Bock

Cape Town Commitment Part 2 Section 5 [E] Units 1-5 Biblical Lifestyle- Humility, Integrity, Simplicity, Sexuality, Idolatry

Section 2 Part 5 [E] Units 1-5 discuss biblical lifestyle. It calls for a distinctive walk reflecting position in the new humanity, avoiding the distorted sexuality in our world with humility, integrity and simplicity.

Section 2 Part 5 [E] Units 1-5 discuss biblical lifestyle. It calls for a distinctive walk reflecting position in the new humanity, avoiding the distorted sexuality in our world with humility, integrity and simplicity.

A distinctive lifestyle means not following the world in corruption, greed, distorted sexuality, divorce, racism, consumerism or social prejudice. Idolatry reflects itself in these distorted practices.

The honoring of marriage and sexual purity is an important part of the walk of the faithful. This means teaching about sexual fidelity and living in light of such teaching, avoiding the dangers of pornography and addressing frankly but with compassion, issues tied to homosexuality.

Issues of power and its abuse mean that a lifestyle of humility is the way forward. Here mutual submission and respect is important, especially in marriage. Christ’s example of love is the example to the husband. Physical or verbal abuse of a wife has no place in such a home.

Integrity and honesty with transparency is the lifestyle that commends itself to believers. Ministry has integrity in the representation of activity and in how support is raised.

Simplicity of lifestyle is to be pursued. This unit challenges a prosperity gospel and the distortions it introduces into the community’s life. The work of the Spirit and God’s power is to be believed but not in ways that have an automatic expectation or that manipulate. In making this point, all forms of greed are also rejected.

Here is Section 2 Part 5 [E] units 1-5:

IIE. Calling the Church of Christ back to humility, integrity and simplicity

Walking is the biblical metaphor for our way of life and daily conduct. Seven times in Ephesians Paul speaks of how Christians should, or should not, walk.[82]

1. Walk in distinctiveness, as God’s new humanity [83]

The people of God either walk in the way of the Lord, or walk in the ways of other gods. The Bible shows that God’s greatest problem is not just with the nations of the world, but with the people he has created and called to be the means of blessing the nations. And the biggest obstacle to fulfilling that mission is idolatry among God’s own people. For if we are called to bring the nations to worship the only true and living God, we fail miserably if we ourselves are running after the false gods of the people around us.

When there is no distinction in conduct between Christians and non-Christians – for example in the practice of corruption and greed, or sexual promiscuity, or rate of divorce, or relapse to pre-Christian religious practice, or attitudes towards people of other races, or consumerist lifestyles, or social prejudice – then the world is right to wonder if our Christianity makes any difference at all. Our message carries no authenticity to a watching world.

A)    We challenge one another, as God’s people in every culture, to face up to the extent to which, consciously or unconsciously, we are caught up in the idolatries of our surrounding culture. We pray for prophetic discernment to identify and expose such false gods and their presence within the Church itself, and for the courage to repent and renounce them in the name and authority of Jesus as Lord.

B)    Since there is no biblical mission without biblical living, we urgently re-commit ourselves, and challenge all those who profess the name of Christ, to live in radical distinctiveness from the ways of the world, to ‘put on the new humanity, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.’

2. Walk in love, rejecting the idolatry of disordered sexuality [84]

God’s design in creation is that marriage is constituted by the committed, faithful relationship between one man and one woman, in which they become one flesh in a new social unity that is distinct from their birth families, and that sexual intercourse as the expression of that ‘one flesh’ is to be enjoyed exclusively within the bond of marriage. This loving sexual union within marriage, in which ‘two become one’, reflects both Christ’s relationship with the Church and also the unity of Jew and Gentile in the new humanity.[85]

Paul contrasts the purity of God’s love with the ugliness of counterfeit love that masquerades in disordered sexuality and all that goes along with it. Disordered sexuality of all kinds, in any practice of sexual intimacy before or outside marriage as biblically defined, is out of line with God’s will and blessing in creation and redemption. The abuse and idolatry that surrounds disordered sexuality contributes to wider social decline, including the breakdown of marriages and families and produces incalculable suffering of loneliness and exploitation. It is a serious issue within the Church itself, and it is a tragically common cause of leadership failure.

We recognize our need for deep humility and consciousness of failure in this area. We long to see Christians challenging our surrounding cultures by living according to the standards to which the Bible calls us.

A)    We strongly encourage all pastors:

  • To facilitate more open conversation about sexuality in our churches, declaring positively the good news of God's plan for healthy relationships and family life, but also addressing with pastoral honesty the areas where Christians share in the broken and dysfunctional realities of their surrounding culture;
  • To teach God’s standards clearly, but to do so with Christ’s pastoral compassion for sinners, recognising how vulnerable we all are to sexual temptation and sin;
  • To strive to set a positive example in living by biblical standards of sexual faithfulness;

B)    As members of the Church we commit ourselves:

  • To do all we can in the Church and in society to strengthen faithful marriages and healthy family life;
  • To recognize the presence and contribution of those who are single, widowed, or childless, to ensure the church is a welcoming and sustaining family in Christ, and to enable them to exercise their gifts in the full range of the church’s ministries;
  • To resist the multiple forms of disordered sexuality in our surrounding cultures, including pornography, adultery and promiscuity;
  • To seek to understand and address the deep heart issues of identity and experience which draw some people into homosexual practice; to reach out with the love, compassion and justice of Christ, and to reject and condemn all forms of hatred, verbal or physical abuse, and victimization of homosexual people;
  • To remember that by God’s redemptive grace no person or situation is beyond the possibility of change and restoration.

 

3. Walk in humility, rejecting the idolatry of power [86]

In our fallenness and sin, power is often exercised to abuse and exploit others. We exalt ourselves, claiming superiority of gender, race, or social status. Paul counters all these marks of the idolatry of pride and power with his requirement that those who are filled by God’s Spirit should submit to one another for Christ’s sake. Such mutual submission and reciprocal love is to be expressed in marriage, family, and socio-economic relations.

A)    We long to see all Christian husbands and wives, parents and children, employers and employees, living out the Bible’s teaching about ‘submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ’.

B)    We encourage pastors to help believers understand, honestly discuss, and practise the mutual submission that God requires of his children towards one another. In a world of greed, power and abuse, God is calling his Church to be the place of gentle humility and selfless love among its members.

C)    We particularly and urgently call Christian husbands to observe the balance of responsibilities in Paul’s teaching about husbands and wives. Mutual submission means that a wife’s submission to her husband is to a man whose love and care for her is modelled on the self-sacrificing love of Jesus Christ for his Church. Any form of abuse of one’s wife – verbal, emotional or physical – is incompatible with the love of Christ, in every culture. We deny that any cultural custom or distorted biblical interpretation can justify the beating of a wife. We grieve that it is found among professing Christians, including pastors and leaders. We have no hesitation in denouncing it as a sin, and call for repentance and renunciation of it as a practice.

4. Walk in integrity, rejecting the idolatry of success[87]

We cannot build the kingdom of the God of truth on foundations of dishonesty. Yet in our craving for ‘success’ and ‘results’ we are tempted to sacrifice our integrity, with distorted or exaggerated claims that amount to lies. Walking in the light, however, ‘consists in …righteousness and truth’.[88]

A)    We call on all church and mission leaders to resist the temptation to be less than totally truthful in presenting our work. We are dishonest when we exaggerate our reports with unsubstantiated statistics, or twist the truth for the sake of gain. We pray for a cleansing wave of honesty and the end of such distortion, manipulation and exaggeration. We call on all who fund spiritual work not to make unrealistic demands for measurable and visible results, beyond the need for proper accountability.  Let us strive for a culture of full integrity and transparency. We will choose to walk in the light and truth of God, for the Lord tests the heart and is pleased with integrity.[89]

5. Walk in simplicity, rejecting the idolatry of greed [90]

The widespread preaching and teaching of ‘prosperity gospel’ around the world raises significant concerns. We define prosperity gospel as the teaching that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the ‘sowing of seeds’ through financial or material gifts. Prosperity teaching is a phenomenon that cuts across many denominations in all continents.[91]

We affirm the miraculous grace and power of God, and we welcome the growth of churches and ministries that lead people to exercise expectant faith in the living God and his supernatural power. We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. However, we deny that God’s miraculous power can be treated as automatic, or at the disposal of human techniques, or manipulated by human words, actions, gifts, objects, or rituals.

We affirm that there is a biblical vision of human prospering, and that the Bible includes material welfare (both health and wealth) within its teaching about the blessing of God. However, we deny as unbiblical the teaching that spiritual welfare can be measured in terms of material welfare, or that wealth is always a sign of God’s blessing. The Bible shows that wealth can often be obtained by oppression, deceit or corruption. We also deny that poverty, illness or early death are always a sign of God’s curse, or evidence of lack of faith, or the result of human curses, since the Bible rejects such simplistic explanations

We accept that it is good to exalt the power and victory of God. But we believe that the teachings of many who vigorously promote the prosperity gospel seriously distort the Bible; that their practices and lifestyle are often unethical and un-Christlike; that they commonly replace genuine evangelism with miracle-seeking, and replace the call to repentance with the call to give money to the preacher’s organization. We grieve that the impact of this teaching on many Churches is pastorally damaging and spiritually unhealthy. We gladly and strongly affirm every initiative in Christ’s name that seeks to bring healing to the sick, or lasting deliverance from poverty and suffering. The prosperity gospel offers no lasting solution to poverty, and can deflect people from the true message and means of eternal salvation. For these reasons it can be soberly described as a false gospel. We therefore reject the excesses of prosperity teaching as incompatible with balanced biblical Christianity.

  1. We urgently encourage church and mission leaders in contexts where the prosperity gospel is popular to test its teaching with careful attention to the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. Particularly, we all need to interpret and teach those Bible texts that are commonly used to support the prosperity gospel in their full biblical context and proper balance. Where prosperity teaching happens in the context of poverty, we must counter it with authentic compassion and action to bring justice and lasting transformation for the poor.
  2. Above all we must replace self-interest and greed with the biblical teaching on self-sacrifice and generous giving as the marks of true discipleship to Christ. We affirm Lausanne's historic call for simpler lifestyles.

 

 

[82]Though translated variously, the following texts all use the verb ‘to walk’: Ephesians 2:2; 2:10; 4:1; 4:17; 5:2; 5:8; 5:15

[83]Ephesians 4:16-31

[84]Ephesians 5:1-7

[85]Ephesians 5:31; 2:15

[86]Ephesians 5:15 – 6:4

[87]Ephesians 5:8-9

[88]Ephesians 5:10

[89]1 Chronicles 29:17

[90]Ephesians 5:5

[91]See also the full text of The Akropong Statement: A critique of the Prosperity Gospel produced by African theologians, convened by the Lausanne Theology Working Group, at: www.lausanne.org/akropong

27 Comments

  • Avatar

    Alex D

    Who is then right and who is wrong?

    Hello Mr. Bock,

    Thanks for the wonderful articles you wrote, they are really inspiring however, I seem to have a problem in our theology which in part have to do with what you have said here:

    "The honoring of marriage and sexual purity is an important part of the walk of the faithful. This means teaching about sexual fidelity and living in light of such teaching, avoiding the dangers of pornography and addressing frankly but with compassion, issues tied to homosexuality."

    Now, let's look at what is happening in the christian world and look at our Protestant's history on the subject of contraception.

    MARTIN LUTHER on contraception (1483 to 1546):

    "Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest or adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes into her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed."

    JOHN CALVIN on contraception (1509 to 1564):

    "Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born. This wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the seed of his brother out the womb, and as cruel as shamefully has thrown on the earth. Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race."

    John Wesley on contraception (1703 to 1791):

    "Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse of his own body, of the wife he had married and the memory of his brother that was gone, refused to raise up seed unto the brother. Those sins that dishonour the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord – And it is to be feared, thousands, especially single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls."

    Examining sermons and commentaries, Charles Provan identified over a hundred Protestant leaders (Lutheran, Calvinist, Reformed, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Evangelical, Nonconformist, Baptist, Puritan, Pilgrim) living before the twentieth century condemning non-procreative sex. Did he find the opposing argument was also represented? Mr. Provan stated, "We will go one better, and state that we have found not one orthodox theologian to defend Birth Control before the 1900's. NOT ONE! On the other hand, we have found that many highly regarded Protestant theologians were enthusiastically opposed to it."

    So what happened?

    It's the old story of Christians attempting to conform the world to Christ and the world attempting to conform Christians to its ways. Protestants fought bravely, but in 1930 the first hole appeared in the contraception dike (in the Anglican Church) and lead to a flood that would engulf the other Protestant Churches, too. In the next thirty years all Protestant churches were swept away from their historic views on contraception. The most terrible point is that just a few years earlier, in 1908, the Anglican Church condemned the very contraception that they would later embrace.

    Oh, by the way both Artificial Contraception and gay-marriage is in conflict with God’s laws comes from a variety of sources primarily by Apostle Paul which based on God Ordained NATURAL LAWS.

    Historically, we protestants follow the same footsteps of our fellow Anglicans and today we have Evangelical Lutheran church, Presbyterian church, Episcopalian Church, Congregational Church, Anglican church and so many more independent  evangelical churches saying that gay-marriage is Biblically alright and some also consider early stages of abortion, cloning are not contrary to the Scripture.

    This is the problem I have for years and I think Jesus Christ who loves us so much wouldn't leave us orphans without any visible head of leadership and Authority to speak for him. We can't point to the Bible as sole authority anymore because primarily the dispute started from the Bible as much as the Book can't be able to speak and pass a judgment of who got it right and who got it wrong.

    I really think that the authority of my church is useless because its teaching does not bind mine or anyone's conscience and at the same time if one thinks that his church is teaching heresy, he is freely to leave his church and find another church who "agrees" with his own interpretation of the Scripture.

    Is this all that amounts to? Those who agree with me are right and those who don't are wrong?

  • Avatar

    Darrell L. Bock

    Short response

    There was no mention of contraception in this section, so I am not sure why the rsponse was posted focusing on that issue.

  • Avatar

    Alex D

    sexual purity?

    Hello Dr. Bock, thanks for the reply.

    The reason I put  contraception was because it is related to what you have written , "The honoring of marriage and *SEXUAL PURITY* is an important part of the walk of the faithful."  If that is the case,  then we can't ignore the part of being PURE in the eyes of the Lord by respecting the Natural Laws which He is the Author.

    Homosexual acts were  condemned by Paul using the basic sound principles of Natural laws (Romans 1:26). The reason why Contraception is called "artificial"  precisely because it's not natural and prohibits God's ordained  sexual act of marriage couple  of its **unitive and proctreative** purpose therefore the act itself is also a violation of Natural Law.

    When the rest of our protestant world followed the Anglicans in 1930 allowing Artificial contraception the floodgates were opened to sexual revolution, abortion, pornography, free sex etc. I really think this was a great mistake of our protestant tradition caving-in to the pressures of the secular world. If we remove the "procreative" aspect of sex it becomes just mere pleasure and satisfaction more to men than women thus the female body becomes the object of lust.

    Furthermore, we have our dear brothers from Presbyterian Church USA allowing openly practicing  gay to the clergy. We are just seeing the floodgates are being opened again reminding us of our recent history happened in 1930 at Lambeth Conference.

    So, Dr. Bock,  if we belong to one of these churches, how do we have "sexual purity and fidelity"  as you had said when the  church taught otherwise?

     

    Peace to you.

  • Avatar

    Alex D

    Where is the real church to teach what is true?

    Dr. Bock

     

    I admire your work, they are very inspiring and true however,  it is lacking in one important ingredient somehow….AUTHORITY!

    I love the evangelical tradition but Our Lord has designed something wonderful more than this. I have come to KNOW His church through the Early Fathers of christianity, you know the first men who have seen and heard the original 12 Apostles themselves and as  disciples of the 12,  they were also martyred and spilled blood for their faith. This is real, authentic and genuine form of christianity, a Church founded by Christ.

    Please don't get me wrong, evangelicalism is loving and true but like what I said lacking in very essential part. If you just care to read these articles written by respectable doctrors like yourself  to let you know what I'm talking about more deeply and substantially:

    Why do Early christiantiy practiced and believed these and not us:

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/12/church-fathers-on-transubstantiation/

    Is the Bible really the sole Authority or it's me:

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/solo-scriptura-sola-scriptura-and-the-question-of-interpretive-authority/

    Is it a Visible Church or invincible church?

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/06/christ-founded-a-visible-church/#comment-16802

     

    Please let me know of your thoughts but if you don't want to pursue this, i won't push and leave you in peace of the Lord. Thanks and Grace to you, Dr. Bock.

  • Avatar

    Darrell L. Bock

    real church

    Sola Scriptura is authority enough. It is God speaking directly to us. Anything else is less.

  • Avatar

    Alex D

    Thank you, Dr. Bock

    Thank you.

    I won't push it but I will continue to read your wonderful articles though I think without any Authority it just amounts to mere human opinion like our WCF. (Westminster Confession of Faith), extra-Biblical that is.

    I however, invite you to join our discussion forum of the above links, the environment  is brotherly, cordial and no superior mentally that is. Contributors  have Doctorate Degree like you, so you won't feel out of place.

    We are all here  to seek the Church Christ founded 2,000 years ago and the pursuit of Truth. So God help us. Thanks and peace to you.

  • Avatar

    Lynn L.

    The Church of Jesus Christ

    If we are going to seek the Church of Jesus Christ as it was founded 2000 years ago, with some of the statements in Scripture being based on cultural beliefs and practices of the time, then women are to be forbidden to speak in a church service, they are to have their heads covered in prayer, they are to wear their hair long, or be considered a disgrace, they are to be considered ungodly if they adorn themselves with jewels or braids in their hair, and men are to greet each other with a holy kiss.

    Furthermore, if we are to look to a concept of "natural law" that does not take into consideration things like the fruits of deeds, i.e. natural consequences (of which there are none in the use of contraception, or in same-sex partnerships, for example, where some of the less fortunate children of the world can be given a home, both of which would be supported by natural law), and does not take into consideration things like the human need for intimacy and companionship, and will condemn people based on an "idea" of how things are supposed to be, devoid of any evidence to show these supposed consequences, I believe this concept of natural law is flawed and is derived for the purpose of establishing a religion rather than a relationship with God.

    Just stating my personal conviction, we would all do better applying the foundations and principles of Scripture, that being "the law of love" in its truest form, which is among the core teachings of Scripture, rather than working to base our beliefs on the cultural practices and beliefs of another time, whether this is done across the board, or for a selectively crafted and agreed-upon tradition.

  • Avatar

    Lynn L.

    I was merely highlighting

    I was merely highlighting a significant reality brought out by Alex D., regarding the depth of people's convictions on a subject that has seen monumental change in what was considered authoritative truth until recent times. I am merely pointing out the biblical truths and realities concerning how we, as individuals or a collective body of believers, arrive at our understanding of God's will in our lives, and equally importantly, His will in our neighbor's lives.

    Mainstream, organized Christianity–which has managed to alienate countless people because of what are considered to be unreasonable beliefs–will take their belief to their grave, that "reason" and "liberty" are not well-established concepts in Scripture, directly in regards to its laws and precepts, and that to acknowledge and establish these principles of Scripture would be dangerous to the establishment of "tradition" as they would personally and collectively see it carried out. The unspoken rule of the church is that this (our understanding of God's will and Scripture) is determined based on (1) the cultural context of these precepts and these condemnations, (2) are we in keeping with the law of love for God first, yourself, and your neighbor as yourself, and (3) the question of "harm" in how we take these instructions of Scripture.

    These principles of reason and liberty are embraced on a selective basis, as they consider it for themselves but not their neighbor, and which will never effectively hold a claim of "authority" to the world.

  • Avatar

    Darrell L. Bock

    Lynn

    The texts and what they say (yes, in context  and with an eye to genre) count for something. Another danger is we create rules and principles whose impact denies what the texts teach, especially if the theme is stated repeatedly. As long as we keep our eyes on this additional idea, then the three points you make at the end of the last post can help us.

  • Avatar

    Alex D

    In the name odf whose “love”?

    Dr. Bock,

     

    This is a good example of what we are trying to drive at , in the name of love or tolerance in the truest form (of whose version of love/tolerance?) is a license to do whatever one pleases according to what he/she might seem to think the Bible is supposed to be saying.

    In the name of tolerance one unlawfully prohibits tolerance of another's  moral conscience and right to religious freedom. (gay-marriage, abortion etc). In the name of "love" one can ignore and violate God's ordained Moral Laws, In the name of "love" one can KILL   full human  embryoes to "find" a cure to another adult chap, in the name of "love" fetus is not human (cat or dog probably?) so therefore you can TERMINATE the life out of it to make life easier for the young parents,  In the name of  "love" one can KILL a dependent-coma  patient  or a pain related ill patient, in the name of "love" you can do whatever you think is right with your Bible interpretive version…etc, etc.

    This is the prime example and result of Sola Scriptura where the final Authority rest not on the Bible but on every individual's head to determine what the Bible supposed to  teach.

    If Natural Moral Law as confirmed by Apostle paul is flawed, how sure are you that your fallible human reasoning and logic is also flawed? Should christians follow your interpretive version of the Bible as true? Is your version has the power to "bind and loose" any christian? How sure are you that what you think is right with the bible is really right?

    Well, because I say so! Because those who agree with my interpretive version of the Scripture are right and those who don't agree are all wrong! You my dear just made yourself your own pope! Your own set of moral law that fits your idea of "love".

     

    Dr. Bock I totally agree with what you have said, "Another danger is we create rules and principles whose impact denies what the texts teach". However, those same texts, same King James Bible, same "clearness", same "testing" of the spirit, same "guidance" by the Holy Spirit is subject to every individual's primacy of conscience  principle from the Sola Scriptura as illustrated by Ms. Lynn above and a billion more. If there is no Authority to say "X" is wrong then it's chaos.

    Look at the protestant world (to which I sadly saying goodbye) if it's really what it says then there should only be ONE protestant church not churches.

  • Avatar

    Alex D

    Before anything else, I would

    Before anything else, I would like to state that I follow the the Teaching Authority which God has given and ordained to his Apostles and their Successors and NOT to myself of what I think is right NOR to anybody who say they are right with the Bible.

    There are no set doctrines in Protestantism (because they deny Church infallibility), and thus doctrinal unity is impossible by definition. A Protestant cannot tell another Protestant they must believe X, because that would require the very Church authority Protestants condemn Catholics for exercising.

    The first issue is a binding doctrine which is taught and not obeyed, the second is the inability to teach binding doctrine. If you look carefully at the situation, you will see it is Catholics not being obedient to the Church, which is not at all the same as each Catholic having the ability to define their own doctrines. If a doctor  (the Church) gave a patient (the layman) some specific instructions (doctrine) of how to get healthy, and the patient does not follow those instructions (disobedience), then it is not the doctor's to blame nor does it mean he mislead them. The problem is disobedience to Authority. If the Catholic Church teaches that "X is wrong," it doesn't matter how many Catholics are disobedient, the doctrine that "X is wrong" is still true, and any Catholic desiring good standing must accept that doctrine.

    There is doctrinal confusion among adherents of Sola Scriptura precisely because it is impossible, according to the definition of Sola Scriptura, for those in authority to make binding (infallible) doctrine. Without the ability of the Church to make binding doctrines, the job falls upon the head of every individual Protestant to determine for themselves what they want to be doctrine, and at that point the Truth becomes relative to each individual.

    The issue regarding disobeying a binding doctrine, and the issue regarding the inability to make a binding doctrine. When it comes to Catholicism, the only disunity is due to disobedience, in Protestantism the disunity is due to each man determining what is a doctrine and what is not. Big difference. 

  • Avatar

    Darrell L. Bock

    Lynn and Alex

    I am not getting into a long debate on ecclesiasitical authority nor hermeneutics of the type Lynn has argued for here. Lynn and I have already had that hermenutical discussion a few years ago on texts related to sexuality. The issue of authority in the Catholic church is one that also reflects a long development as opposed to being rooted in biblical texts. Yes, people misread texts. People also disobey the "authority." So neither is a guarantee of anything (Our fallen world is messy).  Jesus discussed and warned about developing tradition and authority outside of himself and the One Father who is our teacher. We just have to try and be as faithful as we can and make the case for the meaning of the text we see (hopefully in the ocntext of a community that is seeking to be faithful).

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    Lynn L.

    The Royal Law

    Alex, just some things to consider: You are saying that you want an earthly authority to determine what the Bible says, which all Christians are to accept as the authority of God, and that the only thing left there would be the people who are in disobedience to this authoritative rendering of Scripture. I don't see any ordaining in Scripture of a man or a council who would be this authority in the world today. We have the Bible itself, the teachings of Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles. God cannot ordain anyone today that we are to consider an absolute authority. (He hasn't anyway) The fact is that all Catholics do not agree on all things, just as Protestants do not agree on all things. Disagreeing with the Pope doesn't amount to disobedience to God. He is a fallible human being, and there is no Scriptural basis to believe otherwise.

    In your other post, you are mixing the world's government into a discussion about biblical authority and truth. What I brought up is the biblical law of love, not politics or some notion that everyone is free to do whatever they please in the name of love, like killing for example. What you are doing in your argument is rendering this law that I'm speaking of to be a human idea. You take the concept of "love" and cheapen it and weaken it so that it cannot possibly speak to what is right. The fact is that you are arguing with the teaching of the Bible itself, that "love" is the fulfillment of the Law, which seems apparent to me to be addressing the multitude of laws found in the Scriptures, so many of which are not binding upon Christians. Romans 13:8-10 establishes this truth, among quite a few other verses, because it is nothing short of a theme of Scripture. The law is fulfilled in a word. Is it honestly difficult to understand what love in its truest form would be? It certainly wouldn't free a person, in good conscience and as a faithful believer in the Lord, to do whatever they please. 

    Lastly, you are not paying attention (as it appears to me anyway) to the fact that the Bible itself was inspired and written in such a way as to make disagreements inevitable and, in fact, part of God's plan. Romans 14 for example. One eats the meat, and the other believes it is sin. Both love God and desire obedience. What is sin for one person is not necessarily sin for another. "If you believe something is sin and do it anyway, for you it is sin." The Bible is very much about the individual's relationship with God, and his or her accountability to Him. If you want to be part of a group that all believes the same way, that is very different from expecting that the church should function with that type of absolute unity of thought, which does not exist in any general body of believers, let alone establishing a central authority for all Christians. There are the "essentials" of the faith, and all true Christians are in unity on these things, which essentially involves who Jesus Christ is, and our relationship to Him. Some would disagree on what the essentials are, but ultimately God is the Judge of who His own are and where they stand with Him.

    The themes of liberty, reason, and discernment found in Scripture, and the abundant contextual issues of what Scripture was addressing, are freeing on a particular issue for me. No one else has to accept it as truth if they don't believe it is the truth. There is no earthly authority who will decide this. As far as I'm concerned, take care that you do not see harm and ignore it, and other than this we are not to be overly concerned with the beliefs and lives of others. (Although debate can be a healthy thing, which has been done here.) Walking with God may not always be easy, but it really is not so complicated. Take care.

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    Alex D

    Dear Lynn,   Thanks for the

    Dear Lynn,

     

    Thanks for the reply.

     

    You said, "I don't see any ordaining in Scripture of a man or a council who would be this authority in the world today."

    REPLY:

    I beg to disagree with you on this one because Jesus Christ Himself said Faith is made know to all through the Apostles and the Church ( Ephesians 2:20, 1 Timothy 3:15, Revelation 21:14) . Its as simple as that. Jesus appointed specific people, 12 to be exact, to carry out his mission. Even though Jesus has many, many followers, he called out 12 specific individuals to guide his flock. Even in Heaven there is a structured hierarchy where God is the Head, where Archangels and angels follow their rank, position and dominions also in the early church is very very hierachical as Paul described it as having Bishops, presbyters (priest) and deacons. In fact the church could not exist if Jesus had not been around to start it himself and he did, but he left it in the hands of Peter (Mt 16:13-19).So, we see that there was a church, with a specific structure of leaders that were called by God to lead the church. with all believing members. This is the Catholic (Universal) definition of church.

    Now, if the church is founded upon the leaders then it is safe to say that “the church” can also mean “the leaders” or “the one’s with teaching authority” or we called as Magisterium and Apostolic Tradition.

    First, it is clear that the New Testament Church was an apostolic church. Its leadership consisted of the apostles, who were given this authority by Our Lord that included the powers to bind and loose (Mt 16:9; Mt. 18:8), forgive sins (Jn 20:21-23), baptize (Mt 28:18-20), and make disciples (Mt 28:18-20). We see it exhibited in numerous ways throughout the New Testament, including teaching that the Church is built on Christ and his apostles (Eph 2:19-22), deliberating and pronouncing within an episcopal structure about a theological controversy (Acts 15:1-30), proclaiming what constitutes an appropriate reception of true doctrine (1 Cor 15:3-11), rebuking and excommunicating (Acts 5:1-11;Acts 8:14-24; 1 Cor 5; 1 Tim 5:20; 2 Tim 4:2; Titus 1:10-11), judging the adequacy of a believer’s penance or penitent state (2 Cor 2:5-11; 1 Cor 11:27), the ordaining and appointing of ministers (Acts 14:23; I Tim 4:14), choosing successors (Acts 1:20-26), and entrusting the apostolic tradition to the next generation (2 Thess 2:15; I Tim 2:2). The Catholic properties were all in place, albeit in embryonic form.

     Of course Lynn you can disagree with the Pope he can make mistakes, he sins, he's fallible like the rest of us however you have to remember that when he as the Successor to Peter together with all the Bishops around the world (Ecumenical Council of the Church-Magisterium) promulgate, declare and teach a doctrine regarding of  Faith and Morals to the Christian world she (Church) CAN NOT ERR…her Teaching is INFALLIBLE!

    You might ask  why did she become infallible? Is it because of the man called pope? NO! Absolutely NO! it's because of God! Well for one she (Church) has been given a Great Promise of God himself that she can not teach error..read (JN 16:13) from the day Christ has spoken the words "you will be guided into ALL TRUTH until the end of time" and that  "the Gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church" (Matt 16:18). We got to trust that promise even in the midst of sins within the Church. (anyways, the Church is a hospital for sinners). If the Church somehow teaches, proclaims and declares ANY or even ONE heretical teaching (error) the promise of Jesus to His Church would have been forfeited and made invalid.

    RATIONAL:

    —If a Christian doctrine is indeed a Divine Revelation under the pain of eternal lost, the gift of infallibility is thus necessary to His Church because if she (Church) can make an error at all, she can make an error in ANY point, thus there is no quarantee of the Truth.

    Lynn said: "The fact is that all Catholics do not agree on all things, just as Protestants do not agree on all things."

    REPLY: Again, please read my previous post above dated Monday at 16:44.

    The issue regarding disobeying a binding doctrine, and the issue regarding the inability to make a binding doctrine. When it comes to Catholicism, the only disunity is due to disobedience, in Protestantism the disunity is due to each man determining what is a doctrine and what is not. Big difference. 

    You touch on the "essentials" with which you said and asserted all christians have a unity, the problem is WHO is the one who determines which are the "essentials" in the Bible? WHO determines and make a decision of who is right and wrong?  This very idea runs contrary to the Bible and nowhere found in the Bible. There no is such thing as "essentials" every part of the Bible is important.

    Now, my question to you is, who is going to settle the dispute/ offense? Who has the authority that can pass a decision and final judgment?

    Matthew 18:15

    "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the CHURCH; and if he refuses to listen even to the CHURCH, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."

    I don't see Jesus say, go to the Bible, do you? But where is this one visible Authoritative "Church" that Jesus was talking about? This is the question that haunted me and bound to seek.

    Anyways, since I can't answer all your objections on this site I would like to invite you to our forum, the atmosphere is  very cordial  and to deeal with this subject more deeply and substantially, specially on who holds the "Interpretive Authority" if you care to read and follow the link:

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/solo-scriptura-sola-scriptura-and-the-question-of-interpretive-authority/

    I'll like to make a quick response to your very last paragraph, while I totally  agree with you that we as Christians can't force to anybody our own beliefs (by violence or harmful means – definitely so otherwise we would be running contrary to Teachings of our God to love) however, we as followers of Christ are dutybound  and commanded to spread the Good News of Life to everyone regardless of race, sexual-orientation, beliefs, etc.

    This is the Will of my God to me and as such I will do my utmost to do His Will….even at the cost of my life, He is my King and that is my Faith.

    I hope to see in the forum.

    In Christ,

    Alex

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    Alex D

    Dr. Bock, Thanks. You said,

    Dr. Bock,

    Thanks.

    You said, "The issue of authority in the Catholic church is one that also reflects a long development as opposed to being rooted in biblical texts. Yes, people misread texts. People also disobey the "authority." So neither is a guarantee of anything (Our fallen world is messy).  Jesus discussed and warned about developing tradition and authority outside of himself and the One Father who is our teacher. We just have to try and be as faithful as we can and make the case for the meaning of the text we see (hopefully in the ocntext of a community that is seeking to be faithful)."

    Just 2 quick points:

    1.  Yes, the issue of any doctrinal authority  of the Catholic (Universal) Church reflects a long development  just what our Lord described it…"the kingdom of God is like a the littlest mustard seed then grew to a giant Tree" . We see "development", we see "growing", it took the Christian World at least 250 years  years to formally declare the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ. But does it mean before that 250  years the doctrine is non-existent or invalid, NO! It is always been there.

    Thus in one example that the doctrine of Christ's Divinity declared and promulgated by the living Authority of the Church which God gave to her alone was from the very beginning based and ROOTED IN BIBLICAL TEXTS.

    2.  Yes,  Jesus warned us of traditions outside of him which he referred to as the "traditions" of men but he clearly wanted us to follow and obedient to  the Tradition of the Church and  let the Church have the final say in any dispute.

    "Maintain the *traditions* even as I have delivered them to you." (1 Cor 11:2b)

    "So the, brethren, stand firm and hold to the *traditions* which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." (2 Thess 2:15)

    "Keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the *tradition*  that you received from us." (2 Thess 3:6b)

    So thus

    Paul said in I Corinthians 1:10 to ". . . be PERFECTLY JOINED together in the SAME mind and in the SAME judgment."

    Tradition of the Apostles and to their Successors.

    In Christ,

    Alex

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    Darrell L. Bock

    Not doing this

    Alex:

    I said I was not going to have this discussion. Only one point to be clear. The reference to traditions in the texts you cite is not the magisterium. Those traditions are not developing ideas but passed on teaching that was rooted at the start. Tradition there eqauls apostolic teaching. not a developed teaching. That is why we have Scripture. That is all I am saying on this.

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    Alex D

    Dr. Bock, Traditions rooted

    Dr. Bock,

    Traditions rooted in what? the Canon of Scripture wasn't formally declared until 350 years after Christ,  during those few hundred years the people of God don't have the NT yet only  the Greek version of OT and thus rely heavily on Oral Tradition of apostles and their successors.

    Yes, I agree with you that the Tradition there ( (1 Cor 11:2b, (2 Thess 2:15) )equals Apostolic Teaching Authority from the start and not a developing tradition to which the prime example is our protestant tradition made merely by men named Luther and Calvin  and these are the traditions of men not rooted at the start and not in the Tradition of the Apostles and their successors.

    Why do we lean to believe in the men who lived 1,5000 years later (WCF etc) THAN the men who **saw and heard**  and disciples of   the original 12 Apostles themselves 2,000 years ago? Boggles any mind.

     

    Thanks and God Bless.

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    Alex D

    Dr. Bock you can have the

    Dr. Bock you can have the last reply, I apologize for my stubborness to continue, anyways I won't post anymore related to this topic at your resquest. Again thank you for the time and space.

    God bless.

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    Darrell L. Bock

    Sola Scriptura

    Alex:

    Thanks for the feedback. The issue is working with what Scripture teaches (not the Pope, Luther or Calvin). That is what apostolic teaching is. The canon is nothing but the preservation of that teaching so when the canon was formed is not the issue but what the canon represents.

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    Lynn L.

    Alex, It is not a question

    Alex,

    It is not a question of whether "the church" is a valid entity today. The Christian church is the body of all believers in Jesus Christ, and the assembly of believers has an important place in our walk with God. The subject is regarding the notion of "one voice" who is to be the authority in regards to interpretation of the Scriptures. You see in the verses you cited an endorsement of the Catholic Church as being this ordained authority, but I don't see any such endorsement there. We have the teachings of Scripture–Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles–upon which to base our beliefs today. We have the Holy Spirit to illuminate and guide us in regards to truth, and we don't need someone to tell us what it says. Is there a place for debate as to what we believe are the intentions of God on some things? Absolutely there is. The Bible is not simply a set of laws for believers to live by across the board. Do we need teachers for exhortation, encouragement, and teaching in regards to some aspects of understanding God's Word, and to bring out the teachings for us? Yes we do. Do we need pastors? Yes. Is it a good idea to have accountability? Yes. But this is not what you are talking about. You want a single authority to determine binding doctrine.

    Personally, I don't know how anyone can consider a religious body to be authoritative, who ignored and/or fascilitated the psychological and emotional destruction of countless children and young people through sexual abuse, in some cases permanantly. This was not the failing of a few individuals–all levels of the "hierarchy" are guilty of this, many, many counts of this, over many, many years. It seems that their "power and authority" was more important than the faith, including having anything to do with God Himself. I hate to bring up their baggage, but to consider them "God's ordained authority of truth" is astonishing to me. The Catholic Church can recover from this, I presume, but it is what it is. It is also true that several Catholic doctrines have been changed since Luther.

    As to the essentials: Matt 22:36-40 ; Matt 16:15-17 ; John 5:23-24 ; 1 John 4:7-9 are a good start, and are addressed as the essentials by Jesus. All of the Bible is useful for our understanding, but you can hardly consider someone a heretic, or not a true believer, for finding some things questionable in regards to the will and the intention of God on some of the passages.

    You don't need my advice, but I would suggest to you that you find a denomination (or a non-denominational church) who holds to the doctrines that you hold to, and interprets things the way you do, rather than to depend on a single authority to represent God to you. Truth, grace, and love are the most important things there are. I can't fault you for wanting absolute truth, because it is the most important thing to me as well. I've always thought it would have been easier if God just gave us a set of laws to live by, and made nothing at all questionable, but that is far from what God did in His Word. There are going to be varying interpretations. So we have to do our best to seek Him out, and live by His will as we understand it to be. Love is the commandment of God–Jesus is the only way to God, who is the only ultimate authority. 

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    Alex D

    LYNN said: “We have the

    LYNN said: "We have the teachings of Scripture–Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles–upon which to base our beliefs today. We have the Holy Spirit to illuminate and guide us in regards to truth, and we don't need someone to tell us what it says."

    WHOSE truth are you referring to Lynn? WHOSE Jesus are you referring to? WHOSE "guidance" to the truth are you referring to? This the  same reason why I don't agree with what Dr. Bock said in his last comment, "The issue is working with what Scripture teaches , not the pope, luther, calvin". Whose teachings? Whose apostolic tradition? So therefore and ultimately without realizing it Dr. Bock admitted that the Sole Authority is not the Scripture but it's really ME! I'am the one who  will determine what is right and wrong in the Scripture. My version of what I think is right of what the Bible says? This the very principle of RELATIVISM. The Baptists, Oneness Pentecostals, Unitarians, INC, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, SeventhDay Adventists and a few thousands more have said and claimed they are the one true church of Jesus Christ founded 2,000 years ago. The all have the *same* King James Bible, *same* testing of the Word, *same* guidance by the Holy Spirit, *same* clearness of Scripture and YET ARRIVED AT DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSING DOCTRINES.

    So at the end , WHOSE version of truth is true? Jesus Christ is the WAY and  the TRUTH! but which truth in so many? This is chaos and anarchy and not of a plan and scenario the Lord has made, very far.

     

    LYNN said: "Do we need teachers for exhortation, encouragement, and teaching in regards to some aspects of understanding God's Word, and to bring out the teachings for us? Yes we do. Do we need pastors? Yes. Is it a good idea to have accountability? Yes. But this is not what you are talking about. You want a single authority to determine binding doctrine."

    Which pastor? which church amongst the thousands of differing churches? Pastors and churches what for? If we have the Scripture as our infallible Sole rule of Authority, why do we need pastors, elders, churches, our WCF for? These are extra-Biblical. Your affirmative answer  to all when you asked yourself if we need pastors, elders and churches then contradict yourself the next line when you said , " we don't need someone to tell us what it says." Ultimately, without any Authority to BIND anyone's conscience  they (pastors, elders etc) just make us "happy", "encouraged" and "feel good", that's all there is to it, I agree with you on this one! thus the  truth becomes subjective and meaningless.  I don't believe in "truth in diversity" or "just hope for the best we interpret the Bible  right"  as Dr. Bock has suggested, firstly, these ideas run contrary to the Scripture as Christ firmly established, ordained and founded His Church to speak for Him Authoritively  to decide and pass the final judgment. Secondly, Jesus Christ has given this very Authority to His Apostles and their successors to "BIND" all believers' conscience:

    —-AUTHORITY TO BIND:

    Matthew 18:16, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you **BIND** on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

    —-AUTHORITY TO ORDAIN AND APPOINT SUCCESSORS:

    Acts 14:23, "Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust."

    1 Tim 4:14, "Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you."

    —-CHOOSING SUCCESSORS:

    For," said Peter, "it is written in the book of Psalms,

    " 'May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,'[d] and,
    " 'May another take his place of leadership.'[e]

    21Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection."

    23So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barabbas (also known as Justus) The name Peter, in the Greek language, which was spoken by people in the land of Israel during the 1st Century, as was Aramaic and Hebrew, means "rock." So, too, does the name Cephas, which is an Aramaic word for "rock," as used by Jesus in John 1:42. and Matthias. 24Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." 26Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles."

    So very clear from the Scripture that the Church (not churches) that Jesus founded has these Authority to BIND and Teach the Truth of God.

    LYNN said: "but I would suggest to you that you find a denomination (or a non-denominational church) who holds to the doctrines that you hold to, and interprets things the way you do, rather than to depend on a single authority to represent God to you."

    So sorry but the idea again runs contrary to what the Bible says. And the reason why there are so many differing christian denominations is precisely because they all said the Scriptures are the only credible authority yet they disagreed on how to interpret it. Sola Scriptura's biggest downfall is that it fails to address the issue of interpretation.

    The ultimate problem of making Scripture the authority is that it is of necessity subject to interpretation. INTERPRETATION IS A HUMAN ACT, therefore authority (interpretive authority included) must rest in humans. Now, if everyone is their own authority, nobody can claim authoritative interpretation, because their authority is no higher than anyone else's. But this entails subjectivism, and not a "faith once delivered," although that phrase could just as easily be re-interpreted as, "the faith once delivered and forever stumbled over and misinterpreted." For correct (apostolic) doctrine to be ascertained in any objective sense, it cannot come from within (either the person or the text). Consequently, one cannot derive correct doctrine from the scriptures without first being properly taught the Scriptures. (Apostolic Tradition).

     

    LYNN said: "I would suggest to you that you find a denomination (or a non-denominational church) who holds to the doctrines that you hold to, and interprets things the way you do, rather than to depend on a single authority to represent God to you."

    So sorry Lynn but that is not the way my Lord Jesus Christ said in the Scripture. Logic (aside from Scripture) tells us basically that Truth is ONLY ONE, Unchangeable like God, we should as God commanded us to search for that ONE TRUTH of Him, so what you are really suggesting is just to hold on to what  I do think is right and  decide what is the Truth of  God , is entirely unBiblical .

    When one breaks down the essential difference between Catholicism and Protestantism, the ultimate breakdown lies between reason guided by faith, and faith determined by reason. The Catholic believes God based on the living authority and living Voice (The Holy Spirit) He gave to those chosen to spread the Gospel. The Catholic believes that man has the capacity to comprehend the infallible Word of God by his reason, but his reason does not determine what he will and will not believe. In other words, his reason is able to comprehend and analyze that which is revealed by God to him through His living voice in the Church, but man does not determine individually what he will or will not believe based on his own rational faculties. 

     

    Contrary to this position is the Protestant position which puts man’s intellect and individual rational capacity above faith. Although most Protestants will tell you that live by faith alone, it is not really faith in God they are living by, but only faith in themselves. For the Catholic, faith precedes reason, for the Protestant, reason precedes faith. The great Cardinal Manning once said, “I seem to see no choice but this- the voice of God speaking always through His Church, or the reason of man judging of Revelation.” In other words, the Protestant takes God’s Written Word and attempts as best as he can to determine what it means for him, ad then put his faith in what he has determined. He bases his faith off of what he reads in the Scriptures and determines for himself the doctrines he will believe. This is completely the opposite of the Catholic’s position, who simply listens to God’s voice speaking through His one and only Church, and then seeks to understand that faith by his reason.

    This breach of faith for the Protestant is also observed clearly in the breakdown of ecclesiology. Their "churches" can err, and it can teach error in different times and places, and most readily admit this to be true. They do not claim that their church or churches teach with an infallible authority. For them the Scriptures are the ultimate source of authority, and it alone is infallible. Yes, many Protestant sects will put forth their church structure as authoritative in some sense, but never as being at the level of infallibility. This presents an unsolvable problem for them. They all appeal to the infallible Written Word of God as their only infallible authority, but they can never be sure that they are infallibly interpreting it correctly. Nor can they be certain that the Scripture they possess is all that comprises God’s revelation to mankind. Is the 66 book canon infallible or is the 73 book canon infallible, and has anyone claimed either canon to be infallible? Do you think God would reveal this information in an infallible manner? The Catholic can answer these questions in the affirmative, while the Protestant can only claim probability. 

    Faith which assents to an authority which Jesus Christ Himself built upon this earth is the claim of the Catholic. Jesus preached orally and then sent His apostles to preach the Gospel orally based upon an authority given to them by Christ Himself. There is no account in all of early Christian history that puts forth the Protestant system of reading God’s Word and then determining for yourself what it means for you. One is a false faith which is based on man’s rational faculties to determine doctrine and dogma in levels of probability. The other, the Catholic position claims that faith is based on that Revelation which God enlightens mans’ rational faculties to accept doctrine and dogma on an infallible level. Reason then is able to further understand it and plumb its depths, but it never usurps its level of authority to determine what it will and will not believe. The Protestant has only probability in his or her rational determinations, while the faithful Catholic has infallible certainty in the Gospel that is preached to Him by the same Living Voice that guided the apostles. Then and only then does his reason begin to plumb the depths of that Revelation. For instance, the Catholic Church's teaching on Baptismal Regeneration and Original Sin is taught infallibly by God's living Voice in the Church. Man's rational faculties assent to this infallible truth, and then seeks to understand it and how these infallible truths relate to him in the sacraments etc. For a true Christian, probability is not an option. Manning's words ring true here, 'we are saved by truth; and truth which is not definite is no truth to us; and indefinite statements have no certainty; and without certainty there is no faith.'

    There is much argument between Catholics and Protestants concerning the authority of Scripture, the authority of the Church, and what the Church Fathers wrote about this or that particular doctrine or teaching in the past. There are those who think that they are experts in Church history. They confine themselves willingly to limited sources and they use that information to determine for them what they will and will not accept in the realm of ecclesiology. They decide what they will and will not believe based on their ability to study history. But again, all of this relies on man’s ability to determine for himself what he will and will not believe based on his own rational faculties alone. There is no faith in God’s ability to communicate the Gospel to His own created creatures with any level of infallibility for the Protestant. Thus I believe the Protestant is always pulled back and forth based on his perception of Scripture, history, and sometimes the Church Fathers based on the time and place he finds himself. The Protestant claims to live by the infallible written Word of God, but he has not an infallible means to receive the infallible Word. In my opinion this is contrary to the existence of an infallible source of Divine Revelation in the first place. 

    The Catholic however does not have this problem because his faith is not based on his own ability to determine what history or what the Church Fathers or even what the Scriptures mean to him individually. He does not create his own Gospel based on his fallible ability to interpret all of these things. The Catholic listens to the Living Voice of God, the voice of certainty preached by Jesus Himself. There is no danger of doctrine or dogma changing. Scripture does not change in meaning based on the time or place man finds himself. Scripture only grows in depth concerning the deposit of faith handed down age to age, guided by the same Living Voice that proclaimed it in the beginning, before it was ever written. 

    Let us take one example to demonstrate the deficiency in the manmade rationalism of the Protestant mind. Let us look at the first Reformers who all held to the moral doctrine condemning the use of contraception. Luther, Calvin and Wesley for example, all appealed to Genesis Chapter 38 in their clear condemnation of contraception. For them, their rational minds determined that Scripture clearly condemned the action as being immoral. If we fast forward to today, we see the majority of their Protestant descendants telling us that Scripture is not clear on this matter and so most of them are not overly concerned about the morality of such an action. So we have man changing his morality based on his own ability to rationalize for himself what Scripture means. They have no living voice to call this foul or fair. Metaphorically speaking, they play the game without an umpire. Every man is his own judge on the field of play, and when you get fed up with how the game is going you just pick up your bat and glove and go home. The sane man finds a game to join who has an umpire to call foul or fair play. Protestantism is quite simply, reason determining faith. The Catholic on the other hand has certainty in the moral teaching that is clearly given to him by the living voice of God. The living voice says that artificial contraception is immoral in every age and every place, and in order to please God one ought not engage in such an action. One is the voice of certainty, the other the voice of mere probability. Which are you going to put your immortal soul in the care of? 

    So we can sum up this insurmountable difference between Protestantism and Catholicism by drawing a line in the sand between rationalism and faith. One builds his own faith based on his ability to determine for himself what he will and will not believe based on his reading of Sacred Scripture. The other listens to the same voice of God which breathed the Scriptures into existence, and then puts his faith in that which is revealed to him by that voice. Protestantism is man centered, Catholicism is God centered. I will close by these words of Cardinal Henry Manning in addressing Protestantism, ‘ . . . You have no foundation but human judgment, and therefore you are ” tossed to and fro and carried about ” by words of men. To me this is simply impossible, because I believe on the basis of a Divine Teacher. . . “

    Peace to you in your search for the One and Only Truth. 

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    Darrell L. Bock

    I am going to shut this down, but ask one question

    Question: Matthew 16: Where does the text say thiat authority is passed on beyond the apostle? Answer: no where.

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    Lynn L.

    Alex

    Alex,

    I don't request a reply, but let me just say to you: I believe that you are aligning yourself with the wrong things, speaking the way you do about these subjects. I feel that you are speaking in a way that the enemy of God may speak.

    He speaks doubt of God's Word in the Scriptures. He also speaks false judgments against people. When you say that a believer's faith is in himself and not God, simply because he is a Protestant, you are putting yourself in the position of being a false judge of someone. It simply isn't true. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." "It comes from the Holy Spirit to be able to believe." That is where believers have received their faith. You want to be able to place your faith in man over the written Word.

    You are also speaking mockingly about what "encouragement" is, as if it is empty or shallow. "The one who is to come will know how to sustain the weary one with a word." For the faith to be passed on and encourage someone is the very essence of the kingdom of God. God placed people in positions to be able to be used by Him. That's how the kingdom works. 

    As I see it, there is a place for debate about the meanings of what is written, including about the role of laws and precepts and certain elements of these things, like culture and context. I believe discussion promotes intelligence and openness and oftentimes information. We see through a glass darkly. Someday we will see as in full daylight. For now, there will be varying viewpoints on several areas of Scripture. I think it is healthy and what God intended. He is looking at the things of the heart.    

    You believe you need an infallible, human representative of the Scriptures, or there is no faith. I think you'll be disappointed with God placing your faith in man that way, which it sounds like you want to do. Faith comes from the Word.  

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    Alex D

    Hello Lynn, Thanks for the

    Hello Lynn,

    Thanks for the reply. So, sorry if you felt that way but we have to agree to disagree however I didn't say "a believer's faith is in himself not God" which actually in reality applies to you and the protestant position where the correct interpretation (Christian Faith) of what he/she thinks the Bible truly teaches rest on his/her own ability and faculties AND NOT on the ordained binding Authority by God himself has given to the Apostles and the church,  think of it as the Authority of Moses to the Isralites which in principle a Catholic position . The problem is, you don't trust the Great Promise of God Himself to His Apostles from the day He spoke the words, "you will be guided into ALL Truth **until** the end of the world". (means perpetual). Mormons and Jehovahs believe in the total apostasy of the church which when compared to the Text is just actually a big lie.

    You said I, "I think you'll be disappointed with God placing your faith in man that way"

    It is not me placing my faith in men BUT again in reality it is you and the protestant position of placing their faith on each of their  own human ability to discern and decide what they think the  Scripture says.

    Is this not a problem for you, if you happen to belong to the churches of Unitarians, Scientology, Mormons, Jehovahs etc. with the same King James Bible you have then teach that the Deity of Jesus Christ is false? Do you really think the Truth of Christology is not important? Do you think you would know the "true"  Christ  and have a deeper relationship with Him if with what you know is just a BIG LIE afterall? Deny Christ and He will deny you too!

    A clear warning from the Scripture as taught by Paul one of Bishops of the Church:

    Eph 4:14, "tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming."

     

    Did you even read my post above?

     

    To Dr. Bock , yes there is a powerful Text that says the Authority to **BIND and LOOSE** is passed to and beyond the Apostles attested by the Scripture and Early Church Fathers.

    Matthew 18:16, "I will give you the **KEYS** of the Kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

     

    THE POWER OF THE **KEYS**

    Promises of Jesus to Peter: 1. Christ's church will be built on Peter in His absence. 2. All power of hell will not defeat this church. 3. "Keys" I will give you the keys of the kingdom" 4.Last, Peter is granted special authority: " Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loose in heaven"

    These 4 promises are in the SECOND PERSON SINGULAR. Nowhere else does Jesus extend all four of these promises to the other disciples. They all understood that Peter was being singled out for special authority. As we see , Jesus is establishing Peter's office, which is more important than any single person, including even Peter himself.

    Giving the "keys" wherein there are only two Old Testament uses the word "key". One of these is in Isaiah 22:22 "I will place on his shoulders the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open". Compare that with Jesus' words in Matthew: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." If you think the passages are similar, you are not alone.


    What did Isaiah mean by these words? Isaiah was speaking to Eliakim, a new "prime minister" in Israel. Eliakim took over the office from an unworthy prime minister. God was telling Eliakim that he should be chief ruler in Israel, under the king alone in his absence. It is evident in Isaiah 22:22 that the key has two important aspects. It is a symbol of power to rule-authority, and it symbolizes permanence-intergenerational succession. The key existed prior to being given to Eliakim and it would exist after Eliakim passed on. The key, the power to rule, passes from mortal to mortal.The peg is used to signify the instability of Eliakim's personal position but the key denotes an office, both powerful and permanent. But the key denotes an office both power-full and permanent.

    It is important that Jesus uses only the symbolism of the key with Peter and never the peg. Peter is to be the chief ruler in the new Israel (Paul – Church) under the King alone (Jesus Christ). The fact that Jesus gives Peter the keys of the Kingdom symbolizes Peter's power to rule, just as it did in Isaiah. This is the autority of Peter's office His authority will be passed down as he die. This is the intergenerational succession of Peter's See. The key survives the death of any one man.

    So it doesn't make sense if this promise (giving the "keys") was fulfilled when Peter opened the gates of the church to the Jews and then to Gentiles or we all carry keys nowadays (I counted 5 in my pocket).

    Jesus said to Peter, " Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthened (confirm) your brothers" (Lk 22:32). The fact that Satan has a particular interest in Peter is not surprising when we consider the authority given to Peter. If Peter could be forced into heresy, Jesus's promise that the gates of hell would not overcome his Church would be forfeit .It is interesting that Jesus commands Peter to confirm his fellow apostles after the events of the Passion are over.

    After his Resurrection, Jesus singled out Peter, restored him and commanded him to "Feed my sheep," three times(Jn 21:15-17) Here Peter is given the ultimate responsiblity for the spiritual teaching of the flock of God. Jesus made Peter the earthly leader (spiritual father) of His church because Scripture calls the Church a family.

     

    This just in a nutshell, a deeper understanding of this is found:http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/PeterRockKeysPrimacyRome.htm

    And: http://www.catholic-pages.com/pope/hahn.asp

     

    Peace and grace.

  • Avatar

    Darrell L. Bock

    Alex

    A lot of work to say something said to Peter is about generations after him and NOT the group he was a part of, the apostles, who were present.

  • Avatar

    Alex D

    I agree Dr. Bock and thanks.

    I agree Dr. Bock and thanks. Please continue your inspiring articles, I really enjoyed it. Many thanks.

    In Christ,

    Alex