The Office of New Testament Priest

The Office of New Testament Priest

by James Akin

In both Old and New Testaments, there are three ranks of priests, which are commonly referred to as the high priests, the ministerial priests, and the universal priests.

At the time of the Exodus the high priest was Aaron (Ex. 31:30), the ministerial priests were his four sons (Ex. 28:21; the sons were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, the first two of which were killed for abusing their priestly duties), and the universal priests were the people of Israel as a whole (Exodus 19:6).

Prior to this time, there had been neither a high priest nor had God elected all of Israel as universal priests. There was only the ministerial priesthood, which appears to have resided in the firstborn male of each family. The existence of the pre-Aaronic ministerial priesthood is shown in Exodus 19:22 and 24, which differentiate the priests from the people but occur before the establishment in the Aaronic priesthood in Exodus 28. The fact that the ministerial priests were held by the firstborn is suggested (though not proven) by the exchange of the priestly tribe of Levi for the firstborn of Israel in Numbers 3.

In any event, the three-fold model of the priesthood which was in use at the time of Aaron was carried over into the New Testament and thus we find there also a high priest, ministerial priests, and universal priests. In the New Testament age the high priest is Jesus Christ (Heb. 3:1), the ministerial priests are Christ’s ordained ministers of the gospel (Rom. 15:16), and the universal priests are the entire Christian people (1 Peter. 2:5, 9).

So the Bible clearly states that all Christians are priests (1 Peter 2:5, 9), as the Catholic Church clearly teaches for all who bother to read its teachings, see Catechism of the Catholic Church 1141-4, 1268, 1305, 1535, 1547, 1591-2 on the common priesthood. But the Bible also said the same thing about the Israelites (Ex. 19:6), yet this did not prevent there from being a separate, ministerial priesthood even before the Law of Moses was given (Ex. 19:22, 24).

Furthermore, since the top, Old Testament office of high priest corresponds to Jesus, the New Testament high priest, and since the bottom, Old Testament universal priesthood corresponds to the New Testament universal priesthood, the middle, ministerial priesthood in the Old Testament corresponds to a middle, ministerial priesthood in the New Testament.

This priesthood is identical with the office of elder. In fact, the term “priest” is simply a shortened, English version of the Greek word for “elder” — presbuteros — as any dictionary will confirm. This is any some Old Catholic translations render the word as “priests” where Protestant Bibles have “elder.” For example, in the Douay-Rheims Bible (the Catholic equivalent of the King James Version) we read:

“For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldst set in order the things that are wanting, and shouldst ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed thee” (Titus 1:5).

“Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil, in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man; and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:14-15).

We also see in the New Testament that the functions of the Old Testament elder — who served in the synagogue — have been fused with the functions of the Old Testament priest — whose served in the temple.

We can see the fusion of the two concepts in Romans 15:15-16. In the New International Version of this passage, we read:

“I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty [literally, "the priestly work"] of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

Paul tells us that because he has been given a calling as a professional minister of Christ, he has a priestly work of preaching the gospel so that the Gentiles may be an offering — a sacrifice to God. This is not something only he has. Every elder in every church has that same “priestly work” of preaching the gospel. So Paul here conceives of the office of the New Testament minister as a priestly office. Notice that the hearers of the gospel in this passage are not depicted as priests, but as the sacrifice to God. Paul draws a distinction between himself and his work of preaching the gospel, and his readers and their duty of hearing it. It is the minister, not the congregation, who is here pictured as priest.

A second passage revealing the fusion of the offices of Old Testament elder and Old Testament priest is Revelation 5:8, where we read:

“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

Here we have the twenty-four heavenly elders (presbyteroi) depicted as offering incense to God in bowls, just as the Old Testament priests did with their own gold incense bowls (Num. 7:84-86).

It is especially important to note that this was a function only priests could perform, as indicated a few chapters later, in Numbers 16, which records the story of Korah’s rebellion. This story concerns precisely the issue which is before us today: Whether the fact that all believers are priests means that there is no ministerial priesthood. Korah said it does mean that, and he gathered a rebellion against Moses and Aaron to usurp the priesthood from them. Numbers 16 says:

“Now Korah . . . and Dathan and Abiram . . . took men; and they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men; and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said . . . ‘You have gone too far! For all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them; why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?’ When Moses heard it, he fell on his face; and he said . . . ‘In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy . . . Do this: take censers . . . put fire in them and put incense upon them before the LORD tomorrow, and the man whom the LORD chooses shall be the holy one. You have gone too far, sons of Levi! . . . [I]s it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel . . . would you seek the priesthood also? Therefore it is against the LORD that you and all your company have gathered together; what is Aaron that you murmur against him?'” (Num. 16:1-11).

After this you can guess what happened. The men loaded up their censers and tried to offer incense before the Lord, but God caused the earth to open its mouth and swallow up Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, then he caused fire to come out of the Tabernacle and swallow up the two hundred and fifty men offering incense, showing that they were not to be priests, not the ones to offer incense, even though God had said that in one sense the whole congregation were priests.

Thus, in the Old Testament God was willing to kill people that are not priests who offer incense to him. So when we see the elders (presbyteroi) doing so in his heavenly temple, we must infer that they are priests. A fusion of the office of elder and priest has taken place.

Scripture takes the distinction between clergy and laity very seriously. Both Old and New Testaments warn people against assuming an office to which they have not been ordained. For example, I direct your attention to Jude 11, a verse most people gloss over when they read the book. That verse discusses various wicked Church leaders and states,

“Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error, and perish in Korah’s rebellion.”

It is therefore possible for people, even in the New Testament, to perish in Korah’s rebellion by usurping the office of the priesthood.

And notice that it is not only those who actually perform the priestly duties that are subject to death, but those who follow those that have usurped priestly duties. God also killed those lay people who merely supported Korah and his pseudo-priests. Moses also had to intercede to keep God from killing those in the congregation who merely supported Korah, even though they did not themselves offer incense. Later, when the people grumbled after Korah was dead, Moses again had to intervene to stop God from killing them all, but almost 15,000 of them died anyway for being followers of Korah.

It is against this sin that the book of Jude warns us, because the same thing can happen in the New Testament age. We cannot confine the warning against Korah’s rebellion to the Old Testament age. Jude tells us it was going on in his day as well. Just as Korah, Dathan, and Abiram came along and said, “Hey, in Exodus 19 God said we are all priests, so we don’t need a ministerial priesthood; we can do that ourselves!” today people come along and say, “Hey, in 1st Peter God said we are all priests, so we don’t need a ministerial priesthood; we can do that ourselves!”

Finally, we can see the fusion of the offices of elder and priest in the fact that the church is a combination of the Old Testament synagogue (where the teaching occurred) and the Old Testament temple (where the sacrifice occurred). The New Testament church incorporates both of these elements, with the liturgy of the word (teaching) and the liturgy of the Eucharist (sacrifice), which has been the structure of Christian worship since the first century.

This brings us to the principle sacrifice of the New Testament priesthood, which is the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper. To see the sacrificial dimension to the Lord’s Supper, note first that it is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament Passover feast, in which the sacrificed paschal lamb was consumed (1 Cor. 5:7-8). The New Testament Eucharist, like the Old Testament Passover, is thus a sacrificial meal.

The sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist is even built into its visible structure in a way that was not the case with the Passover meal. Jesus first says that the bread is his body and then that the wine is his blood. Whether this is literally or symbolically true is a question beyond the scope of our present discussion. What I want to point out is that the bread and the wine, the body and blood, are separate. The sacrament thus shows his body and blood in a state of separation from each other, in a state of sacrifice. The famous Protestant scholar Joachim Jeremias points this out in his book, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, which Protestant scholars have come to regard as the definitive work on this subject. He states,

“[W]hen Jesus speaks of ‘his flesh’ and ‘his blood’ . . . [h]e is applying to himself terms from the language of sacrifice . . . Each of the two nouns presupposes a slaying that has separated flesh and blood. In other words: Jesus speaks of himself as a sacrifice [p. 222].

By displaying the body and blood in a state of separation, the elements display a sacrificial character. This is true regardless of whether Christ is literally present in the sacrament or whether he is only symbolically present. Even if he is only symbolically present, then the Eucharist symbolizes a sacrifice. It is a symbolic sacrifice. Because elders have the duty of performing the sacraments, they have the duty of performing this sacrifice, again indicating the priestly character of their office.

Further confirmation is found in the words Jesus used to instruct his ministers to perform it. His statement, “Do this in remembrance of me,” may also be translated, “Offer this as my memorial sacrifice” — a fact Protestant preachers never mention when they talk about this passage. But it has a most important bearing on our discussion, because by telling the apostles to offer his memorial sacrifice, Jesus clearly ordained them as his priests.

In Greek, these words are Totou poiete eis tan emen anamnesin. They are usually translated into English as “Do this in remembrance of me,” but this does not do full justice to the words.

First of all, the word poiein or “do” has sacrificial overtones. This can be seen by examining the way it is used in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament. As Protestant theologian D. M. Baillie says in his book The Theology of the Sacraments,

“There is no doubt that this verb is used frequently in the LXX in a cult or sacrificial sense. Gore says there are from 60 to 80 instances.”

He then goes on to give examples. For instance, Exodus 29:38:

“This is that which you shall offer (poieseis) upon the altar: two lambs . . . “

Here the verb poiein should clearly be translated as “offer,” as all the Protestant translations of this passage have it. The King James, the Revised Standard, and the New International Version all render it as “offer.”

Jesus’ word anamnesis, usually translated “remembrance,” also has sacrificial overtones. For example, in the NIV of Hebrews 10:3 we read,

“But those sacrifices are an annual reminder [anamnesis] of sins.”

The word for “reminder” in this passage is anamnesis. The passage thus tells us that these sacrifices are an annual anamnesis, an annual memorial offering, on behalf of the sins of the people. In fact, all of the occurrences of this word in the Protestant Bible, both in New Testament and the Greek Old Testament, occur in a sacrificial context.

An anamnesis of a memorial offering which one brings before God to prompt his remembrance. The thought is the same as when the Psalmist urges God to remember him, or the congregation, or Mount Zion, or how the enemy scoffs, or how God’s servant has been mistreated. The idea of a memorial offering is to present the gift to God and prompt him to take action. For example, in the NIV of Numbers 10:10 we read,

“Also at your times of rejoicing . . . you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial [LXX, anamnesis] for you before your God.”

Joachim Jeremias admits this in his book. While liberal Protestant scholarship tried to interpret the Lord’s Supper as a pagan memorial meal which merely commemorated a loved one, Jeremias saw through this and recognized the Palestinian background for the Lord’s Supper and its offering of the elements to God to prompt his remembrance of Jesus and what he did.

Jeremias states,

“[T]he command for repetition [of the Lord's Supper] may be translated: ‘This do, that God may remember me.’ How is this to be understood? Here an old Passover prayer is illuminating. On Passover evening a prayer is inserted into the third benediction of the grace after the meal, a prayer which asks God to remember the Messiah. . . . In this very common prayer, which is also used on other festival days, God is petitioned at every Passover concerning ‘the remembrance of the Messiah'” (Jeremias, 252).

So Jesus’ command to the disciples to “do this in memory” of him was a command to present the elements to God as an anamnesis, as a memorial sacrifice to bring to God’s mind the work that Jesus did on the cross for us.

Of course, Jesus does not die again in this sacrifice (Heb. 9:26), but death is not an essential part of a sacrifice. The essence of a sacrifice is the idea of presenting a gift to the deity. This gift may or may not be presented to God by killing it. There are numerous sacrifices in the Bible in which the gift is not killed. In fact, there is a class of sacrifices, known as “wave offerings” in which the gift is “waved” before God to present it to him. In wave offerings it is not at all required for the gift to be destroyed. For example, if you read Numbers 8:11-21, you will see that the entire tribe of Levi was waved before God as a wave offering to consecrate them as ministers at the Tabernacle. So God’s ministers present themselves as a wave offering to God.

If you read Romans 12:1, you find out that we present ourselves to God as wave offerings, for Paul tells us to offer our bodies to him as a living sacrifice. It is in this manner that the resurrected Jesus presents himself to God, as a wave offering, a living sacrifice, a living memorial that God may remember what he did on the cross and bestow upon us the graces of salvation. By his intercessory ministry in heaven, Christ continually presents to God what he did on the cross, he continually brings it before God as a memorial offering of what he did in the past, so that we might receive God’s grace.

This is true regardless of whether Jesus is actually or only symbolically present in the elements. I recognized this fact even when I was still a Protestant: Regardless of the doctrine of the Real Presence, the sacrament of communion is a sacrifice, just as the early Church said it was, and just as the Christian Church throughout the ages has understood it. We thus see the function of the temple — offering of sacrifice — being brought together with the function of the synagogue — teaching the people — into the New Testament church. Those who preside over the church thus incorporate both the functions of the Old Testament priest and the Old Testament elder.

Thus in the Christian liturgy that has come down to us from the first century, the church first celebrates the Liturgy of the Word (synagogue service) followed by the Liturgy of the Eucharist (temple service.)

SOURCE: http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/ntpriest.htm

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107 Responses to The Office of New Testament Priest

  1. Russ says:

    The New Testament clearly teaches that there is, “…one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus…” (1 Tim 2:5) This is why none of the Apostles nor the elders nor any New Testament believers are ever referred to as a “priest”.

    And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. (1 Cor 12:28). In the previous chapter we find Paul giving instruction on communion but in neither chapter do we find any reference to the office of priest.

    One reason that we never see the office of priest in the New Testament is because every believer has access to God through Jesus Christ.

    Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:25)

    Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb 10:19-22)

    This new relationship between every believer that the Father was prophesied in the OT.

    “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah– not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers…” (Jer 31:31,32)

    Notice that this “new covenant” is NOT according to the old covenant that God made in the law of Moses – a covenant requiring earthly priests.

    But instead it is a covenant where, “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD…” JER 31:34)

    Another reason that there in no earthly priesthood to replace the OT priesthood is because God no longer requires earthly sacrifices to be offered. Instead, there is only one sacrifice – the blood of Jesus Christ – who, “…does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.” (Heb 7:27) If there are no more sacrifices to be offered, there is no need for an earthly priest.

    FOR the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. (Heb 10:1-3)

    To offer sacrifices for sin is to declare that the offering of Jesus does not make “those who approach perfect”. But because Jesus is God, His sacrifice IS perfect and makes every believer who has put their trust in Him also perfect before a holy God.

    The rebellion of Korah (Jude 1:11)

    Korah witinessed the miracles of God by the hand Moses in Egypt. He passed through the Red Sea with all of Israel. He witnessed the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai. Yet in spite of the authority that God had given to Moses to lead the people, Korah rebelled against that authority and God destroyed him.

    Therefore, the “rebellion of Korah” refers to anyone who would usurp the authority that God established. But how is it possible to sin the “sin of Korah” if there is no longer an earthly priesthood? Though there is no earthly priesthood in the NT, there is the heavenly priesthood of Jesus Christ.

    Similar to Moses, Jesus performed miracles, endured the cross and was resurrected from the grave. He is a, “priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” Anyone who would attempt to usurp the authority of His Priesthood is therefore guilty of the sin of Korah. Any person or institution that would attempt to become another mediator between God and His people instead of pointing them to the one Mediator, commits the sin of Korah.

    If God had clearly established another earthly priesthood to replace the Levitical priesthood then anyone who would rebel against that priesthood would be guilty of this grave sin. But there is no earthly priesthood in the NT. Instead, “…we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” (Heb 2:9) Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. (Heb 13:13)

  2. Russ it has been a long and sun drenched day at the worksite (not in the good way – my white as Casper self is looking rather lobsterish right now) so some melatonin, a few beers, and some lotioning is in order… That being said, on the quick…

    “The New Testament clearly teaches that there is…”

    This alone stops me in my tracks. What gives you so much certitude that your personal reading of the texts (in translation) is so very clear? Folks working with the same concept of sola scriptura come ultimately to (near ridiculously) contrary conclusions on a vast multitude of matters in the New Testament. Why is that?

    In at least one other post you have left scriptural translation quotes with what would seem to be a fit of magnanimous triumph as though we had not seen them before… Whe Catholics who pray the divine office or attend daily Mass (or at least follow the lectionary cycle) are far more likely to encounter these verses than your average Evangelical. Are you of the thinking that leaving a verse like grafitti is something that will change our minds or help us to see? We read these verses frequently as members of the Church that gathered the scriptures and preserved them for centuries. You have to do more than that.

    Are you satisified that the only thing that these vastly disparate parties (which use sola scriptura) are united on is that we are wrong as Catholics? (No agreement across the board on who is right, just contradistinction…) That the cornerstone of fundamental point of agreement between Lutherans, Calvinists, Zwinglians and the like is that they are at least agreed we are wrong?

    In good faith I can say that I am at a loss to understand your Heb 2:9 and Heb 13:13 reference as to how it offers reproof against the concepts of priesthood found in the Universal Church.

    Is it the least bit telling in your mind that these concepts of not needing priests do not appear in Christendom until the Reformation? Writings of the Early Church Fathers do not speak of any Christian communities without a concept of priesthood – some of the earliest fathers knew the Apostles themselves (see Saint Ignatius of Antioch http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07644a.htm) and if the New Testament Church was as you imagine it to be based on your private readings of translations, it is odd none of them speak of it in the fashion that you do. Why do you suppose that is?

  3. Nan says:

    You have sun? I’m jealous! We have rain. And snow tomorrow.

  4. Nan, would that you belonged to God’s chosen people, Ohioans.

    People, I am telling you, we have something going here.

  5. Nan says:

    Whose Koolaid have you been drinking?

  6. harumpf! Enjoy your snow!

  7. Nan says:

    It won’t last!

  8. Joel says:

    What a shame. I had to suffer through a sunny and 75 day here. I can’t wait to get back to Alaska!

  9. Russ says:

    Asimplesinner,

    “The New Testament clearly teaches…” (Stops you in your tracks)

    Well, let me quote one of your own: “Did God really say…” (I am pretty sure someone from this blog quoted that to me, but I could be wrong. Either way, it applies) :-)

    Sola Scriptura

    If the traditions of the church are on par with scripture and BOTH were inspired by the same Spirit of God, then they would never conflict with each other because God would never contradict Himself. Yet, there ARE clear contradictions between the two. Here, for example:

    http://theblackcordelias.wordpress.com/2008/04/24/is-missing-mass-a-mortal-sin/

    “In at least one other post you have left scriptural translation quotes with what would seem to be a fit of magnanimous triumph as though we had not seen them before…”

    Are you kidding? I praise God that he would allow me this privilege, after all that I am guilty (yet forgiven) of, to share His word with ANYONE. I go though my day with praise on my lips and my heart lifted in worship toward His throne that He would allow me this ministry.

    And should I allow you to tangle the weak and young in the Lord into your web of works/grace without a fight? A web that strangles its victims unless by the grace of God and the truth of the word of God they should be set free? You want me to believe that you do not desire to bring in more victims?

    “…the cornerstone of fundamental point of agreement between Lutherans, Calvinists, Zwinglians and the like is that they are at least agreed we are wrong?”

    So then, there is only one true church – yours. By the way, what did Jesus say to this one true church?

    “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” [Rev 3:1b]

    And why write seven letters to one church? Why not write one letter and send it to the Pope in Rome and go through the hierarchy that God Himself established in His Church? Why write to John when John was never a Pope? In fact, now that I think of it, why not write all of the NT by the hand of Peter seeing that the Pope is the only one who can speak infallibly?

    I think I agetting a little out of hand now. :-)

    “…these concepts of not needing priests do not appear in Christendom until the Reformation…”

    These truths (you call them concepts) are the clear teachings of the Apostles and were written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These are the same “concepts” that the priest (so he is called) lifts above his head as he enters the church and, after they are read, proclaims that they ARE the word of God – to which everyone responds – AMEN.

  10. “Well, let me quote one of your own: “Did God really say…” (I am pretty sure someone from this blog quoted that to me, but I could be wrong. Either way, it applies) :-)”

    If anything Russ, that affirms what I offer – not your argument. When presented with Scripture quotes in another combox you reject them not fitting into your hermeneutic of what is correct or true. Seems obvious to you but not us/seems obvious to us but not you. The question is, would the use of scripture verses alone be enough?

    “Yet, there ARE clear contradictions between the two. “

    Again we come to a situation where I have to ask “Says whom?”

    What is so obvious to you in your measure of the Scripture and Tradition is not so obvious to the various and sundry disparate parties of the Reformation up to and including Anglicans and Lutherans that – in some schools – recognize a presbyteral class and see it as implicit in the New Testament.

    I think to really and truly progress Russ we need for you to establish that Sola Scriptura is a workable and intended method for discipleship and the spread of Christianity, and that your readings of these translated texts are as obvious as you think.

    So yes we say Amen after the Word of the Lord is read in our churches (near 80% of it will be heard in the course of the 3-year lectionary cycle) but we still do not affirm your reading and ideas about sola scriptura which is exceedingly problematic.

    The somewhat pedanitic question you ask about “why not just write to the pope?” is rooted in a common enough Protestant/Fundamentalist misunderstanding that by having a final arbiter and supreme authority there can be or could be no legitimate need for anything else.

    Why have any courts but the Supreme Court?
    Why have any executive authority but the US President?

    If you perhaps be willing to make yourself familiar with the codification of the canon of the New Testament at the Council of Carthadge and would per chance be willing to look into the Epistle of Clement of Rome you can see that (a) By the first century appeal was made to the successor of Peter, you could also see that these various and sundry communities were often times NOT with copies of books and letters that would later be gathered in – by the authority of a Church competent and capable to reject the false books – to the New Testament.

    Why is it that Catholic communities that were as far afield as India and cut off From the West by the 430s had priesthood and an office of the Mass and existed with it for 11 centuries before they were “rediscovered” by the west? When do you propose these things you think are innovations entered? Where are the proto-Evangelical type Christians in the first centuries that believe what you believe today about things like Sola Scriptura or rejecting the priesthood?

  11. Russ says:

    When God established the priesthood of Aaron in the OT, he established it with incredible detail. All of the offerings were described in tremendous detail. Who could be a priest, who could not. When to offer each offering. How to cut the “fat away from the entrails”, where to wash, how to make each article of clothing, how to make the tabernacle, how to make each item necessary to offer the various sacrifices, etc. On and on and on, verse after verse, detail after detail.

    Then, in the NT, God forgets to even mention the word “priest”? What you are suggesting is that God is incapable to communicate clearly in His word – this is not what Jesus said about His Father’s word – He said that, “it is truth” and, “will never pass away”. Paul said that it is able to make me, “…complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” and , “wise, unto salvation”. The Psalmist said, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” Not to mention that it is, “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”

    Tell me, why in the world would the Apostles of the Lord create a new priesthood when it was the existing priesthood that delivered Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified? The last thing in the world that they would have wanted to do was create another monster like that one!

    How did we get priests in the early church? I cannot say for sure. All I can say is that there was NO earthly priesthood at the time of the Apostles unless they were boneheaded enough to completely forget to mention it even while under the leading of the Holy Spirit and even mislead me by telling me that there is only one Mediator and to have, “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.”

    Tell me, what is your interpretation of this verse?

    Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:38)

  12. Joel says:

    Here is an exerpt from a letter written by Polycrates, the bishop of Ephesus to Pope Victor at the end of the Second Century:

    “Again, there is John, who leant back on the Lord’s breast, and who became a priest wearing the mitre, a martyr, and a teacher…”

    He goes on in a laundry list of the successors of the Apostles and makes it clear (at least in my own eyes) that from the very earliest of times of the Church those who held priestly and bishicratic offices obtained those offices from the Apostles who were themselves bishops and priests.

  13. “Then, in the NT, God forgets to even mention the word “priest”? What you are suggesting is that God is incapable to communicate clearly in His word – this is not what Jesus said about His Father’s word – He said that, “it is truth” and, “will never pass away”.”

    I am saying nothing of the sort. But just as the faith of Israel was not a “do it yourself from the book” proposition, neither was the New Israel’s faith in the convenant. When the Aarronic High Priest presided over the worship of the Temple – the liturgical worship – folks were not inclined to raise their hand at his rulings or teachings and say “Brother, where do you find that in the Bible?”

    But you have this image of the New Testament being like some sort of recipe book for creating a church… Like the Ephesians were recieving letters from Paul and saying “Brothers and sisters, Jesus be praised, we just got some more of the Bible written and sent to us!”

    The Church was a living breathing entity with teachers and authorities before the Apostles ever put quill to parchment to write the Gospels or Acts or the Epistles or Revelation. Explicit expositions on a lot of matters are not spelled out word for word, but things are talked about (cf. “The breaking of the bread”) without having the details laid out of how it was done. It wasn’t needed – they were already doing it, they already knew what it took.

    Using your thinking on this matter, one could say that because the New Testament is not clear as to what Sunday worship should look like, God could be accused of being just as “boneheaded” for not explaining that Sunday worship (why Sunday? The Seventh Day Adventists, using sola scriptura themselves, make a compelling argument for “sabbath keeping”…) should look like a Hymn & sermon sandwhich. By your standards the New Testament is lacking in that department – you can garner and speculate but it is none too specific exactly how it was to be done in the same way Old Israel had standards set out for it.

    But returning to the standards set forth for the Aaronic priesthood in the Old Testament. It should be noted that all they were to do can be read several times over in a single day. It occurs that even that is not exhaustive, and not answering (by the text alone) what one is to do for any number of matters that may have occured in the course of centuries.

    “Tell me, why in the world would the Apostles of the Lord create a new priesthood when it was the existing priesthood that delivered Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified? The last thing in the world that they would have wanted to do was create another monster like that one!”

    Why? Because priesthood isn’t bad – even if those fellas were some bad priests.

    This statement and questions seems so self serving it ignores something that is obvious in a reading of the Old Testament – those “monsters” were the ones who served the prescribed sacrifices that were God pleasing for Israel. Using your logic, one could turn around and ask “Why would God create religion again?” Couldn’t he have just used Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary to restore Eden and be done with it?

    Russ you argue from a position I just don’t accept – that of Sola Scriptura. Ultimately, folks who use that as their only criteria seldom agree with each other on all the basics. So we will continue to run into problems until we work through that. Until you can demonstrate how the Bible alone is the authority (and somehow the Bible itself gathered and approved itself into the canons we have today) and that is how Early Christians (whose writings we have a library of) believed, and that it is a tenable and working way for Chrstianity to have spread well before the printing press, widespread literacy, mass produced paper, adequate financing available to make Bibles widely available, adequate education for translators and translations, adequate literacy to read them, adequate free time (pre-industrial revolution, most folks were subsistence farmers – subsistence farmers don’t have hours of daylight to learn and read by….)….

    Well when you can demonstrate sola scriptura was not only a workable idea in those times, but actually the standard… We might be making a breakthrough.

  14. Russ says:

    Asimplesinner,

    “when you can demonstrate sola scriptura was not only a workable idea in those times, but actually the standard… We might be making a breakthrough.”

    You are one who insists on “sola scriptura”. I do not insist upon it. I only insist that if a particular tradition is of the Spirit of God, that tradition cannot contradict what the same Spirit of God inspirited the Apostles to record.

    The tradition of another earthly priesthood is in direct conflict with what the Apostles taught on many levels and, therefore, this particular tradition cannot be of the same Spirit that moved the Apostles to pen the NT. It must be of another spirit.

    Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. [1 John 4:1]

  15. Russ – a rose by any other name!

    You use exclusively your hremeutic of interpreting personally based on your reading of a translated text.

    We call that what it is here: sola scriptura.

  16. Russ says:

    How then do you explain the conflict when the NT and the traditions of the church are in direct conflict when they supposedly are of the Spirit? And when there is a conflict, have you noticed which doctrine wins. Does the word of God win? No, never. When ever the two conflict, tradition is always considered first while the very writings of the Apostles, those who heard the Lord and leaned on His chest, are given second seat. For example:

    http://theblackcordelias.wordpress.com/2008/04/24/is-missing-mass-a-mortal-sin/

    (see new comments on this blog)

    You cannot say that there is no conflict between the writings of the Apostles and the traditions of the chuch concerning this subject.

  17. “How then do you explain the conflict…”

    Before we go any further I ask you, how do you know your understanding of these supposed conflicts is correct?

    This is a basic first question that must be addressed before we can move on. It is simple, but when one is so rooted in pre-accepting that which we have not determined to truly be a self evident method of interpretation: namely formulating a hermeneutic of interpretation using the texts (which came from where?) and your personal reading of them as a basis for understanding them. It can be a lot like trying to understand how big a mountain is while climbing it.

    What is such obvious “error” to you is – whether you are realizing it or not – is largely informed by your biases in understanding WHAT is to be authoritative.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, even Mormons to a degree find justification in their personal reading of scripture to come up with novel ideas that seem “obvious” to them but would doubtless be problematic to you. (In the case of the Mormons, they see interpreting the New Testament in a fashion that leads credence to the acceptance and allowability of a “new canon” of scriptures and authority…) This doesn’t even speak to the vast body of Lutherans who march behind a banner of sola scripura bud have judged certain liturgical practices (I suspect you would object to) to remain the norm. All using the same model with different standards of measuring what is obvious.

    So, yes I can say that there is no conflict between the writings of the Apostles and the traditions of the Church. What I can say confidently is that there is a conflict between your perceptions and readings of one and the other and failure to have a standard or measure for identifying how they work seemlessly together. That conflict is rooted in a problematic ideal of what the scriptures are in and of themselves and who is rightly qualified to understand and teach on them.

  18. Russ says:

    asimplesinner,

    How do I know that my understanding is correct? – I don’t. I am sill learning and I hope you are as well.

    Yes, you are correct; I do see the Bible as authoritative. Does this not make sense seeing it is written by the Apostles themselves? If you truly want to know what Jesus taught and did, would you not choose to read the account of an eyewitness over the account of someone who never met the Lord?

    May I ask you the same question I posed on the “mass on Sunday” blog? Do you believe that you can be saved by keeping the Commandments? Do you understand that the commandments condemn you and do not save you? Are you willing to believe whatever the Bible teaches on this subject even if it is not what you have been taught by the Church?

  19. Joel says:

    Even the NT states its own limitations. Paul himself wrote that everyone should keep to the teachings he passed on orally. He also said it was preferable that he should teach in person rather than through letters. What was taught by the Apostles orally came to us as Holy Tradition. This is not contradictory to Scripture, but complimentary. In fact, Holy Scripture is a part of Holy Tradition. We may take as authoritative the writtings of the students of the Apostles as they write about Holy Tradition, and the offices of the Church are part of that. Polycarp, Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, Papias of Hierapolis and many others were students of the Apostles and have left us hundreds of writings which all say the same thing, namely there is shape and form to the heirarchy of the Church which is found in the offices of Deacon, Priest and Bishop.

    • Joy Adaji says:

      if the “holy traditions” are complimentary, why are they opposing the position of the NT on vital issues like baptism, lords supper, wearing of special garments as priests, telling us that Mary is another mediator btw man and God and so much more. God is not a God of confusion but of order. all He said in the OT came to pass and the great commission given. there is much in the blble that needs to be done let alone adding more that are human traditions. pls read Gal 1: 6-9 as against what you said paul said with out the verse.

      • bfhu says:

        Dear Joy,
        Catholic Tradition, if the teaching of the Apostles that was oral for some time. It is not anything like the “traditions of men”. Our TRADITIONS do not oppose anything in the New Testament. They do however oppose Protestant tradition and Protestant interpretation. Our TRADITIONS go back to the Apostles and the first century. We interpret scripture different that do Protest-ants.

  20. Russ says:

    Joel,

    I have no problem with traditions as long as they do not come against the teaching of the Apostles. If they do, we must chose the Authority of the Apostles and writers of the NT above those who came later.

  21. Dr. Acula says:

    Russ,

    The Catholic Church contains both the oral and written Traditions of the Apostles. Any “contradiction” is our error. Just like any “contradiction” in Scripture is our error.

  22. Russ says:

    Dr. Acula

    Are there contradictions in the Bible? If there are, then it is not the word of God.

    God is not the author of confusion [1 Cor 4:13]
    it is impossible for God to lie [Heb 6:18]
    The law of the LORD is perfect [Psalm 19:7]

    The Church is NOT the author of the NT – God is.

  23. “If there are, then it is not the word of God.

    God is not the author of confusion [1 Cor 4:13]
    it is impossible for God to lie [Heb 6:18]
    The law of the LORD is perfect [Psalm 19:7]“

    So to prove their are no contradictions you turn to the book you are trying to prove things about and use quotes? You realize the logical fallacy of that is right up there with a person saying “I NEVER tell the truth!”?

  24. Russ says:

    If you do not believe the Bible has authority, why quote it to establish the your church?

    You pride yourself in being the Apostolic church but when I quote the Apostles, you cannot receive what they say.

  25. “If you do not believe the Bible has authority, why quote it to establish the your church?”

    Don’t twist my words, Russ – I was illustrating your logical fallacy.

    I did not say “I don’t believe the Bible has authority” I pointed out that your idea “The Bible is true because it says here in the Bible it is true” is a logical fallacy that caves in on itself.

    What authority I don’t believe in? A person’s private judgement on the translations of the texts as they read them. That is the methodology you are using to find you assertions of what you feel is so “obvious” which – interestingly, other folks who use sola scriptura (from Lutherans, to Seventh Day Adventists, to Oneness Pentecostals, to Jehovah Witnesses) don’t all seem to think themselves what you think is so obvious is obvious.

    So don’t tell me that the Apostolic Church cannot recieve your quoting – quote all you like, we canonized them, our first bishops (the Apostles wrote them) – what you and I will have issues with from now until judgement day is not the texts, but your hermeneutic. – Plain and simple.

    So I invite an explanation for how it is you can feel comfortable in your personal interpretations being so obvious based on your scholarship (sola scriptura demands a level of scholarship from each and every practioner) and the accuracy of your translations (sola scriptura demands a level of translation accuracy…).

    What we need to address and agree on is who codified the Scripture and by what authority did they know it was God’s Word? A table of contents did not fall from the sky.

    Then we need to talk about how much of the New Testament did Christians in any given Church have before the codification and dissemination of the collected New Testament texts. Paul in his epistles write to Churches – churches going by what? When his epistles arrived do you fancy they said “And now we have some more Scripture!”? They were living, breathing churches with presbyters and bishops before any of those epistles were even written.

    Once you look into how the canon was codified and when and by whom, it will be interesting to see how you feel it would have been incumbant upon Christians WITHOUT copies of some of the texts to have used your methodology.

    So yes, I believe the Bible speaks with the Authority of God – but I do NOT believe in your personal (or anyone’s personal) interpretations of the translations available to you. It is part of a living, breathing, coherent Catholic Church whose first bishops wrote the texts, whose later bishops gathered them up, whose bishops preserved the texts in time-intensive hand coying processes – setting up monasteries for just that.

  26. Dr. Acula says:

    Russ,

    I put “contradiction” in quotes to show that there are no contradictions. There are only problems with the interpreter.

  27. Russ says:

    Dr. Acula,

    If a priest is required for a person to have a relationship with God, why did Jesus say, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”? [John 5:24]

  28. Russ conversely how are priests not needed via John 6: 53-58?

    “Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats 19 my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

    What you are now foisting – once again – on the texts is a personal and selective reading of verses… Perhaps unknowingly, you are expecting each and every verse to stand alone as self evident to someone like yourself, reading them in translation.

    A question that arises – one nuanced far beyond the surface of your translation – is how is the word “believes” to be understood? Just through connotations of mental assent?

    “To believe” is to act accordingly – not just a matter of mental assent.

    Again, your personal readings of translations are problematic in creating a hermeneutic of understanding these texts.

  29. Russ says:

    asimplesinner,

    Jesus never mentioned a priest in the text. You inserted the requirement for a priest because of your hermeneutic. Jesus explained what he meant a few verses later:

    “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” [John 6:63]

  30. Dr. Acula says:

    “I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.

    I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

    For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever. These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum.

    Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you?”

    First, in St. John’s Gospel when Our Lord refers to physical death He uses a phrase like “Lazarus is sleeping.” When He refers to the everlasting death of damnation he refers to that person as “Dead.” :twisted:

    Second, in verses 23-53 the word for eat is phago in verses 54-58 it is trogo. Phago refers to eating in a civilized manner, ie. High Tea with Queen Victoria. Trogo refers to crunching or gnawing and is often used to write about animals eating. Think Cookie Monster or that pie eating scene in “Stand By Me.” Only in modern Greek did phago and trogo become interchanged, in Koine they were different.

    The point is that the Eucharist is what is needed to have Everlasting Life. Without a priest, there is no Eucharist.

    Third point:

    “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him.

    And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father. After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”

    Notice that many of his disciples left, they took Him literally (as we all should) they couldn’t handle the reality of it all, so they left. Did Our Lord say “Hey guys, I was only speaking in metaphors! Come Back!!!”?

    NO, he said to the 12, “You guys gotta problem wit’ dat? You wanna bail too?”

    St. Peter, tells him “We have to trust you, you have the words of Eternal Life. I got no place else to go!!!” :cry:

    We should trust the biblical scholars who were closest to the Apostles right? Wouldn’t they have the best interpretation? Like the telephone game, the second guy is going to hear what the original guy said correctly, right?

    Ignatius was the third bishop (episkopos-overseer) of Antioch (you know where they were first called Christians.) He was taught by St. John the Apostle himself and was ordained by St. Peter. He wrote Seven Letters on his way to his martyrdom in the Flavian Amphitheater. He was martyred in 110 AD.

    Here’s what he wrote to the Smyrnaeans:

    “But mark ye those who hold strange doctrine
    touching the grace of Jesus Christ which came to us,
    how that they are contrary to the mind of God. They
    have no care for love, none for the widow, none for
    the orphan, none for the afflicted, none for the
    prisoner, none for the hungry or thirsty. They abstain
    from eucharist (thanksgiving) and prayer, because they
    allow not that the eucharist is the flesh of our
    Saviour Jesus Christ, which flesh suffered for our
    sins, and which the Father of His goodness raised up
    .

    To the Romans he wrote:

    “Let me be given to the
    wild beasts, for through them I can attain unto God. I
    am God’s wheat, and I am ground by the teeth of wild
    beasts that I may be found pure bread [of Christ]… Come fire and cross and
    grapplings with wild beasts, [cuttings and manglings,]
    wrenching of bones, hacking of limbs, crushings of my
    whole body, come cruel tortures of the devil to assail
    me. Only be it mine to attain unto Jesus Christ.”

    So you know he’s legit. If he got the Eucharist wrong, then St. John wasn’t a very good teacher and the Gates of Hades have prevailed against the Church. If he is correct (and he is) then only in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches will you receive the Eucharist, the other Christian Communities don’t confess that the Eucharist is the true flesh of Our Savior.

  31. Dr. Acula says:

    Re: 5th Chapter of St. John’s Gospel…

    “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and giveth life: so the Son also giveth life to whom he will. For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgment to the Son. That all men may honour the Son, as they honour the Father. He who honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father, who hath sent him. Amen, amen I say unto you, that he who heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath life everlasting; and cometh not into judgment, but is passed from death to life. Amen, amen I say unto you, that the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.”

    It seems you’re cherry picking your verses. :roll:

  32. Dr. Acula says:

    So spirit means symbolic in the New Testament? :?

    Go forth and Baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Symbolic? :?

    The symbolic blows where he will and you hear his voice (his symbolic voice or real voice?) but you don’t know where he comes from and where he goes: so it is of everyone born of the symbolic? :?

    Nice try. You are not taking the whole of Scripture in its context, you are cherry picking verses from Hank Hanegraff or James White’s website or something.

  33. Dr. Acula says:

    Simple,

    I posted a long post that has been lost in cyberspace again. Pretty please with sugar on top, would you retrieve it?

  34. Russ says:

    asimplesinner,

    May I ask a more basic question here? If I have access to the throne of grace, into the very holies of holies, behind the veil, – not into an earthly sanctuary but access into the very throne of God by the blood of Jesus Christ according to the New Covenant, and I am bid by the Holy Spirit in the Word of God – who cannot lie – to, “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Why not do it?

    If I have access to such a Priest, why use an earthly priest? Would that not be an insult to the Spirit of grace?

  35. Russ says:

    Dr. Acula,

    Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” [Matt 16:6]

    Yes, God who is Spirit, does speak in spiritual terms.

    So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? “Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated?

  36. Dr. Acula says:

    Who says that you have that access? Nothing unclean will enter Heaven. I doubt that you are at the apex of Holiness yet. I know I’m not.

    Rev 21:27

  37. Dr. Acula says:

    My post referring to “My words are Spirit and Life” is floating around in cyberspace. I’m hoping SimpleSinner will retrieve it. It took too long to retype.

  38. Russ says:

    I post scriptures as led by the Holy Spirit, not by another man’s work.

    This is not to say that I am never in the flesh. :-)

  39. Russ says:

    You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. [John 15:3]

  40. Russ says:

    If you are not clean, how will you enter?

  41. Russ says:

    Dr. Acula,

    How do I know I have access? You mean that you don’t? And this does not concern you? You need to fall on your face and ask God to forgive you and receive you and to give you eternal life. If I were you I would not wait another minute.

  42. Dr. Acula says:

    Did you look up rev 21:27? Do you still commit sins? If you do, and ain’t purified before/after death (look up the Purgatory post) you ain’t getting in!

    Remember the scene of the Last Judgment? If you ain’t holy, you ain’t gettin’ in! If you don’t clothe the naked, etc… you ain’t gettin’ in!

    Go to St. John 15:4 “Abide in me…”

    In the 6th Chapter of John (the only place) is where He tells us how we will abide with Him.

    Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and Drink His blood you will not have Life within you.

    Not my rules, His.

  43. Russ says:

    Dr. Acula,

    “Who says that you have access? Nothing unclean will enter heaven…”

    Do you not see that you are relating to God by works? As long as you are relating to God in this way, you will never be sure that you have eternal life.

    But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness… [Rom 4:5]

    Does that verse not sing to you? Are you not yet weary of your own works to earn God favor?

  44. Russ says:

    Dr. Acula,

    “Do you commit sins? If you do and ain’t purified….”

    There is no purgatory, Dr. There is only heaven and hell in the Bible. And if you are not sure that you have eternal life, I would call upon Lord if I were you.

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. [John 3:16]

    Jesus paid the price for my sin when he died on the cross. That is why I have eternal life – not because I am without sin. I could never be good enough to enter God’s Holy kingdom and neither can you. Either Jesus has saved us or we are lost forever – your choice.

  45. Russ says:

    If I have access to the throne of grace, into the very holies of holies, behind the veil, – not into an earthly sanctuary but access into the very throne of God by the blood of Jesus Christ according to the New Covenant, and I am bid by the Holy Spirit in the Word of God – who cannot lie – to, “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Why not do it?

    If I have access to such a Priest, why use an earthly priest?

    God has promised me this in His word. If God is a liar, I need to fear but if he cannot lie, I need to worship Him!

    If you are not experiencing a relationship with God as described above from the word of God, then all you have is dead religion and your dead religion will never save you on the day of judgment.

    Why would God describe such a relationship through a heavenly priest if it were not possible?

    This is the NORMAL relationship between God and ALL of His children in the NT. NO EARTHLY PRIEST REQUIRED.

  46. Russ says:

    I know you all are sick of me but one more thought please…

    We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. [Heb 13:10]

    And where is this altar located? On earth? No, but,

    Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [Heb 14:14-16]

  47. “You inserted the requirement for a priest because of your hermeneutic. “

    No I didn’t Russ.

    I don’t have to insert anything into the text – the existence of priesthood while alluded to and demonstrated well enough in enough places, predates the wrting of so much as even the first word of the Gospels to parchment.

    (6th time?) Can you explain where the Scriptures came from, when they were put together, and who codified them?

    At the heart of what we have to get to is how you are comfortabel focussing on texts and interpreting the translations you have.

  48. “I posted a long post that has been lost in cyberspace again. Pretty please with sugar on top, would you retrieve it?”

    Sorry Doc Ac – It is not in the Spam catcher… unless you wrote a long post about term life insurance! :(

  49. Says Russ: “I have no problem with traditions as long as they do not come against the teaching of the Apostles. If they do, we must chose the Authority of the Apostles and writers of the NT above those who came later.”

    How do we know when they conflict, Russ? You say that only I am using the term sola scriptura… and that may be true enough – I am the only one using that term, you are using the system, just not the term.

    You cherry pick and proof-text for your positions up to and including removing from context (and in translation at that) singular verses… How are you sure when the verses you pick are actually appropriate? How are you sure that things you think are such obvious contradictions, are?

    You have pulled verses out of context that demonstrate an absolute assurance of salvation without regard to are co-operation with grace in working our faith. You have not yet explained your theory on how this fits with that:

    “Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats 19 my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

    Russ we really will only stay on this circular racetrack until you establish how you are qualified to measure and judge the translations with which you are dealing to formulate these opinions. How is it you come to such radically different conclusions on scripture as others using the very same methods that you use?

  50. I know you all are sick of me but one more thought please…

    Really we are not – comboxes are set up for comments.

    We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. [Heb 13:10]

    Agreed

    And where is this altar located? On earth? No, but,

    Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [Heb 14:14-16]

    See Russ, this we agree with. And we as Catholics go to the Altar at each Mass to recieve from the Great High Priest Christ Himself.

  51. Dr. Acula says:

    Simple,

    I wish you could recover my posts. I went through St. John Chapter 6 with a fine toothed comb. I even showed that the verb for “to eat” changes from “High Tea with Queen Victoria eat” to “Cookie Monster eat” to show that He was speaking literally of His literal flesh and blood. Everyone left Him and He even said to the Apostles “Youse guys leavin’ too?” and St. Peter said “We got no place else to go!”

    Then I demonstrated how St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was explicitly taught by St. John himself, says to refrain from hanging out with heretics because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the very flesh of Our Savior who died on the Cross.

    I then said that we should especially trust the earliest Christians (St. Ignatius was martyred by wild beasts in the Flavian Amphitheater for his love of Christ) when they write about the Bible and the Faith.

    Russ should really read the earliest of the biblical scholars like Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna (also taught by St. John), Irenaeus of Lyons, and Justin Martyr.

    This way he would know that there are people way smarter than the three of us put together who have already dealt with these theological problems.

  52. Dr. Acula says:

    St. Ignatius was martyred in AD 110.

    St. Polycarp was martyred in AD 155.

    St. Irenaeus of Lyons was martyred in somewhere around AD 200.

    St. Justin Martyr was martyred in AD 165.

    St. Clement (the Fourth Pope) was martyred in AD 99. He wrote Epistles too, and in some early versions of the bible, his letters are included.

    Also everyone should read the Didache it is the earliest extra-biblical Christian writing and is concurrent with the Epistles and the Acts of the Apostles.

    Everyone should read what these early heroes and teachers who knew the Apostles or were ordained by their successors wrote.

  53. Drac, I would like to read that post too… unfortunately there were only 6 posts in the spam filter – all of them dealing with term life insurance…

  54. Dr. Acula says:

    Oh, that was me too. Don’t you need comprehensive term life insurance? :D

    I may redo it later when everybody goes to bed.

  55. Joel says:

    Dr Ac,
    That sounds like a fabulous post! I can’t wait to read it!

    It sounds like you read the book “The Four Witnesses,” affectionatly refered to in my house as “The Four Dudes.”

  56. Russ says:

    Can you explain where the Scriptures came from, when they were put together, and who codified them?

    All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. [2 Tim 3:16]

    for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. [2 Pet 1:21]

    The word of God is the word of God because God spoke it just like the word of asimplelinner is the word of asimplelinner because asimplelinner spoke it.

    It does not matter who “put them together”. Israel put together the OT but they were taken into captivity in Babylon and crucified the Lord. You have a very high view of your, “one true church” as if that church could never go apostate because Jesus said, “the gates of hell…”, but Jesus said additional things about the church that must be considered as well, like, “you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” [Rev 3:1]

    The Pharisees boasted that they were sons of Abraham but Jesus rebuked them for their prideful attitude.

    “the existence of priesthood while alluded to and demonstrated well enough in enough places, predates the wrting of so much as even the first word of the Gospels to parchment.”

    Only God can establish a priesthood and He did – the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. But another earthly priesthood – there is none in the Bible and you have yet to show me otherwise.

    I trust the word of God above the word of man for the fear of man is a snare and a trap but the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

    If there are problems with my translation, take me back to the origonal text and correct it instead of just attacking it.

  57. Russ says:

    Dr.

    Even if you can successfully argue transubstantiation from the Bible, there is no mention of the need of an earthly priest to waive his hand over it and say “abracadabra”.

    If man cannot be defiled by what enters his mouth but only by what comes out of His mouth, then neither can he be saved by what enters his mouth. He can only be saved by what comes out of his mouth, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus… you will be saved.”

    “And the Word became flesh…” – To eat the Body of Christ is to believe His word. This hermeneutic is in perfect harmony with, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

    To hear the word is more then casual listening. It is to stand upon the truth that is contained therein.

  58. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. [2 Tim 3:16]

    for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. [2 Pet 1:21]“

    Worthy God-breathed sentiment because it is the Word of God, but Russ (perhaps not realizing the logical fallacy you are presenting) saying “The world of God is The world of God because it says it is The world of God!” is as ultimately and logically unsatisfying and errant as the Muslim apologist who says “The Koran is the word of Allah because it says so in the Koran!”

    “If there are problems with my translation, take me back to the origonal text and correct it instead of just attacking it.”

    Russ not a single soul is attacking the translations. We are questioning how you see fit to be an arbiter of what is obvious from your translations. I am not going to bother going round for round on the minutae of each verse and possible translation errors or difficulties while the main singular issue that we have failed to resolve remains hanging in the air.

    Namely, you feel justified in coming to the texts and interpreting them independently. I want to know how you know those texts are all the ones that should be included – no table of contents fell from the skies. I want to know how you know the texts that were excluded SHOULD have been. Who could be so sure that the “Gospel of Saint Thomas” was false or the Epistle of Clement of Rome ultimately did not qualify as Scripture because it failed to meet which tests as given by whom.

    “Only God can establish a priesthood and He did – the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. But another earthly priesthood – there is none in the Bible and you have yet to show me otherwise.”

    Yet to convincingly show you at least – the material is all out there. But again, the $64,000 question is on what do you base the foundation of your thinking that Truth can only be found in the personal and private judgement of an individual approaching a text without a reference. Like the Eunach of Ethiopia, “How can you understand without someone to teach you?”

    Your system relies wholly on your personal satisfaction that your conclusions using the “Russ as arbitor and interpreter” is sound. What gives you such satisfaction that what is obvious to you (but perhaps not obvious to say a Jehovah’s Witness) is in fact correct? It satisfied your personal theology?

    At what point are you 100% comfortable in knowing that you are not proof-texting and cherry picking verses that would seem to back up your foregone conclusions?

    Russ, who put the Bible together and how do you know they got it right?

  59. “Even if you can successfully argue transubstantiation from the Bible, there is no mention of the need of an earthly priest to waive his hand over it and say “abracadabra”.”

    Because Russ says so based on his hermeneutic of approaching Scripture in a fashion that Scripture itself does not outline?

    WE can’t argue against your subjective “sense of the obvious” with any satisfaction… We still need to clear up how it is that you can be confident your approach to these texts (on whose authority you know them to be Scripture?) is in fact the one that should be used.

    ““If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus… you will be saved.””

    Didn’t we already discuss that interpretations of how one confesses and believes are widely divergent and not as obvious as an English speaker – with a set meaning for “belief” or even “hear” (which you allude to when saying “To hear the word is more then casual listening. It is to stand upon the truth that is contained therein.”)?

    “Well we will just sit right down (with hope we have no foregone conclusions!) and examine the texts (which we won’t discuss how we know to be comprehensive or true) and see what the Spirit says to us (with confidence that our education is enough to see the obvious)!”

    How is it that other Protestants who use your same methodology have come to such radically differing conclusions? The principle of non-contradiction being what it is, they can both be wrong or only one could be right… But they can’t all be right. So from where does your confidence that your personal reading is correct come from?

    Just a side note: So far we have done very well in showing each other some respect in our disagreement. Let’s refrain from statements like “earthly priest to waive his hand over it and say “abracadabra”.” which is both an insulting charicature and rather inaccurate as to what we even believe. You can disagree with us – you have demonstrated that – without mocking or making silly charactures… Even if you think what we believe is silly. I really don’t want to see this devolve into useless mockery.

  60. Dr. Acula says:

    The Bible was put together by the Catholic Church. We are using an infallible book put together by an infallible Church. Or in your case you are using an infallible book put together by an fallible bunch of guys. If that is the case, how can you trust a bunch of fallible guys to put together such a book. How do you know if they left out any books? How do you know if they put in too many books? You don’t know.

    The Protestant Bible uses the canon set forth at the Jewish Council of Jamnia in the early AD 90s. Unfortunately, the Council also set forth curses for anyone following “the nazarean.” Do you really want to trust a decision from a body like that?

    Also, the earliest Christians used the Septuagint (condemned at the Council of Jamnia) ever notice that your quotes from St. Paul don’t match the Old Testament verses that he uses? St. Paul and Our Lord used the Septuagint. Later scholars have used the Masoretic Text to create the Old Testament that we use in modern translations. There is good evidence that the Masoretic text has been corrupted to exclude the terms used in the New Testament that show Jesus Christ is Lord. Whereas the Byzantine Codex was copied from the original Greek by Greek speaking Scholars from the first century. The Orthodox Churches and the Eastern (Byzantine) Catholics (which differ from the other Eastern and Far Eastern Catholics) use this translation. St. Jerome also put together the Vulgate from sources in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic which we don’t have today. You wanna go to the best sources? Check those out.

    Luther decided to throw out the deuterocanonicals that were in the Septuagint but not in the Masoretic Text because he could get rid of Purgatory and the concept of praying for the dead. He also wanted to throw out Hebrews, Revelation, the Epistles of Sts. James and Jude. Surprise! They also vindicate the Catholic views of salvation and justification.

  61. Russ says:

    “perhaps not realizing the logical fallacy you are presenting…”

    So if monasteries were built and councils were established and votes were taken and books were ratified – NOW it becomes the word of God. The Muslims can build monasteries as well.

    “I want to know how you know those texts are all the ones that should be included – no table of contents fell from the skies.”

    Actually, as simplistic as it sounds, I believe that it is God’s responsibility to deliver to His children His word. How can Jesus say, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word…” unless God makes that word available for His people to be nourished by?

    Did the children of Israel need to ratify the manna from heaven? No, God gave it and they ate it.

    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. [Is 55:11]

    Getting the word of God correctly to the children of God is God’s deal, not man’s.

    “the $64,000 question is…”

    Ultimately, it IS up to the individual to decide what she/he considers truth and what he considers error but God holds him responsible for his choices. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

    Like it our not, each person determines their own choices concerning truth and error, just as you have.

  62. Dr. Acula says:

    As far as the priesthood goes:

    The word that is now translated as Elder is presbyteros which is the root word for Presbyterian and PRIEST! (See Acts 15:2-6, 21:18, Hebrews 11:2, 1 Peter 5:1, and 1 Timothy 5:17) The Catholic priest stands In Persona Christi and offers the same Sacrifice as that of the Last Supper and Calvary.

    “But as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up and entered into the city, and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and to Antioch:

    Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith: and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained to them priests in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, in whom they believed.”

    Acts 14:19-22

    “Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophesy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood.”

    1 Tim 4:14

    So, you see that there is Biblical evidence that there are priests who were given the power of the Sacraments by the Apostles. Specifically, Sts. Paul and Barnabas ordained men in Antioch for sure. And St. Paul ordained Timothy as a priest (elder.)

    So, you see that God did establish a Priesthood of the New Covenant. As an aside, Polycrates [130-196] Bishop of Ephesus wrote “…and reposes at Ephesus; John, moreover, who reclined on the Lord’s bosom, and who became a priest wearing the mitre, and a witness and a teacher-he rests at Ephesus.”

    Later I will write on the Eucharist.

  63. So if monasteries were built and councils were established and votes were taken and books were ratified – NOW it becomes the word of God. The Muslims can build monasteries as well.

    No one said that Russ – not even close. The point is that to point to a book and say “This is the Word of God because it says so” is unsatisfying.

    Actually, as simplistic as it sounds, I believe that it is God’s responsibility to deliver to His children His word. How can Jesus say, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word…” unless God makes that word available for His people to be nourished by?

    This relies on you knowing with confidence Jesus said it! Again, “how can the word of God – which we know to be the word of God because as the word of God it says its the word of God be wrong?”

    But your methodology – using a reasoning that is extra-scriptural belies that even the best efforts to base everything on the word of God (which we know is the word of God how?) is at best tentative. In this instance the flaw is subtle but it is there – you are counting on your reasoning as being a satisfying lynchpin for why you are right. More plainly “Well if we reasonably assume that it would work this way, it is rather obvious that this is how it would work.”

    You say “Like it our not, each person determines their own choices concerning truth and error, just as you have.” So ultimately is their no objective truth? I am standing with the Church Jesus Himself established which wrote and than codified – through the grace of the Holy Spirit – the Scriptures and did so under the authority of being Christ’s own church.

    But how do you handle the widely divergant and conflicting opinions held by people who judge the scriptures the way you do? How do you know Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t on to something, or Oneness Pentecostals, or the Seventh Day Adventists? How do you feel confident in your judgement that the are errant and that you are correct where you differ?

    How do you know the Scriptures are complete? That the verses you qoute from them even belong in them?

  64. Russ says:

    Dr.

    “We are using an infallible book put together by an infallible Church”

    Can you show me from the word of God were the church is ever described as “infallible” except in heaven? Perhaps that is what Jesus was trying to say here:

    So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. [Rev 3:16]

    The Greek word for “priest” is “hiereus” and is used throughout the NT [Mat 8:4, 12:4,5, Luke 1:5, John 1:19, Heb 8:4].

    Not one NT believer is EVER referred to as “priest” because there are no more sacrifices to be offered. Jesus was offered, “Once for all”

    …who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. [Heb 7:27]

  65. Russ says:

    “and did so under the authority of being Christ’s own church.”

    How do you know the church has this authority?

  66. And it comes full circle… again… and again… and again…

    “Can you show me from the word of God were the church is ever described as “infallible” except in heaven?”

    Can you first demonstrate that what you have is the complete word of God and then go on to demonstrate that the word of God says it must be explicit in the word of God?

  67. “and did so under the authority of being Christ’s own church.”

    How do you know the church has this authority?

    If The Church does not, we come full circle to how you can hold the Bible in your hand with any confidence in it one way or another. If you would demonstrate the smallest amount of interest in at least examing the history of how the canon was assembled – when and where (have you looked into that at all yet???) you are going to begin to see that factually and historically there was a gathering of texts spread disjointedly througout Christendom – with competing canons – and at a certain point (I want you to do the research and come up with the name of the council – is is out there!) the canon was fixed with some writings definatively rejected, while what we have today was approved.

    (Though Martin Luther did want to expunge a book or two in the NT!)

    Your confidence in what you are told is Scripture – and the canon that you own – is (and you may never have thought about this) based on a confidence that they were right! It is based on a confidence that they were write to exclude the Gospel of Saint Thomas, The Fourth Book of Baruch, Paraleipomena Jeremiou, The Gospel of Basilides, The book of Hymns…

    I you don’t minimally concede that those who acted to limit and create the canon that you have today, did so infaillably… Well the feeding frenzy begins in what we have seen among our non-Catholic mainline Protestant brothers and sisters – redactionist criticisms, tossing out texts as “likely inauthentic” and turning to alternative New Testament-era writings is just the tip of the iceberg.

    If you love and treasure your faith that the NT canon is complete, you act with the belief or the hope, that infaillability could occur at least once!

    cf. also CTA: Protestants and Sola Scriptura by George Sim Johnston « The Black Cordelias

  68. Dr. Acula says:

    Russ,

    Did you not read my posts? The word for the New Testament Priest is presbyteros.

    Hieros is where we get the term hierarchy.

    priest (prst)
    n.
    1. In many Christian churches, a member of the second grade of clergy ranking below a bishop but above a deacon and having authority to administer the sacraments.
    2. A person having the authority to perform and administer religious rites.
    tr.v. priest·ed, priest·ing, priests
    To ordain or admit to the priesthood.
    [Middle English preost, from Old English prost, perhaps from Vulgar Latin *prester (from Late Latin presbyter; see presbyter) or from West Germanic *prvost (from Latin praepositus, superintendent; see provost).]

    hi·er·arch (h-rärk, hrärk)
    n.
    1. One who occupies a position of authority in a religious hierarchy.
    2. One who occupies a high position in a hierarchy: governmental hierarchs.
    [From Middle English jerarchis, hierarchs, from Medieval Latin hierarcha, dignitary, prelate, from Greek hierarkhs, high priest : hieros, holy; see eis- in Indo-European roots + -arkhs, -arch.]

    The Apostles ordained elders/priests/presbyteroi by the laying on of hands. They received the same powers that Our Lord gave the Apostles at the Last Supper and late in the day of the Resurrection:

    “When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” -St. John 20:22-23

    “And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me.” -St. Luke 22:19

    “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.

    For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until he come.” -1 Cor 11:23-26

    The word in the Greek is anemnesis it is used in concerning memory. I have read that there are over 20 Greek words concerning memory but this is the one that is used in sacrificial terms. It is used in the Septuagint in place of the Hebrew zakar and azkarah which are used in the following:

    “And when he hath offered it, he shall take a memorial out of the sacrifice, and burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour to the Lord.” -Lev 2:9

    “And thou shalt put upon them the dearest frankincense, that the bread may be for a memorial of the oblation of the Lord.” -Lev 24:7

    That’s all for now, it’s lunch time! :)

  69. Russ says:

    asimplesinner,

    Israel was entrusted with the OT but they were in rebellion against God most of their history. How do you know the church is not in a similar situation?

    Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. [Rev 2:22]

    For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. [Rom 15:4]

    They, too, had promises similar to, “the gates of hell…” yet today they are outside of the grace of God.

  70. russ simply put “similar to” does not equal “same”.

    They are out of the covenant not because of “similar to” but because they rejected the new covenant offered by Christ through his sacrifice and establishment of a New Israel open to all nations – the Catholic Church.

    I am at a loss to understand exactly what point you think Rev 2:22 and Rom 15:4 make. Again, what is so obvious to you, isn’t obvious to me – spell out your hermeneutic on that one so we can see how that relates to having certitude that the gathered canon is correct.

    I notice a pattern wherein every time I press you for greater explination for how you know with certitude that the New Testament canon you cherish is reliable, the very next response will be on a different subject where I am guessing you think you have stronger argument.

    To proceed further, so we don’t have to play this circular game 6 more times today alone (are you unemployed too right now?)…

    “and did so under the authority of being Christ’s own church.”

    How do you know the church has this authority?

    If The Church does not, we come full circle to how you can hold the Bible in your hand with any confidence in it one way or another. If you would demonstrate the smallest amount of interest in at least examing the history of how the canon was assembled – when and where (have you looked into that at all yet???) you are going to begin to see that factually and historically there was a gathering of texts spread disjointedly througout Christendom – with competing canons – and at a certain point (I want you to do the research and come up with the name of the council – is is out there!) the canon was fixed with some writings definatively rejected, while what we have today was approved.

    (Though Martin Luther did want to expunge a book or two in the NT!)

    Your confidence in what you are told is Scripture – and the canon that you own – is (and you may never have thought about this) based on a confidence that they were right! It is based on a confidence that they were write to exclude the Gospel of Saint Thomas, The Fourth Book of Baruch, Paraleipomena Jeremiou, The Gospel of Basilides, The book of Hymns…

    I you don’t minimally concede that those who acted to limit and create the canon that you have today, did so infaillably… Well the feeding frenzy begins in what we have seen among our non-Catholic mainline Protestant brothers and sisters – redactionist criticisms, tossing out texts as “likely inauthentic” and turning to alternative New Testament-era writings is just the tip of the iceberg.

    If you love and treasure your faith that the NT canon is complete, you act with the belief or the hope, that infaillability could occur at least once!

    cf. also CTA: Protestants and Sola Scriptura by George Sim Johnston « The Black Cordelias

    Is this last response your concession that you think the Church did posses at least enough infailability to assemble the Scriptures but lost it like Israel fell out of favor?

  71. Russ says:

    Dr.

    “Presbyteros” does NOT refer to one who is a mediator nor is he someone who offers sacrifices upon an altar.

    There is, “…one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus…” [1 Tim 2:5]

    This is why none of the Apostles nor the elders nor any New Testament believers are ever referred to as a “priest” [“hiereus”]. Instead, they are refered to as “overseer” [“Presbyteros"]

    In the Bible, there are only 3 priesthoods established by God.

    1. The priesthood of Aaron – offered scarifies for the sins of the nation of Israel.
    2. The Priesthood of Melchizedek – Jesus is the High Priest of the this order – He offered Himself for the sins of the world. [Heb 5:6]
    3. The priesthood of all believers – We offer sacrifices of praise and service. [Rom 12:1, Phil 2:17, 4:18, Heb 13:15,16, 1 Pet 2:5]

    The NT never refers to any believer as a “priest” [“hiereus”]

    By definition, a priest must have a sacrifice to offer but there are NO more sacrifices for sin.

    For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law… [Heb 8:3,4]

    “For, if He were on earth, He would not be a priest…” If it is impossible for Jesus to be a priest on earth, how can any man be one? There is no NT priest on earth.

    And again, I have access to the throne in heaven. I would never insult the Spirit of grace by relating to God through another preisthood.

  72. Russ I am at a loss here.

    I am not sure how to proceed (this is probably like the tenth time – at least – I have written this in one of the combox discussions you come to…

    But to argue with your terms “Show me where it is in the Bible” I need for you to show me how you know it (1) has to be in the Bible and (2) how you know what you have for a Bible is the Word of God.

    We really can’t get anywhere – though we could go on for another 72 comments – until we are speaking the same language and using the same hermeneutic. (Incidentally, I am enjoying seeing you adopt that term yourself!)

    We will keep asking for you to demonstrate #1 & 2, in turn you will keep supplying quotes you think disprove our claim…

    So far we have gotten to a point where you concede we must all just judge for ourselves… How do you have confidence in your judgement?

    If you want to go on with any success besides going back and forth on cherry picked verses, we need to establish that is even a method that is useful for determining these things. So far, we haven’t – you keep acting on the merits that we all use this subjective standard of personal interpretation with sola scriptura that you do.

  73. Dr. Acula says:

    Russ,

    You have it wrong again:

    This is why none of the Apostles nor the elders nor any New Testament believers are ever referred to as a “priest” [“hiereus”]. Instead, they are refered to as “overseer” [“Presbyteros"]

    Overseer is not a presbyteros an overseer is an episkopos as in Episcopalian and in German: Bischoff and in English: Bishop. Did you not read the etymology of the words? I put them right in the post? Are you even reading the whole posts? :?

    Most of your objections have been answered. Please re-read my posts.

  74. Dr. Acula says:

    Here it is again:

    As far as the priesthood goes:

    The word that is now translated as Elder is presbyteros which is the root word for Presbyterian and PRIEST! (See Acts 15:2-6, 21:18, Hebrews 11:2, 1 Peter 5:1, and 1 Timothy 5:17) The Catholic priest stands In Persona Christi and offers the same Sacrifice as that of the Last Supper and Calvary.

    “But as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up and entered into the city, and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and to Antioch:

    Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith: and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained to them priests in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, in whom they believed.”

    Acts 14:19-22

    “Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophesy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood.”

    1 Tim 4:14

    So, you see that there is Biblical evidence that there are priests who were given the power of the Sacraments by the Apostles. Specifically, Sts. Paul and Barnabas ordained men in Antioch for sure. And St. Paul ordained Timothy as a priest (elder.)

    So, you see that God did establish a Priesthood of the New Covenant. As an aside, Polycrates [130-196] Bishop of Ephesus wrote “…and reposes at Ephesus; John, moreover, who reclined on the Lord’s bosom, and who became a priest wearing the mitre, and a witness and a teacher-he rests at Ephesus.”

  75. Russ says:

    asimplesinner,

    Your confidence in what you are told is Scripture – and the canon that you own – is (and you may never have thought about this) based on a confidence that they were right!

    Wrong. The confidence I have in the word of God is based on the promises of God. Yes, that is circular reasoning but that is God’s problem, not mine.

    You have the same problem with circular reasoning when you argue to establish the CC.

    I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, And shall not return, That to Me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall take an oath. [Is 45:23]

    Notice that even God had to use circular reasoning, “I have sworn by myself”.

    Yes God used the CC to ratify the NT just as He used the nation of Israel to ratify the OT. If ratifying a testament makes the ratifying institution infallible, why was Israel taken into captivity in Babylon? The CC is no more infallible then Israel. If Israel is infallible, then so is the church but if not, neither is the church according to your own argument.

  76. Russ says:

    asimplesinner,

    “Your confidence in what you are told is Scripture – and the canon that you own – is (and you may never have thought about this) based on a confidence that they were right!”

    Yes God used the Catholic Church to ratify the NT just as He used the nation of Israel to ratify the OT. If ratifying a testament makes the ratifying institution infallible, why was Israel taken into captivity? The CC is no more infallible then Israel. If Israel is infallible, then so is the church but if not, neither is the church.

  77. Dr. Acula says:

    No, God used the Catholic Church to ratify the OT and the NT. The Jewish Canon was still in flux until the Council of Jamnia which was the same Council that pronounced a curse on anyone who claimed that Jesus is the Christ.

    At least you acknowledge that the Church put the Bible together. Now, why don’t you use the Bible that the Church put together? You must accept all 73 books.

  78. Russ says:

    In Romans we read this,

    What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. [Romans 3:1,2]

    So, according to Romans, a book ratified by the Catholic Church, the OT scriptures were, “committed” to the Jews.

    The Jews ratified the OT, not the church.

    Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. [Deut 17:18]

    And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God. [Neh 9:3]

    Notice that it is the “book” of the law, not the “books”.

    The Church received the book of the OT from the hands of the Jews.

    Compiling the NT cannon does not prove infallibility and if the church if fallible, which it is [indulgences, etc.], then the only thing that remains truthful is the Word of God.

  79. Russ says:

    A little something I googled.

    Most scholars agree that the Hebrew Bible was composed and compiled between the 12th and the 2nd century BC,[1] before Jesus’ birth. Jesus and his disciples based their teachings on them, referring to them as “the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms … the scriptures”. (Luke 24:44–45)

    1. Encyclopaedia Britannica: “Written almost entirely in the Hebrew language between 1200 and 100 BC”; Columbia Encyclopedia: “In the 10th century BC the first of a series of editors collected materials from earlier traditional folkloric and historical records (i.e., both oral and written sources) to compose a narrative of the history of the Israelites who now found themselves united under David and Solomon.”

  80. Dr. Acula says:

    “And in the four and twentieth day of the month the children of Israel came together with fasting and with sackcloth, and earth upon them. And the seed of the children of Israel separated themselves from every stranger: and they stood, and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they rose up to stand: and they read in the book of the law of the Lord their God, four times in the day, and four times they confessed, and adored the Lord their God.”

    -Neh 9:1-4 The rest of your quote in context.

    I googled “Book of the Law” and I got a link to the Book of Mormon, that must prove that the Book of Mormon is true. :P

    I would imagine that it was King Josiah’s book of the Law “Deuteronomy” as it is translated as “second book of the law” But more likely that is referring to the whole Torah.

    Plus, if the Church is fallible, then how can you be sure that the books of the Bible are really the books of the Bible since the Church can make a mistake?

    (We know that the Church cannot make a mistake because Our Lord said it would not. See my above post on Peter.)

  81. “If ratifying a testament makes the ratifying institution infallible, why was Israel taken into captivity?”

    I don’t think you understand infallibility here, Russ. Captivity and infallibility would be two totally different things. We aren’t talking about impeccability.

    The CC is no more infallible then Israel. If Israel is infallible, then so is the church but if not, neither is the church.”

    It is entirely too late for me to really tackle this except to ask for clarification. How does the Catholic church’s infallibility rise and fall on Israels?

    How can one be more infallible or less?

  82. Russ says:

    You are saying that traditions of the CC are on equal par with the scripture, right? Your evidence for proving this point is that the NT was entrusted to the CC. My point, a valid one, is that if the entrusting of the word of God to a people or an institution makes the traditions of that entity infallible, then Israel’s traditions must also be infallible.

    But the traditions of Israel were NOT infallible.

    He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. [Matt 7:9]

    The traditions of Israel, which were outside of the cannon of scripture, were seriously flawed according to Jesus. Therefore, there is no guarantee that the traditions of the CC, which are also outside of the cannon of scripture, are infallible.

  83. Russ says:

    You are guilty of the same error that Israel made.

    You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them… [Ex 20:4,5a]

    Does your tradition not make this commandment void?

    He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. [Matt 7:9]

    Does this verse not apply to the CC?

  84. Russ says:

    You said that you were going to “pin me down on this”. Which I agreed to. Well, now I must pin you down on this:

    1. Do not make images. Do not bow down to them. –The Bible
    2. Make images of the saints, especially Mary. Pray to her. Bow down to the image. – The tradition of the CC.

    They cannot both be true.

  85. “2. Make images of the saints, especially Mary. Pray to her. Bow down to the image. – The tradition of the CC.”

    Russ, I am going to ask and demand that you find one approved Catholic writing that says this.

    Don’t expect us to debate and discuss your paraphrasing.

  86. You are saying that traditions of the CC are on equal par with the scripture, right? Your evidence for proving this point is that the NT was entrusted to the CC. My point, a valid one, is that if the entrusting of the word of God to a people or an institution makes the traditions of that entity infallible, then Israel’s traditions must also be infallible.

    They are abrogated Russ, I think we both agree on that. What source of abrogation has left folks operating in the New Covenant with a new set of laws?

    How do you know that the Scriptures you have are the Scriptures? What is your source of confidence that what has been written and perserved and passed down is reliable, accurate and inclusive?

    As far as I can tell you seem to be arguing for a limited infaillibility – that at times it can or could happen, but at best you can’t now be sure after the point you accept this may have been true… The question than comes back to how you know the canon that you have is reliable. Because of an infaillability you vaguely affirm could have at least been possible then?

    I do give you props for “My point, a valid one” it is a confident man who in a debate about his points is willing to proclaim his own opnion valid, if I do say so myself!

  87. Russ says:

    Don’t change the subject. The CC insists that the ORAL traditions of the first Pope are authoritative. If the oral traditions of the first Pope are authoritative, and Papal succession it true, then the oral traditions of the last Pope must also be authoritative – and every Pope in-between.

    Jesus rebuked the leaders of Israel for the traditions they PRACTICED, regardless if those traditions were written or not.

    “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men–the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” [Mat 7:8]

    He did not rebuke them for what they wrote, but for what they DID.

    I am not speaking of sins committed by Popes in private; I am speaking of ORAL doctrine taught by repeated public example of the successor of Peter.

    Paul said, Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. [1 Cor 1:11]

    I have already told you where the scriptures came from. They came from God and were entrusted to the CC. But that does not prove that the traditions of the CC are infallible any more then it proves that the traditions of the Jews were infallible.

  88. Russ if you can’t participate in a conversation without saying “Don’t give me your XXXXXXXXX” this will come to an end in short order.

    Re-write that comment if you please – but as open as I am to a free exchange, I am not going to be insulted with your profanity or vulgarity in this combox.

    More of the same will get deleted. I am confident as a Christian you can do better than that.

  89. Russ says:

    Asimplesinner,

    ***EDITED***

    You yourself argue that the traditions of the Apostles are ORAL, not just written.

    The Pope models this for the 1.2 billion Catholics to emulate. This IS the ORAL tradition and HAS BEEN the tradition of the CC for almost 2 centuries.

    http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Roman%20Catholicism/pope_prays_to_mary.htm

    The average catholic does not read official church statements – they follow the example of their priests and leaders – especially the Pope. They are taught that the traditions of the church are passed ORALLY.

  90. “Don’t change the subject. The CC insists that the ORAL traditions of the first Pope are authoritative. If the oral traditions of the first Pope are authoritative, and Papal succession it true, then the oral traditions of the last Pope must also be authoritative – and every Pope in-between.”

    So to be clear, you want to accept that there was a measure of infallability in the creation of the New Testament canon, but want to use the texts in the canon to disabuse any notion that it could be ongoing?

    I guess that puts us at a point of trying to decide how it could be a one-time thing that the Church could be reliable.

  91. You yourself argue that the traditions of the Apostles are ORAL, not just written.

    I do. And we don’t argue that all oral tradition is equal. You do well to begin to read and research on that.

    The Pope models this for the 1.2 billion Catholics to emulate. This IS the ORAL tradition and HAS BEEN the tradition of the CC for almost 2 centuries.

    You are meaning millenia, but so far, fair enough.

    http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Roman%20Catholicism/pope_prays_to_mary.htm

    Russ, can you do better than coming up with inaccurate screeds such as this. Putting me in the position of feeling compelled to go through line by line – a Herculean effort that just will set us back days or weeks – is not useful. Quote a Catholic document or source. Try the Catechism of the Catholic Church online. I am not going to get into the quagmire of arguing against or for what someone else says we say. Do better than that.

    The average catholic does not read official church statements – they follow the example of their priests and leaders – especially the Pope. They are taught that the traditions of the church are passed ORALLY.

    And…? Keep going.

    Does that indict or impugne the system and teaching, or problems that may be found among the laity. Very few people I know drive 55mph on the highway…

  92. Russ says:

    Yes. Infallibility was given by God to the church because God is faithful to bring His word to the world. But that is the extent of the infallibility just as it was with Israel. God was faithful to deliver His word to His people, the Jews, but the fact that God is faithful to deliver His infallible word to His children does not indicate that the recipients of that word are infallible. It only indicates that God is faithful and His word is faithful.

    In fact, the infallible word that God delivered to the church predicts that His church is NOT infallible.

    “…when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” [Luke 18:8]

    And Jesus says to the church (must be the one true church),

    “…you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.”

    And,

    “…because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” [Rev 3:16]

    If the early church was in this condition, is it not possible that the later church might be in the same condition – or even worse?

    It is not that I want to “use the text” for any purpose except to simply let it say what it says. Is it the word of God of not?

  93. Russ says:

    Has any Pope in the last 1500 years taught by example or word or both that Mary is to be venerated by bowing before her statue and prayed to?

    If so, how does that square with this scripture?

    You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God… [Dut 5:8,9]

  94. Russ the very simlest answer to your question from an approved Catholic source can be viewed here:

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Do_Catholics_Worship_Statues.asp

    To open the new can of worms and go round for round as to whether statuary and veneration of icons is against Scriptural proscriptions on idols and idolatry would be to become involved in a debate that takes us in a new tangent and requires explinations that would be needlessly redundant. An approved explination is available and it should then be taken at face value that our explination that it is NOT idolatry suffices.

  95. Russ says:

    Asimplesinner,

    Cherubim – Were never bowed down to because the people had NO access to “holy of holies” in the temple.

    Ezekiel 41:17–18 – Cherubim argument AGAIN – Has nothing to do with bowing before an image.
    The fiery serpent – was destroyed by Moses when the people began to use it in their worship.
    Many Protestants have pictures of Jesus – Has nothing to do with bowing before an image.
    God forbids the worship of images as gods – NO – God forbids bowing before an image of any kind.
    1 Kgs. 6:29–32 – Cherubim argument AGAIN- Has nothing to do with bowing before an image.
    1 Kgs. 8:6–66 – Cherubim argument AGAIN – Has nothing to do with bowing before an image.
    2 Chr. 3:7–14 – Cherubim argument AGAIN – Has nothing to do with bowing before an image.
    The remainder of the web link you provided – Has nothing to do with bowing before an image.

    The command of God remains intact and there is nothing has eliminated it nor modified it.

  96. Russ says:

    Asimplesinner,

    If you do not wish to continue “opening a new can of worms”, I am fine with that. The only reason that I went in this direction is because I already showed you that entrusting Israel with the OT did not make them infallible. If you have a reasonable explanation as to how entrusting the CC with the word of God does guarantee infallibility even when entrusting Israel with the same word of God did not guarantee infallibility, I am willing to listen.

  97. Russ says:

    Asimplesinner,

    Why does Mary need a Savior if she is without sin? She said, “And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” [Luke 1:47] Only a sinner needs a savior. Jesus does not need a savior – He is without sin but Mary does need a savior just as you and I do.

    Again, we see a conflict between the written word and the sacred traditions of the CC. And when the two conflict with each other which one wins? The writings of the Apostles who were eye wittiness’s and accurately recored the truth by inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Nope. The traditions of men win – every time.

    The traditions of the CC are not equal with the word of God; they are superior to the word of God. For whenever the two are in conflict with each other, tradition is always the hands down winner.

  98. Fr. J. says:

    Scripture is part of tradition, Russ. They are not in opposition for a Catholic who understands them as the Church has done since the beginning.

  99. As to Mary and the Savior:

    Fundamentalists’ chief reason for objecting to the Immaculate Conception and Mary’s consequent sinlessness is that we are told that “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). Besides, they say, Mary said her “spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47), and only a sinner needs a Savior.

    Let’s take the second citation first. Mary, too, required a Savior. Like all other descendants of Adam, she was subject to the necessity of contracting original sin. But by a special intervention of God, undertaken at the instant she was conceived, she was preserved from the stain of original sin and its consequences. She was therefore redeemed by the grace of Christ, but in a special way—by anticipation.

    Consider an analogy: Suppose a man falls into a deep pit, and someone reaches down to pull him out. The man has been “saved” from the pit. Now imagine a woman walking along, and she too is about to topple into the pit, but at the very moment that she is to fall in, someone holds her back and prevents her. She too has been saved from the pit, but in an even better way: She was not simply taken out of the pit, she was prevented from getting stained by the mud in the first place. This is the illustration Christians have used for a thousand years to explain how Mary was saved by Christ. By receiving Christ’s grace at her conception, she had his grace applied to her before she was able to become mired in original sin and its stain.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that she was “redeemed in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son” (CCC 492). She has more reason to call God her Savior than we do, because he saved her in an even more glorious manner!

    But what about Romans 3:23, “all have sinned”? Have all people committed actual sins? Consider a child below the age of reason. By definition he can’t sin, since sinning requires the ability to reason and the ability to intend to sin. This is indicated by Paul later in the letter to the Romans when he speaks of the time when Jacob and Esau were unborn babies as a time when they “had done nothing either good or bad” (Rom. 9:11).

    We also know of another very prominent exception to the rule: Jesus (Heb. 4:15). So if Paul’s statement in Romans 3 includes an exception for the New Adam (Jesus), one may argue that an exception for the New Eve (Mary) can also be made.

    Paul’s comment seems to have one of two meanings. It might be that it refers not to absolutely everyone, but just to the mass of mankind (which means young children and other special cases, like Jesus and Mary, would be excluded without having to be singled out). If not that, then it would mean that everyone, without exception, is subject to original sin, which is true for a young child, for the unborn, even for Mary—but she, though due to be subject to it, was preserved by God from it and its stain.

    The objection is also raised that if Mary were without sin, she would be equal to God. In the beginning, God created Adam, Eve, and the angels without sin, but none were equal to God. Most of the angels never sinned, and all souls in heaven are without sin. This does not detract from the glory of God, but manifests it by the work he has done in sanctifying his creation. Sinning does not make one human. On the contrary, it is when man is without sin that he is most fully what God intends him to be.

    The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was officially defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854. When Fundamentalists claim that the doctrine was “invented” at this time, they misunderstand both the history of dogmas and what prompts the Church to issue, from time to time, definitive pronouncements regarding faith or morals. They are under the impression that no doctrine is believed until the pope or an ecumenical council issues a formal statement about it.

    Actually, doctrines are defined formally only when there is a controversy that needs to be cleared up or when the magisterium (the Church in its office as teacher; cf. Matt. 28:18–20; 1 Tim. 3:15, 4:11) thinks the faithful can be helped by particular emphasis being drawn to some already-existing belief. The definition of the Immaculate Conception was prompted by the latter motive; it did not come about because there were widespread doubts about the doctrine. In fact, the Vatican was deluged with requests from people desiring the doctrine to be officially proclaimed. Pope Pius IX, who was highly devoted to the Blessed Virgin, hoped the definition would inspire others in their devotion to her.

    Source: http://www.catholic.com/library/Immaculate_Conception_and_Assum.asp

    Should I post an apologetics piece on the IC? If we want to go down this road, it would fit in the combox there better.

  100. Do Catholics Worship Statues?
    “Catholics worship statues!” People still make this ridiculous claim. Because Catholics have statues in their churches, goes the accusation, they are violating God’s commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down to them or serve them” (Ex. 20:4–5); “Alas, this people have sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves gods of gold” (Ex. 32:31).

    It is right to warn people against the sin of idolatry when they are committing it. But calling Catholics idolaters because they have images of Christ and the saints is based on misunderstanding or ignorance of what the Bible says about the purpose and uses (both good and bad) of statues.

    Anti-Catholic writer Loraine Boettner, in his book Roman Catholicism, makes the blanket statement, “God has forbidden the use of images in worship” (281). Yet if people were to “search the scriptures” (cf. John 5:39), they would find the opposite is true. God forbade the worship of statues, but he did not forbid the religious use of statues. Instead, he actually commanded their use in religious contexts!

    God Said To Make Them

    People who oppose religious statuary forget about the many passages where the Lord commands the making of statues. For example: “And you shall make two cherubim of gold [i.e., two gold statues of angels]; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece of the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be” (Ex. 25:18–20).

    David gave Solomon the plan “for the altar of incense made of refined gold, and its weight; also his plan for the golden chariot of the cherubim that spread their wings and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord. All this he made clear by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all, all the work to be done according to the plan” (1 Chr. 28:18–19). David’s plan for the temple, which the biblical author tells us was “by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all,” included statues of angels.

    Similarly Ezekiel 41:17–18 describes graven (carved) images in the idealized temple he was shown in a vision, for he writes, “On the walls round about in the inner room and [on] the nave were carved likenesses of cherubim.”

    The Religious Uses of Images

    During a plague of serpents sent to punish the Israelites during the exodus, God told Moses to “make [a statue of] a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live” (Num. 21:8–9).

    One had to look at the bronze statue of the serpent to be healed, which shows that statues could be used ritually, not merely as religious decorations.

    Catholics use statues, paintings, and other artistic devices to recall the person or thing depicted. Just as it helps to remember one’s mother by looking at her photograph, so it helps to recall the example of the saints by looking at pictures of them. Catholics also use statues as teaching tools. In the early Church they were especially useful for the instruction of the illiterate. Many Protestants have pictures of Jesus and other Bible pictures in Sunday school for teaching children. Catholics also use statues to commemorate certain people and events, much as Protestant churches have three-dimensional nativity scenes at Christmas.

    If one measured Protestants by the same rule, then by using these “graven” images, they would be practicing the “idolatry” of which they accuse Catholics. But there’s no idolatry going on in these situations. God forbids the worship of images as gods, but he doesn’t ban the making of images. If he had, religious movies, videos, photographs, paintings, and all similar things would be banned. But, as the case of the bronze serpent shows, God does not even forbid the ritual use of religious images.

    It is when people begin to adore a statue as a god that the Lord becomes angry. Thus when people did start to worship the bronze serpent as a snake-god (whom they named “Nehushtan”), the righteous king Hezekiah had it destroyed (2 Kgs. 18:4).

    What About Bowing?

    Sometimes anti-Catholics cite Deuteronomy 5:9, where God said concerning idols, “You shall not bow down to them.” Since many Catholics sometimes bow or kneel in front of statues of Jesus and the saints, anti-Catholics confuse the legitimate veneration of a sacred image with the sin of idolatry.

    Though bowing can be used as a posture in worship, not all bowing is worship. In Japan, people show respect by bowing in greeting (the equivalent of the Western handshake). Similarly, a person can kneel before a king without worshipping him as a god. In the same way, a Catholic who may kneel in front of a statue while praying isn’t worshipping the statue or even praying to it, any more than the Protestant who kneels with a Bible in his hands when praying is worshipping the Bible or praying to it.

    Hiding the Second Commandment?

    Another charge sometimes made by Protestants is that the Catholic Church “hides” the second commandment. This is because in Catholic catechisms, the first commandment is often listed as “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3), and the second is listed as “You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.” (Ex. 20:7). From this, it is argued that Catholics have deleted the prohibition of idolatry to justify their use of religious statues. But this is false. Catholics simply group the commandments differently from most Protestants.

    In Exodus 20:2–17, which gives the Ten Commandments, there are actually fourteen imperative statements. To arrive at Ten Commandments, some statements have to be grouped together, and there is more than one way of doing this. Since, in the ancient world, polytheism and idolatry were always united—idolatry being the outward expression of polytheism—the historic Jewish numbering of the Ten Commandments has always grouped together the imperatives “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3) and “You shall not make for yourself a graven image” (Ex. 20:4). The historic Catholic numbering follows the Jewish numbering on this point, as does the historic Lutheran numbering. Martin Luther recognized that the imperatives against polytheism and idolatry are two parts of a single command.

    Jews and Christians abbreviate the commandments so that they can be remembered using a summary, ten-point formula. For example, Jews, Catholics, and Protestants typically summarize the Sabbath commandment as, “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy,” though the commandment’s actual text takes four verses (Ex. 20:8–11).

    When the prohibition of polytheism/idolatry is summarized, Jews, Catholics, and Lutherans abbreviate it as “You shall have no other gods before me.” This is no attempt to “hide” the idolatry prohibition (Jews and Lutherans don’t even use statues of saints and angels). It is to make learning the Ten Commandments easier.

    The Catholic Church is not dogmatic about how the Ten Commandments are to be numbered, however. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The division and numbering of the Commandments have varied in the course of history. The present catechism follows the division of the Commandments established by Augustine, which has become traditional in the Catholic Church. It is also that of the Lutheran confession. The Greek Fathers worked out a slightly different division, which is found in the Orthodox Churches and Reformed communities” (CCC 2066).

    The Form of God?

    Some anti-Catholics appeal to Deuteronomy 4:15–18 in their attack on religious statues: “[S]ince you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth.”

    We’ve already shown that God doesn’t prohibit the making of statues or images of various creatures for religious purposes (cf. 1 Kgs. 6:29–32, 8:6–66; 2 Chr. 3:7–14). But what about statues or images that represent God? Many Protestants would say that’s wrong because Deuteronomy 4 says the Israelites did not see God under any form when he made the covenant with them, therefore we should not make symbolic representations of God either. But does Deuteronomy 4 forbid such representations?

    The Answer Is No

    Early in its history, Israel was forbidden to make any depictions of God because he had not revealed himself in a visible form. Given the pagan culture surrounding them, the Israelites might have been tempted to worship God in the form of an animal or some natural object (e.g., a bull or the sun).

    But later God did reveal himself under visible forms, such as in Daniel 7:9: “As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was Ancient of Days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire.” Protestants make depictions of the Father under this form when they do illustrations of Old Testament prophecies.

    The Holy Spirit revealed himself under at least two visible forms—that of a dove, at the baptism of Jesus (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32), and as tongues of fire, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4). Protestants use these images when drawing or painting these biblical episodes and when they wear Holy Spirit lapel pins or place dove emblems on their cars.

    But, more important, in the Incarnation of Christ his Son, God showed mankind an icon of himself. Paul said, “He is the image (Greek: ikon) of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Christ is the tangible, divine “icon” of the unseen, infinite God.

    We read that when the magi were “going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matt. 2:11). Though God did not reveal a form for himself on Mount Horeb, he did reveal one in the house in Bethlehem.

    The bottom line is, when God made the New Covenant with us, he did reveal himself under a visible form in Jesus Christ. For that reason, we can make representations of God in Christ. Even Protestants use all sorts of religious images: Pictures of Jesus and other biblical persons appear on a myriad of Bibles, picture books, T-shirts, jewelry, bumper stickers, greeting cards, compact discs, and manger scenes. Christ is even symbolically represented through the Icthus or “fish emblem.”

    Common sense tells us that, since God has revealed himself in various images, most especially in the incarnate Jesus Christ, it’s not wrong for us to use images of these forms to deepen our knowledge and love of God. That’s why God revealed himself in these visible forms, and that’s why statues and pictures are made of them.

    Idolatry Condemned by the Church

    Since the days of the apostles, the Catholic Church has consistently condemned the sin of idolatry. The early Church Fathers warn against this sin, and Church councils also dealt with the issue.

    The Second Council of Nicaea (787), which dealt largely with the question of the religious use of images and icons, said, “[T]he one who redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous insanity, Christ our God, when he took for his bride his holy Catholic Church . . . promised he would guard her and assured his holy disciples saying, ‘I am with you every day until the consummation of this age.’ . . . To this gracious offer some people paid no attention; being hoodwinked by the treacherous foe they abandoned the true line of reasoning . . . and they failed to distinguish the holy from the profane, asserting that the icons of our Lord and of his saints were no different from the wooden images of satanic idols.”

    The Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566) taught that idolatry is committed “by worshipping idols and images as God, or believing that they possess any divinity or virtue entitling them to our worship, by praying to, or reposing confidence in them” (374).

    “Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who ‘transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God’” (CCC 2114).

    The Church absolutely recognizes and condemns the sin of idolatry. What anti-Catholics fail to recognize is the distinction between thinking a piece of stone or plaster is a god and desiring to visually remember Christ and the saints in heaven by making statues in their honor. The making and use of religious statues is a thoroughly biblical practice. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know his Bible.
    NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
    presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
    Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

    IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
    permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
    +Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

  101. Russ says:

    Fr. J,

    Good to hear from you. I was afraid that we were no longer on speaking terms. Good to have you here.

    However, the traditions of the CC are indeed in conflict with the word of God. For example, Catholics point out that Jesus never wrote anything. But that is not correct.

    And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. [Ex 31:18]

    It is this very scripture, written by the finger of God on tablets of stone, that you are determined to change. For God wrote, by His own finger, engraved in stone, “You shall not bow down to them”. But you insist that God did not mean that. Instead, you say He meant, “You shall not worship them”.

    Of all the scripture that you choose to re-write – you choose to re-write the very scripture written by the finger of God on tablets of stone.

    Until you can see that the Law of God is condemning you, Fr, and not saving you, you can never be saved.

  102. Russ says:

    Fr. J,

    Just to be clear, let me quote the verse I am referring to:

    “You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me… [Ex 20:4,5]

  103. Russ says:

    Fr. J,

    God used very precise words, “you shall not bow down to them”. Why did He not say, “You shall not worship them” instead? God specifically says, “you shall not bow down” because by using these words there is no doubt or ambiguity as to when someone has broken this commandment. It is very clear-cut in the eyes of God. When a person is bowing before an image, they are in no way worshiping or honoring Him.

    And He used very precise words, “carved image” or some translations say, “graven image” to make a clear distinction between “art” and “idols” – images that are bowed toward and prayed to – an image specifically used in worship.

    Any church that must change the Law of Moses, the very word of God written by the finger of God on tablets of stone, to justify their religious practices, is on shaky ground. No person or institution has the authority to re-write the Law of Moses. The CC does not have the authority to change, “you shall not bow down to them” to, “you shall not worship them”.

    But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ” [Luke 16:31]

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