Infallibity and succession


#1

I am considering coming into the church proper.

I consider the Pope of the Catholic church a spiritual leader of the whole church on Earth, and I am prepared to follow his word to some extent between "as I like" and "utterly". I am working on how I slide the slider all the way up that scale, so here's my question:

1) on what basis do we believe in apostolic succession after St Peter
2) on what basis do we believe in the infallibility of a pope or any human being

I guess I am seeking an expert answer that lacks any convolution which is difficult to swallow, for two reasons - firstly I need an answer for myself that I can give when my time comes, and secondly I am going to be asked about this when I give religious guidance to others which I sometimes have to do - because I have not done so on this point before.


#2

scripturecatholic.com/apostolic_succession.html

catholic.com/video/infallibility-of-the-pope

:thumbsup: Good luck friend


#3

Well, there are plenty of scripture passages to sight regarding apostolic succession. However, you seem to be asking about the continuance of that after the apostles (mainly Peter?) are gone. Is that correct?


#4

I am not overly qualified to answer these questions in detail, but will offer a scriptural basis for why I accept these things.

Jesus uses the term "church" just twice in the Gospels, both times in Mathew and both times connected with authority. These are found in Mt 16:17-19 and Mt 18:15-18.

What I find particularly interesting about these passages is the authority granted. Matthew uses the exact same wording:
whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."
Read this carefully - whatever you bind...whatever you loose...
What wide ranging authority!!!
What awesome responsibility!!!

In Mt 18 we are told to "tell it to the Church" and to "listen to the Church" or be expelled from the ekklesia - from the body.

How could I, a simple man, reserve to myself the right to pick and choose what to accept or reject when Christ has told me to listen to the Church?

Then we tie these things into the many calls for unity that we find in the NT and the history of the development of the Church structure over time. The importance of councils (as demonstrated in acts 15) in the development of doctrine etc...and it all flows so nicely.

The more one looks at it the more one realizes that the Catholic Church is actually the most biblical of Churches.

On the matter of Papal infallibility, it is good to remember that this is a matter of huge responsibility. Because of this, the Pope does not make pronouncements lightly or in a vacuum. Such matters of faith and morals that effect the entire Church are discussed, prayed over, studied, considered, drafted, prayed over, reviewed, modified, prayed over some more and only then will the Holy Father possibly make some announcement.

Though not as formal as an actual council...this pattern is very much in the councilior mode.

Just some thoughts to consider.

Peace
James


#5

[quote="JRKH, post:4, topic:317168"]
I am not overly qualified to answer these questions in detail, but will offer a scriptural basis for why I accept these things.

Jesus uses the term "church" just twice in the Gospels, both times in Mathew and both times connected with authority. These are found in Mt 16:17-19 and Mt 18:15-18.

What I find particularly interesting about these passages is the authority granted. Matthew uses the exact same wording:
whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."
Read this carefully - whatever you bind...whatever you loose...
What wide ranging authority!!!
What awesome responsibility!!!

In Mt 18 we are told to "tell it to the Church" and to "listen to the Church" or be expelled from the ekklesia - from the body.

How could I, a simple man, reserve to myself the right to pick and choose what to accept or reject when Christ has told me to listen to the Church?

Then we tie these things into the many calls for unity that we find in the NT and the history of the development of the Church structure over time. The importance of councils (as demonstrated in acts 15) in the development of doctrine etc...and it all flows so nicely.

The more one looks at it the more one realizes that the Catholic Church is actually the most biblical of Churches.

On the matter of Papal infallibility, it is good to remember that this is a matter of huge responsibility. Because of this, the Pope does not make pronouncements lightly or in a vacuum. Such matters of faith and morals that effect the entire Church are discussed, prayed over, studied, considered, drafted, prayed over, reviewed, modified, prayed over some more and only then will the Holy Father possibly make some announcement.

Though not as formal as an actual council...this pattern is very much in the councilior mode.

Just some thoughts to consider.

Peace
James

[/quote]

I believe that was rather well stated James :thumbsup:


#6

One last quick thought on this....2) on what basis do we believe in the infallibility of a pope or any human being

It isn't so much that we believe a human is infallible...It's more a matter of believing the office is infallible based on the Keys and the authority to bind and loose.

If you look at Mt 23:1-3 you will see something interesting.

Jesus - though He was not happy with the Pharisees, none the less upheld their authority because they sat on the seat of Moses. It was not up to the Jewish laity to decide what was and was not good teaching, but to obey those who sat on Moses seat.

More importantly - they were not to equate the validity of a teaching with the holiness of the person. - Do as they say - not as they do....
This is a critical distinction between the "infallibility" of an office vs the "infallibility" of a person....

Peace
James


#7

[quote="aidanbradypop, post:2, topic:317168"]
scripturecatholic.com/apostolic_succession.html

catholic.com/video/infallibility-of-the-pope

:thumbsup: Good luck friend

[/quote]

These are great links, and I can't imagine it being explained any clearer.

If I could give a little witness here...

My main problem with the church was always with the authority. I don't like being told what to do, and I couldn't think why someone else could possibly know what was good for me better than I knew it myself. However, as I studied, I found that EVERYTHING that I had been taught as a child was not only correct, but truly awsome (in the true sense of the word.)

Point of fact... As a young couple, my husband and I used contraception. We thought we were being responsible humans by not over-populating the world. :shrug: And, we didn't have much money, and didn't want to bring a child into the world if it was to have a poor quality of life. :confused: Anyway, we mannaged to trust God enough to have three children. :rolleyes:

Thirty years later... I have only one regret (so far) in life. I should be surrounded by children and grand children. I am not. I cry, sometimes, for the children that I refused. But I thank the Lord for His gift of the sacrament of reconcilliation, where I have recieved His Loving Forgiveness, and the grace I need to move on.

I know now, in hindsight, how wise the church has been in this teaching (and others). I know that wisdom like that must be the Holy Spirit at work. I can't see how the teachings of the Church can fly in the face of what society teaches for 2000 years, and still be right, without the protection of the Holy Spirit.

I know this is not proof of anything. I offer it merely as a practical witness.


#8

[quote="babs57, post:7, topic:317168"]
These are great links, and I can't imagine it being explained any clearer.

If I could give a little witness here...

My main problem with the church was always with the authority. I don't like being told what to do, and I couldn't think why someone else could possibly know what was good for me better than I knew it myself. However, as I studied, I found that EVERYTHING that I had been taught as a child was not only correct, but truly awsome (in the true sense of the word.)

Point of fact... As a young couple, my husband and I used contraception. We thought we were being responsible humans by not over-populating the world. :shrug: And, we didn't have much money, and didn't want to bring a child into the world if it was to have a poor quality of life. :confused: Anyway, we mannaged to trust God enough to have three children. :rolleyes:

Thirty years later... I have only one regret (so far) in life. I should be surrounded by children and grand children. I am not. I cry, sometimes, for the children that I refused. But I thank the Lord for His gift of the sacrament of reconcilliation, where I have recieved His Loving Forgiveness, and the grace I need to move on.

I know now, in hindsight, how wise the church has been in this teaching (and others). I know that wisdom like that must be the Holy Spirit at work. I can't see how the teachings of the Church can fly in the face of what society teaches for 2000 years, and still be right, without the protection of the Holy Spirit.

I know this is not proof of anything. I offer it merely as a practical witness.

[/quote]

I think you hit the nail on the head when you stated about the authority. Both succession and infallibity hold authority. These days many people and anti authority and believe, as you did, they know best. Gets us into trouble when we go down that road. :(


#9

People get hung up on the concept that "the Pope is infallible", as if he in his person cannot err. All the doctrine of papal infallibility says is that, when the Pope proposes that a doctrine is part of the deposit of faith and must be believed by all Christians, the Holy Spirit protects him from teaching error. In other words, when he exercises the ministry given to him by Christ of confirming his brethren in the faith that Christ prayed would not fail, that the same God who charged him with that task would protect him from failing in that task. It's eminently reasonable to expect that a God who said "I will be with you always" and "the gates of Hell shall not prevail against [my Church]" would give us a way to know what is true doctrine and what is false doctrine.


#10

[quote="aidanbradypop, post:8, topic:317168"]
I think you hit the nail on the head when you stated about the authority. Both succession and infallibity hold authority. These days many people and anti authority and believe, as you did, they know best. Gets us into trouble when we go down that road. :(

[/quote]

And I wish to reiterate here - because I feel it is crucially important - the profound responsibility that the authority entails.

Most people - throughout time - have equated "authority" with "power" and force and the various negatives that are attached to these things. But in the Church authority needs to be understood differently.

Consider what the bible says....not all should be teachers....that it's better to be drowned than to lead another astray...do not lord over each other...that the greatest must be the servant of the others....

When one considers how great is this responsibility, not to mention how little freedom the pope has even in how he spends his time, is it any wonder that most Cardinals would just as soon not be Pope?
Yet so often it is the truly humble who are elected....

Of course we've had our stinkers....but even in this the Holy Spirit is remarkably just.
The popes who were concerned only with worldly things took no interest in changing teaching. And those who were truly holy men, only changed things very carefully and as the spirit moved them and the Church.

It's just awesome.....

Peace
James


#11

[quote="ephesians4, post:1, topic:317168"]
I am prepared to follow his word to some extent between "as I like" and "utterly". I am working on how I slide the slider all the way up that scale

[/quote]

That is very good, because, as. Ignatius of Antioch (35 - 98 AD), disciple of John the Apostle, wrote:

follow the bishop even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God.

As you enter the true Church of Christ, you probably won't want to follow Christ's apostles "as you like" :) Remember this episode?

While they were walking along the road, a man told him, "I will follow you wherever you go."

That's the most beautiful kind of approach to Christ, because even though we naturally distrust men ("It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man", says Scripture), yet by humbly professing our trust in His Church we are actually professing our trust in Him who is the Head of the Church.

As for the apostolic succession - especially that of Peter - others have quoted great sources and given wise advice, so I'd only quote what Church Fathers Iraeneus (189 AD) and Tertullian (209 AD) wrote:

It is possible, then, for everyone in every Church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the Apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the Apostles, and their successors to our own times ...]

But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul—that church which has the tradition and the faith with which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition ...]

if the Apostles had known hidden mysteries which they taught to the elite secretly and apart from the rest, they would have handed them down especially to those very ones to whom they were committing the self-same Churches. For surely they wished all those and their successors to be perfect and without reproach, to whom they handed on their authority. ...]

It is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the infallible charism of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever ...]

The true knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere

let them show the origin of their Churches, let them unroll the order of their bishops, running down in succession from the beginning, so that their first bishop shall have for author and predecessor some one of the Apostles or of the apostolic men who continued steadfast with the Apostles. For this is the way in which the apostolic Churches transmit their lists: like the Church of the Smyrnaeans, which records that Polycarp was placed there by John; like the Church of the Romans where Clement was ordained by Peter. In just this same way the other Churches display those whom they have as sprouts from the apostolic seed, having been established in the episcopate by the Apostles.

Therefore, they will be challenged to meet this test even by those Churches which are of much later date – for they are being established daily – and whose founder is not from among the Apostles nor from among the apostolic men; for those which agree in the same faith are reckoned as apostolic on account of the blood ties in their doctrine. Then let all heresies prove how they regard themselves as apostolic, when they are challenged by our Churches to meet either test. But in fact they are not apostolic, nor can they prove themselves to be what they are not. Neither are they received in peace and communion by the Churches which are in any way apostolic, since on account of their diverse belief they are in no way apostolic.


#12

[quote="ephesians4, post:1, topic:317168"]
I am considering coming into the church proper.

I consider the Pope of the Catholic church a spiritual leader of the whole church on Earth, and I am prepared to follow his word to some extent between "as I like" and "utterly". I am working on how I slide the slider all the way up that scale, so here's my question:

1) on what basis do we believe in apostolic succession after St Peter
2) on what basis do we believe in the infallibility of a pope or any human being

I guess I am seeking an expert answer that lacks any convolution which is difficult to swallow, for two reasons - firstly I need an answer for myself that I can give when my time comes, and secondly I am going to be asked about this when I give religious guidance to others which I sometimes have to do - because I have not done so on this point before.

[/quote]

I would direct you to the Epistle of Clement of Rome to Corinth...with select quotes:

earlychristianwritings.com/text/1clement-lightfoot.html

1Clem 42:4 So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe.
1Clem 44:2 For this cause therefore, having received complete foreknowledge, they appointed the aforesaid persons, and afterwards they provided a continuance, that if these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed to their ministration.

57:1 Do ye, therefore, that have laid the foundation of the sedition submit yourselves to the presbyters, and be chastised to repentance, bending the knees of your hearts.

57:2 Learn to submit yourselves, laying aside the vain and haughty self-will of your tongues; for it is better that you should be small and approved in the flock of Christ, rather than that, seeming to be superior to others, ye should be cast out of his hope

59:1 But if some should be disobedient to the things spoken by him through us, let them know that they will entangle themselves in no small transgression and danger,

And the example of St. Paul:

Galatians 1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.
Galatians 2:2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.

Paul had a direct revelation from Christ. Yet, from the two passages above, he goes to visit Cephas/Peter and submits himself to Peter. Gal 2: 2 states his purpose...to present his gospel/message to make sure it is in line with the Apostles and what they were handed down from Christ.

And lastly...if there is no Apostolic succession...how are we going to apply this passage:

from 1John 4.....6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.


#13

Wow! Thank you all for taking the time to write such excellent responses and references. I will meditate on these and may make a nuisance of myself and ask further questions.

Many thanks again, God bless.


#14

[quote="ephesians4, post:13, topic:317168"]
Wow! Thank you all for taking the time to write such excellent responses and references. I will meditate on these and may make a nuisance of myself and ask further questions.

Many thanks again, God bless.

[/quote]

Please do.


#15

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