By Rick Jones
The headline on the front cover of the July, 1995 Charisma magazine read, "Catholics and Protestants, Can We Walk Together?"
Several articles inside suggest that, yes, we can. But the Bible reveals many reasons why true Christians have never, and will never, be able to walk together with Roman Catholics.
A primary reason is the Roman Catholic doctrine which declares all non-Catholics to be hell-bound sinners. No, you will never hear these words from the Catholic Public Relations people. On the contrary, they will quickly deny it, labeling the accuser as a divisive troublemaker. However, the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official source of Roman Catholic doctrine, proclaims:
"For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained." Pg. 215, #816 (emphasis added)
Could the Catholic position be any plainer? The fact that many Catholics aren't aware of this doctrine changes nothing. I remember a recent phone conversation with a rather knowledgeable Catholic lady. When I mentioned this Catholic doctrine, she screeched: "The Catholic church doesn't believe that anymore!" But they do. The most current Catechism reassures us that:
"...all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: ...Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it." Pg. 224, #846 (emphasis added)
This is not a new Catholic doctrine. Previous catechisms have taught the same. Here is a quote from the 1949 Baltimore Catechism:
Question: "Are all obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved?" Answer: "All are obliged to belong to the Catholic Church to be saved." (New Baltimore Catechism, No. 3, Pg. 93, #166)
Rest assured, the Catholic church does NOT want you reading quotes like these. The last document they want you investigating is the official source of Catholic doctrine, the Catechism.
They would rather have you learn Catholic doctrine from their professionally trained representatives who are appearing on Christian TV and Christian radio. They hope your opinions about Catholicism will be derived from propaganda pieces like the one in the July, 1995 Charisma magazine.
Salvation through the Catholic church is but one of a host of doctrines that will forever divide true Protestants from Roman Catholics. Other Protestants may disagree, but I could never walk together with a church that publicly acknowledges me as a brother in Christ, but whose official doctrine condemns me as a lost sinner.
I could not walk together with a church that contends that faith in a church is necessary for salvation when the Bible declares that salvation is a free gift of God through Jesus Christ alone. (See Rom. 6:23, Acts 4:12.)
I could never walk together with a church that would ask me to deny the words of Jesus Christ in John 6:47: "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."
Can Protestants walk together with Roman Catholics? Only if the Protestants are willing to forsake the cardinal doctrines of their faith and deny the Holy Scriptures.