Sunday, August 13, 2006

Response to Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

You have brought up so many issues, I felt that writing a new post would be appropriate. First, I would like to tell you that I grew up attending a Roman Catholic Church, and like you, have made an informed decision concerning church affiliation. Second, it sounds like you have been reading Karl Keating (I could be wrong of course). His arguments in the book titled, Catholicism and Fundamentalism are neither accurate nor convincing.

Scripture

Concerning Matthew 16:16-19, what is said in the singular to Peter, is also said eleswhere in the plural (Matt. 18:18; John 20:23; 1 Pet. 2:9).

If Peter was considered by our Lord to be supreme among the Apostles and by his successors in Rome, why is not the church in Rome mentioned by Christ?

If Peter was supreme among the Apostles, why does Christ count them all equal? Jesus declared, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called 'Benefactors.' But it is not this way with you" (Luke 22:25-26). Why didn't Jesus take this opportunity to explain the supremacy of Peter and the subsequent elevation of the Bishop in Rome?

If Peter was the first Pope, then why did not Paul seek his ordination from Peter (Gal. 1:11-24)?

Why did Paul and Barnabas appoint Elders without the approval of Peter (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5)?

Peter is designated as the Apostle to the Jews. However, he is never seen to be greater then Paul, who was Apostle to the Gentiles. Further, he is never designated as head of the church.

If Peter was supreme among the Apostles, and head of the church, why are there only two epistles attributed to him in the canon (Paul wrote 13)?

If Peter was in fact the head of the church, then why is there supremacy in Rome and not Antioch where he was the first Presbyter?

Interpretation of the Magisterium

If Peter was the first Pope, then how could he have been married (Mark 1:30)? The Roman Catholic Church over time began to prohibit Presbyters from marrying, as well as Bishops. If Jesus instituted the papacy, did he start it off on the wrong foot?

The first person to apply Matt. 16:19 to Peter and his supposed successors is Callistus I (217-222). And Callistus I was far from infallible. He sided with many heretical groups in the early church and held to a Sabellian position. Calllistus I's claims come almost 200 years after the resurrection of Christ and with many notable opposers!

In 358 Bishop Liberius of Rome (352-366) was coerced into signing an Arian creed before he could return to Rome. Biship Zosimus of Rome (417-418) temporarily defended Pelagianism!, and Pope Honorius I (625-638) was condemned as a heretic for siding with the monethelets! In 1095, Pope Urban II decreed the Crusades against the Moslems! From this time until the Council of Trent, it is questionable whether or not the Popes were even Christians. The Papacy was more of a political entity, rather than a Christian Church. Pope Leo X (1513-1521) sold indulgences, which granted a person less time in purgatory! Pope Pius IX (1854) decreed that Mary was born without original sin, making her conception equal to Christ's! And most recently, Pope John Paul II has declared that non-Christians through their good works can attain salvation. The current Pope has declared rightly, that there is only salvation through Christ. With all of this historical testimony, the idea that the magisterium of the Church has interpreted the Scriptures consistently is inaccurate. Should our Christology be Sabellian? Should we be Pelagians? Should the Pope be committing troops to war? Should the church be selling indulgences? Is their salvation outside of Christ? The Popes, as has been shown above, have contradicted each other, illustrating the fallibility of the so-called magisterium of the church.

Intrepretation of Matt. 16:16-19

Significant Fathers of the Church in Origen (Commentary on Matthew XII, 11), Ambrosiaster (Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians II, 20), Cyprian (On the Unity of the Catholic Church 4), Hilary (On the Trinity VI, 36-37), Bede (Exposition of the Gospel of Matthew III, 16), Chrysostom (Homilies on Matthew 54, 3), and Theophyclat (Exposition on the Gospel of Matthew) interpret this passage as referring to the confession of Peter, rather than his person.

Further testimony to the innovative nature of the supremacy of Peter is shown by the consistent historical oppostition by the churches of the East.

One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic

You stated that the Roman Catholic Church alone is the true church. What about the Eastern Orthodox Churches? They never accepted the innovative doctrines of the infallibility of the pope, purgatory, the immaculate conception, indulgences, or the worship of Mary. Because of this, are they considered heretical?

Scripture and Tradition

Yes, without the interpretation of the bible by the church we will and have ended up with many denominatins. I believe that if Protestants were to respect the interpretations of the Councils and Fathers, the church would be much more united. My contention is that if one does this, he would have to be either a Roman Catholic, an Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, or Calvinist Christian. However, even the Calvinists with their denial of the word and sacraments as a means of grace, show themselves to be in disagreement with Augustine.

My decision to be a Lutheran rather than a Catholic is that Catholics have put Tratition, and the interpretation of the Magisterium of the Church on par with Scripture. This unreasonble doctrine, has led to corruption of the Catholic church, and has disallowed the church from the possibility of demonstratable reformation. Because of sin, the church must always be prepared to repent.

Yes, the gates of hell will not prevail against God's church. And that is why God raised up John Huss, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, and Martin Chemnitz so that the Catholic Church would continue to be faithful to her Lord.

As Lutherans we are uniqe amongst other Protestants in that we look to the Fathers and Councils of the Church. Our Christology is consistent the Ecumenical Councils. Our doctrines of sin and grace are consistent with the Western settlement after Augustine's death at the Council of Orange (529 AD). Our doctrine of justification is consistent with the Apostolic Fathers, Ambrose, Augustine, and Chrysostom, who were major post-Nicene writers in the East and West. We practice infant baptism, believing it to be a means of grace. And we are the only Protestants today that believe in the bodily presence in the Lord's Supper as well as oral reception.

Luther and the Present Day Roman Catholic Church

Your assertion that Luther would be happy with the present day Roman Catholic Church is inaccurate. 1) Like many before him he was against the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. The Pope still declares his supremacy today. 2) Luther was against indulgences, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and purgatory. He wrote:

"That the Mass in the Papacy must be the greatest and most horrible abomination, as it directly and powerfully conflicts with this chief article [forensic justification by faith in Christ alone], and yet above and before all other popish idolatries it has been the chief and most specious. For it has been held that this sacrifice or work of the Mass, even though it be rendered by a wicked [and abandoned] scoundrel, frees men from sins, both in this life and also in purgatory, while only the Lamb of God shall and must do this, as has been said above. Of this article nothing is to be surrendered or conceded, because the first article does not allow it" (Smalcald Articles, II).

Luther was also against the invocation of saints:

"The invocation of saints is also one of the abuses of Antichrist conflicting with the chief article, and destroys the knowledge of Christ. Neither is it commanded nor counseled, nor has it any example [or testimony] in Scripture, and even though it were a precious thing, as it is not [while, on the contrary, it is a most harmful thing], in Christ we have everything a thousandfold better [and surer, so that we are not in need of calling upon the saints]" (Smalcald Articles, II, 25).

Luther also taught the bondage of the human will (See Bondage of the Will, 1525), which the Catholic church still has not yet reformed. Luther was in agreement with Augustine and the Council of Orange. However, the Roman Catholic Church has still not repented from its Scholastic innovations.

Luther also believed that infant baptism washed away all sin and guilt, not simply hereditary sin.

Luther also believed that the keys were given to the church, and not one person:

"The keys are an office and power given by Christ to the Church for binding and loosing sin" (Smalcald Articles, VII, 1).

Luther desired the marriage of Priests:

"To prohibit marriage, and to burden the divine order of priests with perpetual celibacy, they have had neither authority nor right [they have done out of malice, without any honest reason], but have acted like antichristian, tyrannical, desperate scoundrels [have performed the work of antichrist, of tyrants and the worst knaves], and have thereby caused all kinds of horrible, abominable, innumerable sins of unchastity [depraved lusts], in which they still wallow" (Smalcald Articles, XI, 1).

And finally, he taught that justification was forensic by faith alone in Christ alone:

"What I have hitherto and constantly taught concerning this I know not how to change in the least, namely, that by faith, as St. Peter says, we acquire a new and clean heart, and God will and does account us entirely righteous and holy for the sake of Christ, our Mediator. And although sin in the flesh has not yet been altogether removed or become dead, yet He will not punish or remember it" (SA, XIII, 1).

Conclusion: Martin Luther would still not be pleased with the Vatican II reforms. He would be happy that the Pope is not selling indulgences, and that the Eucharist is being distributed in both bread and wine, and that the Pope is not as involved politically - but there is still significant reformation that needs to be done. The article of justification for him and the Lutherans is the central doctrine of the Christian faith. And we will not surrender it as we confess:

"That men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4" (Augsburg Confession, IV).









13 Comments:

Blogger dana said...

First, I would like to point out that I did not mean to offend, but defend. I never intend any malice. I also did not mean to be Anonymous, I was trying to post without registering. I am familiar with Karl Keating only as the founder of Catholic Answers. I have never read any of his books. I will answer your questions as best I can and would appreciate it if you would answer mine. I don’t expect you to agree with me, but if you are going to be a minister, isn’t it important to know the truth about what other religions teach? It would be unfair as a minister to God and man to mislead your congregation in your false beliefs about Catholicism. I would like to offer up our conversation, that we may remain charitable. Also, I would like to begin with a prayer. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Absolute and all knowing God,
Nothing is hidden from Your sight.
In the prescience since the beginning,
All knowledge existed within You.
Kindly share Your knowledge with me,
Making me aware of what is meant to be,
Permitting my soul to understand it,
And wisdom to agree with its outcome.
Provide me with the gift of discretion,
To prudently apply received knowledge,
To ensure the fulfillment of Your Will.
Your knowledge shines forth forever!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

You assume that I made an “informed decision” and chose to be Catholic. That is not the case, being Catholic is not my church affiliation, it is what I am. I was converted, well technically reverted because I was baptized and confirmed Catholic. I spent most of my life resisting the Church and finding my own way. I was typical of my generation and lived a very “faith alone” lifestyle, professing to be Christian, but not behaving like one. My sins were irrelevant because Jesus Christ was my Lord and Savior and that confession of faith ensured my salvation. Becoming Catholic was God’s choice, not mine. Pregnant with my first child, I decided that it was time to pick a religion. I was leaning toward Lutheranism but attended both Lutheran and Catholic churches. It wasn’t until I denied myself and asked the Lord to lead me to Him, that I found the Truth in the Catholic church. I would go to Mass, tears streaming down my face through nearly the entire thing. The words I had heard a thousand times before suddenly had meaning. I still didn’t understand or even agree with all of the teachings, but I had no doubt that this was Christ’s Church, and this was where I needed to be. The “informed” part of it is a continuing process.

Interpretation of Matthew 16:16-19
Most of your questions point to the interpretation of Matthew 16:16-19. What is said to Peter in the singular is not said later in the plural. The power of binding and loosing is later given in the plural, but it is the entire statement, that is said only to Peter, that is significant.
Verse 16: “Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
- The first confession of faith, the Truth.
- In verse 14, “they” reply to Jesus’ question about who others say that He is.
- Why did only Peter respond to Jesus’ question, “but who do you say that I am?” in verse 15 when He asks “them”?

Verse 17: “Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.”
- Jesus singles out Peter, calling him by name and calls only Peter “blessed“. Why doesn’t He call all of the apostles “blessed”?
- Jesus confirms that Peter did not lean on his own understanding, but that Peter’s faith and confession thereof comes directly from God. An infallible statement from God through Peter.
- Did God reveal His Son to all of the apostles and only Peter spoke up, or did God reveal this only to Peter?

Verse 18: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”
-Why does Jesus give Simon the name Peter?
-Why does Jesus use the same word, in Aramaic, for both Peter and the “rock” upon which He will build His church? Wouldn’t that mean “And I say to you, you are Rock, and upon this rock I will build my church?
-Jesus then states that His Church will not be overcome by the power of death. Our society can most certainly be considered a “culture of death”. Which Church universally teaches against all forms of the culture of death, such as IVF, divorce, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, contraception, capital punishment, and homosexuality?

Verse 19:”I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
-The significance of the keys is defined in Isaiah 22:20-22, when the keys to the house of David are given to Eliakin as a symbol of plenary authority in the Kingdom of Judah. Wouldn’t giving the keys to the kingdom of heaven to Peter give him plenary authority?
-At the end of verse 18, Jesus refers to His Church as “it”. If He meant to give the keys to the Church, wouldn’t He say, I will give “it” the keys to the kingdom of heaven?
-Jesus is talking to Peter and Peter alone with the eyewitness of the apostles. He specifically says, I will give YOU the keys…whatever YOU bind, etc., not a plural you but a singular you.
-Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience. Why further explain the significance of the keys?

Matthew 18:18 does give the power of binding and loosing to all of the disciples, a collective authority to the Church in the person of the Apostles. But He still didn’t give the keys to all of them. Doesn’t the gate first need to be unlocked? Back to Isaiah 22:22, in reference to the bearer of the keys, “when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open”.

John 20:23 institutes the Sacrament of Penance. Jesus gives the authority over forgiveness to His first priests only after they have received the Holy Spirit. Again, giving authority to the Church in the person of the Apostles. Why are the keys not mentioned?

Primacy of Peter
Clearly, the apostles recognized a special calling in Peter. Everything we know about Jesus’ relationship with Peter comes through the eyewitness of the other apostles, not through Peter. Peter is mentioned nearly twice as many times in the Bible. And consider these:

John 21:15-19 defines Peter’s rehabilitation after denying Jesus three times, he then profess his love three times. Jesus asks Peter and only Peter to feed and tend His sheep.

1Cor 9:5 “Do we not have the right to take along a Christian wife, as do the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?” Why single out Peter? Wouldn’t he be included in the “rest of the apostles”?

In Luke 22:31-32 Jesus tells Peter that He has prayed specifically for him, that Peter’s faith may not fail so that he can strengthen his brothers. Why does Jesus pray specifically for Peter? Why does Peter’s faith need to strengthen the other disciples and Christians?

Luke 24:34 “who were saying, ‘The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!’”. Why does Jesus first appear to Peter?

Mark 16:7 “But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you sill see him, as he told you…’”. Why mention Peter? Wouldn’t he be included in “disciples”?

Acts 1:15-26 “During those days Peter stood up in the midst of his brothers..” While all of them decided on Matthias, it was Peter who called for the vote.

In Acts 2:14 Peter stood up and led the preaching in Jerusalem.

Acts 2:41 “Those who accepted his message were baptized…”. The message of God through Peter brought the first converts. In Acts 2:37, the crowd asked “Peter and the other apostles” and only Peter’s response is written.

Acts 3:1-26 Peter performed the first miracle after Pentecost. Why is Peter the one who heals the cripple then speaks to the crowd? John was there, why aren’t his actions and words recorded?

Acts 4:8 “Then Peter, filled with the holy Spirit, answered them:…” Again the infallible voice of God transmitted through Peter.

Acts 5:1-11 Peter tells Ananias and Sapphira that they have lied to the Holy Spirit, to God. If all apostles were present, why did only Peter speak?

Acts 15:1-12 Peter pronounces the first dogmatic decisions

Paul was sent forth directly by Jesus, so would not need ordination by Peter. Did Peter ordain himself or any other apostles? Did the Pope ordain Luther? True Paul preached in Damascus and converted many, but when he reached Jerusalem, the disciples feared him, believing that he was not a disciple. Acts 9:27 “Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles…“ Paul’s account in Gal. 1:18-19 confirms that he “went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas” and that he “did not see any other of the apostles“. Back to Acts 9:28, after Barnabas presents Paul, “He [Paul] moved about freely with them [the apostles] in Jerusalem”. Only after Paul met with Peter was he accepted by all of the apostles. You do bring up an interesting verse here, Gal 1:11-12. Paul says that what he is preaching came not from human origin, or teaching, but through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Is Martin Luther’s interpretation of the Bible from human origin, teaching, or revelation of Christ?

Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5 Paul was the local superior authority of the Gentiles, the bishop as we would call him today. The bishop in each diocese appoints priests. Not really different than the Church now.

Writings of Peter vs. Paul: Jesus did not consign to writing His own teachings, and directed His Apostles not to write, but to preach, the Gospel to their fellow-men. The Apostles, faithful to the mission which He had entrusted to them, began, from the day of Pentecost on, boldly to declare by word of mouth what they had seen and heard (cf. Acts 4:2), considering as a special duty of theirs "the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4). It is plain, too, that those whom the Apostles immediately selected to help them in the discharge of this most important mission had to be, like the Apostles themselves, able to bear witness to the life and teachings of Christ (cf. Acts 1:21 sq.). The substance of the Evangelical narratives would thus be repeated viva voce by the early teachers of Christianity, before any one of them bethought himself to set it down in writing.(see newadvent.org)

The significance of Peter’s relationship with God is further enforced by the early Christians.

Clement (Alexandria, 150 - 215 AD), Who Is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved?, Chapter 21
Therefore, on hearing those words, the blessed Peter, the chosen, the pre-eminent, the first of the disciples, for whom alone and Himself the Savior paid tribute, quickly seized and comprehended the saying. And what does he say? "Lo, we have left all and followed Thee."
Cyprian (Carthage, 200 - 258 AD), On the Unity of the Catholic Church, Chapter 4 2nd Edition
Upon him (Peter), being one, He (Christ) built His Church and although after His resurrection He bestows equal power upon all the Apostles, and says: "As the Father has sent me, I also send you. Receive the Holy Spirit: if you forgive the sins of anyone, they will be forgiven him; if you retain the sins of anyone, they will be retained" (Jn 20:21), that He might display unity, He established by His authority the origin of the same unity as beginning from one.
"The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . . ’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. . . . If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).
Cyril (Jerusalem, 315 - 387 AD), Catecheses, No. 2:19
Peter, the chiefest and foremost of the Apostles, denied the Lord thrice before a little maid: but he repented himself, and wept bitterly.
Augustine (Numidia, now Algeria, 354 - 430 AD), Letters, No 53
“For, if the order of succession of Bishops is to be considered, how much more surely, truly and safely do we number them from Peter, to whom, as representing the whole Church, the Lord said: "Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Mt 16:18). For, to Peter succeeded Linus, to Linus Clement, to Clement Anacletus, to Anacletus Evaristus …”
"Among these [apostles] Peter alone almost everywhere deserved to represent the whole Church. Because of that representation of the Church, which only he bore, he deserved to hear ‘I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven’" (Sermons 295:2 [A.D. 411])
Eusebius (History of the Church, 300-325 AD)
In the same reign of Claudius, the all-good and gracious providence which watches over all things guided Peter, the great and mighty one among the Apostles, who, because of his virtue, was the spokesman for all the others, to Rome. But such a great light of religion shone on the minds of those who hear Peter, that they were not satisfied to hear only once, nor with the unwritten teaching of the divine proclamation; [2,14,6; 2,15,1]


Luke 22:25
Jesus had just told his disciples that one of them would betray Him. Luke 22:23-24 paints the picture of what was really going on. “And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed. Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.” Imagine that scene, the apostles bickering and finger pointing. All of them lording it over each other with statements like: “I won’t betray Him, my faith is stronger than yours, better than yours, greater that yours”, but they aren’t bickering about rank of power. That had already been defined. So what did they mean by greatest? In Matthew 18:1-5 the disciples ask Jesus who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus replies with, “Whoever humbles himself like his child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”. He is warning that greatness in the kingdom of heaven is measured not by rank of power but by childlikeness. So in Luke 22:25-30 Jesus tells them to stop boasting for they are all equal as servants of the Lord.
If Jesus were speaking of rank, then what of the bishops?
St. Ignatius stresses the authority of the bishops in nearly all of his letters. To the Trallians: “Indeed, when you submit to the bishop as you would to Jesus Christ, it is clear to me that you are living not in the manner of men but as Jesus Christ…“, To the Ephesians: “…you should live in harmony with the will of the bishop - as indeed you do. Let us be careful, then, if we should be submissive to God, not to oppose the bishop.“ Ignatius clearly tells us that opposing the bishop means opposing God. He is very serious about the authority that the bishops have been given by God, through the apostles. He clearly understands the infallibility of the doctrine that the bishops were teaching. In his letter to the Magnesians when speaking of the deacon, Zotion, Ignatius says: “for he is subject to the bishop as to the grace of God, and to the presbytery as to the law of Jesus Christ.” And later in that same letter, he says “take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God and with the presbyters in the place of the council of the Apostles, and with the deacons…entrusted with the business of Jesus Christ” This clearly points to a hierarchy within the church giving the bishop supreme authority. Did Jesus intend for His Church to exist without a hierarchy? Why then, would there exist a hierarchy only 80 years after the resurrection?

Supremacy in Rome
Augustine’s writings (quoted above) state that Peter is the representative of the whole Church. Peter appointed his successor in Rome, and was martyred there.
Irenaeus wrote:

"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).

Faith and Works
I think the most common misconception of this statement is that Catholics believe “faith or works”, but that is not the case. The two are not mutually exclusive. You cannot have faith without works, and our works are a demonstration of our faith.
Catholics do not believe we can "work" our way into Heaven. The Church teaches quite clearly that we are saved by grace alone. That it is a free gift of God, and not of our doing. I think we have that belief in common. However, you believe the only necessary response on our part is a response of faith, while I believe that the necessary response to God's free gift of grace is one of faith and works. Or, as the Bible says, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith WORKING through love" (Gal 5:6). Faith and work. Faith working through love is of avail. That is a very good summary of the Catholic belief regarding salvation.

Ephesians 2:10 says that God has created us "in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Can we be saved if we go against God's will and do not walk in the good works that God has prepared for us beforehand? If you have faith, but have not works, can your faith save you?

Tell me where the Bible states that we are saved by “faith alone”.

Scripture and Tradition
Sacred Tradition is the living transmission of the apostolic teaching through the Holy Spirit. Apostolic teaching was passed down through a succession of bishops both orally and in writing. It is separate from Sacred Scripture but they are bound closely together and communicate with one another.
To say that you believe in Scripture alone, then rely on Sacred Tradition for interpretation of Scripture is a contradiction in itself. To believe in Scripture alone means just that, just the Bible, no other sources. Clearly, you don’t believe that. When you describe unity among Protestants achieved through the teachings of the councils and early Church Fathers along with the Bible, you are describing exactly what Catholics believe in Scripture and Tradition.

Eastern Orthodox
When I used the term, Roman Catholic Church, I meant the entire Catholic Church, including the Eastern Catholic Churches (Eastern Rite), however I should have dropped the Roman because that would imply only the Latin Rite. To clarify, the Eastern Catholic Churches are in union with the Roman Catholic Church under the Pope, the Eastern Orthodox Churches are not. I don‘t know much about the Eastern Orthodox Churches, except that it was not heresy that initially caused the Great Schism. The Catholic Church is not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox, and there are Eastern Orthodox churches that are not in communion with each other, much like the Lutherans. The primary difference is that Luther denied Catholic doctrine and developed an entirely new doctrine of faith and the Orthodox did not. The ELCA ordains women, does not believe that the Bible is inerrant, and does not take a definite stand on homosexuality. Are they heretical?

Interpretation of the Magisterium
Indeed Peter was married at one time, but was he married when he was Pope?
And yes, entering the priesthood means choosing a celibate life. This is a discipline of the Church, not a dogma. I’m sure you’re well aware that there are married priests in both the Latin and Eastern rites of the Catholic Church. While I feel that celibacy is critical to the integrity of the priesthood, it is not a necessity. The importance of this discipline is emphasized by Paul in 1 Cor 7:32-35 “…The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided…”. To state that celibacy leads to “all kinds of horrible, abominable, innumerable sins of unchastity” is silly. Are all sins of unchastity committed by unmarried, celibate people? St. Paul and Jesus were both celibate and Jesus told His disciples to live as He had lived. Were they committing horrible, abominable, innumerable sins of unchastity?
You state: “Calllistus I's claims come almost 200 years after the resurrection of Christ and with many notable opposers!” I find this an odd statement considering Martin Luther’s claims came 1500 years after the resurrection of Christ and with many notable opposers. Why would the claim of someone only two centuries after Christ be less credible than the claims of someone 15 centuries after Christ?
The Church is infallible in her objective definitive teaching regarding faith and morals, not that believers are infallible in their subjective interpretation of her teaching. The only infallible teaching that you list is the Immaculate Conception of Mary. You list sins of man, some of which are just as much your church history as it is mine. As in my first post, I said that it is important to differentiate between the Church and people within the church. People will always be sinful, but the Church will not. With Christ at the cornerstone, the Church, in it’s doctrine, will always be infallible. The Apostles were not infallible. Peter denied Jesus three times, but in his preaching on faith and morals, he was infallible. Is Martin Luther’s interpretation of the Bible and definition of doctrine infallible?
It is man that needs reform, not the doctrine of the Catholic Church. You point out with just a few historical accounts that the Catholic Church has the ability to reform its members from within. Again and again she produces saints, imitating the virtues of Christ in an extraordinary degree, whose influence has maintained the fullness of the faith. To cite one or two well-known instances out of many that might be given: St. Dominic and St. Francis of Assisi rekindled the love of virtue in the men of the thirteenth century; St. Philip Neri and St. Ignatius Loyola accomplished a like work in the sixteenth century; St. Paul of the Cross and St. Alphonsus Liguori, in the eighteenth. No explanation suffices to account for this phenomenon save the Catholic doctrine that the Church is not a natural but a supernatural society, that the preservation of her moral life depends, not on any laws of human nature, but on the life-giving presence of the Holy Ghost.

Lutheranism
1. The Apostle’s Creed states a belief in a holy catholic church. Is the Lutheran church catholic? Is there one “Lutheran Church“, or just sects of Lutheranism?
2. How does the Lutheran church define doctrines and dogmas in matters of faith and morals? Is it infallible?
3. You say that Lutherans are unique from other Protestants in that they take into account the Councils and writings of the Church Fathers. Isn’t that a contradiction to Sola Scriptura?
4. Would Luther be pleased with the state of his church?
5. You state that you “decided to be Lutheran“. Were you not converted?

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