I went to bed thinking about this and I woke up around 3:30 a.m. thinking about this.
This Catholic of 68 years is now convinced Catholicism is a false religion with a false Christ.
My apologies in advance if you feel my tone is a little too straightforward, but Catholicism = False Religion - False Christ is enough to stir me up a little. However, I hope that I can be like 1 Peter 3:15 "... Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence;"
I am going to pull some verbatim text from someone online that got me thinking. Is this person really a Catholic of 68 years that is truly this confused and actually studied Church History, The Catechism and The Bible in search of the truth to then leave Catholicism to become a Presbyterian or is it possible that a non-Catholic posted this because of the way it is written? Yes, that last part can be controversial and I'm "NOT" accusing anyone of wrong doing. I'm simply saying that the thought crossed my mind and there is some validity to the thought based on how things are written. It all seems very odd to be written from a Catholic of 68 years.
Before I dive in, I could probably write a book if I used every comment this Catholic of 68 years wrote, so I will address just a handful of the items. However, I will put the full text at the end of this post for you to do your own research. I firmly believe the conclusions are riddled with error and/or some simple misunderstandings. Yet after 68 years, this individual leaves Catholicism to become a Presbyterian. It's interesting that Dr. David Anders at EWTN who does Called To Communion left the Presbyterian church to become a Catholic. I think this Catholic of 68 years should have listened to Called To Communion regularly among other things.
"The Christ of the Bible or the Christ of Catholicism" is a direct quote from this Catholic of 68 years. FYI, there is NO DIFFERENCE. The Christ of the Bible is the same Christ that Catholic's LOVE and WORSHIP.
As a Christian, I have loved Jesus since my early childhood, but I have grown to LOVE Him more and to LOVE others more ( as Jesus commanded ) through my Catholic journey. I have heard a TREMENDOUS amount from the Homilies ( Preaching ) about Jesus ( the same Christ of the Bible that Protestants love ). So the fact that this Catholic of 68 years would say things like "I came to the conclusion that catholicism is a false religion with a false Christ, and I needed to leave" is part of why I cannot help but wonder if this was actually posted by a Catholic of 68 years. I would hate to think that anyone would spend 68 years doing anything in life that they were as clueless about as this individual is about Catholicism. I have a hard time believing this individual was a faithful, practicing Catholic. This person may have simply identified as a Catholic because of being Baptized Catholic as a baby. Who knows?
Let me vent just a little for a moment while still staying somewhat on topic...
Personal Responsibility: I think it's up to each individual to know their faith. I spent over 300 hours in 12 months on my Catholic journey. I didn't just show up to Mass thinking I'd magically know everything about Catholicism. Furthermore, I wasn't clueless about my Protestant beliefs. I knew about the Southern Baptist teaching of "once saved always saved" which by the way I never agreed with. I knew many core beliefs of any Protestant church that I considered "my church home." I could have told someone as a teenager lots of things about the Pentecostal church I was brought up in: what year it was founded, who founded it, key beliefs, what were some differences compared to Baptist and much more. In addition, the Catholic Church does have RCIA for those considering converting to Catholicism. It goes on for months. This individual could have set in on RCIA, gone to Bible studies ( which Catholics do have ) and much more. I'm not sure why after 68 years that some research lead to: False Religion - False Christ. In 12 months and over 300 hours, I discovered something completely different: The TRUTH!
Finding A Protestant Church: This Catholic of 68 years recently left the Catholic Church to become a Presbyterian.
As a Protestant Christian, I had a very Protestant mindset about the essentials. As long as we all agreed on the essentials, everything will be OK. That's why "Mormons" and "Jehovah's Witness" were out because the essentials didn't line up with mainstream denominationalism or non-denominations.
By the way, who decides what's essential? That's one key problem with Protestantism: Who's in charge? Oh, I know, it probably comes from a Martin Luther, non-Biblical, invention called "SOLA SCRIPTURA" along everyone interpreting scripture for themselves. As long as it is in, it has to be true.
The problem with private interpretation is people use the same verse to derive different meanings or get verses out of context or make the Bible try to say that they think it should say: "Judas hung himself" ... "Jesus said go do likewise" ... Yep, I'd say that's a little out of context.
As a Protestant Christian searching for a church as an adult, the worship had to feel right, the praise band needed to be good and the preaching needed to satisfy my ears. As long as the essentials ( as I identified them ) were in place and it felt good, it must be right.
I have never been anti-Catholic, but I also never considered Catholicism a serious option until I was 50 years old. I didn't think much one way or the other about Catholics other than they are fellow Christians that do a lot of things different than the churches I've been around. However, this Catholic of 68 years ( really ? ) is now convinced that Catholicism is a false religion with a false Christ. What? Really? How's That?
Although I personally think this is not the right decision, I respect this individuals choice to become Presbyterian and I don't think my Presbyterian brothers and sisters in Christ worship a false Christ. However, after 68 years, I don't get the tremendous lack of true understanding of Catholicism. Some of the statements this person makes are downright offensive: False Religion - False Christ! Hey, you are talking about the EXACT same Christ that I have loved as long as I can remember. Catholics DO NOT worship a false Christ.
Let's take a deep dive...
The Catholic of 68 years wrote: "I learned that Mary was conceived without original sin, was a virgin all her life, and her body and soul were taken to heaven, just like Jesus. I learned that Mary is a mediatrix - a mediator between God and man - and has influence over our salvation."
How can anyone be a Catholic for 68 years and not have a clue about any of that especially the part of "a virgin all her life," you'd have to live under a rock as a Catholic not to know about the "perpetual virginity" of Mary. I cannot help but wonder if this individual was actually a faithful Catholic or this was posted by a non-Catholic because "I Confess To You" is said near the very beginning of Sunday Mass. It includes "I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin." Hmmm.... Ever Virgin? What does that mean?
After studying, this individual still lacks understanding of true Catholic teachings. I see a severe lack of true understanding of Catholic teachings all the time online from people. It's interesting to me that 100% of what this Catholic of 68 years apparently just learned, I discovered within my first 12 months of being open to the truth of Catholic teachings. I didn't just blindly accept everything, but I took time to find out why Catholics believed it. I then had to decide whether I would accept the belief.
I've only been seriously studying Catholicism for just over a year as of this post which is a long ways from 68 years as a Catholic and I can explain the Catholic position along with the Biblical premise behind numerous Catholic beliefs. Grant it, I've spent hundreds of hours in a short period. But I want to know that I know that I know and why I know. It's just like a relationship with Jesus. It's my responsibility to KNOW JESUS.
I'm going to address two errors related to Mary without addressing everything written about Mary because there are books written like Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines by Tim Staples. Notice, it says a "BIBLICAL" and historical defense.
Mistake 1: "her body and soul were taken to heaven, just like Jesus"
It's the "assumption of Mary" not the "accession of Mary." Jesus "ascended" into heaven and the Church teaches that Mary was "assumed" into heaven. Elijah and Enoch were taken into heaven by God. So the Biblical concept is valid. Although the Church did not make it dogma until 1950, the assumption of Mary was believed in the early centuries of the Church.
If someone thinks that the Church has no authority from Christ "... whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matthew 18:18 as passed down from the apostles' through apostolic succession which most Protestants reject, it can be difficult to understand some Catholic teachings based on Protestant beliefs that are often not Biblical. However, a study of the New Testament when removing the Protestant glasses many see through, can led to a tremendous understanding of Catholic teachings and the Bible.
If someone thinks that everything has be clearly stated in the Bible, why do so many Christians believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation when the words don't exist in the Bible? It's because the concepts are there and those words describe the concept. By the way Jehovah's Witness reject both the concept and the words. The Bible doesn't say of itself that everything has to be in the Bible. Christ told the apostles's to go "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" - Matthew 28:20. Jesus didn't write anything in the Bible. He used "ORAL" communication. "But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." John 21:25. So did the aposles' likely preach about other things that say Polycarp ( a disciple of John ) preached that say Irenaeus ( who heard Polycarp preach ) likely passed on that generation after generation continued.
Mistake 2: "Mary is a mediatrix - a mediator between God and man - and has influence over our salvation."
So this Catholic of 68 years studied the Catechism, yet I found this in about 60 seconds online from the Catechisms.
CCC 480 "Jesus Christ is true God and true man, in the unity of his divine person; for this reason he is the one and only mediator between God and men."
Period. Done. End of discussion. Not rocket science.
Mary said YES to God. Mary carried Jesus in her womb. Mary gave birth to Jesus. Mary ( and Joseph ) presented Jesus at the temple. Mary ( and Joseph ) raised Jesus. Mary was there at the wedding with Jesus when he performed his first miracle. Mary was at the foot of the cross. Mary joined the disciples in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. So Mary had a role in the life of Christ beyond any other woman. Mary's role is to help us keep our eyes on Jesus not to take our eyes off Jesus. Mary is not our Savior. Jesus is "...the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." ( John 1:29 )
You'll have to study the mediatrix ( Co-Redeemer ) part in depth to get the in depth meaning of the position of the Church. Here's a short article: Mary, Mother of Salvation which is NOT what you might think. This is definitely an area that on the surface can send non-Catholics for a loop and likely many Catholics who are not grounded in their faith. I will also add that if you study this ONLY from the Protestant view and especially the anti-Catholic droves, you'll find a Protestant twist to it. If you truly open your mind to the REAL Catholic view while understanding the Protestant position, you may be surprised at where it leads you.
The thought of having and open mind toward Catholicism may scare you. In my case, I was in search of the TRUTH wherever that led me. I was tired of the way Protestants ( I ) chose a church and doing things rooted in Protestant traditions. I was also tired of all the confusion from private scriptural interpretation.
OK, let me get back on track: Mary DOES NOT take the place of Christ. Salvation doesn't come through Mary. However, Mary's "Yes" to God should be an example to us and through her role of giving birth to Jesus Christ, Mary has a more crucial role in the life of Christ than any other woman who has EVER lived.
It's pretty clear from scripture that Mary is not the average woman: Luke 1:28 "And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” Luke 1:48 "for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;"
Direct from the Catechism:
CCC 969 "This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office *but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix."
My Note: This individual wrote, "I learned that Mary is a mediatrix - a mediator." So Mary is a mediator which means Mary intercedes on our behalf? Quick thought, are people in heaven more alive and closer to Christ than anyone here on earth? The Communion of Saints was not a very hard concept for me.
*James 5:16 tells us to "...pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects." - Do we intercede for our friends and family through prayer? Do we ask others to pray for us? Do we pray that they would receive the gift of Salvation? Do we pray that the Holy Spirit would move upon their life? Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes!
Notice, it says, "intercession brings us the gifts of eternal salvation." I wonder if our intercession has ever brought someone the gift of eternal salvation? I sure hope so. I hope we all pray for the lost that they would come to know Jesus through our intercessory prayers. Saint Augustine's mother prayed for him for many years before he converted to Christianity.
It also didn't take me long to find this deeper explanation.
I'm only going to address a little more from this Catholic of 68 years because I'm not trying to write a book. Remember, the full text is at the end of this post.
This individual wrote, "I left because I read the Catechism, which says that the sacred scripture (Bible) is not enough for salvation. Salvation also requires sacred tradition and the Magisterium. This opened my eyes, for I always believed that faith in Jesus Christ was all that one needed for salvation." It sounds like some of the misguided teachings of Luther and the reformers with the "Bible Alone" and "Faith Alone" may be coming into play here.
Yes, I know about Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium ( teaching authority of the Church ) and I understand them all quite well at this point. Here's more info on Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium ( also see Teaching Authority ).
I think this might be a two fold argument of something against "Sacred Tradition" and "The Magisterium" by not understanding either of them plus the "Bible Alone" and "Faith Alone" may be causing some issues.
Let's look at the Catechism again:
CCC 82 "As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence."
CCC 86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith."
CCC 432 "The name "Jesus" signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation, so that "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
When I started my Catholic journey, I thought that the Catholic view of salvation was way too complicated because I didn't truly understand it all initially. But I didn't give up because I wanted to know more before rejecting something that I didn't understand.
Any faithful Christian knows that "we are saved by God's grace through faith in Christ," but it doesn't stop there because Christ himself commanded us to love which requires action, Christ instructed us to keep the commandments ( "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." John 14:15 ) which requires action and there is more about Christian living in the Bible that requires action. In other words, LIVE OUT OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH
Do you ( the reader ) truly think that someone can have "faith alone" in Jesus and live like "Hell" all their life not following ( doing ) any teachings of the New Testament and actually hear "Well done, good and faithful servant?"
The Catholic of 68 years states "I always believed that faith in Jesus Christ was all that one needed for salvation." As clearly stated above, "there is no name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." So to repeat, we are all saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, but if someone accepts Christ by faith at the age of 12 at Bible camp and lives to he or she is 90, never doing anything for God, will that "faith alone" suffice on judgment day? What is verbal faith in Christ with no signs of that faith being lived out? If we as Christians don't love others, don't keep His commandments and live like we want not like the New Testament teaches, do we really think that "faith alone" is enough. True, it's not our place to judge. Only God knows in the end, but I don't want face God and say, "I had faith in your Son Jesus Christ, but I never once lived for Jesus because I thought all I needed was "faith alone" and nothing more."
If the individual interprets "faith alone" is all one needs and one never needs to do anything but accept Jesus through faith and spend the rest of their life on the couch watching sports, serving themselves, doing nothing for others, doing nothing for Jesus, this individual, who studied the Bible, needs to read the New Testament cover to cover a few times because taking up your cross is more than just faith.
Ephesians 2:8-9 are often used to attempt to prove "FAITH ALONE" - "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— not because of works, lest any man should boast." However, verse 10 is often left out, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." And James 2:24 states "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." But don't take me or the Bible out of context because we are not saved by "works alone" or "faith alone." However, our lives should reflect that faith and there are things we are commanded to do beyond "faith alone."
This article "Faith and Works" may help more with the Catholic view.
Yes, I do believe the Bible, but the study of the Bible proves that Luther and his own personal private interpretation of Christianity nearly 1500 years after the crucifixion is filled with errors. However, you may not agree with Luther 500 years later and obviously this Catholic of 68 years doesn't agree with Luther 500 years later if becoming a Presbyterian is the priority. However, a key issue with private interpretation and rejecting the idea that Christ had a plan, established a Church and that the Church has authority here on earth. One can go with Luther, other reformers and modern day Protestantism, their own private interpretation or go with the Church Christ founded that still exists today and has for 2000 years and that was in place 1500 years before the "Protestant Revolution" ( Yes, revolution not reformation might be a better way to put it. )
Keep in mind while watching the short video below and reading the full text the Catholic of 68 years wrote, that some of this confusion stems from Martin Luther ( who called the Catholic Church "The Whore of Babylon" ) and the so called "Reformers" who could not agree with each other. Private interpretation of scripture. the 5 solas and false Church history have lead to a lot of problems. Protestants still disagree with each other all the time and Protestant churches split over all kinds of things.
I'm not saying Catholics are perfect, but it seems Protestants attack Catholics for their beliefs based on Protestant premises, like Sola Scriptura, that are not Biblical. Therefore, what is said in the short video below is necessary to cover.
Several reference materials are listed below for more insight on some of the things that I haven't covered but are mentioned in the full text of the Catholic for 68 years.
2) Bearing False Witness - Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History ( From a non-Catholic author at a Baptist University ) and The Church Christ Founded ( Article ) and How the Early Church Drove Me Toward Catholicism ( Part 1 and Part 2 ) - The Fathers Know Best - Book By Jimmy Aikin - I have discovered that there is a Catholic version to Church History and a Protestant version. I believe the Catholic version of Church History has more Biblical evidence and is supported by early writings from the Early Church Fathers in the 1st through 4th centuries to back up Church History even further. The two sides are often very different. Many Protestants think the Catholic Church started in the 300's with Constantine. I believe there is enough evidence in place to refute that false belief and many others. Check out this 2+ hour video: CHURCH HISTORY: COMPLETE DOCUMENTARY 33 AD TO PRESENT.
5) The Great Heresies ( an article ) "Heresies have been with us from the Church’s beginning. They even have been started by Church leaders, who were then corrected by councils and popes. Fortunately, we have Christ’s promise that heresies will never prevail against the Church, for he told Peter, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). The Church is truly, in Paul’s words, "the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15)."
And finally the full text of what this individual wrote......
I was catholic for 68 years and recently left the church, becoming a Presbyterian. I left because I read the Catechism, which says that the sacred scripture (Bible) is not enough for salvation. Salvation also requires sacred tradition and the Magisterium.
This opened my eyes, for I always believed that faith in Jesus Christ was all that one needed for salvation. As I read further, I learned many things that I didn't agree with. For instance, I learned that if you don't go to mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation (when you are capable of going), you have committed a mortal sin. If you are capable of receiving communion (e.g. you have not committed a mortal sin) and you don't when you are at mass, you have committed a mortal sin. This means that if I don't confess missing mass or communion to a priest, I will burn in hell for eternity.
I learned that Mary was conceived without original sin, was a virgin all her life, and her body and soul were taken to heaven, just like Jesus. I learned that Mary is a mediatrix - a mediator between God and man - and has influence over our salvation. The catechism says that priests are given powers far beyond that of angels, as priests can change the host and wine into Christ's very body and blood. And, of course, priests can forgive sin. Totally unbiblical.
Then I studied the history of the catholic church. I learned that Constantine declared catholicism as the official church of Rome in 313AD, and the first pope came along around 600AD. Yet, the church says St Peter was the first pope.
Up until 1100 or 1200 AD, priests were allowed to marry and have familys. They became wealthy landowners. The pope around that time decided the priests were becoming too powerful and decreed that they must give up their wealth, land, wives and families. There was no phase in time. On a particular day the families were put out on the street with no support. The priests accepted a vow of celibacy. Many wives committed suicide, others fell into prostitution.
In the early 1500s, the pope wanted to build St Peters Basilica. The Vatican was low on money, so he sold indulgences. An indulgence was a reduction in time in purgatory. You could purchase them for people already in purgatory or for yourself when the time came. The pope was also selling Bishop postions. That was the last straw for Martin Luther, and he posted his 95 Theses, which was essentially the beginning of the Reformation.
In 1555, Queen Mary of the Tudors, a devout catholic, sent her aids throughout England asking catholics one question: Do you believe in Transubstantiation? If you answered no, you were burned at the stake. Around 1000 "heretics" were burned at the stake from 1555-1558.
One last thing - the Pope with his Bishops form the Magisterium. This is the only body that can accurately interpret the word of God. They are infallible in their interpretation and meet to establish church dogma. This dogma is the sacred tradition. It lies outside the Bible. If you research these meetings, such as the Council of Trent, you will be able to read the "canons" that contain the dogma. At the end of each canon, there is a statement that basically says if you don't believe what the canon says, you are anathema. Anathema means cursed, damned. For instance, if you do not believe in transubstantiation, you are anathema.
After studying the Catechism, church history and the Bible, I came to the conclusion that catholicism is a false religion with a false Christ, and I needed to leave. I had to be certain, as the Catechism states that a member who leaves cannot be saved. So, can catholics go to heaven? I believe they can, IF they are like I was - ignorant of what their religion teaches. But if they discover that catholicism contradicts the Bible over and over again, they will have to make a choice - the Christ of the Bible or the Christ of Catholicism. Only one Christ will lead to salvation.
1) If this person was a faithful practicing Catholic for 68 years, I find all of this very hard to believe. Come on, really, after 68 years of living the Catholic faith all of this came as a surprise through study. My study led me a completely different direction.
2) If this person was only a Catholic in name because of parents or maybe being baptized as a baby but never lived the faith, then not having the answers makes more sense. I'm not convinced that this individual studied in search of the truth. I know from experience that the blinders have to be taken off and the research must be done with an open mind.
For example, I have done some study of "Mormon" and "Jehovah's Witness" beliefs both of which I know fairly well. However, they are both too far removed from what I think the evidence of the truth is that I cannot accept their beliefs. But I'm now convinced of the truth of Catholicism and no human being twisted my arm in the process. My intention was not to prove Catholicism right or wrong. My intention was to understand Catholicism. In the process, I saw too much evidence to simply dismiss Catholicism and randomly pick a church to attend that's not Catholic. I came to the conclusion that it was either Catholicism or sit at home with my Bible and Jesus which is not full Biblical Christianity.
3) Since the full text is riddled with so many things that non-Catholics bring up about Catholicism and a new one on me about Queen Mary, I wonder if it could have been ( not accusing ) a non-Catholic who posted this. It would not be the first time someone misrepresented themselves online. Like I said in the post, a Catholic ( especially a faithful Catholic ) would have to live under a rock to not know about the perpetual virginity of Mary.
Whatever the case may be, I 100% DO NOT believe that Catholicism is a false religion with a false Christ as this individual somehow came to the conclusion of. Catholics worship the same Christ as Presbyterians. This individual simply changed churches because it seemed like the right thing to do. However, it's the same Christ in both places. We all must live to the best of our knowledge and ability remembering that Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." That doesn't matter what religion or non-religion you claim. Everyone who gets to heaven will do it by the grace of God through Jesus Christ.