Every cult has its attraction and the type of people it easily attracts. The Jehovah’s Witness cult for instance, attracts people who have been disgusted by the lethargic, hypocritical disposition of organized religion. Catholicism also has its attractions that make it appealing and popular.
1. Roman Catholicism attracts people seeking an authoritarian structure to mould their lives. Many people are afraid to think for themselves, they want someone to do it for them, and that is one of the conditions of being a good Catholic. Vatican II states: “[T]he faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishops’ decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance of mind. This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given…” (p 379).
This is the policy of every cult: check your mind at the door and accept whatever the authority (guru, prophet or organization) is saying. Our carnal nature enjoys (and can be addicted to) surrendering our brains and critical thoughts – whether for a promise of “enlightment,” marathon sex in paradise or material prosperity. Religious mind control makes people think within a given boundary. As long as a Catholic loves being told with ‘infallible certainty’ what to believe and thinks that would evade his personal responsibility before God, he/she will remain shackled to Rome. But one fact they must realize is that, their decision to submit to the alleged infallible authority of Rome is in itself, a fallible one. Everyone, including the pope, will stand before God, therefore, Rome’s claims not be blindly believed. They must be tested and judged.
2. In the last few decades, Catholicism has stepped up its public relations to improve on its public image. Pope Francis has perfected this art even to the point of sparking critical voices from some Catholic quarters. He recently apologized for the Catholic persecution of Italian Pentecostals prior to WWII. A recent article in Christianity Today says that Vatican II Council made Roman Catholicism adopt “a more biblical approach, transforming its worship and fundamentally changing its relation to modern secular culture.”
In reality, Vatican II only did a good cosmetic job. It allowed the Mass be said in languages other than Latin; the priest now faced the congregation and Protestants were called “separated brethren” instead of “heretics.” But it didn’t change the rot within. If Rome has truly adopted a more Biblical approach, then they should stop worshipping the wafer god; renounce the false “Mary” they venerate; throw away their rosaries and images; reject purgatory and subjugate their traditions and the Magisterium to the authority of the Bible.
When they do all these, then we’d agree that Catholicism has changed. In fact, Catholicism is still her old self. She masks her hideous face with philosophies and dons a robe of piety, but beneath that glamour is a diabolical masterpiece waiting to trap more souls.
3. Many Evangelical immigrants/converts to Rome have brought along a certain amount of contraband theology stashed away in their luggage. They are training lay Catholics on arguments and Bible texts to use in confronting Protestant objections. As a result, Catholics who used to run to the hills with the parting shot: “I’d go ask my priest” when confronted with Scripture, are now using the Bible to try prove Catholic doctrines. The main intention of these modern apologists is to erect a sort of “Evangelicaloid” bridge which unwary Evangelicals can use to cross over to Rome.
When many of these convert apologists write or speak, their target audience are primarily Evangelicals. They use that medium to present an artificially Evangelicalized version of Catholicism to them – like building a house with a heavy coat of Evangelical paint on the outside while the inside surface of the door has a Catholic coat of paint. This brings a sense of familiarity to their audience. There’s a shock of recognition; a twin separated at birth. A fence-straddling Christian who is not grounded in the truths of Scripture or is ignorant of the errors of Rome easily falls for the ploy and concludes: “This is what we always believed!” and swims to Rome. But a Christian who doesn’t rely on emotion, who fully understands what Rome’s teachings and how they are antithesis of Scripture, won’t fall for the seductions of the old whore.
4. A certain lay Catholic apologist (who was formerly Protestant) stated his reasons for embracing Catholicism:
“Catholicism retains the sense of the sacred, the sublime, the holy, and the beautiful in spirituality. The ideas of altar, and “sacred space” are preserved. Many Protestant churches are no more than “meeting halls” or “gymnasiums” or “barn type” structures … Likewise Protestants are often “addicted to mediocrity” in their appreciation of art, music, architecture, drama, the imagination, etc.”
This highlights the main attraction of Catholicism – appeal to the physical senses. When a Catholic talks about “the sense of the sacred” or the “beautiful in spirituality,” he is speaking of the dazzling attraction of the liturgy, the colourful priestly vestments, the bells, the sculptors, the stained glass icons, the incense, lights, golden chalice, the chants, and the acrobatics (the kneeling-sitting-standing). Catholicism is psychologically designed to impress the flesh.
Notably, the terms “holy” or “sacred space” are subjective. Holiness is a quality and it can’t be physically quantified. Roman Catholicism emphasises arts, drama and imagination (like the ancient Greek mystery cults) at the expense of salvation of the immortal soul. All these dazzling liturgies don’t impress God. They may attract Rome’s new comers for a while, but with time, they become meaningless and empty. When the harsh realities of life comes, the excitements wane.
Our spirits long to fellowship with God. It’s an innate longing that “smells and bells” can’t satisfy. God “dwells not in temples made with human hands” (Acts 17:24), He lives in His people. It matters little whether you are in a barn, gymnasium or hall, what matters is your relationship with God, your spiritual state, and most importantly, your eternal destination. The presence of the Holy Spirit in His people outweighs the thrills that Rome uses to make up for His absence. Take away their buildings and robes, and what you’d have left is a puff of smoke!
6. This apologist also wrote:
“Catholicism has the most sublime spirituality and devotional spirit, manifested in a thousand different ways, from the monastic ideal to the heroic celibacy of the clergy … the Catholic hospitals … countless saints – both canonized and as yet unknown and unsung, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II ,… the events at Lourdes and Fatima ,… elderly women doing the Stations of the Cross or the Rosary… This devotional spirit is unmatched in its scope and deepness … in Protestant and Orthodox spirituality.”
Let’s break it down:
“most sublime spirituality and devotional spirit” Like crawling on the steps of Marian shrines or kissing the skull of Ivo of Kermartin? That’s sublime idolatry.
“manifested in a thousand different ways” Why not a million? How did faith in the Lord of Jesus Christ mutate into a thousand different ways?
“monastic ideal, to the heroic celibacy of the clergy” What about those ideal expressions of priestly sodomy and heroic concubinage?
“countless saints” Why do we need to pray to created spirits when we have an omnipotent Creator?
“Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II” This is a fallacy of appeal to personalities. Why should we join the Catholic religion because of a closet agnostic and a universalist Pope?
“the events at Lourdes and Fatima.” From a Biblical standpoint, they are demonic.
“elderly women doing the Stations of the Cross or the Rosary.” I’ve also seen nude elderly Hindu priests blessing their followers. So why didn’t he join Hinduism?
“This devotional spirit is unmatched in its scope and deepness” This is subjective. A Buddhist, Taoist, Animist or New Ager would also say the same. Notice that the core issues of repentance and faith in Christ or assurance of salvation are missing from his attractions to Rome.
7. Catholicism adapts to the pagan cultures of wherever it spreads. That was how it gained converts in its early stages. In the East, it integrates with Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern cults. In Latin America, it integrates with local pagan customs and traditions. There’s a saying that Haiti is 85% Catholic and 110% Voodoo. New Orleans, known as one of the key centres of Witchcraft, also doubles as the most Catholic city in the US. In Africa, the more Catholic a region is, the higher the level of paganism there.
The Catholic religion maintains a duplicity such that on one hand, it seems to condemn spiritism or witchcraft but on the other hand, gives it a nod of approval so long as it is used to fill up its pews. Jesuit scholar, Peter Kreeft’s wrote: “Catholicism agrees with paganism more than Protestantism in being robustly sacramental. Catholicism is more like African religion than Scandinavian religion … Catholics believe pagans are right and Protestants are wrong” (Ecumenical Jihad, Ignatius Press, 1996, 150).
That is straight from the horse’s mouth. The unregenerate loves a religion that approves of the worst in him and yet makes him appear pious. He wants a religion with a package deal that caters for him from the cradle to the grave without renewing him. So if you want to live like a Devil all through the week and feel like a Seraph on Sunday, Catholicism may be suited just for you.