The Roman Catholic Pope is recognized as the head of the Catholic Church. There’s nothing wrong with having someone as head of a particular denomination or church. The problem arises when claims are made about the Pope, which have no basis in Scripture.
Specifically, the Pope is said to be the “Vicar of Christ on Earth” and as such when he speaks “ex cathedra” on faith and morals, he is infallible (speaking without error) and his edicts are for all Christians. This dogma was “formally” established at the Vatican Council in 1869. However, it’s been argued that this dogma was proposed sometime in the Middle Ages. Interestingly, no one seems to know when it originated or who originated it.
The Catholic Church refers to Scripture to support this dogma. Unfortunately, the assumption is made that when Christ was addressing His apostles He also had in mind their successors. Herein is the problem.
The Lord never said or even hinted that His apostles would have successors. This is complete fabrication as the original apostles were to be the foundation of the church. Consider Revelation 21:14 “And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Notice, it says there are “twelve names.”
In Ephesians 2:20, we read, “…having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.” I think everyone would agree that a building has only one foundation and that a foundation is the first step in building any edifice.
It has been over 1,900 years since these statements were made and 264 popes have come and gone. Once a foundation has been laid and the building has been built, no more can be added to the foundation. So, the question must be asked, how do these so-called “apostles” become part of the foundation?
Further, the Book of Acts (1:21,22) clearly states that to be an apostle the person had to be with the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry and must have witnessed His resurrection. Not one of the former 264 popes, or the presiding pope, could possibly meet the Scriptural qualifications to become an apostle. So, the dogma of “apostolic succession” is completely without any Scriptural support.
If the Scriptural contradictions to this dogma do not convince you, then maybe the many dogmatic rules that have changed over the centuries will cause you to explore the validity of any addition to God’s revealed word. In contrast, not one word spoken by any of the Apostles in Scripture has ever been revoked. What Paul, Peter, Matthew, and John wrote in Scripture still stands as irrevocable.
The most puzzling issue when it comes to popes is their luxurious lifestyle. How could someone who resides in a palace, has his own helicopter and plane, and dines lavishly every day ever purport to be Christ’s representative on earth? Speaking of Himself Christ said, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Luke 9:58)
Popes claim a succession from Peter the apostle. This would assume that Peter was the chief apostle. No such indication is given anywhere in Scripture. During Christ’s ministry, Peter was often found to be at odds with the Lord. And although he claimed that he was willing to die with Christ just mere hours before His crucifixion, he denied even knowing Him three times in as much time.
If Peter was the chief apostle, how is it possible that Paul had to reprimand him publicly? Consider this statement by Paul in Galatians 2:9, “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me…” Peter was often referred to as Cephas in the New Testament. Notice that James is mentioned before Peter and Paul uses the phrase “seemed to be pillars.” It certainly wasn’t clear to Paul that Peter was the chief apostle.
In the same chapter of Galatians, we learn that Paul had to rebuke Peter for his hypocrisy (verses 11 – 14). The truth is that none of the apostles held a position as chief among the rest of the apostles.
Some claim that since Peter was given the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven by the Lord Jesus that it was sort of a promotion for him. It’s true; Peter was the one who opened the Kingdom to the Jews first (Acts 2) and a bit later to the gentiles (Acts 10). Since then, however, the Kingdom has been wide open to all who put their trust in Jesus Christ that He paid the full penalty for their sins.
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ has no hierarchy. Christ is the head of His church and needs no created being to be His vicar on earth. The Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit directs the affairs of Christ’s church on earth. The church is referred to in Scripture as the Body of Christ. Like the human body, no one member rules over any other member.
“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1Corinthians 12:12)
Even a cursory review of Catholic Church history will reveal the many abuses and scandalous behavior of some of the popes, not to mention the persecution of millions of Christians who did not agree with their doctrines. I could enumerate these scandals here, but such is not the purpose of this article.
It’s nothing but sheer arrogance to think that any human being can represent God on this earth. Christ’s disciples are called to do His bidding on earth, but no one will ever share His preeminence on earth or in Heaven. To think otherwise is blasphemy.
Some allege that Catholics do not worship the Pope. If so, then why must people kneel before him and kiss his ring? Peter would not allow Cornelius to worship him (Acts 10:25) and John was prohibited from worshiping an angel in Heaven (Revelation 22:8). If the so-called first Pope would not allow such behavior, why do his “successors” allow it?
Satan is the master of distraction and lies and has been very successful in keeping well-meaning Catholics from properly worshiping the Lord Jesus and the Father only. Peter knew this, as did the angelic being John met in Heaven. No one needs a theological degree to understand the plain truth of Scripture.
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