Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Biblical origin of the Papacy

In addition to the testimony of the Early Church Fathers about the papal primacy, there are many texts that are frequently neglected by apologists that demonstrate the Biblical origin of the Papacy. To begin with, we will consider some Old Testament texts that prophesy/foreshadow the office of a Supreme Pastor and earthly High Priest of the New Covenant.  Also, we will be using quotations from the Douay Rheims Challoner translation (the KJV has been used previously to prove a crucial Catholic doctrine rejected by the Protestants, so there is no need to use it again here).

Osee (Hosea) 1:10-11: “And the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, that is without measure, and shall not be numbered. And it shall be in the place where it shall be said to them: You are not my people: it shall be said to them: Ye are the sons of the living God. And the children of Juda, and the children of Israel shall be gathered together: and they shall appoint themselves one head, and shall come up out of the land: for great is the day of Jezrahel.”

We know this is talking about the New Testament period when their will be a largely Gentile Church, since this is the very text that St. Paul quotes in Romans 9 about Gentiles being brought into the new covenant. See Rom. 9:24-27. Note however, that the verse following the one quoted by St. Paul also applies to the same group, who appoints for themselves "one head." Obviously the Church does not "appoint Jesus;" Jesus is the head of the Church by divine right, not by human appointment. However, the text mentions a head that will be appointed in the New Covenant era. Although we know that Christ appointed St. Peter as head of the Apostolic College, as even the Orthodox admit, this "election" also occurred in the early Church in subsequent ages. We have, for example, the testimony of the earliest Fathers, like St. Irenaeus of the 2nd century, who speaks of the Roman Bishop (successor to St. Peter) as follows:

St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:3:2: "But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul—that church which has the tradition and the faith with which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition"

Scripture seems to promise in the book of Jeremias that in the New Covenant there will not be a ceasing of apostolic succession, that is to say, that to the end, there will always be some member or members of the Catholic hierarchy alive on the earth, in communion with and faithful to the Apostolic See. If this is a correct understanding of this passage from Scripture, the question becomes where are ye now, O ministers of the Lord?

Jeremias 33:17-22: "For thus saith the Lord: There shall not be cut off from David a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel. Neither shall there be cut off from the priests and Levites a man before my face to offer holocausts, and to burn sacrifices, and to kill victims continually: And the word of the Lord came to Jeremias, saying: Thus saith the Lord: If my covenant with the day can be made void, and my covenant with the night, that there should not be day and night in their season: Also my covenant with David my servant may be made void, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne, and with the Levites and priests my ministers. As the stars of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea be measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites my ministers."

We know that this is referring to the New Covenant, because it specifically says this covenant can never be made void: the Old Covenant, however, was transitory, as the epistle to the Hebrews teaches. So what is being discussed here must be the eternal priesthood – the priesthood after the order of Melchisedech – that the Lord established at His first advent. Furthermore, this doesn’t mean that at every second of Church history there will be a pope, as there have always been periods of vacancy, such as when a pope dies. But although we know that applies to Christ in a typological sense, the point is that it can also be applied to the papacy as well.

"But wait," you say, "the Bible never says that New Testament ministers are to be called priests." This is not true; the Bible, in fact, teaches that very thing:

Isaias 61:5-6: “And strangers shall stand and shall feed your flocks: and the sons of strangers shall be your husbandmen, and the dressers of your vines.

But you shall be called the priests of the Lord: to you it shall be said: Ye ministers of our God: you shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and you shall pride yourselves in their glory.”

This is doubtless a prophecy of the New Covenant because that’s the only possible way there could ever be Gentile ministers as priests over God’s flock. It certainly could never occur in the Old Covenant. The strangers are Gentiles who will serve at God’s new Eucharistic altar in the Church. Furthermore, we have the similar prophecy of Malachias that many early Church Fathers use to prove the mass is a sacrifice:

Malachias 1:11: “For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts.”

This clean oblation is the offering of the Holy Eucharist that St. Paul clearly mentions:

Hebrews 13:10: “We (Christians) have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle (Jews).”

Christians, then, in the New Testament, continue to have an altar from which they eat. Only the Catholic Church has preserved this truth, unadulterated, from apostolic times: all the Protestant “reformers” tossed out the altar and replaced it with their simple "table" and "meal." This should tell you where you will find Christ – in the Catholic Mass, not in the dry, barren, lecture-brunch services of Protestantism.

Moving into the New Testament, consider the fact that Jesus specifically renames Simon Bar-Jona "Rock" in John 1:42 ("Kephas" means rock in Aramaic). This proves that it’s Peter himself that Jesus is referring to in St. Matthew 16:18-19. But there is an even better argument to prove this point. When Jesus is giving the keys to St. Peter, he is not ad-libbing. The idea of "keys" as a symbol of vice-regency is a principle that goes back to the Old Testament.

Isaias 22:20-25: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliacim the son of Helcias, And I will clothe him with thy robe, and will strengthen him with thy girdle, and will give thy power into his hand: and he shall be as a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Juda. And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a peg in a sure place, and he shall be for a throne of glory to the house of his father. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, divers kinds of vessels, every little vessel, from the vessels of cups even to every instrument of music. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the peg be removed, that was fastened in the sure place: and it shall be broken and shall fall: and that which hung thereon, shall perish, because the Lord hath spoken it.”

This is a foreshadowing of what God will do when He establishes His new Israel, the Church, firmly and unshakably on the Rock of the confession of St. Peter. Why else would he rename Simon "Rock"? But note that the principle of "keys" is specifically given to Eliakim as a symbol of his office as vice-regent, or key-holder over Israel, and it symbolizes his supreme authority. This is why we say the Pope has full jurisdiction over the Church.

At this time in Israel, a king was absent, so there was a vice-regent ruling in his place. Shebna, the previous vice-regent had been wicked, so God removed him and replaced him with Eliakim. Clearly this foreshadows what Jesus is doing in St. Matthew chapter sixteen because He is, as king, soon to ascend to His Father, and in his absence, He will appoint St. Peter as vice-regent of the new Israel. I will further prove this point as we move on.

In St. Luke 12 and St. Matthew 24, Jesus specifically explains to St. Peter and the Apostles that he (St. Peter) is the head of the household while the Master (Jesus) is away.

St. Luke 12:36-48: "And you [the Apostles] yourselves like to men who wait for their lord, when he shall return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately.  Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh, shall find watching. Amen I say to you, that he will gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and passing will minister unto them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But this know ye, that if the householder did know at what hour the thief would come, he would surely watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Be you then also ready: for at what hour you think not, the Son of man will come. And Peter said to him: Lord, dost thou speak this parable to us, or likewise to all? And the Lord said: Who is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord setteth over his family, to give them their measure of wheat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come, he shall find so doing. Verily I say to you, he will set him over all that he possesseth. But if that servant shall say in his heart: My lord is long a coming; and shall begin to strike the menservants and maidservants, and to eat and to drink and be drunk: The lord of that servant will come in the day that he hopeth not, and at the hour that he knoweth not, and shall separate him, and shall appoint him his portion with unbelievers. And that servant who knew the will of his lord, and prepared not himself, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more."

Note that Jesus says that the householder is over all that the Master possesses: clearly a single, earthly head ruling the entire Church. In any New Testament text that uses the "household" terminology, God’s "household" is consistently His Church. Furthermore, St. Matthew’s (24) text adds an important point to this parable:

St. Matthew 24:42-51: "Watch ye therefore, because ye know not what hour your Lord will come. But know this ye, that if the head of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Wherefore be you also ready, because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come. Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family, to give them meat in season. Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come he shall find so doing. Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods.  But if that evil servant shall say in his heart: My lord is long a coming: And shall begin to strike his fellow servants, and shall eat and drink with drunkards: The lord of that servant shall come in a day that he hopeth not, and at an hour that he knoweth not: And shall separate him, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Matthew adds that the man appointed over the household, the vice-regent, the Vicar of Christ, as a pope is called, is said to feed the household in due season. Recall what Jesus said to St. Peter exclusively in the Gospel of John:

St. John 21:15-17: "When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep."

Certainly all the bishops have a duty to feed the sheep and lambs, and various liturgies, East and West use these texts in their readings to point to the office of the local bishop. But specifically, St. Peter is the one whom Jesus is saying is the head of the entire house, given the charge of feeding the sheep and lambs, the sheep being the other bishops, laymen being the lambs. There is no doubt that St. Peter and his successors are the earthly head appointed by Christ who gives the Church her “meat in season.”

At the first council of the Church, which was a model for all the Ecumenical Councils to follow, the debate over the necessity of circumcision for Gentile converts is settled – not by St. James’ decision, but by St. James’ quoting of St. Peter. At that point, the issue is settled.

Acts of the Apostles 15:7-16: "And when there had been much disputing, Peter, rising up, said to them: Men, brethren, you know, that in former days God made choice among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, who knoweth the hearts, gave testimony, giving unto them the Holy Ghost, as well as to us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why tempt you God to put a yoke upon the necks of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe to be saved, in like manner as they also. And all the multitude held their peace; and they heard Barnabas and Paul telling what great signs and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying: Men, brethren, hear me. Simon [Peter] hath related how God first visited to take of the Gentiles a people to his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets, as it is written: ‘After these things I will return, and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and the ruins thereof I will rebuild, and I will set it up’…"

So, we see that St. Peter's definition quiets the debating and settles the issue. And yet outside the Catholic Church: in Eastern 'Orthodoxy' or Protestantism, or other denominations -  there is nothing but confusion, discord and schism, and no final court of appeal, no doctrinal rock, which gives meat in season. St. James quotes St. Peter and the debate ends. In like manner, the Roman Pontiff, as successor to St. Peter ratifies the Ecumenical Council, making it valid and binding.

And last of all, in every covenant era: Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and the New, God’s people are governed hierarchically with a single earthly head! If one really wants to be faithful to covenant theology, as many of you do, one would have to admit that in every era of God’s covenant, His people are ruled monarchically, as it were, and that this hierarchy of earthly authority was instituted by God Himself. Wasn’t God the head of the Church in the Noahic era? Yes, He was. Wasn’t He head of the Church in the Mosaic era? Of course! Did the fact that there was a single earthly High Priest take away from God’s lordship? Not in the least. We believe it was by God’s appointment that His people were so ruled. The New Testament continues that same, covenantal, monarchical structure, with the God-man Jesus Christ as supreme head and having an earthly minister.

Following that same train of thought, consider the fact that there was an earthly High Priest who, for the good of God’s people, was given full jurisdiction, if you will, over the Israelites to judge legal and theological matters (faith and morals). Consider Deuteronomy 17:8-13, where God commands tough legal/theological decisions to be made by the ordained priesthood, and especially the High Priest. God commands that those who will not hear His Pontiff are to be "excommunicated" from Israel by being stoned, in a kind of Inquisition, if you will.

Deuteronomy 17:8-13: "If thou perceive that there be among you a hard and doubtful matter in judgment between blood and blood, cause and cause, leprosy and leprosy: and thou see that the words of the judges within thy gates do vary: arise, and go up to the place, which the Lord thy God shall choose. And thou shalt come to the priests of the Levitical race, and to the judge, that shall be at that time: and thou shalt ask of them, and they shall shew thee the truth of the judgment. And thou shalt do whatsoever they shall say, that preside in the place, which the Lord shall choose, and what they shall teach thee, According to his law; and thou shalt follow their sentence: neither shalt thou decline to the right hand nor to the left hand. But he that will be proud, and refuse to obey the commandment of the priest, who ministereth at that time to the Lord thy God, and the decree of the judge, that man shall die, and thou shalt take away the evil from Israel: And all the people hearing it shall fear, that no one afterwards swell with pride."

Would God provide Israel, the divorced nation of the Old Covenant, with a practical good like this, and not provide something better for His New Testament Church, which is His very body–the mystery of all the ages manifested, as St. Paul calls it in Ephesians chapter three? No, Jesus says clearly that those who will not hear the Church are to be counted as heathens in St. Matthew chapter eighteen.

Such an indisputable authority was clearly prefigured in the canonical Old Testament book of Machabees, which is clearly divinely inspired Scripture:

Machabees 14:41-49: "And that the Jews, and their priests, had consented that he should be their prince, and high priest for ever, till there should arise a faithful prophet: And that he should be chief over them, and that he should have the charge of the sanctuary, and that he should appoint rulers over their works, and over the country, and over the armour, and over the strong holds. And that he should have care of the holy places: and that he should be obeyed by all, and that all the writings in the country should be made in his name: and that he should be clothed with purple, and gold: And that it should not be lawful for any of the people, or of the priests, to disannul any of these things, or to gainsay his words, or to call together an assembly in the country without him: or to be clothed with purple, or to wear a buckle of gold: And whosoever shall do otherwise, or shall make void any of these things shall be punished.

"And it pleased all the people to establish Simon, and to do according to these words. And Simon accepted thereof, and was well pleased to execute the office of the high priesthood, and to be captain, and prince of the nation of the Jews, and of the priests, and to be chief over all. And they commanded that this writing should be put in tables of brass, and that they should be set up within the compass of the sanctuary, in a conspicuous place: And that a copy thereof should be put in the treasury, that Simon and his sons may have it."

How fitting that his name is Simon!

If the Church was purely fallible and corrupt, as Protestants hold, how could Jesus expect us to submit our consciences to this kind of Church’s official rulings? No, the Church is not a divided, fallible, whoring, corruption, as Protestants think. The "Church is the pillar and ground of truth," as St. Paul says (1 Tim. 3:15). As the very pillar and ground of truth, she cannot be a fallible and corrupt prostitute. She is the body of Christ, His spotless bride (Ephesians 5:23) and the Pope is His Vicar, as the Fathers of the Church were wont to hold, and this remains so even in the face of the Church’s mocking counterfeit, the Vatican II sect and its heretic antipopes, who are NOT the Catholic Church, nor Catholic popes, but USURPERS.  This last sad fact means, however, that the Church, though she still exists in her members  (1 Corinthians 12:27) who believe and obey what she teaches and has taught throughout the ages, is currently without an earthly high priest, without one to settle the many disputes of our days according to right faith, thus fulfilling an ancient curse:

Amos 8:11: " Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will send forth a famine into the land: not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord."

What Must You Do To Get to Heaven?

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