To use Scripture alone as a guide in this issue is silly, really, since its accounts of early Church practices only spans the timeframe of Saint Paul, who died by the mid-60s AD. That's really just the middle of the second generation of Christianity at most. Certainly, in the first generation or two, it would be expected that a good number of the bishops and priests would be married. The Church was already growing in such a way that the far greater portion of Christians came from among the Gentiles, who had absolutely no prior emphasis on celibacy among males. Unless one were to ordain no one at all who was an adult former pagan, who would be left to ordain? As time went on, and people were raised as Christians from infancy with greater frequency, it was less and less necessary to have the clergy come from the ranks of the married. It still happened, of course, but with less and less frequency, such that, by the 4th Century or so, it was positively rare in the West, and not even that common in the East.
Your understanding of 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 is likelwise faulty. You say this: "At the judgment seat of Christ believers are told that carnal works will be burnt up, (1 Cor. 3:11-15) but they themselves will be saved, so as by fire, which does not convey suffering an indeterminate time in purgatory, but of a man who loses everything but himself is saved, the context here being about rewards."
But, first, understand that the Day in verse 13 is the Judgment Day of God, where the totality of a man's works and life will be laid bare for all to see. Everything about that man's llife will be in the past tense at that point. It's not that he will lose everything, as you say, in some earthly sense. He will need to undergo purification for all of the things he has altready done. The judgment on him is that he will "be saved, but only as through fire" (verse 15). This means that the "judgment" of the man in this scenario St. Paul depicts will, on the one hand, concern the actions of his entire past life, yet will consist of a purification that has yet to happen. That describes the circumstances of Purgatory quite well, without using the word explicitly.
And do not gloss over 2 Maccabees 12 (and by implication, the rest of the Deuteros) so glibly. It was part of the canon of Scripture every bit in good standing from the codification of the 4th and 5th Centuries down to our own day. Largely because of this very part of 2 Maccabees 12, involving a clear reference to Purgatory, a way had to be found to jettison the entire book. This could not be credibly dne without a wider excuse. The excuse came in the form of citing the Hebrew canon only. But how does Jewish authority exercised at the Council of Jamnia, some 60 years after the birth of the Church, and 20 years after the end of Temple sacrifice and the Jewish priesthood, have any mandatory bearing on what the Christian Church decides is canonical Scripture?
After all, that same council specifically denied the Scriptural nature of what would eventually constitute the entire New Testament! If the Christian canon of Scripture was a settled matter for over a thousand years before the so-called Reformation, where was the authority found in the upstarts, who deliberately and radically cut themselves off from continuity with the historical Church, to unilaterally reformulate the canon 14 centuries after its components were written and 1100 years after their nature was determined, to the exclusion of a host of other candidates? Since both Catholics and Protestants have the same New Testament canon, and those books, too, were canonized by 4th and 5th Century Catholic councils, why is that authority thrown aside in attempts to meddle with the Old Testament canon those councils also dealt with?
You would do better to contemplate the fact that all of the historical Churches that have a claim to Apostolic ties (Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox) recognize 1 and 2 Maccabees, and have some notion analogous to, or equivalent with, the Catholic concept of Purgatory. A reasonable person might conclude that this notion, then, is part of the Ancient Faith, part of the Deposit of Faith that comes from the very beginnings of Christianity. It might make you want to explore how, and by what authority that connects to the beginning, the heretofore accepted concept of Purgatory was suddenly chucked out the window by certain Christians in the 16th Century! That you assert 2 Maccabees is "is not worthy to be classed with Scripture," being part of the "apocrypha," is your opinion only. That opinion can only piggyback onto other opinions no more than 480 years old, one-fourth of the way back to the Apostolic Era and, thus, utterly removed from the Deposit of Faith.
Finally, you speak of a "revived church." This implies that, for some interval (I would suppose this is on the order of 1200 years, from the time of Constantine or so, no?), there was no legitimate Church teaching the authentic Gospel to the world, until the "Reformers" showed-up in the 1500s. This betrays a great lack of faith in the providential protection of God for the Church He Himself established, precisely to preach the Gospel to the whole world! Does Jesus say that He will be with His Church all days until the end of time in Matthew 28:20, or not? Does He not promise the protection of the Holy Spirit in the revelation and continued teaching of the Truth through the Church in John 16:3, or not? Does St. Paul maintain in 1 Timothy 3:15 that the Church is the "pillar and ground of the Truth," or does he not? Does not all of this put together form a clear indication that God will preserve His Church from error in order to have it fulfill this fundamental aspect of its purpose as a purveyor of the Truth, from the moment of its establishment until the end of time? Is it not a massive breach of faith for anyone to suppose that there was a "break" in the legitimate exercise of this charism for x-hundred years before the "Reformation" got things back on track? Is there real organic continuity with the early Church to even indicate that, in fact, the Reformation did get things back on track, and that, somewhere, this alleged "authentic Gospel" existed through the whole span of the Christian Era?
The heart of the matter of our dispute rests in this question: Did Christ mean what He said in Matthew 28 and does the Holy Spirit preserve the Truth through all time since Pentecost? If God intended these things, then He accomplished them through the agency of the Church He established for those ends. Otherwise, He is not only not omnipotent, He evidently had not the foresight to be able to really guarantee His promises. That's what the Mormons believe! it is not something any actual Christian should believe!
I trust in God, in spite of the acknowledged sinfulness of many of the members of the Church He established. He always said there would be tares among the wheat. But the tares should not scandalize anyone into thinking that the doctrine they have taught since the times of the Apostles is tainted by their sins. The Mystical Body of Christ, which is His Church, is comprised of sinful men, yet its teachings are pure, inspired by God, safeguarded by Him, and will endure until the end of time. You need to ask yourself why you subscribe to a system of belief that, on many points of doctrine, cannot trace itself back more than 1/4 of the way to the Deposit of Faith Christ and the Apostles left us. Many of your teachings appear out of nowhere in the 16th Century or later. "Sola Scriptura" is but one of them.
>Paul was clearly celibate and was an Apostle! ,
If you read what i referred to as clergy, you would see that it was Bishop/Elders, which formal office Paul ordained others to, but which he does not claim for himself (unlike Peter), but that he was “ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” (1 Tim 2:7)
Regardless of the celibate state of Paul and Barnabas, I was not arguing that a bishop/elder cannot be single, but that requiring an entire class of clergy to have the gift of celibacy is Biblically unwarranted, and if anything, is contrary to what is explicitly stated on the ordination of bishops/elders.
Nor does what the church later practiced necessarily determine what the Bible taught, as deviations and disagreements were often seen, while celibate marriages are also abnormal, presuming ability and normal drives. (Gn. 2:24; 1 Cor. 7:2)
As for your regarding the use of Scripture alone as a guide in this issue to be silly, while aspects such as cultural context have their place, nothing exists that can justify mandating celibacy for an entire class of clergy (though Eastern O priestly converts are mercifully allowed to keep their wives). hat is worse than silly, and the office of Bishops/elders is nowhere shown to be reserved to such. Moreover, if there is any historical data that might modify teaching in this regard, it would be that Paul was preparing his flock for the traumatic times that occurred during and after the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D, in which families could add extra travail.
>Your understanding of 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 is likelwise faulty>
No, your understanding of the believers judgement is faulty.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 is about gaining or losing rewards, NOT about purification. All must appear before Christ, (Acts 17:31; 2Cor. 5:10; Rom_14:10-12), and some evidence suggests tow different judgments, (Rev. 11:8; 20:4-6,12-15) but while the Bible very explicitly warns about the kind of post-death judgment the lost will receive, when it speaks specifically about the judgment of saved believers in the afterlife, it nowhere speaks about purification, but about rewards or loss of them. (1 Cor. 4:5; Eph. 6:8; Col. 3:24)
The chastisement of believers in this life is what is purposed to bring repentance, (1 Cor. 5:1-15; 11:31,32), and purify them, that they “might be partakers of his holiness.”
The lack of any clear description of post-death purification of believers, and that the only description of their post-death experience of believers is positive, and and fact that all those who are raptured will be forever with the Lord, is far more substantial than the doctrine of purgatory, which is based upon ambiguous texts
While praying for deceased idolaters may be compassionate, if problematic, as Rome excludes there is hope for those who die in mortal sin, and I would not see this as necessarily damning those who may ignorantly engage in such, in no place will you find this being sanctioned inany other book of the Bible. Not among the multitudinous precepts of the comprehensive sacrificial system, nor under the New Testament.
As far as the Jewish canon is concerned, which is not the only reason for its rejection, that a canon had to exist is internally evidenced in the N.T., as referring to the Scriptures presumes they knew what it consisted of, even before Jamnia, and Josephus explicitly rejected the Apocrypha. Nor does their rejection of the Christian texts invalidate their weight in this matter, because unto them were committed the oracles of God (Rm. 3:2; an explicit testimony Rome can only wish it said of them.)
Meanwhile, rather 1100 years of canonization as you would seem to infer, the full R.C. canon was itself not infallibly defined until over 1400 after its last book was written, and early lists were not uniform, while internal R.C. dissent continued later on . The premier scholar Jerome rejected the apocrypha, and specifically mentioned that Wisdom, the book of Jesus son of Sirach, Judith, Tobias, and the Shepherd “are not in the canon”. (though later on they were added to his vulgate) John of Damascus, Gregory the Great, Walafrid, Nicolas of Lyra and Tostado and others also doubted the canonicity of the apocryphal books.
However, the Bible did not become the worlds best seller because of ecclesiastical decree, though it helped gain the right to print it when Rome controlled such, but because, like any classic, they possess unique qualities which placed them on the saints “best seller list”. Rome’s recognition of them does not establish their canonicity, any more than her sanction of praying to Mary or other unwarranted practices validates them. Conversely, her unBiblical Crusades and Inquisitions (the church is not established to rule over those without, or use carnal force in chastising its members) and later facilitation of liberalism impugns the credibility of the Bible.
>Finally, you speak of a “revived church.”<
Indeed i do, but you could saved yourself some effort if you had not assumed I meant resurrected rather than “revived”. True believers always existed, but always as a remnant, and the church exists, as did the faith of Abraham and the Israel of God, even when one organic form of it becomes corrupt.
And while God tolerated Rome, and used it to a degree, it was duly reproved and the church moved forward after the Reformation, spiritually and with structurelly, though the Reformation must yet continue.
Israel was not preserved by an infallible magisterium, which even the Orthodox do not hold they were, but because God raised up men whom they rejected, to call them back to repentance, or the flock would be scattered. Luther, despite some faults, was your prophet, and his compelled (by Scripture and conscience) break actually helped to bring about needed reformation within Rome, while resulting in far more souls being added to the kingdom, and indeed a more glorious America (though liberals deny the effects of the Great Awakenings).
Rome is in need of more Luther, and I dare say that until it gets its own house in order it has no business even seeking to convert Bible believing evangelicals into it, and preaching faith in a church. And until it gets the gospel right then it is not even a true church, regardless of its advertised size and troublesome historicity. “to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.” (Eccl 9:4)
>The heart of the matter of our dispute rests in this question: Did Christ mean what He said in Matthew 28 and does the Holy Spirit preserve the Truth through all time since Pentecost? If God intended these things, then He accomplished them through the agency of the Church He established for those ends.<
The answer is yes to all, the truth is preserved even though Rome persecuted men who preached the gospel which results in evident regeneration. The issue is your last sentence presumes that Rome must be that church, but while it is based upon and preaches basic truths, it makes them of no salvific effect by fostering confidence in the church and one own merit for salvation. The former is effectually conveyed, as evidenced by what Catholics typically express is their hope of salvation, while the later is based upon Trent: “nothing further is wanting to the justified, to prevent their being accounted to have, by those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life, and to have truly merited eternal life.” (Trent, 1547, The Sixth Session Decree on justification, chapter XVI)
Of course, we need someone to interpret Trent, and someone to interpret the interpreters, but rather than admitting the solution of Rome is not one, it is easier to attack those who hold to Sola Scriptura, whose confidence come from searching the Scripture, not trusting in Rome or similarly, the Watchtower society or the “living Prophet” of the LDS. Etc.
As for the Perpetuated Petrine papacy, upon which every aberrant teaching of Rome is based, this is dependent upon faith in Rome’s self declared infallibility, not persuading souls by Scripture, as that is problematic for Rome.
As for history, while many religions can boast of their historicity, the authenticity of the one true church is not based upon formal organic ecclesiastical linkage, any more that of a true Jews is based upon physical lineage back to Abraham. (Rm. 2:28,29) But in both cases it is based upon Abrahamic type faith, in the gospel of grace, which Rome officially, and effectually does not preach. Yet it is close enough that some seen through its trappings and do trust Christ and His blood alone to save them, not trusting in part upon their merit or the power of their church for salvation, and which brings forth evident fruits of salvation. And that is what i share, despite my short-comings, not faith in a religious system.
>Many of your teachings appear out of nowhere in the 16th Century or later. “Sola Scriptura” is but one of them.,
That is simply another of your errors. I do not implicitly trust in any man or teacher, while the longevity of Rome’s errors do not validate them, which is your major premise, and it is praying to saints and such like that appear without Biblical warrant.