Should I leave Catholicism?

Question: I am very concerned as I am a catholic and was wondering if our Lord meant that my church is Babylon and to leave the church, because of all the scandal that it has been going through lately. do you think I have reason to be concerned?pope-francis-2-300

Answer: There have been Protestant interpreters who have identified Babylon with the Catholic Church in the past and probably some who still do, but I find this interpretation very questionable. It is designated as a city, and though it is said to sit on seven hills in some translations (as Rome does), if the word here means mountains instead that would not apply to Rome. If mountains is intended it would be symbolic rather than strictly geographical, mountains representing places of power and authority. Babylon would be in control of seven kingdoms in this interpretation.

I think the best reason to leave the Catholic Church would not be for the scandals of late. Every human organization will have fallen human beings doing bad things that need to be dealt with. That is why Jesus taught a way of dealing with sin in the church in Matthew 18:15-20. The reason you should leave it is if it is in disagreement with the clear teaching of Scripture. Protestants have had problems in this arena with the fact that the Catholic Church, in our opinion, has obscured the gospel and the way of salvation, making it seem too much like it depends on our works to get us to heaven rather than the finished sacrifice of Christ. Martin Luther’s concern was that the Bible teaches justification (being declared righteous before God) by faith alone.

Protestants have also disagreed with vesting authority in one man in the church, and even with the councils of the church, as they can be fallible and it would seem to have indeed failed to preserve the teaching of Scripture. We see Scripture as our final authority, though we value the tradition of the church as a help to correct interpretation of Scripture.

Do you know that you have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you being taught in your faith to grow in grace and becoming more Christlike in your life? Is the church helping or hindering this process? Can you learn from both sides of the aisle? Do you really give allegiance to the Pope? These are the kinds of questions I believe are most important to answer in this consideration.

Advertisements

Why Are There Different Religions

Question:  Why are there different religions?

Answer:  I suppose the simple answer is that people are sinners.  And because people are sinners they will find any possible permutation of religious elements that make sense to them and that gets them off the hook from worshiping the true God.

In Romans 1:18-26 Paul asserts that the truth about who God is, His eternal power and “godhead”, is known to everyone.  It is made clear through creation so that no one has an excuse to say, “I couldn’t find God.”  However, as Paul points out, we suppress that truth.  We want to live our lives the way we want to, not at the dictation of our Creator, so we bend the truth in order to make religion palatable to us.  We can’t escape that there is this religious reality…God…but we can distort the truth enough to feel less pressure to submit to Him.

Consequently we shape God in our own image and when you do that you have to have a different form in which to pour that image and, viola!, you have a new religion.  It also becomes a pathway for some to power as they define what the religion looks like and what its doctrines are and as they dictate the practice of it.  Eventually as your family and maybe your whole society embraces this it becomes a tradition that you cannot deny and still be viewed as part of your community.

Now, to be fair, we need to distinguish between different religions and different expressions within the same religion.  If you compare Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, for example, you will find that each is mutually exclusive of the other.  You cannot consistently hold to one and hold to the others as well.  But within Christianity there are varieties of expression of the same basic doctrines, and the same is true for Hinduism and Islam.  There is Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy within Christianity but they hold many of the same basic beliefs.  Some of this is tied to differences in personality or culture, some to variations as to which doctrinal beliefs are most important.

The possibility always exists, however, that some version of worship that was compatible within the larger religion can move toward “heresy” and become incompatible with the beliefs and practices of the major religion.  Sometimes they will acknowledge that and declare they are no longer a part of that religion, but sometimes they want to stay in the fold even though they have contradicted its major tenets.

All this to say, there are different religions, religions that depart from the revealed truth about God, because people are sinful and they yet cannot refrain from being religious and salving their conscience by having some form of worship.