I spent the first 18 years of my life as a dedicated Catholic. I attended church faithfully every week, went to Catholic school, and learned a lot about my religion (at the time). I say this not to brag - I don’t consider any of these facts to credit me anything - I say it to be clear that I know what it is I’m talking about. I’m not just making up stuff.
- The NT Epistles (especially Romans) screams Sola Fide to me. The RCC means of justification is confusing and awkward: If you are lucky enough (a phrase I know many will hate) to die in “a state of grace” you get to burn your venial sins away in purgatory then go to heaven. The RCC believes in salvation by grace, but discredits itself in that claim with its list of dos and don’ts (that effect salvation) while you must DO the sacraments to get that grace (it isn’t free). Can someone please clarify as much as possible and reconcile salvation by grace through faith with the RCC rituals and requirements?
In my opinion, one of the most dangerous parts of the Roman Catholic church is exactly this. RCC has become a rules-based religion. It operates not according to grace, but according to man based rules. To be a good RCC you HAVE to go to church every week, take confession regularly, you can’t eat meat on fridays during lent, you have to genuflect properly when getting into your pew, and you have to do many other things that are not the laws of God, but are the rules of men. Paul says it all in Galatians 5:
1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Paul wasn’t just talking about circumcision, he was talking about living according to the law. This refers to the RCC “law” just as much as it does to OT law. The set of RCC practices have truly become a system of “law” as surely as the laws of the pharisees in Jesus time had. They are a set of rules created by men that superceed the rules of God. God commands us to live freely under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, not according to the laws of men. This is the same thing he talked about in 1 Corinthians 10. We are to live freely with our conscience guided by the Holy Spirit. This is not the model lived by the RCC.
The danger of any rules based religion is two fold. First, it makes our salvation depended on our own actions, not the grace of God. Second, it places an artificial barrier between us and God. God seeks to have a personal relationship with us, and it’s hard to be “personal” with a God when you can only approach him after you have gotten dressed up, gone to confession, and gotten on your knees to be with him. God wants to relate to us as we are, not through a set of rules. The RCC “laws” but distance between us and God that shouldn’t be there.