We started a new series at axis on Wednesday called What They Believe. We'll be spending the next month looking at some different religions and comparing the beliefs of those religions to what we believe the Bible teaches. It should be a really good series and I'm excited about learning more about what other religions belief and also digging in to my beliefs even more. On Wednesday we took a look at Catholicism. I totally understand that in 20 minutes there's no way to really look deeply in to some beliefs, but what I tried to do is hi-lite some of the major concepts of Catholicism and compare them with what we believe at axis.
I really tried to approach this from the stand point of talking about what we are for rather than what we are against. So, as I talked about some of the differences between our beliefs and the beliefs of the Catholic Church, I tried my best to talk about this is WHY we believe what we believe.
There are some core beliefs that we agree on: The Trinity, the Deity of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, the sinlessness of Jesus, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross ... some core things that we believe together. But, there are also some differences too. We would believe in the Bible as the final authority on doctrine. There are many black and white areas in the Bible and some grey areas too left open for interpretation, but we would say the Bible is the final authority. The Catholic Church would say that it's the Bible, Church tradition, and the Pope who together create a final authority.
We believe in salvation through grace by faith. (Ephesians 2:8 - 10). The Catholic Church would believe that Jesus' death was necessary for the forgiveness of sins, but the way to heaven is through following the teachings of the Catholic Church or taking the Sacraments.
We believe that Mary is to be honored and respected for her role in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, but we do not put her on a level just below that of Jesus. (Luke 11:27 - 28) We do not believe that she was sinless (either from birth or from the time the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus inside of here) (Romans 3:23) We do not believe that she remained a virgin after Jesus was born (Matthew 13:54 - 56) We do not believe that she was taken up to heaven before she passed away on earth. And, we would not pray to Mary either.
The Catholic Church believes in a place called Purgatory ... a place of temporal punishment for sin. Those in Purgatory pay their punishment for sin but can be released from there by having prayers said for them and also by having good works done in their name. We believe that when we ask Jesus to forgive us of our sin and be the Leader of our life that ALL of our sin is forgiven. In God's eyes we are made righteous (Hebrews 1:3) (Revelation 1:5).
I really tried to talk about the idea of how much emphasis we put on the Bible itself and also on the whole idea of grace ... simply that God offers us salvation as a free gift. We just need to accept it. "Obedience is the FRUIT of faith, not the ROOT of it. It's the result, not the cause. We are never made righteous by the Law." (Romans 3:20 - 28)
Next Week: Jehovah's Witnesses
Next Week: Jehovah's Witnesses