Our separated family


If you are a protestant who has stumbled across this page, you are most welcome. Here you will find plentiful information about what the Church really believes and why the Church believes it. But, it is to be hoped, you will find more than that - you will also find a sense of community, a real community, and a family eager to welcome you home. Be assured you are among friends.

Taking the step from a protestant denomination into Catholicism is a difficult one, fraught with spiritual, personal, familial and intellectual challenges, but many others have already decided to become Catholic. Throughout the US and UK and the world at large, protestant numbers are declining, in most cases sharply. Meanwhile, the numbers and percentage of Catholics hold steady or increase.

The reasons why protestants become Catholics are as varied as the individuals themselves, but many have a yearning for stability, for the unchanging social values and ethical framework which have been abandoned by most larger protestant groups, especially since modernity has discredited itself with tribalism and relativism, and most of all for a more developed relationship with Christ.

Please take the time to browse through this resource, perhaps attend some Catholic events, and enjoy a few books written by former protestants who have converted to the Catholic faith. Recommended reading material:

These books will appeal to evangelical protestants, progressive protestants, and every other variety of protestant inclination. More information is presented below - please keep in mind that none of this is meant to be offensive or confrontational, but rather is shared in the gentle spirit of truth and compassion.

  1. The Biblical foundations of Catholicism
  2. Origins of the Bible
  3. Translations of the Bible into the Vernacular
  4. Martin Luther
  5. Presbyterians
  6. Methodists
  7. Baptists
  8. Jehovah's Witnesses
  9. Mormons or Latter Day Saints

The Biblical foundations of Catholicism

One of the main misconceptions many protestants tend to have about the Catholic faith is the idea that it's more of a man-made construct than anything based on Scripture. Below you will find references to Holy Scripture which both respond to common protestant beliefs and explain Catholic ones.

This list should be taken as neither definitive nor exhaustive. Please click on a link below to learn more.

  1. Sola scriptura
  2. Sola fide
  3. Salvation, once and for all
  4. Deuterocanonicals
  5. Purgatory
  6. The Eucharist
  7. Baptism of infants
  8. Forgiveness of sins
  9. Papacy and infallibility
  10. "Brothers" of Jesus
  11. Mary
  12. Saints
  13. Statues, images and relics
  14. Church and authority
  15. Priesthood and worship
  16. Justification

Sola scriptura

Not everything is in the Bible.

Paul speaks of the oral tradition:

More on oral tradition:

Early Christians followed Apostolic tradition:

The Bible is difficult to understand and easy to distort:

Personal interpretation is something to be avoided:

Guidance is needed to interpret Scriptures

Sola fide

On salvation by faith alone, and faith without works.

Sin must be avoided:

Earning forgiveness:

The will of God is to be done:

Obedience in the body:

The merit of works for Christians:

You must work to keep the commandments:

Salvation, once and for all


Deuterocanonicals are elements of the Old Testament that protestants choose to treat as less than authoritative. However these "missing" books are widely mentioned in the Scriptures, as illustrated below.


The Eucharist

Baptism of infants

Forgiveness of sins

Papacy and infallibility

Peter is always mentioned first.

Peter speaks for the apostles.

Peter first preaches after the Pentecost

Peter works the first healing

That the Gentiles were to be baptised is revealed to Peter

Simon is called Cephas, which means, in Aramaic, Rock

Keys as the symbol of authority

Feed my sheep

Vicars of Christ, in persona Christi

Call no one holy

"Brothers" of Jesus

Mary wife of Cleophas and "sister" of the Virgin Mary is the mother of James and Joses who are called the "brothers of Jesus"

The apostles, Mary, "some women" and Jesus' "brothers" number about 120. That is a lot of "brothers."

Jesus gives care of Mary to John, not one of his "brothers."


The Biblical sources of the "Hail Mary" prayer

1. Hail Mary, full of Grace
Luke 1:28 (Hail, full of Grace)

The Angel Gabriel greets Mary with very respectful greeting used for royalty. The text doesn’t say “Mary” after Hail but it is implied. Gabriel then proclaims Mary full of Grace (full of God’s own life and love)

2. The Lord is with You
Luke 1:28 (The Lord is with you)
This is word for word. The Angel Gabriel said that the Lord is with Mary; she is full of his Grace, his own life.

3. Blessed are you among Women
Luke 1:41 (Blessed are you among women)

Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit; she is inspired by the 3rd person of the Blessed Trinity to proclaim that Mary is the most blessed among all women.

4. And Blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus
Luke 1:42 (and blessed is the fruit of your womb)

Elizabeth still inspired by the Holy Spirit proclaims that the fruit of Mary’s womb, the developing Jesus, is blessed. The text doesn’t say “Jesus” after womb, but it is implied, the fruit of her womb is Jesus.

5. Holy Mary, Mother of God
Luke 1:43 (And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?)

Mary is full of God’s grace; this would make her holy. Mary is the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity. Since Jesus is God this makes her the mother of God. She is the mother of the God-Man Jesus, not the mother of the Trinity.

6. Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death
James 5:16 (Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects)

St. James tells Christians to pray for one another. All the baptised are members of the body of Christ (1Cor 12:12-14), therefore it is right to pray for other members of the body. James goes on to say that the prayers of the righteous have great power. What human (other then Jesus) is more righteous then the Blessed Mother. Though she is in heaven she still hears the prayers of her children on Earth and intercedes for them.

Enoch and Elijah are taken to heaven as Mary was


Coronation awaits the Saints

Mary's intercession


The Saints are united with God

Deceased Onias and Jeremiah interceded for the Jews

Statues, images and relics

The decoration and beautification of churches

A letter from Pope Gregory the Great of 600, to Serenus, bishop of Marseille

For indeed it has reached our ears that as you were burning with uncontrolled zeal, you began breaking the images of the saints with the rather weak excuse that they ought not to be worshipped. Indeed, that you had banned their adoration, we fully applauded you, but we condemn you for having broken them.

Tell me, brother, when have you ever heard of some other priest doing what you did? If never, should that not have warned you that you were despising all other brethren in your belief that you alone were holy and wise?

For the worship of a picture is one thing but learning what should be worshipped through the story on a picture is something else. For what writing provides for readers, this a picture provides for uneducated people looking at it, for in it the ignorant see what they should follow and the illiterate read the same from it. Thus a picture serves as a text, especially for pagans.

Church and authority

The power of excommunication

Priesthood and worship

Call no one father

Paul was unmarried, and celibacy


Vain reptition




Justification can be defined as "translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior." Both Protestants and Catholics can agree that the basic meaning of the verb "to justify" is "to make righteous." When we are justified, we receive a righteousness that we did not have before. Namely, we receive the righteousness of Christ or the righteousness of God.

To explain their common claim that when we are justified we receive the exact, personal righteousness of Christ, Protestants employ a legal metaphor. They say that when we are justified God declares us righteous, just as a judge declares a person innocent of having committed a crime. They therefore often say that when we are justified we receive a legal or forensic righteousness because God simply declares us to be righteous before the courts of heaven.

Catholics go beyond this and say that God gives us more than merely forensic righteousness—that the righteousness he gives us is more than a legal fiction, more than just an accounting procedure. Instead, when God justifies us he actually constitutes us in righteousness. He discharges our debt to the courts of heaven so that we are restored to a state of righteousness. We are now innocent, our penalty having been paid by Christ, so that we now no longer owe any debt to God's eternal justice. Jesus paid it all. There may still be temporal factors to our sins that we have to deal with, but Christ fully paid the eternal price of our sins, and so we are restored to righteousness before God.

To explain how this goes beyond the legal fiction view of righteousness, Catholics sometimes use metaphysical language, which conceives of guilt and innocence as objectively real properties which cling to our souls just like colors cling to the surface of objects. When we sin, we become guilty and our souls grow dark and dirty before God. But when we are justified, God purifies us and our souls become brilliant and clean before him. Guilt and innocence, righteousness and unrighteousness, are therefore conceived of as properties of our souls—properties which change depending on our sins and our subsequent justification by God.

Even though Protestants do not normally use this language to talk about justification, there is no reason why they cannot. In fact, the Catholic will point out that there are very good reasons for Protestants to accept the claim that when we are justified God removes one objectively real property of our souls and replaces it with another.

First, moral realism demands it. Protestants are firm believers in moral realism. Our actions are either right or wrong, good or bad, and they are that way objectively, regardless of how we feel about it. Protestants are the first to agree that moral relativism is a crock. If you commit a homosexual act, it is simply wrong and perverted, no matter what you think about it. It's just wrong. Wrongness is an objectively real moral property that attaches itself to certain actions.

But for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you intentionally commit a objectively wrong act, then you become objectively guilty. Guilt is therefore an objectively real moral property as well. The same goes for positive moral properties, like righteousness. If you intentionally perform an objectively righteous act then you become objectively righteous. Righteousness, like guilt, is an objective property just as guilt is, and it clings to your soul just in the same way that guilt does.

So moral realism—to which Protestants are firmly committed—requires us to say that guilt and innocence, righteousness and unrighteousness, are exactly the kind of objectively real properties that Catholics say they are.

Another reason why Protestants need to accept the language of objective guilt and innocence is that the Bible itself uses this kind of language. It often speaks of guilt and innocence in terms of objective properties, such as colors or cleanliness. Scripture speaks of our sins being "crimson like scarlet" (Isaiah 1:18), and the Psalmist says "wash me with hyssop and I shall be whiter than snow." (Psalm 51:7). It is also the kind of righteousness Scripture has in mind when it talks about our sins making us "unclean" or "filthy" and our forgiveness making us "pure" and "clean" before God. In these passages, guilt and innocence are conceived of as objectively real properties that cling to us just like colors and cleanliness.

Protestants often say that we receive Christ's own personal righteousness when we are justified. This is what they have in mind when they say that when we are justified God treats us just like Christ—that God looks at us and sees Christ instead.

If God simply saw us as Christ, if he gave us Christ's own personal righteousness, then we would all be rewarded equally in heaven. Since Scripture clearly teaches that there will be different degrees of reward in heaven (1Cor. 3:12-15), we must conclude that we will have different degrees of righteousness. We may all be free of any unrighteousness—by virtue of our sins having been taken away—but we will not all share the same degree of positive righteousness before God.

Similarly, if we all received Christ's own personal righteousness then we would all be rewarded equally with Christ. We would all have exactly the same level of glory as our Savior who went to the Cross for us. This is clearly unacceptable.

Scripture teaches that because Christ went to the Cross, God gave him "the name above every name" (Phil. 2:8-9; cf. Eph 1:20-21). Having the name above every name is therefore a unique blessing Christ has received because he alone went to the Cross. He alone did that righteous act that get him the name above every name.

But if we all received Christ's own personal righteousness, then we would all receive names as glorious as Christ's. So Christ would no longer have a name above everybody else's. Our names would be just as blessed as Christ's. "James Akin" would be a name equal in glory to that of Jesus of Nazareth. This is clearly unacceptable. Christ alone has that uniquely glorious name because Christ alone went to the Cross and Christ alone has the level of righteousness that comes from going to the Cross.

Furthermore, Scripture states that Christ has the preeminence in all things (Col 1:18). But if we all received a level of glory equal to him then he would no longer be preeminent in all things. He might be preeminent in the sense that he alone is the God-man while we are just men, but he would not be preeminent in all things because he would not be preeminent in glory. All redeemed human beings would have the same level of glory that he will.

Finally, there are simply no verses in Scripture which state that we receive Christ's own personal level of righteousness. None!

Most Protestants don't know this. They have heard so often the theory that we are given Christ's own personal righteousness that they accept it without thinking about it, assuming Scripture teaches it, but in fact there are no passages anywhere in the New Testament which state that we are given Christ's own personal righteousness.

There are passages (such as Romans 5:12-20) which state that we are given the gift of righteousness and made righteous on account of Christ, but there are absolutely no passages which state that we receive Christ's personal level of righteousness. The claim that we do by the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura was rightly rejected by Trent.

Now consider the words of Ludwig Ott,

"Merit is dependant on the free ordinance of God to reward with everlasting bliss the good works performed by His grace. On account of the infinite distance between Creator and creature, man cannot of himself make God his debtor, if God does not do so by His own free ordinance. That God has made such an ordinance, is clearly from His promise of eternal reward ... St. Augustine says: 'The Lord has made Himself a debtor, not by receiving, but by promising. Man cannot say to Him, 'give back what thou hast received' but only, 'Give what thou has promised'" (Enarr. in Ps. 83, 15).

One can see from these quotations that Catholicism does not teach that merit would be possible apart from God's promise to reward our acts of love. In fact, the idea of merit and reward are two sides of the same coin in Catholic theology. A proper definition of a merit would simply be "a good action which God has promised to reward." Since Protestants themselves believe that God will reward our acts of love, Protestants themselves believe in the idea of merit as the term is here defined. They believe that we do good acts, and that God has promised to give rewards for these acts, therefore they believe in merits; they simply do not use the term to describe them.

Of course, modern Protestants feel the term "merit" should not be used to describe such actions, since in the Protestant mind the term has very legalistic overtones and connotes the idea of earning something before God through force of effort which then places God in our debt so that he owes us salvation. However, this is not the Catholic teaching. As the passages we quoted above indicate, Catholics do not believe that our toil and efforts place any kind of claim on God.

The benefit he gives us always infinitely exceeds the amount of effort we expend, and the only kind of claim we have on him whatsoever is based on his free promise to reward us when we do acts of love. All our rewards are given by the overflowing bounty of God, which is why Catholics teach that rewards are both a merit and a grace at the same time. They are a grace in the sense that apart from the promise of God we would have no claim on them, but in what sense, a Protestant might ask, can we say that they have been merited if they have not been strictly earned?

In this sense: When a Catholic says that something has been merited, he means that the human action in some sense makes it "fitting" that the reward be bestowed. But one action may make another action "fitting" in one of two ways.

First, one action may make another fitting because there is some similarity between the two actions. For example, if I act generously toward others then that makes it fitting that others act generously toward me. There is a correspondence between the qualities of the two actions. In the most general terms, if a person does something good then that makes it fitting that something good happen to him.

Second, one action may make another fitting if it fulfills the conditions on which the second act is promised. For example, if someone promises to give me a million euros for wearing a blue shirt to work one day, then if I wear a blue shirt my action makes it fitting that the other person give me the million euros, not because wearing the blue shirt somehow earned the million euros, but in the sense that I have fulfilled the conditions the other person laid out in his promise. It is fitting for him to keep his word, and since I have fulfilled his conditions, my action makes it fitting that he give me what he promised.

In Catholic theology, these two kinds of fittingness play a very important role in the concept of merit. An action is said to be an example of congruent merit if it has the first kind of fittingness but not the second (that is, if it makes the reward fitting because of their similarity of quality, but not on the basis of a promise). An action is said to be an example of condign merit if it has both kinds of fittingness (that is, if it both makes the reward fitting because of their similarity of quality and because of a divine promise).

To put it another way, a person congruently merits that something good happen to them if they do something good but there is no promise in view, and a person merits something condignly if they do something good and there is a promise attached to that action. It is the latter form of merit which the Council of Trent is concerned with when it discusses merit, but neither one of these forms implies that the reward given is not an act of grace on God's part.

As a result, the term "to merit" in Catholic theology simply means "to make fitting." It does not mean to earn by force of effort or anything like that. In the strict sense, the only person who can merit anything is Christ; we are only capable of meriting in the limited, analogous, relative sense outlined above.

Given this understanding of merit, there is no reason that a Protestant needs to object to the doctrine of merit.

Therefore, Protestants and Catholics need not fight over whether there are such things as merits. And they need not fight over the term "merit" (remember Paul's command in 2 Tim. 2:14 to avoid quarrels about terminology). They also need not fight about which phase of justification the idea of merit applies to since Catholics admit that merit is impossible before one is initially justified and since the primary time merits are going to be rewarded is in the Last Day, at our final justification.

The only thing Protestants and Catholics might argue about is what specific things God has promised to reward. One point of potential conflict on this issue is the Catholic claim, stated in Trent's sixteenth chapter, that eternal life can itself be merited by our acts of love. Remember the sense of the word "merit" that is being used here: Trent is not claiming that we can by force of effort earn eternal life on the Last Day; it is simply claiming that God has promised to reward our acts of love by giving us eternal life when we stand before him.

This is something Scripture teaches quite clearly. For example, in Romans 2:6-7 the Apostle Paul states, that God "'will give to each person according to what he has done.' To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life." (NIV). We can cut out the terms "glory" and "honor" since these deal with things other than eternal life, but look at what Paul says, "To those who by persistence in doing good seek ... immortality, he will give eternal life."

There is therefore a sense in which we seek after immortality by persistence in doing good, and it is a sense which will be rewarded, because in response for persistence in doing good God gives eternal life on the Last Day. As a result, God has promised to give eternal life in response to good works, or persistence in doing good.

The same truth is taught elsewhere in Scripture. For example, St. James says, "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12) Here God has promised to give a crown of life (a symbol for eternal life) to those who love him. Therefore, God has promised to give eternal life in response to love. Of course, God himself gives us the love, but this does not change the fact that eternal life is promised in response to it.

Similarly, in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, the sheep are given eternal life (Matt. 25:46) because they performed acts of love (25:35-40). There are therefore abundant grounds in Scripture for saying that God has promised eternal life in response to act of love/good works. The teaching of Trent's sixteenth chapter is thus vindicated upon an examination of Scripture.

Trent also issues some very forceful warnings about how the doctrine of merit it to be understood. For example, it states that "Christ Jesus Himself, as the head into the members and the vine into the branches, continually infuses strength into those justified, which strength always precedes, accompanies and follows their good works, and without which they could not in any manner be pleasing or meritorious before God." Trent thus teaches that merit is only possible because of the strength Christ gives us, which is part of the process of doing acts of love from beginning to end.

Trent also forbids anyone to boast in himself rather than in the Lord, saying,

"[F]ar be it that a Christian should either trust or glory in himself and not in the Lord, whose bounty toward all amen is so great that He wishes the things that are His gifts to be their merits. And since in many things we all offend, each one of us ought to have before his eyes not only the mercy and goodness but also the severity and judgement [of God]; neither ought anyone to judge himself, even though he be not conscious of anything; because the whole life is to be examined and judged not by the judgement of man but of God, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts and then shall every man have praise from God"

Therefore, Trent very forcefully exhorts us not to become self-confident or glory or trust in ourselves, but only in the Lord.

Read more here, used with thanks.

Origins of the Bible

Few protestants raise an eyebrow over the fact that there is a two thousand year gap between the Scripture’s inspiration and their personal copy of sacred Scripture.

For them, what transpired in those intervening years really isn’t very important. What really matters is that they have a Bible and that they can use it to confirm doctrine. As long as we end up with a Bible, what harm is done? But it still begs the larger question: Where did the Bible come from?

“Not Done in a Corner”

Let’s consider this last statement from the perspective of the first Christians. The words and deeds of Christ and His inspired apostles were not done in secret, or as Paul told King Agrippa, they were “not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26); they were done publicly. The writings of the New Testament were composed by members of the same community that heard, saw and were taught by Jesus and/or His apostles and disciples.

Therefore, this first Christian community functioned as a guarantor of the truthfulness or veracity of the Gospels and the rest of Scripture. After all, who would risk their lives, fortunes and honor to promote spurious and inaccurate documents? If the Scriptures simply parachuted into existence, there would be no witness from the early Church. How then would we know whether the Gospels and other books were telling the truth, much less that they are capable of confirming doctrine?

Someone could argue that since the Scriptures are inspired by God, who cannot deceive nor be deceived, they must be trustworthy. But this response misses the point. It’s not a question of whether inspiration conveys truth. It is a question of what basis is there for knowing whether a given document is inspired and truthful.

It is similar to the question, “How do you know Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew?” Most Bible Christians would point to the fact that Matthew’s name appears on the book’s cover page. The title, however, was not part of the inspired original. It was added later by Catholics who knew that the Gospel was traced back to Matthew. Without these Catholic witnesses, how would one know the Gospel’s authorship? We can’t. Without the Church, we really can’t establish the veracity of the Gospels or the rest of the contents of the New Testament.

Inspired, Not Spurious

How do we know that the writings of Scripture are from inspired sources and not spurious? The Church had to deal with this difficulty early on. In 2 Thessalonians 2:2, we learn that the Thessalonians were upset by “a ‘spirit,’ or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us [the apostles] to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.” How did the Thessalonians determine whether or not this letter was spurious? Paul gives them the means to authenticate his letter in 2 Thessalonians 3:17: “This greeting is in my own hand, Paul’s. This is the sign in every letter; this is how I write.”

Paul knew that the recipients of his letter would recognize his signature and handwriting based on their own personal knowledge of Paul. By using this knowledge, the Thessalonians were able to confirm the Second Epistle to be authentic. Without the Catholic community’s witness to its authenticity, how would we know whether or not Paul wrote this letter?

The original inspired autograph no longer exists, and even if it did exist we no longer have access to the knowledge that the Thessalonians had concerning Paul’s handwriting. Scripture, when removed from the context of the Catholic Church, loses an objective basis for demonstrating the New Testament’s authenticity.

The Canon

There is also the problem of the canon. The New Testament began as separate documents. Who gathered these documents together and placed them into a single volume? A generic answer like “the early Christians did” is simply inadequate. Early on there were several different groups who held to different “canons” of Scripture. For example, one group, called the Marcionites, only accepted the letters of Paul and an adulterated version of Luke as Scripture.

On the other hand, the Ebionites rejected Paul’s letters and accepted an altered form of the Gospel According to Matthew. Even among the Jews there was disagreement over the Old Testament. The schools of Shammai and Hallel were split over Ecclesiastes’ sacred status. The Essenes seem to have rejected Esther, but accepted Tobit, Sirach and some of their own writings as sacred. Which one was right? Or, were any of them right? Without a single, authoritative, identifiable Church — that is, the Catholic Church — to show us what was the true canon, there is no adequate way to answer this question.

But couldn’t someone say that these groups do not pose a problem because they were heretical? For example, one could say that post-Christian Judaism can be eliminated because they rejected Jesus as the Messiah? Likewise, the Ebionites can be scratched off because they denied justification by grace. The Marcionites could be eliminated because they were Gnostics and believed in two gods, and so on.

After all these heresies are eliminated, the true Christians would be left and with them we would find the correct canon. Unfortunately, the objection above fails because it begs the question. The objector begins with a specific canon of Scripture in mind (which is presumed to be true) and then deduces from his canon a set of doctrines (which is also assumed to be true) as the standard to judge other groups. Once all challengers are eliminated by the objector’s set of doctrine, his canon is “proved.” In other words, the objector uses a scriptural canon to form a set of doctrines, then uses the set of doctrines to prove his scriptural canon.

The true canon of Scripture is something more to be discovered than determined. The Church received its sacred writings from the apostles, and the Catholic Church manifests the true canon of Scripture by its continuous use of certain books as sacred Scripture in its liturgies. Without the Catholic Church, the canon cannot be made manifest, and if the canon is not made manifest then it is up to each individual Christian to determine which books should or should not be included in Scripture.

The Bible, therefore, is really a Catholic book in that it came from the very heart of the Catholic Church. Its authenticity, veracity, canon and proper interpretation all depend upon the witness of the Church. When the Bible is taken out of its Catholic context, the very foundation upon which we can know that the Scripture is inspired, true, authentic, complete and properly understood is undermined. Without the Church, the Scripture is no more defensible than if it had one day fallen out of the sky.

The Catholic Context

In regards to the proper understanding of the Bible, Scripture is most properly understood within the context of the Catholic faith. Apart from this faith, Scripture can be distorted and misunderstood, as 2 Peter 3:16 tells us when he warns that “the ignorant and the unstable distort [the Scriptures] to their own destruction.” The words translated “ignorant” (Greek oi amatheis) and “unstable” (Greek astriktos) do not convey their full meaning in English.

These words really mean “the undiscipled” and “those who do not remain in the apostolic teaching.” In other words, the people who distort the meaning of Scripture are those who are not discipled by the Church and do not remain in the Church’s teaching. Notice how Peter’s words presumes that there exists a master/disciple succession that comes from the apostles and a rule of faith (regula fidei) that must be continuously held. Without these two factors, the proper meaning of the Scriptures is in peril.

The Task of Interpretation

“The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

— Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 85

The Bible is the product of those missing two thousand years, and when it is divorced from the Catholic Church from which it came, Scripture’s authority is undermined. The fact is that the Bible is a Catholic book. It was written, authenticated and passed on to us today through the Church. In many ways, the Church is the Bible’s custodian and interpreter. Without the Church, we really have no rational basis to believe with certainty that the Bible we possess is the Bible and that it is capable of confirming doctrine.

This section was sourced, with thanks, from Simply Catholic.

Translations of the Bible into the Vernacular

Many protestants believe that the Bible was held as a kind of secret document by the Church until Martin Luther, and later King James, translated it into local languages so that the common people could read and understand it for themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. For one thing, the Doauy-Rheims Bible was an English translation produced by the Church long before King James VI and I of England, a hard-drinking monarch who personally oversaw the torture of women as witches and had many executed for setting storms on his ships, produced his famous King James Version.

In reality, the Bible itself was first written in a vernacular and commonly spoken tongue, and was generally preserved in either Greek or Latin in order to ensure that the meaning of words and phrases weren't changed or adjusted by translators, well-meaning or otherwise.

Over time the Latin language developed and divided, and became many of the languages we use in Europe and around the world today, so Ecclesiastical or Church Latin drifted further and further away from common usage. This was a natural product of both the dedication of the Church to preserving Her teachings in their pure and original form, and the changes which naturally take place in every society over centuries and millennia. Nonetheless, by the end of late antiquity the Bible was available and used in all the major written languages then spoken by Christians.

And it was well understood by everyone that the teachings should be perfectly preserved - when Jerome's revision, or update of the Vetus Latina, was read aloud in the churches in North Africa, riots and protests erupted since the new readings differed - in turn of phrase - from the more familiar reading in the Vetus Latina!

During the Migration Period Christianity spread to various peoples who had not been part of the old Roman Empire, and whose languages had as yet no written form, or only a very simple one, like runes. Typically the Church itself was the first to attempt to capture these languages in written form, and Bible translations are often the oldest surviving texts in these newly written-down languages. Meanwhile, Latin was evolving into new distinct regional forms, the early versions of the Romance languages, for which new translations eventually became necessary.

In the early Middle Ages, anyone who could read at all could often read Latin, even in Anglo-Saxon England, where writing in the vernacular (Old English) was more common than elsewhere. A number of pre-Reformation Old English Bible translations survive, as do many instances of glosses in the vernacular, especially in the Gospels and the Psalms. Over time, Biblical translations and adaptations were produced both within and outside the Church, some as personal copies for religious or lay nobility, others for liturgical or pedagogical purposes.

As time and centuries passed, Europe became more urbanised and translations were often provided as requested, but with this increasing prosperity came people who wanted to use the Bible for their own ends and profit, leading well-known group of letters from Pope Innocent III to the diocese of Metz. At no point during this period did the Church ban translations, only the misuse of dubious translations by even more dubious preachers.

Historian Leonard Boyle has argued that Innocent was not particularly concerned with the translations, but rather with their use by unauthorised and uneducated preachers. "There is not in fact the slightest hint that Innocent ever spoke in any way, hypothetically or not, of suppressing the translations at all." In the absence of viable heresies, a variety of translations and vernacular adaptations flourished between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries with no documented institutional opposition at all.

And even where heresies existed, for example in England where production of Wycliffite Bibles would later be officially banned by the Oxford Synod in the face of Lollard anticlerical sentiment, the ban was not strictly enforced and since owning earlier copies was not illegal, books made after the ban were often simply inscribed with a date prior to 1409 to avoid seizure.

It was not until the great heresy of the so-called Reformation that the Church began to actively and universally work against unauthorised translations. As Europe was torn apart by warfare and radical changes were introduced to the corpus of Scripture, the Council of Trent acted to preserve the purity and truth of the teachings of the Church - but even then, translations to the vernacular were not banned, only unauthorised ones.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther was the spiritual father of all protestant denominations, and a pivotal figure in the Reformation period when protestant groups split away from the Catholic Church. Much has been said about Luther, for and against, but for the purposes of this resource we'll be taking a look at some of the comments which have been attributed to him.

Please note that no imputation of or insult to existing members of protestant denominations is intended - the simple reality is, most people aren't aware of these facts, and are not in any way responsible for them. The information contained herein is not intended to be sectarian but rather a recounting of historical facts which are often overlooked or forgotten.

Luther's opinions on different groups varied depending on the events of the day and whether they had upset his wealthy patrons so these comments don't neccessarily represent what he taught in a consistent manner, but they were made by him and in many cases remained his firm and final opinions.

The original compilation of these comments can be found here.

Martin Luther on God

Luther speaks of the Decalogue

Martin Luther talks about Good Works

Free will and Martin Luther

Martin Luther on everyday life

Luther holds forth on capital punishment and Christian charity

The doctrines of Luther, particularly his teaching on Christian liberty, were quickly transformed into demands for social reform - Luther's resulting thoughts on social justice and the poor

Martin Luther speaks of the Jews

Chastity and marriage according to Luther

Lies and Luther

Luther's humility

Martin Luther's views on sacred Scripture

And so on.

Of course Luther was responsible for many charitable acts throughout his life, including opening his home to orphans and the poor, it wouldn't be fair to cast him as entirely a reprobate. However his dedication to morals and the Scriptures he freely changed was cast in a very dubious light by his relationships with his wealthy sponsors, rogue nobility and the German aristocrats who leaned on him for theological support.

When King Henry VIII of England was trying to find a way out of his marrige, in the summer of 1531, Luther was drawn into the controversy raging around the King’s marriage by an agent of King Henry, one Robert Barnes, an English Doctor of Divinity.

Luther pointed out to the King a loophole by which he might be able to succeed in obtaining the object of his desire. "At the conclusion of his memorandum to Barnes [3 Sep. 1531] he has the following: “Should the Queen be unable to prevent the divorce, she must accept the great evil and most insulting injustice as a cross, but not in any way acquiesce in it or consent to it. Better were it for her to allow the King to wed another Queen, after the example of the Patriarchs, who, in the ages previous to the law, had many wives; but she must not consent to being excluded from her conjugal rights or to forfeiting the title of Queen of England.

Luther's solution was that the King should simply take multiple wives, engaging in polygamy and bigamy.

After the King had repudiated Catherine, Luther told his friends: “The Universities [i.e. those which sided with the English King] have declared that there must be a divorce. We, however, and the University of Louvain, decided differently. . . . We [viz. Luther and Melanchthon] advised the Englishman that it would be better for him to take a concubine than to distract his country and nation; yet in the end he put her away.

Luther wasn't done yet though. Closer to home, Philip of Hesse, whose conduct was far from being conspicuous for morality, had submitted to Luther the question whether Christians were allowed to have more than one wife. Luther refused to admit unconditionally the invalidity of such unions. Such marriages, he stated, gave scandal to Christians, “for without due cause and necessity even the old Patriarchs did not take more than one wife” it was incumbent that we should be able “to appeal to the Word of God".

Philip was determined to take to himself a second wife, and having not only been given theological loopholes by Luther in terms of "due cause and neccessity" but by pointing to the earlier advice given to King Henry VIII, he continued to press for support, hinting that he would take it to the Emperor if agreement was not forthcoming.

Luther here found himself in a quandry - this was no distant and peculiar affair far from his homeland, but was rather right on his doorstep, and it might do tremendous harm to the protestant cause if he were to publically support polygamy. And so he responded:

seeing that your Serene Highness has informed us that you are not able to refrain from an immoral life, we would rather that your Highness should be in a better state before God, and live with a good conscience for your Highness’s own salvation and the good of your land and people. And, as your Serene Highness has determined to take another wife, we consider that this should be kept secret, no less than the dispensation, viz. that your Serene Highness and the lady in question, and a few other trustworthy persons, should be apprised of your Highness’s conscience and state of mind in the way of confession.”

“From this, no great gossip or scandal will result, for it is not unusual for Princes to keep concubines, and, though not everyone is aware of the circumstances, yet reasonable people will bear this in mind and be better pleased with such a manner of life than with adultery or dissolute and immoral living.”

Certainly, Philip of Hesse could take a second wife - but only on the condition that this second wife be kept secret and called a concubine! So Philip went ahead and married, but to Luther's embarrassment, he refused to accept any suggestion from Lutherans of lying about the second wedding, for lying would be a sin. It was in this context that Luther declared lying itself to be perfectly fine, "in a worthy cause and for the sake of the Christian Churches" or to be precise, when defending polygamy and sparing Luther public shame.

When this all became public, Luther claimed that any advice had been given in the secrecy of the Confessional and was therefore unfit for public discussion. He further begged Philip not to make the advice he gave public, "And rather than assist in publicly defending it, I would repudiate my advice and Master Philip’s [Melanchthon’s], were it made public, for it was not a public advice, and is annulled by publication. Or, if this is no use, and they insist on calling it a counsel and not a Confession, which it really was, then I should rather admit that I made a mistake and acted foolishly and now crave for pardon; for the scandal is great and intolerable. And my gracious Lord the Landgrave ought not to forget that his Serene Highness was lucky enough in being able to take the girl secretly with a good conscience, by virtue of our advice in Confession"

Philip was having none of it, and in a letter to Luther wrote "Would to God that you and your like would inveigh against and punish those in whom you see such things daily, i.e. adultery, usury and drunkenness and who yet are supposed to be members of the Church not merely in writings and sermons but with serious considerations and the ban which the Apostles employed, in order that the whole world may not be scandalised. You see these things, yet what do you and the others do?"

In thus finding fault with Luther's habits, he would appear to include the Elector of Saxony, who had a reputation for intemperance. He knew that Luther’s attitude was in part determined by consideration for his sovereign. Philip continued that he "looked upon Margaret as his wife according to God's Word and your advice; such is God’s will; the world may regard our wife, yours and the other preachers as it pleases."

And so the depth of Luther's dedication to his principles was revealed for all to see.

Without getting into any of the changes Luther made to the Scriptures, to the many wars and persecutions - both against Catholics and between protestant groups - sparked by his acts and his legacy of division and meaningless hatred, it is worth noting at least one further issue.

Based upon his significant antisemitic teachings, the prevailing view among historians is that Luther's anti-Jewish rhetoric contributed enormously to the development of antisemitism in Germany, which in the 1930s and 1940s provided an ideal foundation for the Nazi Party's attacks on Jews. Reinhold Lewin writes that "whoever wrote against the Jews for whatever reason believed he had the right to justify himself by triumphantly referring to Luther."

According to Michael, just about every anti-Jewish book printed in the Third Reich contained references to and quotations from Luther. Diarmaid MacCulloch argues that Luther's 1543 pamphlet On the Jews and Their Lies was a "blueprint" for the Kristallnacht.

Shortly after the Kristallnacht, Martin Sasse, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia, published a compendium of Martin Luther's writings; Sasse "applauded the burning of the synagogues" and the coincidence of the day, writing in the introduction, "On November 10, 1938, on Luther's birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany." The German people, he urged, ought to heed these words "of the greatest anti-Semite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews."

Luther's last sermon was delivered at Eisleben, his place of birth, on 15 February 1546, three days before his death. It was "entirely devoted to the obdurate Jews, whom it was a matter of great urgency to expel from all German territory," according to Léon Poliakov. James Mackinnon writes that it concluded with a "fiery summons to drive the Jews bag and baggage from their midst, unless they desisted from their calumny and their usury and became Christians."

The Catholic church, by contrast, is recorded as having saved more Jews during world war two than any other organisation that wasn't a national army. Indeed, the Chief Rabbi of Rome converted to Catholicism after the war.

You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns or figs from thistles?
Matthew 7:16

Again it must be emphasised - there is no insult intended by this documentation to modern day protestants who earnestly try to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. However the question of whether or not Luther and the path he laid down are really the best way to try to follow our Lord should be asked, especially when the rich heritage and bountiful theological treasures of the Catholic Church are there for us all.


Please enjoy this interview: Scott Hahn: A Presbyterian Minister Who Became Catholic

And more information about conversion can be found here.


A growing number of Methodists are converting to Catholicism and you can find some of their stories here.

“A friend brought me to Mass. The beauty of it, the ancientness of it… It slapped me in the face, stopped me in my tracks. It lit a fire under me to pursue more knowledge about what is Catholicism… It’s everything I experienced as a Protestant, but more — so much more.”
— Kurt Hoover


This is the testimony of a Baptist who became a Catholic.

"The most profound revelation for me was that, according to the Scriptures, Christ clearly founded a Church and it had His authority and protection (Matthew 16:13-20). Jesus granted Peter the power to bind and loose on earth and in heaven. Since we know that nothing impure can enter heaven, we know that whatever this Church, founded on Peter, binds on earth would not and could not be counter to Christ.

Then when Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against this Church He gives His word that this Church would be specially protected. If this was true, then it meant that Christ had founded a Church and it was still present today, not in a simply mystical way, but in a real and visible way. It was very clear through my own experience that denominations struggle with unity because they lack authority.

Someone who disagrees with the biblical interpretations of the pastor can simply break off and start another church, and they often do. But here the Catholic Church stands with authority given by Christ, as it has for two thousand years, led and protected by the Holy Spirit. If this claim is true, I had to come in line with the Church and not the other way round.

The scriptural evidence especially on the issues of the authority of the Church, Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist (John 6), and the necessity of faith and works rather than faith alone (James 2:14-24) was staggering. By the end of our road trip we had listened to more than 30 hours of Catholic teaching and spent countless hours poring over the scriptures."

You won't find any great disappointments here!

Jehovah's Witnesses

Those who follow the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are especially welcome here. We are all trying to do God's will in our lives and to develop a closer relationship with the Divine. You are beloved of God and deserve to know the fullness of truth, so please read on for a quick summary of the JW movement.

A group of men known as the Governing Body heads the Watch Tower Society (WTS), the “mother organization” of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The WTS was incorporated in 1884, and its principal publication is The Watchtower (WT), which began circulation in 1879.

Since its inception, the WTS has called itself God’s “divinely appointed and organized channel of communication” and claimed that truth-seeking Christians are obliged to ask if the Watch Tower Society is a reliable spiritual guide. Does it really speak on God’s behalf? Are its official teachings objectively true?

If it is worthy of credibility, the WTS should facilitate the spiritual and moral growth of its followers, possess sound teaching, and show development of beliefs while maintaining doctrinal continuity.

Unfortunately, the failings of the WTS are numerous, varied, and extensive. Three areas are especially noteworthy: erroneous expectations for Armageddon, false Bible interpretations, and vacillating and contradictory doctrines.

Armageddon All over Again

The teachings about Armageddon are what the WTS is most known for by non-Jehovah’s Witnesses. The fear of Armageddon is the single driving force behind the pressure the WTS puts upon its followers to conduct door-to-door preaching and to distribute Society-produced literature so that unsuspecting people can be warned of the impending calamity and join “God’s organization” to escape doom.

The WTS has formally identified at least five dates for Armageddon: 1914, 1915, 1918, 1925, and 1975. Other times have been strongly “suggested,” including the 1940s and the year 2000. Each date has been attended by a sense of urgency and has proved to be false.

The threat of Armageddon is looms over virtually everything Jehovah’s Witnesses do, as former members attest. Descriptions of Armageddon, which abound in WTS literature, include global terror, the collapse of political and governmental systems, the destruction of structures and buildings, fire falling from the sky, angels coming to administer God’s justice, and the earth being littered with the corpses of the unrighteous. Artwork graphically depicting chaos, destruction, and death often accompany these articles. The faithful are led to believe that preparations for Armageddon must supercede everything else. In concrete terms, this means that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been advised:

It is difficult to know how many Jehovah’s Witnesses postponed or bypassed major life events, and how many of them were able to reconstruct their lives in the aftermath. But the WTS has asserted that it had only “suggested” dates for Armageddon and that individual Jehovah’s Witnesses were to blame for any “false expectations” they had.

For instance, for years the WTS focused on 1975 as the year when Armageddon would occur. As far back as 1966, when the WTS book Life Everlasting: In Freedom of the Sons of God was released at a Jehovah’s Witness convention, 1975 was a central feature: “It did not take the brothers very long to find the chart beginning on page 31, showing that 6,000 years of man’s existence end in 1975. Discussion of 1975 overshadowed about everything else” (WT, Oct. 15, 1966, 628–29). In 1968 a Watchtower article focused on 1975, beginning with the heading “Why Are You Looking Forward to 1975?” (Aug. 15, 1968, 494). That same year Kingdom Ministry noted that “there are only about ninety months left before 6,000 years of man’s existence on Earth is completed” (Kingdom Ministry, Mar. 1968, 4).

But as 1975 got closer, the WTS began to backpedal: “These publications have never said that the world’s end would come then” (WT, Oct. 15, 1974, 635). When 1975 came and passed without incident, the WTS had this to say: “It is not advisable for us to set our sights on a certain date, neglecting everyday things we would ordinarily care for as Christians, such as things that we and our families really need” (WT, July 15, 1976, 441).

The WTS later added that other statements “implied that such realization of hopes by that year was more of a probability than a mere possibility. It is to be regretted that these latter statements apparently overshadowed the cautionary ones and contributed to a buildup of the expectation already initiated” (WT, Mar. 15, 1980, 17).

False Interpretations

Over time, the WTS has changed some doctrines dramatically, and today’s truth has become tomorrow’s heresy.

The WTS claims that its Bible interpretations originate from God himself: “The Lord gives interpretation to his prophecies and causes the same to be published. . . . As certain as the Lord has caused these truths to be published in The Watchtower ” (WT, Mar. 1, 1936, 72–73). The problem is that some of the “truths” given by God through the WT conflict with each other.

For example, the date of Christ’s second coming is the cornerstone upon which the entire WTS theological edifice rests. For the first few decades of its existence the WTS taught that Christ returned invisibly in 1874: “Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874, A.D.” (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 4, 1886, 621).

The WTS assured its followers that there was “overwhelming proof . . . physical facts . . . fulfilled prophecy” that proved “beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Lord is present” (The Harp of God, 1921, 250). But when the WTS’s “Bible-based” timetable of events (starting with Christ’s Second Coming) didn’t pan out, the leadership had to “adjust” it, and it was subsequently taught that Christ returned invisibly forty years later, in 1914: “In this way Christ Jesus came to the Kingdom in A.D. 1914, but unseen to men” (The Truth Shall Make You Free, 1943, 300). “Bible chronology pinpoints the year 1914 as the time that Christ arrived and began ruling in the midst of his enemies” (WT, Oct. 15, 1961, 632). The date of 1914 is still held as true.

If this date was wrong, then other crucial doctrines were also wrong—including Jesus coming to the temple for judgment, being enthroned as King, and the onset of Armageddon itself. How do Jehovah’s Witnesses know that the same will not prove true for 1914? The WTS says that the generation of people who “witnessed the events of 1914” will live to see Christ defeat evil at Armageddon, but it has already made recent major changes in its teachings, because that generation is rapidly dying out.

There is a lengthy catalogue of the WTS’s faulty exegesis, but consider one more example. The WTS wrongly predicted that the patriarchs would return to earth and that God’s kingdom would be established: “Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews chapter 11, to the condition of human perfection” (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, 89).

“The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures because it is fixed by the law God gave to Israel” (WT, Sep. 1, 1922, 262). The WTS was so convinced this would occur that it bought a mansion in San Diego that was held in trust for the patriarchs to occupy when they materialized on earth. Years later the WTS quietly sold the property and closed this embarrassing chapter of its history. Decades later, in a moment of candor, the WTS reported in a footnote contained in a Watchtower article years after the death of Judge Rutherford (the Society’s second president) that Rutherford said about this debacle, “I made an ass of myself” (WT, Oct. 1, 1984, 24).

If the WTS could be wrong about such important issues in the past, why should its followers trust its interpretations now? The WTS itself advises: “If we learn that our religion is teaching what is not right, we should let go of that religion” (WT, Feb. 15, 1955, 124).

Contradictory Doctrines

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a doctrine known as the “increase of light.” It is based on Proverbs 4:18, which in their New World Translation of the Bible reads, “But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.” Witnesses understand this passage to mean that God reveals to them a progressively greater understanding of the Bible, known as “light.” Over the course of time, then, the WTS is becoming more accurate in its interpretation of the Bible and in its prophecies, as the “light” shines more brightly.

While Catholics agree with the idea of doctrinal development, that is not the process actually taking place within the WTS. When a teaching or belief genuinely develops, its essence remains intact as expanded layers of understanding are added to it. In fact, the first president of the WTS, Charles Taze Russell, said: “A new light of truth can never contradict a former truth. ‘New light’ never extinguishes older ‘light,’ but adds to it” (WT, Feb. 1881, 3).

When we examine the history of the WTS teachings, though, we see a very different reality. Many WTS doctrines are contradictory or have been reversed, abandoned, or flip-flopped back and forth between interpretations. As Jehovah’s Witnesses became increasingly aware of this, the WTS had to account for it and so compared its doctrinal changes to a ship tacking in the wind (WT, Dec. 1, 1981, 27). A drawing accompanying the article shows a sailboat zig-zagging toward its destination. The reader is assured that the boat ultimately gets where it is headed. This explanation may satisfy some, but to others it is an attempt to cover up a history of doctrinal confusion.

Here are some examples of the WTS extinguishing one “light” for another:

The article went on to ask, “What confidence can one put in the sincerity or judgment of such persons?” This is a point to ponder seriously when assessing the reliability of the Watch Tower Society as a spiritual guide.

This section has been adapted from catholic.com, with thanks.

Mormons or Latter Day Saints

Those who follow the Mormon belief system are among the most dedicated spiritual seekers in the world, and their depth of conviction is a testament to their desire to find the truth. In the spirit of honesty and respectful truth seeking, further knowledge about Mormon beliefs is presented here. Some of this is known to most Mormons, some is known only to a few, but it's all correct.

The main or most widely understood Mormon beliefs include that Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith are central figures in God's plan of salvation, with Jesus being designated a prophet, as in Islam. Pure and true Christianity, according to Mormonism, died with the apostles, only to be renewed in 1830 by a young fellow called Joseph Smith who said he found some gold plates in the woods, inscribed with an unknown language, which only he could translate. The gold plates have since vanished, which seems odd given that they would have been too heavy to carry anywhere.

Followers of Mormonism are taught that if they abstain from alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee, pay a tenth of their wages to the higher levels of the Mormon hierarchy, and fulfill all of their ritualistic responsibilities, they can ascend to the highest heaven and live with God and their families for all eternity,

These are some of the least concerning beliefs Mormons hold to be true, and often the kinds of beliefs which are presented to those suffering from the loss of a loved one or some other stressful shock.

But of course, that's just the beginning. Looking more closely at Mormonism reveals much stranger ideas.

God is just another person

One of these is that God is just a human being with a magical body, born of normal human parents in another universe. He lived as a Mormon, died, and was eventually raised by his god to be the god of this world. His body is on a planet near the star Kolob.

This concept arose from mishandling and misunderstanding such biblical texts as Genesis 1:26-27, Exodus 33:11, Deuteronomy 4:34, Psalms 33:18, and Nahum 1:3. Most of these passages, and others like them, refer to the “arm,” “eye,” and “feet” of the Lord.

However, other passages speak of God’s “feathers” and “wings” (Ps. 91:4). Or they refer to him as a “consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24) or a “rock” (Deut. 32:4). In all these examples, the inspired writers simply try to communicate in human words and images the inexpressible power, presence, and love of the infinite God.

Latter-day Saints force the context of Genesis 1:26-27. Since man is made in God’s image, they argue, God must look like a man. The fact is, “the image of God” refers not to some literal correlation of body parts but to the spiritual similarities shared by him with his rational creatures (angels and human beings).

In other words, we are made in God’s image because we, like him, can choose and can love. We are endowed with the possibility of such moral and intellectual qualities as holiness, wisdom, and justice. By these, we enjoy spiritual fellowship, even sonship, with the Father and “pattern” of our spirits.

God is infinite Spirit (John 4:24). A spirit does not have flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). God is not a man, even an exalted one (Num. 23:19; Hos. 11:9). God was always God; he is immortal, and he is all-holy (1 Tim. 1:17). No one can see the “face” of God and live (Ex. 33:20, John 1:18).

God is just one among many gods

Mormons will tell you they believe in one God whom they call the Heavenly Father. They worship and pray to him alone. But referring to Genesis 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 8:5, Latter-day Saints insist the ancient Jewish patriarchs and prophets, along with Paul and the other apostles, believed in a plurality of Gods.

Brigham Young, an influential Mormon thinker, taught that the number of Gods and worlds is uncountable (Discourses of Brigham Young, 22). The LDS Church occupies itself with only the one (or three?) Gods of this world and leave it to inhabitants of other universes to worship and obey their respective Gods.

Paul did not teach a plurality of Lords and Gods. He merely commented that there are entities that are called gods. Whether he was referring to the crass idols of Zeus or Hermes, or craftier masters such as greed and pride, he-and we-know that men have created and will continue to create other gods and lords, displacing the one true God. We do not merely limit our adoration and service to one God among millions; we don’t, in fact, know of any other God.

While not explicitly presented in the Bible, the doctrine of the Trinity is imbedded in Scripture’s insistence on one only God and its clear teaching that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are persons possessing equal majesty, power, and lordship. They are not united solely in purpose or will, as Mormons assert, but in very being. Read Isaiah 42-45 to find crystallized the ancient Hebrew belief in one God. Christ and his followers confirm monotheism in John 17:3, 1 Corinthians 8:4, Galatians 3:20, and Ephesians 4:6.

The Son is called God throughout Christian scripture. See John 20:28 and Hebrews 1:8. Similarly, the Holy Spirit is confessed as God in Acts 5:3-4 and 2 Corinthians 3:17. If the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, yet there is only one God, then only the truth revealed in the Blessed Trinity can explain Scripture’s doctrines.

A man can become god

Not the god of this world of course, since that position is already filled. But a man who lives as a faithful Mormon in this life, fulfilling all obligations imposed on him by the LDS Church, may progress to godhood in the next life. He will be given his own world to populate and rule, together with his heavenly wife or wives (including, usually, his own earthly Mormon spouse).

Because Mormons see God as an advanced and perfected man, they conclude that their members enjoy a similar progression. They confuse Christ’s admonition to “be perfect” (Matt. 5:48) with “become a God.”

An earthly father’s task is to raise his son to become self-supporting and independent, autonomous in his decisions. It is not so between God and us. We’ll never achieve his status; we’ll never grow apart from him; we’ll always need him. Yes, we shall enjoy fully his communicable attributes of eternal life, love, and goodness. Like a bar of iron, we’ll glow with divine fire (2 Pet. 1:4.) The boundaries between perfect humanity and divine glory may appear blurred. But they won’t be eliminated. We’ll always be his perfected children, never his equal.

When pushed, Mormons will say we can never achieve God’s status, and we’ll never be equal to him. But that’s just an attempt to soften the offense of this doctrine. What they mean is, since the present God has a long head start, we’ll never catch up to him in power and glory. He advances as we do. But a Mormon man, once on the path of progression, may one day arrive at the level God is at now. Then his own sons, becoming Gods in their turn, will push him even further along, into the eternities.

Jesus Christ, half god, half man

According to a text published by the LDS Church for use by college-age students, Jesus Christ was “the only man born to this earth half-divine and half-mortal” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 10). Mormonism teaches that matter is eternal. That which we call “spirit” is really just highly refined matter. Therefore, God didn’t create from nothing; He merely “organized” pre-existent matter.

This includes the “spirit” form of his Son, Jesus Christ, whom the Heavenly Father and one of his heavenly wives created as their first-born. (Lucifer and his minions, together with every other person, were similarly conceived in the heavens, thus making us all Christ’s junior brothers and sisters.)

Two thousand years ago, the Heavenly Father looked with favor upon his daughter, the Virgin Mary. He visited her in his flesh-and-bones male body and had sexual intercourse with her. The result was Jesus Christ in his mortal body. Since Mormons say they believe Mary was a virgin when she conceived her son, LDS theologians have had to redefine the definition of “virgin.” They say a virgin is a woman who has not had sex with a mortal man; since God the Father was by then an immortal man, no loss of virginity occurred, though “normal and natural” intercourse took place (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, vol. 1, 314; Mormon Doctrine, 546-547). An early Mormon apostle taught that God the Father and Mary were “associated together in the capacity of husband and wife” (Orson Pratt, The Seer, 158-159).

Many Latter-day Saints believe Christ was married and had children. Because marriage is the only way a man can become a God in the next life, should not the Lord have taken a wife (or wives) and shown us how to live worthily? Since the blessings of marriage are crowned by the birth of children, Christ is said to have had several. While such notions were taught openly during the Mormon presidencies of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, the current membership is cautioned not to throw such spiritual pearls before scoffing swine. (See apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses2:210 and 4:259-260; also, president Jedediah M. Grant, Journal of Discourses 1:346.)

Latter-day Saints will not worship Christ. They are forbidden to pray to him. All prayer is directed to the Father only, in the name of the Son. Because they don’t understand the true nature and persons of God, Mormons confuse the divine and human natures of his Son. For them, Christ must be a lesser God, since he (and the Holy Ghost) were formed by the Father and are subjected to him in all things. Though now Gods, Christ and the Holy Spirit became Gods later than did Heavenly Father and are totally dependent upon him who created them.

Biblical verses supporting the Holy Trinity and the full deity of the three persons are also useful here, to establish that Christ is mighty God from all eternity. He accepted and expects adoration. He received Thomas’s worshipful phrase, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28) without demurral; see also Matthew 2:11 and 28:9, 17; John 9:38; and Revelation 5:14.

Racial beliefs

Mormon Doctrine explains: “Cain was cursed with a dark skin; he became the father of the Negroes, and those spirits who are not worthy to receive the priesthood are born though his lineage. He became the first mortal to be cursed as a son of perdition.” - Page 102.

Until 1978 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught that they “shall be a white and a delightsome people,” a phrase taken from the Book of Mormon. In 1978 it was clarified that this belief applied only to Indians, not black people.

Regardless, black people were banned from joining the priesthood in LDS church previous to this point. Indeed, Joseph Smith supported segregation, stating, "I would confine them [black people] by strict law to their own species". Mormons believe(d) that black people are the descendants of Cain and are thus cursed. If they put their heart into following Mormonism, God would bless them, and with his blessings their skin will turn white.

However, like polygamy, this Mormon dogma has apparently recently been adjusted.

Founder, Joseph Smith

The Mormons have a supreme leader, known as the prophet or the president, who follows in the footsteps of the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. He claimed to have found some gold plates in the woods, inscribed with an unknown language, which only he could translate, and which became the foundation for the book of Mormon.

He translated these missing gold plates by consulting seer stones, which he put into a hat, and then buried his face in the hat. Smith owned at least two seer stones before his early twenties, when he had employed them for treasure seeking at the bequest of Josiah Stowell, before he founded the church. Other early Mormons, such as Hiram Page, David Whitmer, and Jacob Whitmer, also owned seer stones.

Among the apparent revelations he gleaned from these stones was the permissibility of polygamy, so he took to himself up to forty wives, engaging in sexual relations with between 12 and 14 of them. They ranged in age at time of marriage, or “sealing” as the Mormons called it, from Fanny Young’s 56 to Helen Kimball who was just 14. Some of the women were already married before Smith “sealed” himself to them for eternity.

The religion he founded rapidly gained converts, and Smith set up communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois in the USA. Joseph Smith was subjected to approximately thirty criminal actions during his life. Another source reports that Smith was arrested at least 42 times, including in the states of New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois.

While in New York, Smith faced charges of being a "disorderly person" in 1826 and 1830. In Ohio, he was arrested multiple times on a variety of charges. On January 12, 1838, a warrant was issued for Smith's arrest on a charge of banking fraud. He was convicted of this crime.

"A month after the bank opened a writ was sworn out against Joseph Smith, Jr., and Sidney Rigdon by Samuel D. Rounds, a front man for Grandison Newell. The writ accused the two Mormon leaders of illegal banking and issuing unauthorized bank paper. A hearing on 24 March 1837 postponed the trial on this case until the fall session of the court. At the jury trial in October 1837, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were found guilty and fined $1,000 each plus some court costs, a fine they appealed."

Rather than submit to arrest, Smith fled the jurisdiction, escaping Ohio into Missouri. Conspiracy to murder was among the charges.

In Missouri, he was accused of threatening a judge. After his loss in the 1838 Mormon War, Smith was charged with treason against Missouri. Smith was allowed to escape custody and fled the jurisdiction, escaping into Illinois.

In Illinois, Smith faced arrests in connection to his Missouri charges, including a later indictment on the charge of conspiring to assassinate the former Governor of Missouri (while Smith was residing in Illinois). In 1844, a group of dissenting Latter-day Saints began publishing a newspaper that was highly critical of the practice of polygamy and of Smith’s leadership; Smith had the press destroyed. The ensuing threat of violence prompted Smith to call out a militia in the town of Nauvoo, Illinois. He was charged with treason and conspiracy by Illinois authorities and imprisoned with his brother Hyrum in the Carthage city jail.

On June 27, 1844, an armed mob with blackened faces stormed Carthage Jail where Joseph and Hyrum were being held. Hyrum, who was trying to secure the door, was killed instantly with a shot to the face. Smith fired three shots from a pepper-box pistol, wounding three men, before he sprang for the window. He was shot multiple times before falling out the window, crying, "Oh Lord my God!" He died shortly after hitting the ground, but was shot several more times before the mob dispersed.

Those who knew Joseph Smith believed that his use of the phrase "O Lord, my God!" was an attempt to save his life and the life of his friends by calling out to Freemasons in the mob. Joseph and the other Mormons in the jail were Masons, Joseph himself having been initiated on 15 March 1842.

Among the brotherhood of freemasons, there is the Grand Hailing Sign of Distress: "Oh Lord, my God, is there no help for the widow's son?" According to Masonic code, any Mason who hears another Mason utter the Grand Hailing Sign must come to his aid.

Mormon temples

It is in their temples, Latter-day Saints are told, where the full purity of these restored teachings is revealed. The temple ceremonies, written by Joseph Smith soon after he became a Freemason and containing many Masonic parallels, are said to replicate the rituals performed in the temples of Solomon and Herod. Mormons believe that secret handshakes and passwords exist in heaven too. Mormon believers are given passwords in temple endowments. You can enter one of several heavens only with Joseph Smith`s permission.

God does not hide Himself from His people in secret temple rituals which consist of repeating names, signs, gestures and hand movements, but desires they all be saved. He requires no special wardrobe or handclasps to enter Heaven. He taught the truth openly (Matt. 26:55, John 8:2) and founded a Church to hand it down to every generation (2 Thes. 2:15, 3:16). He does not turn upon and shun those who seek Him earnestly.

“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Prov. 14:12).

This section has been adapted in part from catholic.com, with thanks.

The most beautiful journey

If you would like to learn about practical everyday ways you can grow in the Faith, you can find some thoughts and suggestions in the fundamentals section. If you have questions or reservations about Catholic teachings, take a look at the section on understanding.

In what is necessary, unity; in what is not necessary, liberty and in all things charity.

Saint Augustine

Explore Saints and Scholars

Sailing without needle, compass, or rudder

So many great personages have written in our age, that their posterity have scarcely anything more to say, but have only to consider, learn, imitate, admire. I will therefore say nothing new and would not wish to do so. All is ancient, and there is almost nothing of mine beyond the needle and thread: the rest I have only had to unpick and sew again in my own way, with this warning of Vincent of Lerins: "Teach, however, what thou hast learnt; that whilst thou sayest things in a new way thou say not new things."

...so little is required to change the sense of God’s Word. When one is handling glass beads, if two or three are lost, it is a small matter, but if they were oriental pearls the loss would be great. The better the wine the more it suffers from the mixture of a foreign flavour, and the exquisite symmetry of a great picture will not bear the admixture of new colours. Such is the conscientiousness with which we ought to regard and handle the sacred deposit of the Scriptures.

...And when it is said that “in sinning we are incited, pushed, necessitated by the will, ordinance, decree, and predestination of God,” is this not to blaspheme against all reason and against the majesty of the supreme goodness? Such is the fine theology of Zwingli, Calvin, and Beza.

...Sailing thus then without needle, compass, or rudder on the ocean of human opinions, you can expect nothing but a miserable shipwreck. Ah! I implore you, while this day lasts, while God presents you the opportunity, throw yourselves into the saving barque of a serious repentance and take refuge on the happy vessel which is bound under full sail for the port of glory.

If there were nothing else, do you not recognize what advantages and excellences the Catholic doctrine has beyond your opinions? The Catholic doctrine makes more glorious and magnificent the goodness and mercy of God; your opinions lower them. For example, is there not more mercy in establishing the reality of his body for our food than in only giving the figure and commemoration thereof and the eating by faith alone? All seek the things that are their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s.

Is it not more honorable to concede to the might of Jesus Christ the power to make the Blessed Sacrament as the Church believes it and to his goodness the will to do so, than the contrary? Without doubt it is more glorious to our Lord. Yet because our mind cannot comprehend it, in order to uphold our own mind, all seek the things that are their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s. Is it not more, in justifying man, to embellish his soul with grace, than without embellishing it to justify him by a simple toleration or non-imputation?

Is it not a greater favor to make man and his works agreeable and good than simply to take man as good without his being so in reality? Is it not more to have left seven sacraments for the justification and sanctification of the sinner than to have left only two, one of which serves for nothing and the other for little? Is it not more to have left the power of absolving in the Church than to have left it not? Is it not more to have left a Church visible, universal, of striking.aspect, perpetual, than to have left it little, secret, scattered, and liable to corruption? Is it not to value more the travails of Jesus Christ when we say that a single drop of his blood suffices to ransom the world than to say that unless he had endured the pains of the damned he would have done nothing?

Is not the mercy of God more magnified in giving to his saints the knowledge of what takes place here below, the honor of praying for us, in making himself ready to accept their intercession, in having glorified them as soon as they died, than in making them wait and keeping them in suspense, according to Calvin’s words, until the judgment, in making them deaf to our prayers and remaining himself inexorable to theirs? This will be seen more clearly in our treatment of particular points. Our doctrine [then] makes more admirable the power of God in the sacrament of the Eucharist, in justification and inherent justice, in miracles, in the infallible preservation of the Church, in the glory of the saints.

The Catholic doctrine cannot have its source in any passion, because nobody follows it save on this condition, of captivating his intelligence, under the authority of the pastors. It is not proud, since it teaches not to believe self but the Church. What shall I say further? Distinguish the voice of the dove from that of the crow. Do you not see this spouse, who has naught but honey and milk under her tongue, who breathes only the greater glory of her beloved, his honor and obedience to him?

Ah! then, gentlemen, be willing to be placed as living stones in the walls of the heavenly Jerusalem [1 Pet. 2:5]. Take yourselves out of the hands of these men who build without a rule, who do not adjust their conceptions to the faith, but the faith to their conceptions. Come and offer yourselves to the Church, who will place you, unless you prevent her, in the heavenly building, according to the true rule and proportion of faith. For never shall any one have a place there above who has not been worked and laid, according to rule and square, here below [1 Cor. 3:10-11, 16-17].

All the ancient sacrifices of a farinaceous nature were, as it were, the condiment of the bloody sacrifices. So the sacrifice of the Eucharist is as it were the condiment of the sacrifice of the cross, and with most excellent reason united to it. The Church is a mountain, heresy a valley, for heretics go down, from the Church that errs not to an erring one, from truth to shadow.

- St Francis De Sales, the Catholic Controversy


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