Our Catholic friends call us “Protestant” because we protest against much of their teaching—just as they protest against our teaching. In fact, a recent series of Catholic advertisements have appeared in the newspaper. Such publicity for their views and ours is entirely in accordance with our American freedom of the press. It is wonderful to live in a country where friends and neighbors of differing faiths may consider their differences with mutual respect. This article is presented with the conviction that there are sincere, honest, people in all churches. But just as Paul was completely sincere while he was completely in error and persecuting Christians, so today good, honest people may be in religious error. We trust that each reader will examine the scriptures to see whether these things are so. The Bible is right! Now: Is the Bible Catholic? The Bible teaches that:
1. Christ is the only head of the true church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18).
2. Peter is never described in the Bible as being the head of the church. The “keys of the kingdom” were given to him and the power of binding and loosing was given to him and to all the apostles (Matt. 16:18-19, and 17:18). This power was never delegated to any so called “successors” of the apostles. The foundation of the church is Christ, not Peter (Eph. 1:22-23; 1 Cor. 3:11)
3. Peter does not fit the Papal pattern, because —
(a) He was a married man (Matt. 8:14)
(b) He would not allow others to bow down before him (Acts 10:25-26).
(c) He was not infallible, and when he was found in error, he was reproved before the whole assembly by Paul (Gal. 2:11-16).
(d) There is no Biblical evidence that he was ever in Rome.
4. Leaders in the true church are called elders or bishops, who are required to be married men with believing children (Titus 1:5-9). A plurality of these men had the oversight of only one congregation (Phlp. 1:1). Each church was independent. There is no mention in the New Testament of the church ever being governed by popes, cardinals, and priests, unmarried men.
5. The New Testament is a complete and perfect guide in all spiritual matters (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:21). We are told not to go beyond this perfect guide (2 John 9). The church and its leaders have never been given authority to make religious rules, articles of faith, or creeds. Hence, there would be no need for church councils, synods, conferences, or centralized church government.
6. Christian worship is described in the New Testament as being simple and heartfelt (Acts 2:42; Col. 3:16-17). We are warned against various religious seasons and festivals (Gal. 4:10-11). Such things as incense, robes, holy water, infant baptism, sprinkling, candles, instrumental music, prayer beads, and bowing before images have not been authorized by God for Christian worship. These practices have been introduced by men without God’s authority. Jesus said the teaching of men’s doctrines makes the worship vain (Matt. 15:9).
7. Paul said he would rather speak five words that could be understood, than to speak 10,000 words in a tongue that was not understood. Would he have conducted a service in Latin before a congregation that spoke English? (1 Cor 14:19).
8. Jesus loved his mother Mary, but He taught plainly that every obedient disciple was as dear to Him as his own mother (Matt. 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21). Mary was not set forth as one to be worshiped, nor are we taught by the Bible to pray to her, or to bow down before her or her image. We are to worship God.
9. The scriptures foretell that some shall “depart from the faith, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats.” Today, we are seeing a fulfillment of this departure in churches that forbid their leaders to marry, and command the abstaining from meat on Friday (1 Tim. 4:1-3).
10. In regard to religious titles, Jesus said “Call no man father” (Matt. 23:9). He also forbade his disciples to be called Rabbi or Master (Matt. 23:8-12). The use of religious titles is contrary to the plain teachings of the Bible. The great apostle Paul was referred to simply as “brother Paul” (2 Pet. 3:15).
Congregations of Christians are referred to as “churches of Christ” in Romans 16:16. They exist today, scriptural in name, organization, work and worship. If we can persuade others to forsake religious error and return to Bible ways, God will be pleased. In the language of Paul, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell the truth?”