If the Pope Is Infallible…

Q. If the Pope is so infallible in doctrine, how could they have fallen into the error such as Indulgences.

BFHU: It was not the Pope who fell into the error.

Q.Would the Catholic Church endorse such activities today?

BFHU: It never did endorse those activities and still would condemn them today also.

Q. Would not one error such as this invalidate all the rest of their pronouncements,
BFHU: No b/c it was not the error of the Pope. We do not claim infallibility for anyone other than the Pope and all the bishops together in union with the Pope. What happened in Germany was not approved of by the Pope but a misapplication of indulgences in Germany, not the whole Catholic Church. The pope cannot make all Catholic infallible. They are not. Therefore, you will find Catholic who believe heresy, teach heresy and commit grave sin. 

Q. for just as a prophet is known by what he says and whether it comes true — one instance of this not happening is sufficient to judge that he was not a true prophet. I think this same standard would have to be applied to the claims of the Pope and given the numerous failures in many of the Pope’s personal lives

BFHU: But this standard pertained to the prophecy of a prophet. How do you jump from that to the personal behavior of the Pope? We do not believe that a pope is sinless or impeccable in his personal life. Just as Peter gave in to peer pressure in Galations. The behavior of the pope is not part of the definition of infallibility. The pope is only infallible when he does all of these: Teaches both To the Whole Church and only On Faith and Morals. Infalliblity is a protection of the purity of the faith for the whole Church. It is not for the exaltation or glory of the Pope.
He is not infallible when he teaches geometry. (not teaching faith and morals)
He is not infallible when he teaches on Faith and Morals walking down the hall at the Vatican talking privately to other bishops. (not to the whole Church)

Peter was not proclaiming anything to the the whole Church in Galations. And the Pope did not even condone the abuse of selling indulgences let alone teach the abuse to the whole Church. So none of this calls into question the Dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope.
See my Post –>Paul Rebuked Peter

Q. Since the actual canonization of the Bible didn’t occur until about 400 years after Jesus, I think it is safe to say that the church fathers at that time felt all of the inspired words of God had been recorded.

BFHU: Why do you think it is safe to say that?
We would say that John 21 indicates there was much more information but it could not all be written down. Jesus never said it must be written down. His choice for the repository of His teaching was faithful men.
John 21: 25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Q. This I believe is a statement to the effect that Scripture is the sole rule of faith and doctrine.

BFHU: What statement? Where is this in Scripture?

Q. Sola Scriptura does not disallow other input, but surely judges it based on the Bible

BFHU: Where does Scripture recommend this? And even to the point of disparaging the Church that Jesus founded? Nothing that the Church teaches contradicts Scripture. It merely contradicts Protestant private interpretation.

What does Scripture say is the pillar and Foundation of Truth? The scripture? No….

1 Timothy 3:15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the CHURCH  of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Q. Luther had to conclude the Catholic Church was not true to the Word of God,

BFHU: Luther’s conclusion only applied to the abuse in one part of the Catholic Church, namely Germany. If Luther concluded that the whole Catholic Church was not true to the Word of God based on the abuse of indulgences then he made a very big jump to a wrong conclusion.
If he made this judgement about the teaching of the Catholic Church based on the corrupt behavior of her ministers I would ask where in Scripture does it say to found another Church other than the one founded by Jesus Christ?
Q… and as Peter himself said in Acts 4:19, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.” Sure God still speaks to men today and gives guidance, but the Bible as it stands now is His final say and all future revelations must be judged based on it, not on a man’s interpretations.
BFHU: If you reject the interpretation of the Church founded by Christ, then whose interpretation can you trust to be infallible?

Q. If the Bible does not allow unequivocally for a Pope, then no person writing almost two hundred years later making such claims should be sufficient to convince one of this position.

BFHU: Just because the earliest extant writing about the authority of the Pope is in the 2nd or 3rd century, does not mean that that is when the primacy of the papacy began. The Pope is a historical fact. It is how Christianity has always operated. I trust the historic and ancient Catholic Church much more than the relatively new Protestant religions born only 500 years ago at the oldest and 40 years ago for Calvary Chapels.
Historically there has always been a Pope. And this reality is evidenced by Sacred Scripture. We interpret these passages as evidence but Protestants based on prior theology interpret these verses differently. So, Scripture can be interpreted in more than one way but history settles the question.

Q.Ask yourself this simple question, why this claim of Peter’s authority was not allowed in any other writings of the N/T?

BFHU: On what do you base this claim that the authority of Peter was not allowed ? What if your contention that all religious truth is contained in Scripture is not true? After all, Scripture does not claim this for itself? Don’t you think that would have been pretty important to include?

I find it ironic that you reject the teachings of the Catholic Church because she teaches things that are not in scripture and yet you base this rejection on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura which also is not in Scripture.

Q.Would the witnesses of these things have been so obtuse as to not show this as being true, even Peter himself. In fact, it actually shows just the opposite. This just doesn’t make sense. I think that in order to make these claims one would almost have to say that the Bible is in error to forget to record such an important detail, and I’m sure this is something the Catholic Church would not say.

BFHU: Not at all. Everything is simply not in Scripture. It is the erroneous Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura that insists that everything of importance must be in Scripture. And yet, his doctrine is nowhere to be found in Scripture.

The Faith was never meant to be derived from Scripture alone. No author of any book of the Bible would ever have dreamed of deriving The Faith from scripture alone b/c the Faith was strong and fertile and growing and spreading as they wrote the Scriptures. And scripture alone was not how this evangelization was accomplished.
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Even, here we do not see St. Paul telling Timothy to write down anything but to entrust his teachings to faithful men.

2 Responses

  1. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Pope is infallible when he speaks from his position of authority on a particular issue or doctrine (speaking ex cathedra). Many misunderstand “papal infallibility” as indicating that everything the Pope says is infallible. This is not what the Roman Catholic Church means by “papal infallibility.” According to the Roman Catholic Church, this infallibility of the Pope, only when speaking ex cathedra, is part of the Roman Catholic Church’s Magisterium, or the “Teaching authority of the Church” which God gave to the “mother Church” to guide her infallibly. This “Teaching authority of the Church” is made up of the Pope’s infallible teaching ability, the infallible teaching ability of church councils assembled under the authority of the Pope, and the “ordinary” Magisterium of the bishops. This “ordinary” Magisterium involves, among other things, bishops in various places beginning to teach the same particular doctrine (for instance the teaching that Mary was conceived without sin), and that if this teaching gains acceptance throughout the church as a whole, it is an indication that the Holy Spirit is working through the bishops and that this teaching is from God. The Pope may later recognize this and proclaim infallibly that it comes from God and is to be accepted by all Roman Catholics.

    The question is whether this teaching is in agreement with Scripture. The Roman Catholic Church sees the Papacy and the infallible teaching authority of “mother Church” as being necessary to guide the Church, and uses that as logical reasoning for God’s provision of it. But in examining Scripture, you find the following:

    1) While Peter was central in the early spread of the gospel (part of the meaning behind Matthew 16:18-19), the teaching of Scripture, taken in context, no where declares that he was in authority over the other apostles or over the entire Church (see Acts 15:1-23; Galatians 2:1-14; 1 Peter 5:1-5). Nor is it ever taught that the Bishop of Rome was to have primacy over the Church. Rather there is only one reference in Scripture of Peter writing from “Babylon,” a name sometimes applied to Rome, found in 1 Peter 5:13; primarily upon this and the historical rise of the influence of the Bishop of Rome comes the Roman Catholic Church teaching of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. However, Scripture shows that Peter’s authority was shared by the other apostles (Ephesians 2:19-20) and the “loosing and binding” authority attributed to him was likewise shared by the local churches, not just their church leaders (see Matthew 18:15-19; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Corinthians 13:10; Titus 2:15; 3:10-11). Thus, the foundation of papal infallibility…the existence of the papacy itself, is not scripturally founded.

    2) Nowhere does Scripture state that in order to keep the church from error, the authority of the apostles was passed on to those they ordained (the Roman Catholic Church teaching of “apostolic succession”). Apostolic succession is “read into” those verses that the Roman Catholic Church uses to support this doctrine (2 Timothy 2:2; 4:2-5; Titus 1:5; 2:1; 2:15; 1 Timothy 5:19-22). Paul does NOT call on believers in various churches to receive Titus, Timothy, and other church leaders based on their authority as bishops, but rather based upon their being fellow laborers with him (1 Corinthians 16:10; 16:16; 2 Corinthians 8:23). What Scripture DOES teach is that false teachings would arise even from among accepted church leaders and that Christians were to compare the teachings of these later church leaders with Scripture, which alone is cited in the Bible as infallible. The Bible does not teach that the apostles were infallible, apart from what was written by them and incorporated into Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:18-21). Paul, in talking to the church leaders in the city of Ephesus, makes note of coming false teachers, and to fight against such error he does NOT commend them to “the apostles and those who would carry on their authority,” but rather he commends them to “God and to the word of His grace…” (Acts 20:28-32).

    3) Nowhere in Scripture is the “teaching Magisterium” or mastery of bishops taught and treated as of equal weight with Scripture. What history has shown is that when any other source of authority is treated as being of equal weight with Scripture, that second authority always ends up superseding Scripture (such is the case with the Mormons’ other accepted writings and the Jehovah Witnesses’ Watchtower). So, it is with the Roman Catholic Church. Repeatedly Catholic Catechisms state that many of their doctrines are not found or based in Scripture (Mary being Co-redemptress and Co-mediator, sinless, conceived without sin; her ascension; praying to saints and venerating them and images of them; etc.). For Roman Catholics, it is the “mother Church” that is the final authority, not Scripture, no matter that they say that the Magisterium is the “servant of Scripture.” Again, the Bible teaches that it is Scripture that is to be used as measuring stick to determine truth from error. In Galatians 1:8-9, Paul states that it is not WHO teaches but WHAT is being taught that is to be used to determine truth from error. And while the Roman Catholic Church continues to pronounce a curse to hell upon those who would reject the authority of the Pope, Scripture reserves that curse for those who would teach a different gospel than what had already been given and recorded in the New Testament (Galatians 1:8-9).

    4) While the Roman Catholic Church sees apostolic succession and the infallible magisterium of the church as logically necessary in order for God to unerringly guide the Church, Scripture states that God has provided for His church through:

    (a) infallible Scripture, (Acts 20:32; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Matthew 5:18; John 10:35; Acts 17:10-12; Isaiah 8:20; 40:8; etc.)

    (b) Christ’s unending high-priesthood in heaven (Hebrews 7:22-28),

    (c) the provision of the Holy Spirit Who guided the apostles into truth after Christ’s death (John 16:12-14), Who gifts believers for the work of the ministry, including teaching (Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11-16), and Who uses the written word as His chief tool (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17).

    In summary, the Bible speaks of only one abiding, “tangible,” infallible guide left by God for His church. It is the written word of God, not an infallible leader (2 Timothy 3:15-17). And as He gave the Holy Spirit to bear holy men along in the writing of those Scriptures (2 Peter 1:19-21), so He has given His Holy Spirit to indwell, fill, guide, and gift members of His church today for the purpose of directing His church through the proper interpretation of that written word (1 Corinthians 12; 14; Ephesians 4:11-16). That there are schisms and false teachings today should be no surprise, for the Bible also warns us that there would be false teachers who would twist the written word (2 Peter 3:16) and that these false teachers would arise from within the churches (Acts 20:30). Therefore, the believers were to turn to God and the “word of His grace” for their guidance (Acts 20:32), determining the truth not by WHO said it, but by comparing it with the gospel already received by the early church, the gospel recorded for us in Scripture (Galatians 1:8-9; see also Acts 17:11).

  2. Jeronie,

    All of your arguments are based on a false premise. That premise is that all Christian truth can be found in Sacred Scripture and ONLY sacred scripture. The irony is that this Protestant Doctrine of Scripture Alone or Sola Scriptura cannot be found anywhere in Scripture.

    You base your beliefs and criticism of the Catholic doctrine on Protestant interpretation of scripture which is actually Protestant Tradition.

    Click the links for more posts on Catholic TRADITION and/or the Pope.

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