I think most Christians would agree that we ought to be witnessing to anyone who isn’t a Christian. That’s practically a given. So then, our first task must be to qualify our audience. Are Catholics Christian?
They look like Christians. They have a Bible on the lectern, a crucifix on the wall. But sadly, that’s where the similarity ends.
Christians don’t pray to Mary. Nor do they pray to the saints. We hold Mary in high esteem, she is mother of our Lord Jesus, but that’s where it ends. Catholics turn to Mary in prayer, hold her in adoration. Catholics call this idolatry veneration, but the practise goes far beyond this. Statues of Mary adorn Catholic churches and there are prayer cards in the millions printed to the Blessed Virgin.
Among the names given to Mary perhaps the most damning are The Queen of Heaven and Mary as Co-Redemptrix.
Co-Redemptrix! Just pause here and think about that. Mary, as co-equal with our Lord Jesus as the Author of Our Salvation. Now, when you have swallowed that, ask yourself if Catholics are Christians.
A Christian depends on Christ for his or her salvation. Christ alone. Even if Mary could influence her Son (she can’t), Christians would not turn to her because Christians depend on Jesus alone for salvation.
Mary can do nothing. She cannot hear prayers, she cannot answer prayers, the Bible is quite clear on that. Ecclesiastes 9:5. All Catholics succeed in doing when they pray to Mary is breaking the 2nd Commandment.
Then we have prayers to the Saints. I remember a tv news segment about the Australian woman, Mary MacKillop, who was canonised in 2010. The interviewer was talking to a teenager in hospital. The teenager was delighted that Mary, formerly a nurse, was sainted. She (the teen), believed that her prayers to Mary MacKillop would make her well. This really tore at my heart. Inside I was shouting, ‘Pray to Jesus!’ And I was wishing the interviewer would say something. But of course, she didn’t.
Prayers to saints are like prayers to the Virgin Mary; useless and a breaking of the 2nd commandment. A person might as well pray to an old bed-sock. Yet the Catholic prayers to dead saints must far outweigh their prayers to Our Father, who, ironically, is the one who can answer prayers.
The next damning practise of Catholics is the teaching and belief of purgatory.
The idea of purgatory was kicked around as early as the 5th century but it wasn’t until the 11th century that it began to take shape as we know it today. Finally in 1254 at the Council of Lyon it was given its definition as a place where those without mortal sin may be cleansed after death.
Purgatory has been a real money spinner for the Catholic Church as they sell indulgences and hold Masses, for a price, for the dead. Who wouldn’t pay a few bucks to have the blowtorch removed from their loved one’s feet? But even this is not the real evil of Purgatory.
You see the concept of Purgatory assumes that when a person dies they still have unresolved sin. They go to Purgatory to be punished for this sin. The time they are in Purgatory can be shortened by purchasing indulgences or having a mass said for them. There are rules about who goes to purgatory but the short version is that it is just about everyone.
The real evil is the assumption that what Jesus did on the cross was not enough. When a person dies they still have sin to be dealt with. This is about as Unchristian as it gets. If any one thing disqualifies a Catholic from Christianity it is the belief in Purgatory.
As every Christian knows, that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Rom 10:9
We are rendered lily white when we become Christians. JESUS DID IT ALL. There is nothing remaining to be punished for in this man made Purgatory. Jesus forgives us every single infinitesimal sin. He leaves nothing. And if you believe otherwise, well, you are probably not a Christian. You see, believing in Jesus, which means more than simply believing He walked among us, but means believing in who He is and what He does. It just doesn’t add up that a person can believe that Christ doesn’t completely forgive, that He leaves something for purgatory, and still be a Christian.
Okay, so what if I’m a Catholic who doesn’t believe in Purgatory? Suppose I have a priest who has never spoken about it.
You don’t call this guy, Father, do you? Matthew 23:9 has something to say about that. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Have you heard of the concept of Papal infallibility? This is a dogma that says that the Pope is free from the possibility of error. He can’t be wrong. Forgive my ignorance but I thought there was only One to whom perfection could be attributed.
What about transubstantiation? This is the concept that the bread and wine used to represent the Blood and Body of Jesus in the Holy Communion actually becomes His Flesh and Blood. Read that again. It’s a very weird belief.
Okay, I’ll admit it, I am nitpicking.
Naturally all we can do is look at the behaviour and practises of Catholics. Only God can see the heart. I’m sure there are some Catholics that for whom Jesus is first, front and centre, every time. Unfortunately these are few and far between.
Should we witness to Catholics? Yes. There are just too many points of difference between a Christian and a Catholic. I have by no means made an exhaustive account of them.
I would mention that we ought to be gentle in our approach to Catholics; most are sincere in their faith, and practising Catholics are, for the better part, fairly decent people. Catholics breed Catholics. There is often a long family history with the church and we shouldn’t start our witnessing with the artillery. This can only cause resentment.
As always proceed with prayer. Lifelong held beliefs are tough to break and you will be rejected. But nothing is impossible with God.