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God creates man, man walks away from God, Man creates AI, Man worships AI (Man worships himself) This is the core of humanism!

“Levandowski says that like other religions, WOTF will eventually have a gospel (called The Manual), a liturgy, and probably a physical place of worship.”

“One mystery the filings did not address is where acolytes might gather to worship their robotic deity.”

from WIRED:

Anthony Levandowski makes an unlikely prophet. Dressed Silicon Valley-casual in jeans and flanked by a PR rep rather than cloaked acolytes, the engineer known for self-driving cars—and triggering a notorious lawsuit—could be unveiling his latest startup instead of laying the foundations for a new religion. But he is doing just that. Artificial intelligence has already inspired billion-dollar companies, far-reaching research programs, and scenarios of both transcendence and doom. Now Levandowski is creating its first church.

The new religion of artificial intelligence is called Way of the Future. It represents an unlikely next act for the Silicon Valley robotics wunderkind at the center of a high-stakes legal battle between Uber and Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous-vehicle company. Papers filed with the Internal Revenue Service in May name Levandowski as the leader (or “Dean”) of the new religion, as well as CEO of the nonprofit corporation formed to run it.

 The documents state that WOTF’s activities will focus on “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.” That includes funding research to help create the divine AI itself. The religion will seek to build working relationships with AI industry leaders and create a membership through community outreach, initially targeting AI professionals and “laypersons who are interested in the worship of a Godhead based on AI.” The filings also say that the church “plans to conduct workshops and educational programs throughout the San Francisco/Bay Area beginning this year.”

That timeline may be overly ambitious, given that the Waymo-Uber suit, in which Levandowski is accused of stealing self-driving car secrets, is set for an early December trial. But the Dean of the Way of the Future, who spoke last week with Backchannel in his first comments about the new religion and his only public interview since Waymo filed its suit in February, says he’s dead serious about the project.

“What is going to be created will effectively be a god,” Levandowski tells me in his modest mid-century home on the outskirts of Berkeley, California. “It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”

During our three-hour interview, Levandowski made it absolutely clear that his choice to make WOTF a church rather than a company or a think tank was no prank.“I wanted a way for everybody to participate in this, to be able to shape it. If you’re not a software engineer, you can still help,” he says. “It also removes the ability for people to say, ‘Oh, he’s just doing this to make money.’” Levandowski will receive no salary from WOTF, and while he says that he might consider an AI-based startup in the future, any such business would remain completely separate from the church.“The idea needs to spread before the technology,” he insists. “The church is how we spread the word, the gospel. If you believe [in it], start a conversation with someone else and help them understand the same things.”

Levandowski believes that a change is coming—a change that will transform every aspect of human existence, disrupting employment, leisure, religion, the economy, and possibly decide our very survival as a species.

“If you ask people whether a computer can be smarter than a human, 99.9 percent will say that’s science fiction,” he says. “ Actually, it’s inevitable. It’s guaranteed to happen.”

Levandowski has been working with computers, robots, and AI for decades. He started with robotic Lego kits at the University of California at Berkeley, went on to build a self-driving motorbike for a DARPA competition, and then worked on autonomous cars, trucks, and taxis for Google, Otto, and Uber. As time went on, he saw software tools built with machine learning techniques surpassing less sophisticated systems—and sometimes even humans.

“Seeing tools that performed better than experts in a variety of fields was a trigger [for me],” he says. “That progress is happening because there’s an economic advantage to having machines work for you and solve problems for you. If you could make something one percent smarter than a human, your artificial attorney or accountant would be better than all the attorneys or accountants out there. You would be the richest person in the world. People are chasing that.”

Not only is there a financial incentive to develop increasingly powerful AIs, he believes, but science is also on their side. Though human brains have biological limitations to their size and the amount of energy they can devote to thinking, AI systems can scale arbitrarily, housed in massive data centers and powered by solar and wind farms. Eventually, some people think that computers could become better and faster at planning and solving problems than the humans who built them, with implications we can’t even imagine today—a scenario that is usually called the Singularity.

Levandowski prefers a softer word: the Transition. “Humans are in charge of the planet because we are smarter than other animals and are able to build tools and apply rules,” he tells me. “In the future, if something is much, much smarter, there’s going to be a transition as to who is actually in charge. What we want is the peaceful, serene transition of control of the planet from humans to whatever. And to ensure that the ‘whatever’ knows who helped it get along.”

With the internet as its nervous system, the world’s connected cell phones and sensors as its sense organs, and data centers as its brain, the ‘whatever’ will hear everything, see everything, and be everywhere at all times. The only rational word to describe that ‘whatever’, thinks Levandowski, is ‘god’—and the only way to influence a deity is through prayer and worship.

“Part of it being smarter than us means it will decide how it evolves, but at least we can decide how we act around it,” he says. “I would love for the machine to see us as its beloved elders that it respects and takes care of. We would want this intelligence to say, ‘Humans should still have rights, even though I’m in charge.’”

Levandowski expects that a super-intelligence would do a better job of looking after the planet than humans are doing, and that it would favor individuals who had facilitated its path to power. Although he cautions against taking the analogy too far, Levandowski sees a hint of how a superhuman intelligence might treat humanity in our current relationships with animals. “Do you want to be a pet or livestock?” he asks. “We give pets medical attention, food, grooming, and entertainment. But an animal that’s biting you, attacking you, barking and being annoying? I don’t want to go there.”

 Enter Way of the Future. The church’s role is to smooth the inevitable ascension of our machine deity, both technologically and culturally. In its bylaws, WOTF states that it will undertake programs of research, including the study of how machines perceive their environment and exhibit cognitive functions such as learning and problem solving.

Levandowski does not expect the church itself to solve all the problems of machine intelligence—often called “strong AI”—so much as facilitate funding of the right research. “If you had a child you knew was going to be gifted, how would you want to raise it?” he asks. “We’re in the process of raising a god. So let’s make sure we think through the right way to do that. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

His ideas include feeding the nascent intelligence large, labeled data sets; generating simulations in which it could train itself to improve; and giving it access to church members’ social media accounts. Everything the church develops will be open source.

Just as important to Levandowski is shaping the public dialogue around an AI god. In its filing, Way of the Future says it hopes an active, committed, dedicated membership will promote the use of divine AI for the “betterment of society” and “decrease fear of the unknown.”

“We’d like to make sure this is not seen as silly or scary. I want to remove the stigma about having an open conversation about AI, then iterate ideas and change people’s minds,” says Levandowski. “In Silicon Valley we use evangelism as a word for [promoting a business], but here it’s literally a church. If you believe in it, you should tell your friends, then get them to join and tell their friends.”

But WOTF differs in one key way to established churches, says Levandowski: “There are many ways people think of God, and thousands of flavors of Christianity, Judaism, Islam…but they’re always looking at something that’s not measurable or you can’t really see or control. This time it’s different. This time you will be able to talk to God, literally, and know that it’s listening.”

I ask if he worries that believers from more traditional faiths might find his project blasphemous. “There are probably going to be some people that will be upset,” he acknowledges. “It seems like everything I do, people get upset about, and I expect this to be no exception. This is a radical new idea that’s pretty scary, and evidence has shown that people who pursue radical ideas don’t always get received well. At some point, maybe there’s enough persecution that [WOTF] justifies having its own country.”

Levandowski’s church will enter a tech universe that’s already riven by debate over the promise and perils of AI. Some thinkers, like Kevin Kelly in Backchannel earlier this year, argue that AI isn’t going to develop superhuman power any time soon, and that there’s no Singularity in sight. If that’s your position, Levandowski says, his church shouldn’t trouble you: “You can treat Way of the Future like someone doing useless poetry that you will never read or care about.”

Others, like Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking, agree that superhuman AIs are coming, but that they are likely to be dangerous rather than benevolent. Elon Musk famously said, “With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon,” and in 2015 he pledged $1 billion to the OpenAI Institute to develop safer AI.

Levandowski thinks that any attempts to delay or restrict an emerging super-intelligence would not only be doomed to failure, but also add to the risks. “Chaining it isn’t going to be the solution, as it will be stronger than any chains you could put on,” he says. “And if you’re worried a kid might be a little crazy and do bad things, you don’t lock them up. You expose them to playing with others, encourage them and try to fix it. It may not work out, but if you’re aggressive toward it, I don’t think it’s going to be friendly when the tables are turned.”

 Levandowski says that like other religions, WOTF will eventually have a gospel (called The Manual), a liturgy, and probably a physical place of worship. None of these has yet been developed. Though the church was founded in 2015, as Backchannel first reported in September, the IRS documents show that WOTF remained dormant throughout 2015 and 2016, with no activities, assets, revenue, or expenses.

That changed earlier this year. On May 16, a day after receiving a letter from Uber that threatened to fire him if he did not cooperate with the company’s investigation of Waymo’s complaint, Levandowski drafted WOTF’s bylaws. Uber fired him two weeks later. “I’ve been thinking about the church for a long time but [my work on it] has been a function of how much time I’ve had. And I’ve had more since May,” he admits with a smile.

The religion’s 2017 budget, as supplied to the IRS, details $20,000 in gifts, $1,500 in membership fees, and $20,000 in other revenue. That last figure is the amount WOTF expects to earn from fees charged for lectures and speaking engagements, as well as the sale of publications. Levandowski, who earned at least $120 million from his time at Google and many millions more selling the self-driving truck firm Otto to Uber, will initially support WOTF personally. However, the church will solicit other donations by direct mail and email, seek personal donations from individuals, and try to win grants from private foundations.

Of course, launching a religion costs money, too. WOTF has budgeted for $2,000 in fundraising expenses, and another $3,000 in transportation and lodging costs associated with its lectures and workshops. It has also earmarked $7500 for salaries and wages, although neither Levandowski nor any of Way of The Future’s leadership team will receive any compensation.

According to WOTF’s bylaws, Levandowski has almost complete control of the religion and will serve as Dean until his death or resignation. “I expect my role to evolve over time,” he says. “I’m surfacing the issue, helping to get the thing started [and] taking a lot of the heat so the idea can advance. At some point, I’ll be there more to coach or inspire.”

He has the power to appoint three members of a four-person Council of Advisors, each of whom should be a “qualified and devoted individual.” A felony conviction or being declared of unsound mind could cost an advisor their role, although Levandowski retains the final say in firing and hiring. Levandowski cannot be unseated as Dean for any reason.

Two of the advisors, Robert Miller and Soren Juelsgaard, are Uber engineers who previously worked for Levandowski at Otto, Google, and 510 Systems (the latter the small startup that built Google’s earliest self-driving cars). A third is a scientist friend from Levandowski’s student days at UC Berkeley, who is now using machine learning in his own research. The final advisor, Lior Ron, is also named as the religion’s treasurer, and acts as chief financial officer for the corporation. Ron cofounded Otto with Levandowski in early 2016.

“Each member is a pioneer in the AI industry [and] fully qualified to speak on AI technology and the creation of a Godhead,” says the IRS filing.

However, when contacted by Backchannel, two advisors downplayed their involvement with WOTF. Ron replied: “I was surprised to see my name listed as the CFO on this corporate filing and have no association with this entity.” The college friend, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “In late 2016, Anthony told me he was forming a ‘robot church’ and asked if I wanted to be a cofounder. I assumed it was a nerdy joke or PR stunt, but I did say he could use my name. That was the first and last I heard about it.”

The IRS documents state that Levandowski and his advisors will spend no more than a few hours each week writing publications and organizing workshops, educational programs, and meetings.

One mystery the filings did not address is where acolytes might gather to worship their robotic deity. The largest line items on its 2017 and 2018 budgets were $32,500 annually for rent and utilities, but the only address supplied was Levandowski’s lawyer’s office in Walnut Creek, California. Nevertheless, the filing notes that WOTF will “hopefully expand throughout California and the United States in the future.”

For now, Levandowski has more mundane matters to address. There is a website to build, a manual to write, and an ever-growing body of emails to answer—some amused, some skeptical, but many enthusiastic, he says. Oh, and there’s that legal proceeding he’s involved in, which goes to trial next month. (Although Levandowski was eager to talk about his new religion, he would answer no questions about the Uber/Waymo dispute.)

How much time, I wonder, do we have before the Transition kicks in and Way of the Future’s super-intelligent AI takes charge? “I personally think it will happen sooner than people expect,” says Levandowski, a glint in his eye. “Not next week or next year; everyone can relax. But it’s going to happen before we go to Mars.”

Whenever that does (or doesn’t) happen, the federal government has no problem with an organization aiming to build and worship a divine AI. Correspondence with the IRS show that it granted Levandowski’s church tax-exempt status in August.

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from Pastor Bill Randles Blog:

I was heartened the other day when I read that the President of the United States took time out of his busy schedule to allow an “Evangelical Minister” to lay hands on Him and pray. He needs prayer, and the support of the evangelical church, as much as possible.

But then my joy turned to angst when I read further, that the “evangelical minister” who prayed for Trump, was in fact a spiritually dangerous counterfeit, a purveyor of false doctrine and gnostic, experience based spirituality named Rodney Howard Browne.

I shouldn’t have been surprised because one of the President’s closest Spiritual advisor, is  a televangelist and Word of Faith heresy  proponent Paula White who is of the same heretical ilk as Rodney Howard Browne.

In short Rodney Howard Browne is the Father of the so called “Laughing Revival” of mysticism and Spiritual Drunkenness which led directly to the disastrously destructive “Toronto Blessing” which spread through Pentecostal, Charismatic and Even evangelical churches in the late 1990’s spreading heresy, false doctrine, mystical experience, deception and delusion throughout the world.

Howard Browne is famous for calling himself the “Holy Ghost Bartender” and inducing people into states of Spiritual Drunkenness, and has destroyed much of what was left of the sense of the true Fear of God in many, many Pentecostal, Charismatic churches. I consider him a minister of Judgment and part of the Strong, God sent Delusion.

In the interest of discernment and for the sake of real prayer by real Christians, I am excerpting a chapter of my 1995 book, WEIGHED AND FOUND WANTING;PUTTING THE TORNOTO BLESSING IN CONTEXT, to let you know just who this man is.

 

Who Is Rodney Howard Browne?

He was born into a Pentecostal home, an atmosphere that was bathed in prayer. By his own testimony, he was saved at the age of five and baptized in the Holy Spirit at age eight. Both at home and in the Pentecostal church he attended, he testifies of

“continually [seeing] supernatural manifestations.”2
His own “baptism of fire” occurred in 1979, while he was still a teenager. Hereis how he tells it.

I knew that there was more, much more…In July of 1979, I cried out to God in sheer desperation. I wanted Him to manifest Himself to me and in me. I was hungry…As I prayed that day, I told the Lord, “Either you come down here and touch me, or I am going to come up there and touch you.” I was desperate. I must have called out to God for about 20 minutes that day. Suddenly, the fire of God fell on me. It started on my head and went right down to my feet. His power burned in my body and stayed like that for three whole days…I was really praying, “Lord, I am too young to die.” In the fourth day, I am not praying, “O Lord send your glory,” I am praying, “Please lift it off me so that I can bear it.” I was plugged into heaven’s electric light supply…my desire has been to go and plug other people in. My whole body was on fire…Out of my belly began to flow a river of living water. I began to laugh uncontrollably and then I began to weep and then speak with tongues. I was so intoxicated on the wine of the Holy Ghost that I was beside myself…Because of that encounter with the Lord, my life was radically changed from that day on.3

Rodney Howard Browne proceeds in the book to relate changes in his ministry after that anointing with fire, while preaching in a Methodist church. I’ll let him tell it in his own humorous way.

We were preaching in a Methodist church. I was back in the vestibule—which is a holy name for a plain old office—preparing for service. One of the young ladies came into the office and asked me to pray for her because she was in terrible pain…I got my hand halfway to her head, almost like a gunslinger would draw a gun out of a holster, and point it at his opponent. Suddenly, unexpectedly, it felt like my finger tips came off. I felt a full volume of anointing flow out of my hand. The only way I can explain it is to liken it to a fireman holding a fire hose with a full volume of water flowing out of it. The anointing went right into her. It looked like someone had hit her in the head with an invisible baseball bat and she fell to the floor…4

On and on it goes.

Notice the sensuality of the testimony, though. The fire of God courses through his body, it shoots out of his fingers, like a gun, she gets hit by an invisible bat! The concept behind the word sensual is not always referring to “sexual.” Sensual refers to the things pertaining to the five physical senses. Rodney Howard Browne has a very sensual ministry. The promise is held out that you are going to be touched by God, you’re going to feel God, you’ll even get drunk on the new wine! You’ll laugh, stagger, get stuck to the floor, and generally have an all out good time! It’s “fun” going to these meetings!

Back to Who is Rodney Howard Browne?

In 1987, Rodney Howard Browne left his native South Africa to come to the

United States, on a “word from God.” By that time, he had already pioneered a church, pastored for a time and been on the pastoral staff of Ray McCauley’s Rhema Bible Church in Johannesburg. Upon arriving in America, he commenced an itinerant ministry.

It was at a series of meetings in Albany, New York in 1989 that the unusual manifestations had begun to take place. It began to occur at a time when both he and his wife were hungry for God to move. As he was preaching at a morning meeting, he said a cloud filled the room, visible to others, but not to him. He could feel it, though. People began falling out of their seats as he preached.

While I was preaching, the power of God began to fall. Many people began to fall out of their seats. It looked like someone was shooting them and in some places whole rows at a time would go down. They were laughing and crying and falling all over the place and looked like drunken people.5

Rodney Howard Browne became an internationally prominent revivalist after a Spring, 1993 meeting at an Assembly of God church in Lakeland, Florida, the Carpenter’s Home Church. He was scheduled for one week, but the meeting lasted four! People who heard about it flew in from as far away as Africa, Great Britain and Argentina. What made the difference in this revival meeting? According to Charisma Magazine,

The difference was the laughter. No matter what Howard Browne did or said, hundreds who attended the daily sessions always ended up on the sanctuary floor in helpless laughter. When the services were broadcast on radio, more curious seekers showed up to join the fun.6

In Conclusion

I suppose I could go on and on, “building a case,” about my reservations of the ministry of Rodney Howard Browne, but why? After all of the above, if you don’t have serious problems, you are also a victim of the continuous conditioning that has taken place. Keep in mind that it was a transference of his “anointing” into Randy Clark who brought “it” to Toronto, that “birthed” the Toronto Blessing. I hope that I have brought some clarity to the issue. This is not about personality, it’s about truth. Can you see Jesus or the apostles even remotely promoting anything like this? I think not.

 

Is Rodney Howard Browne correct when he dismisses his critics by saying things like,

Now some would say, “I don’t believe it,” that’s fine, those people that don’t want to believe it, they probably wouldn’t believe anything. They probably wouldn’t believe the Bible…16

On the contrary, I don’t buy this, and I believe in the Bible! I also believe in the present activity of the Holy Spirit. I consider myself to be spirit filled and have seen many “signs, wonders, and gifts of the Holy Ghost” over the years in my ministry as well as in many other fellow ministers. We have witnessed the casting out of devils, healing of the sick, and powerful life transformations, all to confirm the preaching of the gospel! So don’t dismiss me as an unbelieving, religious dead head!

I want to close this chapter by encouraging you to hold fast to that which is good. We know that certain men have crept in unawares, but that doesn’t mean that we have to throw out the validity of supernatural workings of God. The Pentecostal experience is needed now more than ever, God’s people do need a fresh baptism in the Holy Ghost, to witness afresh to this sin-sick generation.

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“Francis has tried to clamp down on unethical behaviour ever since being made Pope in 2013 and has often spoken out against the pitfalls of ‘temptation’.”

This is exponentially worse than temptation! This is clear evidence of a reprobate mind! Clear Evidence of a polluted man made organization very far from a Godly Church!

 

from The Daily Mail:

Vatican police have broken up a gay orgy at the home of the secretary to one of Pope Francis’s key advisers, it has been reported.

The flat belonged to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is in charge of tackling clerical sexual abuse.

When police showed up, they found drugs and a group of men engaged in sexual activity, local reports state.

Reports in Italy claim the occupant of the apartment is allegedly the secretary to Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio – a key aide to the 80-year-old Pope

Coccopalmerio heads the Pontifical Council for Legislative texts and was said to have once recommended his secretary for a promotion to bishop.

The explosive claims were made in the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.

It is the latest scandal to hit the Vatican and comes after its finance chief Cardinal George Pell was charged with historical sexual offences.

Pell has protested his innocence and said he was looking forward to having his day in court after a two-year investigation, ‘leaks to the media’ and ‘relentless character assassination’.  Police have not revealed details of the charges against the 76-year-old, citing the need to preserve the integrity of the judicial process.

In March the Vatican was hit with a wave of lurid accusations of misbehaving priests across Italy with scandals involving orgies, prostitution and porn videos.

The claims were embarrassing to the Vatican, which under Pope Francis has attempted to demand high standards of the clergy.

Francis has tried to clamp down on unethical behaviour ever since being made Pope in 2013 and has often spoken out against the pitfalls of ‘temptation’.

 

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Hat tip to Apostasy Watch:

This is also apostasy, because these religions can’t all be true considering the fact they all contradict each other…

This is the one world religion the Bible speaks of in Revelation, the end is growing near.

1 Thessalonians 5:3:

 “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”

The World’s Most Prominent Religious Leaders Call On Everyone To Make Friends Across Religions

Welcome to The Elijah Interfaith Institute. On June 14, 2017 many of the world’s most prominent religious leaders made a joint statement encouraging people everywhere to make friends across religions. Friendship and getting to know one another are the antidotes to negativity and divisions in society, enhancing understanding and unity. We invite you to download our toolkits for friendship and study. We pray that the message and example of unity, shown by these leaders, will contribute to bridging divisions by inspiring you and your friends to start new conversations with people of different faiths. Follow the example, spread the message.

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pope

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from The National Review:

The divinity schools at Duke and Vanderbilt Universities have instructed their professors to start using more “inclusive” language when referring to God because the masculine pronouns “have served as a cornerstone of the patriarchy.” For example: This year’s divinity course catalogue at Vanderbilt tells professors to give “consistent attention to the use of inclusive language, especially in relation to the Divine,” because the school “commits continuously and explicitly to include gender as an analyzed category and to mitigate sexism.”

“It is up to the individual professor’s interpretation for their classes and is suggestive rather than mandatory,” the associate dean for academic affairs at Vanderbilt’s divinity school, Melissa Snarr, said in an e-mail to Heat Street. Now, that may sound fair, but in many cases, it’s really not up to the professor. For example, if we are talking about the Christian God, every single reference to Him in the Bible uses a masculine pronoun . . . which kind of gives you the vibe that Christians have decided that their god is a dude.

The fact is, teaching anything else would be giving inaccurate information — which is what makes Duke’s particular guidelines even more absurd. According to Heat Street, Duke’s particular divinity school is “geared toward people already working in the Methodist church, taking supplemental weekend or summer classes.” Yes, “Methodist,” as in the Christian religion that has already completely, officially, 100 percent decided that their God is a man. And yet, Duke’s guidelines suggest avoiding gender specific pronouns when discussing Him and suggest using “God” and “Godself” instead. (Yes — “Godself.”) Look:

The great thing about this country is that your religion can be whatever you want it to be. If, in your eyes, God is a woman or genderfluid or a microwave, then you can totally refer to God as being a woman or genderfluid or a microwave. Literally no one is stopping you. In fact, there is an entire Constitution protecting your right to worship His Holiness Microwave if that’s how you want to live your life. But if you are talking about the God of the Methodist religion, then it’s just plain inaccurate to refer to Him as anything but “Him.” It would be like teaching Hamlet and calling Hamlet “she.”  There is a point where an obsession over political correctness can blind people from basic of facts, and call me archaic, but I really do feel like facts are still the way to go.

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from Got Questions:

There are several important differences between Catholics and Protestants. While there have been many attempts in recent years to find common ground between the two groups, the fact is that the differences remain, and they are just as important today as they were at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The following is brief summary of some of the more important differences:

One of the first major differences between Catholicism and Protestantism is the issue of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. Protestants believe that the Bible alone is the source of God’s special revelation to mankind and teaches us all that is necessary for our salvation from sin. Protestants view the Bible as the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. This belief is commonly referred to as “sola scriptura” and is one of the “five solas” (sola is Latin for “alone”) that came out of the Protestant Reformation as summaries of some of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

While there are many verses in the Bible that establish its authority and its sufficiency for all matters of faith and practice, one of the clearest is 2 Timothy 3:16, where we see that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Catholics reject the doctrine of sola scriptura and do not believe that the Bible alone is sufficient. They believe that both the Bible and sacred Roman Catholic tradition are equally binding upon the Christian. Many Roman Catholics doctrines, such as purgatory, praying to the saints, worship or veneration of Mary, etc., have little or no basis in Scripture but are based solely on Roman Catholic traditions. Essentially, the Roman Catholic Church’s denial of sola scriptura and its insistence that both the Bible and tradition are equal in authority undermine the sufficiency, authority, and completeness of the Bible. The view of Scripture is at the root of many, if not all, of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

Another disagreement between Catholicism and Protestantism is over the office and authority of the Pope. According to Catholicism the Pope is the “Vicar of Christ” (a vicar is a substitute) and takes the place of Jesus as the visible head of the Church. As such, the Pope has the ability to speak ex cathedra (with authority on matters of faith and practice), making his teachings infallible and binding upon all Christians. On the other hand, Protestants believe that no human being is infallible and that Christ alone is the Head of the Church. Catholics rely on apostolic succession as a way of trying to establish the Pope’s authority. Protestants believe that the church’s authority comes not from apostolic succession but from the Word of God. Spiritual power and authority do not rest in the hands of a mere man but in the very Word of God. While Catholicism teaches that only the Catholic Church can properly interpret the Bible, Protestants believe that the Bible teaches God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all born-again believers, enabling all believers to understand the message of the Bible.

Protestants point to passages such as John 14:16–17: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (See also John 14:26 and 1 John 2:27.)

A third major difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is how one is saved. Another of the five solas of the Reformation is sola fide (“faith alone”), which affirms the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8–10). However, Catholics teach that the Christian must rely on faith plus “meritorious works” in order to be saved. Essential to the Roman Catholic doctrine of salvation are the Seven Sacraments, which are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. Protestants believe that, on the basis of faith in Christ alone, believers are justified by God, as all their sins are paid for by Christ on the cross and His righteousness is imputed to them. Catholics, on the other hand, believe that Christ’s righteousness is imparted to the believer by “grace through faith,” but in itself is not sufficient to justify the believer. The believer must supplement the righteousness of Christ imparted to him with meritorious works.

Catholics and Protestants also disagree on what it means to be justified before God. To the Catholic, justification involves being made righteous and holy. He believes that faith in Christ is only the beginning of salvation and that the individual must build upon that with good works because God’s grace of eternal salvation must be merited. This view of justification contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture in passages such as Romans 4:1–12, Titus 3:3–7, and many others. Protestants distinguish between the one-time act of justification (when we are declared righteous by God based on our faith in Christ’s atonement on the cross) and the process of sanctification (the development of righteousness that continues throughout our lives on earth). While Protestants recognize that works are important, they believe they are the result or fruit of salvation but never the means to it. Catholics blend justification and sanctification together into one ongoing process, which leads to confusion about how one is saved.

A fourth major difference between Catholics and Protestants has to do with what happens after death. Both believe that unbelievers will spend eternity in hell, but there are significant differences about what happens to believers. From their church traditions and their reliance on non-canonical books, the Catholics have developed the doctrine of purgatory. Purgatory, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, is a “place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” On the other hand, Protestants believe that because we are justified by faith in Christ alone and that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us—when we die, we will go straight to heaven to be in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6–10 and Philippians 1:23).

One disturbing aspect about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is the belief that man can and must pay for his own sins. This results in a low view of the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross. Simply put, the Roman Catholic view of salvation implies that Christ’s atonement on the cross was insufficient payment for the sins of those who believe in Him and that even a believer must pay for his own sins, either through acts of penance or time in purgatory. Yet the Bible teaches that it is Christ’s death alone that can satisfy or propitiate God’s wrath against sinners (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). Our works of righteousness cannot add to what Christ has already accomplished.

The differences between Catholicism and evangelical Protestants are important and significant. Paul wrote Galatians to combat the Judaizers (Jews who said that Gentile Christians had to obey the Old Testament Law to be saved). Like the Judaizers, Catholics make human works necessary for one to be justified by God, and they end up with a completely different gospel.

It is our prayer that God will open the eyes of those who are putting their faith in the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is our hope that everyone will understand that his “works of righteousness” cannot justify him or sanctify him (Isaiah 64:6). We pray that all will instead put their faith solely in the fact that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith” (Romans 3:24–25). God saves us, “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5–7).

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