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Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Catholic Cult

Candy freely and often refers to Catholicism as a "cult." Most people who consider Catholicism a cult have received information from Jack Chick and Dave Hunt. Click on their names to learn the false nature of their claims.

Is Catholicism really a cult?

On her recent exchange with Angie, commenter Suzanne offered this helpful link:

There is an excellent Christian apologetics site I use often www.carm.org. On the sidebar is listed "cults" and there is info on the different movements with testimonies of those that have left their churches. He is thorough and his information is accurate and reliable.
CARM is a well-respected organization among evangelicals and fundamentalists. CARM does has a section on Roman Catholicism, however, Catholicism is not on their list of cults. Regarding Catholicism, CARM writes:

It is necessary to write a page on Roman Catholicism because there are significant differences between Protestant and Roman Catholic doctrines. Protestants accuse the Catholics of being unscriptural, and the Catholics state that the Protestants do not have the true faith carried through the centuries by the Catholic Church. Which ever side you fall on, the real issue is whether or not the Roman Catholic Church is representing true Christianity.
I did not read through the large section on Catholicism completely, but I would say that they seem to be really trying to be fair. For example, read this section on the sacrifice of the Mass:

Roman Catholics are quick to say that the Eucharist is not a re-sacrifice of Christ. They want to make it clear that Christ was offered once for all and that the Mass is not a re-sacrifice but a "re-presentation" of the sacrifice. We certainly do not want to misrepresent Roman Catholic theology, but we must ask how it is possible for the Mass to not be a re-sacrifice of Christ when the Mass is called a divine sacrifice (CCC 1068) that is done over and over again. We are told that "the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice" (CCC 1367); that it is an unbloody offering that is propitiatory (CCC 1367); that it can make reparation of sins (CCC 1414); and is to be considered a true and proper sacrifice (The Catholic Encyclopedia, topic of 'Sacrifice of the Mass'). We must conclude that it is a sacrifice that occurs over and over again; and since it is said to be a true and proper sacrifice that is propitiatory, then logically it must be a re-sacrifice of Christ.

On various pages that I viewed, the Catholic Catechism was the primary source which they used for stating Catholic doctrine, but I also saw Catholic Encyclopedia, the Baltimore Catechism, and the Council of Trent quoted. While they clearly don't understand the finer points of Catholic theology, I applaud them for making a real effort to represent our doctrines.

There are secular cult related organizations, such as the Cult Awareness and Information Centre. CARM uses similar criteria as secular organizations to determine whether or not a religious system is a cult. While I didn't find the same exact list of criteria on every site I checked, here is a general list:

1. Charismatic leader which claims special revelation.

Well, we certainly have a leader who is recognized world-wide and draws huge crowds. However, unlike the Mormon prophet, our Pope wouldn't be able to suddenly announce that polygamy is allowed. The Pope is limited in the changes he is able to make.

For answers to common questions about the papacy (infallibility, anyone?) read here.

2. Very controlling of their members, using psychological manipulation and dire consequences for leaving.

Considering the huge number of ex-Catholics, we can hardly be accused of making is difficult to leave. Unlike the Amish, we don't even automatically excommunicate people who leave. Candy has said that they are still in contact with her Catholic father-in-law, so her husband hasn't been shunned for leaving. I would say this is a no.

3. Demanding members to give a considerable amount financially.

Catholics are notoriously bad tithers. I think we are innocent on this charge.

4. Claims to exclusively hold the complete truth.

Okay, we're guilty there. But we think other Christians can have parts of the Truth!

CARM elaborates here: "often considers traditional religious systems to be apostate and it alone possess the complete truth." Of course, we ARE the traditional Christian religious system!

5. Apocalyptic

We do look for the second coming of Jesus, but considering most Catholics don't know what the Rapture is, I would say no to this one.

6. Isolationist

Some Catholics do socialize primarily with Catholics, but the same can be said for other church groups. There have been no accusations that I'm aware of that when a person becomes Catholic, they are forced to leave their previous family and friends behind.

In conclusion, while Candy is free to disagree with us theologically, I do not think she can objectively say that we are a cult. We do not meet the criteria of either secular or Christian based cult awareness organizations.

Read a follow-up to this post, Catholic Cult Revisited.

If you are new to our website, you can find links to some of our other posts about Catholicism here.

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28 comments:

Blondie said...

I have several friends who have done an excellent job debating on CARM, but it's pretty easy to get banned over there if you're a Catholic who knows your faith. Sound familiar?

I just saw a recent comment on Candy's blog that is disturbing to me:

Hi Candy. I'm sorry that i'm asking you this (and i am in no way trying to cause you more grief)
but why do you have to study for a long time to become a Catholic. Why do you have to have communion and sorts.
I ask this because my dear friend has recently married a Catholic man and he wants her to become catholic to.
What she is learning goes against everything she has learnt from the Bible. (We have Always been Bible Believing Christians)
Her Husband can't answer her because he doesn't know. Infact, Praise be to the Lord he is also starting to question his faith
(I think at the moment he's afraid to go against his mother,,poor thing!)
You are such an inspiration, and i know you will always tell the truth for the Lord.


You know, it just perplexes me why someone would go to a NONCATHOLIC such as Candy and ask these questions. Back when I was a Protestant and I wanted to learn about Catholicism, I went to CATHOLIC SOURCES to learn, not nonCatholic ones. This just makes no sense to me. If she would honestly study Catholicism, she may be surprised to find out that Catholics are "Bible-believing Christians" too. I hate to speculate, but I do wonder if this person truly wants information, or if they are using this as an excuse to gossip about them poor, dumb Catholics who are on the highway to hell.

Anyway, just thought maybe someone here could address Maria's questions as well.

Elena said...

Blondie, I think they go to non-Catholic sources because.
1. They don't know Catholic sources.
2. They don't trust Catholic sources and
3. They don't understand Catholic sources.

That's my guess anyway.

Blondie said...

The arrogance, self-righteousness, and downright hatred over there is about to make me heave...I understand Erika when she says she hasn't written anything lately because it is hard not to get emotional. I just don't experience this kind of hatred among Catholics toward Protestants. I do not get it.

Suzanne said...

Kelly and Elena,

I am glad to see you looked at the CARM site. Not all Evangelicals such as I are "Catholic Bashers" . As I have said here before I believe ,I was a Catholic and I "do know" my cathechism and I still chose to leave because I had problems with doctrine. I expect the same respect I give to Evangelicals and Independents who have left and embraced Catholicism. It is MY personal journey and only I am answerable to God for my decision. Please know that not all Independents, Evangelicals and Protestants share those particular views you see being exchanged. I have very dear friends who are Catholic as well as my own family. While we don't all agree on every doctrinal point they are all dear to me and really treasures the Lord has given me and I think they feel the same about me. For the record I have been a Christian for over 20 years now and I have to say in my experience you will see the Independent Fundamentalists embracing this attitude and not those belonging to say Southern Baptists or American Baptists--just an observation of being in a SBC church for years and now an American. I don't speak for all of them. I will say my husband and I stay clear of IFB /KJV only churches for their legalism that often taints the church body. Again just observation from my own experiences. Anyway, my 2 cents worth:-) I just want to make sure you know that what I see is more brotherhood and sisterhood than the opposite. Our church does alot with the RC church in the same town. I don't want to see all non-Catholics judged harshly because of the narrow-minded opinions of a select few.

Suzanne said...

I just saw a recent comment on Candy's blog that is disturbing to me:

I ask this because my dear friend has recently married a Catholic man and he wants her to become catholic to.
What she is learning goes against everything she has learnt from the Bible. (We have Always been Bible Believing Christians)
Her Husband can't answer her because he doesn't know. Infact, Praise be to the Lord he is also starting to question his faith
(I think at the moment he's afraid to go against his mother,,poor thing!)

Hello Blondie,

Can I offer a different point of view here? First the commenter states that she has been a "Bible Believing Christian". I would dare to question that since if that were the case she would understand that her and her husband would be "unequally yoked". Now , any pastor worth his salt, or priest I may add, would want to address this at a pre-marriage counseling session, no? Because of the differences in doctrine many problems can arise when wedded bliss passes and you start to rasie a family--infant baptism, confession, etc. It would seem to me by a logical analysis that neither party knew their faith if they had any in the first place. These questions would have been dealt with prior to getting married if they were important issues in the first place.

unknown anon said...

The reason why you have to study the Faith for so long when you desire to come into full communion with the Church?

To disabuse you of the heretical notions you have acquired over a lifetime of 'just me and Jesus.'

To educate you on life in Christ.

To make sure that you fully understand the ancient understandings of the Faith as passed to us through the Apostles.

So that you will understand that belief is not an instant in an 'altar call,' but a daily call to more closely conform yourself to Christ.

How's that for starters.

Suzanne said...

So that you will understand that belief is not an instant in an 'altar call,' but a daily call to more closely conform yourself to Christ.

Anon,

I am not sure you completely understand an "altar call". These do not just happen in churches during services but at all times. But I pose the question that if a person is in a RC or Protestant church and the Holy Spirit grabs him and he decides there he wants a relationship with Christ--isn't this valid? An altar call is basically a fancy term for accepting Christ as your Saviour. How would you explain the mulitudes that Jesus preached to and embraced him immediately as their Saviour? How about Paul and the Phillipian jailer that was saved? Acts 16:25-34:
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listenng to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, Do yourelf no harm , for we are all here.
Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house , he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

So I beg to differ that belief , where there was none can and does happen and in an instant. Further studying your faith and Scripture is the means to more closely conforming your image to that of Christ's as you gain understanding of who HE is.

Perplexity said...

You know, it just perplexes me why someone would go to a NONCATHOLIC such as Candy and ask these questions

I am pretty amazed at this as well. It's not only asking her about Catholicism, though. Not too long ago, someone asked her how to handle her 13 year old daughter. Candy doesn't have 13 year old, much less a 13 year old daughter. I don't understand, at all, how people go to her for these questions. It is strange, and to be honest, kind of creepy; to me at least. Candy has set herself up among young, new Christians as some sort of authority. She revels in it and that bothers me more than almost anything else she has said or done.

I agree with Blondie & Erika; it's hateful and mean spirited over there. If young innocents aren't asking the wrong source for information, then her "followers" are praising her and following her lead in condemning everything and anything Candy herself doesn't put her stamp of approval on. There is little to no real knowledge, by Candy or her crowd. She has biased sources, and her crowd uses her as a source.

It is very hard to keep composure and hold the tongue (fingers).

I give all of you a lot of credit for being able to stay on topic and not rile against her. It is so easy to do, and I do it every time I read one of her self righteous, judgmental, self-praise filled posts.

Anyone with common sense would go to the Catholic church, or a Catholic, for questions about Catholicism. Shame on Candy for taking on a roll she is not qualified to fulfill and shame on those who go to her in the first place.

unknown anon said...

Yes, I do think that one can recognize the call of God in an instant. All I said is that life in Christ is MORE than that, and that takes discipleship.

All too often, I don't see that in the lives of those who claim to be 'saved' after they walk the aisle. Even Paul had to be discipled and tested after his experience.

Kelly said...

Okay guys, remember this isn't a Candy gripe-fest.

Suzanne is being very reasonable, so please be polite to her.

Tracy said...

EXCELLENT POST KELLY!!!!

Sal said...

A lot of people who think we're a cult may have been exposed to this:
"Dangers of the Catechism Cult" at
http://www.buzzardhut.net/index/htm/Dangers.pdf

It's the usual suspects, but might explain why some think this.

Sal said...

But Suzanne, don't all those little pamphlets with the Four Step Plan of Salvation also conclude with admonitions to get a Bible and begin to read it daily, find a good Bible-believing church, fellowship with like believers, etc?

That's approximately what we're saying as well, but in a Catholic 'voice', if you like. And as we're famous for making you 'do stuff', like receive the Sacraments, shouldn't those joining up have a good understanding of what will be required of them?
I don't really think we're disagreeing much, here.

Suzanne said...

Hello Sal,

I must have missed something here so please enlighten me and forgive me for not understanding. I was addressing this part of Anon's comment:

So that you will understand that belief is not an instant in an 'altar call,' but a daily call to more closely conform yourself to Christ.

My point was that accepting Christ does happen in an instant for alot of people. In "all" churches. To conform to the likeness of Christ requires getting to know him through Scripture reading and daily living out your faith. I think Anon was saying this but in her first paragraph it didn't appear so to me.

I am not sure where you came from with this, this is where I am confused with your comment..where did this thread get picked up. Sorry, I am only on one cup of Joe and I have to drink decaf:-)

I am not sure where I am disagreeing with you?

That's approximately what we're saying as well, but in a Catholic 'voice', if you like. And as we're famous for making you 'do stuff', like receive the Sacraments, shouldn't those joining up have a good understanding of what will be required of them?
I don't really think we're disagreeing much, here


But to comment separately on your comment I do agree that once we witness to someone and they accept Christ or even want to know more we should be able to answer questions Biblically and point them to attending church and fellowship with other believers. I would point them to my church and you would point them to yours. I wouldn't show the the listings for churches I know nothing about and I am sure you woulnd't either. I have never used "pamphlets" or tracts. Most people come to me because I live my faith and I daily talk about how God and Christ impact my life--sometimes people want that and have questions and other times I imagine they must make a mental note to "stay away from that woman":-) I don't jam anything down anyone's throat either--I just live it as I am sure you do too.

So again, sorry for not quite getting your point--but I humbly ask for you to explain what your trying to make me understand.

Elena said...

So that you will understand that belief is not an instant in an 'altar call,' but a daily call to more closely conform yourself to Christ.

My point was that accepting Christ does happen in an instant for alot of people"


I think you both agree that accepting Christ can and does happen in an instant for a lot of people.

What Sal and Unknown were trying to stress is that once one has accepted Christ, how does one know how to walk the walk. That's the purpose of RCIA - it's to give a living example of how one lives in Christ along with the other studies.

I would also submit that Jesus himself taught that way! That's why we call his early followers disciples!

So you all are in agreement, Sal and UA were just concentrating on what happens after receiving Christ and more to the topic of the post.

Suzanne said...

Ahh yes, okay:-) After accepting Christ we disciple the person one on one usually and through Bible studies. We just keep pointing them to Christ and his example through Scriptue. Sorry to be so thick!

Unashamed said...

Whoa, wait a second!!! I wasn't aware that Catholics had a synergistic view of salvation. Of sanctification, yes - I knew that, but of justification? I always thought that Catholics (like Lutherans) had a monergistic view of salvation - that is, that God does it all, and that we don't "accept Jesus" or "make a decision for Jesus" or "invite Jesus into our hearts". Am I wrong in my assumption??

Sorry, I know this is OT from the original post, but this just sort of jumped out at me reading the comments.

Kelly said...

Okay unashamed, you win the "stumped Kelly" award!

I admit, I am unfamiliar with those terms. I was not able to find a Catholic position on any of my usually helpful Catholic reference sites.

Most non-Catholic sites said that Catholics hold a synergistic view, but that St. Augustine held a monergistic view. I have no idea if that is a true representation of our view or not.

Catholic Encyclopedia does have an article on justification, so maybe you could read through it and then let me know which position it took.

Reading through the Catechism section on justification, I think it seems more monergistic, but again, I'm not even sure I have a firm grasp of definitions, here!

CCC 1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" and through Baptism:34

But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.35

1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ's Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:36

[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.37

1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus' proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.39

1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God's merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or "justice") here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:40

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.41

1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God's grace and man's freedom. On man's part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:

When God touches man's heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God's grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God's sight.42

1994 Justification is the most excellent work of God's love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. It is the opinion of St. Augustine that "the justification of the wicked is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth," because "heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation and justification of the elect . . . will not pass away."43 He holds also that the justification of sinners surpasses the creation of the angels in justice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy.

1995 The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the "inner man,"44 justification entails the sanctification of his whole being:

Kelly said...

PS-Is synergism the same as semi-Pelagianism? It sounds a lot like that to me, and I know we've condemned semi-Pelagianism as a heresy.

Unashamed said...

Kelly - yeah, Semipelagianism, Pelagianism and Arminianism all have synergistic views of salvation. Arminianism says God must initiate salvation in man with grace and then man must accept grace and salvation. Semipelagianism says man can initiate the first steps towards God and then God intervenes with grace to complete the conversion. Pelagianism, I believe went even further, saying that it was possible for man to attain salvation without grace. All three views insist that unregenerated man has the capacity to cooperate in his salvation.

In contrast, mongergism insists that God acts alone in salvation; man's role is utterly passive.

I did a quick google and came across a reference to the Council of Orange in 529 AD in which the Church condemned Pelagianism, so I guess I have my answer. The reason I asked in the first place was because in one of the comments Elena made reference to "accepting Christ" (Arminianism). My guess is it was just a slip - a case of Evangelical-speak making its way into the collective Christian vernacular. I was pretty sure that the Catholic view is monergistic but I just wanted to check!

Phew! I am relieved!

Sal said...

Sorry, Suzanne,
I've been out all day. Elena cleared it up: conversion can be instantaneous, or gradual, but discipling is necessary in all cases.

Didn't mean you personally, in my remark about the pamphlets,etc. But the ones I've seen do make a point about getting some instruction post 'making a decision for Christ'.

motherofmany said...

In contrast, mongergism insists that God acts alone in salvation; man's role is utterly passive.

Doesn't that go against the reason for holding Mary in such high esteem because she accepted the role? The differencer between Mary and Eve being that Mary agreed to the plan? There was some backlash just a few posts ago about calling her 'merely a vessel', but according to the mongergism theology, God works alone and man's role is passive. So according to this premise, God worked alone and Mary was passive,and therefor she is not deserving of special honors because it was not her acceptajnce but her passiveness that allowedthe will of the Father to be fulfilled. And her example certainly fits that category of salvation, especially with the idea of co-redemprix and preservation from sin.

Kelly said...

Certainly, it was because of God's grace that Mary said yes. She is, after all "full of grace." ;)

Her soul magnifies the glory of the Lord, not her own glory in accepting the will of God. But she still had free will, and could have rejected that grace.

Elena said...

Amy we just did a whole month on explaining Marian doctrines. You might want to review those.

motherofmany said...

I read the posts about Marian doctrines. That doesn't explain the difference between God working solely in our salvation vs. Mary being venerated for her decision to obey. If we still have free will, we do have a part in our own salvation. Just as the debate about works- are they something for which you are responsible or is it completly the work of God through you? If your willingness to accept is required, then it cannot be completely done by God while you are passive. It would require action on your part, and that would make the idea of mongergism obsolete. In fact, by definition it fits better with the idea of sola fide than it does the requirement of sacraments.

Unashamed said...

Amy, Mary's "willingness to accept" came AFTER God brought her to faith. I'm not quite sure I understand what you see to be the contradiction. I think we may be talking about two different things...

I would prefer not to speak to the Catholic understanding of the role of man's will in salvation, I am not Catholic after all. However I recently blogged about this on my own blog if you are interested. http://askalutheran.blogspot.com/2008/05/im-no-theologian-but.html
The post addresses the role of man's will in salvation from a Lutheran perspective.

Kelly said...

Amy, the fine line between faith and works, and grace and faith, these are topics which have been debated for centuries by theologians far more intelligent and better educated than me. So, while it sounds like an easy out, I'm afraid I really can't answer your question any further than I have.

Moonshadow said...

I want to address this ...

Roman Catholics are quick to say that the Eucharist is not a re-sacrifice of Christ. They want to make it clear that Christ was offered once for all and that the Mass is not a re-sacrifice but a "re-presentation" of the sacrifice.

with a couple of Bible verses:

"For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things, like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish." (1 Peter 1:18-19)

Peter believes and teaches that the blood shed by Christ on Calvary is available to his post-resurrection readers. Peter contrasts Christ's blood with "perishable things." Christ's blood was available to Christians in Peter's day. It's available to Christians now. And it will be available to the tribulation saints who wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14).

Not another sacrifice but a perpetual or continued participation in the once-for-all sacrifice.

The one who opposes God seeks to remove the daily sacrifice, Dan. 8:11-12.