What is a false religion according to Catholicism?

I have been recently interested in “false religions” amd “false prophets” (since so many in Catholicism consider the Baha’i Faith as a false religion)

My question is, what are the factors that make any religion a false religion, founded by a false prophet?

How does the Catholic community differentiate these factors that pronounce falsehood, from the verities of Catholicism itself? Why is Jesus not a “false prophet”?

Thankyou and God bless :slight_smile:


I assume anything that disagrees with Group A’s teachings is, from the point of view of Group A, false. So Group B’s prophets are false prophets, Group B’s writings are false writings. Only in the areas though where they disagree. For example two groups that agree on the Divinity of Jesus would consider the other group’s teaching that Jesus was divine to be a true teaching. However if Group A professed a belief in the Trinity and Group B did not, then the denial of the Trinity by B would be a false teaching.

A false religion, from the point of view of Catholicism, would be a religion that differs in any important teaching from the views held by the Catholic Church.

Further to this point, Baha’i is considered a False Religion because they teach things that Catholicism does not. Specifically, things that go against the tenants of Catholicism. I’m sure there are many Catholics who do not have anything personally against you or your religion. They just claim it is false. Like a man saying the moon was made of rubber would be told that statement was false.

To perhaps expand your understanding of other faiths, you may find helpful to refer to this teaching from the official Catechism of the Catholic Church


Some sources regarding false prophets

" Now the Spirit manifestly saith, that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils, Speaking lies in hypocrisy, and having their conscience seared…" 1 Tim 4:1-2
For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. 2 Tim 4:3-4

Church Teaching:

"But while the preaching of the divine Word should never be interrupted in the Church, surely in these, our days, it becomes necessary to labour with more than ordinary zeal and piety to nourish and strengthen the faithful with sound and wholesome doctrine, as with the food of life. For false prophets have gone forth into the world, to corrupt the minds of the faithful with various and strange doctrines, of whom the Lord has said: I did not send prophets, yet they ran; I spoke not to them, yet they prophesied" Catechism of Council of Trent, Need of an Authoritative Catholic Catechism."


"See the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia at [www.newadvent.org](www.newadvent.org) on the topic of "Imposters" for a history of many examples of false prophets throughout the history of the Church. Scripture foretold us about these false prophets, so they are no surprise!"


In the various writings of St. Paul in the Bible, he deals with many problems caused by what he calls false teachers.

These teachers are those, for example, who would have converts to Christianity follow various Jewish customs of the Old Testament “law” such as circumcision or follow various food laws prohibiting eating of “unclean” animals, as defined in the Old Testament.

On its own terms, the New Testament would condemn any religion that is not based on Jesus Christ as the savior of mankind, Jesus is God in the flesh, the necessity of Baptism (not just a ritual but an initiation to a specific moral life), etc.

Hello EviPolevhia :slight_smile:

By your very same logic then, what do you make of the teachings of Christ that differ from the important teachings of Moses? Namely, the changing of the Sabbath Day, and the disagreements He had with the Pharisees over divorce, and putting away one’s wife (e.g Matt 19:1-10)

By your own very logic, Christianity is a false religion. God forbid! This is assuredly false logic!

So I ask you again, please re-think your mindset and lets thrash out a point of concord and reciprocity :slight_smile:

Can you name any teaching of the Baha’i Faith that goes against the tenants of Catholicism?

God bless you, and I pray for your journey to be enlightened :slight_smile:


I think Catholicism points to elements of truth in many religions but also states they do not contain the fullness of truth. IOW, other religions may not be completely false even though they lack the truth as viewed by the Church.

I do hear this phrase quite often here on this forum :slight_smile:

What exactly is “the fullness of truth”?

(Matthew 7:15) Christ did not say “beware of half false, half true prophets”…He said “beware of false prophets”

(Matthew 7:16) Christ did not say “by their fruits ye shall know the half true/half false prophets”…He said “by their fruits ye shall know them”

The very fact that He even said “by their fruits ye shall know THEM” is an indication that there will be other prophets after Jesus…

…there is no such thing as a prophet that speaks “elements of truth”…only by their deeds/fruits will you know them. If they bring forth “goodly fruits” then they speak ALL truth.

Please discuss, and God bless you all :slight_smile:

“In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love…”


This is what I think is meant by “fullness of the truth”:

Christianity is the truth. Religions which are not Christian cannot lead to salvation. There is none other but Jesus Christ from whom salvation comes from.

But even within Christianity there are heresies and teachings which are false. It is the Catholic Church that teaches the full truth without heresy.

Hi Suraya, I think I may have offended you, personally somehow…lets start again…Hello :slight_smile:

I agree with you half true DOES equal false…however, the Catholic Church says in the Catechism that there are “elements of truth” in many religions. What is your understanding of this passage quoted by meltzerboy above?

Hello again :slight_smile:


Hi again Suraya :slight_smile:

Here’s the full quote from Matthew: (relating to false prophets)

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Why don’t you share with us your understanding of this passage?


One other thing Suraya :slight_smile:

If as you say “by their deeds, we will know that they are liars”, what are to make of the “deeds” of the Vatican throughout history. Can we therefore, by your reasoning, assume the Pope to be a liar?


The Church teaches that there is truth in every religion, but not every religion is the truth.

The Pope is not Jesus. The Pope is not a prophet. The Pope teaches nothing new at all, simply reiterates what Jesus - whose deeds proclaim Him to be no liar - taught. And makes it more understandable and accessible to us.

No prophethood in that. And no special virtue required. Simply teaching and leadership skills.

I would argue that false prophets use elements of some truth to deceive. If everything they believed or said was false, their deception would be much easier to discern.

Actually part of this talks about false prophets and the other part talks about true disciples. We must be careful not to take verses out of context. I see these verses as Christ comparing and contrasting false and true Christian disciples (ie. what makes a true disciple). This is not necessaily a warning about prophets of other religions. It is a warning to all of us to follow Him completely. If we truly follow Him, people should see that in our deeds.

Edit: In fact, all of Chapter 7 of Matthew is talking about how to be a good Christian disciple (judging others, narrow vs wide gates, prayer, Golden Rule, Two Foundations).

Having said that, how does one follow Him completely? In His Catholic Church.

Easy and short: Every non-Catholic religion is false.

Does it meet this criteria:

Romans 10:
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”[g]

Does the founder of such religion have any connection with being sent by any of the Apostles?

from 1John 4…6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Does the teaching of such church/faith come from any apostle? Can you trace a direct line to any apostle? Does it deviate from the teachings of the Apostles? Does it have Apostolic approval?

1 Samuel 15:22-23
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”

Was if founded as a result of disobedience, rebellion?

Does the Bahai faith meet any of these criteria?

On this whole “fullness of truth” business… I think a lot of that debate is boiling down to semantics. One poster says “The Catholic Church acknowledges the truths taught by some religions without acknowledging that the religion itself is true.” Another poster comes in and says “No! It’s all false!”

The religion itself may be false insofar as it is not true revelation, but it may contain elements of truth. For instance, with the simplest example:

Is Judaism a false religion?

-It is false insofar as Jews do not recognize the truth that Jesus is the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world, etc etc.
-It contains elements of truth in that they recognize the Old Testament to be scripture, and they recognize all of our prophets up to Jesus.
-CCC 1096: “Better knowledge of the Jewish people’s faith and religious life as professed and lived even now can help our better understanding of certain aspects of Christian liturgy.”

A less simple one:

Is Zoroastrianism a false religion?

-It is false insofar as they do not acknowledge any of our scriptures, have their own set of scriptures that we do not recognize as divine revelation, etc etc
-It contains elements of truth in recognizing the very real existence of evil.

In any event, I see no reason to not acknowledge that many religions have some things right, but fall short. Some fall further short than others. I don’t think it’s helpful to get caught up in the language of the “half-truth” and “full truth” of a religion. Doing so means that Catholics would have to disagree that 2+2=4, just because Pagans invented basic arithmetic.


The question of false prophets is in relation to the Christian faith. If anyone claims to be ‘the prophet like unto Moses’ (Deut. 18:18), then that individual is a false prophet.

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise of God that was given to Moses, and the people of Israel in accordance with the declaration of our Christian faith.

Regardless of the truths of monotheism that Islam exhibits, according to the Christian faith Mohammed is not that prophet like unto Moses. Regardless of the truths that the church of the LDS may profess, Joseph Smith is not that prophet like unto Moses. Anyone else who claims to be a ‘manifestation of God’, or ‘the glory of God’, or the Messiah would also be considered a false prophet.

Secondly, if anyone claims to be aligned with the Christian faith, but denies the Apostle’s
Creed, that individual, or faith is false with regard to our Christian faith.

The Apostle’s Creed:

**I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.**

Thirdly and not lastly, “if anyone says, they love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar”.

This is not to say that there are no other faiths, or individuals who hold to, or abide by certain revealed truths. Monotheism is central to Judaism, Islam and Baha’i and we should for that reason have a higher regard for individuals of such faiths. Ours is not to judge their relationship with God.

Unless they hold to these aforesaid principles, we are not able to call them ‘brethren’ in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.

These are strictly my thoughts from my understanding of scripture and church teaching.
I am willing to stand corrected.

God’s peace


What is a false religion? From the words of a wise man
“Any one that asks for your money”. Simple as that :smiley: . If the sermon is good people will give money to support it. But when a person is on the pulpit preaching for you to reach into your pockets then he is a fake. Simple as that

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