, religion classes, you can rest assured you don't need to be concerned about the teachings. As long as you can resist the most immoral acts, you can feel all else is being handled by the church.
Catholicism is not much different from the organized church of the 1st century and all its traditions. To the experts in the Jewish religious law, Jesus made this pronouncement, "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered."
In true Christianity, a believer is subject and obedient to Christ, and consequently can be lead (by Jesus) into all truth. It is that truth that so threatens the "church" of Catholicism and to a lesser degree other churches as well. And yet, it is that truth that will be fundamental to the building of the true church of Christ.
Are you Catholic? When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, they became angry and eventually plotted against Him. They knew better but pride had gotten such a hold on them that they ignored all reason. They ignored God. Was it possible that they could be wrong? Do you think it's impossible for you or your church to be wrong. Are you ignoring reason? Are you ignoring God? Do you care, or is it a faith of ignorance in your life too?
The Pharisees had also used their faith as a shield while they continued in their sins. Thinking that immorality was all that they had to worry about, they continued to do other kinds of dishonest and unjust things. Jesus knew. God, well, He's God. He knew. Have you used your faith as a shield as you continue to do all kinds of evil and injustice towards others? Jesus knows. God, well, He's God. He knows.
There's two big steps you'll need to take to get out of the pit. Remember to count the cost before you take each step and but make sure you get good footing each time. 1) Repent, 2) Trust in Jesus.
The funniest thing is how you can give up on a life of sin, that doesn't bring life, comfort or peace, and receive Jesus and a life of uprightness that does give you comfort and peace. Being a Christian is not easy, but it seems to me that NOT being a Christian is a lot harder. The more you understand God's love for you, and the provision he's made for you to even speak to him personally, you can begin to see what Christian life is really about.
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