Christ will never leave His Church????


#1

I have been diving and meditating on Catholic History books. One that I am going through right now is "A Catechism of Church History: 2,000 years of faith and tradition" 4th Edition by Father Robert J. Fox (has a forward by Scott hahn) and something that was said in the books when it came to the student who considers all the wicked Popes and all the political and secular (non-God loving) forces which were neither godly nor Christlike that were in the means of propagating the "Church" through the ages, the authors says this:

"We must remember that Jesus Christ never promised the first pope, St. Peter, or his successors that they would never sin. He promised only that the Church, in its official teachings under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, would never teach error. 'Upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it'. By faith, the Catholic Church is always certain that Jesus, its divine founder, will never leave it. The Holy Spirit will always keep the bark of Peter, tossed at times by mighty storms and winds, in the truth. It is sad when heresies attack the Church from without. It is sadder still when men within the Church are not loyal" (Page 107)

Something about this is not settling right. Are we to believe that Christ "only" promised that the Church would be doctrinally "right"? Is it possible for the Pope to be ungodly and the Bishops presiding in the college to all be ungodly, and are we to remain, even when this condition is so, in the belief that Christ is there dwelling among them and providing them with the means to Shepherd the Church of God??

What of Paul's teaching to the Corinthians "Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid!" (1 Corinthians 6:15). How does this principle not apply to the Pope? Can we believe that Christ is working through an ungodly member who has no part in Christ?

Also, how should Catholics deal with the threats of Jesus "removing his lampstand" (Holy Spirit) from the Churches who fail to live holy (Revelation 1-3)??


#2

Jesus told his disciples “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…and also I am with you to the end of the age” (Matthew 28).

It would seem that this mission in “making disciples” is the practical outworking of what Christ said in Matthew 16 when he said “I will build my Church…”. In other words, the construction building of the Church is in practice (reality) the making of disciples of the nations, who are people who are obedient to Jesus.

How then can we think that Christ’s construction of the Church can possibly consist of all ungodly people (including Pope) and yet it remains part of Christ simply because of the “office” being of divine institution? Imagine a Church and Papacy filled with murderous adulterous fornicating rebels…and yet this is the single channel of Christ’s construction of disciples on earth???

It would seem to me that making disciples is the practice of Christ building His Church, and therefore a Pope who fails to be a true disciple is not part of that building…can anyone respond with some good feedback?


#3

Here is an email I sent to an anonymous Catholic:

. I would appreciate it if you could assist me in anyway you find ability. I was born and raised Catholic. However, my family, as well as friends and co-parishioners, never really spoke much or took serious the faith, and so we just went to Church, but almost all of us were practicing mortal sins all the time. The priests seemed not to care much and just were very friendly. All of us were hell bound. And it was like no one really knew it. When it came down to living for Christ in such a way as to be crucified with Him, I knew nothing of this sort of commitment in either myself nor any Catholic I knew.

I then moved to Central Florida where I met a baptist evangelist. He was a member of a Reformed Baptist Church where holiness was a key principle, the preaching of the cross was pre-eminent, the condition of true repentance and conversion unto righteousness, and the submission of the members to Church Disciple were primary characteristics. You can see by now how something like this would appeal to me, considering where I came from. At this point, I can say, that I gave my life to Jesus and really understood the cross of Jesus for the first time. I was immediately living a pure life and striving to life holy before God. I was immediately put into many hours of ministry and teaching, campus ministry, etc,etc. Our heroes were John Calvin (although we disagreed with him on many things, but we believed TULIP) and Charles Spurgeon.

After witnessing many excommunications, I have been researching on the issue of Authority, and inevitably this comes to the issue of the historic Catholic Church. I have pressed through many catholic apologetical works, and I am really not buying into it yet. But some of it is catching on to me.

For instance, I am currently attending an Anglo-Catholic Church (we believe transubstantiation, the 7 sacraments,etc,etc). So far then, I have gone from growing up Catholic, to being Baptist, to being reformed evangelical, to now being Anglo-Catholic:)

The first loop I would like to get through is this issue of an institutionalized Church. I would ask you to consider this one question (for now):

It is my understanding that Christ’s construction of the Church (his building of the Church - Matthew 16) is parallel to the mission of “making disciples of all nations…baptizing…teaching them to obey” (Matthew 28). Therefore, Christ’s construction of the Church consists of creating converts who are baptized and wholly obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ. If this is true (please correct me if I am wrong), then how can we subject the construction of Christ’s church to something distinct from the human being, such as a Petrine Office, and characteristic of this “office” is that anyone can sit in this chair, disciple or not, believing or unbelieving, fornicator or sexually pure, and yet still it remains to be the single and unique channel of Christ’s construction of His Church on earth? This is extremely problematic for me, especially because I am so used to seeing a no-commitment style of living in the Catholic Church. Why is it that we cannot understand the construction of the Church to be solely in the creation of holy people, called out of the world to be santified? Why rather instill Christ’s church into inanimate “offices” which human beings (holy or depraved) fill in and which serve to faithfully construct the church anyway?


#4

How much have you read into Papal infallibility?

If you understand this then you should understand how the doctrines are protected.

Also, would you say it is impossible for a protestant minister/pastor to preach in a godly manner while himself being a sinner and ungodly?

Is it really possible for most or all clergy to be corrupt? Wouldn’t those that are corrupt be subject to correction by others?

Just some questions to think about. I’m not an expert, I’m just formulating my own questions based on the information you provided.


#5

[quote="Erick_Ybarra, post:2, topic:305858"]
Jesus told his disciples "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them....teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you...and also I am with you to the end of the age" (Matthew 28).

It would seem that this mission in "making disciples" is the practical outworking of what Christ said in Matthew 16 when he said "I will build my Church...". In other words, the construction building of the Church is in practice (reality) the making of disciples of the nations, who are people who are obedient to Jesus.

How then can we think that Christ's construction of the Church can possibly consist of all ungodly people (including Pope) and yet it remains part of Christ simply because of the "office" being of divine institution? Imagine a Church and Papacy filled with murderous adulterous fornicating rebels.....and yet this is the single channel of Christ's construction of disciples on earth????

It would seem to me that making disciples is the practice of Christ building His Church, and therefore a Pope who fails to be a true disciple is not part of that building....can anyone respond with some good feedback?

[/quote]

The divine institution of Christ's Church is perfect. The humans that make up that Church are not. The CC has never claimed that it's human followers including the Pope are perfect. It claims that the Bishops including the Pope inherited their roles from the original 12 who by the way were also very human, the 12 sinned, the 12 doubted, we know at least one of the 12 denied knowing Christ 3times. Yet Christ personally chose those 12. According to your own standards, Christ made a huge mistake in choosing them, these "12 ungodly people".

After Christ's Ascension the first task the Apostles did was choose a replacement for Judas, this is proof that Apostolic Succession was integral to the Church. We and the Orthodox have always practiced that inherited Tradition.

There is no other 'human institution' apart from the Catholic Church that has survived on earth for 2000years because put simply it couldn't survive without 'divine intervention'. That makes it divine.

Like Christ who bore two natures, one divine and invisible which he hid for some time and one human and visible which the world experienced, and his Church also has two natures. The Divine nature of his Church which is invisible. The visible nature of his Church is populated by humans who are burdened with 'human nature'. Christ said that he would never abandon his Church, we are that Church.

There is no Protestant or non-Protestant community of believers that doesn't sin or is 'godly' according to your standards. I guarantee there are sinners in every Church, even among the those leading the worship.

What we as believers have to do is discover for ourselves which 'church' is the one Christ started, the one Church that he said he would never abandon. The one which has been around since Christ started it. The one that also bears the 4 marks of a True Church.


#6

Can't the same argument be made concerning God, the Old Covenant, and the Jews prior to Christ?


#7

[quote="Erick_Ybarra, post:2, topic:305858"]
Jesus told his disciples "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them....teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you...and also I am with you to the end of the age" (Matthew 28).

It would seem that this mission in "making disciples" is the practical outworking of what Christ said in Matthew 16 when he said "I will build my Church...". In other words, the construction building of the Church is in practice (reality) the making of disciples of the nations, who are people who are obedient to Jesus.

How then can we think that Christ's construction of the Church can possibly consist of all ungodly people (including Pope) and yet it remains part of Christ simply because of the "office" being of divine institution? Imagine a Church and Papacy filled with murderous adulterous fornicating rebels.....and yet this is the single channel of Christ's construction of disciples on earth????

It would seem to me that making disciples is the practice of Christ building His Church, and therefore a Pope who fails to be a true disciple is not part of that building....can anyone respond with some good feedback?

[/quote]

Define true disciple.


#8

[quote="Erick_Ybarra, post:1, topic:305858"]
"We must remember that Jesus Christ never promised the first pope, St. Peter, or his successors that they would never sin. He promised only that the Church, in its official teachings under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, would never teach error. 'Upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it'. By faith, the Catholic Church is always certain that Jesus, its divine founder, will never leave it. The Holy Spirit will always keep the bark of Peter, tossed at times by mighty storms and winds, in the truth. It is sad when heresies attack the Church from without. It is sadder still when men within the Church are not loyal" (Page 107)

Something about this is not settling right. Are we to believe that Christ "only" promised that the Church would be doctrinally "right"?

[/quote]

Yes, that is what Catholics believe. And, being "doctrinely right" includes of course all the doctrines defining the Mass and sacraments - the tangible means Jesus instituted to communicate Himself and His grace to us.

It is the truth of Church doctrines and the presence of Our Lord and His supernatural life via the sacraments that makes the Church "one" and "holy". (Nicene Creed: "I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith....")

Is it possible for the Pope to be ungodly and the Bishops presiding in the college to all be ungodly,

What's your definition of "ungodly"? Very probably all of them commit sins.

However, if you mean heretical or apostate, then I would say it is theoretically possible, but it has never happened up to now.

and are we to remain, even when this condition is so, in the belief that Christ is there dwelling among them and providing them with the means to Shepherd the Church of God??

Yes, even under such a condition we are to remain in the Catholic Church. Our Lord is still present in the Mass and sacraments even though the priests who administer them are not in the state of grace.
Also, God would ensure that no ungodly, false doctrines would be promulgated by the Pope and Magisterium (He has already done this during the few times there were some popes who caused scandal; He did it when the Arian heresy raged and more than half of the bishops had accepted it). It is Our Lord who made the promise and Our Lord who will ensure that it is kept. We believe His words to us. Humans don't have the power to do such a thing, but God most certainly does.

A couple questions for you to ponder:
Do you believe God has the power to ensure only truth gets infallibly proclaimed by His Church?
Do you think Jesus would assure us the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church and then fail to do what He promised? - that His word is untrustworthy?

What of Paul's teaching to the Corinthians "Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid!" (1 Corinthians 6:15). How does this principle not apply to the Pope?

It does apply. It applies to him personally just as it applies to all Christians personally (those "united to the Lord" 1 Cor 6:17) who are guilty of grave sin.

Can we believe that Christ is working through an ungodly member who has no part in Christ?

Yes - but not in the sense that we believe Christ desires and wills a Christian (or anyone else for that matter) to live in an ungodly way. We believe it in the sense that God can use it to accomplish the good He wills. What could have been more ungodly than the crucifixion of Our Lord? Yet God used it to redeem sinners.

Also, how should Catholics deal with the threats of Jesus "removing his lampstand" (Holy Spirit) from the Churches who fail to live holy (Revelation 1-3)??

How should they deal with it? They had better repent of sins and start living holy lives; start believing and living our Catholic faith if they do not want Him to remove His lampstand from their area and take it elsewhere. The lampstand/Church is "removed" when there are no priests to administer the sacraments and to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. I see it as a warning when vocations to the priesthood decline and Church's close because Catholics no longer are faithful in belief and practice.
Vocations to the priesthood have declined dramatically in Europe and the U.S. They are booming in Africa and some other countries.

(Keep in mind that "removing" it means we're talking about areas/countries where it had been prominently present.)


#9

Hey guys. Thanks for the responses.

I understand that the Catholic Church contains an "office" of institution which itself (Peter and the bishops) is what is indestructible and infallible. It is vital to understand that the Catholic doctrine of the church has no room for actual human beings fitting into the meaning of the word "Church" when it is said that it will never have "Hell's gates prevail against it". For when we state that the Church (Papacy) is perpetual and successive until the coming of Jesus, what we really mean is the "office" of Peter which God is preserving as infallible and indestructible, not the actual human being who sits in it. And so Catholics believe that when Jesus said "On this rock I will build my Church", they do no believe that this is a direct reference to actual disciples and human beings who follow Jesus, rather it is primarily referring to the institution, which is distinct from the human being, which however human beings fill in. And these human beings can be as sinful and lazy and unbelieving and idolatrous as possible, they could all be hell bound and take over nations, and Christ's construction of the Church remains intact because it is not the quality of the human being or even the human being itself that Christ is keeping intact, rather it is the institution or the offices of Peter and the Bishops which are kept in tact. So in theory, we could have a line of Petrine Bishops from the beginning until the 2nd coming of Christ who are all "lost" and were never "known" by Christ, and yet the mission is still successful because the institution faithfully carried the "doctrine" of Christ. This is what concerns me.

For when we take on this understanding of the Church and try to reconcile this with Christ's voice to the Churches in revelation:

*"To the Church in Ephesus

2 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are** enduring patiently** and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen*; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

This is the Church @ Ephesus. Christ is giving a preliminary judgement concerning the status of the Church in Ephesus and it seems as though Christ is concerned about the "works" of this Church. In fact it is the "works" of the Church will determine whether the churches "lampstand" remains there or is taken away. So the question is here is if Christ's construction of his church only refers to the offices of Bishop in communion with the office of the Pope (Bishop of Rome), whey is he saying that the lampstand will be removed? Another question would be is it possible that the same can be said of the Church at Rome?? In other words, why is it possible that Christ can threaten the "end" of the church in Ephesus, Symnra, Sardis, Philadelphia, etc,etc.


#10

When Paul prays for the Church in Ephesians 1, he says:

Thanksgiving and Prayer

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith ** (which has moral overtones) in the Lord Jesus and your love*[f] toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of **his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 **And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.*

It would seem that the "church" here is the body of Christ. In other words, the Church consists of members of Christ body. Would this not include more than just doctrinal precision (The papal succession of truth)? Would this not include the moral virtue of being a part of Christ's body, which was crucified and risen for the newness of life?


#11

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might **sanctify and cleanse it **with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a **glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So out men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but noutisheth and cherisheth, **even as the Lord the Church: For we are members of His body, of his flesh, and of his bones*." (Ephesians 5:25-30). *

It seems to me, as a student of Paul, that Paul has an understanding of the Church which (if I am correct in my synthesis stated in the posts above) is quite the opposite of the Catholic teaching that the "Church" is the institution itself apart from the human beings who take residence in it. Rather Paul here speaks of the "Church" as the actual formation of the human beings, their souls and bodies, that is Christ's body, and this would have moral overtones.


#12

First, there is the invisible Church which consists of all those in Christ, and then there is the visible church, the institution which keeps the faith and preaches to the people. Both are spoken of in the Bible.

Second, are you ultimately asking “If the Church that is established by Christ is the Catholic Church and its teachings/doctrines are infallible and that of Christ, then why can’t those who protect, defend, and preach the faith behave themselves?”

I want to understand your ultimate question, behind all the quotes and information, so that I can better address your concerns.


#13

That would be a misunderstanding of the Catholic doctrine. What we Catholics are saying is that:
(1) The infallibility and indefectibility of the Church is a distinct issue from the holiness of its members.
(2) The holiness of its members is not determinitive of the teaching of the Church. In other words, if God judges the members for their moral sins, they are going to be judged on their moral sins. If God judges the members for their doctrine, God will judge them for their doctrine. God will not judge the merit of their doctrine based on their moral sins.

For when we take on this understanding of the Church and try to reconcile this with Christ’s voice to the Churches in revelation:

God is judging them on their wicked works, not their doctrine. A Christian can have all the right doctrinal belief, but can still be condemned if he/she lives an immoral life. Wouldn’t you agree? Similarly, one can live the most moral life, but if one does not have the correct doctrinal belief, short of invincible ignorance, one can still be condemned.

Blessings,
Marduk


#14

[quote="Erick_Ybarra, post:1, topic:305858"]

What of Paul's teaching to the Corinthians ....

[/quote]

Christians are able to commit mortal sin via free will. Popes included.

Should they? No certainly not!

Should the live as Paul noted there? --most certainly!

Jesus did not promise that none of his disciples (or Apostles! or their Successors) would ever fall into mortal sin.

All should live now as Paul spoke of there! And if any should fall -- let them quickly repent and be returned to living in Christ.


#15

[quote="Erick_Ybarra, post:11, topic:305858"]
It seems to me, as a student of Paul, that Paul has an understanding of the Church which (if I am correct in my synthesis stated in the posts above) is quite the opposite of the Catholic teaching that the "Church" is the institution itself apart from the human beings who take residence in it. Rather Paul here speaks of the "Church" as the actual formation of the human beings, their souls and bodies, that is Christ's body, and this would have moral overtones.

[/quote]

I'm sure you know well enough that the word "Church" can be used in more than one way (institution, members, or a building).
As one example: Lutheran Church, Baptist Church, Catholic Church, Protestant churches, Orthodox churches...... In these instances "Church" is used in the institutional sense - the institution which preaches certain teachings/doctrines and practices certain religious rituals.)

The proper meaning is determined according to the context. In Mt. 16:18 Jesus says "... I will build my church,and the powers of death shall not prevail against** it**. " Since we know that believing and being baptized does not make one immune from subsequently apostacizing or later gravely sinning and refusing to repent, then Jesus would not have been referring to the human members being immune from having the "powers of death" prevail.

When Scripture speaks about human acts/works (toil, endurance, sin, love,...) then obviously "Church" is used in reference to the humans who are members of the Church.


#16

Erick_Ybara,

I must admit to being a little confused as to why you think Catholics do not believe that Christ’s Church includes people. Here are some passages from the CCC for you to think about

Paragraph 1. THE CHURCH IN GOD’S PLAN
I. NAMES AND IMAGES OF THE CHURCH
751 The word “Church” (Latin ecclesia, from the Greek ek-ka-lein, to “call out of”) means a convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose.139 Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his holy people.140 By calling itself “Church,” the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is “calling together” his people from all the ends of the earth. the equivalent Greek term Kyriake, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are derived, means "what belongs to the Lord."
752 In Christian usage, the word “church” designates the liturgical assembly,141 but also the local community142 or the whole universal community of believers.143 These three meanings are inseparable. “The Church” is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body.


#17

[quote="Nita, post:15, topic:305858"]
.....The proper meaning is determined according to the context. In Mt. 16:18 Jesus says "... I will build my church,and the powers of death shall not prevail against** it**. " Since we know that believing and being baptized does not make one immune from subsequently apostacizing or later gravely sinning and refusing to repent, then Jesus would not have been referring to the human members being immune from having the "powers of death" prevail.

......

[/quote]

Regarding context, I would add to what I said above, that the connection between verses 18 and 19 should be noted in regards to context. Mt. 16:18 "... I will build my church,and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.
Mt. 16:19 "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
In this section of Matthew's gospel, Jesus' Church is tied to what she binds and looses; that is, to what she teaches - her doctrines.


#18

Thank you guys for responding.

The issue that I am confronted with now is the issue of the "Church" and how we are to understand this. When Christ said "I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it", how can he possibly be thinking of anything else other than the creation of disciples who are to "obey all things that Christ commanded the apostles" (Matthew 28)?

In my present understanding, the building of Christ's church is not a strict reference to a community that has correct doctrine (in the strict sense), but rather it is the community of disciples, people who have been baptized and have submitted to Christ's authority. Therefore, when Christ says that the gates of hell will not prevail against it, I believe he is referring to the disciples themselves, all future made and created until the coming of the Lord.

For when he says to Peter "And whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" this is far much more than doctrinal precision. Actually, this issue of binding and loosing is really as much an issue of doctrine (though this is for sure included) as much as it is a power to excommunicate rebellious "disciples" and to admit confessing persons who wish to be baptized. Binding and Loosing are issues directly related to the moral status of the people under the powers of Binding and Loosing. This missing element with the sole insistence of a strict "doctrinal" stress on Binding and Loosing is really incoherent to the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 18).

The crux of the issue presented in this thread is really putting a huge question on Roman Catholic Ecclesiology. For when the Catholic hears "Church" and it's infallibility, indestructibility, and perpetuity they are not thinking of "persons", rather they are thinking of the institutional offices themselves (inanimate). It is these "offices" which are strictly and permanently tied to the successors of Peter (and all bishops in communion) and the power of Christ exercised through them to administer the sacraments of salvation. This "power" to administer the sacraments can be found nowhere else other than from the Petrine Communion, which consists of either the Pope himself, and only those other who are validly ordained in communion with the Pope.

If one looks closely, you will see that the Catholic understands "Church", as in Matthew 16, not as disciples or the community of disciples, but rather the "offices" which Bishops/Priests fill in. It is only this which has the promise of Christ to withstand perpetually in this world.

Do I have this right so far?

If so, my question is on what grounds does such an interpretation hold weight? For at the close of gospel according to Matthew, we read that Jesus sent the Apostles out to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to obey all things which I have commanded you, and also I am with you until the end of the age" (Matthew 28). It would seem that Christ's Church in this part of Matthew's account is understood in terms of the "disciples" which are made through "baptism". In other words, the "Church" is the "assembly of disciples".

This in fact goes in harmony with other places where "Church" is brought up in the New Testament.


#19

For instance look upon these verses:
*
And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. (Acts 5:11)

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles (Acts 8:1)

But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.(Acts 8:3)

So t**he church **throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.(Acts 9:31)

The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.(Acts 11:22)

and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church **and taught a great many people. And in Antioch **the disciples were first called Christians.(Acts 11:26)-**** Luke would be supporting the equation of "church" and "disciples". ****

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church.(Acts 12:1)

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church (Acts 12:5)

Now there were in** the church** at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.(Acts 13:1)

And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.(Acts 14:23)- Actually here, Luke makes a direct distinction between "elders" and "church". They are intricately related, but in their own essence, distinct. The "Church" is the whole community of disciples, and the "elders" are those who preside **"in** the Church".

And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.(Acts 14:27)

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers. (Acts 15:22)- *In this single place, Luke makes distinct "apostles" and "elders" with the "church". It would seem as though the apostles are directly related to the Church and have a function within the Church, but that "Church" cannot be understood in the Strict sense as the Papacy.
*

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.(Acts 20:28). Here, the word "Church" is actually made distinct from the "bishops" in that the Bishops are to care for the "Church", which renders more favor towards understanding "church" as an assembly of disciples, those who follow Jesus Christ. ** Now, think how concerning it would be to insert in the meaning of "church" here as a strict reference to the institutional offices of bishop. And consider how even more concerning it would be to think that Christ's shed blood was only in reference to this institutional offices and not the actual human disciples in community.**

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,(1 Corinthians 11:18)

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (1 Corinthians 11)- *Here this is a reference to the catholic church, and is really speaking of Christ's true disciples on earth. These will not perish. *
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Do you see where I am having a problem? Why reduce the scope of "Church" in Matthew 16 to be strictly the Papal Office (not even the human being in it) and the Offices of Bishop (not the humans) as the singular ordained source of offering the sacraments? It would seem to me that everywhere else in Scripture, church carries the meaning of the community of baptized disciples, those who are obedient to Christ, whether universally or locally. Therefore, to say that "church" has a strict reference to Peter's successors and the bishops in communion, and that it is not even the human beings who fill these positions, is to me a major reduction, and really uncatholic.


#20

In addition, to restrict the meaning of "church" and the power of "binding/loosing" to only "doctrinal precision", goes against the very nature of the two things. For "church" is not a community of simply human persons who have correct doctrine (like the demonic) but rather are those who have confessed Christ as Lord and who submit to him in obedience. Any loss of this picture and the community is no longer a "Church". This would fall in line with how Jesus' understands "church" in his letters to the Churches in Revelation. Secondly, Jesus teaches that "binding/loosing" powers are expressed precisely in the issue of moral conditions in the community, not just doctrine. This is a huge blow, I think, to the Roman Catholic justification for the continuation of Christ's church in the Papacy even when it was filled with greed and wickedness of every kind.

Therefore, the isolation and restriction of both "Church" and "binding/loosing" to be "only" an institution which will remain precise in it's apostolic doctrine works against the very definitions and applications that they are given in the Scripture. Also, this restriction also "allows" for the "Church" to be filled with wicked men who practice lawlessness and yet still remain the "church". Do you see? Instead of maintaining the meaning of "Church" as a community of true disciples (those who are baptized and are obedient to Christ), Roman Catholicism has instead held that "church" is the institution of teaching, and therefore despite the wicked history of the catholic church, it is still Christ's true Church. Do you see the reasoning?


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