The Roman Catholic (RC) Church bases its claim of superiority over other Christian Churches on submission to the questionable authority of the Pope. The RC Church is also on shaky ground when it comes to many doctrines as well. There are a number of doctrines of the RC Church that are not based on the Bible, and some are even contrary to what the Bible says. The RC Church elevates “Tradition” above biblical authority, which Protestants find anathema. This allows the Pope to invent something (such as Purgatory), call it “Tradition” and then declare it doctrine, without the necessity of having anything clearly stated in the Bible to substantiate it. Often the Church will take a passage out of context to try to provide some sort of biblical legitimacy to an invented doctrine.
One of the great results of the Reformation was that Protestant Christianity emerged, purified of most of these kinds of unbiblical beliefs and practices. The result is, I believe, that the Reformation resulted in churches that had a “purer” and more biblical form of Christianity, unencumbered by the accumulation of questionable beliefs and practices that have taken place over two millennia. That’s not to say the Protestant churches are perfect, because they certainly aren’t. Today some of them have lost their way theologically. Some have embraced legalism, and some are doctrinally adrift. Some question the authority, historicity, and truth of the Bible, and most of them today are torn by conflicts between liberal and conservative factions. Nevertheless, traditional Reformation Protestantism is, in my opinion, much more scriptural and truer to the Gospel of Jesus Christ than is Roman Catholicism (that’s why I’m no longer Roman Catholic) despite its claims about being more apostolic than the others.
As an example of how papal authority could be used to promote heresy, consider that the last Pope apparently considered declaring Mary to be “co-redemptrix” along with Jesus. This would have been truly heresy. Fortunately he refrained from doing so. Unfortunately some RCs do believe that Mary’s suffering at the Cross was a participation in the redemption of mankind. This diminishes the role of Jesus’ sacrificial and substitutional death, as do the doctrine of Purgatory and the practice of doing penance to atone for our sins.
While I disagree with much of what the RC Church teaches and practices, I still consider Catholics to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that many Catholics, clergy and lay, feel the same about non-RC Christians. It would be nice if the Church hierarchy did the same. I also admire the RC Church’s unwavering biblical stand on the controversial issues of the day, for which they’ve taken a lot of heat from the liberals. While Protestant churches are torn apart by those who want to compromise biblical morality to appease various special interest groups, the RC Church holds firm and maintains discipline. Even if you disagree with its positions on these issues, you have to admire it for not compromising its principles when it comes to morality.
I could fill about 10 posts with RC doctrines and practices that Protestants consider false and unbiblical, and why. If you would like me to have a series of posts explaining the differences between RC and Protestant beliefs and practices, let me know. Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or put in a comment for this post. I’ll do the series if there’s a demand for it.