Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jesus and the Church Pt. 2

In yesterday's post we explored whether or not Jesus founded a church. The overwhelming Scriptural evidence would seem to show He did in fact do so. He did so seemingly to prevent said church from falling victim to error. Today let's investigate which church this is. We will also look at some of those longstanding myths regarding the founding of the Catholic church.

Of all the Christian churches only the Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic church say that they were founded by Jesus Christ. Both churches lay solid claim to their apostolic succession. However, as we saw yesterday Jesus said He would found his church on Peter. Since the Orthodox churches deny that simple aspect they must not be the True Church.

As an interesting aside having never attended Protestant worship services I have only secondhand testimony, but they either change the words of the Creed (We believe in One, Holy, Catholic...) to small c Catholic or Christian. Interesting dance to have to do, with words that are 1500-plus years old.

So does Jesus desire that his flock should all be one in the church He founded?

Well the most obvious answer to this question in my mind comes from John's Gospel, in Jesus's high priestly prayer. In John 17: 11, 20, Jesus asks God to grant the apostles the unity that He and the Father share. In verse 20 we see Jesus acknowledging that He isn't merely praying for the Eleven (Judas was already lost at this point). He is praying for all of the people who would believe in Him because of their testimony.

Christ desires one flock. As the Good Shepherd He reminds us in John 10:14 that He knows His flock and His flock know him.

Now Peter had been set apart; he is always listed as the first of the Apostles; mentioned more times by name than all the other Apostles combined; and given the command by Christ to tend His sheep (John 21:15-17). Since Christ is the Good Shepherd and Peter is His Prime Minister, Christ sought an Earthly shepherd to guide His flock, knowing He would return to the Father soon.

The early church recognized the Primacy of Peter and those who succeeded him. The church at Corinth sent a letter to Clement seeking his help in regard to some bishops that had been deposed. Now St. John was still alive and was right down the road in Ephesus, but the Corinthians sought the help of the man sitting in the Chair of St. Peter.

Many of the Early Church Father's put down lists of the successor's of Peter, often in an attempt to show that the current pope's decrees where valid and holy since he currently occupied the Cathedra.

St. Irenaeus in Against Heresies written in 180 AD described not just apostolic succession but the line of bishops succeeding from Peter in Rome. Now Irenaeus was a bishop himself, but he didn't try and show his line to be the most important he bowed to Rome.

The blessed apostles [Peter and Paul], then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric....

To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.

But where do we see Scriptural evidence for this succession. In many places, It starts just after Christ's Ascension. Acts 1:20 shows St. Peter declaring that another person should take Judas's bishopric. In the following verses we see the Apostles pray and the lot falls to Matthias, "Who was counted with the eleven."

We also see St. Paul telling Timothy to appoint faithful men to follow after him (2 Tim. 2:2). So we see apostolic succession in history and Scripture. 

Now mind you someone has probably trotted out some whopper like Constantine and a bunch of money grubbing power hungry people founded the Catholic Church as a way to consolidate power/money, etc. 

After you finish laughing send them here, or here. 

So there you have it. Christ founded a church on Earth one that we can follow from its current Earthly leader, Pope Benedict XVI, to its founder Jesus Christ in circa AD 33. Jesus seeks for us all to be one as He and the Father are one (Jn. 17:11). 

Now the answer to our two part question: Did Jesus found a Church? Yes, The Roman Catholic Church. Does He desire His flock shall all be visibly in that church? Yes again. (Jn. 17, Mt. 10:40, Lk. 10:16). 

So whose flock are you in? 

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