Introduction to Roman Catholicism
To begin an analysis of Roman Catholicism, it is important to fully understand the beliefs of Roman Catholicism. Please keep in mind that these pages of material are not meant to be an in-depth study. The intent of these writings is to give the reader a short, concise overview of the teachings of Roman Catholicism compared to the teachings of biblical Christianity. To begin, let’s explore a few of Rome’s teachings regarding its claim to truth and authority.
The Roman Catholic church claims to be the one true Christian church:
“The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, . . . subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 870
The Roman Catholic church teaches that it, among many other things, is necessary for salvation:
“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 846
The Roman Catholic church claims to hold the correct interpretation and teaching of the Bible:
“No one, relying on his own skill, shall,–in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine,—wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,–whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,—hath held and doth hold.” – Council of Trent, Session 4, “Decree Concerning the Edition, and the Use, of the Sacred Books”
The Roman Catholic church does not recognize Scripture as being the only source of truth. It also holds its tradition equally authoritative as Scripture:
“As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, ‘does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.'” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 82
The Roman Catholic church claims that the magisterium (the church’s teaching authority) is infallible, meaning that their decrees cannot err or be wrong:
“The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 2051
The only valid interpretation of the Word of God comes from the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church:
“The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 100
The Roman Catholic church claims to be the one, true Christian church on Earth. It teaches that it alone holds the truths of all Christianity, that it alone is authorized to interpret the Scripture, and that its magisterium is infallible and cannot err. It does not draw from the Bible alone for its authority, but also its tradition being equal with Scripture. Lastly, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that it is necessary for salvation.