Monday, April 03, 2017

What is the church?

Full Question

I am Catholic. A Protestant told me that the people are the church, but I’m pretty sure that is not true. Can you help me? What is the Church?

Answer

Your friend was correct as far as he went. The Second Vatican Council, in Lumen Gentium, stated the Church is the people of God. Protestants see this as pretty much it. They understand church as a name for a structure-less body of people who follow Christ and believe in his divinity as the second Person of the Holy Trinity, revealed in the Bible alone.
Catholics, on the other hand, understand the Church also in terms of a hierarchical structure, with definite authority given to it by Jesus in the person of Peter and therefore to his successors. We see in Scripture much evidence that Jesus gave personal attention to the apostles, preparing them to minister after he was no longer with them. “Anyone who listens to you listens to me; anyone who rejects you rejects me, and those who reject me reject the one who sent me” (Lk 10:16). There was no reason for him to prepare them for only their lifetime. The early Church Fathers verify this. The early Church does not fall into the Protestant vision of a structure-less, sacrament-less body of believers. It was hierarchically structured and sacramental. The canon of the New Testament, on which Protestants base all their faith, is the product of this Church.

4 comments:

Sue said...

https://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/saint-peter-and-his-keys/


"...And anyone who will carefully read the New Testament Scriptures will be assured that Peter was never a Roman Pope, that he never forgave sins, that he never prayed to Mary, that he never preached Purgatory, that he was never a Christian priest, that he never had a building called a cathedral, that he never wore ecclesiastical garments, that he never claimed that bread and wine could be turned into the body and blood of Christ; that he never prayed for the dead, that be never had silver and gold, that he was never called “Reverend Peter”, “Father Peter”."

Norma said...

Yes, I know that is the traditional Protestant teaching, however, it wasn't this way for 1500 years, or even in the time of Luther and Calvin. The Catholics have enormous Biblical studies citing chapter and verse for everything they teach going back to the church fathers, not just to the 18th or 19th century, so it comes down to who has the longest track record and who determined what is in the Bible. And who has given the Berean Bible Society the authority to decide?

Sue said...

Decided not to publish my rebuttal?

Norma said...

I'm sorry, Sue, but I can't find it--I've scrolled through my e-mails (comes there first) and depending on how many offers for furniture and books and miracle cures I get, sometimes I miss the important stuff. Can you resend?