Who is the church?


#1

On the site NewAdvent.org the article for infalibility says:
“It is only in connection with doctrinal authority as such that, practically speaking, this question of infallibility arises; that is to say, when we speak of the Church’s infallibility we mean, at least primarily and principally, what is sometimes called active as distinguished from passive infallibility. We mean in other words that the Church is infallible in her objective definitive teaching regarding faith and morals, not that believers are infallible in their subjective interpretation of her teaching. This is obvious in the case of individuals, any one of whom may err in his understanding of the Church’s teaching; nor is the general or even unanimous consent of the faithful in believing a distinct and independent organ of infallibility.”

My question is who is the church? This passage is distinguishing between individuals and the church. Now I understand that first of all the word church is never used in scripture. The correct word would be ekklesia. So I guess the correct question here would be, who is the ekklesia? According to scripture the word ekklesia is a designation for:

a) a collective gathering of saints. 1 cor. 16:19
b) a reference to believers in general without a regard for any meeting. eph. 3:10

How can you say that the church cannot err, but the individual can if the individual is the church? And how can you distinguish between the individual and the church?

Jeff


#2

Because Jesus appointed Peter the first Pope and in a conversation with Peter told him satan has desired to sift you like wheat (meaning the Church) but I have prayed for you. Then he directed him to feed His sheep. He furthermore promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church.Satan hasn’t prevailed either! Amongst, the divisions, the scandals and everything else he can muster up, She still stands strong!God Bless and I love our wonderful Church


#3

[quote=Lisa4Catholics]Because Jesus appointed Peter the first Pope and in a conversation with Peter told him satan has desired to sift you like wheat (meaning the Church) but I have prayed for you. Then he directed him to feed His sheep. He furthermore promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church.Satan hasn’t prevailed either! Amongst, the divisions, the scandals and everything else he can muster up, She still stands strong!God Bless and I love our wonderful Church
[/quote]

Hi Lisa and thanks for the reply. Unfortunately your reply doesn’t tell me who the church is. The scripture you are referring to says ‘on this rock I will build my church’. But who is the church?

Jeff


#4

Sorry, my bad. We are all part of the Body of Christ which is the Church. As far as the individual members being infallible it doesn’t work 30,000 protestant denominations and counting.He set(meaning Jesus) a structure of authority in His Church the infallibilty comes in there.But we are all the Church with dirrent purposes that God gives us.God Bless


#5

Individuals can err because we can chose not to believe Church teachings or start trying to be our own pope:)God Bless


#6

The Church’s infallibility is always spoken of in connection with that part of the Church which is its teaching authority, known as the magisterium. The magisterium is the pope, or the pope in union with all the bishops.

When the magisterium, in either these configurations, declares on a matter of faith or morals with the express intent to bind the entire Church to that declaration, it speaks infallibly.

Likewise, when we speak of the Church’s authority to administer the sacraments, we obviously aren’t implying that every member of the Church has the authority to administer every sacrament. We are speaking of the Church’s sacramental authority as it lies in the ordinary minister appointed for each sacrament.
For five of the seven sacraments, the ordinary minister of that sacrament is a member of the clergy (a bishop or the one he designates). For matrimony the ordinaries are the marrying couple themselves (with the priest as the Church’s witness). For baptism the ordinary is the clergy, but in an emergency any one can baptize, so long as s/he has the intent to do what the Church does.

This answer was probably way too long, but I hope it helps.
God love you,
Paul


#7

[quote=jphilapy]On the site NewAdvent.org the article for infalibility says:
“It is only in connection with doctrinal authority as such that, practically speaking, this question of infallibility arises; that is to say, when we speak of the Church’s infallibility we mean, at least primarily and principally, what is sometimes called active as distinguished from passive infallibility. We mean in other words that the Church is infallible in her objective definitive teaching regarding faith and morals, not that believers are infallible in their subjective interpretation of her teaching. This is obvious in the case of individuals, any one of whom may err in his understanding of the Church’s teaching; nor is the general or even unanimous consent of the faithful in believing a distinct and independent organ of infallibility.”

My question is who is the church? This passage is distinguishing between individuals and the church. Now I understand that first of all the word church is never used in scripture. The correct word would be ekklesia. So I guess the correct question here would be, who is the ekklesia? According to scripture the word ekklesia is a designation for:

a) a collective gathering of saints. 1 cor. 16:19
b) a reference to believers in general without a regard for any meeting. eph. 3:10

How can you say that the church cannot err, but the individual can if the individual is the church? And how can you distinguish between the individual and the church?

Jeff
[/quote]

Eph4:4-6 There is one **body **and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Jesus is returning for one Church and that would b the Chuch of all born again believers in Him. The word body implies church.


#8

The Church is the body of believers. It is made up of many parts, each with different functions. That is also scriptural. But to answer your question, the Church is Mystery and every believer is caught up in that mystery. Every non believer is yet to be caught up in that mystery. You should check out Henri de LuBac’s The Splendor of the Church. There are all kinds of way the church is refered to in scripture, as a body, as a kingdom, as a bride, etc… You have to take in all the refernces to greally get the picture. Often people want to think of the church as simply the magesterium, or just the laity. Both are equally DEAD wrong (pun intended!) We can’t sut off one part of the body and concentrate on that and put all our focus and energy on it, for the rest will die. If you seek the church, then you seek God and neighbor! If you want to love the church, love God and love neighbor! If you want to join the church, go to RCIA!:wink:

To answer your last question about individual and church. What you are asking is known as a false dichotomy. You are trying to sepreate what can not be seperated. The church is a collection of individuals. How can it not error - God wonderful Grace!!!


#9

Thanks Paul and Lisa,

My motivation for asking the question is because of what I see as na often misunderstanding of church. In protestant and catholic circles it seems that a great deal of the folks have no idea of what church is. They think it is the leadership. Or they think it is the building. But they don’t realize that they are the church. And reading the article at newadvent.org gave me the impression that the catholic leadership as well as the protestant leadership are partially responsible for conveying the idea that the building or the leadership is the church .

Anyway another question for you. If we are the church and if we have the mind of Christ, if we have His Spirit to guide us, and we will judge the world, than shouldn’t we be as much as part of determining proper theology as the Pope?

I know I am asking some questions that cover some broad ground. Partially I am looking for some catholic elaboration on the above things such as how do you view the mind of christ, the spirit working in each individual, us judging the world? Doesn’t this apply to all saints?

Granted some believers are more mature than others, which means some will be able to judge more accurately because of the mature discernment. But to say that the pope has final say and cannot be questioned? It seems to me that scripture counters this when Paul rebuked Peter. And Paul seemed to take on his own authority apart from Peter. Paul never said “And peter said”. Instead what Paul did was refered to his own authority and to the revelation and Gospel that God had given him. Undoubtly Paul eventually consulted with Peter and James, but it seems he only did so in order to console them by letting them know that he was teaching the Word of God. In otherwords I see no indication of Paul getting Peter’s permission. And based on Paul’s tone in Galatians it appears that Paul could care less if Peter disaproved, because Paul was already convinced that the Gospel he taught was revealed to him directly by Christ. And this point appears to be further supported when Paul rebukes Peter for his actions which were contrary to “Paul’s Gospel”. It only seems odd that Paul is rebuking the “Pope”. Should it be the other way around if the pope cannot be corrected?

Btw I may be treading on sensitive territory so for the record I am not here for a debate. I am simply inquiring for my own learning.

And nope your post isn’t too long. Please do answer. :slight_smile:

Jeff


#10

[quote=jphilapy]Thanks Paul and Lisa,

My motivation for asking the question is because of what I see as na often misunderstanding of church. In protestant and catholic circles it seems that a great deal of the folks have no idea of what church is. They think it is the leadership. Or they think it is the building. But they don’t realize that they are the church. And reading the article at newadvent.org gave me the impression that the catholic leadership is partially responsible for conveying that idea as well as the protestant.

Anyway another question for you. If we are the church and if we have the mind of Christ, if we have His Spirit to guide us, and we will judge the world, than shouldn’t we be as much as part of determining proper theology as the Pope?

I know I am asking some questions that cover some broad ground. Partially I am looking for some catholic elaboration on the above things such as how do you view the mind of christ, the spirit working in each individual, us judging the world? Doesn’t this apply to all saints?

Granted some believers are more mature than others, which means some will be able to judge more accurately because of the mature discernment. But to say that the pope has final say and cannot be questioned? It seems to me that scripture counters when Paul rebuked Peter. And Paul seemed to take on his own authority apart from Peter. Paul never said “And peter said”. Instead what Paul did was refered to his own authority and to the revelation and Gospel that God had given him. Undoubtly Paul eventually consulted with Peter and James, but it seems he only did so in order to console them by letting them know that he was teaching the Word of God. In otherwords I see no indication of Paul getting Peter’s permission. And based on Paul’s tone in Galatians it appears that Paul could care less if Peter disaproved, because Paul was already convinced that the Gospel he taught was revealed to him directly by Christ. And this point appears to be further supported when Paul rebukes Peter for his actions which were contrary to “Paul’s Gospel”. It only seems odd that Paul is rebuking the “Pope”. Should it be the other way around if the pope cannot be corrected?

Btw I may be treading on sensitive territory so for the record I am not here for a debate. I am simply inquiring for my own learning.

And nope your post isn’t too long. Please do answer. :slight_smile:

Jeff
[/quote]

G.K. chesterton said “Any man can be a theologian provided he can look past his own nose”

Yes, we all have aright to theology, not just “churchmen” as so many misunderstand.


#11

And when Jesus says “on this rock” why not all apostles? I mean revelations says:

Rev 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Also Paul says:

Eph 2:20 being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone;

[size=2]Isn’t Jesus reference to Peter being the rock the church is built on just another reference to the foundation of all the prophets and apostles?[/size]

Sorry to ask some many questions but this isn’t something that can be stretched out for me.

Thanks,
Jeff


#12

jeff, as you said, loads of questions

i’m no expert but i can try

If we are the church and if we have the mind of Christ, if we have His Spirit to guide us, and we will judge the world, than shouldn’t we be as much as part of determining proper theology as the Pope?

i would consider the consequenses of your idea. if we all had an equal part in determining theology, we would end up voting on it and the consequenses of that are too horrible to imagine. no offense (if you’re not catholic) but the idea of everyone having the authority to determine theology or doctrine has been tried by protestantism and has proved itself a total disaster at maintaining any sort of unity in doctrine. it seems logical to have a central authority set up by christ. i say logical because to examine the scriptural proofs for it, perhaps you could do a search on this forum’s posts.

But to say that the pope has final say and cannot be questioned? It seems to me that scripture counters this when Paul rebuked Peter.
It only seems odd that Paul is rebuking the “Pope”. Should it be the other way around if the pope cannot be corrected?

as i said, to look at scriptural proof of petrine authority, perhaps you should look at other threads on this forum. suffice to say that the church believes that the magesterium is infallible while teaching ex cathedra. in those cases, the magesterium "has the final say and cannot be questioned"
also, the case you cite, of paul rebuking peter, does not constitute an ex cathedra statement. paul rebuked him for hypocrisy and eating with gentiles on one hand and not eating when the jews were around. there is no indication that peter solemnly defined that one should eat with anyone and then reversed his teaching. he just failed to practice what he preached.
this just goes to show that popes are humans and do commit sin (that hardly is a new discovery about peter). there is no error in doctrinal teaching here.
i’m sure there have been other cases where popes have been rebuked for sinful lifestyles; once again, this does not mean an error in ex cathedra teaching
your question is a classic example of misunderstanding the catholic teaching. perhaps you should look up papal infallibility somewhere (newadvent has it probably)


#13

And when Jesus says “on this rock” why not all apostles? I mean revelations says:

Rev 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Also Paul says:

Eph 2:20 being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone;

[size=2]Isn’t Jesus reference to Peter being the rock the church is built on just another reference to the foundation of all the prophets and apostles?[/size]

rev 21:24 just affirms what the catholic church teaches- that the apostles are the foundation. this is seen also in mat 18 where some of the words addressed to peter in mat 16 are repeated to all the apostles as a whole.
however, neither rev 21 nor mat 18 can take anything away from the words to peter in mat 16. bible verses don’t cancel out each other
thus, in a certain sense, all the apostles together have authority
(majsterial infallibility has a collective aspect too)
that does not take away anything from the fact that peter had special authority among the apostles (majesterial authority has a unique papal dimension, often the only one people seem to know about)
that does not take away anything from the fact that christ is the cornerstone


#14

[quote=justinmatter]rev 21:24 just affirms what the catholic church teaches- that the apostles are the foundation. this is seen also in mat 18 where some of the words addressed to peter in mat 16 are repeated to all the apostles as a whole.
however, neither rev 21 nor mat 18 can take anything away from the words to peter in mat 16. bible verses don’t cancel out each other
thus, in a certain sense, all the apostles together have authority
(majsterial infallibility has a collective aspect too)
that does not take away anything from the fact that peter had special authority among the apostles (majesterial authority has a unique papal dimension, often the only one people seem to know about)
that does not take away anything from the fact that christ is the cornerstone
[/quote]

Thanks for your reply. If the pope replaces Peter in succession and carries on his authority, then who carries on the authority of the other 11 apostles?

Jeff


#15

the bishops, of course.
the pope (an affectionate term meaning papa) is the bishop of rome and addresses the bishops as "brothers"
in a certain sense, they are equal
in a certain sense, the pope has primacy over the others


#16

So do the bishops counsel with the pope on any issues that may be expressed ex cathedra do determine if it is agreeble and good with the Holy Spirit kind of like the Jerusalem counsel?

Thanks,
Jeff


#17

Yes. The Church usually holds councils for such matters,
Ecumenical Councils:
Nicaea I (325)
Constantinople I (381)
Ephesus (431)
Chalcedon (451)
Constantinople II (553)
Constantinople III (680-681)
Nicaea II (787)
Constantinople IV (869-870)
Lateran IV (1215)
Lyons II (1274)
Vienne (1311-1312)
Constance (1414-1418)
Florence (1439-1445)
Lateran V (1512-1517)
Trent (1545-1563)
Vatican I (1869-1870)
Vatican II (1962-1965)


#18

All the baptized belong to the body of Chirst, the Church. However, not all the members of the Church have the same charisms, some have been appointed by God to offices of leadership and the rest of us are told to obey our leaders and submit to them.

1 Cor 12:12-30 says:
12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single organ, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” . . .
27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
Ephesians 4:11-16 says:
11And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.
Hebrews 13:17 says:
17Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.


#19

what he said

Todd has the answer from Paul the great articulator for the first generation Church of its identity


#20

[quote=jphilapy]…In otherwords I see no indication of Paul getting Peter’s permission. And based on Paul’s tone in Galatians it appears that Paul could care less if Peter disaproved, because Paul was already convinced that the Gospel he taught was revealed to him directly by Christ. And this point appears to be further supported when Paul rebukes Peter for his actions which were contrary to “Paul’s Gospel”. It only seems odd that Paul is rebuking the “Pope”. Should it be the other way around if the pope cannot be corrected?
Jeff
[/quote]

Jeff, these comments are too long, but here goes anyway -

  1. In Galations, Paul appears to be making a case to that Christian community for his authority, and that they need to listen to what he says. He does so by showing them that he chastised “even Cephas, to his face”. I would paraphrase it as “look guys, even the Boss has to listen to me when I’m right”. I understand you may take it another way, but the point is, Paul would not mention “to his face” if Peter were just one of the guys.

  2. As mentioned by several in this thread, Peter was not only acting against what Paul preached… Peter was acting against what PETER preached too. Don’t forget that. This might have qualified as a sin, maybe, I don’t know. It was a character weakness, which Peter readily admitted to, as we see no indication of an argument with Paul. Every Pope has been a sinner, every Pope will be a sinner. John Paul II, as I understand, goes to confession regularly. He must feel he has sin(s) to confess to make it a valid confession. This comes as a surprise to many, as they may say “Who does the Pope confess to?” The answer would be “to his favorite priest or bishop, who sits in for Jesus Christ!”

  3. In Acts 15:
    a. people argue with Paul…at least twice…and Paul can’t stop the arguing. No one is recorded as arguing with Peter, and this was a heavy subject!, After his talk there is no more argument.

b. Also, Paul and Barnabas are “sent” by the Church to work on this argument. They do not go off and do something on their own.

c. Peter’s proclamation has not changed even to today, while James’ decision is pastoral in nature (not doctrinal) and could be viewed as something appropriate for certain people, at a certain point in time, to assist them in charitably practicing their new Christian faith. I would think pastoral judgements are subject to change, and James’ certainly did (for instance, today we do not worry about meat from strangled animals).

d. I believe the Greek word James uses for Simon’s sermon is “…has declared…” same as John 1:18 (but someone needs to check this out for sure). James also say" it is my judgement, THEREFORE, that etc…". To me, this says that the upcoming regulations James will announce are based upon Peter’s speech.
Does anyone else see it this way? I really don’t know.

It’s amazing how many people think that Peter and Paul argued over Judaizing (even many of my Catholic friends). The **truth **appears to be in both areas mentioned by you, Jeff… Galations and Acts 15. In neither place do we see Peter arguing with Paul, and in neither place do we see Paul settling an issue.

There are many, many other places where we can see Peter in a place of special primacy, both pre and post Ascension. But these were pertinent to this thread, so I stopped here.

Those are always great areas for questions, Jeff. I think many of us appreciate yours on this thread. Thanks, and

God Bless Us All.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.