Pastors and Deacons

I have read “The Trail of Blood” by J.M. Carroll, “Church Manual Designed for the use of Baptist Churches” by J.M. Pendleton and I have spoken with many Baptist pastors. They have all said that Pastors and Deacons were the only Church officers in the Bible. They also said that Pastor and Bishop were the same people and they just used two different words for the same office. I know that the main officers of the Catholic Church are the Pope, Bishops and priests. I can explain why we have the Pope, but how can I prove biblically that pastors and bishops were different, thus the Catholic Church has priests and bishops?

Bishop, Priest and Deacon

The sacrament of holy orders is conferred in three ranks of clergy: bishops, priests, and deacons.

Bishops (episcopoi) have the care of multiple congregations and appoint, ordain, and discipline priests and deacons. They sometimes appear to be called “evangelists” in the New Testament. Examples of first-century bishops include Timothy and Titus (1 Tim. 5:19–22; 2 Tim. 4:5; Titus 1:5).

Priests (presbuteroi) are also known as “presbyters” or “elders.” In fact, the English term “priest” is simply a contraction of the Greek word presbuteros. They have the responsibility of teaching, governing, and providing the sacraments in a given congregation (1 Tim. 5:17; Jas. 5:14–15).

Deacons (diakonoi) are the assistants of the bishops and are responsible for teaching and administering certain Church tasks, such as the distribution of food (Acts 6:1–6).

In the apostolic age, the terms for these offices were still somewhat fluid. Sometimes a term would be used in a technical sense as the title for an office, sometimes not. This non-technical use of the terms even exists today, as when the term is used in many churches (both Protestant and Catholic) to refer to either ordained ministers (as in “My minister visited him”) or non-ordained individuals. (In a Protestant church one might hear “He is a worship minister,” while in a Catholic church one might hear “He is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.”)

Thus, in the apostolic age Paul sometimes described himself as a diakonos (“servant” or “minister”; cf. 2 Cor. 3:6, 6:4, 11:23; Eph. 3:7), even though he held an office much higher than that of a deacon, that of apostle.

Similarly, on one occasion Peter described himself as a “fellow elder,” [1 Pet. 5:1] even though he, being an apostle, also had a much higher office than that of an ordinary elder.

The term for bishop, episcopos (“overseer”), was also fluid in meaning. Sometimes it designated the overseer of an individual congregation (the priest), sometimes the person who was the overseer of all the congregations in a city or area (the bishop or evangelist), and sometimes simply the highest-ranking clergyman in the local church—who could be an apostle, if one were staying there at the time.

Although the terms “bishop,” “priest,” and “deacon” were somewhat fluid in the apostolic age, by the beginning of the second century they had achieved the fixed form in which they are used today to designate the three offices whose functions are clearly distinct in the New Testament.

If you want a real stumper, ask them in reply, “How do you know what books belong in the bible?.” They should say because the Catholic Church decided over the course of hundreds of years which books were authentic! Many fundamentalist and baptist preachers seem to believe that the Bible fell out of the sky. However, if pressed, they will admit that the Church (which is the Catholic Church today) existed before the bible.

My advice is don’t play the bible says this game with Baptist preachers. Tell them, politely, that as a Catholic, you know that the authority of the Church is with Peter and his successors, the Pope. This is because our Lord told St. Peter, the first Pope, "You are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 18-19).

Therefore, as a Catholic, you know the Gates of Hell didn’t prevail against the Church and never will! There are over 33,000 protestant churches, all split from about 3 or 4 original protestant traditions over doctrine. Someone must have the authority to make decisions in the Church about what is correct! That person is the Pope, as our Lord told us.

Compare the biblical position of bishop; one per region, but all in communion with each other, with the modern protestant pastors, many, many with many competing theologies.

Aside from seeing Catholics loving each other, and others; the above paragraph cites what I believe is the strongest argument. Protestantism is built on Sola Scriptura, but that doesn’t work in deciding the Canon. The Catholic Church - specifically the hierarchy - did not create the canon, but it was the God-chosen agency to publicly identify God’s Truth that these 27 books, and no others are in the canon - and that the canon is closed. If God used this particular agency - this Magisterium - once, He can use it again, not to create truth but to publicly identify and interpret what God has revealed.

This argument is actually getting stronger, as “new” New Testaments are now getting published, adding certain ancient books to the “traditional” 27, or subtracting certain parts, especially from Paul’s letters. Sola Scriptura can’t defend the canon, because anyone can say “The Gospel of Mathew is YOUR sciptura, but the gospel of Mary is MINE”. How would a Protestant refute that? The “traditional” NT canon doesn’t defend itself.

In other words, the Magisterium did not have just a temporary role - pick out 27 books in the 4th century or so - but is needed now, to defend the canon. In the past, the canon was never really challenged other than by the Mormons, who were immediately labeled a cult. Today’s altered canons are being pushed by groups that are not labeled cults. Reject the Magisterium, and ultimately you reject the Bible.

They are simply wrong. While the titles may have changed, the roles are the pretty much the same. The issue the Baptist have is that they ignore and refuse to recognize Tradition and Cannon Law. They also ignore the Sacraments. They ignore the fact that not all of Jesus’ teachings and commandments are in the Bible. There are many lessons he taught the Apostles which are not in the Bible. If you ignore Church teachings and Tradition, then there are lots of false conclusions one can come up with.

In the earliest days, there were ONLY Bishops. But the Bishops were not able to effectively minister to their growing community. So the Bishops appointed deacons to handle some tasks (this event is recorded in the Bible). Later on, they appointed priests to help with additional roles (this does not happen to be mentioned in the Bible).

Both deacons and priests were created at the discretion of the Bishops. There was no divine command to create either, and priests are no different than deacons in this regard.

I am from Alabama, where Baptist is pretty much the state religion. :smiley: So, I wanted to add somewhat of a cautionary warning.

The theology of Baptists and Fundamentalists generally revolves around the notion of Once Saved Always Saved and being “Born Again” in a spiritual experience. Most believe to go to heaven you must have this OSAS experience. Therefore, unlike someone visiting a Catholic Mass, most Baptist will do all they can to try to bring you over and get you “saved.” I think this really is shocking to a lot of Catholics who don’t have experience with Baptists and Fundamentalists. It was when it happened to my fiancée (a cradle Catholic) when she was in middle school.

Many times they will go after Catholics because Catholic theology is more complicated. After some time of gradually leading a Catholic into their church (by bringing up things like what you posted), they will attempt to get a Catholic to renounce the Catholic Church and become Baptist. I do not mean this harshly. They honestly think they are helping that person become “saved.” As I saw from your other post that you are in college and involved in a campus ministry, be very, very careful about this.

Obviously, be very kind to your separated brethren in Christ. Use this as an opportunity to learn more about your faith and for fellowship with believers, but never forget that the Church Christ founded is the Catholic Church. It is the fullness of the Christian Faith.

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