Monday, March 18, 2013

Is the Pope Our “Holy Father?”

This article is not intended to question anyone’s sincerity or religious zeal. Rather it is designed to address people’s questions in a fair, objective, and biblical manner. Please read it in the spirit in which it is written, as an attempt to “speak the truth in love.”
“… you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and He is in heaven.” Matt 23:8-9
Many are talking about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the choice of his successor, Pope Francis. Should the church, as Christ established it, have a pope (meaning “papa”)? We must ask first, “Is the Bible the only source of religious authority? If so, what does the Bible teach – or not teach – about the papacy?”
When we lived in New York in September, 1978, the New York Post headline surprised me with a headline regarding Pope John Paul I that read, “Holy Father Dies.” The use of that phrase to describe a man caught me off guard. In Roman Catholic teaching the phrase “Holy Father” refers not only to God in heaven, but also to the pope on earth. Is that right? Is the papacy a New Testament office? Is one man to be regarded as the “papa” of the entire “Catholic” (meaning “universal”) church? Does God reveal doctrine through the pope that is not in the Bible? Was Simon Peter the head of the early church, or even the rock on which Christ built it?
Various claims have been made regarding the pope throughout the years. The Catholic catechism, which contains summaries of their teachings and principles, may be accessed here: Among its statements we find the following:
882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful." "For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered."
936 The Lord made St. Peter the visible foundation of his Church. He entrusted the keys of the Church to him. The bishop of the Church of Rome, successor to St. Peter, is "head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the universal Church on earth" (CIC, can. 331).
937 The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, "supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls" (CD 2).
By contrast, however, Simon Peter described himself as simply a man, a servant, an apostle, a fellow elder, and a witness of Christ’s sufferings (Acts 10; 1-2 Peter). The papacy emerged centuries later, as the evolving Roman church wanted a single leader to parallel the Roman Emperor. The Council of Nicaea in AD 325 decreed that the bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome had superior authority over others. In AD 590 Gregory the Great, the bishop of Rome, in a conflict with the bishop of Constantinople, claimed universal jurisdiction over Christendom. Great efforts have been made to trace a direct succession of popes from later times backwards to Simon Peter. The list has been revised several times, with disputed results. In AD 1409 there were actually three popes at the same time in different locations, each excommunicating the other two and their supporters.
Other questions also arise. Since Peter was first an apostle, how can a non-apostle be eligible to fill his shoes? Why was Peter himself never called “papa” or “pope?” If Peter was the apostle Paul’s father and head, how could Paul approach him as an equal and rebuke him (Gal 2)? Why does each pope choose a new name for himself? Is this thought to follow Jesus’ designation of Simon as “Peter?” If Peter’s role as “head of the church” continues through successive generations, why would his replacement not also be called “Peter” or “rock” (as the term means), instead of “pope” or “papa?”
Why don’t the other apostles’ roles also continue today? Since Peter was a married man (Mark 1:30-31; 1 Cor 9:5), why is the pope today required to be celibate? If the pope can speak ex cathedra (from the chair of authority), why does the current pope not appoint his own successor with the Holy Spirit’s guidance? If he were to do this before he died or resigned, would that not seem simple, reasonable, and consistent? Why is the new pope chosen instead through a democratic election process? Why does each pope choose a new name for himself? Is this thought to follow Jesus’ designation of Simon as “Peter?”
The Lord’s church has but one head, Christ Himself (Eph 1:22-23). It has but one “Holy Father,” in heaven (Matt 23:9). It is founded, not on Peter, but on the bedrock truth about Jesus that Peter confessed (Matt 16:16).” Peter used the keys of the kingdom, not at the pearly gates of heaven, but here on earth to open the door to Jews (Jerusalem, Acts 2) and Gentiles (Cornelius, Acts 10).
Put another way, the office of “Holy Father” is already filled – by the God of heaven. He was not chosen by human voting or election. He will never grow old, become weak, resign, or need to be replaced.
Cory Collins

1 comment:

KMorstain said...

Truth is truth no matter how you look at it.

It is time to make the change and face how you are living.

Are you willing to give up what you learned from anyone (family included) and get your answers from the source?

Which of us are in the condition below?

Hebrews 10:26-28

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.