The Church

"The Catholic Church is the work of Divine Providence, achieved through the prophecies of the prophets, through the Incarnation and the teaching of Christ, through the journeys of the Apostles, through the suffering, the crosses, the blood and the death of the martyrs, through the admirable lives of the saints.  When, then, we see so much help on God's part, so much progress and so much fruit, shall we hesitate to bury ourselves in the bosom of that Church?  For starting from the Apostolic Chair down through successions of bishops, even unto the open confession of all mankind, it has possessed the crown of teaching authority." - St. Augustine of Hippo ("The Advantage of Believing" 4th century A.D.)


The VaticanAUTHORITY - Should the Bible be the final authority of Christianity or the Church?   Well, Christ stated that the Church, not Scripture should be the final authority:  "And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church: but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." (Matthew 18:17 )  Christ did not state to refer to or consult Scripture for disputes and correction.  He said to go to the Church as It is the final authority in Christianity.  In addition, St. Paul states that the Church, not Scripture is "THE pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15)  Since the Church alone is mentioned as the pillar of truth, then It alone has the right to discern the truth and interpret Scripture.  For if individuals could correctly interpret Scripture, then all interpretations would be exactly the same as there can only be one Spiritual Truth for the plural of the word "truth" never appears in Scripture.  The Church is Christ's bride (Ephesians 5:29) and has "no spot, wrinkle or blemish" (Ephesians 5:27).  Christ also stated that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church (Matthew 16:18) so how can the Church commit error?  Individual clergy may commit sins, even popes commit sins because in the Church there are both "weeds and wheat" (Matthew 13:30).

ORGANIZATION - Is the Church to be a loose conglomerate of believers or is it to be organized and structured?  Scripture clearly established "offices" and a "hierarchy" among Christians.  The offices of "bishop, priest (presbyter) and deacon" are mentioned in Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1,8; Titus 1:7 ).  What else is this but "organization?"  Or should we believe that any believer can "claim" to be a bishop, priest, deacon or even "apostle?"  The word "office" is specifically used in Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1) to describe these positions.  Webster defines "office" as "A special duty, trust, charge, or position, conferred by authority or God and for a public purpose; a position of trust or authority."  And the office of "apostle" is to be continued (Acts 1:20-26) to the present day.  Not all believers are "equal" nor have the same gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10; Ephesians 4:11).   Is the Church a "visible, earthly" entity?  Yes, for Christ would not direct us to the Church for disputes if it were not here on Earth (Matthew 18:17).   Nor would "fear" encompass the whole Church if it were a mystical, invisible and heavenly entity (Acts 5:11).  The Church is definitely here on earth for the actions described in Acts definitely take place on earth and the term used is "the whole Church" (Acts 15:22).

HEAD OF THE CHURCH - Is there to be a visible "head" of the Church here on earth?  Well, as I established under the heading of "Organization," not all believers are to have the same authority or equality within the Church.  Did the Apostles have the exact same authority amongst themselves.  No, they did not.   For it was St. Peter alone that was the "rock" upon which Christ established His Church (Matthew 16:18).  And it was St. Peter alone that was given the task of "feeding" Christ's sheep (John 21:15-17 ).  Scripture clearly points out St. Peter as Christ's representative on earth.  Christ did not ask the other Eleven to feed and tend His sheep.  If you read The Acts Of The Apostles, it is clear that St. Peter leads the Apostles.  Therefore, since the Apostles are to be replaced as they die (Acts 1:20-26), then it follows that whoever succeed(s) St. Peter is leader of the Church.  There is only to be one shepherd of the Church (John 10:16).  For the Apostles did not argue amongst themselves whether there was a "greatest" at all, but who amongst them was the greatest (Mark 9:34; Luke 9:46).

ONE CHURCH - Is there to be only one Church or many?  According to Scripture, Christ wanted us to be one (John 17:22-23).  We are all as a Church to be of one mind and to think the same (Philippians 2:2; Romans 15:5).  There is only to be one "faith" (Ephesians 4:3-6), not many.  For the Church is Christ's Body and Christ only had one Body, not many.  Also, since the Church is Christ's Bride (Ephesians 5:29), can Christ be married to more than one wife (essentially a spiritual form of the the sin of polygamy)?  No, Christ can only have one wife (i.e., one Church, not many).

In conclusion, Scripture is pretty straightforward about the Church's role in salvation, Its authority and Its organization.  It's all a matter of deductive reasoning, correct interpretation and pure logic.

--- Chris                        


"Outside the Church no one can be a martyr." - St. Pacianus of Barcelona (4th century A.D.)


"The Church is an earthly heaven in which the super-celestial God dwells and walks about." - St. Germanus of Constantinople ("On The Divine Liturgy" 7th century A.D.)


CHURCH BELIEFS & ISSUES

Abortion

Baptism

The Bible

 

Celibacy of the Clergy

The Church

Church Attendance

Contraception

Degrees of Sin

Divorce

The Eucharist

Fasting During Lent

Good Works

Homosexuality

Money for the Church

"Once Saved, Always Saved?"

The Papacy

Papal Infallibility

Pre-marital Sex

Purgatory

Quick & Easy Catholic Apologetics

The Reformation

Ritual Prayer

The Sacrament of Penance

The Saints

The Trinity

The Virgin Mary

 

 

 


WHAT THE EARLY CHURCH BELIEVED

BIOGRAPHIES OF THE CHURCH FATHERS QUOTED IN THIS SECTION

Abortion

Against Heresy

Apostolic Succession & Tradition

The Catholic Church

Contraception

Degrees Of Sin

Divorce

The Eucharist

Good Works

Homosexuality

Infant Baptism

The Mass

The Papacy

Old Testament Canon

Purgatory

Unity Of The Church

The Virgin Mary

 

 

 


Links

Reference Materials


Biblical quotations on this web site are either from the King James Version or the Douay-Rheims Version of the Bible.

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Domain name - www.catholic-defense.com secured April 5, 1999.

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