The Roman Catholic Church Says I’m Anathema, What About You?

Frequently, we receive email at Pulpit & Pen chastising us for our position that those who believe Roman Catholic doctrine are not Christians.*    This is a plainly biblical position and its quite frustrating to see it constantly challenged by Roman Catholics and Protestants alike.  So, I thought it would be prudent to present a short argument that demonstrates that Roman Catholicism is not Christianity.  Examine the following propositions:

  1. The Roman Catholic Church presents a gospel.
  2. If the Roman Catholic Church presents a different gospel then it is not a part of the Christian Church.
  3. The Roman Church presents a different gospel.
  4. Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church is not a part of the Christian Church.

This is a valid argument.  Let’s examine it for soundness.

Proposition #1 is very obviously true.  The Roman Catholic Church presents a gospel.   It’s hard to imagine a Roman Catholic or anyone else who would argue that it doesn’t.  Proposition #2 is supported by Galatians 1:8 which states, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.”  Neither Roman Catholics nor Protestants should disagree on the truth of proposition #2.  Proposition #4 follows logically (by modus ponens) from Proposition #2 and Proposition #3.  But is proposition #3 true?  Let’s examine it according to the teaching of scripture and the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Scripture clearly and simply teaches that salvation comes by grace through faith and not through works.  The Roman Catholic Church denies this in the Council of Trent (1563), which was convened as a response to the Protestant Reformation.

“If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.” Council of Trent, Canon 24

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that salvation is the result of good works.  This contrasts the Biblical teaching from Ephesians 2:8-9 about salvation.  Thus, the Roman Catholic Church teaches a different gospel.  Thus, Proposition #3 is true.  Thus Proposition #4 is true.  Thus, the Roman Catholic Church is not a part of the Christian Church.

It is anathema.

It doesn’t matter that it teaches that Jesus is the Son of God.  It doesn’t matter that it teaches that Jesus was crucified, was buried, and rose from the grave. It doesn’t matter that it teaches that God is revealed in three co-equal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  It doesn’t matter that it teaches the abortion is murder.  It doesn’t matter that it teaches that homosexual acts are disordered and that marriage is between one man and one woman.  It doesn’t matter that it teaches that only men can be pastors.  It teaches a different gospel.  The Roman Catholic Church is anathema.

And if I’m wrong???

Then I’m anathema and so is every evangelical Christian who believes like I do that salvation is not maintained by works.  I, along with every other faithful person of my denomination, reject Canon 24 of the council of Trent.  Since I reject Canon 24, I am anathema in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church.

What about you?

*I differentiate between someone who believes Roman Catholic doctrine and a member of the Roman Catholic Church who is regenerate but has not yet left the Roman Catholic Church.  Martin Luther is an example of such a Chrisitan in that he came to receive the gospel before leaving the Roman Catholic Church.

**Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
Member of the Evangelical Theological Society
Certified Public Accountant

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