I wonder if I am the only person to have left the Catholic Church twice. The first time was as a college student in America in 1964 when I chucked the whole thing overboard and became an agnostic liberal. Then, years later, an amazing thing happened. I was converted to real faith in Christ in 1981 in England. And, after this wonderful conversion, I decided to rejoin the Catholic Church.
We lived in the small town of Alton in Hampshire, and I got the yellow pages out to find out where the local Catholic church was. Even though I knew that people in the evangelical free church had been praying for me, I reasoned that since I had been raised as a Catholic, that was the church I should join. So, as a brand new, born again believer, bursting with love for the Lord Jesus, I started attending a Catholic church in 1981, at the age of 36. I went to that church for nearly a year.
As part of my daily routine I had been reading from the King James Bible which Alan got when he left school, but I also bought a Catholic Jerusalem Bible (JB) and began reading that, following a Navigators’ Guide which took me through the Bible in a year. So, in that first year of being a real Christian, I read through the whole Bible, using the Catholic JB version, reading all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments accepted by Catholics and Protestants as inspired scripture, plus some of the other books added in the Catholic Bible.
The truth that I found in the pages of the Bible – the Catholic version - convinced me to leave the Catholic Church a second time, for all time. What did I find? There were many things, and I hope, dear Catholic readers, that you will carefully consider these points with me. I do not hate you, no, never - in fact my heart is full of care for you. Do not be afraid to look into these matters.
I have found that many Catholics will respond with anger and close their minds and hearts, refusing to allow any debate about what the Bible says. Do not be like that. In Christ we have liberty - to discuss, to analyze, to look closely at matters concerning salvation. In fact, He wants us to do that! “Let us reason together,” says the Lord. God has given you your reasoning faculty and He expects you to use it for its highest purpose – knowing Him. So do not shut down your intelligence and blindly accept what other people tell you.
Come with me now and examine the evidence, which you can read for yourself in the book which the Popes condemned for centuries*, the book which I now know is the living Word of God. Try to put your emotions on one side. Imagine you are doing jury service in a court of law, and you must decide if what you hear is true.
Either the doctrines of the Catholic Church are true or they are not. I have found that many of the doctrines are false, and I base this on the authority of the Bible. The sacrifice of the mass This is the heart of Catholicism. When I was growing up in St Louis, Missouri, my three sisters, my brother and I had to go to mass every weekday with the rest of the kids at St Andrew’s, our Catholic school. We also had to go every Sunday and every “holy day of obligation” unless we were sick. No exceptions or excuses. You went to mass on Sunday and holy days or you went to hell; that is what we were taught.
Each mass was considered a fresh sacrifice, at which Jesus was sacrificed over and over again in a “mystical” way. We went again and again, over and over. Then, as a new believer many years later in England, I read for myself what the Catholic Jerusalem Bible says about the Lord’s sacrifice in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews Chapters 9 and 10. • And he does not have to offer himself again and again…Chap 9:25 • …or else he would have had to suffer over and over again 9v26 • …he has made his appearance once and for all 9v26 • …Christ too, offers himself only once… 9v28 • …the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ. Chap 10:10 • By virtue of that one single offering, he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying. 10v14 In other words, the once-for-all-time sacrifice was accomplished at Calvary, the divine transaction was done, signed and sealed in Jesus’ blood, never to be repeated, let alone performed “mystically” millions of times in churches.
All we have to do is believe in the efficacy of that “once for all” sacrifice. That’s it – just believe, but that would never do for the Catholic Church. They need a ritual to keep priests performing in public and to keep that church audience turning up again and again, always hoping they are pleasing God. They are not pleasing God. He is most displeased, in fact.
He just wants you to believe in Jesus’ one and only sacrifice; then your sins will be completely forgiven, forever, with no need of any man calling himself a “priest”. Man has never liked God’s way. The trouble with God’s way is that it doesn’t leave any room for a powerful and expensive hierarchy to rule over us, claiming to be a special class of people mediating between God and us. In fact, no one except the Lord Jesus occupies that position. He alone stands between you and God. There is one mediator, Jesus Christ.
The way we are saved. We never talked about being “saved” in the Catholic Church. We weren’t “saved”; we were Catholics. We were always taught that only Catholics were going to heaven, though the church denies that now, since it claims to be “ecumenical”. We really had no interest in other denominations then (in the 50s and 60s), and certainly never tried to evangelise the people in them.
We lived in our own, quite populous, Catholic world and we really did not care that, according to our church, all those other people were headed for hell. We gave money (not much) for “foreign missions” and “pagan babies”, but did not care two hoots about the Lutherans next door or the Baptists down the street. We believed that we became Catholics when we were baptised as babies, and that if we obeyed the 10 Commandments and the rules of the church, we would – hopefully - go to heaven, but no Catholic is ever completely sure.
So what did the Catholics' own Jerusalem Bible reveal to me? It is not church membership or baptism that saves us, but simple faith in Christ and His atoning sacrifice. I tell you most solemnly, everybody who believes has eternal life. John 6:47 JB Those precious words are from the lips of the Lord Jesus, the only One who really knew, and who left a written record so that we too can know the way to heaven.
Only believe in Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, as your Savior, and your place in heaven is assured. That is the clear message of scripture. Can it really be that easy, that simple? Yes, it can and it is! Your place in heaven can be reserved this very day, if you put your faith and trust completely in Jesus Christ.1 But that does not allow for a career system of priests, a massive hierarchy with a big cheese at the top. In fact, if you want a religious career structure, the gospel is a liability!
Christians who simply believe in the Lord Jesus and get together to sing hymns and study the Bible do not need thousands of priests performing ceremonies and battening off them. There’s certainly no place for a great global power structure with its governmental center at the Vatican. There is no room in it for mansions occupied by bishops (who can humbly point to their “vow of poverty” as their servants carry in the next course) and an enormous palace for the pope.
These people go first class through the world. They have nothing in common with the real family of God, which is simply a band of brothers and sisters who love the Lord Jesus. Peter. I like the apostle Peter so much. He is my dear brother, but was never anyone’s “pope”. I will greatly enjoy the day he stands up and denounces the Catholic Church and all its false teachings about him, and all the popes who have claimed to be in direct line from him.
After all, if the Queen of Sheba is going to stand up at the judgement and condemn unbelieving Jews of the Lord’s day (Luke 11:31), I suspect Peter might well get his turn to speak. As will some others, possibly. How do I know that Peter was not the first pope? For a start, he was not in charge. When there was trouble in the early church over the question of accepting gentiles, the leaders met in Jerusalem to decide what to do.
Did Peter stand up as the first pope and make an “ex cathedra” infallible pronouncement? No. He spoke his piece, but so did Paul and Barnabas. It was James who stood up with a final decision. Peter was not even the leader of that group! If anyone was a “pope”, it was James! (But in fact there was no pope, because Jesus did not set up His church like that at all.) Read it for yourself.
Here is the Jerusalem Bible translation telling the outcome of that first council in Jerusalem: I (James) rule, then, that instead of making things more difficult for pagans who turn to God, we send them a letter telling them merely to abstain from anything polluted by idols, from fornication, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. Acts 15:19-20
If you are still wondering if maybe Peter was the big cheese, please look at 1 Peter 5:1-3 and discover what Peter himself had to say. ...the elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder … (not a pope) v1 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock… v3 (The pope, on the other hand, often has people kneeling or even prostrating themselves before him, or kissing some expensive ring on his finger. Peter would have been horrified at this behavior.)
Reading through the Bible for the first time, I was shocked rigid to read that Peter was a married man. Suddenly, I read that he had a mother-in-law! This seems to have escaped me through all my twelve years of Catholic schooling, even though the Catholics claim to read out every bit of the four gospels in the course of every year at mass.
I don’t know if they bury that mother-in-law scripture away on some obscure weekday when no one is likely to be at mass to hear it, but it came as a big surprise to me when I read these words in my Jerusalem Bible: On leaving the synagogue, he (Jesus) went with James and John straight to the house of Simon (Peter) and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever… Mark 1:30 JB (my italics for emphasis)
So if Peter was married, why do priests and nuns have to take vows of celibacy? I found the answer to that as well in the Catholics’ own Bible, the words of which condemn their own church: The Spirit has explicitly said that during the last times there will be some who will desert the faith and choose to listen to deceitful spirits and doctrines that come from the devils; and the cause of this is the lies told by hypocrites whose consciences are branded as though with a red hot iron: they will say marriage is forbidden, and lay down rules about abstaining from foods which God created to be accepted with thanksgiving by all who believe and who know the truth.
Everything God has created is good, and no food is to be rejected, provided grace is said for it… 1 Timothy 4:1-4 JB (my italics for emphasis) So there you have it. Forbidding people to marry is a doctrine of devils, even in the Catholics’ own Bible! Peter was married. Paul wrote to Timothy that a demonic system would at some later stage come to power and it would forbid people to marry. It is so clear.
If only Catholics would read their own Jerusalem Bible, it would open their eyes. If any Catholics are still reading, I thank God for this, and hope that you will continue to the end of this chapter. This demonic doctrine of forcing men to be celibate has led to terrible sexual crimes in the Catholic Church. Many of these have been exposed, with courageous men coming forward to testify against the priests who abused them, but mostly in the freedom of America, and to a smaller extent in Britain and Ireland, has this evil been brought out into the light.
What about all of Catholic Europe? What of Catholic South America? I cannot believe that these crimes were limited by our borders. Our God-given freedom of speech in America, now so weakened, has enabled the truth to come out in at least some cases of sexual abuse of children by priests. Another scripture which shows that Peter was not a “pope” is Galatians 2:11-21 where Paul argued with Peter over doctrine and delivered a public rebuke to him.
Paul says that when Peter went to Antioch “I withstood him” to his face “because he was to be blamed”. Peter had been happy to eat with the gentile believers, until some Judaizers, legalistic Jews, arrived, at which point he stopped associating with the gentile Christians for fear of these men. But surely Peter was “the rock” when Jesus said: “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18)
Jacob Prasch, a member of our fellowship,
explains that the true meaning of this is that Peter was likened to a small rock or pebble, but Jesus is always the great rock. Jesus was foreshadowed by the rock in the desert from which the miraculous water flowed to the Israelites. He is the rock of our salvation. He is the chief cornerstone. He is the stone of stumbling, for the many who have rejected Him. Peter, on the other hand, was more of “a chip off the old block,” and I don’t mean that irreverently.
We also are chips off that great rock. Also, when the Lord Jesus made that remark, He had just asked his disciples, “Whom say ye that I am?” It was Peter who had answered correctly: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That specific belief (that the Lord Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, the Christ, the anointed One, man and also God) is itself the rock, the foundation, on which the Lord Jesus builds His church.
Once we believe that truth, we are on that rock, the strong foundation of knowing Jesus as our Lord and our God. Like the old hymn says: “On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.” There is much more that could be said on this, and I urge all readers to order Jacob Prasch’s audio tape on Matthew 16 from Moriel Ministries (on the web) or get his books from St Matthew Publishing, Geldart Street, Cambridge, CB1 2LX, Great Britain.
There are many other scriptures you can find on this subject. Please look. Peter was not a pope then, and there should be no pope now. We are a priesthood of believers and the Lord Jesus is our great high priest. He is the head of His church. No one stands in His shoes on this earth. Anyone who claims to do that is an impostor. But we humans just love to put someone up there on a pedestal and gawp in awe at their great “holiness”. How ridiculous. We all have feet of clay.
The ancient Israelites just loved their idols and we are no different. We choose to give glory and honor to a man, when it belongs to God alone. Crowds gather outside the Vatican, cheering as the Pope comes out of his palace for a personal appearance and “blesses” them. On whose authority can he bless anyone? He is not God. He cannot bless a crowd of strangers. Of what does his “blessing” consist? What an insult it is to our Savior.
Jesus warned us about people who live in palaces… Eat a burger and go to hell In the same passage quoted earlier (1 Timothy 4 1-4) we have another doctrine of devils – forbidding people to eat certain food. Throughout my Catholic education, we were forbidden to eat meat on Fridays. It was a “mortal sin” to do so, a sin that would send us to hell, not just purgatory.
I remember earnest discussions of this in religion class, with teenagers asking the priest things like, did chicken count as meat? Yes, it did. We took it very seriously and believed what we were taught. Never until I left the church did I eat meat on Friday. Friday it was fish supper in our house, and tuna sandwiches for lunch.
No one ever pointed out the 1 Timothy scriptures, which say that all food is created by God and is acceptable to eat as long as we give Him thanks. We did not know the Bible, so we blindly followed what the Catholic Church told us. At some stage, the church did a U turn on this and suddenly it was OK to eat meat on Fridays. So one week it would send you to hell to eat a burger on a Friday. The next week the Pope decided it was OK, you wouldn’t go to hell after all. Talk about losing your credibility!
How could anyone take the Catholic Church seriously after that? How could anyone with a brain stay in it? Well, most Catholics did, because they are never taught to think, but told they must obey and never question the teachings of the church. They are taught from childhood to accept what the church says, and they do.
Most never dare switch on the computer between their ears and turn the full power of their intellects on analysing what they are taught, which is what God wants us to do. Deception is deceptive! It is hard to see through it when you are in it; it is hard to leave a system which has snared your mind, your very soul, for a long time. It is hard, but not impossible! Are you getting the picture? We were fed a pack of lies.
God didn’t care if we ate a burger on a Friday. He never told us not to eat meat on certain days. Instead He specifically put it in His Word that to forbid any food was a doctrine of devils. But in the Catholic Church we were dissuaded from reading the wonderful book that would have revealed the truth.
The Second Commandment. I went to Catholic schools until the age of 18. I was taught the Ten Commandments, but I didn’t realise that Rome had dared to cut out one of the commandments God gave Moses. Never ever had I heard the Second Commandment until I read it in the Jerusalem Bible at the age of 36. Here it is. You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. Exodus 20:4-5 JB Oh boy, we had many images – statues and pictures - in the church where I grew up.
I had knelt (or “bowed down” as the Jerusalem Bible puts it) before some of them, even lit candles to them, which seemed like a holy kind of thing to do. I liked to sit on the “Mary” side of the church, with its statue of a beautiful young woman with lovely gentile (!) facial features. We were told we were not worshiping the statues, but “honoring” the people they represented. What weasel words.
God is not happy if you are kneeling down to a statue or portrait, drawing etc. Kneeling is an act of worship, “bowing the knee”. It gives glory and honor to the statue or the person the statue represents, and God does not share His glory with anyone. You think He will smile indulgently and pat you on the head for honoring some saint? The jaws of hell are yawning wide.
You are on forbidden ground here, because God will honor His own commandment – not what you feel is right or what the Catholic popes have decided is right. So if the Catholic Church cuts out the second commandment, how does it manage to get ten? Because it splits the tenth commandment into nine and ten: You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife… Easy, peasy.
You take whatever liberties you want with God’s Word, even the very Ten Commandments written in stone by Almighty God Himself, and you will get away with it, because the Catholics will probably never look it up. Except that now some Catholics who love the truth are waking up, and they are looking things up. And some of them are finding the courage to come out of that deceptive church with the attractive façade.
Behind the fancy façade, behind the beautiful architecture, and the beguiling statues, is a trap that will ensnare your soul. Mary I like Mary very much. I think it was Dave Hunt who remarked once on what a dear little Jewish girl she was when the angel Gabriel burst in upon her life. I like Mary, but I no longer pray to her.
I no longer would kneel down in front of the pretty statue of her in St Andrew’s Church, which my family attended in St Louis. And I have news for you, dear Catholics. She would not want me to do those things! In fact, she would be horrified if she knew someone was praying to her, singing to her, making statues of her, kneeling down to those images, lighting candles to her, bringing bouquets of flowers to her statue – giving her the glory and honour that belongs to God alone. She would be asking the Lord Jesus to get rid of those statues of her! I can just imagine Him saying to her in heaven, “Be patient, dear, just be patient; the time for all that is coming soon…”
After I was converted, and while I was still attending a Catholic church, I went back home to St Louis on vacation that year and met my youngest sister Carol, who was also a new convert to real Christianity. The subject of Mary came up, and Carol snapped: “Patsy, she was just a woman.” Just a woman! I half held my breath, waiting for lightning to strike. It sounded blasphemous to me. But it started me thinking. Was she just a woman? Wasn’t she, as the Catholics taught, the Mother of God?
What does the Bible (even the Catholic JB Bible) teach? 'Now as he was speaking, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said, “Happy the womb that bore you and the breasts you sucked!” But he replied, “Still happier those who hear the word of God and keep it!”' Luke 11 27-28 JB 'Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? And stretching out his hand towards his disciples he (Jesus) said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.
"Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.' Matthew 12:49-50 JB 'He was told, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see you.” But he said in answer, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” ' Luke 8:21 JB Now, does that sound like Jesus wants you to make a statue of His earthly mother (which He expressly forbids in the second commandment anyway)?
Does it sound like He wants you to pray to her or kneel down to her? Of course not. My sister Carol was right; Mary was a normal woman. I know I will love her when I meet her in heaven, because we have something wonderful in common (our love for the Lord Jesus) – not because she is some sort of goddess, which she most definitely is not. I will not fall at her feet in worship; she would be terribly distressed if anyone did such a forbidden thing.
I know that she will be very glad and full of praise to God for all those of us who had the gumption to leave the Catholic system and to stop praying to her. It is a serious and offensive thing to God if you pray to anyone but Him. Jesus taught us to pray to His Father – not to His mother.
Wake up! Mary is not going to reward you for praying to her; if she has any part to play at all in the judgement, she will be a witness against you. Her soul magnifies the Lord – not herself! But what about all the apparitions of Mary appearing to people in some parts of the world? They are not the real Mary. Jesus taught us in the parable of Lazarus, the beggar in paradise, and the rich man in hell, that no one can come back from the dead and communicate with the living.
Mary cannot come back and appear to anyone now. She is dead. She is in heaven with Jesus. So whatever being it is that people are seeing, it is most definitely not Mary. It is supernatural, yes, but it is not Mary, and it is not from God. There is a bad supernatural, you know. Satan comes as an “angel of light”.
If an evil spirit appears to people, it is not going to take on the appearance of a gory corpse dripping blood, with red eyes full of hatred. People would run screaming! No, the demons are too smart for that. They are out to deceive us. Instead they appear like a beautiful woman and say that they are Mary, the mother of God.
That draws a huge crowd of gullible and adoring people. In Ireland they had to build a special airport for all the pilgrims at a place called Knock after the phony “Mary” started appearing there. Jesus taught in the parable of the beggar Lazarus in Paradise and the rich man in Hades that no one can return and talk to the living (Luke Chapter 16). That is crystal clear. Mary is dead. We cannot communicate with her, nor she with us.
Even if the Catholic claim was correct, that Mary was “assumed” into heaven without ever dying, they still would be 100% wrong to pray to her or to kneel at her statues or to make pilgrimages to places she is said to be appearing. As for her being the “mother of God”, it is absurd.
God always existed; He did not need a mother. He is a spirit, not flesh and blood. Mary was privileged to be the mother of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, when God became man. But Catholic doctrine perverts this and makes Mary into a goddess, a female deity. This is totally forbidden in the Bible. The Catholic Church looks for its doctrines to its “holy fathers”, the theologians of the past, whose teachings and traditions are set in stone by the Church of Rome.
The most famous of these, Augustine, wrote in his “Treatise on Faith and Creed” that “in respect of His (Jesus) being God, there was no mother for Him.” Mary is even honoured by Catholics as the “Queen of Heaven”. If you read the words of Jeremiah the prophet, you will see that “Queen of Heaven” is the pagan title of an idol, a goddess worshiped by tribes in ancient times!
When Israel started worshiping the Queen of Heaven idol by offering it cakes, they were severely punished by God. The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. Jeremiah 7:18 Those people who are so respectful of the false Mary, the phony Mary of the visions and statues, would be mortified to meet the real Jewish Mary and hear what she has to say to them.
Do you think she would thank you for praying to her statue or making a pilgrimage to Lourdes? Never in a million years. I think she would say something like this: “How could you allow yourself to be tricked into honoring me? Why didn’t you read my Son’s book, so the scriptures could open your eyes? Why did you try to turn me into a goddess, when the scriptures make it clear that I am simply a woman who needed a Savior - just like everyone else.
Why did you stay in a church with statues, when my Son made it plain that they are forbidden?” For a thorough examination of the apparitions of Mary and other paranormal activity, get the late Dave Hunt’s video “Messages from Heaven”, ISBN 1-57341-119-1 from NPN Videos (see details in Good Teachers chapter).
In my old Catholic church we held “novenas” to Mary, evening services which went on for several nights and for which we thought we gained some sort of “indulgence” – time off burning in “purgatory” for our sins. The main song at these services went like this: “Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us, pray for us. Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
The whole song is blasphemous, though the Catholics sing it in complete ignorance. Mary was not conceived without sin; we should not be asking her to pray for us; and we do not have “recourse” to her – she is not our Redeemer. She herself said: “My spirit exults in God my savior.” Luke 1:47 JB She needed a savior too! She was born into the sinful race of Adam, just like you and me; she was not “conceived without sin”.
Only the Lord Jesus was conceived without sin, the perfect man. Every other human being ever conceived had the sin nature brought on the human race when Adam fell. Also, Mary went to the temple with Joseph and offered two turtle doves for her “purification” after the birth of Jesus. Like everyone else, she was under the Mosaic Law and needed to make sacrifices to God because she too belonged to Adam’s sinful race, just like you and me. Also, Mary was not a lifelong virgin.
That would have been contrary to God’s revealed will for married people, which is that their bodies belong to each other. In fact, I believe that if Mary had never had sexual intercourse with Joseph, it would have been detestable to God. He makes it clear throughout the Bible that marriage is honorable and for Mary and Joseph, both healthy, normal people, to have lived celibate lives as man and wife would have been downright weird.
Instead, they lived a normal married life, but it is clear that Joseph waited until after the birth of Jesus to have marital relations with Mary. How do we know this? …When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together (had sexual relations)… Matthew 1:18 AV The Jerusalem Bible changes this to “before they came to live together.” Then Joseph…took unto him his wife: And knew her not (had no sexual relations with her) till she had brought forth her firstborn son…Matthew 1:24,25 The JB changes this to “…he took his wife to his home and, though he had not had intercourse with her, she gave birth to a son…”
Furthermore, Joseph and Mary went on to have a large family, giving Jesus four half brothers and at least two half sisters. We know this because when Jesus went to preach in his hometown of Nazareth, the people were scornful, saying: This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us? Mark 6:3 JB
In other words, they were an absolutely normal, ordinary family, apart from the fact that Jesus was the Son of God, born when Mary was still a virgin. The Catholic theologians get round this last scripture by saying that these named people were cousins, not half brothers and sisters, but this is just another fiction to prop up their false view of Mary as some sort of goddess instead of a normal woman.
Even in their own Catholic Bible, they translate the Greek original text as “brother” and “sisters”, not “cousins”. Mary had a big family, but that would make her too normal, and the Catholics want a goddess. This refusal to accept that Mary had a normal sex life, and the implication that she was too pure and holy to have sexual relations with her husband, has confused and damaged the lives of many Catholic women, who fear that sexual intercourse, even in marriage, is a “dirty” thing.
The Catholics have a doctrine which every Catholic must accept – the doctrine of the “immaculate conception” – meaning the conception of Mary without sin in her mother’s womb. This would make Mary a perfect, sinless being, which she was not. Many Catholics mistakenly think the doctrine refers to Jesus’ conception, but it actually refers to Mary’s. My own mother, a lifelong Catholic, has argued with me that the “immaculate conception” refers to Jesus’ conception and not Mary’s.
My late Mom actually believed the right thing – that only Jesus was conceived without sin, and like many Catholics, was hazy on what her church teaches, which is the lie that Mary was conceived without sin. How the ordinary Catholic is tricked into supporting a lie! If you convert to Catholicism, you will be given a list of things you have to believe, and the immaculate conception of Mary is one of them.
In 1854 the pope announced a new “holy day of obligation” – December 8 - in honour of the immaculate conception of Mary and Catholics have to go to mass on that day each year, many of them not even realising what the doctrine is. We were taught that if you deliberately missed mass on a holy day of obligation, it was a “mortal sin”, i.e. a sin which condemned you to hell for eternity – unless, of course, you went to confession and got absolution from a priest, in which case you were back on track for heaven. What nonsense it all is!
It keeps people on a merry-go-round of activity, going to masses, going to confession, trying to keep God appeased. God isn’t like that. You don’t need to appease Him, as if He is some angry deity who might hurl you down into hell if you miss a Sunday mass. He is already appeased – by the blood of His Son. All you have to do is believe – and then jump off that merry-go-round of Catholic ritual.
God makes it abundantly clear in the Bible that rituals save no one. My heart is just aching for Catholics as I write this. They love their church so much; they think they are pleasing God. Instead they are angering God, by stubbornly refusing to search out the truth. If only they would read God’s book, the Bible; if only they would search the scriptures and come to a true understanding of God’s plan. It is all there, so plain. Purgatory No, nein, nyet. Baloney. Jesus paid it all!
I will not have to burn for my sins in purgatory, not for one nano-second, because there is no such place. Jacob Prasch teaches that the concept was invented by the Catholic Church as a means of getting money out of people to pay for the building of the vastly expensive cathedral of St. Peter’s in Rome.
The Roman priests frightened people with tales of how they would have to burn for years, but if you just paid for some “indulgences” from the Pope, you could shorten your burning time – and they could build the Vatican! Talk about a money spinner! Who wouldn’t pay, a fortune if necessary, to avoid being burned? Purgatory is still a useful tool with which Rome controls Catholics.
What a great way to keep people dangling in fear by telling them that even if they are going to heaven, their first stop is in a blazing furnace for an indeterminate number of years to burn off their sins. In our Catholic school we used to get little “holy cards” with pictures of Jesus, Mary, and others on the front. Very gentile versions of Jesus and Mary, I might add, and Jesus always had long, lank hair, and looked as if He were effeminate, which He certainly was not!
On the back of the “holy cards” would be a very short prayer and if you said that prayer, you got so many days off burning in purgatory. It would usually be 500 days off. Wow. That’s a lot of days you wouldn’t have to be tortured in the fire. You could say the prayer very quickly a lot of times, racking up loads of “time off”, but of course you never knew how much time you were going to be sentenced to in the first place, so you could never be sure if you said the prayer enough.
Maybe your burning time was millions of years. Nobody knew and there was no way to check it out. What a travesty of the gospel! Jesus said nothing of purgatory. Paul said that for believers, to be out of the body was to be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8). That is good enough for me. Like everybody else, I still fall into sin at times, but I also know that Jesus is my Savior and when I see Him I will be like Him, sinless, because He will see to it!
He will take care of everything; indeed He already has done so, on a rough cross on the hill of Calvary, where He paid the horrendous price for all my sins, every single one of them. He has done it all. His perfect sacrifice is sufficient. I do not have to pay the penalty for any of my horrible sins, because the price has been paid and the guilty one (me) is acquitted of all blame.
Does that mean I can blithely carry on sinning? No! I hate it when I commit a sin. It’s horrible. I love the Lord and I hate it when I do or say something that offends and grieves my dear, beloved Saviour. I long to please Him and to help other people come to know and love Him. But no matter what snares of sin we may fall into, the price is paid. God’s justice is satisfied if we truly believe in the Lord Jesus and have been born of His Spirit.
You will not have to suffer the torment of any flames, if you belong to the Lord. He has already done the suffering, taking on Himself the punishment for all my sin, and for your sin too if you will trust in Him alone instead of in an organisation like the Catholic Church.
The bread and the wine. As a baby Christian in 1982, I remember telling someone that although I had seen a lot of errors in the Catholic Church, I could never leave it because of communion. Only the Catholics taught that the bread and wine turned into the “mystical” body and blood of Christ.
The Protestant churches thought it was just a symbolic act and that seemed to me so lightweight in comparison. I was wrong, and how patient the Lord was with me to gently show me and bring me through even this. Eventually I learned the truth, which I will try to explain. In Mark 14 Jesus said: “Take, eat; this is my body.”
He was standing there, in His physical body. Obviously He was using a figure of speech and His apostles understood this. They knew He did not mean He had worked some magic and the piece of bread was now His actual body. The bread quite obviously represented His body. Earlier He had said, “I am the door.” (John 10:7) He did not mean He was an actual wooden door. Would He have been an oak door, a pine door, or what? That is ridiculous.
He was using a figure of speech and his hearers knew what He meant. He had also told them in John 15: “I am the vine.” Was He an actual vine and should we kneel down and worship some grapevine? Of course not. It was another figure of speech and everyone recognised that. In Luke 22 the Lord says: “ This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me.”
Later the apostles realised what He had meant; that His body was literally sacrificed for sin and believers were to take the bread and wine regularly to help us all remember Jesus’ great sacrifice. Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it makes us focus on that epochal event, that sacrifice; it helps us to remember what this great Christian walk is all about.
It causes us to keep the Lord Jesus at the center of our worship; otherwise we would probably get off on all sorts of odd tangents, which some of us do anyway. In John 6 Jesus tells the disciples that He is the bread of life and “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life…for my flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed.”
They were horrified at this. This sounded like cannibalism to them, and under the Mosaic Law they were forbidden to ingest any blood at all. But don’t wrench this verse out of context; read on. In verse 63 Jesus tells them: “…the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” In other words, He is speaking of something spiritual, something we have to believe - not an actual physical eating of flesh and drinking of blood.
The bread is just bread; the wine is just wine. They do not magically change into anything. They help us to remember the Lord’s death until He comes. But Rome takes the words of Jesus and puts a magical spin on them. The really cunning part of this is that Rome’s communion doctrine gives the church total power and control over the lives of all Catholics. Only a priest can say the words that magically change the bread and wine into the body and blood.
That means you have to have a priestly system - lots of priests, bishops and a pope – a very powerful system of control. If you step out of line, they can excommunicate you and refuse to give you communion, and then you will go to hell, according to their teaching. This was used as a method of controlling whole countries down through history. If the pope of the day put a country under “interdict”, no one in that country could receive communion.
Therefore anyone who happened to die during that period would go to hell, according to them. This inspired such superstitious fear that kings and countries would cave in to whatever the pope of the day demanded. We were never told about this in the Catholic schools I attended. No, there is no magical, mystical thing happening to the bread and the wine. Jesus just gave us a simple memorial of His sacrifice for us on Calvary. “Do this in remembrance of me.”
The bread symbolises His body, sacrificed for sin, and His blood, shed for you and me. When I was growing up as a Catholic, we were never given the wine anyway, so they did not even adhere to their own doctrine. We only had a thin wafer for communion, and that was supposed to “count” for the bread and the wine. The priest drank the wine at the altar. Now they give out wine as well.
Catholics roll with these changes, with few ever questioning what their leaders dish out in the way of doctrine. Some of the priests had more than wine by the time they said morning mass. I remember my grandma and aunts saying: “Did you smell the whisky on Father X’s breath when he gave out communion?” In fact the priestly system ended at Calvary. Jesus cried: “It is finished!” and the thick, heavy curtain in the Jewish Temple was supernatually rent from top to bottom.
No more priests were needed to take blood sacrifices behind the curtain into the Holy of Holies. It was suddenly open, visible to all, accessible to all. How dare the hierarchy of Rome re-hang that curtain which barred the way to God, when God Himself has torn it down! How dare they put a “priest” between our Savior and us! We need no mediator from Rome. There is one mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He has opened the way for us to the Holy of Holies. How dare they claim to stand in His place. The doorway of God is open today to all who believe in Jesus, to all who are cleansed by faith in His blood. At our independent church in England we celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Sunday morning. At one point in the service, whoever is leading reads scriptures relating to communion and says that it is for believers only and we take a moment to examine our consciences.
Then we pass round a plate containing a small loaf of unleavened bread which one of our ladies, Dorothy Gibson, bakes each week. Everyone pinches a bit off and eats it, and unbelievers are supposed to let it pass them by. Then the “cup”, a goblet of wine representing His blood, shed for us, is passed round. Jesus is our great high priest. We need no other.
The bread and wine help us to remember His sacrifice – until He comes. There is no magic, no mysticism. It is just that simple. If any bread is left over, sometimes the children might eat it while we are all having a cup of coffee after the service. Or someone might take it home and put it out for the birds.
This is not irreverence, because the bread is just flour and water. It is not the Lord’s actual body. As Catholics, on the other hand, we revered that communion wafer. Actually we worshiped it. No one was allowed to touch it except the priest, and for some reason I have forgotten, he had to keep his fingers in a strange position while he placed a wafer on our tongues. If one of the wafers dropped to the floor, it was a big deal and had to be specially dealt with by the priest.
If he spilled the wine, oh my, that was an even bigger deal and he had to go through some rigamarole. You couldn’t just mop it up with a cloth. That cloth then had to be specially dealt with in some way, and not by just anyone either. It had to be a priest, I seem to remember. The whole thing was shrouded in mystery and magic. An ordinary person could not touch the 'body and blood.'
We believed that the “elements” of the bread and wine were “mystically” changed into the real body and blood of Jesus by the words of the priest. The Jewish Bible teacher Jacob Prasch explains that this teaching was set down in the Middle Ages by 13th Century Catholic Thomas Aquinas, who followed the writings of the pagan Greek philosopher Aristotle. Thomas Aquinas defined the Catholic doctrine of “transubstantiation” on the basis of Aristotle’s understanding of physics and chemistry, which have now been debunked.
Aristotle, a pagan philosopher, lived one thousand years before Aquinas, in about 300 BC. Aristotle’s view of physics was based on “accidents” and “elements”. He thought the “accidents”, the things we could see, feel, smell, etc, could remain the same while the “elements” were changed. So, a pen could still look like a pen, but be miraculously changed into a cigar if the “elements” were changed (just try and smoke it, though, as Jacob remarks).
The accidents-elements philosophy is obviously ridiculous and makes no sense, particularly in the light of modern scientific knowledge, but that was the thinking in those days, and that was the basis for the Catholic doctrine of simple bread and wine magically changing into Christ’s body and blood, while still looking exactly like bread and wine. Though we now know that Aristotle was way off beam, his theories are alive and well in the Catholic Church today.
I remember a priest teaching us all about the 'accidents' - the appearance of the bread and the wine - and saying that the 'elements' were mystically changed into Christ's body and blood, although the appearance of bread and wine did not change. We accepted all this without questioining it. I was in the top stream of our high school, and not one of our class, no one, even raised an eyebrow over this.
We had been totally indoctrinated and were never taught to analyze our religion and certainly never directed to read the scriptures. One day the Catholic hierarchy will be most severely judged by God for misleading Catholic people who genuinely want to serve Him. Teachers will face a stricter judgement than the rest of us, according to the Bible, and the Catholic teachers will certainly be judged for their false doctrines, foisted upon people who are told they must not question church dogma.
I would not be in their shoes for anything on that terrible day when the books are opened. As for the ones who claim to wear “the shoes of the fisherman” (claiming to stand in Peter’s place as “pope”), they will face the strictest judgement of all, I suppose. None of those “indulgences” will do them any good. Bible teacher Dr J Vernon McGee liked to say that the truth was usually very simple, like a straight stick. There is only one way to draw a straight stick: dead straight.
But he said there are a million ways to draw a crooked stick. Deception is like that crooked stick. It can take so many forms, twisting the truth into fantastical shapes which bear no relation to what God intended. And the Church of Rome is like that - a very crooked stick based on a monstrous concoction of half truths, lies and erroneous doctrines which bind innocent people and prevent them from escaping by keeping them shackled with fear, the fear of leaving what we were always told was “the one, true church”. If you love the Lord Jesus, but are still in that Roman travesty of the true church, God has a word for you: “Come out of her, my people.”
Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues, for her sins are piled up to heaven… Rev 18:4 The rich and the poor Catholics living in the affluent countries of the West have little conception of Third World Catholicism. Western Catholicism wears a friendly face and it tolerates other religions because it has no choice (it tolerated nothing when it ruled Europe all through the Dark Ages).
But in the Catholicism of the developing world you can find something of the true spirit of Rome. Statues are carried through the streets on “feast days”, decked in jewels in some cases, while beggars sit on the church steps. It never occurs to anyone to sell the jewels and buy food for the beggars outside the church. That is what the Lord Jesus would do. The Catholic Church would not dream of it.
Typical of many Third World Catholics is the experience of one woman from a South American country. She was number 12 in a Catholic family of 14 children. They were very poor and she started working at the age of seven. This lady turned away from the Catholic Church at age 13 when she realized that the priest was never going to look in on them to see if they had any food. He lived in a beautiful mansion with servants and had extensive gardens tended by gardeners. She slept in a twin bed with three others. Praise the Lord, this lady is now a born again believer who truly knows the Lord Jesus.
The Bible itself. The Catholic Church kept its iron grip on people through the Dark Ages by a ruthless suppression of the Bible. If people couldn’t read it, they would never find out the truth, and the church would keep its power over their lives and money. Then the Protestant Reformation came along and the Bible became available in English and other languages. Many thousands of Catholics were freed from superstition and fear when they learned the truth – that salvation is a free gift and in no way dependent on church membership.
So how did the Catholic Church survive this? They simply discouraged people from reading the Bible, and Catholics fell for this. If you read the Bible, you were a fanatic, or a “Bible thumper”. No self-respecting Catholic I ever knew when I was growing up read a Bible. We would have been very suspicious of them if they had. We would have thought they were “getting too religious”.
The only Bibles we could countenance were big coffee table versions bought not to read (heavens no!), but to use the fancy front pages to write down names of babies as they were born into the family. Those Bibles were OK, in fact we really admired families who possessed such a beautiful book, but we didn’t have one.
These days, charismatic Catholics do actually read the Bible, but many remain in the Roman church, while going to charismatic prayer groups and “days of renewal” to get a spiritual buzz. It is as if they are held by an octopus, with many tentacles binding them hand and foot so that they cannot break free. Why do they not understand and act on the clear message of scripture? Time is marching on and one day it will be too late. Being a Catholic won’t save you.
Only faith in Christ can save you. You must be born again, and that means you will have a love of the truth – which will lead you out of that false church. If you have been born again, and yet stubbornly refuse to come out of the Catholic Church, I wonder what you will give as an explanation when you stand before the Bema judgement seat of Christ, where rewards for service are handed out. What did you do for Christ on earth? Well, you propped up a false church which preached a false gospel. Any reward for that? I don’t think so.
Well, you tried to be God’s “secret agent” in that church. Oh, really? But you say you still went to mass and took communion? You never stood up and told the people that the mass was an abomination because there was only one sacrifice, not many? You never told them that the bread and wine were really only symbols, not some magical, mystical thing? You never warned the people that they were going to hell for believing another gospel, a gospel of “works” instead of the simple gospel that saves us?
You never stood up and warned people that the statues were forbidden by God in His Second Commandment? You never told them that they shouldn’t pray to Mary? No, it just won’t wash. You have got to come out of the Catholic Church, if you are a real Christian. On the other hand, if you don’t really care much what Jesus wants you to do, and you don’t care if the other Catholics go to hell or not, and you really aren’t bothered about heavenly rewards, well then, carry on propping up that false religion and supporting tiers of religious career people right on up to the Pope of Rome.
But how can you expect the rest of us to accept you as a brother or a sister, when you insist on remaining in that dark church with its many false doctrines? Roman persecutors The Roman Catholic Church took over persecuting true Christians when the Roman Empire disintegrated. No one knows how many millions of God’s people have been tortured and burnt at stakes by Catholic priests and monks who thought they were doing God’s work. The records of their evil deeds are reportedly all kept in the Vatican vaults. And those deeds are certainly recorded in Heaven, kept safe for the day when our Father has the books opened.
“Ethnic cleansing” did not start in our day. The popes did a very effective job of “cleansing” Europe of true Christians. That is why almost all of Europe today is nominally Catholic. Those who believed the simple gospel and refused to accept Catholic doctrine were – for hundreds of years – burned at stakes or tortured to death. The survivors had to flee to other lands. We learned at our Catholic school that America had been settled in part by people fleeing religious persecution in Europe.
They omitted to say that it was the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England (Anglicans – Episcopalians) doing the persecuting! You think the Church of Rome has become all nice and friendly since those dread times? It wears a kindly mask today, but behind that mask is the same cruel face, the hierarchy that hates the simple gospel, biding its time.
The late Pope John Paul II, so beloved of many “evangelical” leaders, reportedly called evangelical Christians “ravening wolves” while on a visit to South America. He kissed the Koran to ingratiate the muslims and he called the Dalai Lama (who claims to be divine) his friend. And you think the Lord will pat you on the head for continuing to support that Roman institution? Think again. “I could never leave my church” “I could never leave my (bad) church - all my friends and family are in it.”
I have heard this from a lot of non-Catholics too, their feeble excuse for staying in a rotten church. Please read Luke 14: 25-35. You put friends above truth? You put family ties above what God so clearly requires of you? You think God is never going to bless you with another friend or that He is incapable of giving you a new family? Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum gave up everything, including his family, for Christ. You think the Lord allows that sort of sacrifice to go unremarked? Arnold has a family now that spans many countries, and I hope he counts us among that company of people who respect him and look upon him as a dear brother.
Trust the Savior, dear Catholic people. He will look after you! He will never leave you or forsake you, but there is a cost to following Christ, a cost we should joyfully pay. There is a cross involved, and you have to pick it up every day. The narrow gate Strive – energetically try with all your might - to enter in at the narrow gate, for many will try to get in and will not be able to, the Lord warns us in Luke 13:24.
It is easy to go through that gate of true conversion and salvation - if you simply believe in the Lord Jesus. If you add anything to the Bible’s teaching of Him, it is like carrying a big suitcase with you as you try to barge through that narrow gate. You cannot fit through. Nothing will get you through that gate except faith in Jesus Christ alone.
The Catholic Church adds tons of baggage on to that, all of which you are expected to believe. You will not get through that narrow door carrying even one piece of baggage. Yet you can slip right through that gate as a repentant sinner, seeking forgiveness from the Lord Jesus. Try to take the Pope with you, and all the other false doctrines, and you do not get through at all.
There is much more that you can learn. One book to get is Dave Hunt’s “The Woman Rides the Beast” for an exhaustive examination of the Church of Rome. And get his video “Messages From Heaven” about the Mary apparitions (ISBN 1-57341-119-1). You will probably have to order his material, as the “Christian” bookshops find it much too controversial. Go to www.tbc.org and get on the list for Dave’s free newsletter. And if you are an ex-Catholic in the USA, how about joining Dave’s Ex-Catholics for Christ (ECFC)? As for those who think that I hate Catholics, how wrong they are.
I love them enough to tell them the truth. What I deplore is that so many people who genuinely want to please God are deceived by the lying spirit behind Roman Catholicism. Many of my relatives are Catholic and I love them dearly; it breaks my heart that they are still shackled in that deceptive system. They have been taught a warped version of Christianity through the distorting lens of Rome and have never had sound Bible teaching or been told the truth about history and the centuries of atrocities committed by the church of Rome.
How can they not be deceived? Only the truth will set them free and how I hope and pray that they will one day get a Bible, read it and come to know the truth. Also, I was taught by nuns and priests for many years. There were a few bad apples there, but they were for the most part people who were deeply religious, who wanted to please God and had given their lives, as they thought, in His service. I feel so sorry for them; they were deceived when they could have been truly serving God in a way that would please Him. So, dear Catholic people, God’s command to you is plain: “Come out of her, my people!”
If you belong to Him, you have got to come out of the Roman Catholic Church. The Lord will look after you, if you have the courage to leave. Believe me, He has a family on this earth and you will find many brothers and sisters. I know. It took awhile, but I’ve found some of them! And even if you never found another friend, what a Friend you have in Jesus!
* The Holy Bible was on the Catholic Index of Forbidden Books for hundreds of year. It was a crime punishable by death to read the Bible in the English language! Untold numbers of Christians died for the crime of possessing a Bible in the English language. This is never taught in Catholic schools. It is the horrible hidden history of the Catholic Church.