Wayne: Well, it seems that you have a lot of questions for me John. Since I am just a person who reads on my own under the instruction of the Holy Spirit, and haven’t been taught by a specific church type or school, it takes me time and effort to answer in a way that is acceptable to you. However I will try. I only hope that you will not reject what I share simply because I am not Catholic.
J. Salza: Wayne, I appreciate the dialogue and welcome your thoughts.
Wayne: Dealing with the issue of which scripture is referred to in Timothy 3:16. It is safe to trust any of the scripture referred to by Christ. You must first believe that the Gospels are true to begin with, and I do. The scripture written by prophets, especially those who foretold Christ’s coming can be trusted. The writings of Moses are trustworthy. Any writings that disagree with what is known to be true cannot be trusted. I know this subject goes much deeper, but I would need to write you an entire book to really detail every way of testing the authenticity of scripture. I hope my short answer is acceptable to you.
J. Salza: When you say “it is safe to trust Scripture” and “we must believe in the Gospels,” you are necessarily basing your beliefs on a tradition outside of Scripture. That is because Scripture is not self-authenticating. You would not know the Scriptures were inspired unless someone first told you that they were. Relying on a source outside of Scripture to demonstrate the truth of Scripture undermines sola Scriptura. Since you evidently have enough knowledge to “write an entire book” on testing the authenticity of Scripture, you will surely admit that you must also rely upon the apostolic Tradition to discern what Scripture is and what Scripture means. Yet you would deny following any tradition other than the Bible (which is, itself, a tradition of the Catholic Church).
Wayne: In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus meant exactly what he said. Simon knew who Jesus was, so Jesus named him Peter and used him to build His Church. Peter had that solid foundation of faith needed for salvation, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against people who have that same faith Peter had.
J. Salza: Yes, Jesus meant what He said when He promised to build His Church upon Peter, give him the keys to the kingdom, and the authority to teach infallibly (bind and loose). I wish Protestants would take Jesus’ words at face value. While Peter did have “that solid foundation of faith,” Jesus builds His Church upon the person of Peter, not just His faith. In fact, Peter’s faith has nothing to do with Jesus renaming Simon and giving him the keys and the binding and loosing authority. Instead, Jesus does this because Peter demonstrated the ability to receive a divine revelation from the Father and communicate it without error. This is the basis for the Church’s teaching on papal infallibility.
Wayne: Those people are Christ’s, and I believe are of the true Church. Peter was in no way a perfect man, not even in faith, but he held the key to salvation…faith that Jesus is the Messiah. Just to clarify on Peter’s shortcomings: Matthew 14:28-31, 26:33-35, 26:69-75. Mark 14 and Luke 22 also record these. I am no way putting down Peter, and I know his faith makes mine look pretty pathetic. I just wanted to maintain perspective on who Peter was, though I do think those failures must have taught him how to become a better disciple.
J. Salza: Peter’s shortcomings, whatever they were, have nothing to do with his authority to lead the Church. Notwithstanding Peter’s shortcomings, Jesus never divests Peter of the authority He granted to him in Matt. 16:18-19. Even after Peter denied our Lord and repented, Jesus affirmed that Peter was the chief shepherd of the Church (John 21:15-17). The very fact that God can choose weak men to lead the Church underscores that the papacy is a divine appointment, and that the power conferred to the pope comes from God alone.
Wayne: Regarding the binding and the loosing. Jesus also gave that authority to all of His disciples, not only Peter. Read Matthew 18:18. By the way, Matthew 16:19 seems to read that the keys to the kingdom of heaven are what allows the binding and loosing. I’m sorry I don’t remember more, but I am sure I read something more on that subject in one of the letter’s Paul wrote. You might know where to look.
J. Salza: While Jesus gave the other apostles the authority to bind and loose, He only gave Peter the keys. This is important because the binding and loosing authority, as you correctly point out, comes only from the keys. The keys “open and shut” (Isaiah 22), which is another way to say “bind and loose.” This means that the apostles’ authority to bind and loose is derived from Peter’s authority, and doesn’t exist independently of Peter’s authority. The apostles share in this authority collectively, but not individually. That is why Jesus doesn’t mention any of the apostles’ names in Matthew 18, like He does with Peter in Matthew 16. This means that there is one person in charge of Jesus’ Church, and that is the person with the keys.
Wayne: In Matthew 18:15-18 Jesus is speaking about situations where your brother trespasses against you and how to deal with it. He is not saying the church is the final authority on ALL things. God is the final authority on ALL things, and I certainly hope we can agree on that. How do we know God’s judgments if not from scripture? Remember Matthew 5:17-19 where Jesus tells us it is good to teach from the law and the prophets.
J. Salza: Actually, Jesus does say in Matthew 18:15-18 that the Church is the final authority. Jesus says “take him to the Church” to resolve the issue. What Church? The Church that Jesus builds upon the rock of Peter. Jesus uses the same word (Greek, ecclesia) in Matthew 18 as He does in Matthew 16, the only two times Jesus uses the word ecclesia. Jesus doesn’t say “take him to the Scriptures.” Of course, God is the final authority, but He has invested the Church with His authority, by conferring the keys of authority to Peter. By requiring us to “take him to the Church,” Jesus must have intended a visible, hierarchical body that can render doctrinal and disciplinary judgments. He could not have meant thousands of differing factions and splintered sects. Otherwise, His directive would not make any sense.
Wayne: I hope that helps to also answer your question regarding where in scripture it says a true disciple is led by scripture. If not, just read any of the Gospels and you will note that Jesus uses scripture often…even as he was being tempted by satan. In Luke 6:40 I believe that Jesus wants me to be more like Him, and I know from His own words that I should learn from the scriptures.
J. Salza: Just because Jesus uses Scripture at times does not mean that Scripture is the only authority for Christians. In fact, Jesus never commanded any of His apostles to write anything down, and only five of the original apostles chose to write. Does this mean the other apostles were less obedient, or have less to say about Jesus? I don’t think so. Further, when Jesus was tempted in Matt. 4:1-11, He was not giving a definitive teaching on the formal sufficiency of Scripture. He was resisting temptation. The fact that the devil incorrectly interprets Psalm 91:11-12 in his efforts to tempt Jesus demonstrate that we need a properly appointed authority to interpret the Scriptures for us.
Wayne: John, I am deeply troubled at your mention of “our new Holy Father” and “the early fathers”. Just the fact that the Catholic church teaches people to call someone father (or even more, Holy Father) other than God leads me to think “the early fathers” did have it all wrong. As “a 21st century Westerner” I have freedom from any particular church influence. This is not to say that makes me right or wrong about anything. But if someone claims to be of God yet teaches things contrary to what God Himself taught us while he walked among us, I would have to steer clear of their teachings and cling to Christ’s. Christ said “And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9). Actually it may be good to read Matthew 23:5-10 to put that into context. Also, no man is Holy. Can a man even be good? Mat 19:17 “…Why callest thou me good?[there is] none good but one, [that is], God…”
J. Salza: This is another example of eisegesis (trying to impose your will on the text instead of reading it in the proper context). In the previous verse, Jesus says not to call any man “teacher.” Don’t you call your teachers “teacher”? Do you ever call your dad “father”? If we are not to call any man father, then how come Paul calls himself a “father” (1 Cor. 4:15)? How come John calls the priests of the Church “father”? I devote several pages to this issue in The Biblical Basis for the Catholic Faith (pp. 118-120), where I show quote after quote by holy people in the New Testament calling spiritual leaders “father.” Jesus also says “call no man good,” but Jesus himself says “the good man out of his good treasure…” (Mt 12:35).
Wayne: I hate to continue in circles with you regarding your Catholic interpretation of what “Church” means, so I won’t. I have no pre-conceived understanding of Church other than before I was born again I thought a church was a building. I know I am saved by God’s grace through faith in what Christ did for me by dying on the cross and being risen again. I know God loves us. Take care John. No need to respond.
Lovingly, in Jesus.
J. Salza: Wayne, here are some brief thoughts:
1. Scripture is not self-authenticating, which is what you are assuming. If it were, then the canon of Scripture would have been settled right away. The fact is, the Church debated it for four centuries. Why? Because it is not self-authenticating. Even after Pope Damasus determined the canon, some in the Church questioned it. The Council of Trent put this to bed by elevating the Church’s teaching on the canon to a dogmatic teaching. This is a teaching that you accept, and it was rendered by the Catholic Church.
2. The office of the papacy does not mean the pope is impeccable. He sins just like every one else. The office that Jesus created deals with the authority to hand on what Jesus gave us, without error. If you study the significance of the “keys” (e.g. Isaiah 22:15-22), you learn that in the Davidic kingdom, the king gave the “keys” to his chief steward, who would rule the kingdom while the king was away. Just as God did with Eliakim, so Jesus does with Peter. He gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven (the Church), to rule over the Church while Jesus is in heaven. Once Jesus returns, He will reclaim the keys. In the meantime, Peter is invested with the very authority of the King, Jesus Christ.
3. The main difference between Catholics and non-Catholics is that Catholics accept Tradition and know they do, and non-Catholics accept Tradition, but don’t know they do. You accept the canon of Scripture. You accept that abortion is a moral evil. You accept that a man and a woman must give each other consent in order for theirs to be a valid marriage. You accept that God is one in three persons, etc. But none of these things are expressly stated in Scripture. These teachings came down from the apostles, through the Catholic Church. You accept all of them, even though they are not in Scripture. Why? Because you accept apostolic tradition as well.
So you need to discern the difference between extra-biblical, and anti-biblical. There is nothing anti-biblical about any Catholic teaching, which would be impossible because the Church came before the Bible, and is the servant of Scripture and Tradition.
Wayne: You assume much John, about me, about what I believe, and about what scripture says. The truth is that every word of scripture came before the Catholic church was formed. I explained before that if Christ, being God, taught from a particular scripture we can be sure it is true. It seems any good words I shared with you were either not noticed or just cast aside.
J. Salza: Wayne, you continue to be plagued by your own presuppositions.
1. You say “Scripture came before the Catholic Church was formed.” You should have said every Scripture was written, copied, translated, handed down, preserved and canonized by the Catholic Church (which proves the Church – not the Scriptures – came first). Where do you really think the Bible came from? Paint me an historical picture. You, like many Protestants of your “tradition,” simply ignore historical facts and treat the Bible as if it fell from the sky. That is simply ridiculous. The Bible came from the Catholic Church. The Church was born on Pentecost Sunday, and not a word of New Testament Scripture was written until at least ten years later. I challenge you, right now, to provide me any piece of evidence that refutes this claim. If you do, you win. If you don’t, then our discussion is over.
Wayne: Peter is not the “ruler” over the kingdom of heaven (the Church). That is what you said isn’t it? or am I misreading your words…they seem clear to me but I just want to be sure I am reading your words correctly. Christ is the head and the ruler over each and every one of His children, not Peter. We are to pick up the cross and follow Jesus, that is what Peter did. We need to learn from what Christ taught. We can know if a man speaks truth by comparing his words to the words of Christ, not the other way around.
J. Salza: If Peter is not the “ruler,” then why did Jesus tell Peter to “rule” over the sheep? See Jn 21:15-17. You see, Jesus uses the Greek verb form from the word “poimaine” which means to “to rule.” It is exactly the same word used three times in the Apocalypse to describe Jesus’ “rule” over the rebellious nations. Once again, you fail to recognize the plain meaning of these texts.
Wayne: I’m glad you know the pope is not impeccable, but why then do Catholic teachings call him “Holy”? Why does the pope, if he is a man of God, accept praise from men? Why does the pope adorn himself the way he does if he is following Christ? Christ did not do these things and neither did Peter.
J. Salza: Can people be holy? The answer is yes. So why can’t we call the pope holy? Are you his judge? Are you the arbiter for what is holy and what isn’t? And what is wrong with the pope’s attire? Didn’t Solomon adorn himself while he sat on the “throne of the kingdom of the Lord?” Didn’t David? Didn’t all the Davidic kings in the Davidic kingdom, which Jesus came to fulfill? Didn’t the Lord command Solomon to build an ornate Temple to give glory to God? Didn’t Jesus, the son of Solomon, come to fulfill this kingdom in the Holy Catholic Church?
Wayne: Your conclusions in part 3 of your thoughts are inaccurate. Marriage and murder are both defined in scripture. Why do you lump the laws of God into the category of tradition? Jesus taught that loving God with all your being (Mat 22:37) is the important thing and if He ever spoke of tradition (Mat 15, Mar 7) it was to point out how hypocritical men who love tradition had become. That is a warning from God Himself regarding the tendency of mankind to honor tradition instead of God. It may be better not to teach tradition as part of our walk with God since men often substitute or confuse a real relationship pleasing to God with rituals and traditions.
J. Salza: But Wayne, the Bible makes a distinction between the traditions of men (Mt 15:3-6; Mk 7:8-9) and the Tradition of God (2 Thess 2:15; 3:6). When Jesus condemned the tradition of the Pharisees, he was referring to those traditions that they made up to nullify the word of God (in this case, using the Corban rule to avoid taking care of their parents). When Paul commands us to obey tradition, are you saying that Paul is wrong? This obviously demonstrates that the Bible is talking about two kinds of tradition.
Wayne: “The main difference between Catholics and non-Catholics” is too broad a statement. I am a believer in Christ and I don’t practice any “tradition” except to remember what Jesus did for us on the cross. The only tradition that I can remember Jesus teaching His disciples was the breaking of bread in remembrance of what He did for us. Col 2:6-10 “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:”
J. Salza: If you believe in the Bible, then you in fact believe in a tradition. The Bible is part of the written apostolic tradition. But Paul told us that we have to hold on to the oral apostolic tradition as well (2 Thess 2:15). You refer to the “breaking of the bread” as the “only tradition” you follow. First, this cannot be true since you follow other Catholic, apostolic traditions such as your belief in the canon of Scripture, the the nature of the Trinity, the hypostatic union, and others which are not found in Scripture. Second, if you believe in the tradition of the “breaking of the bread,” then you believe that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ, since that is what the Fathers handed down to us. If you don’t believe that, then you don’t believe in the apostolic tradition. You believe in another “tradition” that came from somewhere else.
Many people are either too proud to admit that they follow Tradition, or are ignorant that they actually do. How do you know what books belong in the Bible? How do you know in-vitro fertilization is morally wrong? How do you know what constitutes consent in order to have a valid marriage? Please answer EACH of these questions for me. If you cannot do so expressly using Scripture, then you are following Tradition.