Roman Catholocism

By James Bjornstad

I. Origin of the Church (Mt 16:13-18)
   A. Question - Is the "rock" on which Jesus Christ would build His church Peter [as Rome
       claims] or Peter's confession?
   B. Answer
       1. The text [Greek] - "you are petros, and upon this petra I will build My church"
       2. Peter's understanding (1 Pet 2:6-7)

II. Growth, Developing Theology, and Divisions
   A. Rome's power grew because:
       1. Rome was the capital of the Empire
       2. Peter and Paul died there
       3. Constantine's "sign" (313 AD)
       4. "Holy Roman Empire" (9th century AD)
       5. Crusades and land grants
   B. Rome's theology developed - Some examples
       1. Mary
          a. Adoration of Mary and the saints was popularized (788 AD)
          b. Immaculate Conception and Perpetual Virginity - Pope Pius IX (1854 AD)
          c. Assumption of Mary and Queen of Heaven - Pope Pius XII (1950 AD)
          d. Mother of the Church - Pope Paul VI (1965 AD)
          e. Mediatrix of all grace and Co-Redemptrix
       2. Papacy
          a. When Rome fell in 476, the Bishop of Rome replaced the Roman Emperor as
             the most important person in the remnants of the empire
          b. Other bishops, like Augustine, who had been the Bishop of the city of Hippo in
             North Africa, began to submit authority to the bishop in Rome
          c. In 600 Gregory I extended his power as Bishop of Rome
          d. Leo IX excommunicated the patriarch of the eastern church (1054)
          e. In 1305 Boniface VIII claimed that submission to the Pope was necessary for
          f. At Vatican I (1870) papal infallibility when speaking ex cathedra was declared
             by Pius IX
       3. Sacraments
          a. Definition - "Divinely appointed functions which effect an increase of the
             supernatural life in the Catholic whenever he approaches them with the proper
          b. Seven sacraments
             (1) Baptism - Considered to be the door to spiritual life, one is cleansed from
                 original sin (and actual sins) and is simultaneously infused with a new and
                 supernatural righteousness
             (2) Confirmation - At age 7, this confers grace to make one a "strong and perfect
                 Christian," and a "soldier of Jesus Christ"
             (3) Holy Communion [Holy Mass or the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass] - The
                 partaking of Jesus Christ in the form of a consecrated Host. Transubstantiation
                 occurs and Christ is resacrificed
             (4) Marriage - The Sacrament of Matrimony includes a Nuptial Mass and a
                 solemn blessing pronounced over the bride and groom
             (5) Holy Orders - Spiritual power is given so an ordained priest can consecrate
                 the Host, forgive sins, and perform other sacred functions
             (6) Penance - One is disposed to be sorry for sin, to purpose amendment, and
                 to make satisfaction for sins committed by prayers or good works imposed
                 on the penitent in Confession
             (7) Extreme unction - Originally known as "Last Rites," Vatican II changed this
                 sacrament to "the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick"
   C. Rome's divisions
       1. Split with Eastern Orthodoxy (1054 AD)
       2. Split with Protestants (1517 AD)

III. Reformation (1517 AD)
   A. Sole fide - Luther found peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ; not in
       sacraments of the works of merit prescribed by the church
   B. Sole gratia - Luther discovered God's saving grace in Christ alone
   C. Sole scriptura - Luther found authority in the Bible alone in place of the teaching
       Church (which often based teaching and practice on tradition) mediated by the pope

IV. Counter Reformation - Council of Trent (1545-1563 AD)
   A. Sole fide rejected
       1. "The opinion that a sinner may be justified solely as a matter of reputation or
          imputation . . . is rejected" (January 9, 1547)
          a. Imputed righteousness - Justification by faith alone affirms that we are justified
             on the basis of Christ's righteousness for us, which is accomplished by Christ's
             perfect act of obedience apart from us
          b. Infused righteousness - Justification is on the basis of Christ's righteousness
             in us which is co-mingled with our good works
       2. Justification has two phases:
          a. "Initial" justification - In this phase, baptism is operative since grace to overcome
             original sin is "mediated" through baptism
          b. "Progressive" justification - In this phase, justification [righteousness] is said to
             be "increased" by participation in the sacraments, particularly, the Eucharist and
          c. Heaven - In the final or "ultimate" phase of justification, one is allowed into
             heaven, provided one has not committed a mortal sin
             (1) During life, if a person commits a mortal sin, he "makes shipwreck or destroys
                 or loses his justification." He must do penance if he wants to restore
                 justification to his life before he dies. If not, he will go to hell
             (2) On the other hand, unconfessed venial sins send a Catholic to purgatory
                 until he is cleansed. Then he can enter heaven
   B. Sole gratia rejected - God approaches sinners with prevenient grace, drawing men
       to Himself. If a man cooperates with this grace, then he is baptized
   C. Sole scriptura rejected
       1. Apocrypha - Recognized 15 books as authoritative in addition to the 66 books
          of the Old and New Testament (1546)
       2. Magisterium - Declared the Roman Catholic Church as the true interpreter of
          Scripture (1546)

V. Sharing the Gospel with Roman Catholics
   A. Since a Roman Catholic believes that his church is the final authority, he may have
       to become convinced that authority lies in the Bible alone. Using a Catholic authorized
       version of the Bible, John 12:44-50 can be used to show him what Jesus Christ
       intended to be our spiritual authority
       1. John 12:46
           Q. What is meant by light?
           A. Spiritual understanding
       2. John 12:47
           Q. Did Jesus come to save or to judge?
           A. To save the world [He is not an angry judge
       3. John 12:47
           Q. When will Jesus be the judge?
           A. In the last day

           Q. What will be the basis of judgment in the last day?
           A. The Word

           Q. Who will be judged in the last day?
           A. Those who do not receive Jesus' word

           Q. How will they have rejected Him?
           A. By not receiving His word [Note: to reject Jesus' word is to reject Jesus]

           Q. Where do we find the word of Jesus?
           A. In the Gospels; in the New Testament

           Q. Have you ever read the Gospels? The entire New Testament?

           Q. Are there other sources through which we can learn about Jesus?
           A. Only the Word of God [Scripture or the Bible] has the right information about
               Jesus [The reason I read the Bible is to make sure what I believe about Jesus
               and what I do is correct]

           Q. How can we be sure a movie, a book, etc. is correct?
           A. By comparing it with the Bible
       4. John 12:49-50
           Q. What is eternal life?
           A. Life that is everlasting; a relationship with God

           Q. How can we have eternal life?
           A. By receiving Jesus' word
       5. Once the Roman Catholic is reading Scripture for himself, the Holy Spirit will
          show him the errors of Roman Catholicism
   B. Share the Biblical doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ alone (Acts 16:31); apart
       from any works by the sinner's (Eph 2:8-9)

VI. Selected Bibliography
   Ankerberg, John, and John Weldon. The Facts on Roman Catholicism. Eugene, OR:
      Harvest House, 1993.
   Curran, Neil. Biblical Christianity for Catholics, Revised edition. Lewisville, TX: White
      Stone Publications, P. O. Box 294977, Lewisville, TX 75029, 1998.