Ecclesiology, Part 8. Another Response to a Popular CofC Protest

widpicMembers of the Protestant Church of Christ,

Your ministers argue against the Catholic Church’s powers of binding and loosing by teaching that the local congregation contains some form of power (“marking”, banishing, excommunicating; any term that is used to dispel a member from fellowship). Your group’s primary scriptural support is derived from Matthew 18:15-18, which reads: Continue reading

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Ecclesiology, Part 7. Local Churches Are Planted by, and Obedient to, the Hierarchy

widpicCofC-ers,

The Christian ecclesial hierarchy is found even within the smallest local church (parish); every properly ordained priest (elder) is able to trace his pedigree back to the Apostles, and therefore Christ. Priests are ordained by their bishops; not all priests are bishops, but all bishops are priests—just as it is reflected in the New Testament.

Every detailed ecclesial (governmental) description in the New Testament reflects the already-existing Catholic paradigm, and I will show you how your group’s best arguments fail to prove autonomous local church structures because they all presuppose the Catholic hierarchy. Your arguments are few, and so your best arguments are fewer. Edward Wharton’s book, The Church of Christ, with one and a half pages, presents what I have found to be your group’s most-used (indicative) and best arguments,12 all of which I will present to you, and I will show how a reasonable reading of his arguments’ scriptural material undermines your group’s forced conclusion. Continue reading

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Ecclesiology, Part 6. What Are the Keys?

widpicStone-Campbellite Traditionalists,

As proved in previous posts, Christ Jesus is our Messianic King, and He is at the top of the Church’s hierarchy. The King chose St. Peter to be the Royal Steward. The other Apostles, including St. Paul, were subordinate to St. Peter, yet held authority within the Church (cf. Matthew 18:17-20). This primitive hierarchy is reflected in the Scriptures, and as a reflection, it represents what was already present: the hierarchical structure that in fact created the Bible, which is the product your community parses to argue against the hierarchy. Continue reading

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Ecclesiology, Part 5. The Church of Christ Is Hierarchical

widpicRestorationists,

The Protestant Church of Christ also calls itself the Churches (or “churches”; lowercase “c”) of Christ. The utilization of both names grants the group flexibility: the word “Church” (singular) communicates unity, and the word “Churches” (plural) communicates the autonomous nature of each local congregation. It makes sense; the Catholic Church has used the same names for centuries, but the Catholic Church’s use of the words do not indicate autonomy, but rather, unity even amongst its individual assemblies. Continue reading

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Ecclesiology, Part 4. Structure and Intent

widpicCofC Christians,

If the Protestant Church of Christ would mind what it advertises as a principle—to “speak where the Bible speaks, and to be silent where the Bible is silent”—then your community would be built on St. Peter. The Catholic Church’s paradigm is precisely what the text communicates, as it only can, because the text is a product of the Church (the Church pre-dates the Bible). Structure, proximity, grammar, and intent, connect its three parts; and St. Matthew’s passage communicates an intent that is clearly supported by St. John’s Gospel. Jesus said, You [Peter] shall be called Cephas (John 1:42). Jesus did not say, “Your confession shall be called cephas (rock).” Nor did He say, “Any person’s confession of faith shall be called cephas (rock).” And therefore, St. Matthew’s passage ceases to be cryptic in any respect, but beautifully clear, and best understood when read in its fullness. St. Peter’s “confession of faith” provides a three-part context. It begins with Jesus’ response to St. Peter’s words, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Continue reading

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Ecclesiology, Part 3. Responses to CofC Protests

widpicCofC’ers,

Your members ordinarily first object to the Catholic Church of Christ’s self-understanding of what Jesus’ spoken words mean by arguing from the written words of a different language as written by that same Catholic Church—by divorcing the text from its creator and insisting the Incarnate Logos is the written Greek text, or that Jesus would build His Church on a subject He never once called rock; but apparently attempted to confuse future Greek interpreters by calling St. Peter rock, and then proclaiming to build His church upon that very subject. The language offers no wriggle room for Protestants to argue against the historical interpretation (and therefore, practice) of what could possibly be the simplest passage in all of the New Testament to understand: I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. And therefore, your communities, like much of the remainder of Protestantism, jettisons the clear pro-Catholic implication of the single verse and focuses attention on other verses that, presumably, present obstacles for the Catholic Church of Christ’s position. Continue reading

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Ecclesiology, Part 2. The Church of Christ Is Built on Rock

widpicMembers of the Protestant Church of Christ, was Jesus attempting to confuse people when He used a word rich with paternal authority when He named Simon Bar-Jona “Rock”? For Abraham too was called a “rock”:

Hearken to me, you who pursue deliverance, you who seek the LORD; look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were digged. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you (Isaiah 51:1-2).

St. Matthew’s Gospel account, most likely written first in Aramaic and undoubtedly initially written for a Jewish audience, quotes Jesus as saying, I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church (v. 16:18). The English New Testament book of Matthew is not a translation of Jesus’ Greek words into English, but a translation of what began as Aramaic, translated into Greek, and then into English; and the walk through three languages often confuses the Protestant Church of Christ. And even if, by a long shot, the autograph was written in Greek and not Aramaic, the walk through three languages is still a necessity because Jesus spoke Aramaic. But when the words of God are read without linguistic gymnastics and modern lenses designed to delete Jesus’ calling of the first pope, it becomes clear that Jesus said, You are Cephas (Rock), and on this cephas (rock), I will build my church. Continue reading

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