Whatever Happened to Apostolic Authority?


#1

In the New Testament we see how Jesus gave authority to his Apostles to preach the gospel. We also see how they had authority to:

[list]
*]Create and appoint people to positions in the church hierarchy (Acts 6:1-6; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5)
*]Make decisions regarding faith and practice binding all of the faithful (Acts 15:20-30)
*]Give commands (not suggestions) regarding morals and doctrine, and discipline erring Christians (Matthew 18:15-18; 1 Corinthians 5:5, 7:17, 11:3-16; 2 Cor 6:7-8; Ephesians 6:1-9; Philippians :2-3; Colossians 2:16, 3:18-23-4; 2 Thess 3:6,10,14; 1 Tim 1:3-4, 2:9-12, 4:11, 5:7-22, Titus 1:13, 3:10-11; Hebrews 10:25; 1 Peter 2:11-18; 2 John 10-11)
[/list]

Now, the Apostles have been dead for 2,000 years. Whatever happened to their authority? Did they pass it on to someone, or did it die with them?

Many Christians will answer, “The Bible is our authority. They left their teachings in their writings which were collected in the New Testament.” To be sure, they did leave us the New Testament. However, is it enough? Consider this:

[list]
*]The New Testament is not written like a catechism. It is not a detailed explanation of the faith, with sections where you can look under ‘B’ for Baptism or ‘M’ for Mary.
*]The books of the New Testament were written to people who had already been taught the faith orally. While some are lengthy expositions of Christian teaching (Romans, Hebrews) most of the epistles were written mainly to correct errors in morals (1 Corinthians) or doctrine (ex: Galatians, James). Philemon was basically to an individual Christian regarding that person’s escaped slave; Philippians was largely a ‘thank you’ note to that church for their support of Paul; and Paul’s Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus) were instructions on church administration.
*]2 Peter 3:16 says that the “unlearned and unstable” distort the Scriptures to their own destruction. However, even for the educated and well-adjusted, interpretation of Scripture is no easy matter. Five intelligent people can read a passage from the Bible and come up with 5 different interpretations. How is one to know which meaning is the one the sacred writer intended, and which is an innovation?
[/list]

Continued…


#2

Part 2…

When our Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution, they did not intend for every Tom, Dick or Harry to interpret it. Rather, they created a Supreme Court to fulfill that role. To do otherwise would have been chaos. Some Christians will no doubt say, “But the Holy Spirit is our interpreter.” Fine, but how does that work out in practice?

Let’s take a look at some of the differing interpretations of Scripture in regard to faith and practice (and all of them claim to be led by the Holy Spirit:

God: Some say there are three persons in God, some say only one.

Jesus Christ: Some say he is God, some say he is an angel, some say he is a man

*Baptism: *Some say it provides real grace, other say it is a mere symbol. Some say babies should be baptized, some say its foolishness. Some baptize in the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, some baptized only in the name of Jesus. Some dispense with the whole sacrament.

Lord’s Supper: Some say Jesus is present, others say it is only a memorial supper, others don’t bother with it.

Salvation: Some say once saved, always saved, some teach that you can fall away

Predestination: Some say salvation or damnation is a choice; others say God has already predestined you to Heaven or Hell

Day of Worship: Some say Sunday, others say that is the Mark of the Beast and you must worship on Saturday or be damned.

Since we know that God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) they ALL can’t be right. Did Jesus really intend to leave us in the lurch without shepherds, “children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14)?

More importantly, the authors of the New Testament warned their readers constantly to shun false teachers. Paul writes, **“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” **(Galatians 1:8, see also 2 Corinthians 11:4), and John says of false teachers not to receive them into our house or wish them ‘Godspeed’ and that those who do share in their wickedness (2 John 10). Here is my problem: When various groups come to my door with a Bible in their hand and proclaiming the “Gospel,” how can I tell which ones are telling the truth and which ones are false teachers? In other words:

Which (if any) of the Christian groups today speak with the authority of the Apostles?


#3

I read your email about church authority and that was pretty good. Especially where you link the bill of rights with the supreme court. Everyday lawyers come up with interpretations, yet the supreme court clarifies it with its decision.

Interpretation is dangerous. True story. There was a guy who committed a horrific crime. While in jail he was reading the bible b/c he felt bad doing the crime. He read a passage that if your eyes cause you to sin, pull it out. He used a fork to pull out his eyeballs. The county officers were not able to save him in time. He read the bible literally not contextually.

I think with your article you typed if you mentioned at the forum that when you read the bible, Catholic teaching will teach you how to read the book literally and contextually. B/C stories like this inmate and other mis-interpretations happen b/c they dont know what to believe.


#4

[quote=RNRobert]In the New Testament we see how Jesus gave authority to his Apostles to preach the gospel. We also see how they had authority to:

[list]
*]Create and appoint people to positions in the church hierarchy (Acts 6:1-6; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5)
*]Make decisions regarding faith and practice binding all of the faithful (Acts 15:20-30)
*]Give commands (not suggestions) regarding morals and doctrine, and discipline erring Christians (Matthew 18:15-18; 1 Corinthians 5:5, 7:17, 11:3-16; 2 Cor 6:7-8; Ephesians 6:1-9; Philippians :2-3; Colossians 2:16, 3:18-23-4; 2 Thess 3:6,10,14; 1 Tim 1:3-4, 2:9-12, 4:11, 5:7-22, Titus 1:13, 3:10-11; Hebrews 10:25; 1 Peter 2:11-18; 2 John 10-11)
[/list]

Now, the Apostles have been dead for 2,000 years. Whatever happened to their authority? Did they pass it on to someone, or did it die with them?

[/quote]

If their authority died with them, then the last true Christians would have been those baptized by the apostles themselves. There would thus be no living Christians today, but merely pretenders to the title “Christian”.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#5

[quote=RobedWithLight]If their authority died with them, then the last true Christians would have been those baptized by the apostles themselves. There would thus be no living Christians today, but merely pretenders to the title “Christian”.

Gerry :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Good point! Of course, the questions I asked in starting this thread are rhetorical. To you and I (and the rest of our Catholic brethren) , we already have our answer as to authority. :smiley:


#6

[quote=RNRobert]Many Christians will answer, “The Bible is our authority. They left their teachings in their writings which were collected in the New Testament.” To be sure, they did leave us the New Testament. However, is it enough?
[/quote]

While it is true that the Apostles (and mind you, not just the Apostles) had something to do with the New Testament, as you pointed out much of the NT is composed of letters of correction. Moreover, the writings of the Apostles were not created with a sola scriptura mindset; indeed, there was no Bible until hundreds of years after their deaths! If the Apostles had intended to compile a document to be used as the sole teaching authority of Christianity, they would have done so. They didn’t.


#7

2 Peter 3:15-16 tells us that Scripture "contains things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and ignorant distort to their own destruction."
Your story gives a prime example of this. While few Sola Scripturists go to the extreme that this prisoner did, it goes to show what can happen.


#8

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