Reaching Out to Our Catholic Friends
There can be no doubt there is the strong presence of the Roman Catholic religion, perhaps even favored by the media. Perhaps because - in America there are well over 24% of the population claiming their allegiance to the Catholic church. And, 1.2 billion in the world. The media follows the numbers and the power, thus we have witnessed continuing coverage, breaking news and “smoke watch” this past month – all leading to the selection of the new Pope.
What are we to say to our Catholic friends?
(1) We cannot act like Catholicism is all just fine, “no problem, whatever you prefer, God doesn’t care,” etc. NO. It is a system that was created by men, not God. The Bible has nothing to say that would generate this huge institution. Christ did not set this up. There is no evidence in the New Testament that God ever intended that such a system be built, maintained and promoted. Catholicism is not obedience to God’s will!
(2) In an effort to reach our Catholic friends, central to our concern should be to encourage them to read the Bible. On the pages of Scripture they will not find any pope, conclave, asking dead saints to pray, cardinals, mass, forgiveness conferred by men, worshipping Mary . . . on and on. God has never asked that men form this kind of organization and set all these ordinances and rituals in place. An objective reading of the New Testament will find no evidence of any recommendation or command that would bring Catholicism into existence.
(3) Perhaps, once good discussion is initiated, we can ask some questions: Why does the name “Catholic” or “Catholic church” not appear in the Bible? Why is there no mention of the “Pope” or his exalted position? Why is there no mention of Peter as the “Vicar of Christ” on earth? Why does the Bible tell us that Peter refused to allow men to worship him (Acts 10:25-26)? Why does the Bible expressly forbid calling a man a religious “Father” (Matt. 23:9)? Why is the Bible completely silent about the doctrines of “Purgatory,” “The Rosary,” “The Mass,” “Auricular Confession,” on and on?
We have been handed an opportunity to enter into dialogue with
our Catholic friends. The message is simple: Read the Bible and follow the real
instructions God has given. Everything you do after that can be real, having the
assurance of God’s actual promises and commands and living under the singular
headship of Jesus Christ. What a powerful message we have!