Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Authority of the Pope

I'm still continuing through that list of issues that triggered the protestant reformation. To some it may sound like my goal has been to defend the catholic positions, but it is not. I am aiming to understand their point of view with the goal of increased respect and brotherly love.

I'm going to skip ahead a few issues on this list and dig into one that I'm having a harder time seeing their viewpoint on - the authority of the Pope, another concern that triggered the protestant reformation.


The above link makes a decent argument for Peter's unique role in Christs church. However consider this part of the argument:
"There is no longer any question that Peter exercised his powers, in the last analysis, from Rome. It was there, at the center of the civilized world, that he discharged his pastoral responsibilities, and there that he died, in 64 A.D. The see (or diocese) of Rome, therefore, was a universal see, embracing the entire world, the entire flock of Christ."
One question:

By this time some Christ followers had already taken the good news to far away lands that the church in Rome would not be able to exercise any power over. I don't think there has ever been a time in history when all Christ followers have been under the authority of the Pope. It is said Thomas (one of the original 12 apostles) took the good news to India and a community of Christ followers were formed there (and possibly in Afghanistan). There were also early communities of Christ's people outside the Roman empire in areas of present-day Iran, Iraq, Syra, Armenia, Egypt, and Europe. Is there evidence that all these communities accepted Peter and future Popes as leaders of their communities?

Another Question:

What was Jesus view on leadership?
"Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves." (Luke 22:24-27 NIV)

"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matt 23:8-12 NIV)
I'm not sure what to do with these verses. How does it fit with the way Pope's or other church leaders have viewed their authority?

Compare these two verses:

1 John 2:27 (NIV)
"As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him."
Heb 13:17 (NIV)
"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."
OK then... should I still protest the authority of the Pope? If this topic comes up with my catholic friends I may share my point of view. But I don't see myself going out of my way to protest this. I don't feel God has given me authority to be the judge on this matter. If for them obedience to Heb 13:17 means submitting to their Pope, I can see their point of view. I should primarily be concerned with encouraging my 'catholic' friends to follow Jesus example of loving God and all others.


Frank Prescott said...

I am catching up on some of your previous postings and came across this series.

I recently did a word study on the Heb. 13:17 passage and found the word for obey (peithō) can also be translated as being persuaded or convinced. Many other uses of the word carry this exact wording.

Is there some nuance in the Greek that would require it being translated as obey here and not in other places? I can see the other places clearly being a sense of being convinced or persuaded.

As I read the passage I can see it saying: "Be persuaded/convinced by your leaders and submit to them." Meaning that I must be persuaded that those who carry a leadership place must convince me that they are the one to submit to.

Am I missing something here?

Jonathan said...

I agree persuade is the term there.

And I think "Be persuaded by" gives us the challenge to use our minds and not blindly follow.

As for submitting, in other passages we are told to submit to one another. If these 'leaders' are leading by example and submitting to others, it becomes a give and take... just like any healthy relationship.

Good thoughts. Thanks.