I stumbled across a meme the other day with a list of things Roman Catholics do not believe. I checked the link at the bottom to see if I could find greater context and the missing 17th point that seems to be implied. My efforts were in vain though, it must be an old domain as the link is broken.
Never the less I am going to address all 16 points one at a time. I believe the reader will agree that this meme is the straw man to end all straw men. And for the internet that’s saying something.
Point #1: That the Pope is God and can do no wrong
I am not aware of any mainline protestant denomination that formally accuses Rome of believing the Pope to be God. If I am incorrect and there is one please drop a link in my comments and I’ll take a look at it.
As for the Lutheran Confessions, we do believe that the office of the papacy is antichrist. We do confess that Rome has a lot of false teaching about the Pope and his authority, and that some of his titles are certainly blasphemous. Also, many Popes in history have committed grave public sins that are undeniable. Some so horrible that I couldn’t imagine how a Roman Catholic could claim the Pope can “do no wrong”. This argument is simply a straw man.
Point #2: That anybody or anything may be worshiped or adored besides the True God.
I would like to see proof that Lutherans, for example, formally make the claim that Roman Catholics worship other things/gods. There is a difference between worship and veneration that is plainly confessed by Rome. I’m not going to try to hide that they have this distinction as that would be dishonest. However it is fair to point out that in practice (orthopraxy) Rome allows things that appear to be more worship than veneration.
Point #3: That the blessed Virgin is equal to God
This is another straw man. Again, show me anywhere in a mainline protestant confession where Rome is accused of claiming Mary to be equal to God. We don’t word it like that.
We will say that the passage you use from the Bible to claim Mary is “full of grace” in and of herself doesn’t substantiate your dogma. The verse in question simply has a greeting that was common at the time and only says she was favored by God. This error in doctrine stems from a mistranslation in the Latin Vulgate and developed many centuries after Christ.
|English Standard Version
|“And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!””
Luke 1:28 ESV
|“And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. ”
Luke 1:28 DCR1752
The ESV is based on Greek manuscripts and the Douay-Rheims on the Latin Vulgate, which means to the English reader its a translation of a mistranslated verse. Notice in the Roman version Mary can be fairly read as being “full of grace” in and of herself. The source of this grace could be seen as Mary. But the way the original text actually reads the source of Grace is God and he is favoring Mary.
We don’t claim that Rome sees Mary as equal to God. Maybe some wacko fundamentalists on YouTube do I’ll give you that. But if we are going to include them in this discussion then it would be fair for me to include every wacky statement any individual bishop, priest, monk, or nun has ever claimed as well. But that wouldn’t be fair would it? See my point?
Point #4: That a man can by his own good works, independently of the Merits and Passion of Jesus Christ and of His grace, obtain salvation, or make any satisfaction for the guilt of his sins, or acquire any merit.
Just to make it clear, that’s not what we Lutherans in particular or protestants as a whole accuse you of believing. Instead we accuse you of believing the following:
“If any one shall say, that by faith alone the impious is justified;
so as to mean that nothing else is required to co-operate in order unto the obtaining the grace of justification, and that it is not in any respect necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.” – Canon IX, Council of Trent
Notice that in the above canon being “prepared and disposed” precedes faith. This is a Pelagian heresy as it denies original sin, and thus contradicts the council of orange.
“If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, “The will is prepared by the Lord” (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).” – Canon IV, Council of Orange
Point #5: That there is any other Mediator of Redemption than or SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST
Are you talking about the Roman Catholic teaching of Mary being a co-redemtrix? Lutherans in particular and protestants in general reject this heresy too. I’m concerned for the future though, is Rome going to make it a dogma or are they going to reject it? Time will tell.
Point #6: That Images may be worshiped
I see this as the same as point #2 so please see my response there.
Point #7: That Mass can be bought
I’m glad to hear you’re not charging for private Mass anymore.
Point #8: That forgiveness of sin can be bought
I’m glad to hear you’re not charging for indulgences anymore.
Point #9: That sin can be forgiven without true sorrow
So you’re saying that when a baby is baptized they are not forgiven for their sin unless they feel sorrow? Think that one through and get back to me.
Point #10: That non-Catholics will be damned
This isn’t actually a fair statement. Check Catholic Answers yourself, they teach a doctrine called Invincible vs Vincible Ignorance , which comes out of Vatican II.
How I understand it is they believe that your ignorance shields you from the imputation of sin. But if you read that article I posted even they will admit that the average pagan is still guilty of committing mortal sins in which the law is written on their heart. And as I understand it, Rome would still teach that you’re only going to find forgiveness of mortal sins at one of their Churches.
Also, you have older councils that decreed salvation only comes from the Roman Catholic Church. So this would appear to be a contradiction, unless Vatican II is speaking out of both sides of their mouth. I’m open to either possibility.
“The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the “eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41), unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” – 11th Session of the Council of Florence, under Pope Eugene IV
Point #11: That all Catholics will go to heaven
Can you show me a single confessional document of a mainline protestant denomination that rebukes Rome for believing all Catholics go to heaven? I’ll concede as I stated above that there might be some wing nut KJVO fundamentalists on YouTube saying things like this. But there are some wing nut Papists out there as well and I wouldn’t use them to represent all of Rome. Let’s be fair eh?
Point #12: That the Holy Scripture is not authoritative, when in fact the Scriptures are the Truth and no Catholic Dogma or tradition will contradict it. (How can it, when The Church is the one that gave us the Holy Scriptures to begin with!)
This starts out with another straw man argument. Please cite a credible source for the claim. Any educated protestant is well aware that Rome has a high regard for the authority of scripture. The issue is Sola Scriptua, which the Church Fathers taught by the way. You can find proof on that HERE.
The fact is that Church Council, Catholic Dogma, and tradition contradicts not only scripture in some places, but they also contradict themselves. To assert that they do not on a presuppositional basis (which you seem to employ) ends up forcing the confessor to either be inconsistent in their epistemology or categorically abandon all objective meaning in everything.
For proof check out the contradiction in church councils orange and Trent that I posted above.
Also, the church didn’t give us Holy Scripture. The church received Holy Scripture. There is a significant difference between the two.
Point #13: That anybody may interpret the Bible
The Bible actually interprets itself just fine. The key is to look at how the authors of each book define their terms. Then you assemble the passages with the clearest use of language where all your key terms are defined by the author and you can start forming a systematic theology. It’s actually not that complicated really, most people exercise greater thought and attention on the latest hit television show.
The hard part is submitting to scripture that you hate…. even when it contradicts some cherished beliefs you have been holding on to.
Point #14: That Our Lord Jesus Christ established many Churches
Who accused Rome of believing this??? I’ll take your side on that one. Here is something to think about though. Rome doesn’t have corporate ownership of the Bride of Christ.
Chew on that
The one (small c) catholic faith that Jesus established was built on a foundation of faith confessed by Peter (Matt 16:18). Faithful trinitarian believers can be found in many denominations. At the end of this age, no matter what fold they were in, all sheep are placed on one side and all goats on the other. A concept you actually implied in point #10 so color me confused.
Point #15: That outward piety is profitable without charity of the spirit
What do you mean by profitable? Do you mean Justification? Who accused Rome of believing this anyways? I think you accuse yourself.
If you’re saying that you believe that good works are “profitable” for justification when the Grace of God has regenerated someone I can interact with that.
My first problem with it is you’re contradicting Rome, Council of Trent Canon IX in that you’re placing grace before faith and good works. You left out the part where one must be prepared and disposed of their own will.
My second problem with that statement is that if you mean “profitable” the way I’m understanding it then you’re contradicting Holy Scripture that teaches the sufficiency of Grace. (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 ESV)
Point #16: That all religions are the same
The only Roman Catholics that teach this are the liberal ones. And in all fairness we have the same problem in protestant denominations. I’ve already pointed out the straw man issues well enough in your other points.
That is my response to this meme anyways. If you liked this post on meme theology let me know and I’ll make a regular thing of it.