27 November, 2010

The Church is the fountain of truth and not Sola Scriptura

Our Lord after his resurrection and before He ascended to heaven called together the disciples on a hill in Galilee and told them to teach all nations. Christ instructed them to teach all the doctrines, commandments and laws that He had taught to them. It is significant to note that these instructions are not constricted by the lifetimes of the disciples but was to be taught for all times which would be completed at the Parousia. This meant that the disciples were to have successors and that their oral teaching would be for all times protected by Christ which extended to their successors. In this way Christ assured that truth would be taught for all time to humanity. This was the great commission.

To those deep in Scriptures it seems quite odd that there are some who think that the disciples fulfilled their commission given to all by writing Scriptures and that they left no successors to continue the fullness of truth and the authority given by Christ in that commission. If this was the intent of our Lord it is odd that not all the disciples did what some suppose our Lord commanded which is to write Scriptures. In fact, only five disciples continued their teaching by writing Scripture. To those who believe that it is the Scriptures that continue the great commission then it is difficult to ignore that less than half of the disciples followed Christ’s commission. The disciple Matthew wrote a Gospel. John wrote a Gospel and three epistles. Peter wrote two epistles and James and Jude wrote one apiece. If the written Word was so important in Christ’s structure of the Church then it would be logical that there would be at least one epistle from Jesus; perhaps in which He would instruct us to give the written Word His only authority and not the 12 disciples as was His instructions in the great commission. But of course, it was obviously not His intent for His teaching to be spread only from written means but instead through the solid foundation He had built on which the disciples would continue to build with their successors which passed on the chrism from Christ through the disciples and their successors which has resulted in infallible truth for all times.

Another oddity for those who believe only in the written Word is why the Church founded by Christ existed for only a half century as a teaching Church and then is replaced by inspired books alone?

With changing circumstances it would seem reasonable that there be someone or some authority that can apply the apostolic teaching to the change of circumstances lest there be chaotic frustration instead of the application of truth. Take for example the doctrines; these doctrines may be studied with an almost equal danger of error as truth if there is no infallible teacher. An infallible authority would not restrict an enlightened development of truth for those who are seeking the question of what Christ meant in His teaching. Without it there is great possibility and indeed a certainty of error because there is not a word of Christ’s teaching that has not been subject to diverse interpretations. Many of these interpretations are compelling either by their scholarship or their application but are in contradiction of one another. Consequently the following question is illustrated by these facts; how are we to know the truth as these words surly are not enough for the truth to be known? Therefore it is necessary to have an infallible teacher to separate the diversity of opinions into the truth of Christ’s teaching. There must be revelation to satisfy the seeking soul instead of a growing set of diverse opinions and confusion. So, there must be an infallible teacher with the authority from Christ and of Christ as were the disciples for the truth to be known. The question is to those following Sola Scripture is whether the truth is essential or does it remain forever elusive depending on individual interpretation?

I believe the Scriptures demonstrate just how essential Jesus believed the truth to be. Before His death He gave certain men the authority to teach. He sent out the 72 disciples to teach with His authority. He said to them as well as the original 12, “He that hears you, hears me” which illustrates a transfer of the teaching by oral means to the Church across time to ensure the truth to all generations. It is through the oral teaching that the truth is found by the authority of Christ for truth. That truth is contained within the leadership of the Church and is today the Magisterium which is made up of the successors of those original disciples continuing the chrism given to them by Christ. God bless!

Fr. Joseph

16 November, 2010

Origin of the Catholic Priesthood

There can be no doubt in studying the primitive Church that the priesthood developed from this origin. The proof of the distinct priesthood rests upon the cross of Calvary. If what Jesus did from the Cross was an atoning sacrifice for mankind and if the Eucharist is the ongoing sacrifice of the Mass then it is necessary for a sacerdotal ecclesiastical priesthood as sacrifice and priesthood are terms that depend on one another throughout the Scriptures. The priesthood gains its veracity from the fact that the Eucharist is a part of the Church from the beginning making it a necessary part of the Church.

We can see the prophecy of the sacerdotal priesthood of the New Covenant in the writings of the prophet Isaiah. He teaches that in the Messianic Kingdom that priests will be called even from among the non-Jews which sets apart the New Covenant Church from the Old Covenant priesthood.

Isaiah 66:21 (King James Version)
21And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD.

This priesthood is to fulfill the prophesy of Malachi for a permanent and continuous sacrifice:

Malachi 1:11 (King James Version)
11For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.

The following verses refer to the sacrifice of the bread and the wine by Melchisedec which scholars agree is the prototype of Christ. This also refers to the last supper where Jesus orders the repetition of the Mass.

Genesis 14:18 (New King James Version)
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.

Hebrews 5:5-10 (King James Version)
5So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
6As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
7Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
9And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
10Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

So, it can be and has been said that the Church has received the ongoing sacrifice of our Lord and that as a result there is a sacerdotal priesthood necessarily separate from the priesthood of all believers that offers this continuous sacrifice to the Father of the Eucharist. As a result the priesthood has been changed by Christ and His sacrifice from the Old Covenant priesthood into the one prophesied in Scriptures by the prophets Isaiah and Malachi. So, in conclusion, if the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was a atoning sacrifice for mankind then the priesthood is undeniable the priesthood prophesied and made necessary by Christ. We find this evidence in the colloquy of Capernaum and in the Gospel accounts of the last Supper. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

09 November, 2010

Response to "Got Questions" about Sola Scriptura


“Sola scriptura does not nullify the concept of church traditions.”

I would think not since this concept was foreign to the early Church. We do not see this concept at all in the early liturgical practice of the Church. Search as one might among the records of the Councils and Synods and even the writings of the Fathers and we find that an early origin of such a belief or practice is absent. Surely we do see the Scriptures being quoted to lend support to teachings found in pastoral letters or doctrinal directives but never independent of Sacred Tradition or the authority of the Magisterium.

“Rather, sola scriptura gives us a solid foundation on which to base church traditions.”

To the early Church they were only used as subsequent evidence of doctrines or teaching but never as the sole source of doctrine or pastoral teaching but instead in conjunction with the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition. So historically the concept of Sola Scriptura is a modernist idea based on the lack of any other authority like the Church which Protestants rejected; even though the Bible speaks to the Church as having all authority including even the power to bind and to loose. This is taught among them even apart from the Magisterium and the apostolic deposit of Sacred Tradition even though the Bible clearly contradicts such a departure from biblical truth. Sola Scriptura is thus not a “solid foundation” but instead a weakened foundation having been removed from the whole of the Church, the Scriptures, the Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium which describes a solid foundation of rock instead of a weakened foundation of sand that can be blown about by the whims of the reader in his eisegetical fanciful imagination. Wrested from the whole of the foundation of truth the truth becomes what ever one can imagine and the Bible becomes a collection of proof texts to guide the reader to destruction or to be used by the heretics to separate the seeking or the faithful from the truth.

“There are many practices, in both Catholic and Protestant churches, that are the result of traditions, not the explicit teaching of Scripture. It is good, and even necessary, for the church to have traditions. Traditions play an important role in clarifying and organizing Christian practice. At the same time, in order for these traditions to be valid, they must not be in disagreement with Gods Word. They must be based on the solid foundation of the teaching of Scripture.”

The Church agrees that the teaching of the Church must not disagree with Scriptures. We further would agree that not all teaching of the Church needs to be explicitly gleaned from Scriptures. Where we would strongly disagree would be in the assumption that the solid foundation for practices and doctrine comes solely from Scriptures independent of Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium.

“The problem with the Roman Catholic Church, and many other churches, is that they base traditions on traditions which are based on traditions which are based on traditions, often with the initial tradition not being in full harmony with the Scriptures.”

I do not know about the many other churches but I do know that this statement is totally false when speaking of Christ’s Church the Catholic Church. There is no doctrine or teaching of the Church that is not in complete harmony with Scriptures whether implicitly or explicitly.

“That is why Christians must always go back to sola scriptura, the authoritative Word of God, as the only solid basis for faith and practice.”

Of course this defense of Sola Scriptura as not made the case for the conclusion it reaches. The Word of God is not expressed solely in its written form but also in its oral form which is the apostolic deposit of Sacred Tradition. But even this is not sufficient because for an infallible understanding of Scriptures there must be an infallible interpreter with the authority from God Himself to teach and that is the Catholic Church represented by the foundation of the bishops who are the successors of the original twelve disciples and also of the leadership of Christ’s prime minister which is the successor of St. Peter and sit in his seat of authority presiding over and in accordance with the Magisterium. It is the Holy Spirit that ensures that the infallible truth in matters of faith and morals are fully contained in the teaching and doctrines of the Church. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

04 November, 2010

How can the Son be less than the Father and still be God

Let us endeavor to discern from the Scriptures and from reason the equality of the first and second persons of the Holy Trinity and examine how Jesus can be both equal to the Father and lesser than the Father in the oneness of the Trinity. There are many errors by the heretics in the understanding of Jesus as He related to His divine atoning work of salvation. Man’s desire to be exalted to being divine prompts many to try to explain in terms understood within the limits of our intellect the mysterious aspects of God. Most often man fails in this endeavor and concludes errors to be fact by failing to recognize his intellectual inferiority to the mind of God.

The incarnation being for the purpose of working out the salvation of humanity required Jesus to be the one mediator between God and man and in Scriptures there are indications that the Father is greater than the Son. This must be balanced with the fact that Jesus is also less than himself after the incarnation as is the nature of the flesh but the Scriptures clearly tell us of the fact that before the incarnation that He was eternal and after His atoning work His eternal substance remains. Jesus himself reveals and is quoted as saying that the Father is greater than I. Jesus at the incarnation was made less than Himself as being a servant instead of one who is served as is God. We find by Scriptures that Jesus is greater than Himself as God and lesser than Himself as a servant. Neither of these two roles as servant or as God are denied in Scriptures instead they reveal that Jesus is equal to the Father and also that the Father is greater than the Son.

Philippians 2:7 (King James Version)
7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

In the form of God Jesus is the Word made flesh but in the form of the servant He came forth from a woman under the same law as man to fulfill the law and serving within the law to redeem mankind from the law. He is the only perfect sacrifice that could accomplish the atoning work in that His perfection was not from being under the law but by being truly God. Just as God was not changed to be the servant so too the servant was not changed to be God. Man was not made without the Son and to say differently is to deny Scriptures that say:

Genesis 1:26 (King James Version)
26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

It is clear that in the form of the servant of man Jesus was fully God in every sense. As the servant He was fully man in every sense. Neither the servant nor God changed into the other but both remained fully God and fully man in every aspect of reason. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph