Infallibility and Apostolic Succession


#1

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church speaks of the infallibility given by Christ to the Apostles and maintained through Apostolic Succession.

**The teaching office **

888 Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task “to preach the Gospel of God to all men,” in keeping with the Lord’s command.415 They are “heralds of faith, who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers” of the apostolic faith "endowed with the authority of Christ."416

889 In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a “supernatural sense of faith” the People of God, under the guidance of the Church’s living Magisterium, "unfailingly adheres to this faith."417

890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:

891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys
this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421
892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent"422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.


#2

I hope NCC will look at this. They seriously need to relook at their opposition by having false assumption.


#3

Do you have a question?


#4

This thread was begun for the benefit of a Protestant poster who has questions…I’m waiting for him to pick up the thread.


#5

Actually, I don’t have questions regarding this particular issue, but that’s fine…I’m happy to discuss it.

First off, let’s establish that using the Catechism of the Catholic Church (I assume this is the “CCC” that many refer to) is of no benefit here. Granted, it can expound on what the church believes, but it does nothing in the way of providing proof of such claims.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to place the burden of proof on you – How do you determine that the apostles were infallible (I assume this is your claim)? Second, how do you justify that this authority was passed down to successors.

Note – I certainly agree that the office of apostle still exists. Paul was clear, writing that each person has distinct gifts and abilities, which allow them to function as a part of the body of Christ. The necessity of teachers, evangelists, and so forth is obvious, but I don’t believe it extends to the sense that the Catholic church would insist. So, I’d like to see some Biblical support for it.


#6

If you don’t mind, I’d like to place the burden of proof on you – How do you determine that the apostles were infallible (I assume this is your claim)? Second, how do you justify that this authority was passed down to successors.

They were infallible in teaching faith and morals because the Holy Spirit was sent to guide them. Jesus taught only truth, and He said He sent the Apostles as He was sent.

Jn 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,

Jesus was speaking to the Apostles and this passage tells us that the Advocate will be with them always.

Jn 15: 26-27 When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

This passage tells us that the Advocate will testify to Jesus, that is what Jesus taught, and that the Apostles will also testify to Jesus.

Jn 14:26 The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name–he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.

The Holy Spirit will remind the Apostles of what Jesus taught, the truth.

Jn 16:13 But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.

Again we see that the Holy Spirit will guide them unto all truth.

We know that the Office was handed down because of the writings of St. Paul and his descriptions of what he did for Timothy and Titus. He ordained them by laying on hands, exhorted them to minister and teach what he (an Apostle) was taught by Christ, and instructed them to ordain men to carry on this office carefully.

Note – I certainly agree that the office of apostle still exists. Paul was clear, writing that each person has distinct gifts and abilities, which allow them to function as a part of the body of Christ. The necessity of teachers, evangelists, and so forth is obvious, but I don’t believe it extends to the sense that the Catholic church would insist. So, I’d like to see some Biblical support for it.

What does the office of Apostle exist for then, if not for what the Catholic Church contends?


#7

I thought Catholics held, as I do, that all true believers are indwelt by the spirit of God. Is this not so? And if it is so, how is it that I’m not infallible in teaching, assuming that I’m indwelt?

Jesus taught only truth, and He said He sent the Apostles as He was sent.

Can you provide a scripture reference for that latter bit please? I agree that Jesus taught truth, and even that he sent the apostles (via the great commission), but I don’t recall him saying they were sent exactly in the fashion he was sent.

Jn 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,

Jesus was speaking to the Apostles and this passage tells us that the Advocate will be with them always.

The “advocate” (the spirit of God) indwells every believer.

Jn 15: 26-27 When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

This passage tells us that the Advocate will testify to Jesus, that is what Jesus taught, and that the Apostles will also testify to Jesus.

To testify to Jesus is not to be infallible. I testify to Jesus, and am indwelt by the holy spirit, and yet I’m still fallible.

Jn 14:26 The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name–he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.

The Holy Spirit will remind the Apostles of what Jesus taught, the truth.

And being taught something makes you perfect in matters regarding the teaching of it to others? The passage says the holy spirit will come and “remind” them. The holy spirit reminds me of stuff all the time – it doesn’t mean I always listen.

Jn 16:13 But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.

Again we see that the Holy Spirit will guide them unto all truth.

To be guided to truth is not to be infallible. Additionally, is there any reason for applying this solely to the apostles? If this is a “function” of the holy spirit, then it follows that everyone who “has” the holy spirit will also have such things.

We know that the Office was handed down because of the writings of St. Paul and his descriptions of what he did for Timothy and Titus. He ordained them by laying on hands, exhorted them to minister and teach what he (an Apostle) was taught by Christ, and instructed them to ordain men to carry on this office carefully.

To ordain someone as a teacher, evangelist, apostle, etc is not the same as being a successor. To be a successor, you must replace someone who filled a certain office. In the Biblical examples, Paul (and others) ordained pastors/bishops to serve in churches at the same time, as Paul’s job was to evangelize and be a church builder, rather than to be a pastor of an individual church.

I agree that if someone dies or retires, their job needs to be continued by another, but I see no requirement as to a set number of persons required for this (it should expand based on the quantity of believers), nor do I see the indication of any “powers” being passed down to said successors (assuming the apostles had any “powers” to begin with).

What does the office of Apostle exist for then, if not for what the Catholic Church contends?

The Biblical example is of individuals who walked very closely with God, who traveled around evangelizing, and building congregations in areas where there had been none previously. Paul, of course, also frequently took the time to encourage existing churches and help them correct doctrinal flaws. There’s nothing wrong with this – but the Roman system has organized this into a heirarchy, which was never intended to be.

You also might notice that the Biblical apostles rarely established disciplines. And even if they did – why should we assume that that allows future generations to establish that which those who walked and talked with Jesus didn’t see fit to establish?


#8

I can agree to this. The Catechism can be used to prove what the Church teaches…it cannot be used to prove that what the Church teaches is correct. That would be circular.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to place the burden of proof on you – How do you determine that the apostles were infallible (I assume this is your claim)? Second, how do you justify that this authority was passed down to successors.

These are the two central questions. We agree on this. I will begin to address the first question below, but I want to touch briefly on your next comment first…

Note – I certainly agree that the office of apostle still exists. Paul was clear, writing that each person has distinct gifts and abilities, which allow them to function as a part of the body of Christ. The necessity of teachers, evangelists, and so forth is obvious, but I don’t believe it extends to the sense that the Catholic church would insist. So, I’d like to see some Biblical support for it.

Actually, I think most, if not all, Christians (Catholics included) deny that the office of Apostle still exists. Otherwise, groups like the Mormons might have more credibility since they claim to have a bunch of Apostles living out in Salt Lake City. Are you adamant about having living apostles today?

Issue #1: How do we know that the New Testament Apostles were infallible?

In order to know how to proceed, I’d like to ask a few quick questions to see how much we agree on.

  1. Is the Bible inspired? - Yes or No
  2. Is the Bible inerrant? - Yes or No
  3. Is the Bible historically accurate and reliable? - Yes or No
  4. Were the writers of the NT prevented from making any error when they wrote it? - Yes or No
  5. Were the Apostles able to transmit the Gospel without error in the years that preceeded the writing of the NT? - Yes or No

That should get us started. Thanks in advance.


#9

This is a misunderstanding. The teaching is not that the Apostles themselves were infallible, but the teaching that Christ entrusted to them. They are fallible men, and made mistakes. But Jesus prayed that the HS would preserve them in the truth, so that they could, infallibly, teach the gospel as it was given to them.


#10

#11

Yes, Catholics believe that all those baptized into Christ are indwelt with the HS. But we were not given the “office” of Apostle. To that office, special gifts are attached.

Doubtless someone will provide you with this reference, but if not, I will look it up. I remember He said “as the father has sent me, so I send you”.

Jesus knew that there would be disputes among the followers about doctrine. He stated that these disputes should be taken to the church (not to the bible, as many sola scripturas promote). the Church, as the pillar and bulwark of the truth, is where the disputes are to be settled. THis works because Jesus gave His spirit to guide the Apostles into all truth. When the individual believers are in doubt or conflict, the Apostolic teaching will settle the matter.

This is true, but the requirements to be an Apostle are not able to be met by anyone today.

We all know that those that can “do” do not necessarily teach. We are not all entrusted with the charge of being shepherds of the sheep, so we don’t need all the equipment that goes with the job.

No, it is more than that. It is being guided, and also proclaiming the truth. This is the special task of the one who was given the keys.

Jesus taught His apostles things He did not reveal to anyone else. He did this so that they would be equipped for the ministry he had in mind for them.

This is very true, however, there were some who were intended to be successors. Have you read the story of how Judas was replaced?


#12

If the Catholic Church’s ability to infallably define doctrine rests not only with the Pope speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals but also on the ordinary and universal magisterium, then we would expect that this ability also lies with Eastern Orthodox bishops since the Catholic Church recognizes such bishops as having valid orders and being within the apostolic succession, should we not?

Moreover, since the universe of valid bishops extends beyond the Catholic Church (Eastern Orthodox bishops, Old Catholic bishops, etc.), how can we be certain that the Catholic bishops acting as the universal and ordinary magisterium “have it right” on any particular issue for which the Pope has not spoken ex cathedra, since the Catholic bishops are speaking without input from the non-Catholic bishops? Sure, if the Pope declares it ex cathedra, but if he doesn’t how can you be certain that an admittedly incomplete Catholic house of bishops got it right?


#13

Yes, as part of the universal magisterium, not as individuals, nor as a group apart from the universal magisterium

Because it is to the entire group, not parts of the group that Jesus guarantees the Holy Spirit will lead them to all truth. A single Bishop, or even a group of Bishops apart from the magisterium may teach in error, but when they speak as a universal group we are guaranteed they speak and teach the truth.


#14

The Holy Spirit does indeed indwell in every Christian, but not every Christian is guaranteed that they will be led to all truth. They only group this is guaranteed by Jesus Himself is the leadership, the pope individually and the Apostles as a unified group, and their successors.

[quote=www.drbo.org] Romans 12:6 And having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us, either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith; 7 Or ministry, in ministering; or he that teacheth, in doctrine; 8 He that exhorteth, in exhorting; he that giveth, with simplicity; he that ruleth, with carefulness; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good. 10 Loving one another with the charity of brotherhood, with honour preventing one another.11 In carefulness not slothful. In spirit fervent. Serving the Lord. 12 Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer. 13 Communicating to the necessities of the saints. Pursuing hospitality. 14 Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep. 16 Being of one mind one towards another. Not minding high things, but consenting to the humble. Be not wise in your own conceits.
[/quote]


#15

bump


#16

But the Catholic bishops are also part of the group, the entirety of the group being the Catholic bishops, the Orthodox bishops and any other bishops of other Churches which the Catholic Church recognizes as having valid orders.


#17

I am asking this question not to be controversial but to find out what actually happened. In the Great Schism, not the schism with the Orthodox Church, when there were 2 and even 3 people claiming to be Pope over a number of years, what happened when the matter was settled? (Was it the Council of Constance? I don’t know?) Did the Church go through and reordain, or what ever might have been necessary, the priests and bishops appointed by the anti-popes in the area where they held sway? Or wasn’t this necessary?


#18

I’m sorry I vanished from here for a while…

I have a rather simple proposal – if the Catholic bishops, or any group of bishops (pick a combination) declares a teaching, and the Pope disagrees with it, what would happen? The teaching is obviously invalid, right?

Thus, the infallibility belongs to the Pope, not the “magisterium”.


#19

First of all the bishops, in and of themselves, nor a group of them, cannot declare a **’**teaching’.

Teachings come from the magesterium, that is, all the bishops or a group of bishops with specialization in the topic at hand, under the direction of the Pope.

No one sits in Rome or their archdioceses around the world contemplating ‘official’ church teachings, and thus attempt to declare whatever results their research produces as ‘official’ church anything.

If a bishop or group of bishops research a topic and believe the results should become ‘official’ church teaching, they have to present it to the pope for consideration. If the pope is moved by the Spirit to recognize the validity of the position he would then call a council of some sort whereby all the bishops would gather to study the matter extensively and prayerfully, as a whole. They would do so and then present their findings to the pope. The pope would then determine whether or not to sign off on, or reject the recommendations.

While the pope does have final say on the matter, think about what it takes for a united front to be submitted to him in the first place. Therein lies the beauty of how God set up the heirarchy of His church. The Spirit is promised to guide the body of bishops on matters of faith and morals so that no error can come from the body on such matters. There’s no way the body of bishops are going to present to the pope an errant teaching that he would have to reject, if you think about it. During the conferences, debates and discussions, any errant theories would be revealed through the guidance of the Holy Spirit thus leading the group to rule themselves against the posited theory. They would then report their findings to the pope and he could then rule that the teaching they were considering is forever off the table, or he could rule the findings of that particular session was such that the teaching should not be affirmed at this time. It may be that the teaching is something the magesterium will want to revisit at a later point. We would not expect him to authorize the ‘official’ teaching overriding the body of bishops. We’d be rather suspect if that were to happen.

Consider also, that while infallibility rests with the pope as you noted, popes will not declare out of the blue official church teaching either. Just because they can, doesn’t mean they will. The pope’s position is a humble one. He is the servant of servants. He is THE servant to all the bishops/priests. If the Holy Spirit were to reveal only to the pope a particular ‘teaching’ he would humbly submit it to the entire body of bishops for consideration. Only then would he be able to trust that the revelation he received was indeed of the Spirit and not of Satan.


#20

So you’re saying that the magisterium doesn’t have free will in doctrinal matters?

Also, in any case, you’re still saying the magisterium doesn’t actually have infallibility.


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