Is Catholicism Christian?

by Dean Robinson

       Some time ago Presidential candidate George W. Bush made a campaign stop in South Carolina at a prestigious and well-known Christian university known as Bob Jones University. Soon thereafter Bush was "raked over the coals" by the liberal news media for making an appearance at such a right-wing, conservative, narrow-minded, fundamentalist school. One of the issues that was brought up during this time was BJU's teaching on the subject of Roman Catholicism.

It was reported that the school taught in their classroom that Catholicism was a cult. This seemed to irritate many in the media and were demanding from Bush a response to such a position. That which perplexed the media was how anybody could think or believe that Catholicism was not Christian? While I do not endorse everything that Bob Jones University (BJU) believes or teaches, I would have to stand in agreement with their position on the Roman Catholic church.

Due to the ignorance of the average person regarding Catholicism, there is a very tolerant attitude today. Protestants are having dialogue with Catholic leaders and a reunion is more than a possibility. The fact that those who claim to be practicing Catholics are ignorant of the true nature of the system is evidence of its own deceptiveness. Catholicism claims to be Christian. It claims to be the true church of Jesus Christ when in fact it is anti-Christ and anti-Bible. This can be proven from their teaching on the following points.

1. What They Teach About The Pope

The term "pope" was a title claimed by Boniface III in 607 A.D. The word comes from a Latin word "papa" which means father." Other terms are used such as "pontiff" which means: bridge builder, the link between this life and the next. Then there is title "vicar of Christ" -- a person authorized to perform the functions of another; substitute in office. Here is what is taught, according to the Texas Catholic Conference, Department of Religious Education, 1988: "The Pope is the Vicar of Christ, successor of St. Peter and visible head of the church. He takes the place of Christ."

The pope cannot be the "vicar of Christ," i.e. His substitute as Head of the church because the Bible plainly declares Jesus Christ to be the Head of the church and no one else: Eph.1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col.1:18. Even Peter, whom the Catholics claim was the first pope, was not confused as to who was the Head when he wrote: "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner." (1 Peter 2:7)

The term "pontiff" is also unscriptural because "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5). By the way, Peter could not have been the first Pope because he was married (Matt.8:14), he refused to be worshipped (Acts 10:25-26), and he was rebuked by the apostle Paul (Gal.2:11). Neither was the N.T. church built upon Peter.

It was established and founded by Jesus Christ, according to Matthew 16:18, who is the Rock (Petra). Peter was the "petros": a little stone, pebble. Peter was but one among many building stones made alive through Christ from which He built His church.

2. What They Teach About The Priest

With in the Roman Catholic system their priests are referred to as "Father So & So" which is in contradiction to the teaching of Matthew 23:9, "And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven."

We don't need any priests on earth to be our go-between or representative before God. The Bible teaches on the priesthood of the believer (1 Peter 2:5,9; Rev.1:6). As believers in the Lord we have direct access to God. In fact, we have Jesus Christ as our High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 3:1; 4:14; 8:1; 9:11-12).

It is believed that as the Catholic priest offers the mass, the wafer literally becomes the body of Christ and the wine literally becomes the blood of Christ by or through the hands of the priest. This is idolatry where the Catholics worship a god made by human hands. The mass is central to Catholic worship. It is not a memorial to remember the death of Christ but instead it is a sacrifice of Christ again and again by the priest on the altar. The problem with this is that the Bible teaches that there is to be no continual sacrifice. The sacrifice of Christ as offered once and for all (Hebrews 7:27;
9:25-27; 10:10-12). According to 1 Cor.11:25-26, the observance of the Lord's Supper was to be done in remembrance; it was to show His death, not repeat it.

Another practice of the Catholics is that they go to their local priest to confess their sins which is in violation of 1 John 1:9 and 1 John 2:1 Only Jesus Christ the righteous, our Advocate, has the authority and the ability to forgive us of our sins.

3. What They Teach About The Penance

Penance is one of the seven sacraments taught to be practiced as a means of obtaining salvation. To quote from one Catholic catechism: "Penance is the means by which sins committed after baptism are forgiven through the absolution of the priest."

The Bible teaches that only God can forgive sin (Mark 2:5,7; Luke 7:48) and that salvation is only by the grace of God (Eph.2:8-9).

4. What They Teach About Purgatory

Catholics claim that the purpose of purgatory is to punish an individual fully for his/her sins before he can enter heaven. To quote from their own writings: "The pains of purgatory are very severe, passing anything endured in this life. According to the Holy Fathers of the Church, the fire of purgatory does not differ than the fire of hell except in point of duration."

The truth is, the Bible never mentions a place called purgatory. It does talk about "a great gulf fixed" (Luke 16:26) and about "paradise" (Luke 23:43), but no place of suffering called purgatory. The only place that is taught in the Bible that is described as unbearable torment and suffering is hell. For the believer, 2 Cor.5:8 teaches that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Even in Phil. 1:23 the apostle Paul mentions about his desire to depart and be with Christ. No such hint of a place called purgatory. In fact, if a person is really born again, saved by the grace of God, he will never have to suffer for his sins because One suffered for him on the Cross of Calvary (1 Peter 3:18). Thank the Lord for Hebrews 10:17 which says, "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."

5. What They Teach About Their Praying

Most Roman Catholics practice what they call the "Rosary." They are supposed to repeat this prayer 50 times and keep count by using beads.

The words of the prayer are as follows: "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed be the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of death. Amen."

Calling Mary the mother of God and praying to her started as far back as 431 A.D. The Bible never exalts Mary to a position higher than everybody else. Luke 1:28 makes reference to her as a woman blessed among women, not above. She even admitted to the fact of her need in life of a Saviour (Luke 1:47). Mary had to be saved the same way as any other lost sinner -- through trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

We don't need Mary to intercede for us as believers because we have the Lord and His Spirit interceding on our behalf (Romans 8:26-27,34; Hebrews 7:25). The Bible teaches that when God's people pray, they are to pray to the Heavenly Father, not Mary (Matthew 6:7-9). When God's people pray, they are to pray in the name of Jesus, not Mary's (John 14:13-14; 16:23-24).


The only defense against the damnable heresy of false doctrine is a solid grounding in the Word of God. As a tree without roots is easily blown over in the slightest breeze, even so a Christian without a foundation of knowledge established upon the Word of God is susceptible to being moved about by whatever direction the current doctrinal wind is blowing.

We are warned in Colossians 2:8 to not be "spoiled" (seduced, carried away) with philosophy, vain deceit, tradition of men, and rudiments of the world. Roman Catholicism is involved in all four of these areas. It has incorporated the philosophy of paganism, the vain deceit of fabricated fables that have no Biblical basis, the traditions of men that have been exalted to the position above the Bible, and rudiments of the world are evident to the extreme in the sacramental system and human effort to obtain God's saving grace.

Is Roman Catholicism Christian? Not according to the Bible. To be Christian one must be a follower of Christ and His teachings. There is no such thing as a "Christian Catholic." Do we hate Catholics? No. Our hearts go out to those who have been blinded by the god of this world, lest they see the Light and believe in the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, which is able to save their souls. Our prayer is that for all Roman Catholics to be delivered from the power of darkness and be glorious saved through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

Ye Must Be Born Again!