This is the second in a four-part series on Roman Catholicism.
While Roman Catholics and evangelicals agree on a number of Christian doctrines, as we learned in the last column, there are profound differences between the teachings of Rome and the revealed word of God in Scripture.
As Protestant theologian Harold Brown once warned, while Catholicism holds to key fundamental articles of the faith, the church “so overlays them with extraneous and sometimes false doctrines that the foundations are no longer accessible to the majority of Catholic believers.”
Roman Catholics embrace at least seven doctrines that evangelical Christians reject as inconsistent with Scripture. In this article, we explore five of these divergent doctrines, with two more doctrines to follow in the next installment.
The Apocrypha. While evangelicals hold to the “canon” of 66 books in the Bible, Catholics argue that the apocryphal books – seven books and four parts of other books – belong in the canon. They call them deuterocanonical – literally, “second canon.”
The Council of Trent (A.D. 1545-1563) canonized these books, which include Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and 1st and 2nd Maccabees. Among other things, these books support such Catholic teachings as prayers for the dead and justification by faith plus works.
This is the first in a four-part series on Roman Catholicism.
The Roman Catholic Church traces its beginning to the apostle Peter, claiming he is the rock upon whom Jesus built His church (Matt. 16:18). Following Peter is an unbroken line of successors stretching to Pope Francis today.
Non-Catholics establish the beginning of the Roman Catholic Church at A.D. 590 with Gregory I, who consolidated the power of the bishopric in Rome.
In any case, the Catholic Church is the world’s largest Christian denomination, with 1.2 billion members. The Catholic hierarchy includes cardinals and bishops and is led by the bishop of Rome, also known as the pope.
The Catholic Church teaches that it is the one true church divinely founded by Jesus Christ. In addition, it claims that its bishops are the successors of Jesus’ apostles, and that the pope, as the successor to the head of the apostles (Peter), has supreme authority over the church.
Categories of Catholics
While the Catholic Church claims to be the one true church, Catholics worldwide hold to a diversity of beliefs. Researcher Ken Samples, cited in Christian Research Journal, has concluded that there are six primary categories of Roman Catholics:
A Missouri pastor recently sent me a Huffington Post article in which MIT Astrophysicist Max Tegmark assures us that religion and science are much closer than one might suspect, as evidenced by the results of a new MIT Survey on Science, Religion and Origins.
You can read the results and view the survey questions on MIT’s website.
Tegmark and his colleagues present a detailed survey of how different U.S. faith communities view the science of origins, particularly evolution and Big Bang cosmology.
Their conclusion: “We find a striking gap between people’s personal beliefs and the official views of the faiths to which they belong. Whereas Gallup reports that 46% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form less than 10,000 years ago, we find that only 11% belong to religions openly rejecting evolution.”