What’s the Biblical Model of Church Leadership?

 

Jon McNaughton, One Nation Under God
Jon McNaughton, One Nation Under God

A priest friend of mine reached out to me yesterday, and asked, “Remember in the book of Judges how ‘there was no king at that time in Israel and every man did what was right in his own eyes’ [Judges 17:6; Judges 21:25]?  Now does it seem to you that that state of affairs is endorsed or condemned by the book?” His reason for asking was that, incredibly, he had (in the course of preparing a homily) stumbled upon a Protestant professor apparently claiming this chaotic state as a model for Church governance. Sure enough, Professor Stan Patterson of Andrews University has an essay in the Journal of Applied Christian Leadership claiming:

It could be said of the early Christian period, “There was no central governance structure in those days and every man did what was right according to the Word, the admonition of the Apostles and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

God is our ruler

There was no centralized human leader in the time of the Judges and every man answered directly to the Creator as the leader of their nation. Each person behaved according to his or her personal commitment to the covenant of obedience and faithfulness to God (Judges 17:6; 21:25). This seems like a risky approach to corporate faithfulness and even national order but it was clearly Gideon’s understanding of the governance structure of Israel—no human king! National faithfulness was simply an aggregate of the faithfulness of each Israelite. Lest we mistake the Judges for centralized leaders in possession of corporate authority, we should be reminded that the judges were charismatic figures who arose for specific deliverance missions or assumed civil mediation responsibilities but had no governance authority or power to tax.

Of course, anyone familiar with the Book of Judges should recognize that this state of affairs isn’t presented in a praiseworthy way. The Book begins by describing how the Israelites’ unfaithfulness prevented them from succeeding in their conquest of the Promised Land (Judges 1:1-36, 3:1-6). It then describes how the judges were God’s response to Israel’s faithlessness, but that the Judges were of only limited effectiveness, since the people promptly returned to chaos and idolatry (Judges 2:16-19):

Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the power of those who plundered them. And yet they did not listen to their judges; for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed down to them; they soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so. Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and behaved worse than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them; they did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.

There’s a lot that could be said here. First, the Book of Judges presents the faithlessness, lawlessness and anarchy (and resultant moral relativism) of Israel in this period as awful, and the deeds described in the Book bear this out. Patterson instead seems to present it as a time of “national faithfulness,” and a prefigurement of the early Christian Church. Second, the Book of Judges presents the Judges as real (albeit limited and non-hereditary) rulers over Israel. Patterson flatly denies this.

The problem here isn’t one professor’s bad exegesis of Judges (and I should point out that most Protestants get that Judges isn’t glorifying the days of king-less lawlessness). Rather, it points to a deeper and more important misunderstanding of the role of Church governance. The most important mistake that Patterson makes is saying that Israel and the early Church didn’t have rulers because “God is our ruler.” In contrast, the Book of Judges explicitly says that “Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge.” In other words, Scripture presents God working through the leaders He chose, whereas Patterson makes the all-too-frequent error of assuming that we have to choose between following God or following earthly Church leadership.

The Biblical Model of Church Governance

Protestants often assume that the monarchical structure of the Catholic Church is due to Catholics relying too much on structure of the Roman Empire and not enough on the structure established in the Bible. Perhaps it would be better to say that it’s Protestants who are overly indebted to the structure of the United States and Western liberal societies, to the extent that they’ve ignored that God established a Kingdom, and not a Democracy. Look at how the People of God were governed throughout all of history:

 

    1. Adam and Eve: Adam and Eve are entrusted with the care of all creation, with Eve serving as Adam’s “helper” (Gen. 2:18). After the Fall, due to sin, the husband becomes more of a ruler over, than a collaborator with, his wife (Genesis 3:16). One aspect of the Fall seems to be that Adam and Eve allowed their relationship to become skewed, with Adam shirking leadership. That would seem to explain why part of the Lord’s rebuke of Adam is that “you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you” (Gen. 3:17).
    2. Noah: God leads His People to salvation from the Flood through one man who had God’s favor, Noah (Genesis 6:8) who led his family onto the Ark (Genesis 7:7).
    3. The Patriarchs: Whether it be Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, etc., we see God continuing to lead His People through specific patriarchs, individual heads of the family. Notice that the Biblical familial structure is monarchial. The mother and father are entrusted with the care of the family, while the children are instructed “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12). So children are subject to their parents. But responsibility ultimately rests with the husband and father, to whom even the wife defers (Ephesians 5:22).
    4. Moses. God brings His People out of Egypt through Moses, Miriam, and Aaron, but final earthly authority rests with Moses. Miriam and Aaron get jealous about this, complaining “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” (Numbers 12:2). The Lord vindicates Moses, declaring that “he is entrusted with all my house” (Nm. 12:7). Miriam is cursed with leprosy until Moses intercedes for her (Nm. 12:13), and Aaron entreats Moses for mercy to avoid punishment (Nm. 12:11).

 

  1. The Old Testament Priesthood. Governance is entrusted to the Priests and Levites, but there’s ultimately one man accountable, the High Priest. This annoyed Levites like Korah, who rebelled against Moses and (the High Priest) Aaron by saying that “all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” (Numbers 16:3). In other words, Korah is the first Congregationalist. And for this insubordination to the Divine structure of governance, he and his followers are swallowed up by the earth (Nm. 16:30-32).
  2. The Judges. As we’ve just seen, God periodically saved His People from lawless anarchy by raising up a particular Judge to govern them. When that governance wasn’t there, the People fell into the worst sorts of sins imaginable.
  3. The Kings. God governed Israel through His Kings. Sometimes, those Kings were righteous, other times not. But whether or not they were righteous, they still had a special holiness attached to them (holy means “set apart”) simply by virtue of being ordained Kings. This is amply demonstrated in 1 Samuel 24. David is on the run from King Saul, who has gone mad with jealousy and wants David dead. David resists the opportunity to slay his sleeping pursuer, declaring “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put forth my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:6). When Saul is eventually slain, David has his killer executed, declaring “How is it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” (2 Sam. 1:14).
  4. The Kingdom of God. Turn now to the New Testament. Remember that democracies and republics existed prior to the first century. Athens had a democracy five centuries before Christ, and the Roman Republic became the Roman Empire in 27 B.C. The Scriptures show that the Jews were aware of both Greek and Roman culture, so these structures of governance wouldn’t have been unheard of. And yet Christ comes proclaiming not a Democracy of God, or a People’s Republic of God, but a “Kingdom of God” (Mark 1:15) and a “Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 3:2).
  5. The Governing Authorities. Speaking in the civil context, St. Paul gives these instructions: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13:1-2). That doesn’t mean that every particular structure of governance is equally good (much less that every form of governance is Divinely instituted) but it does put to bed the lie that the early Christian Church was to be an ungoverned place. That’s total foreign to the New Testament view of authority and obedience.
  6. St. Peter and the Apostles. Christ ordains Twelve Apostles, empowering them with authority (Matthew 10:1-15). There is something revolutionary about Christian Church governance, which is that those who rule over the Church are to do it for our good rather than their own. At the Last Supper, He tells them “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:25-27). This admonition presupposes that the Apostles are “in authority,” but that they need to ensure that they’re exercising servant-leadership.But in case that weren’t clear enough, Jesus then promises “You are those who have continued with me in my trials; as my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30). Notice, of course, that the Apostles are called to a monarchical authority, not a democratic one. And then Christ singles out one of the Twelve for a special mission: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you [plural], that he might sift you [plural] like wheat, but I have prayed for you [singular] that your [singular] faith may not fail; and when you [singular] have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32). In other words, the whole Church is entrusted to the Apostles, and the Apostles are entrusted to Peter. Even Protestants like Keith Mathison concede that Simon Peter was the leader of the Twelve, and he’s listed first in every New Testament listing of the Apostles. Back in 2011-12, I wrote a six-part series laying out the Biblical evidence for Peter’s leadership of the Apostles (Parts I, II, III, IV, V, and VI), so that’s all I’ll say on the point for now.

So throughout the Old Testament, the basic pattern is clear: God leads His People through one person, or through several people who are ultimately accountable to one person. Authority is top-down (children don’t choose their parents, the Israelites don’t choose their Kings or Judges, etc.) and the buck stops with a particular individual. Where this structure is challenged, whether that be by Miriam and Aaron or by Korah, the challengers are rebuked (or worse).

When Jesus comes proclaiming a Kingdom of God, He doesn’t suddenly change the Divine preference for this structure of leadership. He instead emphasizes that it is to be exercised in service, and then shows what this leadership looks like perfectly by laying down His life on the Cross for His Bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:25). And it certainly sounds, from the Biblical evidence, like He entrusts the task of Church governance to the Apostles generally and St. Peter particularly.

So how does the early Church react? Does it descend into the sort of holy anarchy described (or imagined) by Professor Patterson? Quite the contrary. Pope Clement of Rome, writing in 96 A.D. (while the Apostle John is still alive!) describes the orderly transition from Christ to the Apostles to the bishops and clergy:

The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus says the Scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith. [cf. Isaiah 60:17]

In other words, Pope Clement testifies to a continuity in top-down Church leadership beginning with Christ and spreading through the Apostles to the rest of the Church. St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John, will write the Ephesians (c. 107-110 A.D) to say things like:

Wherefore it is fitting that you should run together in accordance with the will of your bishop, which thing also you do. For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as exactly to the bishop as the strings are to the harp. Therefore in your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung.

and

Now the more any one sees the bishop keeping silence, the more ought he to revere him. For we ought to receive every one whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household [Matthew 24:25], as we would do Him that sent him. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself.

He says similarly strong things to the Magnesians, Trallians, Philadelphians,  and Smyrnæans.

So we have, from Clement, the idea that top-down governance is established by God and continued in an unbroken way, and from Ignatius, the idea responsibility for each diocese ultimately falls to one man, the bishop. St. Irenaeus, writing c. 180 A.D., then makes this same point on a global level, that responsibility for the Church falls to one church, Rome (and its bishop):

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.

Now, you might disagree with Pope Clement, Bishop Ignatius, and Bishop Irenaeus. But you should recognize that (a) they’re describing something in continuity with the way that God dealt with His People throughout the Old and New Testament, and (b) they’re describing something radically different from the lawlessness that Professor Patterson claimed characterized the early Church.

85 Comments

  1. One has to reject or make up a new history to justify the Protestant position. Exactly the same thing the Left does today in the political sphere. People want Christ on their own terms without any Church, Pope, Bishop or Priest over them. That is why Protestantism sticks around, it plays into a human (especially Western/American) thought process that individualism is better than collectivism (which is often true in the political world even though Christ commands us to be collective in spiritual matters).

    1. As a long-time follower of Christ, I disagree with your statements. Church participation is vitally important for my personal walk, my family & friends, in order to maintain a healthy community at all levels. Politically, we are conservative, pro life, and sprinkle our busy days with prayers. We have many Catholics in our lives that we get along with and learn from- and they from us. In these last times we will be needing each other more and more as we are brothers & sisters in Christ.

      1. So why do you believe your “church” is historically accurate? Or do you believe the Church immediately went flying off the rails and then was found again during the Reformation?

        I presume most people will reject my analogy because most people lie to themselves and never put their beliefs against the anvil of history. Even if they try to do it they get scared and then try to change the cold facts of history. Becoming a Catholic from a Protestant upbringing is easy intellectually but hard emotionally.

        The “found again” thinking is no different then the progressive mindset we see in politics (ex., rejection of history, nominalism, most in the past were stupid and wrong (Gnosticism)).

        1. The Left tries to create a new reality through words. For example, infanticide/murder is called abortion or a right to choose.

          The word “Catholic” has been redefined by Protestants to mean something completely foreign when used in the Apostles Creed. The word “Church” has also been redefined to have almost no anchor with history. Why? Because 1,400 years of Church history is Roman Catholic and Mass centered believers.

          Man no longer wants anything to do with the metaphysical. In his scientism filled world there is no room for the mystical or unexplainable. So the Prince of Lies tricks people into accepting a lie as truth to get rid of the mystical nature of the RCC which leads to relativism and eventually a loss of Christianity itself.

          1. TT: The word “Catholic” has been redefined by Protestants to mean something completely foreign when used in the Apostles Creed.

            BB: Nonsense. First of all, the book of Acts says they were first called “Christians” at Antioch, and not “Catholics”, so who are you trying to kid by your obnoxious statement after that that “Catholicism” has a 1400 year history under papal jurisdiction straight from the get-go?
            Second, as for “redefining words”, thanks for my laugh of the day. As a matter of fact, the church at Rome has wrongly appropriated to itself the term “Roman Catholic”…in that it is self contradictory to call a body “Roman” (which is particular) and at the same time “Catholic” (which means universal.
            Perhaps you’ll need to lie down after this shocker, but it is actually the Protestant, and not the Romanist who believes in the catholic church. P’s believe the church is universal, as all who believe in Christ as Savior belong to the catholic church. Rome cannot discover the catholic church beyond her own local church in Italy. Evangelical Protestants are the true “catholics” because they base their faith on the N.T. as did the early Christians. But Rome has added FAR more doctrines that are nowhere mentioned therein; hence, they have forfeited their right to be called “catholic” OR Christian.

      2. Hi Lisa,
        Catholics certainly agree with you that Church participation is vitally important. And harmony and charity between Catholics and their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is not just a good thing to have, it’s a commandment.

        One of the fundamental issues that is drawing me to enter the Church (hopefully this Easter) after a lifetime as a Protestant, is the matter of individual determination vs. acknowledging the authority of the Church.

        TT above hit the nail on the head. As a Protestant, I made myself the authority to decide which denomination got it right on all aspects of the Christian faith (Biblical interpretation, church governance, style of worship, and moral teaching).
        Individualism. The inevitable result is many, many denominations. That’s what happens when the student becomes the teacher and final authority.

        Once I realized that Jesus never instructed us to learn/understand the Christian faith individually based on our own logic/study, but actually established a Divinely protected teaching authority (the Apostles and their successors) to pass down His perfect teaching – that was the end of Protestantism for me.

        No more wrestling with which Biblical interpretation was correct: the one from Brilliant Bible Scholar/Pastor/Theologian A or Brilliant Bible Scholar/Pastor/Theologian B.

        Joe’s article provides the historical proof and Biblical support that Protestant denominations have departed from the Church leadership and hierarchy that Christ intended for the Church He established.

        Peace to you,
        Joe

      1. BB,
        the document you link continuously claims (as you do) that VC-I, the various Catholic Encyclopedias and Catholic Historians are mistaken in assuming that Peter has always been considered the first Bishop in Rome, but it does not present any historical proof of it. It only presents opinions, viewpoints and interpretations, as the proponents of the Papal position are doing. The difference is that historically makes sense to assume that the evidences pointing to a monarchical bishop in Rome from the second century AD (agreed upon by virtually all serious scholars) are more consistent with a previous analog situation than assuming a different hierarchy that somehow changed, also in view of the absence of sources that point out such change. In other words, given that there are no contemporary scholars that note a change in hierarchy, it is historically plausible that the second century situation (one bishop, called Pope, Primus inter Pares among the Bishops of the other Churches) is reflecting a similar situation in the first century.

        1. LLC, friendly advice. You are going to get nowhere with this guy. He is master of obscurantism, circularity, and denigrating invective. No desire or capacity, like Irked, to engage in civil discourse. I am taking Joe’s advice and not feeding this troll anymore , whose inputs are verifiable garbage. His only purpose is to do his handler’s bidding to create chaos on a Catholic website that generously hosts his miserable, pathetic online persona.

          1. AK,
            I understand, but I still don’t mind reading and counter-arguing posts from the alike of BB, mainly for two reasons:
            1) They are entertaining, in their absurdity (unfortunately, they are perceived as Gospel truth -pardon the pun- by many in the Evangelical and Protestant cacophony)
            2) more important, they are written down, thus unescapable. When I verbally discuss with Evangelicals, they tend to operate like a machine gun jumping from topic to topic at high speed with very little chance for me to interject to point out incongruences, errors and flat out falsehoods. Verba volant, scripta manent. BB has already contradicted himself and has been shown in error in this and other posts several times. In the heat of a conversation, this is harder to accomplish, for me at least.
            Thank you, and have a great weekend.

        2. “The difference is that historically makes sense to assume that the evidences pointing to a monarchical bishop in Rome from the second century AD (agreed upon by virtually all serious scholars) are more consistent with a previous analog situation than assuming a different hierarchy that somehow changed, also in view of the absence of sources that point out such change. In other words, given that there are no contemporary scholars that note a change in hierarchy…”

          Awlms has asked, in the conjecture that the Catholic interpretation of the clear writings of the Church Fathers is **wrong,** for the Reformed-like contemporaries who would have documented opposing views. Always obfuscatory, recycled, ludicrous – and contemporary – fundie BS in response.

        3. “When I verbally discuss with Evangelicals, they tend to operate like a machine gun jumping from topic to topic at high speed with very little chance for me to interject..”

          Funny about that; it **is** a debate technique and lacking theological substance, technique reigns amongst evangelicals. I see the same thing in written form, in BB’s posts all the time – rapid-fire jump around and ridicule, bully, beat down (28 years in uniform, it ain’t working on me) with just enough theological fog to incur doubt. The point is not to win – it can’t be when every reference has been trashed theologically, contextually, or epistemologically – but to bring a poorly catechized doubter over to the dark side, where they can be brainwashed.

          It’s a pitiful, pathetic apologetic, that has yielded rotten fruit in the past, but with the New Evangelization it’s time is past and today it works to our advantage. St. Bernadettes dictum to “inform, not convince,” gently delivered, is the Catholic ‘small, still voice” of 1 Kings 19: 11-13 juxtaposed with the thunderous but empty Evangelical earthquakes and fires.

  2. This is interesting. I am impressed how you have tied an earthly Kingdom setting to a Jesus’s Kingdom. The next thing is that you tied the Levitical Priesthood, including the High Priest to the Catholic Church. There is one thing that you didn’t mention.

    When Christ died the veil that separated the Holy of Holies was ripped in two. This opened up access to God without an earthly priest. Christ said that no man can come to the Father except through me. He never said that you needed another priest to intervene to Christ on your behalf.

    Another point is that if, and I say “if,” the Pope does have the authority of Christ, and the Apostolic Succession, where is his miracles. The Apostles healed many people while they were alive. Another item is that if the Pope is the Earthly Leader of the Church, where did they get the authority to change Baptism?

    To many things that the Catholic Church does goes against what is written in the Bible.

    1. JS: The [author] ties the Levitical Priesthood, including the High Priest, to the Catholic Church.

      BB: Yes, this where the RCC greatly errs. Rome seeks to pattern its priesthood after the Jewish priesthood (CCC 1541). But the point of the Hebrew epistle is that the old covenant was temporary and “faulty” (8:7-8), “obsolete” and ready to vanish away, passing the baton to the priesthood of Christ which delivers “better promises” (8:6,13). We ask, why, if the old covenant has been abrogated, should Catholic theology seek to pattern its new covenant priesthood after something that failed? (7:11). IT IS EXTREMELY ILLOGICAL.
      The abominable claim made in “Not by Bread Alone” that God has decided to perpetuate the Levitical priesthood in the form of “Levitical Catholic priests”, is nothing less than sophistic trickery ( Sungenis, p. 120).

    2. Jim,

      These are great questions, and I’m glad you asked them.

      1) I grew up in a Protestant part of the country, and listened to a lot of Evangelical radio as a kid, so I remembering hear (quite regularly) that the tearing of the veil was about abolishing the priesthood. To my surprise, I found that the Bible never says that. Instead, Scripture connects the tearing of the Temple curtain (perhaps significantly, it’s described as a curtain, not a veil) not with the abolition of the priesthood, but with the piercing of Jesus’ Flesh. Hebrews 10:19-22,

      “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

      Notice that in this very sentence, rather than a denunciation of priesthood, we’re pointed to the new and perfect Priesthood of Jesus Christ, through Whom we have access to the Father in a radically new way.

      2) There are lots of miracles in the Catholic Church, many of them documented by experts. For example. Where are the medically-documented miracles in Protestantism?

      3) The Catholic Church didn’t change Baptism. Christians in the first century of the Church baptized both by full immersion and by sprinkling. Immersion-only legalism only comes many, many centuries later.

      The Didache a first-century explanation of Christianity (it’s probably the oldest Christian document outside of the Bible, and may be older than parts of the New Testament). In chapter 7, “concerning Baptism,” these are the instructions given:

      “And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.”

      So we see immediately that during the time of the Apostles, people were baptizing both by immersion and (when need be) by sprinkling. Why did sprinkling become more popular? Because Christianity spread to freezing cold places, like northern Europe, and we decided it wasn’t great to have new Christians die of hypothermia.

      In Christ,

      Joe

      1. JH: There are lots of miracles in the Catholic Church, many of them documented by experts. For example. Where are the medically-documented miracles in Protestantism?

        BB: The link you provided to the woman who was healed via a vision of JPII appearing to her, is another trick of the devil. True Christians don’t have to be concerned how this woman was allegedly healed, the only thing that matters is that these miracles are NOT from God. We know that it is OUT of character for him to send people back from the dead. Again, IT IS OUT OF CHARACTER, per the clear-cut reply the rich man in hell received. Along those same lines, Jesus knew the days were coming that MANY (especially Catholics!) were going to be saying, “Look, he’s over there, I’ve seen him!”. But he told us in no uncertain terms that when that happens, to ‘BELIEVE IT NOT” in both Matthew & Mark. It is therefore ridiculous for you to say, “where are miracles amongst Protestants”. Too much could be said about that statement, but suffice to say that as far as appearances from the dead go, whether of Jesus or otherwise, the Lord said he will NOT DO THAT, let alone to substantiate the unbiblical concept of post-mortem sainthood.

        1. BB said: “…as far as appearances from the dead go, whether of Jesus or otherwise, the Lord said he will NOT DO THAT”.

          Then why did Jesus consult with Moses and Elias on the Mount of the Transfiguration, weeks before He died? What was good for Jesus while he lived his life here on Earth, is also good for the “Mystical Body of Christ”, when God deems it useful.

          1. Moreover, have you never heard of Jesus, after his death and ascension, conversing with St. Paul as he was traveling to Damascus?

          2. BB: …as far as appearances from the dead go, whether of Jesus or otherwise, the Lord said he will NOT DO THAT”.

            AWL: Then why did Jesus consult with Moses and Elias on the Mount of the Transfiguration, weeks before He died? What was good for Jesus while he lived his life here on Earth, is also good for the “Mystical Body of Christ”, when God deems it useful.

            BB: The first problem with this reply is that it utterly ignores the command of Jesus in Matt 24:26 & Mark 13:21, to “BELIEVE NOT” any future sightings of him. Because you did not specify any circumstances by which you ***DO*** follow Christ’s command to “believe it not”, your thesis that “God may find it useful at times”, FAILS.
            To be sure, the command to reject any future, public or private appearances is indeed the general rule to follow—if for no other reason that no one knows what Jesus actually looked like (!) and need it be said that Satan is not about to appear with horns on his head and holding a pitchfork?). So but of COURSE he will appear as “an angel of light”, precisely as Scripture says he will. Your reply also ignores the response the rich man in hell received when requesting that his still living brothers be the recipient of a post-mortem appearance. The response he received was, “No way, Jose”, and thus, this makes the value of your objection, doubly worthless.
            Your objection (and Joe’s link to the vision of JPII) is worthless in triplicate when it further avoids the fact that God allows satanic power to perform miracles (2 Thess 2:9-10), so it’s very possible this woman’s claim to be healed via JPII may have occurred in this manner. Again, the main point here is that these “miracles” could NOT be from God, because it would be out of character for him to have anything to do with verifying an unbiblical practice, such as “beatifying and canonizing” the saints who have passed on. No such doctrine exists in Holy Writ, and THIS was the lesson the man in hell had to learn (i.e., “Scripture is ENOUGH”…and by extension, Sola Scripture is hence, quite true).
            That being said, each and every one of the hundreds of times a Catholic claims to have seen “jesus”… (again, false from the start because no one knows what Jesus actually looked like!) were being given further revelation to be dispatched to the public. Repeat: “Scripture is ENOUGH”. Moses and Elijah did NOT appear to dispatch any further revelation for the public good, and neither did Jesus to Paul. Consequently, the more pressing command of the Lord to REJECT OUTRIGHT any post-mortem “one man shows”, still rules the day. Otherwise if his words do not rule the day, you will spend the rest of your life trying to make exceptions to that rule and drive yourself mad, not to mention suffering the consequences on Judgment Day.
            In context, Jesus is adamant about this because he’s driving home the point that his second advent would be unmistakable, shocking, universal and glorious. Anything that takes AWAY from this starling event (such as these supposed “coming previews” to private individuals, or the claim that his physical anatomy resides in the Eucharist) are to be looked at with scorn.

          3. BB said:

            “The first problem with this reply is that it utterly ignores the command of Jesus in Matt 24:26 & Mark 13:21, to “BELIEVE NOT” any future sightings of him.”

            I guess you’re implying that St. Paul should have ignored Jesus then, while he was on his way to Damascus??

        2. Barry,

          Joe’s question was: ” Where are the medically-documented miracles in Protestantism?”

          Judging from your response, I can see the answer is “NONE”.

          But is that what Jesus said about his followers in the Bible? Did he say they will not be able to perform miracles? Or that there will be no more miracles after he is gone?

          Please give me answers from the Bible. Thank you…

      2. Here is a couple of problems. First, in most countries today there are buildings that can be used to baptize people today. Baptizing not by sprinkling but by immersion. Yet I see that people who are fully able to be baptized, by immersion, are being sprinkled. So by your own words, and you have quoted the Didache, then the people who are sprinkled, but are able to be immersed, their baptism is not legitimate.

        Since you brought the Didache into your reply. Since by your own words, those who are fully able to be baptized by immersion, and are not, are partaking of the Eucharist in an unworthy manner. Referenced to Chapter 7 and Chapter 9.

        Another problem is that the Didache is not part of the Holy Word of God. The Bible contains all that is needed for the Salvation of man. If this writing was of a nature that was blessed by God then it would have been part of the Bible. The mysteries of faith has been given to man, all men, and not just to a few to be dispensed by a few.

        This means that there is nothing else needed.

        1. JS: “The Bible contains all that is needed for the Salvation of man. ”

          Joe: 1. Where would I find that in the Bible?
          2. Do Protestants know which early writings are inspired (belong in the Bible) from a Biblical source or an extra-Biblical source?

          Peace to you,
          Joe (not to be confused with “shamelesspopery” Joe!)

        2. Jim,
          as the Didache indicates, the only dictate for a Baptism to be valid is to “baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. If “living” (flowing) water is available, it has to be used, but it’s not mandatory. Fasting prior to the Baptism is also mentioned.
          “Since by your own words, those who are fully able to be baptized by immersion, and are not, are partaking of the Eucharist in an unworthy manner. Referenced to Chapter 7 and Chapter 9” = please explain. Chapter 7 of the Didache does not mention the Eucharist, nor does chapter 9 indicate how to perform a valid Baptism. As for the meaning of “Baptizo”, is it not only “to immerge”, but also “to pour”, “to wash”, “to cleanse”, “to purify”.
          “The Bible contains all that is needed for the Salvation of man. If this writing was of a nature that was blessed by God then it would have been part of the Bible” = the Bible is not an instruction manual. Can you point to a verse where the “proper” Baptism form is explicitly explained?

    3. Jim,
      Along with the mainstream interpretation of the Ripping of the Veil, there is another one, less known and yet very interesting. As Michelle Arnold reports, “When a Jew learns of the death of a close relative, he is expected to tear what he is wearing—in modern times, usually a shirt, because that is the garment that covers the heart. […] This tearing of the clothing is referred to as keriyah” (see https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/the-ripping-of-the-veil).

      1. This is all well good for a history lesson of the Jewish people. There are many examples in the Old Testament of the Jews tearing their clothes and wearing sack cloth. This was a sign of mourning.

        Christ, upon his death, fulfilled the Old Testament. The Levitical Priesthood was also done away with. This means that if a faith, i.e. Catholicism, uses that model they are following an outdated model. It is a model that Christ spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. John 4:21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” Very simply means that one can worship God anywhere without a Priest or a building.

  3. JH: Peter was the leader of the Twelve, and he’s listed first in every New Testament listing of the Apostles.

    BB: Paul lists Peter as ONE of the pillars in Jerusalem, and second after James at that (Gal 2:9).

    1. BB,
      The Bible refutes you. Peter is almost always named first among the Twelve, he is mentioned more times than all the others combined, including Paul, he alone is prayed for by Jesus and exhorted to “strengthen your brethren”, he is singled out by Jesus in a number of activities, he is the first preacher, he settles the matter at the first Council, he facilities the first miracles after Jesus’ ascension, and so on and so forth. Even in your example (Gal 2:9), Peter is still the one who “had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised”; John and James are not named. The evidences are just too many for your opinion to be historically and Biblically sound.

      1. LLC The Bible refutes you. Peter is ***almost always*** named first among the Twelve

        BB: The Bible most certainly does NOT refute me. Joe made a categorical statement and the Bible REFUTED HIM, as I pointed. And oh, heavens to betsy, you don’t dare admit that the man made a MISTAKE, do you? Then you immediately backtrack and say “Peter is ***almost always*** named first”. Well whoever denied that? You not only proved Joe was wrong, but then refute yourself by agreeing with me.

        LLC: he is mentioned more times than all the others combined

        BB: No he isn’t. Peter has 191 mentions and Paul has 228. In any case, Peter could be mentioned a thousand times and it would not prove he is a Pope! If you want to use numbers to prove things, then Paul should be Pope and you should leave the RCC if you have any integrity whatsoever.
        Anyway, yours is the type of apologetics that proves how desperate Catholics are to prove their case. Peter was PROMINENT. He was not PAPAL.

        LLC: he settles the matter at the first Council

        BB: HE MOST CERTAINLY DOES NOT! If Peter was Pope, why was he merely the first speaker and not presiding OVER the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15? (over which James quite obviously presided). Why didn’t they just turn the whole matter over to Peter? Instead, we read that James said, “Hear me!”—and he was the one who gave the judgment in vs. 19, saying, “I JUDGE” in the Greek, which is variously translated as “It is my judgment” (NASB), “my sentence is” (KJV), and “I have reached the decision” (RSV).
        Catholicism continues to thrive because those like yourself just swallow everything they hear without checking things out.

        LLC:The evidences are just too many for your opinion to be historically and Biblically sound.

        BB: As I have repeatedly mentioned, the a-HISTORICAL view of Vatican 1 given is utterly UNSOUND, to the max! No history book on the planet will agree with them that Peter was given immediate universal jurisdiction over the entire church militant right after Matt 16. The simple fact that the disciples argued amongst themselves afterwards as to who was the greatest is the single most explosive hand grenade that blows your position into a million tiny pieces. Obviously, you wish they never had that argument, not only because it is clear as the light of day that they did not understand Jesus to be giving Peter the crown of Christendom, but the Savior himself, did NOT intervene in that argument to correct them in favor of Peter.
        Better to face the reality now and be humiliated, than to find out on Judgment Day that you’ve been duped.

        1. BB,
          “…Then you immediately backtrack and say “Peter is ***almost always*** named first” = in order to backtrack, I should’ve made another assertion before, which I didn’t.
          “…and Paul has 228” = correct, only if you consider how many times Paul mentions himself. Without, Peter is mentioned more often, therefore your argument fails.
          Peter was not the first speaker at the first Council. He’s the last, whose opinion is accepted (“The whole assembly kept silence”), even by James, who simply ratifies Peter’s argument.
          In Matt 16:18, Jesus only gave, as you correctly say, “…universal jurisdiction over the entire church militant”. He said nothing about being the greatest, especially in human terms, as the Apostles were arguing in Luke 9:46 and Luke 22:24. In these terms, Peter is more consistent than Paul, since he never boasts his (God given, thus legitimate) primacy.
          You stand corrected.

    2. Matthew 19:28 supports the fact that the Apostles were equal. 28 And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on [k]His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

      Peter is not mentioned here as the Chief Apostle. This verse proves that they were equal.

      1. JS: you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Peter is not mentioned here as the Chief Apostle. This verse proves that they were equal.

        BB: An excellent point, but one as we all know, will quickly be swept under the rug by those whose brains hurt too much to even think about.

      2. Jim,
        Does this verse also say that Judah Iscariot would be sitting on one of the 12 chairs? His betrayal had yet to happen.

      3. But then He says to Peter:

        31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

        Peter is to strengthen his brothers after he turns back. So Peter is in an authority position.

  4. Hi Joe,

    So I would object that your description of history seems to move back and forth between a number of roles. Your examples seem to move freely between families and states, and it’s not clear to me that God intends those two institutions to be governed in the same way, much less that he intends the church to share in either pattern.

    (Actually, a question there: would you say that God intends nations to be ruled by monarchs, specifically – that democracies are rebellion against His will? Because that seems like it would follow from the argument you make in these opening paragraphs.)

    But much more importantly, there’s not really any debate as to whether Christianity is monarchical or not. It is! It has a King.
    The debate is whether the church on earth, the one composed of living human beings who are not the Son of God, should be likewise monarchial in nature: whether, in other words, our temporal spiritual leaders are to likewise be kings.

    And here I think the evidence is pretty slim. You say,

    And then Christ singles out one of the Twelve for a special mission: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you [plural], that he might sift you [plural] like wheat, but I have prayed for you [singular] that your [singular] faith may not fail; and when you [singular] have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32). In other words, the whole Church is entrusted to the Apostles, and the Apostles are entrusted to Peter.

    I do not see how your claim follows from that verse. Peter is certainly urged to strengthen his brothers – to support and encourage them, by his faith. But to move from, “I command you to strengthen them” to “You are in authority over them” seems unjustified.

    Indeed, I think the case for monarchical Petrine authority in particular is difficult to make. Certainly Peter himself never makes any such assertion in any of his writings. In Acts 11, the believing assembly calls Peter to account for himself to them – again, that doesn’t seem like the reaction of people who view him as their ruler.

    Perhaps more clearly, the only major decision we see the early church make in Scripture is not monarchical in character. The Council of Jerusalem is a debate among “the apostles and elders” – one that Peter does not seem to lead, and that Peter’s advice does not end. In verse 22, it’s not only this group but “the whole church” who appoint messengers.

    You cite 1 Clement, but I think that text as a whole argues rather against your point. It says of those who lead the churches that they are “those appointed by [the apostles], or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church.” I do not think we can fairly say that this “testifies to a continuity in top-down Church leadership” – not only is it not clear that the “other eminent men” are themselves appointed elders, but also the letter makes a point of clarifying that the whole church is involved in approving these men!

    It seems like a lot of the remainder of your post is a restatement of the arguments on bishop leadership of churches the other day. I tried to reply to those remarks at the time, but I think that mostly got swallowed up in other debate; I’m not sure I can express the point more clearly than to repeat now what I said then:

    The Protestants I know of who are even aware of that controversy say that the early church had a mixture of presbyterys (i.e., multiple leaders) and bishoprics (i.e., single leaders), with some favoring one model and some favoring the other, and power gradually centralizing over time in the latter. Functionally, they’d say, the only difference between the two at first was whether your church had several elders or only one. (Indeed, some of those who hold to this view point to Ignatius as one of the ones who favored and pushed for the latter model; Ignatius’s words, then, are in part an urging towards a particular non-universal structure.)

    This isn’t just an assertion on the Protestant part, though. There are multiple sources of evidence of elder/presbytery-run churches, starting with Titus 1:5: “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.” Note the plurals, there: elders in every town; while Paul follows with a description of the requirements to be an elder, no indication is made of what to do for any separate governing office. Indeed, while references to appointing elders is commonplace in the NT, references to single-bishop-led churches is rather thin on the ground. Even major decisions of the church, like the Jerusalem Council, are made by a multiplicity of elders.

    Maybe even a clearer argument that there was no meaningful distinction between presbyterous (i.e., elders) and episkopous (i.e., bishops) in the earliest church comes from Acts 28. There, in v. 17-18, “Paul sent to Ephesus for the presbyterous of the church. When they arrived, he said to them…” This passage begins a speech to the elders which continues through verse 28, where he says, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you episkopous.” Again, there’s no distinction of separate offices here.

    But we can continue into extrabiblical sources, if you like. 1 Clement identifies no single person as its author, crediting itself only to the church in Rome; it then speaks highly of the “presbyters” among the Ephesians, with again no praise or indication of any singular bishop. Indeed, when it does mention bishops (in ch. 42), it is again only in the plural, and seemingly interchangeable with the role of elder – for despite saying earlier that the Ephesians had elders, the letter here mentions the appointment only of “bishops and deacons.” Continuing on into chapter 44, it says of “those mentioned before” – i.e., the bishops in ch. 42 – that “Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure.” Again and again, the terms are treated as interchangeable.

    We could continue to the Didache, or the Shepherd of Hermas, which likewise describe a plurality of leaders – but I think that gets the point across. Say that Ignatius was a singular bishop, that he preferred that model, and that he was not unique in this regard – fine! But there’s evidence aplenty that this was not a universal practice, and likely not even the more common one.

    I hope I can be forgiven a brief quote from another theologian on this matter, because I think it sums the matter up better than I can: “The presbyter is the same as the bishop, and before parties had been raised up in religion by the provocations of Satan, the churches were governed by the Senate of the presbyters. But as each one sought to appropriate to himself those whom he had baptized, instead of leading them to Christ, it was appointed that one of the presbyters, elected by his colleagues, should be set over all the others, and have chief supervision over the general well-being of the community… Without doubt it is the duty of the presbyters to bear in mind that by the discipline of the Church they are subordinated to him who has been given them as their head, but it is fitting that the bishops, on their side, do not forget that if they are set over the presbyters, it is the result of tradition, and not by the fact of a particular institution by the Lord,” emphasis mine.

    That’s Jerome, of course, presenting the Protestant version of early church history in his Commentary on Titus. So let me offer an alternative hypothesis: Ignatius shows that broadly-orthodox Christians held a multiplicity of views, even as early as the start of the second century, and that they did not agree in total with each other, with you, or with me. He shows, in other words, that on matters of tradition separate from the salvific core of the faith clearly taught in Scripture, there is often no such thing as the universal testimony of the fathers.

    And that, broadly speaking, is the Protestant understanding of the early church.

    1. Irked –

      Please tell me the one person in history from 100 AD-300 AD that best exemplifies the Protestant position.

      I’m not looking for what you think scripture means, I just want one name. If history is as you claim it to be then there has to be one shining example of a Protestant during this time period. Just one name. Please.

      1. CWD: I’m not looking for what you think scripture means, I just want one name. If history is as you claim it to be then there has to be one shining example of a Protestant during this time period. Just one name. Please.

        BB: “Irked” has ALREADY given you more than a few names by his reference to the office of bishops, who were acting in accord with Protestant/biblical protocol. The RCC does NOT follow this infrastructure, and therefore from the get-go, they have departed from biblical practice.
        As I wrote on a previous thread, “The most primitive concept that we can trace is that of utilizing a PLURALITY of elders—(exactly as my church employs!) according to the “Encyclopedia of Early Christianity” by church historian J.N.D. Kelly, as well as “The Concise Dictionary of Early Christianity” by Joseph Kelly (no relation). Even your own Cardinal Newman admitted, “While apostles were on earth, there was the display neither of Bishop or Pope; their power had no prominence, as being excercised by the apostles. In course of time, first the power of the bishop displayed itself, and then the power of the pope.” (An Essay on the Development of Christine Doctrine”, p. 149).
        “Word Meanings in the New Testament” by Ralph Earle…. under the word “Bishop” used in 1 Tim 3:1, says,

        “It literally means ‘overseer’. Turning to the N.T., we discover one fact immediately; there is no mention of any diocesan bishop [singular]. In the one church at Philipi there was “episcopoi” (bishops, plural) …Phil 1:1. The bishop was a local official, and there were several of these in each congregation. Furthermore, the “elders” (presbyteroi) and “bishops” (episcopoi) WERE THE SAME.
        [in Catholicism, elder are equated with the unbiblical office of a sacerdotal priesthood, and these priests serve the bishops! This is completely unbiblical
        As seen in Acts 20:17, it says that Paul called for the elders (presbyteroi) of the church at Ephesus. In verse 28, he refers to them as episcopoi –overseers (KJV)—“guardians” (RSV). The SAME people are designated by both titles. We find this same phenonenom clearly indicated in the epistle to Titus.
        In the N.T. church, each local congregation was supervised by a group of elders or bishops [plural!] and a group of deacons. When we come to Ignatius early in the second century about 115, we find a very different picture. Now there is one bishop over each local church, together with several elders and deacons. Here we see the beginnings of the episcopal hierarchy that flowered during the second century. But in the beginning, it was not so.”

        1. And you don’t give me one name either!!!

          Just give me the name of the lead proto-Protestant in history from 100 AD – 300 AD. The top dog, number one.

          Still waiting on one name so I can look this person up and read about him. All I see is references to what people want history to be without any proof.

          1. Since Christ still lives today and lives within the 100-300A.D. time period, I would say Christ.

            However if you are looking for a man, then you are looking to elevate a man to the level of Christ. This is not possible since as Paul said; Did I die for you? Did Cephas? Since the answer to that question is “No” then neither Protestantism nor Catholicism can name one who would be a greater shining example.

      2. CW,

        That seems like a completely different conversation, and it’s not one I’m particularly interested in having, especially in light of how acrimonious our discussion became last time. I’ve tried to be clear that I think to view the early church as either Protestant or Catholic is ahistorical; in the period you’ve identified, the church is still hotly debating the Trinity, let alone some of the things that will later divide us.

    2. Actually, reflecting on this overnight, it seems like the current topic returns to nearly all of the church fathers I’v argued for in the past few months.

      Would Cyprian – “Neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another. But let us all wait for the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only one that has the power both of preferring us in the government of His Church, and of judging us in our conduct there” – would Cyprian have said that the church had a monarch? Perhaps he would have granted that bishops were monarchs over their respective regions, fitting with his claim that every bishop sits in the Seat of Peter – but would he who openly defied the bishop of Rome have agreed that Stephen was king of the church?

      What of Tertullian – he who mocked the “pontifex maximus” for his pretensions to authority? Would he have taught monarchical governance of the church as a whole?

      Should these men – Cyprian, Tertullian, Jerome, whoever writes the Didache and 1 Clement, to say nothing of Luke and Paul – be taken as any less representative of the mindset of the early church than Ignatius or Irenaeus? Should their clear words be counted any less indicative of their views than the ones you cite?

      Because where the argument is that there are early church leaders who teach your position – I concede the point entirely. There are! But they are part of a multiplicity of contradicting views on the subject, and that multitude includes models other than the one you claim.

      So by all means, away with lawlessness! I’ve yet to actually meet in the flesh the Protestant who would argue for the church to have no earthly governance at all. But to say that the only acceptable model for that governance is descending single-ruler authority seems to me to set aside vast swathes of the early church.

      1. Irked –

        Thank you. Now we’re getting somewhere.

        Of these men you referenced what key theological Protestant position did anyone of them uphold? I can’t tell from the quotes you provided. I think we’re moving in the right direction now.

        Baptism doesn’t save? Faith alone? Sola scripture? Mass not literal, more of a symbol?

        1. They would deny either that the one-bishop model was to be the single acceptable standard for the church, or at least that the church was to have a top-down monarchical framework.

          (Just to make sure we’re on the same page, that was a continuation of my earlier post, and not an attempt at answering your question – I’d prefer to stick to Joe’s topic rather than drift the thread too far.)

          1. Irked –

            Please give me the name and corresponding Protestant issue so I can investigate myself? I’m looking for history that I can investigate as opposed to debating you or early fathers that challenge Catholicism. I want evidence that supports key Protestant issues.

            For example, Tertullian denied the real presence or thought sola scriptura was key for Christianity.

          2. CW,

            I’m not sure I understand this response to my post – again, I’d prefer not to shift into your question and to mostly stay with Joe’s topic.

  5. Jim Strohl –

    I’ll go with Ignatius of Antioch on the Catholic side but have at least 10-15 others (Augustine if I stretch the date to 400 AD). Who’s your top proto-Protestant from 100 AD – 300 AD?

    Your answers didn’t fit the conditions of my question. I’m looking for reality, not theory. The time dates are crucial because it takes away the standard response of Paul. I want historical reality and have made it easy if history was truly a mix of real Protestantism and Catholicism. I want evidence to investigate, not diatribes of personal opinion.

    1. 223,
      You could expand out the back end of that time period to, say, 1200 AD and you won’t find any historical figure that held most of – let alone all of – the Protestant “fundamentals” (e.g. Scripture alone, symbolic communion, non-liturgical worship, a 66 book Canon, believer baptism, etc).

      Like you said, just name one. They can’t do it for obvious reasons. The silence is deafening.

      Peace,
      Joe

      1. Joe –

        I know. Why I keep asking. Forces people to stop with their personal opinions and back into reality. At least Irked gave some names today which is a start.

      2. Without wanting to get into this discussion too far, I don’t think the list you describe accurately identifies Protestant fundamentals. Protestants don’t generally take “No liturgy!” as an article of doctrine, for instance – we just follow a variety of styles, which can include liturgy or not as the local church prefers. Likewise, while I’d personally hold to symbolic communion and believer’s baptism, they’re far from universal in Protestantism – and they’re more implications of other fundamental doctrines than they are fundamentals themselves.

        I think the core general Protestant formulation runs much closer to the “Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone” formulation one sometimes sees, and we’ve debated the presence of some of those in the early church in other threads of late.

  6. I have been wondering when Christianity would be united as we profess one baptism, one faith and one Lord of all? Do we worship the same God in the face of these divisions? Also in Heaven are we going to have different modes of worship? What is the problem at all with all the divisions?

  7. The Biblical model of Church leadership is clearly that which is modeled after the ‘Kingdom of God typology’ as Joe’s post clearly points out above in detail. The pertinent question is: Which Church most closely resembles the ‘Kingdom’ typology taught by Christ, today?

    To find out the answer to this question, we must put any ecclesiastical contender to the ‘duck test’. That is, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck”. So, we first have to look at what the typological characteristics of a ‘kingdom’ entail. And we find these traits: 1. Family based, 2. Organized hierarchy led by males, 3.Coronation rituals established for the recording of dates (usually the death of the previous king) of transmitting royal power, 4. Geographical boundaries established for all members of the kingdom to clearly recognize and understand the places of governance, and for each subordinate royal family member to control. 5. Detailed title/names provided for each position in the royal hierarchy with corresponding duties in the kingdom. 6. Written, or oral, histories detailing the linage of the royal family extending back centuries or millennia. These are the main characteristics of monarchical governance.

    The pertinent question to ask, then, is… which historical Church passes the ‘duck test’? Which Church is organized like a kingdom (looks like a duck), has existed like a kingdom (swims, and has aways swam, like a duck), has detailed written/oral history of both geographical spheres of control (dioceses, archdiocese) as well as names and dates of the in control of the same territories/cities/nations (quacks like a duck). And knowing that Jesus also said…”My kingdom is not of this world” we must balance this with His other saying from John 17:14–15:

    “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them ebecause they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you ikeep them from the evil one”.

    So, we see how the ‘kingdom of God’ can be BOTH ‘in this world’, but not ‘OF this world’ at the same time. If we can’t understand this language of Christ, we will probably never anything He says, as Christ uses mostly such metaphors to communicate his Gospel teachings to us.

    So, clearly the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church satisfy the ‘duck test’ requirements, in all the 6 points detailed above.

    But what of Protestantism? It satisfies almost NONE of them. Protestantism is not patterned after the ‘kingdom’ typology, at least not here on Earth, (..and as Jesus said he desired in the Lord’s Prayer). On the contrary, Protestantism from it’s inception in the 16th century, tends towards theological and organizational division rather than theological cohesion and unity, and is thus more ‘anarchical’ in nature. This is to say, Protestantism is less like a ‘franchise’ (as is a Kingdom in social structure) regarding Church governance, and more like a multitude of unaffiliated small businesses/churches (..the antitheses of ‘franchise’ and ‘kingdom’), each capable of teaching any theology and practicing any sacraments that what they desire, and at any time they want. There are no set rules as there are with monarchical type social structures/governments.

    So, to put it shortly, Protestantism fails the ‘duck test’ on a multitude of levels. It is NOT the: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Christ such as is detailed in sacred scriptures, Church history and the Nicaean Creed.

    1. I might add…

      That after the ‘duck test’, another valid test is the ‘smell’ test. In the Catholic faith there is something called the ‘odor of sanctity’. It derives from the ‘discernment of spirits’ which is a gift of the Holy Spirit. When people read holy literature, or view holy art or visit with holy people, the holiness inherent in all of these is often very discernible, and even described as a trait of having a ‘spiritual odor’…the ‘odor of sanctity’. Moreover, after being acquainted for a long time with this odor, by being familiar with many holy people, holy literature, holy liturgies, holy music, etc…a person can easily distinguish between it, and a ‘foul’ smelling spiritual odor which is produced generally by one vice, heresy, sin, or the other evil. It can be noticed in evil cinema, literature, music, personal associations, etc… When the Nicaean Creed termed the Church… One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic….the ‘Holy’ relates to this sense of holiness which is tangibly inherent in the Church. So, using the ‘smell test’ for holiness is also a sign marking, or indicating, the true Church that Christ founded. When Jesus said, “You will know my disciples by their love for one another”, the recognition of the love that he was talking about is the ‘odor of holiness’…’odor of sanctity..oder of true spiritual love.

      And what is the contrary indications of this?

      Martin Luther taught that Christians are like ‘snow covered dunghills’, this is his description, and a foul smelling one at that. Jesus, on the other hand, told Peter at the ‘washing of the feet’ episode in John’s Gospel: “He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all. So, this is a contradiction of Luthers core teaching above.

      Moreover, Luter’s life also lacked the tangible odor of holiness found in the lives of authentic Christian saints. Anyone who will take the time to read “Luther, His Life and Work’ by Hartmann Grisar, SJ (1915), will note the very many odd odors inherent in Luther’s personality, including severe psychological abnormalities, seizures, need for daily confessions, horror of celebrating his first Mass, fear of the Blessed Sacrament, visions of Satan in the form of dog, etc.. Moreover, he was the mastermind behind very filthy cartoon art that can still be found online today for review. Other morally ‘smelly’ odors was his consent to the bigamous
      marriage of one of his rich benefactors and protectors near the end of his life. Luther tried to hide the fact, in a sort of Bill Clintonish type of way, but the secret lasted no more than a few days. This was a scandal even in those days. So, if a person compares Luther’s ‘odor of sanctity’ stop someone such as St. Francis of Assisi, or St. John Vianney, or St. Bernard of Clairveaux,… St. Theresa of Avila, St. Anthony Claret, St. Francis of Paola, St. Ignatius of Loyola, etc… They will note a very substantial difference in the ‘odor of sanctity’ between these Christians.

    2. Al,

      If we interpret the monarch as Christ, it seems like the problem you point to disappears. I’m not sure that I’d take your list as the definitive elements of monarchy, but considering Protestantism through that lens for a moment:

      1. Family based,

      There’s a Father, the Lord of all, the ultimate authority of the universe; His Son, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; and His adopted sons, who are reigning with Christ in the heavenly places. Check.

      2. Organized hierarchy led by males,

      Father and Son lead. Check!

      3.Coronation rituals established for the recording of dates (usually the death of the previous king) of transmitting royal power,

      We mark the birth and death of the King – though there’s no need for any further coronation, because he ever lives. Check once more.

      4. Geographical boundaries established for all members of the kingdom to clearly recognize and understand the places of governance, and for each subordinate royal family member to control.

      His kingdom “is not of this world,” but is the Kingdom of Heaven, currently invading the realm of the Prince of the Air, in preparation for reign over a new heavens and a new earth. Check.

      5. Detailed title/names provided for each position in the royal hierarchy with corresponding duties in the kingdom.

      And he shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; Son of God and son of man; the Christ, the Son of the Living God. And his Father: the God who saves; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Check, I think.

      6. Written, or oral, histories detailing the linage of the royal family extending back centuries or millennia.

      “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Or we can take the patrilineal line in Luke, if you prefer. Again, check.

      So yep, I would say Protestantism looks plenty like a monarchy: a monarchy with Christ as king. It just doesn’t necessarily have churches that also look like monarchies – but why should it need to?

      On the contrary, Protestantism from it’s inception in the 16th century, tends towards theological and organizational division rather than theological cohesion and unity

      So I was thinking about this concept last night, and what struck me is that it seems Catholicism wants to define a very specific meaning of “unity” – in particular “unity under a single temporal human hierarchy” – and then to object that anything not fitting that pattern is sinful disunity. But I think I dispute your definition in the first place. I don’t agree that I’m disunited with an overwhelming body of my Protestant brothers. There’s no animosity between the SBC and the PCA; we have no wrath against the Methodists or Wesleyans.

      I’m not even sure I’d say we’re disunited with you!

      We disagree on a great many things, to be sure – but the overwhelming majority of Protestant Christians agree on the core salvific truths: who Jesus is, what he accomplished for us, what is required of us to receive salvation. (Those offshoots of Christianity that differ on these questions – Mormonism, say – I wouldn’t describe as “disunited Christians” so much as “not actually Christians in the first place.”) There remains some theological distance between us – in some cases a substantial distance – but that doesn’t necessitate that we be anything other than united in mutual worship of our shared Lord, “having the same love” for those around us. (And if it were ever in doubt, it would seem that the Francis years reveal there’s a fair bit of theological distance within the walls of the Catholic Church as well.)

      So I think I fundamentally reject the framing that says that the formation of separate theological perspectives is inherently a mark of the failure of the church – or if it is, it’s a failure we all share together, and not one unique to Protestants. In any event, I think it’s in error to assert that unity of the sort Christ intends is only possible given a structure like the papacy, and I think such a claim would require substantial proof.

      1. Hi Irked,

        I understand that there is both the mystical/heavenly element and a human/worldly element in the typeology of the term ‘kingdom of God’. But Jesus mixes the two together, and the the Gospels also, in many places.. including Christ’s genealogy as the ‘Son of David.’

        So, when I discuss the Church, here, I’m focusing more on the human and operational level of ecclesiology, rather than the mystical. I’m also just acknowledging that the description of the early Church as written by the many Church Fathers, and Eusebius in particular, detail a Church following the model of a Monarchy of sorts, mystical also, though it might be.

        It might be added that this type of institution was pretty much the only form that people back then ever knew of. Everything was ruled by kings, and the kings by the Roman Emperor. So, this was life as it was back then. It also seems that Jesus used practical means when organizing His Apostles. Is it a wonder that the captain of their sailing vessel was also the lead apostle? Everyone knows that the captain/owner of the boat has the ultimate word on the functioning of a ship, and obedience is mandatory for everyone else. So, a man like Peter, with all of his faults, was already trained for commanding others and making the difficult decisions in dangerous situations (like drowning in a storm., etc..). So, we can appreciate Christ’s wisdom and common sense in choosing a natural leader. Moreover, this has nothing to do with holiness, and John the Apostle, and possibly even a few of the women disciples might have been in a higher degree of sanctity than Peter. But Peter’s gift was leadership ability, for better or worse. And this relates to Popes and bishops as well. Their person is one thing, their office is another. And hopefully they excel at both leadership and sanctity.

        Now, if Church history presented Christianity after your model, and gave ample proofs that in this world it would be rather disorganized, even anarchical ( as much of Pentecostalism is today), I would accept it. However, Church history doesn’t give us this model. Again, people should just pick up Eusebius’ History and have a little faith that it ins’t a sham history. If it was, the entirety of the Council of Nicaea would be a sham also, because his history came out just a few years earlier than it and NOBODY objected to it. Eusebius was also a leader at the same council, being a friend of Constantine, and also writing his biography.

        So, simple faith in this history can reveal much about Christ’s Church. But, on the other hand, there is comparatively NOTHING on the history of Protestantism or Protestant doctrines at this early time. What we do see is a recording of the main bishops of the world in those days, and each particular Church probably probably kept records of their own bishops of those times. This is why the Vatican Library is supposedly about 1/4 mile long in book shelves. In any case, it is easy to see how the Catholic and Orthodox Churches followed the prevailing form if governance back then, as a type of ‘spiritual kingdom on earth’. And it is no wonder also that after the fall of the Roman Empire took place in 410 AD, there arose another Empire….the HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE, for the next 1000 years, or so.

        In all of this the Church followed the Creed of Nicaea….being One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic. The Apostolic part is the part most pertaining to the kingdom typology, because authority is transmitted by ordination/consecration and is passed on to other bishops at death (or maybe excommunication). The “Apostolic Constitutions'”, available online, detail such consecration ceremonies and rituals supposedly derived from the time of the Apostles (thus the title of the work). This is why much of the Didache, word of word, is reproduced in it. And it is common knowledge that the Didache is very ancient, going back to apostolic times. So, ‘The Apostolic Constitutions should not be neglected by anyone interested in Early Church history/ecclesiology.

        I also pointed out that in ‘this world’ Protestantism doesn’t follow the ‘monarchy’ typology… and if so, only about 5% compared to the Catholics following maybe 80%, or so. If Protestantism DID follow as such, they would have recorded many of the events, disputes, synods, etc…that took place back then. And IF you want to argue that some of the bishops of those days indeed WERE Protestants, then you would actually need to show what part of their theology was actually Catholic, and what parts Protestant. For instance, if the Bishop was an ordained Priest, in the Catholic sense, then this should be noted in a sort of ledger. But if He believed in Sola Scriptura…that should be marked on the same ledger for the Protestant side.

        Over all, I think one would find that almost all of the bishops of the first 1000 years, followed the Catholic side. And a few of us here are still waiting for a Protestant amongst our commentariat…to prove us wrong.

        So, to me, a lot of this is just common sense. But, God also created common sense as part of the ‘gifts of the Holy Spirit’ regarding the gifts of Wisdom, Knowledge and the Discernment of Spirits.

        1. Hi Al,

          So, when I discuss the Church, here, I’m focusing more on the human and operational level of ecclesiology, rather than the mystical.

          But that’s the question, isn’t it: what is the human level to look like? Is it also to be necessarily monarchical in character? On what grounds do we say so?

          I’m also just acknowledging that the description of the early Church as written by the many Church Fathers, and Eusebius in particular, detail a Church following the model of a Monarchy of sorts, mystical also, though it might be.

          And yet I’ve presented quotes from Paul, Luke, the author of 1 Clement, Cyprian, Tertullian, Jerome, etc. all saying things that suggest (or in some cases outright state) that a top-down appointed monarchy headed by the pope is not the general model of the early church. Eusebius certainly never met a monarchy he didn’t like, but his position is far from universal; what of these other fathers?

          It might be added that this type of institution was pretty much the only form that people back then ever knew of.

          It might, but it would be wrongly said! For just the most obvious case, Rome had been a republic before it was an empire, and many of its elected offices remained through the early centuries of the church. Surely we wouldn’t say that the early Christians knew nothing of Athens? Of Plato’s Republic? Of the writings of Cicero?

          Monarchy might well be the only form with which medieval Christians were familiar, and so the form to which they might gravitate – but “well, medieval Christians might have assumed it” is no defense of the practice.

          Now, if Church history presented Christianity after your model, and gave ample proofs that in this world it would be rather disorganized, even anarchical ( as much of Pentecostalism is today), I would accept it. However, Church history doesn’t give us this model.

          I can do no more than point to the multiple arguments I’ve made upthread that, indeed, church history presents different models. Thus far, no one’s challenged them.

          Again, people should just pick up Eusebius’ History and have a little faith that it ins’t a sham history.

          There’s middle ground between “a complete sham” and “unbiased on the subject of monarchy.”

  8. AWL: To find out the answer to this question, we must put any ecclesiastical contender to the ‘duck test’. That is, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck”. So, we first have to look at what the typological characteristics of a ‘kingdom’ entail. And we find [such] traits as: Coronation rituals established for the recording of dates (usually the death of the previous king) of transmitting royal power

    BB: Well it looks like this duck is a schmuck. First of all, your “dates” for these coronations cannot be known for certain. Writing around A.D. 180 Irenaeus wrote that Peter and Paul instituted Linus as the first Roman bishop and then Anacletus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telephorus, Hyginus, Pius, Anicetus, Soter, and Eleutherius followed (Against Heresies, 3.3.3)
    Note: 1) whatever happened to Peter being the first bishop of Rome?
    2) since when does a ***LIVING*** Pope ordain the one to follow? After all, you imply others were to appoint the big boy “after the death of the previous king”.

    Then, circa 200, Tertullian said Peter ordained Clement supposedly as the second one after HIM! Clement went from being the third bishop of Rome (as seen above) to the second. Tert says…

    “For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: … the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter” (Tertullian, Prescription Against Heresies, Ch. 32).

    Again, since when does a living Pope ordain the one to follow?

    To confound matters further, this popular website lists Clement as #4

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm

    Your systematic theology collapses in a heap if we can find even one crack in the foundation. And we just did.

    AWL: Protestants… practice any sacraments they desire, and at any time they want.

    BB: Ummmm, Jesus did not specify how many times one was to swallow the Eucharist, and so we will practice it as manner or as few times as we please, thank you so much!

    1. BB,
      1) “whatever happened to Peter being the first bishop of Rome?” = Linus is assumed to be the first Pope after Peter
      2) “After all, you imply others were to appoint the big boy “after the death of the previous king” = that’s the usual way, but not the only.
      “Your systematic theology collapses in a heap if we can find even one crack in the foundation” = this is not systematic theology. This is history.
      “BB: Ummmm, Jesus did not specify how many times one was to swallow the Eucharist, and so we will practice it as manner or as few times as we please, thank you so much!” = aside from the asinine misrepresentation, please see Acts 2:46.

  9. AWL: I might add…That after the ‘duck test’, another valid test is the ‘smell’ test. In the Catholic faith there is something called the ‘odor of sanctity’ [as seen in such people as] St. Francis of Assisi, or St. John Vianney, or St. Bernard of Clairveaux, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Anthony Claret, St. Francis of Paola, St. Ignatius of Loyola, etc… They will note a very substantial difference in the ‘odor of sanctity’ between these Christians [and Protestants].

    BB: This “smell” test, which supposedly makes everything okey-dokey, is really nothing but… inky-STINKY.
    The utter religious GARBAGE that has come from those in your camp has been disgraceful, primarily the horrific murders put into motion from RC personnel who demanded their victims to acknowledge Christ was hiding in the flimsy piece of bread they were waving in their faces. When the person tied to the stake refused, they lit the match, and each and every time ended off their madness with, “This is all to the glory of God”. Once again, Jesus got it right when he predicted these massacres in John 16:2, “that the time is coming when they will kill you thinking they do God service”. NO other religious institution claiming to be Christian, thinking they were doing God a favor by killing the innocents, fulfills this prophecy other than Roman Catholicism. Thus, the “filthy odor” of their dirty deeds filters down through history and it does indeed, STINK, even to this day. The martyrs did not die in vein, for they show the miserable fruit produced by a church that Christ no more founded than there is a man in the moon.
    Let’s take another example:
    “St” Margaret Mary Alacoque.
    Her sole happiness was to kiss the wounds of the sick and press her lips to the most disgusting ulcers. Once, in particular, when nursing a Sister dying with cancer of the stomach, and who could not hold anything down, she wished to clear away the vomit. She did it with her lips and tongue.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=O-h…0vomit&f=false

    This woman, who was obviously insane, is also infamous for fostering devotion to the physical heart of Jesus, better known today as the “Sacred Heart”. This practice is pure idolatry. Based on the obnoxious reasoning that because His heart was indeed broken for mankind in more ways than one, and His love poured out as physical blood, we are to conclude therefore, that Jesus wants us to honor his physical heart!
    Baloney!
    According to her autobiography (TAN BOOKS, 1986), knowing how much Christ had suffered and how little she had, “I bound this miserable and criminal body with knotted cords, which I drew so tightly that I had difficulty in breathing and eating. I left these cords on so long that they were buried in the flesh which grew over them, and I could not extract them without great violence and excessive pain. I also slept on a plank or on sharply notched sticks.”

    For her vomit drinking, self-mutilation and idolatry, this basket case was canonized by Benedict XV in 1920. Even worse, in his 1928 encyclical, “Miserentissimus Redemptor”, Pius XI affirmed the Church’s position regarding the credibility of her visions of Jesus Christ [completely contradicting the words of our Lord to “BELIEVE IT NOT” in Matt 24:26 & Mark 13:21) by speaking of His having “manifested Himself” to Saint Margaret Mary and having “promised her that all those who rendered this honour to his Heart would be endowed with an abundance of heavenly graces”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Mary_Alacoque

    This deranged woman illustrates the great danger of blindly following the precepts of a religion given to one at birth, without checking the Scriptures. If she had, she would find that her lifestyle was not a way to peace with God, and neither does Christ call us to self-persecution, guilt, fear and isolation from the world dressed in a black habit!

    AWL: Martin Luther taught that Christians are like ‘snow covered dunghills’

    BB: There is nothing wrong with that term. It is simply another way to recognize the fact that, as Paul said, “I know that in my flesh dwelleth no good thing”. And I trust you realize that there are different ways to express singular truths, just as there are different words that express the same idea? This is something you learn in grade school, so I need not press the point that what you offer against Luther is not impressive.

    1. Quack..Quack!..ackaquack..Quack!….Quack..Quack!..ack Quaaquack..Quack!

      This, above, seems to make more sense than what you just wrote.

      1. Al – good afternoon. I finally got fed up with this venomous ignoramus; glad you yourself have found an acceptable way of wiping foam from the rabid dogs muzzle.

  10. Irked –

    Why do you dodge the simplest questions? This blog is for everyone to learn and I don’t know why you feel it’s right to just dodge a simple request for evidence of your claims about the early church. Every single post here by Jim relates in one way or another to the Church. If you are going to claim that the Church is something radically different than how billions know of it don’t you think you owe to everyone on this site to give one name of the early church father that supported a key Protestant position and the actual key Protestant position?

    Change the world and tell us your proof!

    1. Every debate has a limited scope, CW. The topic Joe raised for this post is biblical models of church leadership; I’d like to stick to that.

  11. I don’t want to debate. I want to research on my own. No idea where to start. I just want a name and key topic. More like four words (two for name and two for key Protestant issue). If history is as clear or unclear as you say it is in the early church then this factual response should be easy.

    I want to dig in and read for myself. I’m sick of conjecture and personal opinion.

    Here is my answer if the question was posed to me:

    Justin Martyr – Real Presence

    That’s it. Simple. Otherwise, are you really on this blog to engage or just tell everyone what to believe no matter how contrary it is to Catholics who read a Catholic blog?

    1. If what you’d like is a good summary of some Protestant argument regarding the early church, you might try the James White podcast series “Church History” on SermonAudio. (I’m hesitant to try for a link given how this blog software reacts to them, but it should be the first Google hit.)

      It’s written for a Protestant audience (and by James White), so you might find the tone abrasive at times – but there’s a lot of interesting material to chew on even if you ultimately find it unpersuasive. Does that help?

      I’m going to bow out of this side-thread now, anyhow.

      1. Actually, addendum: you can also find some examples of specific people in the comments of the preceding months here, i.e., Cyril of Jerusalem on sola Scriptura, Cyprian on papal authority, etc. Again, I’m not going to revisit my arguments on these folks here, except so far as fits Joe’s topic.

        1. I think that having a sort of ledger to keep track of points of belief would be useful in trying to find ancient Protestant believers. For any one Church Father (or other person or source), a list of characteristics, doctrinal opinions and liturgical practices should be noted. This is how Eusebius and other historians show the opinions of the Fathers on the canon of scripture, as they varied significantly subject. If yo look online under ‘history of the canon of scripture’ you will see such lists.

          In the same way, if one uses instead of authentic, spurious and false books of scripture, items such as belief in: Belief in monarchical type Church leadership, Importance of Baptism for salvation, Belief in the Eucharist as the ‘Real Presence’, the authority of Bishops, Opinions on the dignity of Mary, Respect for the see of Rome as the ‘first among equal Churches’, Support for the institution of monasticism, etc… (these are just off the top of my head)…this would portray the degree with which these same early Christians agreed with any type of Protestant doctrine or position, either by written word or practice.

          It would be a handy reference. Maybe we all here should pick a Church Father so as to ‘crowd source’ the research…including the topics of doctrinal and Church practices to be focused on??

  12. In the Synoptics, there are three lists that identify the apostles:
    Matthew 10:1-4
    Mark 3:16-19
    Luke 6:12-16

    In all three listing, Peter is *ALWAYS named FIRST*. Interestingly, within this group of chosen men, there is an inner core of three special apostles whom Jesus singled out whenever he had something truly extraordinary to reveal. They are Peter, and the Zebedee brothers James and John (aka, Boanerges or the “Sons of Thunder”). Again, in the Gospels and the Acts this is where we find this special list:
    Matthew 17:1
    Matthew 26:37
    Mark 5:37
    Mark 9:2
    Mark 13:3
    Mark 14:33
    Luke 8:51
    Luke 9:28
    Acts 1:13

    So what the NT shows are *TWELVE* lists in which Peter’s name comes first. Pretty amazing when we consider how our Protestant fellows think the guy has no special calling compared with the other apostles.

    Now Barry, true to his Protestant tradition of cherry-picking scripture, singled out Galatians 2:9 as his prooftext where Peter is named after James. That is the ONLY list in the NT he can cite where Peter’s name does not come first. Since that is the only instance that supports his argument, he conveniently ignores the 12 lists above that don’t support him. He has no explanation as to why Peter is named first in those lists.

    Now unfortunately for Barry, Paul also gives us a list of apostles who saw the Lord right after the Resurrection. And guess what? Peter’s name is mentioned *FIRST*. That’s in 1 Cor 15:5. And this totally destroys Barry’s flimsy argument because ONLY Peter is identified by name in this listing. All the rest are simply called the “Twelve”. And James’ name comes later AFTER Peter in a different group when other apostles are mentioned that were not in the original Twelve! (Can you please explain this Barry?) Most importantly, Paul calls himself the *least of the apostles* (1 Cor 15:9). This is very significant because Paul calls himself least of the apostles in a list of Resurrection witnesses where he names Peter first. That implies Peter’s position as the chief of the apostles.

    And if we revisit Galatians 2:9, here is where Paul totally obliterates whatever is left of Barry’s argument. Paul does NOT identify all the apostles. He only singles out James, Cephas, and John and calls them *PILLARS* who gave him Barnabas as a missionary companion and who dispatched them to the Gentiles. This verse should tell Barry that NOT ALL apostles are pillars. Not all apostles gets to decide who is dispatched with whom. And the chief pillar of these three pillars is Cephas, aka The Rock. How do we know this? Simple. Neither James nor John had their names changed by Jesus.

    The elephant in the living room which our seemingly blind Protestant respondents here fail to see is the name “Peter” itself. His original name is Simon bar Jonah (Matt 16:17-18), but the Lord changed this to “Cephas” or “Kephas” which in Aramaic means “Rock”. The Lord spoke Aramaic, not Greek, so Cephas is translated Peter since the NT was originally in Greek. None of the lists call Peter as Simon, they all identify him as Cephas or Peter, the name Christ gave him.

    If Simon bar Jonah had no special calling among the Twelve apostles, why then do the lists call him Cephas or Peter, and not Simon his original name? All the rest of the apostles retain their names, so why is his case different? There must be something special in the person who possesses that name. Unfortunately, our blind Protestants here miserably fail to see that. I don’t think they can explain why that is.

    And they claim to be Bible-believing Christians?

    1. Well put explanation, Rico.

      That Peter was the owner and captain of his fishing boat also adds significance. Even like Noah who ‘captained’ the ark, and the captains of all boats/ships today, the position of captain is one that demands authority so as to make the essential decisions that all must follow in case of emergency at sea. As large boats demand community action to function properly, and wherein they cannot be operated safely without such cooperation, such a custom of absolute obedience is justified and necessary. And this typology extends also to the Church, which historically has been termed ‘the ‘Barque of Peter’.

      So, the choice of Jesus in choosing fishermen as His lead apostles (Peter, James and John) is not without significance.
      Also, it is interesting that you refer to Christ’s given nicknames that augment the ranking of these three apostles, and Peter is most prominent. And, James and John receive the SAME name… “Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder”. Mark 3:16 gives the context of the naming in relation to all the apostles, as you point out in your comment:

      “And to Simon he gave the name Peter: [17] And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he named them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: [18] And Andrew and Philip, and Bartholomew and Matthew, and Thomas and James of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Cananean: [19] And Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.”

      So, Peter gets a singular, individual, name. And James and John share a communal name, as if they were Siamese twins. The rest are not given new names. This certainly singles Peter out among the rest of the apostles. After Peter, the ‘Boanerges’, are also distinguished . Moreover, they were all associated by being of the same profession, fishermen, and as they used Petes boat for travel, they naturally accepted Peter as both their captain and their leader, as is only natural when dealing with sea travel. Moreover, this leadership and respect for it is also detailed when John ‘out ran’ Peter to the tomb of Jesus after the Resurrection, but waited for Peter before entering it.

      All of this gives testimony to the ranking of Peter…the captain of the apostolic ship… as the obvious leader of the Apostles. And that Peter did NOT take on the role of Bishop of Jerusalem, which was given to St. James, also indicates that Peter was the leader of all the apostles, and not just of one locality, i.e.. Jerusalem. He knew well the command of the Lord to ‘Go out to all the world, baptize…and teach them to carry out all that I have commanded you.’ So, he knew that his responsibility was to be a type of archbishop to the other apostles ( the captain of the apostolic ship, the bark of Peter) spread throughout the world. This is to say, he was looking forward to an expanded worldwide Church, as Jesus called him to be the ‘foundation’ of. And, it is no wonder that he ended up in Rome, as it suited him perfectly. Rome was the center of the Roman Empire, and Peter was the leader of Christ’s new Church/Empire. So, Rome was a natural place for Peter to lead from and also die. Jesus also alludes to this when He says, ‘my coming will be like lightning, striking from East to West’. And this is primarily how the faith was spread throughout history, and is even spreading to this very day, from East to West. today, China is waiting for the Christian faith to be preached to it….and after 2000 years of Church History this has still not been accomplished. But the faith has indeed spread primarily from East to West and so Peters relocation to Rome made sense back in the first century.

      ….and the rest is history.

    2. So I think this misrepresents the Protestant position somewhat. There’s no real debate as to whether Peter held a unique role among the apostles – that he was first among equals in the leadership of the Twelve. The debate is whether that leadership amounts to “Peter was king over the others,” or just “Peter was a respected voice even among the respected voices.”

      And our grounds for insisting on the former cannot be, “His name is listed first,” or “He owned the fishing boat.” That’s, again, the kind of hermeneutic that can be used to prove just about anything; I can use the same sort of argument to prove that John was ruler over the Twelve.

      I do not think that Galatians is any help on this matter – or, more accurately, I think it’s rather clear evidence, but in the opposite direction. Look at Paul’s thesis throughout chapters 1 and 2: the Galatians have erred in following a new gospel, presented by so-called apostles, instead of the gospel Paul delivered to them at first. It seems like Paul’s obvious reply, given the Petrine theory, is to appeal to exactly that fact: “Do you not know that the Lord delivered the church into the care of Peter? Imitate his teaching, and you will find the truth rightly interpreted.”

      But Paul doesn’t say that. He isn’t even silent on the issue: he argues the opposite! His clear thesis, beginning in 1:1, is that his gospel does not derive its authority from a central church, but from God himself. He goes out of his way to show that he and the interpretation of this gospel are not subordinate to Peter – indeed, that Peter errs, and that the Galatians should hold to the once-for-all gospel over the words of angels and apostles. And to be sure, 2:9 does speak of those several people who are pillars in the church – but only in the context of 2:6: “those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism.”

      Can we do wrong in echoing Paul on this matter?

      our seemingly blind Protestant respondents… Unfortunately, our blind Protestants here miserably fail to see that. I don’t think they can explain why that is.

      And they claim to be Bible-believing Christians?

      So, we’ve all been fairly critical of Barry’s style in preceding posts. This is the exact same thing. It moves from critiquing argument to critiquing the person: from discourse to insult, from debate about facts to insinuation of moral failings.

  13. “So, we’ve all been fairly critical of Barry’s style in preceding posts.”

    Irked, look at my posts re: BB. Yes, I had a row with his personality, and eviscerated his bombast. But the majority of my posts were responses to his “apologetics.” I dug into his references and found them out of context, historically inaccurate, or just plain errant. I understand your mileage varies from Catholic views of ‘errant.’

    Do I understand from your previous post that you are a new Dad?

    1. AK,

      Yeah, I didn’t mean to suggest that only his tone was criticized; my point was more that it has been, entirely fairly, criticized. No attack on your posts intended; I don’t think “Your tone is bad” is in the same category as “You don’t really believe the Bible,” and I’d agree with everything you just said (though taking a different perspective on some of the conclusions, as you say). Does that make sense?

      And yes, you did catch right – our new addition is about two weeks old, and for a mercy he’s sleeping peacefully right now.

      1. Irked, I know a gentleman when I discourse with one. And you make perfect sense, though as you say, we often don’t agree on theology. Unlike some other folks, you get the bigger picture of interfaith reality and the necessity of cooperation.

        As a Catholic, I am called to evangelize. I do follow the guidance of St. Bernadette of Lourdes, “my job is to inform, not convince.” As well, I figure the truth of things eventually will come out, a’la Acts 5:38-39. So while I have in the past gotten a bit vigorous in my dealings with BB, it’s not because he didn’t believe me, it was the rest of his delivery. Interesting that he has never gotten the hint, if he is trying to ‘save souls’ that the medium is pretty difficult to separate from the message.

        Congratulations a bit late. Sleep is overrated, I heard. Enjoy them now, when talking back is confined to “waaa-aahhhh…’ And an old Chinese proverb, one of life’s greatest pleasures is the company of properly-raised children.

  14. Irked says: So I think this misrepresents the Protestant position somewhat. There’s no real debate as to whether Peter held a unique role among the apostles – that he was first among equals in the leadership of the Twelve.

    Me: How unique is Peter’s unique role from your version of Protestantism? How first is Peter in his “firstness” among equals? Does Peter possess the keys of the kingdom in a way that binds and loses in heaven whatever he binds and loses on earth now? Are these keys now being exercised among Protestants? Looking at Protestant sectarianism and its never-ending divisions, I think those are empty words when you say Peter is unique and first among equals.

    In the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church condemned Martin Luther’s heresies. Did our Church possess the keys to prounounce that condemnation? If she did not, then where are those keys now?

    From the time of the apostles, up to the era of Luther, the Catholic Church has faithfully exercised its authority in anathemizing heretics. Those keys have always been held by her. Unless of course you want to say that those keys were lost and somehow found its way to the Protestant side.

    Irked: And our grounds for insisting on the former cannot be, “His name is listed first,” or “He owned the fishing boat.” That’s, again, the kind of hermeneutic that can be used to prove just about anything.

    Me: No it can’t. Unless you refuse to look at the elephant in the living room. So for your sake, let me point at it again.

    Peter or Cephas is a name-title that means “Rock” and it was given to Simon bar Jonah by Christ himself. Everytime Simon, James, and John are mentioned in the several verses all over the NT, their names are never rendered as “Simon and the Boanerges.” No, no, no. Rather, it is always “Peter, James, and John”.

    Even in Galatians 2:9, when it is rendered as “James, Cephas, and John” the pattern is preserved. Simon’s original name is never retained. His assigned name as “Rock” is the one used. Now why do think that is?

    Paul clearly taught the Corinthians that Christ was the “Rock” from which the Israelites drank spiritual drink (1 Cor 10:4). He is also the Chief Cornerstone. And this Spiritual Rock singled out Simon bar Jonah and called him Rock too. Yet in all of the NT, Christ is never called Rock as a name-title by the apostolic writers. In every instance in the NT where Rock is a person’s name, that person is always Simon bar Jonah.

    So if you want to show that “anything can be proven” by our hermeutic, then go ahead be my guest, and prove that John is the Rock so abundantly mentioned in the NT. I am ready to listen.

    Irked: I do not think that Galatians is any help on this matter – or, more accurately, I think it’s rather clear evidence, but in the opposite direction. Look at Paul’s thesis throughout chapters 1 and 2: the Galatians have erred in following a new gospel, presented by so-called apostles, instead of the gospel Paul delivered to them at first…etc.

    Me: The new gospel that beguiled the Galatians were not introduced by “so-called apostles” but by “false brethren” (Gal 2:4). Note that Paul did not oppose Cephas on doctrinal grounds or teaching a falsehood. He withstood him for bad behaviour, by his refusal to eat among Gentiles, an act of socializing he used to do until some Judaizers from Jerusalem visited him. Apparently, Paul was scandalized by Peter’s hypocrisy.

    Yet Paul himself when subjected to social pressure in Jerusalem caved in to these same Jewish converts. When they implored him, he underwent the Nazirite purification rites in the Temple and took with him others to do the same (Acts 21:17-26). To prove what? That he himself as a Christian apostle was still OBEDIENT to the ritual works of the Law, those very works that he warns the Galatians accurse those who are still under the Law (Gal 3:10). Did Paul resist his fellow Jews in Jerusalem the way he opposed Peter? No he didn’t.

    If Paul’s behavior were to be measured according to the measure he measured Peter, he himself would fail his own standard. That standard is abnormally high even for him. So be careful in citing Galatians as prooftext for emulating Paul’s seemingly arrogant action towards the man whom Christ himself called Rock.

    Paul is correct that God plays no favorites among his apostles. Christ taught them that whoever is great among them should serve all. Yet Jesus singled out Simon bar Jonah in many ways he never did to the Twelve. He changed his name to Cephas, the Rock. Is this favoritism?

    Does it not strike you at all that Christ who is the Spiritual Rock of Israel, the Chief Cornerstone, would rename only one apostle with Rock, a title so close to Christ’s own self-description? And then give him the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, the keys that properly belong to no one else but the Son of David? Why do you think this is? Why wasn’t Paul renamed as Rock too and given the keys? After all, God would have foreseen he would write more than half the NT books. Paul would teach the Church more theology than Peter. And Peter is really nothing more but the holder of the empty title “first among equals.”

    Irked: So, we’ve all been fairly critical of Barry’s style in preceding posts. This is the exact same thing. It moves from critiquing argument to critiquing the person: from discourse to insult, from debate about facts to insinuation of moral failings.

    Me: It’s not an insult to a person to point out his blindness when it can be properly demonstrated. It’s a way of helping his soul, even if it may be painful to him. Notice how Barry seems to have lost his booming baritone, and could barely muster a mouse’s squeak? I’m sure he’s somewhere out there now contemplating the error of his ways.

    What is a true ad hominem is when you attack a person’s character without even dealing with his arguments.

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