For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
In addition, can I suggest that our Lord Jesus Christ anticipated problems of this nature that would arise and possible powers that church leaders will assume in his name and during his absence. That is why He washed the disciples feet and told them 'Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another's feet. I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you, John 13: 14-15. The only exception to this was the Master and the Teacher, Jesus Christ.
The line of the papacy was broken in the 17 century when the Pope was arrested and put in prison and died in prison. He was never able to pass his reign on.
Remember when God told Adam that the seed He would rise up would get a wound on His heal and the savoir would give him a deadly blow to the head. However the serpent would rise again and the whole world would follow after him.
I see the Roman Catholic Church rising again and the church's beginning to side with her.
First, the presumption that something must be in the Bible for it to be truth is wrong. The Bible teaches that Sacred Tradition is also a valid source of truth. See 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
Too, Jesus, gave the Apostles His authority and told them that whatever they bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever they loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18). Giving the Apostles such authority in the Church then assumes they must need to have successors in order to carry on that authority. This is where well documented history aids us. The Bible does not give us a complete history of the Church, but there are countless documents from those who were taught by the Apostles themselves and from various individuals in the early Church who spoke of Peter’s authority and who documented the handing of authority of Peter to Linus, Linus to Cletus, Cletus to Clement I and so on down to Pope Francis. Since Christ gave the apostles (and thus those who are their successors) authority to bind and loose, then when Peter bound Linus to carry on his authority in the Church, then God bound that as well. Don’t get me wrong, as God does not need humans. However, since the Incarnation of Christ, God has forever bound Himself to humans. So, as Christ returned to heaven he did not leave us without a physical representive to His Church. Keep in mind that those who were taught by the Apostles and even Barnabus and others who lived with the Apostles mentioned repeatedly that Peter held the keys and was THE ONE to appeal to on important matters. That tells us that they recognized the position that Peter held in the authority of the Church.
Now, does that mean that the Pope is the highest over everyone? NO. As one commenter stated early that he is “first among equals”. Someone asked Pope Francis if he was the most important person in the world. His reply was, “I am the lowest servant. I am the servant to all the other servants”. What a good understanding he has of his calling.
One more thought...In John 17 Jesus was praying a long prayer before the last supper. In it His ultimate concern was that the Church would be united just as He and the Father are united. Paul speaks to the Christians in Corinth about their divisions that they created among themselves. He states that it is a scandal to have division in the Church. What better way to prevent division in the Church than to have a Pope, a person to carry on the Deposit of Faith and ensure that it remains in tact. He is a central person who is the physical glue to keep the Church united as one. Of course, he does so with the help of the other successors of the Apostles, the Cardinals and Bishops. Protestants have so divided themselves that we have lost count of the number of factions among them. Why? Because they rely on individual interpretation of Scripture, and they have no central authority to appeal to. Catholics, however have additional help to maintain unity because we have an Apostolic Authority that keeps that unity in tact. It hasn’t been perfect through the centuries, but the Holy Spirit has used this authority to carry the Church through many attacks of hell and She is still united under Christ.
As a former Protestant pastor I can say that I too used to be perplexed at the idea of a Pope, but now that I have read the Scriptures, considered the writings of the early Church Fathers, and looked deep into history I now see the wisdom of God in creating the position of Pope to maintain the unity of the Church and to carry on the Deposit of Faith entrusted by the Apostles.
Michael, in context 2 Thessalonians 2:15 refers to the traditions the Thessalonians had received from Paul himself. The traditions of the Roman Catholic Church were handed down from the fourth century and later, therefore they did not originate with Paul. In addition, 2 Timothy 3:16 states that 'All Scripture' is inspired by God and not church traditions.
The New Testament does not teach apostolic succession. Matthias was chosen to replace Judas to fulfil Bible prophecy (Acts 1:20) and in order to qualify for this office, he had to meet the requirements of Acts 1:21-22. This means the current pope is unable to claim apostolic succession because he was not an eye witness to Jesus’ baptism, resurrection and ascension into heaven 2,000 years ago.
The New Testament does not teach Peter handed his authority on to Linus etc.
The bible tells us that God only appointed one leader. In the Old Testament, God appointed Moses as the leader of the Israelites and Aaron as their priest.
In numbers 16:1-40 tells about the consummation and destruction of Korah and the 250 Israelites because of their jealousy and disobedience against Moses and Aaron. And In numbers 17:1-13, 18:1-9 tells about God’s appointment to Aaron as His priest and how Aaron’s rod germinated among the 12 leaders. This also foreshadows the New Testament where our Lord Jesus appointed St. Peter among the 12 twelve Apostles to build His church and was given the keys to bind and loose. Matthew 16:18-19:
“19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.“, “ 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.“
Belinda, the church did not replace Israel therefore the law and its priestly ordinances were never transferred to the church. For believers (the church), Jesus is our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14) and He is our “one” mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). The New Testament does not teach that there are to be priests in the New Covenant, but it does teach that there are to be elders (1 Timothy 3), deacons (1 Timothy 3), bishops (Titus 1:6-9), and pastors (Ephesians 4:11). The New Testament does teach that all believers are priests (1 Peter 2:5-9, Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:10) therefore the office of the Catholic priest is not taught from the New Testament.
If we assume that your claim “…our Lord Jesus appointed St. Peter among the 12 twelve Apostles to build His church and was given the keys to bind and loose” was true and since apostolic succession is unbiblical (my previous comment refers), this means that when Peter died so too did the building of His church. Biblically this wasn’t case since the church was not built on Peter but on the foundation of the “apostles” and prophets, and Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone (Ephesians 2:19-22). Jesus said He (not Peter) would build His church (Matthew 16:18).
Gary, I too used to believe in Sola Scriptura. I would have come up with the answers you now embrace. So, I understand where you are coming from. But, your response to Belinda does not find support from Church History. The early Church Fathers, those taught by the Apostles themselves, recognized the office of priest. I really encourage you to get into history before the 1500’s. You will find that from the beginning Christians recognized the office priest, and at the same time believed we are all priests, recognizing Peter as the Vicar of Christ on Earth and recognizing his authority transferring to Linus, then to Clement and so on down to Pope Francis. The Church is rooted in history. You use verses from the Sacred Scritpures, but how can you even know how to interpret those verses without a proper authority to do so. The very earthly Christians wrote many letters explaining the interpretation of Scritpures and explaining the teachings of the Church. While the Apostles were alive many Church leaders who ran into problems wrote that the issue should be referred to Peter. They recognized his authority in the Church.
The ideas you proport like Bible only, Faith only, do not have any place in history before the 1500’s when Martin Luther invented them. None of the Christians believed in those ideas before then. The one exception would be the Pharisees who believed in Bible only. Also, the Church didn’t even have a New Testament for it’s first 400 years yet was holy to Christ
Gary, the church prefigures the “offering of sacrifice” in the Old Testament. The High Priest on behalf of the Israelites offers animal sacrifices to God for the forgiveness of sins while under New Testament, Jesus death was a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. The Church then celebrate the offering of bread and wine to commemorate Him. (Luke 22:19-20)”.
Since the destruction of Jerusalem temple after 70AD as (foretold by Jesus, Mark 13:2) the animal sacrifices of the Jews was stopped. This was no longer needed as Jesus fulfilled the law of sacrifice on His death once and for all. In saying this, the Old Covenant (animal sacrifice) replaced by the New Covenant (blood and body of Jesus sacrificed) under which Jesus is the High Priest and therefore bestowed the priestly order to Peter as the appointed leader to continue when Jesus went up to heaven. John 21:16-17,19.
Peter’s successor was the pastor of Christ’s church and a spiritual father to the Lord’s children (1 Cor. 4:15), thus explaining his offices future title pope, which comes from papa, the Latin word for father.
Paul also tells us the church would have a hierarchy composed of deacons (1 Tim. 2:8-13); presbyters, from where we get the English word priest (1 Tim. 5:17); and bishops (1 Tim. 3:1-7).
Michael, the writings and interpretations of the church fathers are not infallible nor are they inspired by God because they are not Scripture.
To reiterate the Bible does not teach apostolic succession even though it is Roman Catholic Church tradition.
The Bible does not teach that only the Roman Catholic Church is authorised to interpret Scripture for every Christian. If it does, please can you provide Bible verses to substantiate your claim.
Christians are encouraged to search the Scripture to see if these things are true (Acts 11:17).
Since we know that the Bible was inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) and we can’t say the same for sacred tradition, only the Bible is our know n source for infallible teaching, correction etc. If any teaching contradicts the Bible it should be rejected.
To reiterate the Bible taught faith and not “faith and works” long before Martin Luther read the Bible for himself and discovered this truth from Scripture.
The church should be rooted in the teachings of the Apostles (Acts 2:42) and not in the traditions and the interpretations of the church fathers as these are not God inspired words.
Please note the writings of the New Testament books were written during the first century so while the Roman Catholic Church started around the 4th century, the Christian churches planted by Paul etc. already had copies of some of the New Testament books.
Belinda, Jesus’ sacrifice atoned for all believer’s sins and because it was a once and for all sacrifice, believers are no longer required to bring animals to a priest to atone for their sins. The role of a priest is not taught in the New Covenant because no further sin offerings are required because Jesus’ blood sacrifice covered all of our sins for all eternity. The Lord’s Supper is done in remembrance of Him therefore it not His actual body and blood because He does not need to be ‘re-sacrificed’ at every mass.
1 Corinthians 4:15 is about Paul and not Peter. Paul had a unique place of authority and leadership among the Corinthian Christians, not only because he fathered the church itself in Corinth (I have begotten you through the gospel), but also because of his apostolic authority. Please note we do not have apostolic authority like Paul did. Leading someone to Christ does not give you special authority over their lives, but it does give you a special relationship.
I Timothy 5:17 “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching”, i.e. not priests.
What is a bishop, biblically speaking?
“…a bishop is a person who functions as a teaching leader among a local group of Christians. The Greek term episkapos has also been translated as “episcopal,” “elder,” “overseer,” or “pastor.” All refer to the same office and are therefore synonyms".
This will probably be my final response in this discussion to avoid being repetitive. First, scripture is not of private interpretation. So, it does not matter what my interpretation, yours or Martin Luter’s is. There is a 2,000 year old public interpretation that has been agreed upon by the Church. There has to be an authoritative interpretation. It cannot come from an individual just reading the Bible, because we are all subject to blindness, bias and emotions that limit our ability to perfectly interpret anything. So, there has to be an authority higher than any individual and that authority is the Church who received her authority from Christ. Remember, the Church is not giving us her truth. She is handing on to us the truth she has received from God.
As far as the Chruch Fathers not being infallible, then neither is Luther or you or me. Whose interpretation of scripture do I trust? Definitely not a monk who was in disobedience to his bishop. Definitely not myself. Definitely not anyone who just has an attitude against the Church. I am inclined to trust the interpretation of holy men who were directly discipled by the Apostles, who were directly discipled by Jesus Himself. These Church Fathers were not just ordinary men. They became Martyrs, spilling their blood for the sake of Christ’s kingdom. They took their relationship with Christ with absolute seriousness.
It has been good having this discussion. I always appreciate a good discussion like this.
Gary, The Church acknowledge both sacred scriptures and sacred tradition (spoken words of Jesus, the deposit of faith entrusted to His Apostles and passed down to their successors and carefully preserved) of equal importance. Catholics do not deduce or confine their faith on scriptures alone. (John 21:25).
It is not “Re-sacrifice” rather, the Church teach that The crucifixion was a one-time historical event. We must keep in mind, however, that Jesus is God. He was subject to time in His human nature, but in His Divine Nature, He is outside of time. Jesus is called “a priest for ever,” not for six hours on the cross only (Hebrews 5:6-7). Thus Apostle John referred to Jesus in heaven as “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain.” (Revelation 5:6). In this sense, the one crucifixion is “eternally present” and supernaturally “brought to us” in the Sacrifice of the Mass. It is a different means of bringing the one sacrifice to us in which that it is one sacrifice being re-presented.
The notion of eucharistic sacrifice was common in the Church fathers’ writings. It is seen then as merely further development of what had been believed long since.
As a man, Jesus’ sacrifice was in time and history. As God, outside of time, it is not. His being God brings in a “supra-historical” aspect in which time is transcended. If Jesus is our high priest forever, He is still offering Himself, out of time, because that’s what priests do. Otherwise, what is the “pure offering” of Malachi 1:11?
Gary, the Church teaches that the real presence of the body and blood of Jesus is in bread and wine.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 11:23-29, John 6:32-71.
Michael, but who says the Roman Catholic Church interpretations are correct but those (for example) of the Baptist Church are incorrect? Nowhere does the New Testament ever say that the authority to interpret Scripture was given to the Roman Catholic Church (this church did not even exist until the 4th century and again apostolic succession is unbiblical as discussed previously).
Since we agree that the church fathers writings are not infallible, this means that neither are their writings and interpretations equal with the Bible.
Every born again believer has God’s spirit living inside of them and He is their Helper (John 14:26, 1 John 2:27). The Bible also says that the Holy Spirit will aid us in discerning truth from error so if anyone is going to help us spot false teachings from truth, it is the Holy Spirit. Nowhere did the Apostles ever prohibited the first century Christians from reading and interpreting (see if these things are true) for themselves (Acts 17:11). Even Jesus used Scripture when being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:4-10).
While writings of the church fathers maybe interesting to read, they were just ordinary men. The church fathers may have been martyred for what they believed to be true, but so too over the centuries have many people been martyred for their religious beliefs (Islam etc.) but is not an indication that what they have died for was the truth as found in the Bible.
Likewise, thanks for making the time to have this discussion with me.
Belinda, since the Bible is God inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) and the same cannot be said of sacred tradition, means that sacred tradition is not infallible nor is it equal to Scripture. Since it is not without error, means that the teachings of the Bible will always take precedence over it. For example, if sacred tradition teaches apostolic succession but the Bible does not (which it doesn’t), then Bible will always take authority for all matters pertaining to the church.
John 21:25 “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” This verse does not sanction that the teachings and interpretations of sacred tradition are true but in context it says ‘there are many other things which Jesus did’, i.e. not what He said.
Jesus’ atonement was a once and for all sacrifice and until He returns again for his church, He is seated at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is no longer required to re-offer His sacrifice for Christians while in eternity.
Where does the New Testament teach that Jesus’ presence must be within the elements before partaking of the Lords supper? If so, who is authorised to do this and by what means does the New Testament teach that this procedure occurs? To say Jesus is present inside an object such as communion is to teach pantheism which is unbiblical. The reason the elements are not venerated is because they are symbolic only.