Sunday Thoughts: Why I’m Not a Roman Catholic

Crucifixion_by_Josse_Lieferinxe_3

“It is finished.”

Those three words, fleshed out by other scriptures like those found in Hebrews, are why I’m a Reformed Baptist as opposed to a Roman Catholic.  I believe that the scriptures are abundantly clear that salvation is humble and simple.  The glory of the salvation of sinners is all of Christ and none of us.

I don’t practice, nor will I ever practice Lent, confessions to a priest, mass, have a priest, or wear a crucifix.  Why?

“It is finished.”

All.  100%.  Every bit of the work that needed to be done for the salvation of the church has been done.  Christ is no longer on the cross.  He is no longer in the tomb.  He is SEATED at the right hand of God.

To understand why this is so important you have to be willing to stomach a little gore, and even if you can’t, you need to.  When God chose out a people, the Israelites, He set up a system of sacrifices.  They were required to lay their hand on the head of an animal as a symbol of it taking their sins upon itself.  Then, the animal was slaughtered, disemboweled, and dismembered.  Blood had to be spilled by an innocent creature to cover sin.  We see this in Genesis when God Himself took an animal skin to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness after they sinned.  We see this in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, and we see it in Christ’s crucifixion.  Sin requires blood.  Just imagine the sheer number of animals that gave up their innocent lives in the Old Testament era.  Thousands.  Over and over and over.

Hebrews 9: 19-26:

18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

What does this mean?  It didn’t work.  The blood of animals didn’t take away sin or they would have slaughter only one animal.  If it had worked, Christ wouldn’t have had to come and die.

Not only that, but look at the rules set in place to enter the presence of God.  Have we forgotten He is holy???  Guess who got to go into His presence? One man.  One man, once a year.  That was it.  A huge, heavy veil hung between the priests and the place where God was.  Even more space was between the priest and the people.  And, an even bigger space was between where God was and women.

But Christ!  Christ came, the better Prophet, the better Priest, and the better King.  He came, lived a holy life that we are incapable of living, humbly closed his mouth when falsely accused, died on a Roman cross, rose again and by death conquered death, entered not the earthly Holy of Holies behind the veil, but heaven itself where He was accepted by the Father.  And he SAT down.  One sacrifice, for all time, for His people.  He ripped the veil in two and opened the way for me, a woman, to come to God, through His blood.

Hebrews 10:11-18:

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ[a] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Are we so quick to put veils back up between us and God?  Are we so quick to demand that we play a part in our salvation when Christ opened up the path to heaven?  Why do we run to the shadows when we have been given the light?

We are no longer required to do these things!  Our sins are forgotten.  Why should we repeat them to an earthly priest?  Was Christ’s blood not enough that we are required to do penance?  Is the blood of the Son of God that weak?  Aren’t we freed from the burdens of the law?  Why would we make new laws for ourselves?

It is finished!

Christ paid the price and asked us, his beloved church, to believe in Him.  He didn’t hand us a long list of do’s and don’ts. He told us to love one another.  Instead of abstaining from Facebook for a month, try loving the person sitting on the pew next to you!  We aren’t holier because we abstain or indulge!  We are called to love our church family.

You can go there, but the cross and the grave are both empty.

You can go there, but the cross and the grave are both empty.

I’m amazed at how quickly we Protestants are willing to cave to the pressure to add rules or suggestions to the Scriptures that Christ hasn’t given.  We fought and bled for this truth, are we so fat and lazy we now willingly give it up just a few generations later?  I’m ashamed so many Protestants are unaware of why we don’t practice Lent.  It is finished, people.  The work is done.  Christ is sufficient.  He left nothing undone.  The few things Christ has called us to do – love our church family, develop the fruit of the Spirit, become more like Him – flow from our love of Him.  And, they are hard enough without adding burdens to your load that He never gave us.

What we don’t like about what Christ has given us is that these things start in the mind and heart of the believer and work out in our small local churches.  They aren’t real visible.  They don’t go viral.  The world doesn’t see them.  It’s work and it’s a daily, moment by moment, battle.  No one gets to really see if you’re being holy or not.  I think this is where we slip up.  We constantly want to have a hand in our salvation and our sanctification.  But biblical salvation is simple, not grand.  Its glory resides in a place beyond death.  That humility is so hard for us.  We want the glory here and now on this earth.  Resist the call of the flesh.  Resist the desire to add to your salvation.

Galatians 3: 1 – 9:

1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh? Did you suffer[b] so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

My Christ, who paid for my sin, isn’t still on a tree.  He rose again!  He isn’t wringing His hands worried about who is and isn’t being saved.  He reigns now, knowing and preserving His people, His bride.  My job is to serve my church starting with the church member I live with and going out from there.  I’ll never wear a crucifix because Christ isn’t there.  I have pastors and teachers, not priests.  I have only One great High Priest who did His job one time and it is finished.

John 8: 31 – 32

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

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9 thoughts on “Sunday Thoughts: Why I’m Not a Roman Catholic

    • Great post, Abby.

      It is funny how many have such misconceptions about Mormons. I’m Mormon and I could have written this exact piece. We don’t have crosses because we believe in a living Christ. We believe that Jesus is the only way to return to God, and his teachings are the only path. We also don’t do Lent because we believe in true sacrifice (not superficial), giving of your time to those that need it, giving of yourself and your love to your fellow children of God, caring for all people (not just those in your church).

      Yet, we believe that God still loves us and speaks to us through prayer and prophets. We believe he continues to share His guidance with us so they we may return to His presence. We are not naive enough to believe we control our eternal destiny, but do know that this life is a time to prepare to meet God. With that comes responsibility to do good, to follow the commandments of Christ found in the Bible and to learn as much as we can in this life about God and how to become more like Him. In the scriptures is says, “Faith without works is dead.”

      The sacrifice of Christ allows me to repent of my sins, allows me to learn and grow. We are saved FROM our sins. We are not saved IN our sins. Those that believe they can continue to act in a way that is contrary to the commandments of God and be saved do not truly understand the atonement of Christ.

      • Hey, Josh! Fancy meeting you here, LOL. Thanks for sharing your perspective, as a Mormon. You’re absolutely correct . . . there are a lot of misconceptions out there about Mormons, which has lead me to look into it over the years so I can understand it better.

        Most of my school friends, growing up, were LDS, because we shared similar values. The family structure and community that is fostered in the LDS church is amazing. But there are very fundamental differences between LDS beliefs and Evangelical Christian beliefs.

        Indeed, that scripture in James is stellar. “Faith without works is dead.” Absolutely agreed! It is important to look at that scripture in the entire context of scripture though.

        Paul, over and over again in his epistles, emphasizes that salvation is a free gift, unable to be earned. He is constantly telling his primarily gentile audience that they cannot earn salvation. They were accustomed to pagan rituals that they practiced to try and earn their god’s approval. On the other hand, James was talking to a Jewish audience that had become quite comfortable with the idea that Jesus fulfilled the law and its requirements–which made them lazy Christians, thinking they didn’t need to do anything but wallow in the extravagant, free grace.

        James is reminding them that that grace should compel us to do good works, not make us apathetic toward them. The good works, however, are not in any way contributing to salvation. Rather they are evidence of it.

        On our own, our works are nothing but “filthy rags” (in Hebrew, literally ‘menstrual rags’) as expressed in Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”

        Therefore, what Abby has so eloquently laid out in this post is how Christ did it all, because we can do nothing. We cannot, ever, even a little, earn our salvation. It is completely by grace. And if we have genuine faith in Christ, it will express itself in the Fruits of the Spirit and works of righteousness.

        In 2nd Nephi 25:23 we read something different. “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” This is not the same kind of grace that Abby has shared with her readers.

        That verse is not compatible with scriptures like Eph. 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

        And, Romans 3:28
        “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

        2 Timothy 1:9
        “He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time”

        Titus 3:5
        “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,”

        To back up a little further, the Mormon’s teachings of who Father God is–which leads to who Jesus is–is not compatible with the scripture. Our Father God had no beginning. He did not begin as a man on another planet and earn his godhood. He has eternally existed in three distinct but unified parts as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Isaiah 43:10-13 says, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.” (Just one of many examples).

        Jesus has always existed with God and as God. He was never a spirit child of the Father, nor was he Lucifer’s brother. John 1:1 is a good example of this truth. The Jesus from scripture and the Jesus from the BOM are not the same in origin or essence, so it is not like comparing apples to apples. And what salvation is must begin with who Jesus REALLY is.

        I pray, Josh, that you are ultimately a seeker of truth. That you will search the Holy Bible for yourself and see who Jesus is and whether what I say is true. There’s nothing more important in this life than our understanding of who God is and how we can be saved. I believe the LDS church would agree with me there . . . but I hope I’ve given you some thought on how there are some major differences that are worth examining further. I would be more than happy to exchange emails and discuss this more, if you would like!

        Thank you for reaching out and opening up this conversation!

        • I’m familiar with all those scriptures and love them all. I spent two years as a missionary of God. I have read the Bible multiple times. It is still key to my study of God, along with the Book of Mormon. Many think we do not read or believe the Bible. It is thought we only believe and read the Book of Mormon. That is false.

          You are correct, those in the LDS church would agree that there is nothing more important in life than our understanding of God. Yet, I believe there are more similarities than differences between the LDS beliefs and that of Evangelicals. Mormons are Christians as well.

          I’ve attended many churches in my life, even Evangelical churches, but I’m good with my beliefs and don’t plan to stray from them. I’m also good with the fact that you have your beliefs and applaud them for I would rather you believe in Christ the way you do, then not believe at all.

          We can pray for each other, and there is nothing wrong with that. I know God lives, and that His Son died for my sins that I might have eternal life in the kingdom of my Father.

          I know Jesus very well, and I will have salvation with Him.

          Personally, I believe people don’t quite understand Jesus because they don’t truly understand salvation REALLY is — resurrection or eternal life? They are not the same, nor are both a given. Resurrection is given to all, but not eternal life.

          • Thanks for your thoughtful response. I am not trying to drag this out, or prove anything, and will respect that you do not want to continue the discussion. But I do have a few things, in response to what you said (hey, we are both writers . . . we always have something to say!).

            Though on the surface it DOES appear that we have more things in common than we do differences, digging a little deeper (which I hope you will do) reveals very fundamental differences. The terminology is there: “salvation, grace, atonement, justification, faith, sanctification, etc” but the meaning of the words and how they apply and are worked out in our life is quite different (there’s not space enough to break those down and compare but it can be found on line).

            You see, it is not as if you have a calculator and I have an abacus, and we just have different methods of arriving at the same correct answer.

            By LDS theology, if I am wrong, then I just go to a lower level of heaven. The only ones in outer darkness/hell are LDS apostates (which makes it extremely discouraging to question your faith and the teachings of the church).

            If biblical theology is correct, however, you will not be granted eternal life in heaven, but will be condemned to hell. This startling, reality is what compels me to engage you in this conversation, my friend. It is a matter of life and death (not a matter of trying to prove I am right or win an argument).

            I know you are taught not to get into debates, not to doubt, remember your testimony, and trust the church and the prophets. But I will be praying that you will do as the Bereans did in Acts 17:11 “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

            It is obvious you are a wonderful husband and father, a true patriot, and a compassionate man. I’m certain the things you’ve learned in the Mormon church have contributed to your great character. I also know that the expectations of the church, over time, will become a burden to you. You must use your agency to walk towards perfection, which is unrealistic, even for a good man like you.

            I leave you with some quotes. The first from your own Doctrine and Covenants.

            Doctrine and Covenants 82:7-

            “And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.”

            Joseph Fielding Smith said in The Church History and Modern Revelation, vol 2 page 87 –“How frequently this warning was given [referring to 82:7]! Today, we need to heed this warning with just as faithful obedience, as did our fathers in that day. We should also remember that when a man is forgiven and then he returns to the same sin his former sins return to him again.”

            In contrast, the historical Christ of the Bible offers to “cast our sins as far as the East is from the West, to remember them no more.” Psalm 103:12

            And finally, I hope you will read Abby’s post on the finished work of Christ once again, and see the contrast with your prophet, Spencer Kimball’s teaching on forgiveness:

            “Your Heavenly Father has promised forgiveness upon total repentance and meeting all the requirements, but that forgiveness is not granted merely for the asking. There must be works—many works—and an all-out, total surrender, with a great humility and ‘a broken heart and a contrite spirit.’ It depends upon you whether or not you are forgiven, and when. It could be weeks, it could be years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you. That depends on your humility your sincerity, your works, your attitudes” (Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 324-325).

            Again, I hope you know I mean all of this in love and with the destiny of your soul in mind and as my concern. I look forward to continuing our cyber friendship, and appreciate this time we have had to discuss these very important topics!

            Here is a good resource if you wish to look into this more: lifeafter.org

            • I don’t mind the conversation. I have just been through hell and back, and my beliefs are pretty solid. Just wanted you not to have false hope that you could change them.

              I hate to say it, but much of your thoughts here about Mormons are incorrect. There are fundamental differences and if you look closely at the Bible you will find that Mormon fundamentals are closer the what Jesus taught. Those in outer darkness/hell are not only apostates, but many others that grossly defile God’s law, both LDS and non-LDS. I questioned my religion for nearly 10 years, not attending church (this ended just 2 years ago. It was only after visiting many churches and weeping/begging/yearning with God did I come to the realization that the teachings I know from the LDS church are true.

              Though it is encouraged to “not debate, not doubt, remember your testimony, and trust the church and prophets,” we have free will an choice and are also encouraged to pray to God about everything we are taught. We are taught that only God can give us our testimony of Him through the Holy Spirit. We are taught to question so that we may know the truth of all things. I follow that scripture in Acts every day.

              I have been a member my entire life and the expectations of the Church have never become a burden. The expectations are to follow the commandments set forth in the Bible. We are all walking toward perfection, which can only happen with Christ, but not in this life.

              Forgiveness is hard. It is a process of gaining the trust of God. In context, Spencer Kimball speaks of heinous sins such as murder, sexual sins, the denying of Christ once you have truly known him.

              I’m friends with all. Fear not that we will continue as that.

  1. Thank you for a great comment and some good thoughts. We do not have to sacrifice because it has been done. And I agree that we Protestants do sometimes lean back into the symbolism of Catholicism.
    I’ve never been big on the “giving up *** for Lent.” It felt artificial. However, I find other ideas of practice for Lent meaning in the context of Easter. Within our youth group we have asked youth to adopt a “spiritual practice” they may not currently practice (prayer, meditation, solitude, gratitude, bible study).

    The rationale for that is that we are called to follow in Jesus footsteps. What must it have been like to walk towards the center of your faith knowing that you would be condemned, tortured, and brutally murdered because you challenged the hierarchy of the times? How does one walk towards ones calling despite the fears? While I try to have some daily spiritual practice, using this time to reflect on Christ’s call to me is meaningful.

    Best regards,
    Syd

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