Skip to comments.Beginning Catholic: Church Authority In Scripture [Ecumenical]
Posted on 06/23/2008 7:01:31 PM PDT by Salvation
The source & nature of Church authority is one of the major issues that beginning Catholics have to examine and come to terms with.
The Catholic Church makes an amazing claim: it teaches, governs, and sanctifies with the authority of Christ himself.
Catholics believe that this gift of Church authority is one of the jewels that Christ has given to us as an aid to our salvation.
Keep three things in mind:
After briefly stating the Church's teaching on this subject, we'll look at some of the major Scriptural sources for this doctrine.
Christ himself is the source of the Church's authority.
The New Testament shows that Christ deliberately created his Church to be the vehicle of his continuing mission in the world. He promised to remain present in his Church for all time, and he lovingly guides it through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
To ensure the success of this mission, Christ gave his Church the ability to teach, govern and sanctify with Christ's own authority. The Apostles appointed successors to ensure that the Gospel would continue to be handed on faithfully as "the lasting source of all life for the Church" (Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium" 20; also Catechism #860).
The source and guarantee of this Church authority is Christ's continuing presence in his Church "Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:20).
The purpose of this authority is to give the Church the ability to teach without error about the essentials of salvation: "On this rock, I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it" (Mt 16:18).
The scope of this authority concerns the official teachings of the Church on matters of faith, morals, and worship (liturgy & sacraments). We believe that, because of Christ's continued presence and guarantee, his Church cannot lead people astray with its official teachings (which are distinct from the individual failings and opinions of its members, priests, bishops, and Popes).
The New Testament bears witness in numerous places to the fact of Church authority. It clearly shows that Christ gave his Apostles his own authority to continue his mission.
(Remember that Catholics view the Bible as one of two definitive witnesses to divine Revelation. Christ taught many other things to the Apostles that are not recorded in Scripture; we call this Catholic Tradition, literally meaning "that which is handed on". Tradition is the full, living faith of the Apostles as received from Christ.)
Here are some of the more important Scriptural references that address Church authority.
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Mt 28:18-20)
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you." (Jn 20:21)
"He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me." (Mt 10:40)
"He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me." (Lk 10:16)
What's more, both passages compare the union between Christ and his Apostles to that of the Son and the Father within the Holy Trinity.
"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven." (Mt 16:18-19)
The Acts of the Apostles (a New Testament book) provides abundant evidence of how Church authority was practiced during the Apostolic age (during the lives of the Apostles themselves, after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ).
In Acts, we see repeated examples of the Apostles teaching, governing, and sanctifying (baptizing and confirming, as well as "breaking the bread").
One of the most striking passages in Acts tells how the Apostles describe their decision about whether pagan converts should submit to the Jewish laws of circumcision. They say, "For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us" that those laws of the Old Covenant should not apply (Acts 15:28). This passage shows:
This passage in Acts would be meaningless, even blasphemous, if the Apostles did not in fact possess the authority of Christ, supported and guided by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, the various Epistles in the New Testament (the letters of Paul, Peter, etc.) likewise give many examples of the Apostles exercising their teaching and governing offices. In fact, those letters only exist because the Apostles knew that it was their role to teach and lead the various local churches!
It is important to repeat that this authority exists so that Christ can continue to guide his Church in the continuing work of salvation. Church authority is entirely at the service of that work.
We believe that Christ desired the Church to have this authority so that we could be sure of essential matters of the Faith.
The scope of this authority is limited to things that are essential to our salvation: faith, morals, and worship (the sacraments and liturgy). Additionally, since the Church's authority is at the service of Christ's gift of divine Revelation, the Church takes care to show how its declarations about faith and morals are consistent with that Revelation (Scripture and Tradition).
It's important to see this authority as something other than a simplistic being able to "boss you around." Actually, most Catholics experience Church authority in the form of straightforward declarations regarding faith & morals:
You always retain the freedom to decide whether or not to remain in the Faith by following those teachings.
(In the Gospels, there are many cases where people hear Christ but evidently decide not to follow him. By definition, his disciples are those who seek to follow him closely and learn from him. Even when it's hard. Catholics see the Church as continuing in Christ's role of teaching the truth: "He who hears you hears me.")
Non-Catholics usually base their rejection of Church authority on the common misconception of "misplaced worship": it is claimed that Catholics worship the Church instead of God.
Opponents of this authority sometimes also accuse the Catholic Church of claiming power that is only proper to God.
Catholics believe that this criticism is mistaken.
The best argument for the Catholic doctrine of Church authority comes from the New Testament itself: the Acts of the Apostles reveals the Church's self-image as a body at the service of Christ's saving Gospel, acting in the ways and structures taught to them by Christ himself. The Apostles are keenly aware of the authority that has been given to them by Christ, and of their own need to remain ever faithful to Christ as they exercise that authority.
Additionally, this same Church authority is the only thing that guarantees the accuracy and inerrancy of the Bible itself. It was the Church that selected the books of New Testament and defined the canon of the Bible. Those who believe that the Bible is reliable, are in fact relying on the Church's testimony that the New Testament books accurately reflect the faith & teachings of the Apostles, which is in turn grounded in the faith & teachings of Christ.
(There were many other writings available that were not selected to be a part of the Bible because their contents were flawed in some way. The Church itself made the selection many years after the death of the Apostles, based on its living witness to the Faith, guaranteed by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.)
Not everything was written in Scripture.
What was Paul doing in Tarsus between 39AD and 43AD. Is it written what Paul did during those years? He is in Jerusalem and then gone for half a decade.
“Clement of Rome:
“But, to leave the examples of antiquity, let us come to the athletes who are closest to our own time. Consider the noble examples of our own generation. Through jealousy and envy, the greatest and most righteous pillars were persecuted, and they persevered even to death. Let us set before our eyes the good apostles: Peter, who through unwarranted jealousy suffered not one or two but many toils, and having thus given testimony went to the place of glory that was his due” (Epistle to the Corinthians, 5:1 [ca. A.D. 80 or 96]).
“Not as Peter and Paul did, do I command you. They were apostles, and I am a convict” (Epistle to the Romans, 4:3 [A.D. 110]).
“Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church” (Against Heresies, 3, 1:1 [A.D. 189]).
“But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the succession of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church [of Rome], because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition” (ibid., 3, 3, 2).
“The blessed apostles [Peter and Paul], having founded and built up the church [of Rome], they handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus. Paul makes mention of this Linus in the letter to Timothy [2 Tim. 4:21]. To him succeeded Anacletus, and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was chosen for the episcopate. He had seen the blessed apostles and was acquainted with them. It might be said that he still heard the echoes of the preaching of the apostles and had their traditions before his eyes. And not only he, for there were many still remaining who had been instructed by the apostles. In the time of Clement, no small dissension having arisen among the brethren in Corinth, the church in Rome sent a very strong letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace and renewing their faith. ... To this Clement, Evaristus succeeded . . . and now, in the twelfth place after the apostles, the lot of the episcopate [of Rome] has fallen to Eleutherius. In this order, and by the teaching of the apostles handed down in the Church, the preaching of the truth has come down to us” (ibid., 3, 3, 3).
“Since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the [local] churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles” (Against Heresies, 3, 3:2 [A.D. 180]).
“Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church” (Against Heresies, 3, 1:1 [A.D. 180]).
“It is recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and Peter, likewise, was crucified, during the reign [of the Emperor Nero]. The account is confirmed by the names of Peter and Paul over the cemeteries there, which remain to the present time. And it is confirmed also by a stalwart man of the Church, Gaius by name, who lived in the time of Zephyrinus, Bishop of Rome. This Gaius, in a written disputation with Proclus, the leader of the sect of Cata-phrygians, says this of the places in which the remains of the aforementioned apostles were deposited: ‘I can point out the trophies of the apostles. For if you are willing to go to the Vatican or to the Ostian Way, you will find the trophies of those who founded this Church’” (Disputation with Proclus [A.D. 198] in a fragment from Eusebius, History of the Church, 2, 25:5).
On Salvation Outside the Catholic Church
The Great Heresies
SALVATION PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
JUSTIFICATION IN CATHOLIC TEACHING
Hermits and Solitaries [Ecumenical]
THE PRIESTHOOD DEBATE
RIGHTEOUSNESS AND MERIT
A Well-Rounded Pope [Ecumenical]
A Monastery to Last 1,000 Years [Ecumenical]
Explaining Purgatory from a New Testament Perspective [Ecumenical]
In the Crosshairs of the Canon [How We Got The Bible] [Ecumenical]
'An Ordinance Forever' - The Biblical Origins of the Mass [Ecumenical]
They were together in Antioch:
Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face (Gal 2:11)
either the Holy Scripture is wrong, or the Catholic church is wrong
The Catholic church is who gave you the scripture in the first place, so if one thinks one contradicts the other he needs to have his own comprehension of the scripture questioned.
Thanks for the thoughtfulness of your ping.
No thanks for my participation in such a thread.
He certainly did...Where Paul proceeded to set Peter on the correct path, NOT to preach and build upon another man's foundation...
Gal 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
The Catholic church is who gave you the scripture in the first place, so if one thinks one contradicts the other he needs to have his own comprehension of the scripture questioned.
Nope...God gave us the scripture...And He preserved it so all future generations would know what he had to say, in spite of the Catholic church...
God says Paul wouldn't go where another Apostle built a foundation but your church says he would, and you say I don't comprehend the scripture...
I'm thinking with such 'plain' speech in the scripture, the motive and honesty of the Catholic church might need to be examined...
But when Cephas, &c.
In most Greek copies, we read Petrus, both here and ver. 13. Nor are there any sufficient, nor even probable grounds to judge, that Cephas here mentioned was different from Peter, the prince of the apostles, as one or two later authors would make us believe. Among those who fancied Cephas different from Peter, not one can be named in the first ages [centuries], except Clemens of Alexandria, whose works were rejected as apochryphal by Pope Gelasius. The next author is Dorotheus of Tyre, in his Catalogue of the seventy-two disciples, in the fourth or fifth age [century], and after him the like, or same catalogue, in the seventh age [century], in the Chronicle, called of Alexandria, neither of which are of any authority with the learned, so many evident faults and falsehoods being found in both. St. Jerome indeed on this place says, there were some (though he does not think fit to name them) who were of that opinion; but at the same time St. Jerome ridicules and rejects it as groundless.
Now as to authors that make Cephas the same with St. Peter, the prince of the apostles, we have what may be called the unexceptionable and unanimous consent of the ancient fathers and doctors of the Catholic Church, as of Tertullian, who calls this management of St. Peter, a fault of conversation, not of preaching or doctrine.
Of St. Cyprian, of Origen, of Alexander, of Theodoret, Pope Gelasius, Pelagius the second, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas. In later ages, of Bellarmine, Baronius, Binius, Spondan, of Salmeron, Estius, Gagneius, Tirinus, Menochius, Alex natalis, and a great many more: so that Cornelius a Lapide on this place says, that the Church neither knows, nor celebrates any other Cephas but St. Peter. Tertullian and most interpreters take notice, that St. Peter's fault was only a lesser or venial sin in his conduct and conversation.
Did not St. Paul on several occasions do the like, as what is here laid to St. Peter's charge? that is, practise the Jewish ceremonies: did not he circumcise Timothy after this, an. 52 [in the year A.D. 52]? did he not shave his head in Cenchrea, an. 54? did he not by the advice of St. James (an. 58.) purify himself with the Jews in the temple, not to offend them?
St. Jerome, and also St. John Chrysostom, give another exposition of this passage. They looked upon all this to have been done by a contrivance and a collusion betwixt these two apostles, who had agreed beforehand that St. Peter should let himself be reprehended by St. Paul, (for this they take to be signified by the Greek text) and not that St. Peter was reprehensible; so that the Jews seeing St. Peter publicly blamed, and not justifying himself, might for the future eat with the Gentiles.
But St. Augustine vigorously opposed this exposition of St. Jerome, as less consistent with a Christian and apostolical sincerity, and with the text in this chapter, where it is called a dissimulation, and that Cephas or Peter walked not uprightly to the truth of the gospel. After a long dispute betwixt these two doctors, St. Jerome seems to have retracted his opinion, and the opinion of St. Augustine is commonly followed, that St. Peter was guilty of a venial fault of imprudence.
In the mean time, no Catholic denies but that the head of the Church may be guilty even of great sins. What we have to admire, is the humility of St. Peter on this occasion, as St. Cyprian observes, who took the reprehension so mildly, without alleging the primacy, which our Lord had given him.
Baronius held that St. Peter did not sin at all, which may be true, if we look upon his intention only, which was to give no offence to the Jewish converts; but if we examine the fact, he can scarce be excused from a venial indiscretion. (Witham)
I withstood, &c. The fault that is here noted in the conduct of St. Peter, was only a certain imprudence, in withdrawing himself from the table of the Gentiles, for fear of giving offence to the Jewish converts: but this in such circumstances, when his so doing might be of ill consequence to the Gentiles, who might be induced thereby to think themselves obliged to conform to the Jewish way of living, to the prejudice of their Christian liberty. Neither was St. Paul's reprehending him any argument against his supremacy; for is such cases an inferior may, and sometimes ought, with respect, to admonish his superior. (Challoner)
That Peter and Cephas were the same, see Tertullian, lib. de præscrip. chap. 23, p. 210. Ed. Rig.; Origen in Joan. Ed. Græce et Latine, p. 381.; St. Cyprian, Epist. 71. ad Quintum, p. 120.; St. Jerome on this Ep. to the Galatians, as also St. John Chrysostom; St. Augustine. See his epistles on this passage to St. Jerome.; St. Gregory, lib. 2. in Ezech. tom. 1, p. 1368.; Gelasius apud Labb. T. 4. Conc. p. 1217.; Pelagius, the 2d apud Labb. t. 5. p. 622.; St. Cyril of Alexandria, hom. ix. cont. Julianum, t. 6, p. 325.; Theodoret in 2. ad Gal. iv. 3. p. 268.; St. Anselm in 2 ad Gal. p. 236.; St. Thomas Aquinas, lib. 2. q. 103. a. 4. ad 2dum.
St. Jerome's words: Sunt qui Cepham non putent Apostolum Petrum, sed alium de 70 Discipulis....quibus primum respondendum, alterius nescio cujus Cephæ nescire nos nomen, nisi ejus, qui et in Evangelio, et in aliis Pauli Epistolis, et in hac quoque ipsa, modo Cephas, modo Petrus scribitur....deinde totum argumentum Epistolæ....huic intelligentiæ repugnare, &c.
St. John Chrysostom by a contrivance, Greek: eikonomon. p. 730, &c.
Greek: Kategnosmenos may signfiy reprehensus, as well as reprehensibilis; and he says it is to be referred to others, and not to St. Paul: Greek: all upo ton allon.
St. Cyprian, Ep. ad Quintum, p. 120. Petrus....non arroganter assumpsit, ut diceret se primatum tenere, &c. ====================
Given this admission about Antioch, whither your insistence that Paul and Peter would not be in the same place?
Yes, through His Church. The fathers of His Church wrote the New Testament, and His Church later identified the 73 books of Scripture and thus assembled the Bible.
To whom and how?
To King James circa AD 1611, of course.
Try your library first, but it's available from booksellers online as well.
That wouldn't be half as bad as what passes for scripture translations these days, and sadly, the Catholic NAB is not much to brag about either.
>Ecumenical thread................antagonism towards other professions not permitted.
>Why do Protestants reject this claim?
Do you not think that this right here breaks the rules for Ecumenical posts, as well as your own statement on the end?
I think you might wish to remove that tag or else no one can answer the false claims that are in the article about the Protestant rejection of the authority of Rome.
Contrasting of beliefs or even criticisms can be made without provoking hostilities.
If you see hostility anywhere, please point it out and make a complaint to the Moderator.
Bump for later reading.
You won’t be catching me bragging about the NAB.
I meant to cc: you on post 37, Iscool.
Yeah, good luck with that.
Peter Upon this rock I build MY Church! What is so hard to understand the catholic Church was founded by Christ.
This Church is based on Sacred Scripture Sacred Tradition and the Magesterium of the Church!
Jesus did not dissolve HIS church it is still very active today as the proclaimer of TRUTH .
i would prefer to be in Communion with Christ and the Communion of Saints following a Tradition of 2000 plus years! The sacred Scriptures that are still the Source of truth. It is a shame that you Ignore the Mother of God Mary most Holy The Instrument God the father chose to receive his only Son to became Man!
It is a Shame you ignore the readings of the Doctors of the Church if you love the Bible their divine Inspiration of the Bible is Beautiful to read and learn from!
Eat My Bod and Drink my Blood and do this in rememebrance of me this is recited by the priest in every Mass everyday in every Church in the world!
more is expected of Catholics and we take up the Cross of your disbelief all the time!