Catholic apologists love to point to the wide diversity within Protestantism with its large number of denominations and a growing number of non-denominational churches. But while evangelical Christians might disagree on many secondary doctrinal issues, we are united in our belief in the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Unfortunately, several of the mainline Protestant denominations slipped into apostasy and unbelief long ago.
Catholicism likes to present itself as the “one true church,” united in faith behind the pope but the reality is quite different. Catholic belief ranges the full spectrum from the super-liberal to the ultra-traditionalist. The vast majority of Catholics (76%) do not attend mandatory weekly mass or yearly confession (88%).
Speaking of Catholic traditionalists, I see that Mother Mary Angelica (aka Rita Rizzo) passed away yesterday, Easter Sunday, at the age of 92. She was the driving force in the creation of the EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) Catholic media conglomerate. Her pithy, no-nonsense commentary attracted a devoted following among conservative Catholics. There is little doubt that her admirers will soon be petitioning the church hierarchy to begin the process to elevate Mother Angelica to sainthood.
Many uninformed evangelical Christians might take a quick look at the life of Mother Angelica and conclude, “Of course this woman was a devoted Christian. Despite her quirky and unbiblical Catholic distinctives, she obviously loved the Lord and devoted her entire life to Him.”
Unfortunately, the “gospel” taught by Mother Angelica was not the Good News of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. She believed, like all traditional Catholics do, that salvation is by baptism and by participating in the church’s other sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules. She had an especially strong devotion to Mary and believed that Mary’s intercession was vital to salvation. Most people will remember her for leading the praying of the rosary to Mary on EWTN broadcasts. However, Mother Angelica also supported her church’s position that people of all religious faiths could be saved if they “followed the light they were given” and “lived good upright lives.”
Through her media empire, Mother Angelica has led many away from the genuine Gospel of grace through faith to a gospel of sacramental grace and merit earned by “good” works. Catholics are being misled from following the narrow way of Jesus Christ as the only hope of salvation and have, instead, been given a wide-is-the-way religion which mentions God, Jesus, faith, and grace but is actually one of the false, works-righteousness religions going back to Cain.