Is There ONE Thing Baptists Have in Common with Catholics?
By Matthew Stepp
In these Days of Ecumenicalism (bringing all religions/Christianity to work to a common goal), where so many times we are just trying to be civil to those all around us, we must still be aware of God’s Call to Holiness. To be Holy, is to be Sanctified, or Set Apart for particular purposes. Gen.2:2-3- “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” He made the Sabbath different from other days by this “sanctifying” or “holifying”! So, too, is His Word, His churches, His people, His actions, commandments and decrees- all are Holy, just because GOD made them different, special and HOLY! Selah! Think about it!
The Ecumenicalist thinks that the differences in Christians are negligible and we should be all able to get along with each other. In light of that thought, I wondered what do Baptists (like me!) have in common with the rest of Christianity. If we can highlight the things we have in common with them, then we can evaluate our differences, and see whether we can compromise and join the Ecumenical Movement.
The “denomination” we’d like to consider for this article is the Roman Catholic Church. What do Baptists have in Common with Catholics? Well, since I already know what Baptists believe and preach, I opened up the “Catholic Encyclopedia” to find out what Catholics believe- straight from the horse’s mouth!
Pope vs Jesus Christ as Head
The first thing one finds out is that the Catholics have a Pope! He’s the head of the Catholic Church! Not so much with Baptists! The Head of the Baptist churches is Jesus Christ! As “head”, we don’t mean the brain, eyes, ears, hair, etc, of a physical attachment to a body of arms, chest and legs. A Scriptural Head is the One with All Authority over the “constituency or body of believers”. Eph.1:20-23- “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality,(Pope!) and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him (Christ) to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” So, even if some Catholics might say that Jesus Christ is their HEAD, also (having that in common with Baptists!), it really ain’t so, is it? The Head of the Catholic Church is their “infallible” Pope; and his word, bulls and decrees carry equal weight with Jesus, the Eternal Word. Baptists have no Head, but Jesus Christ, so I guess Baptists and Catholics don’t have a single Head in common…
Universal/Catholic vs Independent Baptist
The next thing studied out is that word “Catholic”. It means Universal. As one comprehends this aspect of Catholic doctrine, it means that there is but one Catholic/Universal Church. All of the Catholic “Churches” in West Virginia, Ohio and Rio de Janeiro are actually just “parts” of the One Big, Universal/Catholic Church! Well, that’s not what Baptists believe! Every individual Baptist congregation is fully independent from all other Baptist assemblies. Sister Baptist churches, rather than an enormous entity- a Universal Visible Catholic Church. 1Cor.1:10- “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” No divisions from what American Catholics and Russian Catholics might believe and practice? A lot easier when we understand it’s just talking about the Anabaptist Congregation in Cavite, Philippines! They ALL “…speak the same thing”!
This is really a fundamental difference between Catholics and Baptists! Whereas, the Catholic Church is a Universal entity, that people “join/die out of” interchangeably in all different countries and centuries, it unchangingly is considered by the Catholics to be the Body of Christ. In essence, there only has ever been one church, and it is fundamentally incorrect to use the word church in the plural! Only one!
Which would be laughable, if ever tried to apply to Baptist churches! There is one in every community and even if one would try to “incorrectly” use the terminology of “the Baptist denomination”, it still would not align with the Catholic, ONE church. Anytime a Baptist uses the word church in the singular, it is speaking either of ONE specific congregation (Greek word ekklesia) or the “church” in an institutional sense, such as “The Oak is a magnificent hardwood tree that grows in temperate climates”, obviously speaking not of ONE BIG Oak Tree, but spoken of “oaks” in general. “The Baptist Church will teach only what’s in the Bible”, is just such a generic use of the word, Baptistically. The Johnstown Baptist Church of Kitts Hill, Ohio is a complete and Independent entity, separate in Authority and Practice from any other Baptist Church in the world! So, we really have nothing in common with Catholics in defining a True Church! 1Cor.12:25-27- “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye (the Church at Corinth) are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
Hierarchal vs Democracy
The Catholic Church, as we discover in our study is Hierarchal in make-up, rather than Democratic. Whereas, if the Grace Landmark Baptist Church in Cork, Ireland wants to send money to a mission work in Romania or build a baptistry on the back of the building, they will just ask the congregation to vote and make the decision. All the authority resides in the local church, and even in matters of ordaining preachers, pastors or deacons, there is no need to contact any other churches, boards or presbyteries, for any purpose other than advisory, if they so desire. The Catholic Church has layers of hierarchy and authority, from priests and bishops, cardinal to popes. Mt.23:8-11- “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” Since the local Catholic “congregations” are not independent, they cannot make these decisions, but must wait upon the “higher-ups” to mandate and decree whatever is done. Decently and in Order!? Umm… not the Baptist or Bible order! 1Cor.5:4-5- “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” We’re gonna have to vote on this, Beloved…!
Celibate Clergy vs Married Pastors/Deacons
Looking at some of those Church Leaders, one thing stood out to me! Usually there’s a Mrs. beside the worthy pastor of Baptist Churches. Celibacy is a stark difference between Baptists and Catholics, isn’t it?! Baptists believe the pastor should be the husband of one wife (or remain single by choice). (1Tim.3:2) The Catholics forbid their clergy to marry! Wow! That’s different! It’s also unbiblical and leads to unspeakable crimes against their own flocks… 1Tim.4:1-3- “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” Yeah, that covers Fish Fridays, too, doesn’t it? Baptist Liberty rules come from Scripture!
Purgatory vs Everlasting Hell
A fifth difference I found was that Catholics believe in Purgatory. This quasi-permanent final destination is torment suspended between Heaven and Hell. With the purchase of Indulgences, the denizens of Purgatory can be chartered into Heaven, when enough has been paid into the coffers of the Catholic Church, from here on Earth. Nah! Not in the Bible, and therefore not taught by Baptists! I’m starting to wonder if Baptists have ANYTHING in common with Catholics! Lk.16:22-23- “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…” No other options in the pages of Scripture!
Mass vs LORD’s Supper
Well, both Catholics and Baptists observe Communion, right? Actually both might use the word, but the Catholics believe in Transubstantiation, and that the Priest has the Mystical Ability to turn the Wine into the actual Blood of Christ, once again, and that the Bread is actually changed into the physical Body of Christ and is sacrificed again and again throughout the centuries to confer an act of “mass” or an act of active Grace into the celebrants. Well, that isn’t anything at all like what Baptists do! We “just” observe a supper of Remembrance in Holiness and Sobriety. No extra grace needed, than what the LORD did just the one time at Calvary! Heb.9:25-26- “Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Like all of the Ordinances of the LORD’s Baptist churches, it confers no “saving grace”, but is merely the answer of a Good Conscience toward God. 1Pet.3:21- “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”
Sacraments vs Grace
The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church have no parallel in Baptist churches! Simply put, the Catholics believe that Salvation is in the Church, and there is no other route of Salvation… Col.2:8-10- “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him…” Baptists have always held that Jesus Christ, ALONE is the route of Salvation, regardless of which “church” or person that the Gospel is heard from… Against the backdrop of Sovereign Grace: Salvation gifted by God in Irresistible Regeneration and exhibited by Practical Repentance and Faith, the Catholics have added three Sacraments to enter into “their” Church Salvation: 1) Baptism, 2) Confirmation and 3) Eucharist/Mass. Two more Sacraments concern the Powerful Authority of their Clergy to confer “grace” upon their parishioners and selves: 4) Matrimony and 5) Holy Orders. The last two OFFICIAL Sacraments go even further in “deifying” the Catholic Priests with unwarranted authority to “forgive sins” and usurp the Authority of God: 6) Penance and 7) Extreme Unction.
The Priesthood of the Believer has always been a bulwark of Baptists. Only God is sought in the forgiveness of sins. Certainly, the pastor is used by the LORD to offer advice and Scriptural knowledge, but no Baptist ever had the audacity to tell a member to perform (Hail Mary’s, count beads, etc) physical works to merit forgiveness, salvation and last rites that will make us acceptable to our Holy God! Like David, we go straight to God! Psa.51:2-4- “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”
Baptism for Salvation vs Baptism for Service
Baptism does different things in these vastly different churches, too! To the Catholic Church, it is a Saving Sacrament that will ensure Salvation for the recipient, even if they are but an unaware infant. Parents will bring their babes to the Catholic Priest to have him “save” their child eternally, via this Sacrament. Catholic “Good News” is succinctly: “Bring your children in to be Baptized and Saved!” In Baptist churches, Baptism is a Church Ordinance that born-again believers submit to, in order to become a Baptist Church Member. Ac.2:41- “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” It is “merely” a picture of dying-out to this world and they are following the example of their Saviour in this pictorial Death, Burial and Resurrection.
It certainly is an important mile-marker in a Christian’s life, in becoming a Baptist, but it has zero benefits, regarding Eternal Salvation. The benefits of Baptism, for a Baptist, is tied up in becoming a part of the Body of Christ, and ultimately, the Bride of Christ. Rev.3:4-6- “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
Mariolatry vs Deity of Christ
The worship of the Virgin Mary and other unfitly eso-exalted saints proliferates among Catholics. Just to walk in one of their buildings, one can see that Idolatry abounds. Ex.20:4-5- “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God…” Baptists worship God ALONE! Baptists pray to God ALONE! Baptists exalt God ALONE! A common refrain in prayers at Big Creek Baptist Church is that the Name of Jesus Christ might be High and Lifted Up…! He ALONE! A big problem with Catholic Theology, is that it isn’t “Scriptura Sola”, but is constantly evolving as their leaders think up new ways to worship, serve and offer.
Catholics have gotten to the point, where the Virgin Mary is deified and given Divine Attributes singular to our Holy God. I recently read that Mariolatry has gotten to the point, where she ALSO is Virgin born from her mother! It’s simply not logically possible for two entities to have Deity and the Attributes of God. Isa.45:21-22- “Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
Carnal Bondage vs Soul Liberty
Gal.5:1-4- “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. “ Liberty in Jesus Christ is deflated in Catholicism, as they (like the Pharisees of old) lay burdens upon their flocks, binding them to repeat idolatrous prayers, require carnal sacrifices and ignorant obedience to unScriptural encumbrances. Give the Roman Catholic Church authority in the secular realm, and there is no safe hiding place! Inquisitions, Persecutions and Oppression follow their pernicious ways! Jn.16:2-4- “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them…”
There is no more Religious Freedom than where Baptists live and proliferate! America resonates with the Soul Liberty of our Baptist forefathers! So much so, that in these latter days of America, liberals have abused their Liberty to the extent of reviving former abominations, because they have forgotten the Baptist Blessings that God poured upon this once-great Nation.
Another gospel of Works vs The Gospel of Jesus Christ
But the Gospel of Jesus Christ! At least we share this Great Truth with the Catholics, right? I mean, they are CHRISTIANS, right? The sad TRUTH is that, although there may be some of God’s Elect Children in the Roman Catholic Church, the vast majority are not saved, and due to their Rebellious, Heretical Dogmas, they cannot truly be called Christians, because they do NOT preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but undeniably they propagate another Gospel- one of works and God-dishonoring tenets of belief. Gal.1:6-10- “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
The “gospel” of the Catholics is summarily a “do this-do that” recipe for salvation, that is foreign to Scripture. The Bible and Baptists proclaim, as also the Apostle Paul concludes the Book of Galatians: Gal.6:12-15- “As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” That’s the Baptist Gospel- Jesus died for me and saved me!
Harlot vs Bride
So, if the Catholic Gospel is a false gospel of Works, instead of the Baptist Gospel of Sovereign Grace, what DO Baptists have in common with Catholics? Can we fellowship with them? Align ourselves with them in any way, shape or form? Really, Ecumenicalism with the Catholics is IMPOSSIBLE! We have absolutely NOTHING in common with them! ZERO…! The LORD’s condemnation and “naming” of the Roman Catholic Church is found in Rev.17:1-6- “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus…” (Horribly, Yes, the Catholic, Universal Church is this woman, riding upon the Beast.)
The Contrast (not Ecumenical) between Catholics and Baptists will carry over into the Great Tribulation, after the Baptists have been Raptured out, the Catholic Church will continue for another Powerful, but Bitter Seven Years! Rev.6:9-11- “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
The Baptist churches will make up the LORD’s Bride, because they have kept themselves pure and separate from the world… Eph.5:25-27- “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Jn.3:29- “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.” 2Cor.11:2- “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Rev.19:7-9- “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb…” Rev.3:9- “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.” A Baptist Bride is as sure as the Bible (peculiarly the New Testament) is a Baptist Book!
X-mass vs X-mas
But, shamefully, the ONLY thing that (most) Baptists have in common with Catholics is this Vile Annual Mass. The Mass is a Catholic worship service. And once a year, (most) Baptists are indistinguishable from Catholics as X-mass is observed… Jer.10:3-5- “For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go…neither also is it in them to do good.” And “good” Baptists, just like “good” Catholics, observe a fictitious Holy Day, sanction unBiblical traditions, and rebelliously add to Scripture, just like the rotten Catholic Popes and Bishops have decreed their people to do… and Satan is pleased. Rev.11:10- “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”
Is God pleased? What would the LORD Jesus Christ say, if He came to visit you on X-mass Eve? Would you dare to pair His Holy Name with the Catholic Mass and wish HIM a Merry X-mass? 2Cor.6:14-18- “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
Yeah, not what WOULD the LORD say… what DOES He say about Baptists that get mixed up in Catholicism…? Rev.18:2-5- “And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” “Come out of her, my people…” Selah! Think about it! Let it not be said that we have ANYTHING in common with this Enemy of Jesus Christ and His Multitude of Martyrs down through the Centuries… Amen.
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726