Logical Case for Papal Authority?

Hi Everyone,

I have visited every single denomination, read the Early Church Fathers, and have really taken the time to study scripture carefully. Having done all of that for countless hours, I came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, and orthodox Anglicans are closest the apostolic faith.

However, one huge problem I have had with Catholicism for a long time now is papal authority (I don’t want to discuss papal infallibility). I have been persuaded by the case made by Orthodox and Anglicans that the Pope did not historically EVER have the authority the Church claims today. The history, in my opinion, leans in favor of their claims (but I admit it’s not definitive).

With that said…I am ONLY interested in the truth, and if a reasonable AND logical argument can be made for the Pope, I would definitely be willing to accept the authority of the Holy See.

I have read Scott Hahn, Steve Ray, Brant Pitre, etc. on this issue (as well as countless others), and while I am willing to accept that authority was passed down from bishop to bishop, I have yet to see a really definitive reason to believe that the Bishop of Rome should have more authority than the rest.

Matthew 19 very clearly grants the “binding” and “loosing” authority to the other Apostles, and Jesus even says that when two or three are gathered in His name, He is there with them (talking to, at least, the Apostles).

I know Peter was the Bishop of Rome, but he was also the bishop of other historic churches BEFORE being Bishop of Rome…So why does Rome hold the authority the other seats do not?

What I would really love is a strong, logical, reasonable case for the authority of the Pope. Historical arguments are fine, but I have read nearly all of those and I don’t think the history really definitively answers the question.

As always, I am very grateful for your time and help in my spiritual journey.

God Bless,
Justin

I appreciate the logical basis of your question. And I can absolutely give you an answer, if you can provide a a strong, logical, reasonable case AGAINST the authority of the Pope.

You have cited several Catholic explanations, but you have not provided a contrary explanation of your own

FWIW, this is my five-thousandth post on this Forum.

Re: the Orthodox

I’ve asked this question of E Orthodox over the years. I haven’t received an answer to my question…yet, but I’m waiting ;).

Q: When is the first time in history, that we see “Orthodox Church” in writing?

Maybe you can answer that question.

Re: Anglicans[LIST=1]
*]Henry VIII started them .
*]they have no valid holy orders
*]they are protestants to the faith
*]how is THAT apostolic?
[/LIST]

Since Jesus established the office of Peter, what limits did Jesus put on Peter’s authority?

When you claim to have read everything that makes your case, then the obvious question in return is, would you like to share that evidence…properly referenced of course? :wink:

Kindly show what restrictions on authority Jesus put on Peter as the leader of the apostles and therefore leader of the Church .

What you meant to say was Mt 18.

Notice the restriction placed in Mt 18. If one won’t listen even to the Church…then when 2 or three agree…

2 chapters earlier, Peter alone in Mt 16 can bind and loose, and Peter alone is the one who will receive the keys to the kingdom from Jesus… Whatever Peter decides being the one who holds the keys, he has authority over the entire Church.

In a technical sense, a bishop’s see is where he is not where he was. Ignatius followed Peter as bishop of Antioch. Maybe you could make the case then for Antioch being the continued see of Peter where the bishop of Antioch has any special ranking among the Church

Here’s the ancient ranking of sees
BC = before Constantiniople :wink:

[LIST=1]
*]Rome
*]Alexandria
*]Antioch
*]Jerusalem
[/LIST]AC =after Constantinople[LIST=1]
*]Rome
*]Constantinople
*]Alexandria
*]Antioch
*]Jerusalem
[/LIST]Think about this ranking

Here it is

Jesus established the office of Peter, No body else did. Jesus gave Peter the keys of the kingdom. Whatever he binds and looses on earth are bound and loosed in heaven, and his office another will take.

period dot end of sentence :slight_smile:

jinc1019, the true Church is ONE, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

ONE.

There is only one way you can have doctrinal unity within a communion of believers.

That is if somebody has God-given, God-protected authority.

Without this the Church is not ONE.

Bible Christians

Bible Christians will agree on many things. When they disagree, they pull out their Bibles.

If they still cannot agree, they either have to say 1 of 2 things.

We agree to disagree (disunity within that Communion)
Let’s have a Church split (more disunity)

Nobody has God-given, God-protected authority in Bible Christianity to settle the issue.

[LIST]
*]Sacred Scripture
[/LIST]

This is standard accepted practice within Protestantisms or Bible Christianity (and it must be that way).

They can excommunicate one another, but they admit they have no infallible authority to do so as nobody is infallible in their motif. And even with excommunication they are still “Bible Christians”.

Various Orthodoxies

Various Orthodoxies (“Orthodox”) will agree on many things. When they disagree, they pull out their Bibles, Sacred Tradition and the Fathers.

If they still cannot agree, they go to their Bishops.

[LIST]
*]Sacred Scripture
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Oral Tradition
[/LIST]

If their Bishops cannot agree, they either have to say 1 of 2 things.

We agree to disagree (disunity within that Communion)
Let’s have a Church split (more disunity)

Nobody has God-given, God-protected authority in Orthodoxy to settle the issue. At least infallibly.

Catholicism

Various Catholics will agree on many things. When they disagree, they pull out their Bibles, Sacred Tradition and the Fathers.

If they still cannot agree, they go to their Bishops.

If their Bishops cannot agree,

The Magisterium has the ability to settle the issue.

The Magisterium is the Pope . . . . and the Bishops in union with him (CCC 100).

Somebody has God-given, God-protected authority in Catholicism to eventually settle the issue. If you deviate from this you are taking yourselves out of that communion of believers.

It doesn’t mean they WILL settle the issue, but it does mean they CAN settle the issue.

The Magisterium is the difference.

[LIST]
*]Sacred Scripture
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Oral Tradition
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church)
[/LIST]

In Summary

Now someone will object and state: “Well you Catholics cannot have infallibility merely because you say so!”

The answer to that is two-fold.

One we don’t say we have infallibility “just because we say so”. We say St. Peter (and his successors) has infallibility because St. Peter was given that charism by Jesus Christ.

The other objection is WHY do you Catholics think you have this infallibility through St. Peter?

And the answer to that question is beyond the scope of this thread as per your request (“I don’t want to discuss papal infallibility”) jinc1019.

VATICAN II (Dei Verbum Chapter 2 section 10c) It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.

Bold Vatican II mine.

Hope this helps.

God bless.

Cathoholic

Hi Jinc1019,

I think you’ve hit on a good point when you say “the Pope did not historically EVER have the authority the Church claims today”. This is certainly true in the early church.

The reason the authority of the bishop of Rome is magnified today is due to both historical circumstance (principally because of the power vacuum in the West following the establishment of Byzantium) and the development of doctrine. If it were just the first reason, I would say that papal authority is weakly built; however, the development of doctrine is significant. I don’t think it is fair to project the authorial position of the pope today back into the first or second century, just as it is unfair to project the dyophysitism (two wills and two natures of Christ) back into first century.

The key is that Peter, as an apostle, and the bishops of Rome after him, have always had a position of primacy. In fact, the Orthodox will readily agree with this, though they will dispute the nature of such primacy. All I would like you to consider, Jinc, is that doctrine develops, and from this understanding of primacy and the role of St Peter as shepherd of the Church on earth, we can see how papal authority would increase and that this could be justified.

(I think it’s also important to consider a couple of other points: i. the Pope’s authority is not tyrannical nor does it work disharmoniously with the bishops of the Church or indeed Scripture, Tradition and the witness of Christian history - they are in accord; and ii. a number of early Church documents - such as the Letter of Clement, writings by Irenaeus, Eusebius, etc. - highlight the primacy of the bishop of Rome, and even after the move to Constantinople, it was acknowledged that the patriarch there - who was a successor of St Andrew, not St Peter - should be second to the bishop of Rome.)

However, if you’re looking for a logical argument for papal authority, may I suggest the following:

(i) Jesus’ formation of the Twelve and other disciples was based on a model from Ancient Israel. In this model, there was always an individual of principal authority. The direct parallel drawn from Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 16) is with Isaiah 22, where Jesus is the Davidic King and Peter the steward. Now, it’s true that authority to bind and loose is later given to all apostles (and consequently their successors, the bishops of the Church), yet the language used in Matthew 16 is slightly different and Peter is given a special charism and role, namely, as the rock and the keeper of the keys of the kingdom. (We also see Peter’s authority highlighted at the end of John’s Gospel, in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus promises to pray especially for him, and in the Book of Acts.) The purpose of this stewardship position was for the steward to strengthen his brethren, the maintain order and unity, and to care for the people and kingdom while the king is away. This role requires an individual rather than a committee, though certainly the steward would have support from colleagues. I’d ask you to think about which model - that of the Catholic or Orthodox Churches - best fits this today and throughout history? Furthermore, would not Jesus have intended this structure to continue beyond one generation of his followers?

(ii) The second argument is a negative one, namely, without a central authority, matters of doctrine or discipline cannot be effectively decided upon in the Church. We again see this with Orthodoxy (and especially with Anglicanism), where there is a plurality of different accepted opinions on key moral or doctrinal issues. Some of these even go against those held in the past by all Christians. Only the Catholic Church, I would contend, maintains the fullness and faithfulness of Christian doctrine and discipline, and one of the principal reasons for this is the role of the pope.

(iii) If there is no universal episcopal authority, what about zonal authority? Are all bishops completely equal in authority? If so, it is difficult to see how anything could be accomplished as every diocese could potentially be doctrinally and morally conflictive. In fact, even in Orthodoxy, the patriarch has authority over bishops under him. Now, the papal claim extends this authority one step further up the ladder.

(iv) Lastly, I would ask that you look at the witness of history, Jinc. While it’s true that the papacy underwent some bad times indeed, with too much grasping for temporal authority, the opposite is true for the Orthodox Church, whose patriarch and bishops were often under the thumb of the political authority in the Byzantine Empire. Because the patriarch of Constantinople did not have the status of the bishop of Rome, he could not assert himself over and against the Emperor in the same way, for example, Pope Leo III could do with Charlemagne.

Hope some of those points help.

God bless - and I applaud you on your research and efforts to find the truth.

Jonathan

P.S. My girlfriend is Greek Orthodox, and I have a great respect for their tradition and faithfulness to the Gospel.

I am sure you have seen these before, but I think these verses are strong enough.

Matthew 16:18 On this Rock I will built my church
Matthew 16:19 Keys to the kingdom of heaven
Luke 22:32 Strengthen your brethren
John 21:15-17. Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep
All these were said to Peter specifically. Which other apostles got a mandate as strong as this?

For the binding and loosing verses, please note that Peter got it first in Mat 16:19 before waterfalling to the other apostles later at Mat 18:18.

My argument would be who Jesus selected to lead the group. If Jesus did not intend for Peter to be the group’s leader, all the above verses need not be mentioned at all to Peter. Peter may or may not be the best candidate, but that is Jesus’s call. Peter may have denied Jesus 3x, but yet Jesus has chosen him to be their leader among them. I am not arguing whether the other apostles agree to it or not. Even if they did not, it does not matter as the proper authority was given by Jesus. Even if Paul were to disagree on Peter’s calibre to lead, it still is not Paul’s say. Sure, one may revolt but that doesn’t diminish Peter’s and his successors responsibilities to Jesus. You may not like the Pope, but you still have to respect Jesus’s decision on his appointee.

It is not the location Rome that is important. It is where Peter’s Chair is located. Even if Rome is destroyed by an earthquake tomorrow and Peter’s Chair get moved to let say Sydney, Australia, that will be THE place.

Jinc1019,

I think you have received many good responses to answer your question so rather than reiterate the excellent points others have made to answer you I would like to add this. In Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Galatians, 1 and 2 Peter and Acts Peter’s name (Peter, Simon, Cephas all referring to the same person) is mentioned about 195 times. John is the next most often mentioned at about 48 times. Add this to all the other points and it seems a logical conclusion that Jesus meant Peter to have a unique role. Look to Jesus words at what that role is and we see even further that Peter is the Vicar of Christ and as such so too are the valid Popes who succeeded him in the office.

Dear Justin,

A more basic question is what do YOU think “papal authority” means or entails?

There are two competing views in Catholicism:
(1) The Absolutist Petrine view, which places the Pope above and beyond his brother bishops and councils, to the point of pretending that the Pope can UNILATERALLY decide matters for the Church.

(2) The High Petrine view, which places the Pope’s authority squarely within, and only within, the context of the divinely-instituted College of hierarchs. This is the ACTUAL teaching of the Catholic Church on the matter.

There is no logical nor patristic support for the Absolutist Petrine view. Probably 95% of the time, non-Catholics will be arguing against the Absolutist Petrine view. And, frankly, I, and many Catholics. support many of their arguments ----- on the other hand, there are also non-Catholic Low Petrine advocates who go the opposite extreme, and are just as illogical and unpatristic in their opinions.

The High Petrine view is, as the name suggests, the middle ground between the extremes of the Absolutist and Low Petrine views.

If you have questions about these three positions, here is a primer:
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=833565&highlight=Petrine+views

I hope that helps.

Blessings,
Marduk

Anglicanism

  1. it is imploding so I’m not sure how you could possibly even consider them.
  2. they have taught contradictory truths on morality. They can’t have been right to denounce birth control and gay marriage and have been right to support those same things. Thus, they have taught error.
  3. But Christ’s Church can never teach error.
  4. Therefore, Anglicanism cannot be Christ’s Church.

Eastern Orthodoxy

  1. Which EO Church do you think is the ONE founded by Christ? Why that one instead of the others?
  2. Why isn’t the “Robber Council” an Ecumenical Council?

Yes. Binding and Loosing WAS granted to ALL the Apostles. No problems there. Here’s where it can get tricky for some people; the KEYS TO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN were given to St. Peter ALONE. (please see Matthew 16:18-19)

The KEYS are a very Biblical symbol of authority. If Jesus Christ is indeed the King of the Universe (Amen! Hail to Christ the King!), then for Him to give the Keys to a mere mortal is a huge moment in Salvation History. There are two other instances of keys being mentioned in the Bible that I know of… Here they are;

  1. Isaiah 22:19-24: I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station. On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open. I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family; On him shall hang all the glory of his family: descendants and offspring, all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs.

  2. Revelation 3:7-8: "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia, write this: " 'The holy one, the true, who holds the key of David, who opens and no one shall close, who closes and no one shall open, says this: '"I know your works (behold, I have left an open door before you, which no one can close). You have limited strength, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Both passages discuss authority. The Old Testament passage is indicative of an OFFICE, and TRANSFERRABLE AUTHORITY. The Old Testament foreshadows the New, and the New Testament fulfills the Old. The passage from Revelation speaks of the Key of David, which is the Key to the City of David, which is the New Jerusalem, which is the Kingdom of Heaven, over which Jesus Christ has SUPREME Authority.

For Christ to delegate some of this authority to someone as lowly as Peter, is nothing short of remarkable. Mind you, Jesus does NOT RELINQUISH His Authority; but rather commissions St. Peter to oversee the Church on Earth. What kind of a King would leave His Earthly Kingdom completely unattended while He went to His Heavenly Kingdom?

In John 21:15-17, Jesus speaks to Peter, commanding him to feed and tend His sheep and lambs. Yet ANOTHER indication of authority being given by Jesus. I think this evidence is both logical and Biblical.

I know Peter was the Bishop of Rome, but he was also the bishop of other historic churches BEFORE being Bishop of Rome…So why does Rome hold the authority the other seats do not?

Because that’s where Peter (the Original Vicar of Christ) ended up. He was martyred there, and the Bishops who succeeded him stayed. It is not the CITY that matters… it is the OFFICE. I suppose if Francis decided to take up residence somewhere else, that doesn’t mean he’s not the successor of Peter, does it? The Supreme Pontiff has TWO jobs; first and foremost, he is the Vicar of Christ. Second; he is the Bishop of Rome.

The capital of the United States was at one time located in New York City, and shortly after in Philadelphia. The Cities never mattered. What mattered was that Congress sat and the President’s Office in those cities. If Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court all moved to Topeka next week; one would think that Topeka would be the new Capital of the United States, no?

What I would really love is a strong, logical, reasonable case for the authority of the Pope. Historical arguments are fine, but I have read nearly all of those and I don’t think the history really definitively answers the question.

I don’t know what else could convince you. I would like to recommend John Salza’s “The Biblical Basis for the Papacy”. It’s a good apologetics book. Somewhat legalistic, but VERY sound.

Here’s why I think the primacy is logical, looking how the Orthodox system, which lacks it, is incoherent:

Let’s say there’s some doctrinal dispute and I am confused as to the orthodox answer. So I await the judgment of the Church as to which side of the dispute is professing the true doctrine. A Council gets together and gives a definitive answer, anathemitizing all who disagree.

So, is this the authoritative answer? Not yet according to Eastern Orthodox doctrine, it must first be accepted by the whole Church. Who is the whole Church according to Eastern Orthodox doctrine? All orthodox believers. But who are the orthodox believers? The one’s that believe the true doctrine. But what is the true doctrine?

With that last question we’re back at square one. The Council was called to definitively settle the debate as to what the true doctrine is–but it must first be accepted by all those that already believe the true doctrine. But since I don’t know the true doctrine, I can’t tell if the people doing the accepting are the group I should look to. What about those that don’t accept it? How do I know they aren’t the ones who are right?

It seems historically this principle of requiring universal acceptance was not adhered to. A lot of people didn’t accept the definitions of Ephesus and Chalcedon. Was their lack of acceptance taken into account? Nope, they were excommunicated forthwith. Obviously there will be universal acceptance when you kick out anyone who doesn’t accept it!

It seems this theory was only practiced to reject the “reunion” Councils and certain things taught in some pan-Orthodox Councils in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries which were repudiated as Latin corruptions during their period of anti-Latin purging, their “Exodus from Western Captivity,” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The point is that there is no way to determine whose judgment is right–those that accept the Council or those that don’t?–other than for each individual to figure out every issue on his own. But that defeats the whole purpose of the decision of the Council which was convened to judge the issue for all of us and threatened us with anathema if we didn’t receive its decision.

There must be a fixed (like a rock) and externally verifiable authority for this system to make coherent sense. That authority is and always has been the Apostolic See of Rome.

Here’s another explanation of this idea in the context of a conversion story:
rtforum.org/lt/lt133.html#Harrison

First of all, congratulations on your 5,000th post and thank you for responding to me.

While I can understand your position, I think that the people/group/church/organization claiming something as astounding as absolute authority really should be required to prove it. I shouldn’t have to logically disprove why authority doesn’t exist.

But, to be fair…I think there are many logical reasons for rejecting papal authority. First, popes have and will likely in the future abuse their power. Second, if the pope doesn’t have supreme authority, then the question must be asked: Who does and how can they express that authority? Third, for the same reasons I don’t support monarchial forms of government, it’s reasonable NOT to support monarchial forms of church structure. Those (and there are many more) are logical reasons for rejecting papal authority.

Let me be clear though…these logical reasons do not make it right. Surely one could imagine all sorts of logical reasons why God in the Old Testament should have done one thing or another that we fallible humans can’t understand. Just because something has certain logical points against it, doesn’t mean there are not logical reasons for it as well. I fully admit that are many advantages to having a Pope (just like there are many advantages to having a king).

Hi Steve,
Thanks for your post. I greatly appreciate it.

Obviously you posted a lot of material there, and I simply don’t have the time to respond to every single statement (whole books have been written on single topics you mention). But, I will try to at least sum up your concerns.

First, I don’t think it matters whether or not the term “Orthodox Church” ever existed in early Christianity or that King Henry pushed for the creation of the Anglican Church. I never said either one of those churches are MORE legitimate than the Catholic Church…I just said I agree with their arguments about papal authority.

Second, I certainly could provide their arguments against papal authority, but it’s quite easy to find them (especially the Orthodox position) and there really is no reason to post that. I am not interested in ARGUING the merits of their position vs. yours, I am only interested in hearing your logical side of the argument.

Third, I am not AT ALL saying Peter had restrictions on his authority…or that he wasn’t the first leader of the church. My point is…where is the evidence that his authority transferred to the next Bishop of Rome?

Fourth, I am NOT saying that any of the other apostolic sees have the true authority of Peter. I am saying…Why should I believe Rome has MORE authority than Alexandria? In my opinion, all of the bishops should have equal authority.

Fifth, I apologize for the incorrect reference. You are right…Matthew 18. I don’t see why, however, I should believe based on Matthew 18 that Peter has more binding or loosing authority than the other Apostles.

Cathoholic,

First of all, thank you for presenting a logical case for your beliefs. I don’t disagree with MUCH of what you had to say. However, your entire post is based on the assumption that the term “ONE” means complete unity on virtually everything. This, however, is not necessarily true. You can have ONE nation with many different groups and factions within it. Why couldn’t you have ONE Christian community of believers that does not agree on everything? You can have ONE family that obviously believes many different things. Thoughts?

Jonathan,
Excellent post. I really enjoyed reading it and greatly respect your argument!

While I think you make a very strong case for the papacy (one that I really don’t disagree with in most ways), my primary concern is that it is based almost completely on the idea that methods for church government can legitimately change over time. I am not sure that this is accurate and it makes me uncomfortable for several reasons. First, if it’s possible to say that the authority of the pope could essentially develop, why is it impossible for it to regress?

Second, if the pope’s authority can increase from it’s original position, does that mean his authority is truly God-given and absolute? How can it be if it developed over time based on man-made developments? Third, if the authority of the pope can expand legitimately, then isn’t it possible that other theological doctrines could expand? Doesn’t this lead us away from the Apostolic church? Fourth, the Old Testament church did NOT always have one man at the top…When a kingdom was in place it did, but initially, there were no kings and then when Rome took over (as well as Babylon) there were also no Jewish kings. Just my thoughts…but again, I do really appreciate and respect your points. They were all very valid. I am just very weary of moving away from the teachings AND structure of the early church.

Thanks for this…However, the problem with all of these arguments is that it assumes the authority of Peter gets passed down to his successors. Why? Why can’t Peter have been the chief apostle without that role passing to his successors?

When you said, (emphasis mine)

I have visited every single denomination, read the Early Church Fathers, and have really taken the time to study scripture carefully. Having done all of that for countless hours, I came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, and orthodox Anglicans are closest the apostolic faith.

My response was directed at what is the apostolic faith, and then what is it that maintains the apostolic faith?

Said another way, the Catholic Church is the one Church established by Jesus. It is the Church of the creed.

Are the Orthodox the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church? No
Are the Anglicans the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church? No

Why are they NOT? Neither is in union with Peter nor those who are in union with Peter. Look at the links that follow.

From an Eastern Catholic point of view looking at E Orthodoxy

Bp John, Answering various questions
https://melkite.org/eparchy/bishop-j…ited-with-rome[/FONT]

https://melkite.org/eparchy/bishop-j…n-the-melkites[/FONT]

https://melkite.org/eparchy/bishop-j…of-indulgences[/FONT]

When even Judas office is replaced with another, Acts 1:24-26 so then is Peter’s. And we have multiple examples from the ECF’s as evidence. But of course you already know that because as you’ve said you’ve read the ECF’s :slight_smile:

Okay okay, here’s a few quotes catholic.com/tracts/peters-successors

Rome = Peter’s last see. He is buried in Rome under the altar of St Peter’s.

Well in my opinion your opinion doesn’t count. :smiley: Sorry I couldn’t help myself. :shrug:

Joking aside, the point is, one’s personal opinions obviously don’t count in such a subject matter.

catholic.com/quickquestions/did-st-peter-view-his-authority-as-equal-to-other-church-leaders And historically, not all bishops are equal. You said you looked into Orthodoxy. They have ranks within the boshopric, as in lesser and greater authority…

He’s the one who received the keys. Do you know what that means?

Hello Justin.

Mardukm has many good insights concerning our faith but I do disagree with his low view (“The High Petrine view”) of the authority of the office of the Papacy (Mardukm knows that–we’ve discussed it elsewhere).

Mardukm stated:

A more basic question is what do YOU think “papal authority” means or entails?

But I will state:

A more basic question is in addition to what you think is, what does “papal authority” actually mean as defined by the Church?

After all, that’s what you want to analyze. That’s what your whole question surrounds.

What difference does it make what “you think” if you are pondering or “thinking” about a straw man papacy paradigm that does not exist?

Mardukm stated (bold and ul mine):

Quote:

There are two competing views in Catholicism:

(1) The Absolutist Petrine view, which places the Pope above and beyond his brother bishops and councils, to the point of pretending that the Pope can UNILATERALLY decide matters for the Church.

(2) The High Petrine view, which places the Pope’s authority squarely within, and only within, the context of the divinely-instituted College of hierarchs. This is the ACTUAL teaching of the Catholic Church on the matter.

Perhaps later in the thread we will look at the Church’s teaching (ALL of it not just selective parts) and see it is not “pretend”.

These two Petrine views are only partial truths concerning historical factions concerning a high and low Petrine Office view (although there are people who do hold these views). Incidentally, the Pope CAN unilaterally decide matters for the Church . . . . and this is not “pretend”.

There is more . . . much more but I won’t get into it here unless it is necessary.

M. L. Cozens in her A Handbook of Heresies Copyright 1928 has a good explanation of some the historical factions on this issue and I will include an appropriate excerpt below.

One historical low Petrine view was the heresy of Gallicanism (Conciliarism).

Vatican I dealt extensively with defining what authentic and inauthentic Petrine office views are (high and low).

Vatican II deepened our understanding even more. The Catechism of the Catholic Church takes us even deeper into that understanding.

These definitions were necessary at these times in history to meet the challenges at those times in history (just like many Ecclesial definitions were; like the hypostatic union, the Trinity, etc.).

Incidentally, I am sure A Handbook of Heresies is in the public domain and if you use good search techniques, you can probably find a free E-copy of the whole book somewhere out there or just buy a used hard copy like I did. It is the best book I know of for a small, reliable encapsulation of the major heresies throughout Christian history.

It has sections on other relevant heresies too.

Unfortunately the abridged version omits the sections on The Illuminati, Fideism, Gallicanism, and “The Old Catholics” so try to get a full non-abridged version.

Here is the section on the heresy of the low Petrine view of the Papacy concerning the heresy of Gallicanism (Conciliarism).

                                                 **GALLICANISM**

The Church has always claimed to be the Messenger from God; the Infallible Guardian of Christ’s Revelation. She has always taught, moreover, that the Pope as successor of St. Peter is the Supreme Pastor over the whole Flock - Christ’s Vicar upon earth. The exact relation between these two truths, however, was left undefined.

In France and the countries on her eastern borders a school of thought arose which minimised the Papal prerogatives in the interest of the State. Nominally it stood also for the dignity and independence of bishops and Councils, but as usual, independence of the Pope means for bishops dependence on the State.

This Gallican School held (1) that the Pope’s definitions, were not Infallible in themselves but only after acceptance by the Universal Church; (2) that a General Council’s authority was above that of a Pope. Some French ecclesiastics also claimed that the king had the right to forbid the publication in France of Papal Bulls, that no act done by the king’s agent on his authority could involve excommunication, and that the king could prevent any bishop’s recourse to Rome even if the Pope commanded his presence.

In opposition to this disloyal minimising school another party went to the opposite extreme and in its zeal for Catholic Unity stretched Papal prerogatives so far that scarcely any room was left for Political and National Liberty, for Episcopal Jurisdiction, or for Theological Study. While this controversy was at its height the Vatican Council met in 1870. Against those who minimised the Papal claims, it defined that the Pope is gifted with that Infallibility with which Christ willed His Church should be endowed; while contrary to the wishes of those who exaggerated the Council’s definition, it declared this Infallibility limited to those occasions when the Pope (1) speaks as Supreme Teacher; (2) defines a doctrine of Faith or Morals; (3) declares the definition binding on all the Faithful.

Excerpt from M. L. Cozens, A Handbook of Heresies
Copyright 1928
Nihil obstat George Smith, Censor.
Imprimatur Edward Surmount, Vicar General, Westminster, 4 June 1928.
Printed in Great Britain for Sheed & Ward.

Also ironically enough, today we are seeing some people who think the Pope needs to be subject not to the Bishops, but be subject to the laity!

I’m not making this up. I have an audio of a radio show where a “Catholic” guy with an advanced theology degree from a major university gets on the radio and makes (up) these claims.

Thanks for the response, Jinc. I think your points are considered, and would suggest the following:

I think it’s important to distinguish between the method (or practice) of church government and the doctrine of papal authority. I think church government can change considerably depending on circumstances, although there are some biblical guidelines. For instance, a persecuted underground church is obviously going to be run differently to a degree compared to a legalised church with some form of political power. So, I think there is scope of movement here (what you could consider either progress or regress).

However, papal authority is doctrinal, and consequently can only develop. To repeal a doctrinal development - i.e. say papal infallibility is “wrong” - is to evidence that the Catholic Church is not in fact inspired by God. Since it can develop, layers of non-contradictory understanding can be added to a doctrine.

We also need to consider the application of the doctrine to the real world situation. Papal authority does not necessitate that the Pope “lords it over” other bishops. In fact, he may decide to give bishops a free reign to a great degree. At other times, he may not. I believe many people are afraid of papal authority because they presume the Pope will basically bully everyone because he has the authority to do this; yet, the Pope must follow the example of Christ - leading as a servant (hence his title: “servus servorum Dei”, “servant of the servants of God”).

Hope that makes sense.

Second, if the pope’s authority can increase from it’s original position, does that mean his authority is truly God-given and absolute? How can it be if it developed over time based on man-made developments?

I don’t think the pope’s authority has increased in principle, only in practice because of historical events, and other things. We can see this in the way the Pope’s authority was weilded in the first and second centuries when the church was persecuted (very little directly, mostly indirectly through epistles), in the fourth and fifth centuries (much more directly, even more evident through church councils), in the years leading to the schism and the separation of the West and East (when this authority was challenged), and today. Doctrinally, the pope has always had this authority.

Third, if the authority of the pope can expand legitimately, then isn’t it possible that other theological doctrines could expand? Doesn’t this lead us away from the Apostolic church? \QUOTE]

The Catholic Church teaches that all theological doctrines develop. From what you’ve said, I think I should make it clear: when we speak of doctrine developing we don’t mean that the doctrine has changed but our understanding has grown to be fuller. We can see this in evidence with practically all Church doctrines. The Trinity, for instance, was not fully fleshed out in the first century but took time to understand more fully.

Now, does that lead us away from the Apostolic church? Certainly, it means we understand things differently from the apostles to a great degree (I doubt they had a fully fledged understanding of transubstantiation) but that doesn’t mean that this is inauthentic. After all, didn’t Jesus promise his Church the Spirit that will lead us into all truth (John 16:13).

[quote]
Fourth, the Old Testament church did NOT always have one man at the top…When a kingdom was in place it did, but initially, there were no kings and then when Rome took over (as well as Babylon) there were also no Jewish kings. Just my thoughts…but again, I do really appreciate and respect your points. They were all very valid. I am just very weary of moving away from the teachings AND structure of the early church.

I’d disagree here, but I understand your point. I think the Old Testament people of God did in fact have one man on top, though it was not always evident. Even before the kings, there were judges. Now, you might say, there were many judges, not just one, and no judge had authority of another. Absolutely. However, the one man on top during this time was God. It was God’s authority that ruled over the people. Even Moses and Joshua were subordinates to God’s position here. Israel essentially threw off this (direct) authority when they wanted the kingship.

The New Testament parallel here is obvious: Jesus is God. His direct authority was over the Church (his body) when he was with us, but since his ascension, he has endowed Peter, the apostles and their successors with authority.

Thanks again for your thoughts!
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Hi Justin, can you tell us how you will know when you have found the truth?

Peace!!!

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