Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Popes

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Last month, I was challenged by a Fundamentalist who came to the knowledge that I was joining the Catholic Church through another blog that I've maintained for four years... She came in gently... telling me subtle things about the errors of the Catholic Church. So, I replied... gently and with kindness. She then came at me full force with all the typical biases that non-Catholics use. I answered each one of her attacks point by point... and for some, I included links. She shot back at me that she would NOT read my links saying something about the devil and his deception in relation to following the links I posted... blah, blah, blah. She then posted SEVERAL comments with all these crazy anti-Catholic ideas. And when I did a search for a string of text, it took me to a website FULL of horrible lies about Catholicism...

So, I took one issue, the Popes, and took each false teaching from this website (in italics below) about Catholicism point by point...

I have cited my sources, but if anyone knows if I'm breaking any copyright rules or anything that may be in error, let me know... I certainly don't want to step on any toes.

All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Version:

Catholic teaching: The apostle Peter was the first pope who then transferred his authority to Linus according to Irenaeus.

History: The bishop of Rome did not receive the title of Pope until the 500's. Many of the early bishops prior to this time were called Pope or pappas in Greek which means father.

First off, the Catholic Church can trace the succession of the pope all the way back to Peter. Christ made it very clear that Peter was "in charge" of the church at that time.

Matt 16:13-19
13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"

14And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."

15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

17And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

18"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

19"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."

Christ renamed Simon, Peter (Kepha), which means "rock" and then he said, "and upon this rock I will build My church..." It would be pointless to rename him "rock" if he did not mean to refer to him AS the rock on which he would build his church. This makes it very clear that he appointed Peter in a position above the other apostles. Even Protestant scholars agree that this verse refers to Peter as the "rock".

"Another view common among some Protestants (Alford, Broadus, Vincent) is that Peter . . . is the rock." - Wycliffe Bible Commentary

"Some interpreters have . . . referred to Jesus as the rock here, but the context is against this. Nor is it likely that Peter's faith or Peter's confession is meant. It is undoubtedly Peter himself who is to be the rock, but Peter confessing, faithful and obedient . . . The leading role which Peter played is shown throughout the early chapters of Acts." - New Bible Commentary

"Luther . . . took his rejection of the Petrine office from his erroneous interpretation of Christ's saying in Matthew 16 . . . But today we recognize Luther's error and give it up. `Anti-Catholic polemic has done violence to the Lord's saying because it defines the Rock upon which Jesus builds His community not as Peter but as his faith and confession . . . What is spoken of, however, in Matthew 16 is the man to whom Jesus entrusts His work, (7)' writes the Protestant theologian Adolf Schlatter."- Richard Baumann

Peter's authority was quite evident throughout the Bible:
"Whenever they were named, Peter headed the list (Matt. 10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13); sometimes the apostles were referred to as "Peter and those who were with him" (Luke 9:32). Peter was the one who generally spoke for the apostles (Matt. 18:21, Mark 8:29, Luke 12:41, John 6:68-69), and he figured in many of the most dramatic scenes (Matt. 14:28-32, Matt. 17:24-27, Mark 10:23-28). On Pentecost it was Peter who first preached to the crowds (Acts 2:14-40), and he worked the first healing in the Church age (Acts 3:6-7). It is Peter's faith that will strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:32) and Peter is given Christ's flock to shepherd (John 21:17). An angel was sent to announce the resurrection to Peter (Mark 16:7), and the risen Christ first appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34). He headed the meeting that elected Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:13-26), and he received the first converts (Acts 2:41). He inflicted the first punishment (Acts 5:1-11), and excommunicated the first heretic (Acts 8:18-23). He led the first council in Jerusalem (Acts 15), and announced the first dogmatic decision (Acts 15:7-11). It was to Peter that the revelation came that Gentiles were to be baptized and accepted as Christians (Acts 10:46-48)."
(Reference: http://www.catholic.com/library/Peter_and_the_Papacy.asp)

Plus, in the passage mentioned above in Matthew, Christ himself gave Peter the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" with the power to "bind and loose", indicating authority... again, Protestants do not refute this either:

"In accordance with Matthew's understanding of the kingdom of heaven (i.e., of God) as anywhere God reigns, the keys here represent authority in the Church."

"In conferring upon Peter authority as head of the Church (Matt 16:19), Jesus uses the rabbinical technical terms `to bind' . . . and `to loose' . . . In rabbinic usage the terms mean `to forbid' and `to permit' with reference to interpretation of the law, and secondarily `to condemn' or `place under the ban' and `to acquit.' Thus, Peter is given the authority to determine the rules for doctrine and life (by virtue of revelation and the subsequent leading of the Spirit; Jn 16:13) and to demand obedience from the Church, reflecting the authority of the royal chamberlain or vizier in the Old Testament (cf. Is 22:22)."
- Eerdmans Bible Dictionary

"As the robe and the baldric, mentioned in the preceding verse, were the ensigns of power and authority, so likewise was the key the mark of office, either sacred or civil. This mark of office was likewise among the Greeks, as here in Isaiah, borne on the shoulder. In allusion to the image of the key as the ensign of power, the unlimited extent of that power is expressed with great clearness as well as force by the sole and exclusive authority to open and shut. Our Saviour, therefore, has upon a similar occasion made use of a like manner of expression, Matt 16:19; and in Rev 3:7 has applied to himself the very words of the prophet." - Adam Clarke's Commentary

"Most commentators . . . believe that the keys represent internal authority in the church rather than the power to open it up to outsiders. If this is so it would give Peter, and the apostles associated with him (18:18), not only the power to preach the `kerygma' [proclamation of the gospel] but also to formulate the `didache' [doctrine]." - New Bible Commentary

While the term "pope" may have applied to other bishops in early centuries, there is still a supreme succession in church authority, which was always clear within the Catholic Church and is indicated in the writings of early Christians such as Irenaeus:

"Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to
reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere." - Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:3:2 (A.D. 180), in ANF, I:1415-416

Catholic teaching: The apostle Peter, who is claimed to be the first Pope, was not married.

Bible: Peter, also known as Cephas, had a wife.

The Catholic Church DOES NOT teach that Peter did not have a wife... come on... that would be a blantant disregard for Scripture and a ludricrous assumption!

In fact, just for entertainment sake, here is a quote from a popular Catholic apologist, Karl Keating, and his answer to the question, "Did Peter have a wife?"

"Apparently so, since he had a mother-in-law. It is customary that the two go together. Sometimes they even remain together, both staying at a fellow's home. This has been the source of many jokes and sad tales, none of which need be recounted here.

Instead, let's consider Matthew 8:14-15 and Luke 4:38-39. Both accounts say that Peter's mother-in-law was sick with a fever. Jesus rebuked the fever. It left her, and she got up and served him and his companions.

What about Peter's wife? She is nowhere mentioned. I always have found this strange. I can imagine the scene. There is the mother-in-law, lying on a bed and covered with a blanket. At her side, as one would expect, is her dutiful daughter--except that Matthew and Luke make no
reference to her daughter.

Leaving her out of the story seems strange. It is not the way a writer would be expected to handle the incident, since a daughter usually is the one most frantic about a mother's condition.

The story is tantalizingly brief, and maybe the Evangelists decided to leave out all but the most salient facts. Or maybe it was just an oversight. Or maybe it was because Peter's wife wasn't there--she already may had died. I think this is the most likely explanation for her non-appearance."

So, it appears that while there is no specific MENTION of a wife, Catholics are bright enough to understand that based on the scriptures, he was married!

Matthew 8:14 Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever.

1 Corinthians 9:5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

Catholic teaching: The Pope is the head of the Catholic church

History: No single head of the Christian church is found in the New Testament. In the early church there was no clear distinction between clergy and laity. Each local area was headed by a local bishop or elder according to Paul and the writings of Ignateus. In the 200's the bishop of each Roman provincial capital gradually acquired authority over the other local churches. In 325 the Council of Nicaea gave primacy to the bishops of Antioch, Alexandria and Rome. The universal primacy of the Pope began with Pope Siricius in the late 300's.

Let's be CLEAR here... the First Council of Nicaea had nothing to do with giving primacy to bishops. The agenda of the council was:
1. The Arian question;
2. The celebration of Passover;
3. The Meletian schism;
4. The Father and Son one in purpose or in person;
5. The baptism of heretics;
6. The status of the lapsed in the persecution under Licinius.

Based on my previous scripture references above, it is CLEAR that Christ appointed Peter in a place of authority over the church so the above "history" statement is inaccurate.

Catholic teaching: The Pope is infallible. This means that the Pope is incapable of error in matters of faith and morals.

Bible: The Pope is only a man. The apostle Peter (claimed to be the first Pope) could make mistakes as he did concerning eating with Gentiles prior to being corrected by Paul.

Galatians 2:11-14 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because
he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?

To be clear, the Catholic Church does not teach that the pope is infallible at ALL times.

"The doctrine of Papal Infallibility does not mean the Pope is always right in all his personal teachings. Catholics are quite aware that, despite his great learning, the Pope is very much a human being and therefore liable to commit human error. On some subjects, like sports and manufacturing, his judgment is liable to be very faulty. The doctrine simply means that the Pope is divinely protected from error when, acting in his official capacity as chief shepherd of the Catholic fold, he promulgates a decision which is binding on the conscience of all Catholics throughout the world. In other words, his infallibility is limited to his specialty--the Faith of Jesus Christ.

In order for the Pope to be infallible on a particular statement, however, four conditions must apply: 1) he must be speaking ex cathedra . . . that is, "from the Chair" of Peter, or in other words, officially, as head of the entire Church; 2) the decision must be for the whole Church; 3) it must be on a matter of faith or morals; 4) the Pope must have the intention of making a final decision on a teaching of faith or morals, so that it is to be held by all the faithful. It must be interpretive, not originative; the Pope has no authority to originate new doctrine. He is not the author of revelation--only its guardian and expounder. He has no power to distort a single word of Scripture, or change one iota of divine tradition. His infallibility is limited strictly to the province of doctrinal interpretation, and it is used quite rarely. It is used in order to clarify, to "define," some point of the ancient Christian tradition. It is the infallibility of which Christ spoke when He said to Peter, the first Pope: "I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven." (Matt. 16:19). Certainly Christ would not have admonished His followers to "hear the church" (Matt. 18:17) without somehow making certain that what they heard was the truth--without somehow making the teaching magisterium of His Church infallible.

For a complete understanding of the Pope's infallibility, however, one more thing should be known: His ex cathedra decisions are not the result of his own private deliberations. They are the result of many years--sometimes hundreds of years--of consultation with the other bishops and theologians of the Church. He is, in effect, voicing the belief of the whole Church. His infallibility is not his own private endowment, but rather an endowment of the entire Mystical Body of Christ. Indeed, the Pope's hands are tied with regard to the changing of Christian doctrine. No Pope has ever used his infallibility to change, add, or subtract any Christian teaching; this is because Our Lord promised to be with His Church until the end of the world. (Matt. 28:20). Protestant denominations, on the other hand, feel free to change their doctrines. For example, all Protestant denominations once taught that contraception was gravely sinful; but since 1930, when the Church of England's Lambeth Conference decided contraception was no longer a sin, virtually all Protestant ministers in the world have accepted this human decision and changed their teaching."(Source: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/a/faq-cc.html).

Catholic teaching: Adoration of the Pope

Bible: The Pope is a human man and with the same temptations and problems as we. Peter did not allow others to bow before him why should the pope.

Acts 10:25-26 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man."

I can't find anywhere that the Church teaches that anyone has to adore the Pope. Adoration is reserved for Christ alone.

Let's keep in mind that the role of the pope is to SERVE the church. If anyone is worshipping or adoring him, they are going against the teaching of the church, which is that adoration is for God alone.

The Catholic Catechism says:
"2628 Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil. Adoration is homage of the spirit to the "King of Glory," respectful silence in the presence of the "ever greater" God. Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives assurance to our supplications."

So, in conclusion, if the church is founded upon Peter the "rock", how does this apply to Protestant churches today?

For those interested who would like additional Scripture references on this topic, here is a wonderful link:

50 New Testament Proofs for Petrine Primacy and the Papacy

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