“The truly Catholic view is that we are created in God’s image and therefore we are good.” – Catholic priest, Dwight Longenecker
“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12, God’s Holy Word
There are many people who call themselves “Christians” but their beliefs are outside of Biblical orthodoxy and their faith is in their religious system rather than in Jesus Christ. The Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are obvious examples. Roman Catholicism is a bit trickier because it has a pretty solid Christology (unlike the LDS and JWs) and it often refers to “grace,” “faith,” and “Jesus the Savior,” just as evangelical Christians do. But the difference between Biblical Christianity and Catholicism become clearer when we discuss HOW a person appropriates the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Catholics will always vehemently object to claims that their religion is works-based. They will freely acknowledge that salvation is a gift by God’s grace but what they really mean is salvation is a process by which a person regularly participates in the church sacraments and receives sacramental grace so that they can abstain from sin and subsequently merit Heaven. Catholics are taught they must “cooperate with grace” received from the sacraments by obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules.
Catholicism is a very complicated legalistic religion and it’s always difficult to peel through the double-speak and nail down exactly what the church teaches regarding salvation, which is why I very much appreciate the recent article below from Catholic priest, Dwight Longenecker (pictured). Every evangelical who wonders about the fundamental difference between Catholicism and Biblical Christianity should read this short, revealing article. Longenecker gives the Catholic view that people are basically good and with the help of the Catholic sacraments, which allegedly infuse God’s grace into the recipient’s soul, the Catholic can become holier and holier in order to eventually merit Heaven (*although they can never be sure if they have done enough to merit Heaven).
In the article, Longenecker pooh-poohs the Biblical doctrine of “Total Depravity,” which states that no one is good and could never merit Heaven. We come to Christ and accept Him as our Savior by faith alone without one, single plea of our own. Our only plea is the perfect righteousness of our Savior. At the moment we accept Christ, His perfect righteousness is imputed to us. That is how a person is saved.
Although we use a lot of the same terminology, the Catholic view of salvation is diametrically opposed to the Biblical Christian view. They are not compatible.
Please take a few minutes and read Longenecker’s article below and hopefully you’ll get a basic understanding of why Catholicism and Biblical Christianity are at loggerheads.
*Catholics have no assurance of their salvation. They are taught they commit the “sin of presumption” if they assume they are going to Heaven. This is a clear cut indication that Catholics are trusting in their own allegedly meritorious works rather than the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Protestantism and Pop Psychology