Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 8, 1960
NUMBER 18, PAGE 3,7b

What Is Right With Catholicism?

F. Y. T.

The American voter this year is going to face one of the most significant and crucial elections of our national history. That a loyal member of the Roman Catholic church is seeking the highest office in our nation is certain to make one of the bitterest and most hotly waged political campaigns of this century. On its out come may well depend not only the destiny of our nation but the destiny of the world itself.

It is very certain that all media of public communication, newspapers, magazines, radio and television, highway billboards, etc., will be carrying all sorts of rival claims, promises, and dire warnings. And no one can doubt that the origin, claims, and pretensions of Roman Catholicism will be aired almost endlessly. For however much the two main candidates disclaim the religious issue, and however much effort is made to down-grade it, in the minds of millions of Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, this will be the issue, dominating and overshadowing all others.

In the general discussion of these matters, and with a veritable flood of articles, speeches, and other communications setting forth what is wrong with Catholicism, perhaps it will be a salubrious thing for fair-minded people to take ever so brief a look at the other side of the ledger and notice a few things that are RIGHT about Catholicism — things which Catholicism accepts and believes, but which are not accepted by the general run of religious people.

A Final Authority

For one thing, Catholicism is right in her insistence on a final, absolute, and unequivocal authority for the settlement of every question of doctrine, or morals, or practice. In this concept she stands in antithesis to most Protestants. For while the Protestant churches pay lip-service to the idea of a final standard, in both practice and teaching they deny such. The average Protestant will declare, "If you think a thing is right, and are absolutely honest and sincere in it, that thing IS right for you." Hence, the Protestants believe that "every man has a right to the church of his own choice," and "one church is as good as another." They trend to glorify and exalt ALL churches, and believe that a man can be saved in one as well as in another. They are in the ridiculous position of contending that all the churches are teaching God's truth, even though they teach exactly opposite one another on many points.

The Catholic knows better than this. He accepts the dicta of the papacy as absolutely final and authoritative. He knows that truth cannot contradict itself; and it embarrasses him not at all to state flatly that any teaching or doctrine contrary to the teaching of the papacy is false and evil! He is honest enough and sensible enough to recognize a final, irreversible AUTHORITY in his religion — even though he is sadly and miserably wrong as to what that authority is or ought to be. His concept of the necessity of an infallible authority is proper; his be lief as to the source of that authority is in error. The Bible is the source of all our knowledge of the final authority. Both Protestants and Catholics in effect deny the authority of the Bible, but in a very vital sense the Catholic is nearer to truth in this item than is he Protestant. For he does realize the necessity for such an authority; while the Protestant seems to think that no absolute standard of truth and right is needed "IF every man does that which he honestly believes to be right." The Catholic knows better. And he is right in his willingness to accept some authority other than his own conscience and judgment.

II. One True Church

No Bible student can question for a moment Catholicism's claim that there is one true church. She is wrong, of course, as to what that church is. But she is right in contending for one, and only one, body of the faithful. Here, again, Catholicism finds herself at sharp variance from the general Protestant belief. For among Protestants the concept of a multiplicity of churches is held to be almost sacred. A man marks himself immediately in their eyes as a bigot and a fanatic when he contends for "one true church." For many years various Protestant organizations have held their ecumenical conferences and gatherings, and have invited the Catholics to join with them. But the Catholic church has steadfastly refused to participate in any such meetings under any conditions that would lead to her being considered as a "sister church." She holds that Catholicism is the one true church, and all others are false bodies, apostate and in error.

Who can read the Bible and doubt that God's word teaches there is one true church? And who dare teach and preach that there are many true churches in view of the simple Biblical statements as to the "one body?"

III. The Necessity Of Baptism

On one phase of the question of baptism we once more find Catholicism right and Protestantism in error. Catholicism teaches the absolute necessity of baptism. Indeed, she goes to such extremes in this respect that she has been rightly charged with teaching "baptismal regeneration." She is right as to her teaching the necessity of baptism, but wrong in nearly every other part of her teaching on this subject. She is wrong as to the action of baptism, for she sprinkles instead of immersing. She is wrong as to the subjects of baptism, for she baptizes infants. She is wrong as to the design of baptism for she holds it to be "for the remission of original guilt" — that is for the remission of sins, but the wrong sin, Adam's. But in spite of her many errors, no Bible student can question her being correct on one point.

These three items of Catholic teaching (among several others that might be cited) serve but to emphasize once again that Catholicism is an apostasy, a departure from the truth, a drifting away from the original ground, It would naturally be expected that in some points she would retain some vestige of her primitive and original form. This is exactly what we find. But in these particulars she gives evidence of her origin, and harks back to the purity of her apostolic ancestors.

It will be interesting to observe that the Lord's true church in our day will understand and appreciate the reasons for these vestigial remnants of truth which cling to the apostate body. These truths, in their original and God-given form, are clearly seen and observed among the simple churches of Christ. They are not to be found in Protestantism, for they have never been a part of Protestant dogma.

In opposing a Catholic president let us base our opposition on the right foundation, and NOT oppose such because of any charge that Catholicism is narrow or bigoted in claiming that "there is only one true church". For that is the claim of every informed Bible student.