Summary of Catholicism
Summary of Catholicism – The Roots
A summary of Catholicism includes a doctrinal comparison. While Catholicism has its roots in the Christian faith, it has deviated from orthodox Christianity in that fundamental Christians strictly adhere to the teachings of the Christian Bible, while the Roman Catholic Church has departed from the Bible in some areas over the centuries. For instance, one significant deviation is the works vs. grace redemption of mankind.
Summary of Catholicism – The Theology
The Christian Bible describes the human condition as follows: Mankind has become estranged from God through rebellion and sin. As a crime without retribution is as detestable to a just God as sin is to a righteous God; someone has to pay for our sins. God, seeking to reconcile us to Himself, paid the consequence due our rebellion and sin. God, through Jesus Christ, willingly took righteous indignation upon Himself and whoever accepts His death upon the cross as payment for their sins will be reconciled to the God whom they've offended. Christ's death and resurrection was a once-and-for-all, debt-paid-in-full event. Salvation is a free gift from God.
While Catholics agree that we've been separated from God by our sin, the Roman Catholic Church has essentially replaced Christ's finished work of atonement -- His substitutionary death upon the cross --with a works-based program meant to earn God's forgiveness. Instead of accepting God's free gift of salvation, many Catholics seek to earn it by partaking in the sacraments. In fact, the Catholic Church has decreed that if you even so much as say that God's grace is a free gift you are eternally damned. "If anyone say that grace is not conferred by the sacraments ex opere operato but that faith in God's promises is alone sufficient for obtaining grace, let him be anathema" (The Council of Trent, Sess. viii, can. viii; cf. can. iv, v, vii; "anathema" meaning eternally damned).
This is contrary to Bible-centered Christian doctrine that "by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (The Holy Bible, Ephesians 2:8-9) "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." (Ibid, Romans 11:6) "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Ibid, Galatians 2:21)