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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Is Church Authority Biblical?

A Southern Baptist ministers wife asks me: Would you please, if you can, show me ONE scripture from Gods own words that says he has given the [Catholic] Church authority AND if you can, back it up showing The Bible, Gods Written Word, says that we are to look at the church before Gods own words. Thanks.

My answer: I'd be happy to respond to your request and will include numerous scripture for you and I will use a favorite Protestant bible to do so (NIV Thompson Chain Reference Bible). Let's start with the very basics shall we? When two believers have a disagreement and they can't work it out after trying even with help from friends, etc., what does Jesus say to do? 1) look it up in the bible or 2) take it to the Church for the Church authority to decide? The answer is #2! And here's your scripture as you requested:

Matt.18:17 "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector."Now what authority does the Church have in this case according to Christ in holy scripture? Let's read the next verse to see...
Matt.18:19 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Jesus is talking about the Church here, not all the folks who tried to settle this dispute before coming to the Church for the final authority on the matter. This is authority given only to the Church by Jesus Christ.

Now let's see more Church authority (and by the way, my non-Catholic Thompson Chain-Reference Bible footnotes these as "church authority" [page 1091 #749], just so you know it's not a "Catholic thing" found only in a Catholic translation of the scriptures).

Now here my non-Catholic TCR Bible goes even further by saying the next reference to "church authority" is John 20:23 [page 1205] this is where the Catholic church also notes the authority of the Church and it's priests to forgive sins during Confession.
Let's go on...

Next we see Luke telling us in Acts 16:4 about more Church authority. This is a good one that can't be denied by anyone who's honest with themselves.Acts 16:4 "And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem." Now by who's authority were the decrees determined according to scripture? Was it bible authority or Church authority? By Church authority of course! It was "determined by the apostles and elders". That is what scripture says.

The bible cannot interpret it's self so it can't tell you what it means in some cases so you need an authority to rightly interpret God's Word. The bible doesn't tell you which books belong in it, Church authority determines what books belong in the bible as inspired by God. If the bible can't tell you what books and chapters belong in it, how can it interpret it's self? It can't. Jesus sent out men to teach and lead believers in the Truth, he didn't hand out bibles and tell people to read it and self interpret what it all means. That was never his intent. What Jesus clearly does in scripture is equip men to reach people with the Gospel message.

In Hebrews 13 we see the writer (probably Paul) writing about imitating church leaders, verse 7 "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith." Then what does he go on to say? Verse 17 "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." It doesn't say 'obey the bible', it says obey the authority of the leaders in the Church.Then at the end of the letter he says in verse 24 "Greet all your leaders and all God's people. Those from Italy send you their greetings." Again we see the leaders separated from the rest of God's people as they are the authority of the Church. Scripture says to "submit to their authority".

And just to add, another part mentioned for this in my Thompson Chain Reference bible that footnotes Church authority is "Matt.16:19 & 18:18". This is an NIV bible, not a Catholic bible yet it still marks Church authority as clearly as any Catholic version of the bible. The truth is Jesus gave his Church authority and scripture supports this. I hope this answered the Southern Baptist wife's question in the way she requested.

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Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

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