Can you think of any other belief systems that have some similarities to Christianity but then change things to fit a specific interpretation?
Anyway, as with the "Negativity in the Media" post, I plan to start this one now, publish it, and then add things as time goes on.
Claim #1: Praying to saints and Mary. I recommend you read this, even though I didn't write it. Anyway, Catholics claim they do not pray to the saints for help - rather, they "pray"/ask the saints to pray for them, on their behalf sort of. This is absolutely true most of the time. The problem is, this is not Scripturally sound. Catholics use verses about Christians praying in general, to refer to the saints and Mary praying for us. That's misleading, because even though they are Christians, that's nothing more than distracting from the main point: the saints and Mary cannot hear us to begin with. There are verses in Revelation that mention saints, and that mention prayers; nowhere does it directly state that the saints hear our specific prayers and that these prayers are the ones that we try to send them. Their point isn't even suggested by this verse unless you're specifically looking for it. This is all over Catholic apology.
Catholics also believe that contacting dead saints is different from "contacting the dead" as occult people do ("contacting the dead" being STRICTLY forbidden by Scripture). The saints and Mary cannot hear our prayers, so who does? As someone who was a victim of occult forces, I can tell you with 100% certainty who hears our prayers (the ones which do not go to God in Three Persons the Blessed Trinity) - familiar spirits, aka demons. They will hear your prayers, they may even try to answer a couple to make themselves look legit. This is not the work of saints! The adversary and his forces do this a lot: they may do some things that look good on the surface, but are ultimately evil. If they answer you, you might get the thing you want, but it's only to trick you into praying to the dead more often, which is spiritually poisonous and outweighs any benefits from your prayer. Back when I used to communicate with spirits that were not part of the Holy Trinity, I often got answers, too, and they were always ultimately misleading, usually giving me what I asked, but in a way that led me further from the truth of God's word, further from my relationship with God. If you don't have a relationship with God, I cannot stress enough how much you *need* one. Not with other spirits, not with demons, with God. I didn't think I needed one this close, either, but I most certainly do. Please seriously consider it, God will truly hear your prayers. Saints will not, and Mary will not. Contacting them is the same as contacting "the dead", because you are contacting the same beings. Even if you do not intend to.
As the link above also explains, the Bible never tells us to pray to people in Heaven anyway, and there is no need for this anyway since Jesus is already our sole mediator. There is very, very minimal evidence for this practice in the Bible, and even what's provided is a major stretch. Clearly, even if this were true (which it isn't!!) it's not very important to God, and certainly not intended to be a widespread practice for all Christians or a main facet of a church.
Claim #2: Confession to a priest. Nowhere mentioned in Scripture, but it's one of the main points of Catholicism. Catholics look at priests in a very high regard, even though they're human beings like the rest of us. The Bible does mention confession, and does not state in plain words outright that this is forbidden, but I point again to the fact that Christ is our only mediator now, and therefore priests are not needed for our forgiveness. We are to confess our sins directly to God, and through salvation through Jesus Christ, we will be forgiven our trespasses against God, by God. Not by a human priest. This whole idea wouldn't be here unless someone came up with it and then specifically went looking for Bible verses to defend it. Just confess to God! What can a priest who did not commit your (specific) sins do, that you can't do yourself in God's presence? By this logic, I could take... let's do a random verse. Psalm 148:9 - "Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars", and use this to defend an idea that cedars must have some kind of divine significance, they're even mentioned somewhere in the Bible! That's not true of course, but seriously, it has as much Scriptural basis.
Claim #3: Purgatory. I like hearing myself talk, so let's look at what I just said above: "This whole idea wouldn't be here unless someone came up with it and then specifically went looking for Bible verses to defend it." There are a few sections (like three in the whole Bible) that could be construed in some sense to suggest the basic concept of Purgatory, but again, NONE of them state it outright, none of them even strongly suggest it! It's all dependent on interpretation, and even that relies on interpretation from like three brief side-suggestions in the entire Bible. If, by some stretch of the imagination, Purgatory really does exist, God must really want to hide it from us, considering the only basis for it is loose suggestions mostly taken out of context. God must also not think of it as very important to our faith journey, since He never even said the name of it, or even actually stated directly that it existed. I think we can safely say that Purgatory does not exist.
Besides that, Jesus died for all of our sins already, so Purgatory is unnecessary anyway. See 1 John 2:2 "He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins--and not only our sins but the sins of all the world."
Claim #4: Hail Mary. Please refer to Claim #1 above. Also, read this. This isn't even slightly suggested by Scripture, it's actually contradictory to it, and if you do it, you should stop right now. I don't say this, or anything in this post, out of hostility towards Catholics, I say it out of hostility towards, if anything, the teachings and practices themselves. I say it out of LOVE towards Catholics, fellow believers who seek to follow the word of our Heavenly Father, but have been gravely misled. This one, the Hail Mary, is particularly bad because it does not just rely on loose interpretations, it literally contradicts the Bible.
"Claim" #5 Oh yeah, a quick side-note, Catholics like to use the term "Father". Jesus expressly forbade anyone from calling people "Father" in Matthew 23:9. They point out that we call our dads "father". Jesus himself says, "Honor your father and mother." So apparently it's (grammatically) okay in that sense, true. Jesus used it in that sense himself.
Now, does Jesus say that it's okay to call a priest "Father"?
Here, have some more, taken from this site:
- The New York Catholic Catechism, under: Pope, says, "The Pope takes the place of Jesus Christ on earth...by divine right the pope has supreme and full power in faith and morals over each and every pastor and his flock. He is the true Vicar of Christ, the head of the entire church, the father and teacher of all Christians He is the infallible ruler, the founder of dogmas, the author of and the judge of councils; the universal ruler of truth, the arbiter of the world, the supreme judge of heaven and earth, the judge of all, being judged by one, God himself on earth."
- In his encyclical, "The Reunion of Christendom" (1885), Pope Leo XIII stated that the pope holds "upon this earth the place of God Almighty."
- The Council of Trent declared: "Sitting in that chair in which Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, sat to the close of life, the Catholic Church recognizes in his person the most exalted degree of dignity, and the full jurisdiction not based on constitutions, but emanating from no less authority than from God Himself. As the Successor of St. Peter and the true and legitimate Vicar of Jesus Christ, he therefore, presides over the Universal Church, the Father and Governor of all the faithful, of Bishops, also and of all other prelates, be their station, rant, or power, what they may be."
- The Catholic book, "My Catholic Faith" which is based on the Baltimore Catechism, on page 251, says, "The Pope can make and unmake laws for the entire Church; his authority is supreme and unquestioned. Every bishop, every priest, every member of the Church is subject to him."
No comments. Just think about that for a minute, and decide if the God who sent us Jesus Christ, and spoke the words He did according to the Holy Bible is truly inspiring those responsible for the ideas I just presented above.
Update 2016: I see there's some debate about the New York Catholic Catechism. So here's a quote from something that is undoubtedly approved by the Vatican: For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.
I think that's all for right now. I'll add more later. May God bless all who read this and guide them to the truth according to His perfect will. May they all see the love in this post, and not hateful disagreement. In Jesus' name. Amen.