I know I have a history of giving the Roman Catholic religion some grief here and there. And it probably comes off as foolish, one woman picking a fight with one of the largest religions in the world. But this is not an academic or hypothetical debate. Not to me. This is personal.
I've stood on this cliff. I come from a long line of people who have stood on it. And you better believe I'm going to point out the cliff to my kids.
And while I'm no professionally trained theologian, these are errors so large that I can see them from my armchair.
Choosy mothers choose the gospel.
Observation #1: I was baptized into this tradition as an infant. But I utterly reject its validity. Not to my knowledge was there one believer in the entire place. It wasn't until I was three years old--when my parents both became believers--that I was finally a member of a covenant household. A covenant is an agreement, initiated by God, between Himself and another party. Baptism is a sign of the covenant. (I am not arguing in any way against paedobaptism; I fully support it.) But while omnipresent God was at this little shindig of mine, there was no other believing party, rendering my 'baptism' nothing more than a baby shower.
Observation #2: Growing up, one of my family members was plagued by guilt. And the reason? According to her, all the blame could be placed squarely at the feet of the nuns who taught her first eight years of school. Guilt? Whatever happened to grace? What about penance teaches grace? What about penance has anything what.so.ever to do with the finished work of Jesus? WHAT?!?!
At bedtime, we have a routine that fights this kind of nonsense. As we tuck our younger children in bed, after songs and prayers, it goes like this:
Are you my favorite 4/6/8/etc year old? (Yes.)
Do I love you when you're good? (Yes.)
Do I love you when you're bad? (Yes.)
Why do I love you? (Because I'm your boy/girl.)
Observation #3: I spent a month every summer with my Catholic grandparents, who went to Mass (and took me along) every Saturday evening. It was there that I noticed the irony. I know--I know--I was the only believer on my pew every summer. Yet I was the only one barred from the Lord's Supper. What kind of church bars the qualified and qualifies those who should be barred?
It's what you call ironic.
Observation #4: I was about twenty-four when a dear, elderly relative passed away. And I grieved over her eternity. She was an excellent Catholic; she demonstrated very little evidence that she was a Christian.
Observation #5: When I was about twenty-eight, something really wonderful, really miraculous happened. My grandfather got saved. It was a fluke, but one weekend, he skipped Mass and attended church. He heard the gospel--and all the angels in heaven were rejoicing. (Actually, it wasn't a fluke. My parents had been praying for over twenty-five years for him.)
A baptism that wasn't.
A woman needlessly plagued by guilt.
A Christian denied communion and non-Christians admitted to it.
A lifelong Catholic who was never saved.
A lifelong Catholic who lived his first eight decades before hearing and accepting the gospel.
What is wrong with this picture???
I'm not talking about the salvific nature of rites (despite scriptural teaching to the contrary).
I'm not talking about praying to dead people (or praying for dead people).
I'm not talking about dividing believers into saints and non-saints.
I'm not talking about dividing people into priests and non-priests or the suspicious specter of a 'vicar of Christ.' (Never mind that a mouthpiece for God is always subject to judgment by scripture. And while we have not seen a Leo X in many years, consider the present pontiff, Francis. The dear old soul wants to give moral atheists a way to heaven--a way around the Way, the Truth, and the Life--and he's willing to give time off in Purgatory if you tweet him. Does this really sound like the counsel of a true believer? )
I'm willing to call all of these the non-essentials. As really weird as they all strike me, I'm willing to agree to disagree on these things, despite the fact that I am fully convinced of their error.
I am, however, talking about the way the essentials of the gospel get diluted by the Catholic religion.
Mary the mother of God? No. Mary the mother of our Lord. Words matter. And those words alter the nature of God and the nature of Mary, a mere human like the rest of us. This cult-like adoration of Mary gives me the willies. And it changes the gospel.
Immaculate conception? Wrong. Jesus was fully God and fully man. The Second Adam got his fully human DNA from his mama, who descended from the first Adam with all of Adam's sin nature intact.
Seven deadly sins? Uh, no. One deadly sin nature? Absolutely. The wages of sin is death.
Purgatory? Rosaries? Indulgences? Heck, no. It is finished.
Adding our own merit to Christ's? Nuh uh. It is by grace we are saved, and that not of ourselves.
Look to God's Word.
You tell me.
I'll say it again.
Choosy mothers choose the gospel.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--not that there is another one but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:6-8