Jesus never gave any authority to written Scripture but instead to His Church who in turn wrote Scripture to be interpreted within His Church under the authority given by Him. St. Paul confirms this authority of the Church through apostolic succession when He instructed to hold fast what was taught by Word (oral) and letter (written). The Church does not have the authority to relinquish that which God has given regardless of the burden of protecting the Church. The Scriptures promise that this Church is the “bulwark and ground of the truth” and that promise will forever remain true.
The Church was also given the authority to come to clearer understanding of the truth in the living Church but such understanding should not take away from the teaching of the apostles but illuminate it. The authority given to the Church is great Jesus saying that the Church has the authority to bind and loose and again the Church is powerless to abdicate this divine responsibility. Some may say the Scriptures are true because of the truth they reveal in prophetic testimony and I say that the Church is true because of its testimony as an enduring Church for 2000 years just as Christ promised. The only high court of appeal is our founder, high priest and Savior Jesus the Christ who has never failed His Church, this relationship no book can supplant for it is through Him that the Church derives its holiness and its veracity and its immortality.
One cannot deny that the foundation of all Christianity through His Church is based on Christ’s words to St. Peter before the disciples. There is no doubt from the construction vernacular that Jesus was instructing them to build a Church with them as the foundation stones and Himself as the cornerstone. He built no other Church as no other was needed because the One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic, Church derives its perfection from Him through His promises. He prayed that we all be one within this Church. He said this Church would endure until the Parousia. He said of this Church that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. He said that He would be with this Church until the end of time. The Scriptures confirms these promises saying that this Church is the “pillar and ground of the truth”. He did not plan for the Church to be without leadership after the apostles died but provided that they choose successors to replace them in the enduring Church. This is confirmed it the book of Acts.
One can suggest that this Church is not the Church that Christ gave these promises and authority to but who else can support a claim that they are the true church represented by these promises if not the Catholic church. Some will suggest that the true church is the Gnostics or the Arians? Certainly remnants of those churches remain in modern incarnations of these heresies but can one claim the enduring characteristic promised by Christ? There is certainly no evidence that anyone can make a legitimate claim to Christ’s promises other than the Catholic Church. Some critics may claim that the reason that the Catholic Church has endured is because of political connections, but the truth is that it has endured because of the miracles of our Lord who persuaded a Pagan emperor to stop his persecution of the Church and not by some agreement of men. It is hard to persuade someone who is intent on your annihilation. Only God could convict the heart of the Pagan Emperor Constantine.
I would agree that there have always been those believers known to God who will be saved and I agree but I do not agree that those people are outside of His Church nor do I believe that it is possible for salvation without His Church but that it is possible only through his Church, Although I acknowledge, as does the Church, that this union may be imperfect, as with our separated brethren with different degrees of the fullness of truth which is perfected in His Church. All believers are taught by God through His Church.
While St. Paul spoke about the great apostasy, is it possible that he was speaking of the apostasy of the enduring Church that He created. Would not that apostate element be more described in the churches proceeding from the Reformation? Does the Bible not teach that we will know them by their fruits? It does and what are the fruits of the Reformation.
Reducing the Word of God to a book and confusing the truth with tens of thousands of exponentially increasing schisms in the dilution of the truth. Did not Christ pray that we all be one in His Church?
By forbidding the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ from Protestant worship.
Reducing salvation to a one time assent to faith and then teaching antinomianism.
Rejecting the authority Christ established.
These are just a few of the signs of a church in apostasy as represented by the Protestant churches. Could there be a better example of decay and perversion.
We can all agree as Christians that only God knows who are His faithful but do not let us confuse the facts of His teaching that we are to be one in the Church that He created. There is the Church that is gathered around the Bishop as the early Church is described by St. Ignatius and then there is the Church known only to God made up of those whose heart is pure in their love and devotion to God. But regardless they all will be saved by that which is promised to endure which is His Church. We can only pray that he will be merciful to the apostate and that they find the truth before it is too late.