Monday, September 1, 2008

Pope as Anti-Christ or the Church as God's Instrument?

"Surely anybody's commonsense would tell him that enthusiasts who only met through their common enthusiasm for a leader whom they loved, would not instantly rush away to establish everything that he hated." - G.K. Chesterton on the History of the Catholic Church (critique of Evangelical theory of the universal apostasy of the Church)

"Be not deceived, my brethren: If anyone follows a maker of schism [i.e., is a schismatic], he does not inherit the kingdom of God; if anyone walks in strange doctrine [i.e., is a heretic], he has no part in the passion [of Christ]. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of his blood; one altar, as there is one bishop, with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons" - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to the Philadelphians 3:3–4:1 [A.D. 110]).

"The authority of these [ecumenical] councils in the decision of all points of controversy was supreme and final. Their doctrinal decisions were early invested with infallibility; the promises of the Lord respecting the indestructibleness of his church, his own perpetual presence with the ministry, and the guidance of the Spirit of truth, being applied in the full sense to those councils, as representing the whole church. After the example of the apostolic council, the usual formula for a decree was: Visum est Sprirtui Sancto et nobis. Constantine the Great, in a circular letter to the churches, styles the decrees of the Nicene council a divine command; a phrase, however, in reference to which the abuse of the word divine, in the language of the Byzantine despots, must not be forgotten. Athanasius says, with reference to the doctrine of the divinity of Christ: "What God has spoken by the council of Nice, abides forever." The council of Chalcedon pronounced the decrees of the Nicene fathers unalterable statutes, since God himself had spoken through them. The council of Ephesus, in the sentence of deposition against Nestorius, uses the formula: "The Lord Jesus Christ, whom he has blasphemed, determines through this most holy council." Pope Leo speaks of an "irretractabilis consensus" of the council of Chalcedon upon the doctrine of the person of Christ. Pope Gregory the Great even placed the first four councils, which refuted and destroyed respectively the heresies and impieties of Arius, Macedonius, Nestorius, and Eutyches, on a level with the four canonical Gospels. In like manner Justinian puts the dogmas of the first four councils on the same footing with the Holy Scriptures, and their canons by the side of laws of the realm." - Philip Schaff endorsing conciliar infallibility (History of the Christian Church, Vol. III: Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity: A.D. 311-600, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974, from the revised fifth edition of 1910, 340-342

"With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal Church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy [error] to have entrance." (Cyprian, Letter 59 (55), 14 to Cornelius of Rome, c. AD 252)

Many Protestants accuse the Roman Catholic (and every other rite of the Catholic Church) Church of giving the Pope 'too much power' and as "Anti-Christ" for he usurps the position of Christ. However what if Christ GAVE St. Peter this role. What if Christ said "On this rock will I build my Church", what if Christ said "Peter feed my Lambs", what if Christ gave him authority to forgive sins (Jn 20:23), to lead and teach the Church (acts 2)... He did say and do those things. So to put up a dichotemy between Christ and the Roman Catholic Church is impossible, he promised both of them would work together.

The Church Fathers taught and died for the Church, the ONE Church, the Catholic faith. How on earth can I desert that just because John Calvin came along and thought the Church read Romans wrong? What kind of logic is that?

Let me end with this:

"In the Church God has placed apostles, prophets, teachers, and every other working of the Spirit, of whom none of those are sharers who do not conform to the Church, but who defraud themselves of life by an evil mind and even worse way of acting. Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace" -St. Irenaeus(Against Heresies 3:24:1 [A.D. 189]).

So is the Catholic Church usurping Christ's role to distribute all grace? or are Calvinist's denying Christ's claim to establish a Church which distributes all grace? The Fathers side with Catholicism.

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