Catholicism: Priests and Pastors
Prepared and Presented by Titus Prevatt, Youth Group Student Leader
Today we’ll be going over priests and pastors in the Catholic church and what we believe regarding that. If perhaps you missed one of these spotlights, remember that you can find every apologetics spotlight on the EBC website. There you will find all of the previous spotlights featuring the Catholic church, which could be handy if you’d like a recap of all we have gone over. There are also a few charts posted of Catholic/Protestant beliefs.
The Catholic church has many roles in their church today. Among these roles you’ll find priests, bishops, and more. Today we’ll mostly be covering priests since it is such a large role in their church. Here’s a list of some of their beliefs concerning priests and pastors.
The Catholic Church
o When a priest does communion, they will only call upon Catholics to come to the table. Anyone who is not a Catholic is not welcome to partake.
o The priests are seen as mediators between members of the church and God. The priests pray on behalf of the body of believers. Very similar to what the Israelite priests in the Bible did. It is also believed they can forgive sins on the behalf of God.
o The priests perform sacraments which are supposed to be signs from God. Similar to how the twelve disciples could heal the sick and cast out demons.
o Only members of the clergy may preach. The clergy includes priests, bishops, and deacons. The pastors are to carry out the duties of teaching, sanctifying and ruling with the cooperation of other priests or deacons.
What we believe
o We believe that anyone who professes Jesus as their Lord and Savior can come to the table during communion. You don’t need an EBC membership or to have a specific denominational belief to do communion at EBC. Jesus calls all of us who believe him to be our savior to come and eat at the table in remembrance of what he did for us on the cross. He doesn’t just call a specific group of believers, he calls everyone who believes in him to partake in communion.
- We do not believe in priests today. In the past, God appointed people from the Levite tribe to be priests. These priests would atone for the sins of Israel by offering sacrifices to God. Back then, you had to have the priest do the offering for you.
- This is similar to what the Catholic church practices today, where you have to go to a priest or pray to one of the saints to have them intervene for you. However, we believe that Jesus was the true, perfect high priest who died for all who believe and trust in His name.
We have no need for priests today because Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all time. And the best part is that we can go directly to Him and ask for forgiveness!
We will not find an instance in the Bible where we have to get someone other than Jesus to intervene on our behalf. We believe nobody has the right to forgive sins except God alone.
We can see the disciples in the Bible perform miracles that are no doubt from the Lord, but there are absolutely zero instances where they can forgive sins. Jesus is the only one amongst them that could forgive sins, and he did it in the Bible multiple times.
- We believe that people cannot perform miracles today. You certainly don’t see people walking around today healing the sick with a mere word.
This is not to say that God doesn’t perform miracles today though, because he is certainly active in this age. This ties in with previous weeks of Youth Group where we talked about how God is imminent in our lives and how He is not a distant God.
One of my favorite examples on how God is active today is from Robber of the Cruel Streets which is the title of a movie and also a book. It’s a real story of George Mueller who started an orphanage in London.
He relied on God to provide for his needs and the needs of the orphanage, and he prayed all the time. There are many instances where just the right thing showed up at just the right time, and it’s a really incredible picture that God is still active today. This is just one of many examples you’ll find of God performing miracles; you just have to look for Him.
- Finally, we believe that anyone can share the gospel. Jesus calls all believers to spread the gospel in The Great Commission. You don’t need to be a priest or a deacon in some church to share the gospel with the people around you in your life.
Jesus calls us to share the gospel anywhere we are. This includes places like social media, your school, all kinds of places. Not all of us are called to be pastors; some people are more gifted than others when it comes to preaching, but we are all able to share and defend our faith. We don’t need a college degree or a shiny badge to talk about Jesus; we just need the Holy Spirit to help us say the right words.
This concludes the Catholic church portion of our series titled “What’s the Difference?”