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Are Catholics Christian?

Question: Are Catholics Christians? If not, why? This is not a negative question. I desire to honestly know if Catholics are considered to be part of the Christian faith.

Answer: This is a most important question anybody can ask. Am I a Christian? Or am I a Christian in name only? Do I have a living relationship with Christ?

Well then, who has the right to call himself Christian? Like the Jews of old, people still fool themselves in thinking that they are right with God because of some ritual (like circumcision or baptism) or because of their heritage ("I was born into a Christian family and attend a Christian church").

According to the Bible, a true Christian is chosen by God before the foundation of the world, redeemed and forgiven by the blood of Christ, illuminated by the Spirit, knows and obeys the truth of the Gospel. A Christian is someone who trusts in Christ for his salvation, and gives all praise to God for His grace. (Please read Ephesians 1:3-13).

Does a Roman Catholic fit this description? Superficially he does. He believes in Christ and speaks about the grace of God. But if he follows the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, regretfully I must say that he does not really believe in Christ nor does he know the grace of God. Please allow me to explain.

The Gospel teaches that "a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28). God regards a person just and righteous who trusts wholeheartedly in Jesus, and who does not attempt to win God's favour by his imperfect obedience of the Law. Sadly, Roman theology has rejected God's way of salvation. To faith, Rome adds a set of deeds (many of which are human inventions) and curses anyone who dares to completely trust in Christ alone for salvation. 'If anyone says that the faith that justifies is nothing else but trust in the divine mercy, which pardons sins because of Christ, or that it is that trust alone by which we are justified, let him be anathema.' (Council of Trent, session 6, cannon 12).

We firmly believe that our sins are pardoned because of the sacrifice of Christ alone. Rome would have us perform acts of penance and suffer in purgatory to expiate our sins. The Bible proclaims Christ, the Priest who offered himself once for all. Rome would have us apply to her priests who daily offer their sacrifices on the altar. The Bible proclaims Christ as the only Mediator, Rome would have us apply to other mediators, like Mary, the saints and the church.

Again, we assert that we are "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24). The Bible clearly defines what grace is: "to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt" (Romans 4:4) Grace is unmerited favour, as opposed to the merit of works. Rome outwardly teaches that we are justified by grace. However the "grace" of Catholicism is a very strange species. The Catholic Church states that "we can then merit for ourselves...the graces needed...for the attainment of eternal life" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2010). To merit grace is a contradiction in terms. Rome would not allow you to receive the gift of salvation with a grateful heart, but would have you work like a slave to merit it.

We are forced to conclude that the message of Rome is a different gospel. It is a false gospel. I say this with much sadness and concern for the multitudes of Catholics who blindly follow this false system. I must warn every Catholic that Christ is of no avail to you unless you relinquish any confidence in yourself and your works, and in every other creature. Faith must be in Christ - alone!

Having said that, I gladly add the following caveat. There may be some nominal Catholics who, either out of ignorance or willful rejection of Catholic doctrine, truly trust in Christ alone for their salvation. They are Christians and really belong to God.

The book of Revelation describes a deceptive and false religious system named Babylon. It is not my intention here to discuss the exact nature of this Babylon - the principle remains the same. Some Christians are trapped inside this deceptive system and God gives them a specific command: "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Revelation 18:4). Thank God that even in Babylon, God has His people. If you are a Christian entrapped in the false religious system of Rome, hear God's calling and come out of her. You will experience liberty and life like never before.

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A