Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why do Catholics believe the pope can speak infallibly?

Has anyone asked, or have you asked, how a man of flesh and blood can have the audacity to claim that he can speak with absolute certainty of truth? Not only that, but by making an infallible statement that God himself is bound by that infallible statement? Now that would take some nerve, wouldn’t it? That would take some guts to say that God has to listen to me!

But that’s pretty much what the pope can do. And it bugs non-Catholics, and many Catholics, quite a lot.

Why can he do this? On what authority can the pope make infallible declarations that are even binding upon heaven? Let’s look in the Bible, shall we?

In Genesis 41-42 Joseph is put over all of Pharaoh’s empire. Why? Because he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. He had a revelation from God. We’ll discuss how Joseph lends some other interesting things to Peter being the first pope in other posts, but the point here is Joseph gets the job by having a revelation from God.

In Hebrew tradition, Moses, and then the prophets, talked to God and told the people what he said. Moses and the prophets were given the ability to speak infallibly. Did they sit down and have a chit-chat with God? I’m not sure, I wasn’t there, but during the Old Testament they had infallible statements.

Now we get to the New Testament. There hasn’t been a prophet in a while. There’s no king on David’s throne. And then this happens:

“He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." and Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 16:15-17 NAB)

Jesus asks who people say he is. Seems like a simple question. The various disciples take a stab at it but they all miss the mark, until Peter. After Peter’s response Jesus says something amazing: “Flesh and blood have not revealed these things to you, but the Father above.” What just happened? Peter didn’t know about Jesus’ real identity because he saw something or he read it somewhere. God revealed it to Peter. Peter’s statement was an infallible declaration given to him directly by the Father above.

Because of this, Jesus went on to say (to Peter):

I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt 16:19 NAB)

Just like Joseph and the prophets before him, Peter is given authority because God revealed Truth to him. Peter’s not a good guesser. He gets a lot of stuff wrong. In fact, this is one of the only times he gets it right; and he can’t take credit for it since it was from God, not his own flesh and blood.

This is how we see the pope today. He may make infallible statements on faith and morals. He cannot say infallibly that blue is a better color than red, but he can infallibly state that abortion is an intrinsic evil. He has that right and responsibility to declare that which God has revealed to him. Jesus said he can; on what authority do you say that he can’t?


dave ruiz said...

Here is the kicker,,was this mode of operendum of God revealing to Peter who Jesus is ,just for Peter ,or the apostles ? If Peter touched someone could he impart the possibility of receiving divine revelation also ? The old testament and new generally statets that God is sovereign, and has a will and is greater. We are "less" but can be elevated to His will. So much that many scholars state the correct interpetation of Matt.16:19 is that if you bind whatever God wills to be bound will be bound.The rules for binding have already been set,not by Peter but by God .It is simple,.The church (Peter ,the apostles to "workers" like Stephen ,to anyone who proclaims the gospel,is setting the guidelines by which to be judged. All human beings who have heard the gospel,and refuse God's divine revelation by the Holy Spirit,is "bound " to hell. All souls who receive His revelation by the power of the Holy Spirit ,is "bound" to Heaven (salvation). This is infallible and God honors it, for that is how He (not Peter )set it up. "For God chose that by the foolishness of preaching should men be saved". These are the keys ,and let every tongue confess that He is Lord, not just the pope. We all have the commission to preach the goespel........Furthermore, the idea that it is one mans key ,and he passes it down to "one "person ,has no biblical evidence and very weak historical evidence in the first or second century .It became more traditional slowly after The Roman (worldly) Empire joined hands with the church. Indeed, the "pope" is a bit like Caesar, by no coincidence, but wrapped in "man-shaped" Christian dogma. In the end yes, a man has God given authority, even a pope, but as you can tell by Dan's last statement,there is no other authority to the contrary, robbing the Holy Spirit of saying anything thru others ,even a lay person. Hence, you need the roman catholic church to be really saved in fullness."under my thumb ,an old Rolling stone song comes to mind. Lord help us.

Dan said...

Dave, you said “All human beings who have heard the gospel,and refuse God's divine revelation by the Holy Spirit,is "bound " to hell. All souls who receive His revelation by the power of the Holy Spirit ,is "bound" to Heaven (salvation).” And while this may be true it has nothing to do with the binding and loosing in Mt 16:19. It doesn’t at all fit the context.

Jesus said to Peter: “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” How does this say that each of us bind ourselves to salvation or damnation? Jesus isn’t even talking about that; he’s talking about the new Kingdom and is assigning Peter as his steward

You say there’s no biblical evidence of a key being passed down from one person to another? Have you not read Isaiah 22:20-22?

“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. “

This office of steward, or head minister, that was given to Eliakim was a principle part of Davidic kingdoms. Kings had cabinets of ministers. Those cabinets had a chief who was given the key (a physical key) as a sign of his office. The OFFICE of royal steward passed from person to person as time went on.

How can you deny the parallel to Jesus words? First, Peter says Jesus is the Messiah, which means Jesus is the descendant of David coming to restore the kingdom. In other words, Jesus is a king. Jesus says Peter is right, and Jesus kingdom is both the Church (built upon the rock) and the kingdom of heaven which Jesus gives Peter the keys to.

Twist this all you want but a plain reading of the text and a comparison to Isaiah 22 shows that Jesus is founding a kingdom and that Peter is the steward in the line of Eliakim.

It’s so hard for people to accept that God chooses specific people to lead others into truth. The “why not me?” syndrome is easy to see. However, as this post shows God chose many people (Joseph, Abraham, Moses, the apostles, etc) to be leaders. Imagine the people saying “No, Moses, you can’t give us the 10 commandments because God doesn’t choose people to speak infallibly like that. God uses each of us equally.”

dave ruiz said...

happy new year Dan. Oh ,I have admitted there are leaders ,and they have keys. Can you not do better than to say that I say God does not use leaders cause it somehow diminishes me? We just differ in who the leaders are today, and yesterday, and how they function, and who we are and how God functions etc.,etc. etc. I have said Peter had keys. I have said he was first among equals. You have elevated "office", where I prefer God elevates the working of the Holy Spirit, both thru offices and individuals. Why do you think Jesus rebuked the Pharisees? They definitely elevated offices over the actual revelation of the Spirit right under there own noses, though they were sons of Abraham, and were in somewhat in line of succession to the so called "keys". ...I am sorry but yes, he was talking to Peter who first used those "keys" to deliver the first Pentecost sermon and thousands converted. But I dare you to say Stephen-a lay person, also had the keys with many miracles and indeed helped unlock the hardest heart, a Saul of tarsus, who also took those keys and ran with it wild in service to the King. Not to mention it was the doctrine of "the Apostles " that the church grew" on(Acts).You fail to prove the exclusivity of the Keys only being One man at a time .Yes, there may have been "key" succession in the old testament up to Jesus,then Peter being the first of many to flare out from there. Furthermore ,it is God who hands the keys to whom he wills ,as indicated in Isaiah (not a group of Cardinals). You elevate the "office". I see Jesus as the fulfillment of the Isaiah Office. You are now in the new testament, the kingdom has come .The commission is to all .Those keys are not subject to one man The keys are for OPENING, the door is OPEN . Why would you still need a "key holder" ? Indeed ,Rev 3:7 says Jesus is the key holder", indeed when He opens up a heart, by the preaching of His gospel (using HIS key), no man or devil can shut it. Paul says "who can separate us from the love of God ?" Will I dare say Mother Theresa used not the key ? Would I say Billy Graham used not the key? If we judge Peter by his fruits, saving thousands, these have reached millions. Again Jesus is the key holder of Isaiah and still has them. He definitely gave them also to Peter. He was an Apostle, one of twelve that forms the foundation of the church. Yes we have "leaders" today. We just differ in who they are and how God chooses them etc.etc.etc.

dave ruiz said...

Dan ,your first paragraph says Matt:16:19 (binding that Peter could do) has nothing to do with receiving or rejecting the Gospel (or remission of sins) and heaven and hell. Matt18:18 to ALL THE DISCIPLES:"Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven(and loose)..."..Indeed it could be to all the church, for in vs. 17 it is the church that can bind one or loose one in the church declaring an unrepentant heart "heathen". So we have Peter, then the disciples and now a church that can apparently "bind". John 20:23- To ALL the disciples after receiving the Holy Ghost, "Whose soever sins you remit, they are remitted, and whosoever sins ye retain are retained". This is the second reference of binding to sin and or forgiveness. Acts 10:43" thru his name(Jesus) whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins". Again, the only unforgiveable sin is blaspheming the Holy Ghost ,saying no to the gospel,preached by men, the church thru the Holy Ghost.That is why the disciples,and us must be empowered by this Holy Ghost ,to be effective .When one rejects the Spirit preaching the gospel thru us they reject the Spirit ,and have no hope ,for it is the Spirit that corrects and revives a dead spirit. So we have three examples of "binders"and a tie in to remission of sins.....It seems you see Jesus giving Peter binding powers as that of church "officiating" more than church "building". You may use Isaiah to say officiating like prime minister, but I see those stewards as seed carriers of the hope in the future messiah(gospel). It is a long cry to say the pope has authority to declare The Immaculate Conception or Assumption(officiating) because of Peter and "keys" and "binding", as we have discussed here. Again, the doctrine officiating was done by ALL the apostles(acts).

Anonymous said...

"But before the third century there was no call for a sustained theoretical justification of this leadership.All were brethren, but the church in Rome was accepted as first among equals. The Petrine text of Matt 16 :18 (Peter/rock) can not be seen to have played any part in the story of Roman leadership and authority before the middle of the third century when the passionate disagreement between Cyprian of Carthage and Stephen of Rome about baptism apparently led Stephen to invoke the text as part of his defence against Cyprian. But it was not until Damasus in 382 that this Petrine text seriously began to become important as providing a theological and scriptural foundation on which claims to primacy were based'...Henry Chadwick, "The Early Church"...... The pre-nicene church did not hold today's catholic view on Matt16. It is true, there are no refutations either because no one proposed it. But once Rome began to make the claims, refutations came.So this claim (Peter/rock) "can not be said to be One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church". Thomas Ross Valentine