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Who is The Final Authority?
In recent years, there has been a merging of Roman Catholicism with traditional Protestantism. Many on both sides now claim those in the other camp as their Christian brothers and sisters. This was unheard of several years ago, but today:
Have the two sides, in fact, merged? Are they both now preaching the same message? Do both hold the same cardinal doctrines?
To discover the answer to these questions, I began an exhaustive study of the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Using this particular Catechism was important for two reasons:
1. This catechism is the official source for all Roman Catholic doctrine. No one can deny that it contains the actual teachings of the Roman Catholic church.
2. Published in 1994, this is the first new catechism in over 400 years. Therefore you can be assured that you are reading the current teachings of the Roman Catholic church, not what it may have taught three hundred years ago.
In this book, we will examine 37 of the most critical Roman Catholic doctrines, then let the facts speak for themselves.
You will not find personal opinions or philosophies presented here. This is strictly a declaration of true Roman Catholic doctrine and how those doctrines compare with the Bible. You must draw your own conclusions and make your own decisions.
Neither is this a book of judgment or condemnation. Its sole purpose is to help you better understand Catholic doctrine so you will be prepared when you stand before God for judgment, as we all must do after death:
My heart breaks at the thought of anyone hearing Jesus proclaim the following words to them on that day:
Yet the Bible reveals that the Lord will proclaim those very words to many religious people. Knowing this, it is vital that you not blindly follow anyone. Learn these Roman Catholic doctrines for yourself so you will be able to face God with confidence.
The Bible maintains that it is the one and only final authority, while Catholicism teaches that three final authorities exist. The 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church declares:
According to this passage, the Scriptures, church tradition (teachings handed down through the ages), and the Magisterium (the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God) are all equal in importance. (See also Pg. 25, #82.)
According to Catholic doctrine, church tradition and the magisterium are just as much the Word of God as are the written Scriptures:
The obvious question is, what happens when these three "final authorities" disagree with each other? The Catechism gives this answer:
It is important to note that when the Catechism explains that the task of interpreting the Word of God was entrusted to the "Church," it is referring exclusively to the Roman Catholic church. Such is the case throughout the Catechism. "The Church" always refers to the Roman Catholic church.
The Catechism repeats the same doctrine using different words:
Therefore, the Catechism concludes that the one final authority is not the Bible, but the current teaching of the Catholic church, since she is the only one qualified to provide an "authentic in-terpretation" of God's Word.
Does the Bible agree?
If the Bible, tradition and the teachings of the Catholic church are all, in fact, the Word of God, then the Bible will concur with this teaching. Unfortunately for Catholicism, it does not . In fact, quite the contrary is true. God declares in the Bible that His written Word always has been, and always will be - perfect:
The Bible boldly declares that it is the only final authority:
In the book of Revelation, God delivers this blistering warning about tampering with His written Word:
The Apostle Paul advises Bible readers how they should react to those who teach doctrines contrary to God's written Word:
Paul admonishes true believers to avoid anyone who teaches doctrines contrary to the written Scriptures. He also reveals the consequences of believing such false teachings:
Then Paul immediately repeats himself:
Thus, when Catholic doctrine contradicts God's written Word, those who side against the Holy Scriptures will be "accursed."
The writer of Proverbs delivers the same stern warning to anyone who would dare change the written Word of God:
God's Word is settled forever
God pronounces that His Word was written once and has been forever settled:
God's Word is perfect
God's Word can't change because it's perfect just the way it is:
Catholicism claims that only the leadership of the Catholic church can properly interpret the written Word, but the Bible disagrees:
Where does God want people to obtain their doctrine... from a priest - or from the Bible?
Paul is not alluding to the magisterium or church tradition here because the previous verse reads:
Since the Catholic church was not yet in existence when Paul penned these words, he could not have been referring to the teachings of Catholicism.
Did God give away His authority?
As these and hundreds of other scripture verses make plain, God never gave anyone the authority to add to or change His Word. It's perfect and complete, just as He wrote it.
One of the first questions you must answer for yourself is, "Did God violate all these Scriptures by giving the pope and the Catholic church the right to change His Word, though He said He never would?"
While Jesus walked the earth, He publicly rebuked the Pharisees, the religious leaders of his day:
Jesus was upset that the Pharisees had elevated their tradition above God's Word because He knows that the Word of God leads people to eternal life, while the traditions of men lead people to eternal destruction.
Though these religious leaders obeyed all the rules of their religion, look what Jesus said awaited them:
When the Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples transgressed the traditions of the elders, Jesus answered them with a question of His own:
Jesus always elevated the Scriptures above traditions:
God's unchanging Word has always been the final authority, never the traditions of men:
Christians in New Testament times knew what the final authority was:
To determine if what they had heard was true, these people went to the final authority, the written Scriptures. Jesus says of His Words:
Consider these words from the Apostle Paul:
When Paul preached the Word of God to these people, it was not Catholic doctrine because Catholicism didn't exist yet.
God doesn't change (Malachi 3:6) because He is perfect. His Son, Jesus, doesn't change (Hebrews 13:8) because He is perfect. Why, then, should God's perfect Word keep changing?
As you read the remainder of this book, you will be forced to decide which you believe is the final authority: God's written Word, or the teachings and traditions of the Catholic church.
Your decision will become critical as you discover that God's Word and the teachings of Catholicism are diametrically opposed on every doctrine we will examine.
Will you side with the words of God or the traditions of men?