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Papal Infallibility

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  • Papal Infallibility

    Papal Infallibility - a brief explanation

    The term “Papal Infallibility” is useful shorthand but is slightly misleading. The Pope in himself is not infallible, Only God is infallible in himself.

    However to ensure that his Church does not teach error, and thereby lead people into error – concerning faith and morals – the Catholic Church teaches that Christ gifted his Church a share in his infallibility. The Pope, as the successor of Peter, and Universal Shepherd, can exercise that gift (charism) of infallibility under certain conditions.

    It works like this:

    Jesus founded a Church (Mt 16:18); he founded it on the Apostles (Eph 2:20) and it is described as the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15)

    He gave that Church one set of doctrines (Jud 3); a unity of belief (Phil. 1:27, 2:2)

    Jesus made promises to this Church, covenant promises, which he guarantees (Heb 7:22)

    Jesus promised his Church would be indefectible. – the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Mt 16:18)

    He promised the Church would be preserved from error by the Holy Spirit by reminding the apostles of all that Jesus had taught them (Jn 14:26) and guide them into the truth in the future (Jn 16:13)

    He appointed the Apostles with Peter as the leader (Mt 16:18-19) and gave them the mission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. (Mt 28:16-20)

    He promised he would not leave them on their own (Jn 14:18) but that he would be with them until the end of the age (Mt 28:20)

    He prayed that it would be one Church (Jn 17:20-23)

    He prayed that the Father would consecrate the Apostles in the truth (Jn 17:17), and the Father always hears Jesus (Jn 11:41-42).

    We are therefore guaranteed by Jesus that what his Church (the Catholic Church) teaches is the truth.

    That Church is headed by Christ (Col 1:18), but he appointed Peter to be the visible head on earth (Mt 16:18-19), to be the universal shepherd (Jn 21:15-17) of Christ’s one fold (Jn 10:16).

    Jesus made special distinctions between Peter and the other apostles.

    In Mt 16:18-19 Jesus:
    1. declared Peter would the rock upon which he would build his Church.

    2. gave Peter singly the power to bind and loose.

    3. gave Peter alone the keys to the kingdom.

    Jesus also gave Peter instructions to support his brothers (Lk 22:31-32) and to be universal shepherd (Jn 21:15-17). There is more in scripture about the primacy of Peter but I think that is enough for this point.

    The Catholic Church teaches therefore that because of the uniqueness of Peter's position, given to him by Christ, Peter (and his successors) have the authority to exercise that charism of infallibility that Jesus gifted to his Church. That dogma was formally defined at a General Council (Vatican I - 1870). Note: this does not mean that the dogma was invented then, but that was when it was first formally and definitively defined.

  • #2
    Who is the church?
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    • #3
      This is a well documented position of the RCC, as it pertains to interpreting the Bible. It is also well documented that many Popes have shown it to be contradictory to reality. As Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit was sent to guide us into all truth, not just concerning His Word, I find the best course of action is to teach RCs how we can ALL learn what the scriptures teach through prayer and studying, and not engage them in trying to vilify their Papal office.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
        Who is the church?
        Christ’s Church cannot be reduced to a ‘who’. It is both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly, hierarchical and charismatic. It is a sacrament instituted by Christ.

        The Catechism of the Catholic Church devotes over 180 paragraphs describing what the Church is. I will try to give you the essence from the summaries at the end of three sections:

        777 The word "Church" means "convocation." It designates the assembly of those whom God's Word "convokes," i.e., gathers together to form the People of God, and who themselves, nourished with the Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ.

        778 The Church is both the means and the goal of God's plan: prefigured in creation, prepared for in the Old Covenant, founded by the words and actions of Jesus Christ, fulfilled by his redeeming cross and his Resurrection, the Church has been manifested as the mystery of salvation by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. She will be perfected in the glory of heaven as the assembly of all the redeemed of the earth (cf Rev 14:4).

        779 The Church is both visible and spiritual, a hierarchical society and the Mystical Body of Christ. She is one, yet formed of two components, human and divine. That is her mystery, which only faith can accept.

        780 The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men.

        805 The Church is the Body of Christ. Through the Spirit and his action in the sacraments, above all the Eucharist, Christ, who once was dead and is now risen, establishes the community of believers as his own Body.

        808 The Church is the Bride of Christ: he loved her and handed himself over for her. He has purified her by his blood and made her the fruitful mother of all God's children.

        809 The Church is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. the Spirit is the soul, as it were, of the Mystical Body, the source of its life, of its unity in diversity, and of the riches of its gifts and charisms.

        866 The Church is one: she acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (cf Eph 4:3-5), at whose fulfillment all divisions will be overcome.

        867 The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is "the sinless one made up of sinners." Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.

        868 The Church is catholic: she proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times. She is "missionary of her very nature" (AG 2).

        869 The Church is apostolic. She is built on a lasting foundation: "the twelve apostles of the Lamb" ( Rev 21:14). She is indestructible (cf Mt 16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Stan View Post
          This is a well documented position of the RCC, as it pertains to interpreting the Bible. It is also well documented that many Popes have shown it to be contradictory to reality. As Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit was sent to guide us into all truth, not just concerning His Word, I find the best course of action is to teach RCs how we can ALL learn what the scriptures teach through prayer and studying, and not engage them in trying to vilify their Papal office.
          Infallibility is not impeccability. Indeed there have been several Popes that were not worthy of the office. But that does not disprove Infallibility.

          Jesus told the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (and by implication their successors).
          [FONT=Georgia]When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. [/FONT](Jn 16:13)

          He did not promise to lead all christians individually into all truth.
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          • #6
            Sorry Bede, but there is NO scriptural evidence, implied or otherwise, that apostleship was hereditary or able to be passed along. In fact, look at what Paul writes in 1 Cor 4:9 where he states he and his fellow apostles were the "last of all", and Eph 4:11 where Paul uses the past tense "gave". In fact I don't see that ANY office is hereditary in the Pastoral Epistles.
            He promised the Holy Spirit and what the Holy Spirit would do for those who were committed to Him. I agree that not all Christians are lead into truth because not all Christians are baptized in the Holy Spirit and/or don't know how to WAIT on Him.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Stan View Post
              Sorry Bede, but there is NO scriptural evidence, implied or otherwise, that apostleship was hereditary or able to be passed along. In fact, look at what Paul writes in 1 Cor 4:9 where he states he and his fellow apostles were the "last of all", and Eph 4:11 where Paul uses the past tense "gave". In fact I don't see that ANY office is hereditary in the Pastoral Epistles.
              The claim is not that the successors to the apostles were apostles but bishops. Apostles also held the office of bishop (episkopee) because they looked after (were overseers of) a group of local churches.

              When Matthias was elected to replace Judas, Peter justifies this by quoting from Psalm 109:8 'His office let another take.'. The KJV translates this as “his bishopric let another take”. And Matthias was “enrolled with the eleven apostles”.

              Paul gives Timothy instructions for the selection of bishops he says:
              If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. (1Tim 3:1) and then proceeds to give instruction as to the qualifications of a person to fulfil that office – as he does to Titus (Ti 1:7-11).

              Clement, 4th Bishop of Rome writes in his Letter to The Corinthians around 96AD (although some scholars say earlier):
              "Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry." (chap 44).

              All this shows the establishment of the office of bishop which would continue the mission of spreading the gospel and governing the Church down the ages.

              The psalm that Peter quoted 'His office let another take' when the office become vacant is as true today as it was then.

              Originally posted by Stan View Post
              He promised the Holy Spirit and what the Holy Spirit would do for those who were committed to Him. I agree that not all Christians are lead into truth because not all Christians are baptized in the Holy Spirit and/or don't know how to WAIT on Him.
              What scriptural evidence is there that Christians, whether "baptised in the Holy Spirit" or not, would be guaranteed to be led into all truth?

              Jesus promised that to the apostles, and by implication to their successors (Jn 16:13).
              Last edited by Bede; 03-26-2015, 08:04 AM.
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              • #8
                Bede, the church is the body of Christ--all believers, who are the Biblical saints of the Bible, not necessarily those that the RCC calls saints. The RCC is trying to play God the judge in who is a saint. Saints are all believers, are the body of Christ, the children of God, elect from the foundation of the world (Revelation 17:8), the bride of Christ. The church is built on the rock (Jesus Christ), not Peter, the small stone, which in Greek is Petros. The rock in Greek is Petra. Peter would not recognize the church today if he were to return. The Pope does just what the Bible says not to do, being called "Holy Father", claiming revelations which add to Scripture, thinks himself not a sinner, which is a lie and the truth of the Father is not in him, forbidding to marry those who choose to become RCC priests, which the Bible calls doctrine of devils, nuns claiming they marry Jesus, which is not so as all believers will be married to Christ in the future in glory. RCC commits idolatry by praying to saints and angels and statues (I've witnessed it) when they should only pray to (part of worship) God in spirit and in truth, and He seeks such to worship Him. People, know your Bibles in truth, don't go twisting everything around 6 ways from Sunday!
                Last edited by Stratcat; 03-26-2015, 11:47 AM.
                Comment>

                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bede View Post

                  The claim is not that the successors to the apostles were apostles but bishops. Apostles also held the office of bishop (episkopee) because they looked after (were overseers of) a group of local churches.

                  When Matthias was elected to replace Judas, Peter justifies this by quoting from Psalm 109:8 'His office let another take.'. The KJV translates this as “his bishopric let another take”. And Matthias was “enrolled with the eleven apostles”.

                  Paul gives Timothy instructions for the selection of bishops he says:
                  If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. (1Tim 3:1) and then proceeds to give instruction as to the qualifications of a person to fulfil that office – as he does to Titus (Ti 1:7-11).

                  Clement, 4th Bishop of Rome writes in his Letter to The Corinthians around 96AD (although some scholars say earlier):
                  "Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry." (chap 44).

                  All this shows the establishment of the office of bishop which would continue the mission of spreading the gospel and governing the Church down the ages.

                  The psalm that Peter quoted 'His office let another take' when the office become vacant is as true today as it was then.



                  What scriptural evidence is there that Christians, whether "baptised in the Holy Spirit" or not, would be guaranteed to be led into all truth?

                  Jesus promised that to the apostles, and by implication to their successors (Jn 16:13).
                  You'll have to qualify your assertion Bede. The Greek used is ἐπισκοπή (episcope) and connotes overseer not Apostle. Paul clearly shows it is an administrative one and not an Apostolic one. IMO, the Apostle was closer to teacher than administrator.

                  Peter also said “‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it'". Not unusual Peter would quote Psalms, but as it was ONLY the Apostles that cast lots, the situation was NOT the same. There is NO evidence that they continued the Apostolic office, but just replaced one of the 12. Notice the requirement for standing for this position. Nobody since they died could have qualified.

                  I'd like to know where Clement saw this in scripture? Clement's writings are from the early 3rd century, and scholarly opinion on their historical reliability is divided, not to mention they are NOT considered scripture.

                  Your reasoning is circular, not soundly based on actual scripture. Taking Acts 1 out of context doesn't help either.







                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    With respect to the forum's layout, I am going to ask non-Roman Catholics to walk lightly in this category section. The Faith categories or denominational specific sections are a place for people to share doctrine specific to themselves amongst themselves. This is not a debate category. If it were in the Apologetic Theology section it would be appropriate to seriously subject any doctrine under the scrutiny of Scripture or defend it by such. To emphasize, this section is for Roman Catholics while open to general questions or queries from everyone. If you find a doctrine completely unacceptable, I suggest members write an apologetic or article in the Apologetic Theology section. That is the more appropriate platform to debate.

                    God bless,
                    William
                    Comment>

                    • #11
                      Ooops...sorry I didn't pay attention to this being an RCC sub-forum. I'll bow out now.
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                        Bede, the church is the body of Christ--all believers, who are the Biblical saints of the Bible, not necessarily those that the RCC calls saints. The RCC is trying to play God the judge in who is a saint. Saints are all believers, are the body of Christ, the children of God, elect from the foundation of the world (Revelation 17:8), the bride of Christ. The church is built on the rock (Jesus Christ), not Peter, the small stone, which in Greek is Petros. The rock in Greek is Petra. Peter would not recognize the church today if he were to return. The Pope does just what the Bible says not to do, being called "Holy Father", claiming revelations which add to Scripture, thinks himself not a sinner, which is a lie and the truth of the Father is not in him, forbidding to marry those who choose to become RCC priests, which the Bible calls doctrine of devils, nuns claiming they marry Jesus, which is not so as all believers will be married to Christ in the future in glory. RCC commits idolatry by praying to saints and angels and statues (I've witnessed it) when they should only pray to (part of worship) God in spirit and in truth, and He seeks such to worship Him. People, know your Bibles in truth, don't go twisting everything around 6 ways from Sunday!
                        Stratcat,

                        You say "The Pope ....... thinks himself not a sinner, which is a lie".

                        As I commented to Stan, you are confusing infallibility with impeccability;. No-one suggest the Pope is not a sinner.

                        You say "the church is the body of Christ--all believers". Yes, - see para 777 from the Catechism which I quoted. And Yes, the Church is the Bride of Christ as I quoted - para 808. But the Church is much more. However that takes us off Papal Infallibility and into Catholic Ecclesiology.

                        As to the rest of your gripe list I shall tackle them later when I have time rather than take this thread further off topic.
                        Comment>

                        • #13
                          Originally posted by William View Post
                          With respect to the forum's layout, I am going to ask non-Roman Catholics to walk lightly in this category section. The Faith categories or denominational specific sections are a place for people to share doctrine specific to themselves amongst themselves. This is not a debate category. If it were in the Apologetic Theology section it would be appropriate to seriously subject any doctrine under the scrutiny of Scripture or defend it by such. To emphasize, this section is for Roman Catholics while open to general questions or queries from everyone. If you find a doctrine completely unacceptable, I suggest members write an apologetic or article in the Apologetic Theology section. That is the more appropriate platform to debate.

                          God bless,
                          William
                          I appreciate your point William.

                          I shall consider the best way to approach Catholic topics in the future.
                          Comment>
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