Sunday, May 25, 2014

DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAVE THE FOUR MARKS OF THE TRUE CHURCH? (Part 4)



This is the fourth and final article in this series dealing with the question above.  Once more, the Catholic Church believes that the four marks, or characteristics, of the true church that Jesus Christ established are that it is 1) One, 2) Holy, 3) Catholic, and 4) Apostolic.  And the Catholic Church is (supposedly) the only one that enjoys the fullness of these attributes.

This month, we are addressing the claim that the Catholic Church is “apostolic.”  So, what do they mean when they say they are “apostolic”?  According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:

 “Apostolicity is the mark by which the church of today is recognized as identical with the Church founded by Jesus Christ upon the Apostles.  It is of great importance because it is the surest indication of the true Church of Christ, it is most easily examined, and it virtually contains the other three marks, namely, Unity, Sanctity, and Catholicity.”
  
Now, being apostolic essentially means that one is teaching what the apostles taught.  But where did the apostles teach such Catholic concepts as:


  • the (ministerial) Priesthood for the New Testament Church

  • the Papacy

  • the Immaculate Conception of Mary

  • Mary’s assumption into Heaven

  •  the infallibility of the Church

  • private confession to a priest

  • indulgences

  • the Treasury of Merit… etc., etc.? 

The only sure source of apostolic teaching is the New Testament, and NONE of these Catholic teachings can be found there.  You can’t say you are apostolic if your doctrine or dogma does not line up with the teachings of the apostles in Scripture.

Some Catholics will say that these may not be clearly taught in the Bible, but that they are implied, and they will appeal to some sort of “development of doctrine.”  But there is a difference between our understanding of a particular doctrine developing over time (which is ok), versus one’s perverting of biblical teaching, or outright fabrication of doctrine (which is what the teachings above are).  The Catholic Church claims to have apostolic teaching, but they don’t.

Another reason that Catholics claim to be apostolic is because of their version of “Apostolic Succession.”  This teaching tells us that the Catholic Church has a “lawful” and “uninterrupted” line of successors (popes), going all the way back to the Apostle Peter.  But the fact is, their line of successors is neither lawful nor uninterrupted. 

First, it is not uninterrupted because this “apostolic line” contains holes.  According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, there are several gaps in the list of dates.  See here:


In this list, you can see that there is no pope at all during the years 259, 305, 306, 307, 639, 1242, 1269, 1270, 1293, 1315, and 1416.  This is hardly an “uninterrupted chain of successors.”  To be sure, if Protestants were the ones misrepresenting the numbers like this, Catholics would be quick to point out that this claim is nonsense.

Second, the Catholic version of apostolic succession has not always been lawful, either, because of the methods by which some of the popes obtained their office (e.g., by force / killing, by sexual favors, or by buying and selling the office).  See this link:


So, to trust in the Catholic Church’s concept of apostolic succession will not lead to the truth.  True apostolic succession is simply believing what the apostles taught in Scripture and teaching those things to others.

It is a fact that a direct, physical line of ancestors was important in identifying the true Jewish Messiah.  But such a lineage is not needed for the New Testament church (Matthew 3:7-9), nor can one be found in the New Testament.  A traceable, physical connection is totally unnecessary and irrelevant when it comes to identifying the true church or true believers.

It is the teachings that count.  To be apostolic is to be faithful with the teachings of the apostles.  Having a physical line of successors does not guarantee faithful transmission of proper doctrine.  No doubt there were some people who were directly taught by apostles (or even Jesus, Himself) who fell away from the faith.  But the simple fact that even an apostle (Judas) could abandon the faith demonstrates that someone at any point in this line could have abandoned the faith and believed in false doctrine / heresy, thus destroying the Catholic view of apostolic succession.

Also note that at least one “legitimate” pope, has been officially condemned (with anathema) as a heretic by an ecumenical council.  See here:


One has to ask, how valid is an “apostolic line” that contains heretics?  If someone is a heretic, then BY DEFINITION, he is not believing apostolic doctrine.  And if he is not believing apostolic doctrine, then he can’t be called apostolic.  Such an “apostolic” succession without proper doctrine is meaningless.

Furthermore, the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) admits:

“But it must be frankly admitted that bias or deficiencies in the sources make it impossible to determine in certain cases whether the claimants were popes or antipopes.” (Volume I, page 632)  

My friends, the Catholic version of apostolic succession is simply wishful thinking.

CONCLUSION

If the Catholic Church can’t demonstrate that their teachings are those of the apostles, and if they can’t demonstrate their connection to the apostles by their own concept of apostolic succession, then why should anyone believe them?  And how many other Catholic teachings should be called into question if such a foundational teaching as this is on such shaky ground?  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and Catholics have none of that here.

In spite of their boasting, the Catholic Church cannot claim the fullness of “the four marks of the true church.”   The truth is, they cannot claim the four marks at all in the way that they do.  In fact, they cannot claim even one of them.  No, the one true church does not exist in the form of the Catholic Church because, as we have shown in this series, it is neither “one,” “holy,” “catholic,” nor “apostolic.”

We heartily appeal to Catholics everywhere to take note of these empty Catholic claims and break free of that deceptive system.  We urge you to embrace the true gospel of peace, where one is saved simply by faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ and not by the Catholic Church’s religion of works.  True Christianity is about having a relationship with the Savior, not by following the formulas (or the false teachings) of “Mother Church.”

4 comments:

  1. you are arguing for Sola Scriptura not for the deficiency of the Apostolicity of the Catholic Church. trace any Bishop you may want to you get back to one of the apostles.

    1. It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to the perfect apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity.

    2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

    3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed.
    St Irenaus AD 190
    thats what we call Apostolic Succession

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  2. "Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier. . . . Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry" (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4–5, 44:1–3 [A.D. 80]).
    "[The apostles] founded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith, and the seeds of doctrine, and are every day deriving them, that they may become churches. Indeed, it is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves apostolic, as being the offspring of apostolic churches. Every sort of thing must necessarily revert to its original for its classification. Therefore the churches, although they are so many and so great, comprise but the one primitive Church, [founded] by the apostles, from which they all [spring]. In this way, all are primitive, and all are apostolic, while they are all proved to be one in unity" (Demurrer Against the Heretics 20 [A.D. 200]).

    thats Apostolic succession not the one you are trying to talk about

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  3. Hello Mug,

    Yes, that’s very eloquent. But the Catholic Church’s version of “Apostolic Succession” is not so pretty (or honest… or biblical). You can quote all the fathers you want about how the church started out, and what it was intended to be, but the truth stands.

    Your quotes above do nothing to refute the truths in this link:

    http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2009/12/apostolic-succession.html

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  4. which Truth stands? your Sola Scriptura truth or what was taught by the Apostles. i will keep on asking you what you mean by Biblical, does it mean your interpretation of scripture? Does your interpretation of the Bible become the standard of what is biblical? is your intepretation of Sola Scriptura as the infallible rule of faith infallible

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