The Case for Republican Ecclesiology

My friend Stephen Klugewicz has a post on the virtues of republicanism and the dangers of strong executives that has me wondering about what the laws of nature teach about the polity of the church. He writes:

The figure of Brutus—the assassin of the tyrant— cast a long shadow over American history. “Brutus” became the pseudonym of one of the most famous Antifederalist authors (probably Robert Yates of New York), who wrote essays in opposition to the proposed Constitution of 1787, which he believed dangerously consolidated power in the central government. In setting up their own republic, the American Founders looked to the Roman Republic as a model for what they should be and to the Roman Empire embodied by Caesar as a portent of what they feared the republic could become. Americans feared that liberty was fragile and that the republic could be undone by the ambition of one man.

The Framers of the American Constitution were indeed wary of the rise of a Caesar —after all, King George III was in their minds—and designed the presidency with great care in an effort to prevent any abuse of executive power. Under the Articles of Confederation, there had been no executive, no judicial branch. The government consisted of a unicameral legislature, which lacked, among other powers, the authority to tax either the people directly or the states. All that the Congress could do was request money from the states. It was the perceived weakness of this government that sparked the call for the Philadelphia convention of 1787.

Ironically, the title of the post is “The American Republic and the Long Shadow of Rome.” This is ironic because when Americans of the founding generation thought of Rome they did not merely think of Cato or Caesar or Brutus. They also thought about Boniface VIII or Clement VII. And when they thought of the Roman pontiffs, the sacred kind, they were not thinking of republicanism. For what the papacy represented to most Americans — all the way down to Vatican II — was not republicanism but monarchicalism of the most absolute kind, as in God’s vicegerent on earth (who delegates the civil sword to the magistrate).

The irony grows when you consider the reasons Klugewicz offers for fearing a strong executive in the form of one man:

In setting up their own republic, the American Founders looked to the Roman Republic as a model for what they should be and to the Roman Empire embodied by Caesar as a portent of what they feared the republic could become. Americans feared that liberty was fragile and that the republic could be undone by the ambition of one man.

(He also mentions that republican virtues included frugality, honesty, and humility. “To indulge in luxury and ‘baubles’ was seen to be effeminate, the opposite of being republican. Patriot leader Samuel Adams, the archetypal ‘old republican’ who made it a point to dress simply, pined for the creation of a “Christian Sparta” on the American continent.”)

The American founders were suspicious of Roman Catholicism in part for precisely the reasons that informed republicanism, namely, the danger of too much power in one officer’s hands.

In the ecclesiastical realm, objections to monarchical structures generated conciliarist efforts to reign in papal supremacy, reforms that the Protestant Reformers would later invoke. The logic seemed to be the same in both cases — beware the centralization of power in one executive. Lord Acton gave this outlook a slogan when he, a Roman Catholic in England, said in response to the claims of papal infallibility, “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Of course, the Roman Catholic answer to ecclesiastical republicanism, I suppose, is that the charism of the papacy makes all the difference. Absolute power in the hands of one man is conceivably benign when bestowed and preserved by the third person of the Trinity.

Even so, Roman Catholic teaching of late (at least) suggests that the doctrine of charmism can be reconciled with ecclesiastical republicanism. For instance, the Callers observe that when bishops speak as a whole they have the charism of are infallibility. Another points out that the charism of infallibility extends to the entire people of God. “The Charism of infallibility belongs not uniquely to the Bishop of Rome, but to the Church. This includes the Pope, the Bishops, and the faithful.”

If the charism is not reserved to the pope but extends throughout the church, then a republican ecclesiology, one that places checks and balances on the executive branch, would seem to be possible even for the Roman Catholic Church. Without it, the divergence between celebrating the infallible papacy and decrying the imperial presidency hearkens back to the dissonance that Roman Catholics in the U.S. once experienced when the papacy was not enthusiastic about republican governments.

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  1. mark mcculley
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    How can a congregation have political unity without one educated clergyman known as ” the senior pastor”? In many congregations, we have not only the myth of denominational unity but also the myth of the subjection of this “senior pastor” to the elders? And I don’t mean only the celebrity senior pastors….

    How can we have “unity” without THE MAN? Peter Leithart explains: “Constantine saw God as a God of battles, and was eager to please Him partly because he wanted to keep winning battles. Constantine wanted the church unified so that God would be pleased and keep the empire safe and unified. It seems likely, then, then when he revised the penal code, for instance, he also did so with some thought to whether his actions would please the God on whose favor Rome’s peace depended.”

  2. Posted April 5, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Darryl, I think this will be a very productive line of inquiry. At least insofar as people are willing to dig in and understand what was going on. It seems to me that, even in ancient Rome, there were “two kingdoms”, or at least, these same two separate impulses. One was to preserve the Republic, to exclude a single individual coming to power; the second was Augustan (not Augustinian), the notion of Augustus as savior of the Republic which led eventually to “the civic cult” and the worship of state and emperor.

  3. mark mcculley
    Posted April 5, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    the chaplains defend the narrative
    thank god for constantine
    and all those who kill to make it possible for us to worship
    in peace

    the clergy cost but they comfort us
    with a meta-narrative about the one pope
    for all times and all places,.
    explaining that sectarians are atheists posing as protestants

    Leithart (page 333): “The Creator made man to participate in and prosecute His wars.” How could we possibly think that what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount was for all Christians in all places and for all times? We know that church history is not an empty parenthesis, and so we know that Augustine’s version of “Just War” was one and the same as the politics of Jesus.

  4. MichaelTX
    Posted April 5, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Mr. Hart,
    I’m new to your blog. Thanks.
    It seem that your assessment might be correct in the recognition of truths by God’s people, with regards to a Roman Catholic understanding, yet this only is functional when there is unanimity in the proposition. Otherwise there is no principle way of recognizing schism or departure from the absoluteness fullness of the Truth which God reveals and wishes to be know. Like in America the President is there for the good of the people, or at least should be; so also in the Church. The Pastor is a necessary good, whether acting on the truth of God or recognizing it in the Church else where.
    Blessings and peace to you.

  5. Posted April 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    MichaelTX, what happens when popes don’t agree?

  6. MichaelTX
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Depends. Not being sharp, but what happens when Peter and Paul disagree. Could you site an example if you would like to go into it, please? I’m no historian but love to find out when I am wrong. It happens all the time. God is good and always glories in the truth.

  7. MichaelTX
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Scripturally, what I see Paul do is use Peter’s universal teaching to correct him on his individual practice. He was presenting one teaching while he had proclaimed another to the Church. Do you somewhat see what I am saying?

  8. AB
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    So Scripture instructs the church. Trent should’t have erred if it followed Scripture…

  9. MichaelTX
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Hey AB,
    Of course scripture instructs the Church. God’s people wouldn’t be God’s people if they ignored His word. Jesus said, “You err not knowing the scripture, nor the power of God.” Our Lord instructs His people with His word. Yet the scriptures were used by many against Jesus as they have been used against His mystical body, the Church, through the ages. Jesus interpreted scripture against the views of some contemporaries while for being for other and also at times transcending common understands completely. Nothing has changed He does the same today. He calls and His people follow his voice. That is what the apostles did and they were sent to do the same as He. That is what we are called to do. Some accept them some reject them some riducule them some martyr them. That is the calling of the Christian. “Lay down your life…” “Pick up your cross…” “Preach the cross…” “Proclaim the good news…” “Love one another as I have loved you.” Only the crucified one rises and we rise only with Him and in Him.
    Peace AB

  10. AB
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    TX. The ecclesia reformata et semper reformanda

  11. MichaelTX
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Agreed indeed AB,
    Reformed, yet not rejected. Only one lump of clay. “Love one another as I have loved you.” I am called continually to reform my heart, yet never to leave my family to be a better man. We seem to be taking over Hart’s blog. Email me if you want to go private. Though I don’t mind if Hart doesn’t. I’m the newbie around here.

  12. AB
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    MichaelTX:scripturally, what I see Paul do is use Peter’s universal teaching to correct him on his individual practice. He was presenting one teaching while he had proclaimed another to individual practice. He was presenting one teaching while he had proclaimed another to the Church. Do you somewhat see what I am saying?

    AB: Can you explain further?

  13. AB
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    My sense, is that DGH’s question is more troubling to the RC position of the church’s infallibility than it may at first appear. If Popes disagree, who decides? If Francis does something that goes against what Benedict set down, and traditionalist Catholics decry the move, are not reformed protestants thinking, “hmm, well, traditionalists, if you just admit that synods and councils do err, you now have moved away from Rome’s teaching to a Protestant position.” My two sense, only.

  14. MichaelTX
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I understand how it could seem that way. Popes are men and all men are different and come at things from different angles. But the goal of each man is to identify and behold the truth of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to illuminate the world with that light. Each pope, like each man, has shone the truth of Christ to the world in different ways, some better than others. Many of the popes like Benedict XVI are not and have not been called to be part of proclaiming a dogma of the Faith, only a few have. It is the Church who proclaims Christ and the dogmas of our Faith. The popes just happen to be part of the Church. Most dogmas of the Faith have been proclaimed ages and ages before Benedict or Francis came to the scene, and that will never change. I know that doesn’t full close in your question but it gives a context to comprehend the Catholic place of thinking about it.

    Concerning Peter and Paul, my point is that both Peter and Paul were apostles and had to be accepted as Christ was accepted. “He who accepts you accepts Me, and he who accepts Me accepts the One who sent Me.” Though this was not spoken by Christ per se over Paul, but to the Apostles collectively and individually to Peter. As an Apostle it applies, to Paul. Accepting them is accepting Christ. So, when it seemed to the view of Paul that Peter was presenting a false view of Christ’s truth, the only Truth mind you, Paul went to him as a beloved brother for a good correcting. Paul knew accepting Peter as a brother is part of accepting Christ. Nothing saying a faithful Christian can’t do as Paul did today. But if Paul just decides Peter had it wrong and hopelessly discounts him I don’t think the early Christians would have proclaimed the Gospel of Christ to the world as they did. We need Peter and Paul. It was Peter who was made the fisher of men. Paul was with him by choice and I believe it to have been a Godly and providential choice. Paul when to his brother and corrected him as a brother. Paul also recognized Peter part in the Church’s work. I believe the choice presented to Paul still comes to us, because Christ is still with us as He was with Peter and Paul.
    Hope that helps some AB.
    Peace, Mike

  15. AB
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Thanks, TX. Except Peter and Paul were not Popes.

  16. sean
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink


    That’s the problem with the traditionalist’s in Rome. They actually try to defend a standard that all the BEST RC theologians and historians have been running away from for at least 50 years. Is there any real credibility of a position that requires Kantian notions of truth in order to reconcile one extra-canonical document with another? Really!? This is what you’re selling; my supernatural faith in Jesus Christ needs to expand to encompass belief in not a, but THE visible magisterium who either by council or papal bull can exercise infallible interpretation of faith and morals?! When they so decide and increasingly, as this post alludes to, at the whim of the pope who can “rewrite the conditions” as he’s “moved”. As Vat II cradles, we never tried to defend this ground. As a bible believing protestant, it’s laughable. And of course, if you push beyond the initial assertion, they don’t try to defend it on canonical grounds but a gnostic extra-canonical tradition which only they can interpret rightly much less infallibly. Jim Jones would’ve liked this gig. It starts to breath the same air as Pat Robertson’s “words of knowledge”. Which btw, was the both the height of embarrassment as roman christians and one of the ways we pushed back against protestants; “your faith consists of guys like Pat Robertson and Oral Roberts. We prefer to engage our minds not check them at the door.” Now you have traditional protestants parsing and defending every action and word coming out of the pope’s mouth per twitter and social media and reconciling it to extra-canonical documents; like Vat II, which because of it’s pastoral intent was to be interpreted as a “living document”, a document malleable to a changing and modern environment but that infallibly. Incredible.

  17. sean
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    That should be; traditional roman catholics parsing and defending……………….

  18. AB
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Sean. Although my current ESV may not be verbatim the NIV of my youth, the same Gospel seems loud and clear now as it did back then. Catholics thinking I need their magiterium doesn’t really bother me, it just seems odd. We labor on.

  19. MichaelTX
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I hope you really don’t believe I checked my brain at the door of the Church. I am immensely sorry if it seems so. Though it definitely required my pride. I am but a man and weakly keep that in check, by God’s grace it was crushed. I pray he continues that work. Christ is our mutual king. Forgive me for my inadequacies, but please don’t heap me with every RC you have interacted with.
    Continual peace upon you friend,

  20. AB
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Don’t worry what I think, MTX. But rather what the Bible says. Until next time.

  21. MichaelTX
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I care how you and any person sees me, not because I am important but because the Christ who calls us to love our neighbors is. It is not my job to reflect me but the One who “Is.” I may be here to today and gone tomorrow, but He will never change.
    Just for understandings sake, Catholics don’t see the Pope as free to the whims of doctrine but bound to them. Christ was at once the one most free man there ever was and also completely bound to reflect the Father to us even to the point of death. One faith, one hope, one Love.
    Peace ’til next time, AB

  22. MichaelTX
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    P.S. Just so there is no misunderstanding I don’t see the Pope as God the Father, or a perfect reflection of Him.

  23. MichaelTX
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    You might also consider the fact that Jim Jones, Pat Robertson, and Oral Roberts all fall in the category of teaching heresies against the Faith of Christ, according to the Church. Therefor are consider by a Catholic false sheppards, as I think you would concur. I’m no traditionalist I’m a follower of Christ and all He has taught me so far and by His grace I will continue this path.
    May your journey with Him bless you and strengthen you continually, Mike

  24. sean
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Michael, same. I would encourage you to stay in the scriptures, and be willing to look far and wide in scripture to find the establishment of not only an Italian sect as preeminent, but also a medieval one. Tridentine RC is a peculiarly medieval development and gets much of it’s dogma not positively established from scripture but in polemical response to those who challenged her authority at the time.

  25. MichaelTX
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Thanks sean,
    May the God of the scriptures feed us both. It’s scriptures that lead me to the Catholic Church. I’m a recent struggler with the Church. I’m not trying to be polemical, but post-Nicene Arians would have said the same thing about the Nicene Church.

  26. MichaelTX
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart,
    If you are not able to put together something on the Pope’s “dogmatic” disagreements you have spoken of, I understand you may be busy, could you shoot me a link to look over. Like I said finding out I’m wrong is a good thing. I know there are a few close calls, like the excommunication of Athanasius and the allowing of a creed that didn’t explicitly condemn Arianism. Of course that was all under the fear of death and He is the first pope in the history of the Church who the Church has not considered a saint. I don’t see the cowardice of not proclaiming the truth as the same as speaking heresy. Nothing saying a bishop of Rome can’t be a coward. I don’t fear “what ifs” when a promise of the Holy Spirit is involved.
    Peace, Mike

  27. MichaelTX
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Pre-Pope Liberius popes that is. Just being clear.

  28. Posted April 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Michael, not to be evasive, but why ask only about dogmatic disagreements? I understand that infallibility only extends to certain statements. But why be so timid about papal authority if it solves the Protestant problem of opinion? Also, how much dogma were popes actually responsible for? This is a catch-me-if-you-can question. But if you look beyond, how many post Vatican II popes would agree with the Syllabus of Errors? Why not?

  29. MichaelTX
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Understandable, but it seems other wise we call for more than a Catholic believes a pope’s role to be. Staying on the narrow path of not falling into heresy seems to be the primary concern. This seems to be what the role has been used for in the universal Church. The unity of the Faith and the protection of what is against it. But I am willing to hear what you have to say either way.
    Thanks Mike

  30. sean
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    No offense, but who cares if popes made dogmatic errors? I still can’t find the footing for apostolic succession, never mind tracking which schism was a schism and how do you quantify a “consensus of the fathers” without asking the romish magisterium to invalidate itself, talk about a question beggar. We have enough diversion from canon, now they want me to track the “inspired trail of bishops” through the early church? Yea because that’s possible, and avoids personal judgement, and manages to read history in non-tridentine non-anachronistic way, but assuming continuity and coherence. But it’s not QIRC. I know, I know, I’m a skeptic.

  31. sean
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Michael, I’m not addressing you btw. It’s my ongoing rehashing of why I became a protestant. It’s Darryl’s fault. The rehashing bit.

  32. Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Michael, but popes have claimed to be God’s vicegerent on earth with power that transcends all temporal power. In other words, popes claim universal and infallible (and in some cases unlimited power — their constant speaking about non-religious issues echoes those older universal claims). And yet you want me to believe the pope’s power is clearly defined and his infallibility is narrow. There is a kind of schizophrenia in this pope-as-grand-poobah and pope-as-little-old-OPC.

  33. Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Sean, I’d love to take credit for your conversion. I’d start a website.

  34. sean
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Darryl, only if the OPC declares this the year of ecumenism and your display of trophies is done in the spirit of ecumenical dialogue, charity, and humility. You know, a conversation that respects the imago dei conscience of others and seeks to heal the schism. Something akin to watching your home run shot.

  35. MichaelTX
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Its cool. I can understand. It takes a lot to grasp the Catholic vision. I am of the opinion that God has lead many people from the visible union of the Church that they may, in God own providential way, come to know his love for them. Personally I thought it was the stupidest thing God had ever lead me to try and understand. I’m confinded to go where the Spirit leads, but He is confined to nowhere. Anyway, peace to you. May the love of God and his truth draw you to Him continually.

  36. sean
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Michael, I’ll agree; it takes a lot. It’s more faith than I can muster, and I was cleansed of my original sin. My old profs are still holding out hope, they say I’m good where I’m at, and would I mind talking to some of my old classmates about loving Jesus.

  37. AB
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    What we blog-people call qirc, I used to call a Deut 29:29 moment. Learned that in Sunday school, guess which church..

  38. MichaelTX
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Guess I’m still a bit ignorant of some blog lingo. Can somebody enlighten the poor ignorant brother over here? I know Deut 29:29, but what is “qirc”?

  39. sean
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Michael, it’s the; Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty. QIRC

    R. Scott Clark coined the term in his book(at least that’s where I know it from) Recovering The Reformed Confession

  40. MichaelTX
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Cool, Thanks sean.

  41. Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I sense a lot of love and mutual understanding taking place here. Meanwhile on the other Old Life channel…

  42. AB
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m more of a g rated movie kinda guy. Gonna stick around here if you don’t mind. Milk and cookies only over here. That, and no comments longer than three lines of text. I struggle enough keeping up with mcheyne…

  43. MichaelTX
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t doped the thought. I’m just a bit of a ponderer and a looker. Hope to get back to it. Though it is odd to me if that were the, total view as you state it, what kind of power do you think Christ gave his Church. Is it not His kingdom being manifest on Earth as it is in Heaven?

  44. Posted April 10, 2013 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Michael, have you heard about the dangers of immanentizing the eschaton, that is, putting heaven on earth. Not to say that Rome may have a problem with this, given the nickname “eternal city.” But Abraham and all saints — yes, we are saints — are looking for a better country because Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world. But trying to build God’s kingdom on earth would account for a lot of the papacy’s worldliness through the years.

  45. MichaelTX
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    I get what you are saying but is this not what we are called to pray for in our world. I know the lines begin to get fine. Yet, is this not why we are called to spread the goodnews of reconciliation with God through Christ’s cross; The universal rule of Christ in the hearts and minds of all people empowered by the Holy Spirit to love as God has loved us, but not just this. Is this not what got the Apostle and early Christians slaughter by Roman persecutions: Kurios Iesous vs kurios caesar. You are absolutely right about the fact that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, if it was the His followers would spread it with the sword and blood shed. It is not. It is of a completely different order. I’m sure you are amazed by this like me, Hart. It comes as we are martyred by the sword while overcoming the world with the word of our testimony. It comes as husbands lay down their lives for the wives, and rulers for their people. It comes as the weak are lifted by the strong, the fool instructed by the wise and the wise learn from the fool, the greater serves the lesser, and we are know by our love. A love that suffers to the point of death. This is why our nation is in moral decay. This is what we are losing. God help us, sinners as we are. The world needs our love not our excuses. Christ promises the sinner power to love, by His indwelling Spirit. God forgive us that we forsake it. God’s kingdom is not of this world but it most definitely has been delivered to it and has begun in it. Is this not a major lesson of the resurrection? We can embrace our cross because through the cross comes the resurrection. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us.” Where the king is his kingdom is. What the king owns is of his kingdom. Show me where the Lord is not or what is not made of his hand. The King made Himself visible. His kingdom is here: the martyrs prove it. Those who die at the hands of secular society and religious rulers. And yes I include those martyred by Roman Catholic hands. God chose his visible people to crucify His beloved son and I have no problem with Him choosing the same for the faithful today. I know it sounds crazy, but that is the manifestation of the Kingdom. “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” If Christian don’t embrace this massage soon we’ll be lead away by the kingdoms of this world. Obedience to the point of death. “For unto this are you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps.” The meek will inherit the earth, but it will be because they suffer for the sake of Christ.

    If I thought for a moment that I could truly find a place to truly learn obedience without apostolic succession I would be all over it. I just can’t. As Martin Luther put it. ““My conscience is held captive by the Word of God. And to act against conscience is neither right nor safe.”

    “As the Father sent me so I send you.”
    “Those who receive you receive Me and those who receive Me receive the One who sent Me.”
    “And how shall they preach unless they be sent”
    ” they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”
    “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
    “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

    “I count also all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all, and count them to be filth, that I may gain Christ.”

    I know that really doesn’t get us anywhere DG Hart, but I hope you see my heart and that it is for Christ and His people, their salvation and His truth, at least of what I understand to be revealed to me. And God knows I love His Word. I know of all people how pitifully I live the call of God. Pray for me and I’ll pray for you and your ministry.
    Peace, Mike

    Sorry to break up the three liners AB.

  46. Posted April 11, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Michael, I would have hoped that you would trust Christ and His Spirit as much as you put your hope in apostolic succession. But the question you have avoided is whether the popes, who embodied that succession, were as concerned about otherworldliness as you. I am reading Owen Chadwick now on the 19th c. popes. Fascinating reading. But not a lot of spirituality there. My impression grows that the papacy’s chief religious contribution was maintaining its supremacy over all human affairs.

  47. Posted April 11, 2013 at 6:17 am | Permalink



    in the peach of Christ

  48. AB
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Three liners, AND your comments, Michael TX. Personal limitation.

  49. MichaelTX
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Morning Guys.

    I would have hoped you could see my heart in my words. If Christ and the Holy Spirit have no purpose nor call for the popes in the Church, to hell with them. I assume many have taken that road. Yet I am no mans judge. We all know who takes care of that for us. I see scripturally that succession, ordination, the priesthood, guidance by the Spirit to lead to all revealed truth,and a special role for Peter is in the Word, so “my conscience is held captive by the Word of God.” Otherwise, I seem to really like you guy’s in the OPC. No reason we couldn’t have enjoy life together, we just have something we see different. I believe in time /god we lead us together, but only as we love and trust our Lord and seek His truth with humility. May we continue you speak the Truth in love. May we be what His Word says, the light of the world.
    Man, the Lord sure calls a lot of lump of dirt. But, I suppose when he looked out at nothing and said “let it be” it knew what it had to do.
    Peace fellows,

  50. sean
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Michael I’m curious, I’m familiar with the arguments made from scripture for Peter as “unique” in his role in the church after pentecost. I don’t find them particularly compelling, but that’s not my question for you. When Rome talks about apostolic succession, particularly as regards a Tridentine type of bishopric, she’s almost exclusively referencing extra canonical and historical considerations. Where do you see in the scriptures Tridentine RC?

  51. Posted April 11, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    While the RCC accepts on faith that they are “The church that Christ founded”, Reformed theology starts with the question, if Christ founded a church, what should it look like based on Scripture? Upside-down paradigms.

  52. MichaelTX
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    It just seems to be what I see happening in the scriptures and what gets done in the pre-Tridentine Church, so I see no rupture just clarification and proclamation. Did I see before I started studying it? No. I find it in I & II Timothy, Titus, and Acts fulfilling the commands and promises of Christ in the Gospels. It just seems to be the air breathed by the early Christians. It seems who love for one another functions and how the Church has always been able to come together as one family to resolve disputes and protect the “Faith once for all delivered to the saints.” Error has always been the reason the people of God have needed to clearly say what is believed by obedient Christians who believe in the guidance of the Holy Spirit whom vivifies the new temple, the mystical body of Christ(the Church). Without those whom are “sent” there is no unity in the Faith. Without the resurrected Christ’s commands and promises to the Apostles they had no right to do what they did and I just don’t see where the promises every change. “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” “He [the Holy Spirit] will lead you into all truth.” “He will not speak on His own, but will remind you of what I have said.” All these promises come to us not directly but by extension of the ones “sent”, and to separate from the ones “sent” is to be faithless toward those many promises. The Church is sent. We are sent. At the end of the liturgies of the Church there is a sending. “Ite missa est” is the Latin. Basically a “Go and tell” type of thing. This is where the Mass gets it name. We bear Christ to the world because we have received the living Word of God and now go to live that Word in the world, in word and deed. We can have faith in the active sustaining power of the living Christ in us because of that Word.
    I seem to be getting off your direct question and being this isn’t my blog I will shut it down there. I will recommend a couple of books that might be much better at laying out your question better than me. One is “The Roots of the Reformation’ the other is “The Spirit of Catholicism” both by Karl Adams. They both can the found free in text format at EWTN’s library linked below.

    Peace fellas, Enjoy the day, Mike

  53. sean
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Michael thanks. I keep reading from RC’s this same caricature of protestantism as essentially being sans officers and a visible manifestation, much less a belief in a visible church. It’s particularly odd being presbyterian and having offices of elders and deacons pulled straight out of the epistles you commend, not to mention the uniqueness of canonical authority in 2 Tim 3:16. I appreciate your candor in not being able to identify Tridentine RC in the scriptures or early church, either can I. I also appreciate your reliance on the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure how to tie all that into your commitment to what is still in form, despite the best efforts of Vatican II, a medieval institution and a church that elevates extra-canonical tradition on par with sacred text, and that without warrant from same sacred text to do so. Then assigns authoritative interpretation to a magisterium who oversees a deposit of faith that’s supposed to be the interpretive grid for the aforementioned sacred text, and yet we get a Tridentine RC that looks nothing like the sacred text it purports to safeguard and interpret. Granted there’s lots of things I don’t understand and so it’s no measure, but being as we’ve emphasized the inescapable binding of Imago dei conscience and seeing as protestantism, following Paul- think bereans and gal 1:8, points to perspicuity of sacred text, somebody’s got some ‘splaining to do. Furthermore, every time we head down this road, RC’s pull the ripcord and seek relief in Tradition as trumping/interpreting sacred text thus begging off the enterprise of justifying themselves solely per canonical authority, it leaves one like myself, who believes in ecclesiastical authority, to say nothing of apostolic authority, scratching his head and wondering; “is it really the protestants who are not submitting to rightful authority and unwilling to have their religious conscience conformed to and confirmed by apostolic authority.” Again if RC’s want to ground their authority in apostolic succession and that per discovery in early church history, which you and I both acknowledge looks nothing like Tridentine RC, it makes me question the integrity of the claim.

  54. Posted April 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Michael, I can see how the magisterium argues this way, but the New Testament is remarkably silent on the primacy of Peter. If you were to argue the primacy of Paul the New Testament case might make more sense, though Paul’s writings are amazingly silent about the primacy of any apostle.

  55. MichaelTX
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I was perceived wrongly. I did not mean to say I do not perceive the current day RC, or as you say “Tridentine RC,” in the previous Church. I meant to say it seems obvious that it is there and shows it self more visibly through the counsel. Figuratively, truth is seen more clearly when contrasted with error or white looks more bright when viewed beside shades of grey. I say shade of gray because I think we ca agree there are many aspects of the Faith that Catholic and Reformed agree upon, but there are difference too.
    Another thing to consider about the Bereans, is that they accepted the one “sent,” namely the Apostle Paul in there day. Where can you find the one “sent” today? There’s only a few church’s that claim that sending. “how can they believe if no one preach, how can they preach if they be not sent”
    By the way I have great respect for many aspects of what I perceive in the Presbyterian forms of church government and discipline. I just don’t find them as the one sent by the Father through the Son by the Apostles to preach Christ crucified to the world for the remission of sins and the reconciliation through the glorious cross of Christ.

    Thanks for you guys loving interactions with me.

  56. AB
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    To clarify, you dudes post longer than three lines all you want. Just don’t expect me to read and grace you all with my vast knowledge. One exception: golf tips. On that topic, type away! Dg, golf?

  57. MichaelTX
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    The Magisterium may, I have said nothing about it nor is it because of the Magisterium that I came to understand it. I do see it in the scriptures and the life of the Church. About Paul I’d say his primacy was just as important because he did not reject Peter, but joined in with Paul’s own call with in the existing Church.

  58. kent
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Good to see a discussion of this nature between two opposing sides, what I usually hope to find on a forum of this nature.

  59. MichaelTX
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Quite pleased myself Kent.

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