by Doug Kuepper To many Christians, such a question is outrageous.

But what if I would have asked, "Is Mormonism Christian?" To a majority

of evangelicals, the mere idea of comparing Roman Catholicism with

Mormonism is preposterous. But is it?

Catholics are precious people. Many are sincere, loving, kind and

charitable. But that doesn't make them Christians.

I was raised a Roman Catholic and loved the Church. I spent two years

in a minor seminary preparing for the priesthood. After my wife and I

were married, we were both active Catholics. My involvement included

teaching literature classes, serving as Minister of Music in two

parishes, and membership of various committees. I became a certified

liturgical minister, and gave seminars to train lay people in different

types of ministry. I'm even pictured in a filmstrip series for use in

Catholic dioceses all over the country. To say the least, I was very

religious, very involved, very dedicated and very lost.

Since my conversion to Christ, I continue to keep abreast of what is

happening in the Roman church. Yet so many Christians lack any knowledge

of Catholicism, even those who one would think should know better. When

I was at Columbia Biblical Seminary one of the world's leading

evangelical apologist/lawyers was on campus. I told him that the

president of a European missionary group was going to teach in our

evangelism class about how to reach Catholics with the Gospel.

His response was, "Does this school teach Catholic hating? I'd rather

be a Roman Catholic that a liberal Protestant." This illustrates one of

the greatest obstacles to Roman Catholic evangelism, the uninformed or

misinformed Christian.

I love Roman Catholics as individuals; most of my family is Catholic.

It is necessary to make a proper distinction between individual

Catholics, who might believe many differing things on a very broad

spectrum, and the official teaching of the Church. Because these have

become so indistinct through a lack of understanding among Christians,

many do not understand Roman Catholicism or Roman Catholics, and do not

know that these lost people need the Gospel.

Often you hear the statement, "I know a Roman Catholic who's born

again. He's one of the nicest, most generous people I know." The

obvious problem with such a statement is in equating being born again

with certain good qualities of behavior. Many Roman Catholics are

wonderful people, better that many Protestants I know, but "niceness" is

not the basis for anyone's salvation.

The Christian may respond, "But he says he's born again." I wonder

if you asked him about his being born again. I heard a priest conducting

Mass at a local Catholic high school, and he told the student body, "You

became born again when you were baptized as babies; so if anyone asks you

if you're born again, you can say `yes'!" Lest you think that is just one

priest's opinion, a Vatican II statement said, "By the sacrament of

Baptism man becomes truly incorporated into the crucified and risen

Christ and is reborn to a sharing of the divine life."

Other biblical teachings are changed to fit Catholic theology. The

Bible states that Jesus died for sins; that He paid the price in full.

Catholicism also says that Jesus died for sins, but they say that His

death merely opened the gates of Heaven so that if one works hard enough

he can work his way in (See Gal 2:21).

Catholics say they "receive Jesus" every time they partake of Holy

Communion. They say that they "evangelize", but this ends in a persons

not following Christ, but Catholicism. We must never assume that the

Catholic has the same biblical meaning in the terms he freely uses.

Every cult uses biblical and evangelical terms and phrases to try to

give itself credibility. The most successful counterfeit is the cult

that looks closest to the real thing.

In their book UNDERSTANDING THE CULTS, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart

list 11 characteristics of cults. Roman Catholicism has every one of the

characteristics, yet is not listed as a cult. Why?

One cultic characteristic is "non-biblical source of authority." The

Catholic Church seems to encourage people to read the Bible BUT there is

one stipulation. Vatican II said, "The task of authentically

interpreting the Word of God whether written or handed down, has been

entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office (Magisterium) of the

(Catholic) Church." Tradition is then used to interpret Scriptures, and

the further cultic characteristic of "new truth" manifests itself in

official teachings of the Church such as purgatory or indulgences.

(Neither of these are popular today, but are both official, and non-

biblical, teaching.)

The cultic characteristic of "strong leadership" is evident in the

pope; the characteristic of "double talk" is evident when Catholicism

states, "Catholics don't worship Mary" yet promotes the Rosary, a

devotion in which 10 Hail Marys are said for every Lord's Prayer. Even

Catholicism's relationship to Protestants is double-talk.

Vatican II stated, "But all the saving means used by the separated

brethren derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth

entrusted to the Catholic Church...For it is through Christ's Catholic

Church alone, which is the all-embracing means of salvation, that the

fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained."

Another cultic characteristic, "salvation by works" is evidenced by

the "saving" aspects of water baptism and the Mass. In this blasphemous

form of worship, the priest is supposed to officiate over the unbloody

sacrifice of Christ for the remission of sins. This is in complete

opposition to our Lord's completed sacrifice, once for all time (Heb

10:12-18). Yet if a Catholic intentionally misses Sunday Mass or on

Holydays of Obligation, he is guilty of mortal sin, that would sentence

him to hell if not confessed prior to death.

This salvation by works gives no assurance. In fact, official

Catholic teaching says it is the sin of presumption to have an assurance

of salvation. These cultic characteristics lead to the fact that

Catholicism also has the cultic mark of "another Jesus." For an easy-to-

understand study about this, write for SCRIPTURAL EVANGELISM and THE

FINAL FLOCK by Bill Jackson. In these, the facts that "The Roman

Catholic Church as a whole and Catholics as individuals do not have a

biblical concept of the Trinity, Deity of Christ and the sacrificial

aspects of Calvary" are and lovingly presented.

A Roman Catholic's singing "A Mighty Fortress is our God" doesn't mean

he understands Reformation doctrine. There is much talk today about the

need for unity, oneness and loving one another without letting doctrine

get in the way. But a doctrine that tries to substitute unity and love

for Bible truth is Satanic.

Catholicism is the greatest counterfeit of Christianity, dangerous in

its ecumenical and New Age characteristics. Evangelicals must realize

that by using Roman Catholics as examples of doing good deeds in their

sermons gives Roman Catholicism a credibility it does not deserve. The

Christian must not only be aware of the need for Catholic evangelism, he

must be discerning in what he says so as to stop compromising his

position on biblical salvation.

In looking for an example of reaching out to the poor, Mother Teresa

is often used. Although her service to the suffering street people of

Calcutta is commendable, her "dying with dignity" leaves out the Gospel.

She has said, "Oh, I hope I am converting. I don't mean what you

think...If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives,

then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a

better Catholic, a better whatever we are" (Desmond Doig, MOTHER TERESA:


John MacArthur visited Mother Teresa and wrote in MASTERPIECE, "We

asked her questions that might reveal her spiritual state. Her answers

were troubling. `I love and respect all religions', an unthinkable remark

in the light of the hellishness of India's dominant religions."

Some evangelicals praise Pope John Paul II, who gathered liberal

Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Christian religious leaders

to pray for peace. By his acknowledgment of their "prayers", he was

saying their religions were valid.

Jesus is still the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no man can come to

the Father except by Him. Are we only giving lip-service to that

statement while we succumb to an ecumenical spirit that eliminates

biblical truth for the sake of unity? Too often the answer is yes;

especially in the compromises of the charismatic renewal where the truth

of God's Word is exchanged for experiences, "signs and wonders", and a

false form of love.

Another illustration of compromise is the abortion issue. True

Christians cannot pray with unbelievers, and pro-lifers get so caught up

in the issue, as important as it is, that they forget the important

difference. In the process of saving a baby's earthly life, if there is

no clear presentation of the Gospel, are we being instrumental of sending

a mother and child to an eternal death?

Some Christians even cite priests and bishops that they believe are

truly saved. How could a born again priest perform water baptisms and

continue daily to offer the Mass, if he really understood that the work

of Christ was sufficient once for all?

Some "Christian" ministries present a "watered-down" Gospel so no one

will be offended. My wife and I were once asked to sing for such a

group, but our first song had to be non-religious, "so it would not

scare people away." Why do we try to entertain and then "sneak in" the

Gospel message? Catholics love religious performances, but if the

message is so shallow that the unsaved person doesn't hear the difference

between Truth and error, he never can be reached.

We must never try just to win arguments, but we engage in what former

priest Bart Brewer calls "sanctified provocation." The Gospel is

offensive to the lost for it exposes their prideful, sinful natures.

Let's stop compromising and start proclaiming. I don't want my family

and friends to continue in their lost condition. Certainly you would not

want an uninformed Christian to encourage your loved ones to stay in

their lost religious state.

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