Thursday, August 23, 2007

Diablog: Subject to Christ or to the Pope?

This is my third post in a diablog with Weekend Fisher. She wrote:
Or again, in the Papal Bull Unam Sanctam, the church of Rome states
Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.
Now I know Roman Catholics are honor-bound to say that's right, but from the outside looking in, that statement looks like proof that Rome has lost the plot about what is really necessary for salvation. It looks like Rome has forgotten what Christ said about the greatest of the apostles: He shall be servant of all, and "The lords of the gentiles lord it over them, but not so with you." Even for someone who grants in principle that Rome had a place of honor among the ancient sees of the united church (pre-Chalcedon), this papal bull demonstrates "lording it over", the opposite of what Christ taught would be the hallmark of Christian leadership. "Absolutely necessary for salvation" to be subject to the Roman Pontiff? That is why the Protest looks at Rome and sees "Jesus plus something else" in a place where it should be Christ alone.
Somewhere in my lifetime, I knew I'd have to give a response and defense of this statement made by Pope Boniface VIII in 1302. But I think in order to do this, I must treat the entire document (linked above). I've added my own emphasis (bold) and made sure all scripture is formatted nicely and referenced properly.
Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins, as the Spouse in the Canticles [Sgs 6:8 (or 6:9)] proclaims: "One is my dove, my perfect one. She is the only one, the chosen of her who bore her", and she represents one sole mystical body whose Head is Christ and the head of Christ is God [cf. 1 Cor 11:3]. In her then is one Lord, one faith, one baptism [Eph 4:5]. There had been at the time of the deluge only one ark of Noah, prefiguring the one Church, which ark, having been finished to a single cubit, had only one pilot and guide, i.e., Noah, and we read that, outside of this ark, all that subsisted on the earth was destroyed.

We venerate this Church as one, the Lord having said by the mouth of the prophet: Deliver, O God, my soul from the sword and my only one from the hand of the dog. [Ps 21:21 (or 22:20)] He has prayed for his soul, that is for himself, heart and body; and this body, that is to say, the Church, He has called one because of the unity of the Spouse, of the faith, of the sacraments, and of the charity of the Church. This is the tunic of the Lord, the seamless tunic, which was not rent but which was cast by lot [Jn 19:23-24]. Therefore, of the one and only Church there is one body and one head, not two heads like a monster; that is, Christ and the Vicar of Christ, Peter and the successor of Peter, since the Lord speaking to Peter Himself said: "Feed my sheep" [Jn 21:17], meaning, my sheep in general, not these, nor those in particular, whence we understand that He entrusted all to him [Peter]. Therefore, if the Greeks or others should say that they are not confided to Peter and to his successors, they must confess not being the sheep of Christ, since Our Lord says in John "there is one sheepfold and one shepherd." [Jn 10:16] We are informed by the texts of the gospels that in this Church and in its power are two swords; namely, the spiritual and the temporal. For when the Apostles say: "Behold, here are two swords" [Lk 22:38] that is to say, in the Church, since the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not reply that there were too many, but sufficient. Certainly the one who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter has not listened well to the word of the Lord commanding: "Put up thy sword into thy scabbard" [Mt 26:52]. Both, therefore, are in the power of the Church, that is to say, the spiritual and the material sword, but the former is to be administered for the Church but the latter by the Church; the former in the hands of the priest; the latter by the hands of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest.

However, one sword ought to be subordinated to the other and temporal authority, subjected to spiritual power. For since the Apostle said: There is no power except from God and the things that are, are ordained of God [Rom 13:1-2], but they would not be ordained if one sword were not subordinated to the other and if the inferior one, as it were, were not led upwards by the other.

For, according to the Blessed Dionysius, it is a law of the divinity that the lowest things reach the highest place by intermediaries. Then, according to the order of the universe, all things are not led back to order equally and immediately, but the lowest by the intermediary, and the inferior by the superior. Hence we must recognize the more clearly that spiritual power surpasses in dignity and in nobility any temporal power whatever, as spiritual things surpass the temporal. This we see very clearly also by the payment, benediction, and consecration of the tithes, but the acceptance of power itself and by the government even of things. For with truth as our witness, it belongs to spiritual power to establish the terrestrial power and to pass judgement if it has not been good. Thus is accomplished the prophecy of Jeremias concerning the Church and the ecclesiastical power: "Behold to-day I have placed you over nations, and over kingdoms" [Jer 1:10] and the rest. Therefore, if the terrestrial power err, it will be judged by the spiritual power; but if a minor spiritual power err, it will be judged by a superior spiritual power; but if the highest power of all err, it can be judged only by God, and not by man, according to the testimony of the Apostle: The spiritual man judgeth of all things and he himself is judged by no man [1 Cor 2:15]. This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed, the Lord saying to Peter himself, "Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven" etc., [Mt 16:19]. Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God [cf. Rom 13:2], unless he invent like Manicheus two beginnings, which is false and judged by us heretical, since according to the testimony of Moses, it is not in the beginnings but in the beginning that God created heaven and earth [cf. Gen 1:1]. Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.
So now you have seen the entirety of the Pope's statement, and one of the Church's arguments for the truth of the office of the Papacy. It is the antitype of Noah piloting the ark (outside of which none were saved). It is imaged by the tunic which was not split. It is specified by Jesus to Peter in John 21, where Jesus tells Peter to "tend my sheep" (John 21:16). The "my" here refers to Jesus: he is telling Peter that the sheep of Jesus are all Peter's, even the "other sheep that are not of this fold" (i.e. the Gentiles): there is to be "one flock, one shepherd" (John 10:16). One would then have to be under Peter to be under Jesus.

So then, Christ is the head of the (one) Church. But unlike the Davidic kings, he is not visible to us. The visible head of the Church is the man to whom "the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 16:19) have been given (cf. CCC 882, 936). The office of the Papacy, started with Peter, is perpetuated through his successors.

But why must we be subject to him? Why not subject to Christ?

Ah, but we are subject to Christ. But how can we know we are? How are we to know what is the truth about Jesus Christ when there are at least a hundred denominations of Christianity which do not agree with each other on various points of doctrine? We can be sure if we are within the one Church founded by Jesus which has been promised to be led into all truth by the Holy Spirit, and against which the gates of Hell will not prevail. And how can we know if we are in this one Church? If we acknowledge its head, the successor of Peter, the Pope, the one to whom Jesus entrusted all his sheep.

To know you have the right doctrine, the right beliefs, the right faith, you must have the right teacher. The Catholic Church says that, if you adhere to the Catholic faith, you adhere to the fullness of faith and revelation, including the authority of the Church, specifically that of Peter and his successors. If you reject the ones Jesus sent, you reject Jesus. This is why the Church is so darn stubborn about Apostolic succession. If some random preacher shows up tomorrow, how can I be sure following his teachings about Jesus will lead to my salvation?

Luther himself made some rather bold statements about his understanding of the true revelation from God. He claimed that whoever did not accept his doctrine (which was God's doctrine) could not be saved:

For inasmuch as I know for certain that I am right, I will be judge above you and above all the angels, as St. Paul says, that whoever does not accept my doctrine cannot be saved. For it is the doctrine of God, and not my doctrine.

(Johannes Janssen, History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages, 16 vols., tr. A.M. Christie, St. Louis: B. Herder, 1910; orig. 1891, vol. 3, 269-272 / Against the Falsely So-Called Spiritual Estate of the Pope and Bishops, July 1522)

I do not admit that my doctrine can be judged by anyone, even by the angels. He who does not receive my doctrine cannot be saved.

(in Will Durant, The Reformation, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957, 422, from Werke {Erlangen}, XXVIII, 144; also in Jacques Maritain, Three Reformers: Luther-Descartes-Rousseau, London, 1950, 15 - obviously also from Against the Falsely So-Called Spiritual Estate of the Pope and Bishops, July 1522, though Durant doesn't mention it in his footnotes)


Is adherence to Lutheran doctrine necessary for salvation? If so, by whose authority? Luther's (or his successors')? And if Lutheran doctrine is not necessary for salvation, what is its purpose? I do not mean to sound inflammatory, but I am curious what Lutheranism holds as true that may or may not be necessary for salvation. And which Lutheran denomination retains the proper doctrine...?

1 comment:

japhy said...

Anastasia Theodoridis commented on this post of mine in the comments on Weekend Fisher's blog (4:21 PM, August 24, 2007):

Sorry, Jeff, but between "feed My sheep" and the papacy as we know it is a HUGE gap. "Feed My sheep" does not imply being THE only shepherd, or even the chief shepherd, or bing the principle of unity in the church, or having two swords, or that subjection to Peter is necessary for salvation, or subjection to his alleged successors, or ANY of that stuff. It's way, way too big a stretch, requires too much imagination.

Here is my response:

Anastasia, I'd prefer if comments to my responses were on my blog articles, simply because I don't expect to look for them here. I will be copying your comment and my response to my own blog (unless you object).

As for your comments... between "feed My sheep" and the papacy as we know it is a HUGE gap. "Feed My sheep" does not imply being THE only shepherd, or even the chief shepherd, or bring the principle of unity in the church...

Jesus gives Peter three different commands in John 21:15-17: "feed my lambs", "tend my sheep", and "feed my sheep". I refer to the Greek: "βοσκε τα αρνια μου", "ποιμαινε τα προβατα μου", and "βοσκε τα προβατα μου". There are two different verbs used by John ("bosko" and "poimaino"): the first means "to pasture; to feed; to keep" whereas the second one means "to tend as a shepherd; to rule". And there are two different nouns used, "arnion" and "probaton": the first means "lamb", the second means "sheep(fold)".

This part of the gospel according to John is just as inspired as the rest, and thus these words were used under the direction of the Holy Spirit, so they accurately reflect what Jesus told Peter.

The Catholic Church recognizes these three commands to its Bishops thus: to teach, to govern, and to sanctify. For the "lambs" who are young in their faith, to instruct them and build up their faith. For the "sheep" -- the entire flock under their care -- to govern them and ensure they adhere to the whole faith. And this flock must be built up and continually fed by the Word and the Word made flesh.

Now, if there are multiple Peters -- that is, multiple shepherds of the same "rank" as Peter -- then it stands to reason they cannot give conflicting instruction, or else Jesus is setting his Church up for failure. But Jesus gave these commands to Peter alone as Scripture reports it, and he himself said there would be ONE flock and ONE shepherd. Now, Jesus is the chief Shepherd, whereas Peter is the vicar shepherd who governs until Jesus returns in glory.

Just as Jesus delegated unto Peter it seems reasonable that Peter can delegate LOCAL responsibility to individual Bishops, but Peter would maintain his role of shepherd of the entire flock. That is the key here: Jesus did not give Peter a portion of the flock, he gave Peter the whole flock. That is what was imaged in the catch of fish that day.