Christian Apologetics Society

Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."
- Matthew 22:29

Isaiah 55:11
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it
Gen 1:3
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light
Matthew 26:26
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body."
Malachi 1:11
My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty.
John 20:23
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 2:14
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Luke 20:38
For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.
Rev 21:27
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
1 Cor 3:15
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Psalm 51:5
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.
John 3:5
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
1 Timothy 3:15
but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Acts 22:16
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Apologetics - Papal Infallibility

Introduction: During one of my regular blog searches for all things Catholic, I discovered an interesting post by blogger Saur♥Kraut. In my usual manner, on those things I thought in error, I left a polite charitable comment with my counter-points. Saur♥Kraut responded with a reply to her blog post and was kind enough to leave word on one of my earlier blog posts that she had replied and would like me to read and respond. As my reply prints out at 6 pages and most blog software has limitations on comment length and its somewhat rude to monopolize another blog's comments, I have posted my second response to Saur♥Kraut here.

I recommend that you read Saur♥Kraut's original post Reformation in the Catholic Church first, followed by all the comments, and then return here for my second response which follows.

>”Actually, there is. Didn’t you read my points?”

Yes, I did. You posted four “examples” of what you believe to be erroneous proclamations and judgments by past Popes and thus proof against papal infallibility. However, none of those examples have ever been recognized by the Catholic Church as infallible papal proclamations or judgments. Papal infallibility has only been used twice in history.

>”You are in error here – I believe you mean John 16:13.”

Yes, thank you. It was late and I’ve had a tiring schedule lately. Looks like I was one verse off in my citation, but you found the reference nonetheless.

>” Timothy, please note that even you wrote “…and the church”.”

Correct, because the charisma of infallibility has been bestowed by Christ on both the Church and on the successor Peter, the Pope. While the charisma of papal infallibility has only been used twice, the infallibility of the Church has been used many times over.

>” This scripture verse applies to the disciples (plural), not the Pope. You believe the Popes all descend from Peter, but we see that Jesus is addressing a group of disciples and not Peter alone.”

While you don’t say so directly, you seem to imply that only the apostles were infallible and that the charisma vanished after the last apostle died. Is that your intent?

As a Latin Rite Catholic, our bishops (the Popes) inherit their authority from the apostle Peter. The keys of authority which Jesus gave to Peter as mentioned in Matthew 16 were inheritable per Isaiah 22. It seems clear from scripture that Christ did not intend for His Church to wander aimlessly without any Shepard throughout time. I find nothing in scripture to indicate that any and all charismas granted Peter would not be inherited by Peter’s successor.

You mentioned all the disciples being present and being promised the Holy Spirit. We agree that took place at Pentecost. As the other apostles founded churches also, it would be interesting to discover if Pope Shenouda III, the current Pope of Alexandria and the successor of the apostle Mark, also has the charisma of infallibility.

>”I’m not sure what version you’re using,”

For online work, I usually use either the NIV or KJV at

>”What is the Spirit of truth? I think you would have to agree that it’s speaking of the Holy Spirit”

Absolutely. Infallibility has everything to do with truth. If one is speaking the truth, one has made an infallible statement. Truth cannot contradict truth or ever be error. So, if the Pope says something true then it is infallible (without error) just by the nature of truth and infallibility, just as a true statement by a two year-old would also be infallible (without error) just by the nature of truth and infallibility. While infallibility is much more common than many people realize, there still have been only two instances of papal infallibility in history.

>”Incidentally, not even the Catholic Church claims that the Pope is without sin. He is capable of mistakes just as we are (as you seem to admit).”

Oh, absolutely! Catholics have never claimed that the Pope is ever impeccable (without sin). Many non-Catholics confuse infallibility with impeccability. Its lovely to have a discussion with someone who knows the difference.

Christ instituted a Church for sinners, filled the Church with sinners, and put sinners in charge. How cool is that?

>”Which is why in the early church, we saw many church fathers – not one who was supervising them all. It was a system of checks and balances, with elders.”

While there was and is a system of checks and balances, with elders, there was one bishop supervising all the churches under that bishop from the earliest days of the NT church. Perhaps you are not familiar with the church fathers Clement, Ignatius, Basil, Gregory, and Cyril. All were bishops. (We can get into the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, which was recently reaffirmed by the Orthodox bishops in Ravenna, but that’s a longer discussion for another day.)

>”In fact, if you were going to pick a papal authority figure, Paul would have been a likelier choice”

Yep, Paul would have made a both a great Bishop and Pope. Too bad he wasn’t called by God for that ministry. Paul's good friend Peter received the honor of being the first.

>”In what way? And please note that even if that is the case, it also shows that the Popes are prone to extreme error at times.”

In the way that none of them are or have ever been considered infallible Papal statements. Yes, they may be wonderful examples of Popes prone to error, if true. So what? Catholics have never claimed that Popes weren't prone to error. But, your examples have nothing to do with proving or disproving the doctrine of papal infallibility. While the worst, immoral men were serving as Pope, God preserved the church from doctrinal error.

>” Hon, read what I wrote above: You’re buying the classic Catholic dogma. Do some objective research. Only the SCRIPTURE is infallible.”

Only the SCRIPTURE is infallible seems to me a tradition of man. No where in the Bible does it ever claim to be infallible. I’d be curious as to what scriptural proof you have to back up your statement.

I’ll accept that the Bible is inerrant, but I don’t think the Bible, an inanimate object, is even capable of being infallible. Again infallibility is a protection against error. As the Bible is lacking any ability to act in error, infallibility seems an impossibility for the Bible.

Yes, I’m sticking with the Catholic dogma as I find it to be firmly grounded in scripture with no valid evidence to the contrary.

>” Timothy, don’t you see how silly this is? The Catholic Church should either make a stand or not make a stand. There should be no hair-splitting about what an affirmation entails. They should either believe something and stick to it (heresy or no) or they should simply say “we don’t know”. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying here(?)”

Yes, we may have gotten into a misunderstanding at this point. No, I don’t find any of this silly. Jesus was departing His Church knowing that Satan would be looking for opportunities to scatter His sheep. Jesus provided for His Church be ensuring an unending line of shepherds upon whom He granted the Holy Spirit, including the charisma of infallibility. I find nothing silly there.

There is no hair-splitting regarding what an affirmation entails. There is a very carefully defined system which is employed to ensure that error is not taught within the Church. As non-Catholics without a similar system it is often difficult for you to grasp how that system works and acts as checks and balances. We’re discussing papal infallibility, a small piece of that system. There have been two and only two infallible statements made by Popes. You have not mentioned either. I’m at a lack for understanding how you can argue against papal infallibility without knowing what statements made by Popes are recognized by Catholics as being infallible Papal statements. Non-Catholics don’t get to thumb through historical documents, choose any statement they desire, declare it an infallible statement by a Pope, declare it in error, and thus declare papal infallibility an error. That is known as a straw man argument, a classical fallacy.

>”You mistake an organization for a group of believers.”

A group of believers is an organization. We see in the NT how Paul sent Titus to Crete as bishop. Titus was then to appoint leaders of the individual faith communities. The early church had an ecclesiastical structure which is evident both in the NT and in the immediate Ante-Nicene period.

(I lived on Crete for several years and have worshipped at the ruins where Titus and Paul landed. All the churches on Crete are strangely Orthodox or Catholic, both with well developed ecclesiologies.)

I find it hard to believe that Jesus, who as God had foreknowledge of the future of His Church, made no provision for leadership and organization knowing there would be close to 2 billion Christians 2,000 years later. Nor did Jesus, knowing the future organization of the Catholic Church with over 1 billion members, speak against such organization. Consent by silence?

>”Again, you are so snowed by Catholic doctrine that you aren’t even aware of your historical facts. There were myriad groups. Some would be deemed heretical by both Catholics and Protestants today, others were very much of the same beliefs as modern Protestants are.”

Actually, no, I am not snowed by Catholic doctrine and am very much aware of historical facts. Yes, there were myriad groups, but there was only one unified, Catholic Church. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch and disciple of John the Apostle, wrote about AD 107 to the Smyrnaeans:

    They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise again. It is fitting, therefore, that you should keep aloof from such persons, and not to speak of them either in private or in public, but to give heed to the prophets, and above all, to the Gospel, in which the passion [of Christ] has been revealed to us, and the resurrection has been fully proved. But avoid all divisions, as the beginning of evils.

    See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
    Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans

But my favorite quote from an early Church father on false Christian churches would be this one By Cyril of Jerusalem::

    "And if ever thou art sojourning in any city, inquire not simply where the Lord's house is--for the sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens, houses of the Lord--nor merely where the church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of the holy body the mother of us all."
    Cyril of Jerusalem

I have read "Trail of Blood" and there are a number of Christians, mostly Landmark Baptists, that believe in the remnant theory made popular by the book. However, a number of Baptist historiana have proven the Trail of Blood false. The best modern work is Baptist Successionism by James Edward McGoldrick.

>”Yes, Timothy, but only to a small extent. And, may I add, the Catholic Church very much has their own version of the Bible. You are rarely (if ever) encouraged to study scriptures OUTSIDE of that version, nor are you encouraged to look into the reasons why the Protestants have rejected portions of the Catholic Bible.”

Catholics have their own versions of the Bible because the Catholic Church so loves the Bible that it wishes to preserve Bible translations from error. Catholic Bibles are only Catholic because the Church has approved the translation. Recall that shortly after Guttenberg invented the printing press, publishers across Europe went crazy translating and printing Bibles with egregious errors in them.

Yes, Catholics are discouraged from reading erroneous translations of the Bible. For example, I doubt you would encourage Catholics to read the New World Translation by the Watchtower Society (Jehovah's Witnesses). Since the Catholic Church through its councils of bishops selected the books of the New Testament and created the canon of scripture, they have the authority to decide which are valid translations and which are not.

I have about a dozen hardback Bibles and several dozen more in digital format for use with e-Sword. My newest addition is a hardback Holman Christian Standard Bible. Back in my early twenties when I had my born again experience, I purchased and read the NIV. Late after midnight, I read the NIV cover to cover and found everything the Catholic Church teaches in the NIV. It’s all there. 100%.

>” Catholics hear more scripture in their Sunday service than most Protestants do. Don't believe that? Bring your Bible to a Sunday Mass and try and keep up!

But what Protestant churches have YOU been in? In the churches I’ve been in, a Bible is usually mandatory and we should ALL check scriptures as the speaker/pastor/priest uses them.”

I have attended Southern Baptist, Pentecostal, Episcopal, evangelical, Greek Orthodox, and Byzantine Catholic services. You also did not catch on to what I was saying here. You’re focusing on the homily/sermon because that’s the bulk of your service, but only a small part of ours. The Mass is non-stop scripture from its opening words from the Gospel of Matthew to its closing word from Revelation. More on this in a moment.

>”Paul tells us that we should!”

No, Paul does NOT tell us that we should search the scriptures while the pastor is speaking. That is a tradition of man. A nice tradition, but a tradition of man nonetheless. If you re-read about the Bereans, Paul preached in the synagogue and then afterwards the scriptures were searched. (Likely because there was only one set of scripture per synagogue. The congregation did not bring their own personal scrolls to the service in order to follow along.) Was the NT searched? No, the OT was searched. I can prove most Catholic doctrines using the OT alone like the Bereans, can you prove yours using the OT alone?

>”But I HAVE been to a couple Catholic services. To the best of my knowledge, the priest didn’t crack a Bible open once, and I saw no one in the (very large) church that did.”

First, there was a Bible as there is an OT reading, a psalm, a NT epistle or another OT reading, and a Gospel reading at every Sunday Catholic service. The second reading is ommitted at the daily weekday service. A person who attends Mass daily will hear nearly the entire Bible over a three-year cycle, which then repeats. In charity, your attendence was a while ago, a lot happens at the Mass, and human memory does interesting things as it ages.

Second, you may not have realized that much of the dialogue that you heard from both the priest and from the congregation was directly from scripture. Catholics have memorized much of the Bible and incorporated it into the Mass. For example, the Mass begins with everyone reciting “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” You may recognize that from the Great Commission in Matthew. Midway you’ll hear the congregation recite the Sanctus “Holy, Holy, Holy…” which is from Isaiah but also reoccurs in Revelation. Now, the priest could pause the Mass by saying “Let us pray the prayer that Jesus taught us. Everyone turn to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 9 through 13. Has everyone found it?” Personally, I find the Mass goes smoother when everyone has memorized those portions of the Bible and can recite the scripture instantly.

Scott Hahn has an audio file where he describes his taking a Bible to a Catholic Mass and trying to follow along. It took him attending Mass numerous times before he was able to locate all the passages Catholics have memorized. From the Catholic viewpoint, it’s interesting to listen to how this Protestant preacher followed the Mass with his Bible daily over a 2-3 week period. You find his Real Audio file describing the events here:

Scott Hahn - The Lamb's Supper

>” I would recommend you begin to study the history of the Catholic Church from sources outside the Catholic Church. Hey – if the CC is 100% correct, they have nothing to worry about, right?”

Absolutely. I have listened to and read materials from James White, Richard Bennett, Ken Silva, Jack Chick and others who are rabidly anti-Catholic. I have read Calvin’s Institutes, the Methodist Primer, Book of Mormon, the Koran, and several histories of the Baptist denominations and more. On a daily basis I frequent Anglican, Baptist, and evangelical Christian blogs. I’ve been doing this for years. No worries. The more I read, listen, and study the more I am convinced that the Catholic Church is what she claims to be. The pillar and foundation of truth. (1 Tim 3:15)

>”Oh Timothy, Timothy! Surely you are blushing about this lame attempt to defend such error.”

Nope. I’m a big fan of Galileo and have been to his tomb in Florence. I’ve been an amateur astronomer for years and took astronomy in college. Generally, when Galileo gets brought up folks think they know what the Galileo controversy was about, but actually know the myths and misconceptions. The controversy with Galileo had more to do with his disobediance versus his science. I believe that non-Catholic refer to that as church discipline. I think it’s a bit disingenuous to claim the Church should have accepted and taught Galileo’s ideas as truth without any proof and without any way of proving the science until the late 1800’s. Also, keep in mind that the Catholic Church developed the scientific method and the rules of evidence. All truth, even math and science, is from God and leads us closer to God.

>The Lazy Iguana said... ” The only reason you can read this, the only reason there are computers and the internet - is because people had the courage to stand up to the church and refute things the church was teaching that was false.”

Ok, I’ll bite. Prove it. Prove to me that unless people stood up to the church that there would not be computers and the Internet. Sounds like hyperbole to me.

>The Lazy Iguana said... ”…we would all still be living in the mud and filth of the stone age.”

Ok, this is definitely hyperbole, as we were well into the Iron Age when Christ and the Apostles walked the earth.

God bless....


Source: Reformation in the Catholic Church

Labels: , , , , ,


Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

WHEW! I work from home and sometimes have time throughout the day, but THIS will take a LONG time to read, so I may have to put it off a day or so.

It may be a couple of days, but I will! ;o) Incidentally, you might want to check out Underground Logician (his link is listed in my links section), who is a very intelligent Catholic. You'd probably really enjoy getting to know him. He's currently in Catholic seminary and is a former Protestant.

7:47 AM  

<< Home