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.


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).