To Pope or Not to Pope?

40A

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Depends. It's a powerful prayer. Since my priest gave me a rosary last week, I've been saying them almost constantly, at my desk, in the elevator, walking to and fro. One is great. 1,000 are also great.
Having said this, what's your interpretation of Matthew 6:7?
 

bHero

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First, whose "general rule" is this? Christian apologists?

Second, how was Christianity not "adopted over time"? It took much of western Europe 500-1000 years to Christianize. And it only spread like wild fire after it was adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire, so there is an enormous political element to it.

One little side note that was always cool: The Anglo-Saxon word Wednesday was, like most of our days of the week, related to Norse gods--in this case the god of gods himself, Odan, or Wodan. The German word for Wednesday is Mittwoch--translation middle week. Why? Because their religion was so entrenched that the evangelizers didn't want to remind the newly-converted of their old main God.
To be clear, I’m saying that Christianity did not spread like wildfire, it took time.
 

40A

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No offense taken.

Once again, I am not comparing the Doctrine of the Trinity to anything. What I am comparing is how it was formed - over hundreds of years (historical fact) by men combining the scriptures in which they have placed their faith, and from which they have learned their faith, with their God-given ability to reason out complex things. Think about it reasonably. How can God be three-in-one? That is about as abstract as ideas come. It will naturally require a fair bit of thought and explanation. It isn't laid out clearly and concisely in the New Testament and obviously not in the Old. It was only reasoned out because over the course of hundreds of years, some men made some very good points about it, and others made some very bad points. Look up adoptionism, Sabellianism, or Arianism. Look up the Capadocian Fathers. All major players in the development of what we now understand to be the Trinity. Founded on scripture, clarified by men.

I say this because, once again, this is how so many other Catholic beliefs (the Trinity was formed in the context (HA) of the Catholic Church). You take your biblical support, and you walk it out reasonably. What you get at the end is the truth. So, when Christ gives to Peter the keys of the kingdom, what might that mean? What might it mean in the context (ha!) of Christ having also told Peter to tend his sheep and protect his flock? What might it also mean in the context (ha!) of saying that upon the rock of Peter would Christ build his Church? Christ was not talking in parables in these instances. He was talking very directly to one man, and to this one man he gave many charges that he gave to no one else. Now, nowhere in the scriptures does it say, "Peter is the Pope." It also doesn't say, "The Trinity is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Both of these things are supported by history, albeit extrabiblical history, but still, they are supported. That doesn't take away from their being true. It just means that they do not rely solely on scripture to be true. That shouldn't be an offensive idea, but it seems to be for some.


That is kind of my point.


Who decides the "proper" context? That sounds like something into which a certain level of subjectivity (see: relativity) might be introduced.
We will just have to agree to disagree on Trinity Doctrine, although I'm still not sure where you get this "thousands of years" idea. It may have taken a council to affirm it, as the Nicean did with Christ being begotten of God, but that doesn't mean it wasn't overwhelmingly accepted way before that. Either way, my main contention is that, even if you are correct on the Trinity stuff, it still doesn't reconcile the many, many Catholic traditions that don't stand up against Scripture like the Trinity does.

As far as Peter the Pope goes, I'm not going to go farther on this. I would say that you should do a word study on Matthew 16:18 - the Greek writers of Matthew did some interesting stuff there. Petros vs. Petras, the use of the word "rock" in the NT (especially in Peter's own writing 1Peter) and in the OT to gain proper context. The Catholics also have a funny dodge away from the Greek text that does not support their claim that Peter is the first "Pope".

Finally, on context, your sentence is a complete dodge. The Scripture itself decides its context. It's not subjectivity in the least.
 
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40A

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I worked with a guy who had a similar experience. He had been raised in a church, but they functioned more like a social club. If you can imagine this huge failure, they never told him how to become a Christian! He got saved after talking to a Christian at college.
I spent a lot of my youth in just about every church imaginable - Baptist, Mormon, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Catholic, etc etc etc. They were all mostly as your friend desribed - social clubs.

I think I got "saved" in just about every one of them, too. The one I remember most was after a dodgeball game in a First Baptist Church - yeesh. Anyways, I wasn't. Discipleship is lacking in the church nowadays, and numbers are king. The emotional high with the youth was king. And then they were gone.

I actually chased a girl to a Christian college (now my wife, so scoreboard) with a belief in God and an apathetic belief in Christ but it all changed there. I didn't really start following Christ until I left the Christian College bubble and went out into the real world.
 

Duke Silver

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To be clear, I’m saying that Christianity did not spread like wildfire, it took time.
Oh, sorry. Misunderstood you. Thought you meant most that spread fast fizzle out, but Christianity was an exception to this rule.
 
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bHero

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I spent a lot of my youth in just about every church imaginable - Baptist, Mormon, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Catholic, etc etc etc. They were all mostly as your friend desribed - social clubs.

I think I got "saved" in just about every one of them, too. The one I remember most was after a dodgeball game in a First Baptist Church - yeesh. Anyways, I wasn't. Discipleship is lacking in the church nowadays, and numbers are king. The emotional high with the youth was king. And then they were gone.

I actually chased a girl to a Christian college (now my wife, so scoreboard) with a belief in God and an apathetic belief in Christ but it all changed there. I didn't really start following Christ until I left the Christian College bubble and went out into the real world.
The early church (Justin Martyr, I believe???), the way they new converts came to the faith was through confession and baptism. The elders of the church would fast and they would confess their sins to one another, and then there would be a public(ish) baptism. It was a big deal. It was not raising our hands when the pastor held a service, or quietly saying the sinners prayer. And baptism would even be denied to some if their lifestyle or work would lead them to sin against God (like a soldier).

Pretty sure no churches on earth go this route today.
 

40A

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The early church (Justin Martyr, I believe???), the way they new converts came to the faith was through confession and baptism. The elders of the church would fast and they would confess their sins to one another, and then there would be a public(ish) baptism. It was a big deal. It was not raising our hands when the pastor held a service, or quietly saying the sinners prayer. And baptism would even be denied to some if their lifestyle or work would lead them to sin against God (like a soldier).

Pretty sure no churches on earth go this route today.
They sure don't. It's my beef with the rally movement around folks like Billy Graham. Now, I know it may not have been his job description to discipleship, but his rallies and the like are surely responsible for a lot of people my age leaving the church.
 
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bHero

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Oh, sorry. Misunderstood you. Thought you meant most that spread fast fizzle out, but Christianity was an exception to this rule.
The spread of the early church was quite unusual in several respects. There was a gentile (led by Paul) and a jewish movement (led by Peter). It wasn't fast moving until the 3rd century, but it was sizeable enough that Nero blamed the Christians for the burning of Rome. It was actually pretty sick what he did. He was so ruthless to them that even the criminals had sympathy. Here's the historical record from the Romans:


"...But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed." (Tacitus, Book 15, chapter 44, ~AD 64)

There was a very intentional effort to stamp it out and destroy all Christians. Pliny's record echoed the sentiment that Rome held:

"...Meanwhile, in the case of those who were denounced to me as Christians, I have observed the following procedure: I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persisted I ordered executed. For I had no doubt that, whatever the nature of their creed, stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy surely deserve to be punished. There were others possessed of the same folly; but because they were Roman citizens, I signed an order for them to be transferred to Rome...
...
They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food--but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations. Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses. But I discovered nothing else but depraved, excessive superstition." (Pliny the Younger, Letter to Emperor Trajan, 10.96-97, ~AD 112)

So the spread of Christianity was hampered by edict that not only forbid any political affiliations, but also carried a sentence of death if they were caught worshiping Jesus and not Caesar.

Yet somehow the superstition outlasted Rome...
 
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bHero

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@Duke Silver - removing what appears to be obvious interpolation (because Josephus was a Jew and did not believe that Jesus was Messiah, as even Origen attested to), the whole passage that scholars are on board with as authentic (broad consensus, not overwhelming though like in Tacitus) is:

"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and many of Greek origin. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day."

Only anti-Christian apologists try and dispute this stuff today. The scholars have moved on. And just to caveat it again, it doesn't prove Jesus is God, just that he existed.
 
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bHero

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They sure don't. It's my beef with the rally movement around folks like Billy Graham. Now, I know it may not have been his job description to discipleship, but his rallies and the like are surely responsible for a lot of people my age leaving the church.
I'll give him credit for leading people down the path Christ, but I doubt he brought more than 1% to salvation.
 

bHero

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If anyone would like to see some crazy stuff on Jesus, just look up Richard Carrier. He's a smart guy, but given in to paternicty like many conspiracy theorists.

And I'll warn people to look up his references. He's proven wrong by his fellow scholars on several dates that he fudged for his arguments.
 

40A

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If anyone would like to see some crazy stuff on Jesus, just look up Richard Carrier. He's a smart guy, but given in to paternicty like many conspiracy theorists.

And I'll warn people to look up his references. He's proven wrong by his fellow scholars on several dates that he fudged for his arguments.
Isn't that the guy who got pantz'd by William Craig and then backtracked to say the debate should've been about if the Gospels where historically reliable? I've heard his name before.
 
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bHero

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Isn't that the guy who got pantz'd by William Craig and then backtracked to say the debate should've been about if the Gospels where historically reliable? I've heard his name before.
Yes. But he's a zealot for this stuff and constantly amending his arguement and has never stopped debating or postulating theories.

One major irony of his scholarship (PhD, Columbia, Ancient History), is that his attempts to debunk Christianity has actually had a lot of the opposite effect. He's not a dummy, just a blind zealot and a conspiracy theory nut. He finds patternicity in everything and misses the "macro" drivers. It's like the historical equivalent of numerology.

I will say though that several of Dr. Craig's arguments used are wrong and he gets pantsed by Bart Ehrman when he uses some of them. Bart's an apostate, and a brilliant man, but he also walks too stringent of a line when it comes to the rules of evidence. If he were a judge there would never be a conviction.

Here's Craig and Carrier:

 
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HornsWin

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Having said this, what's your interpretation of Matthew 6:7?
I personally interpret that verse as saying, say only what needs to be said. If you think you can every tire of praying for divine assistance, then I have to ask what your secret is. I also think it's a condemnation of the countless Southern Baptist services and youth group gatherings, wherein the pastor or youth pastor would go on and on and on about how great God's love and grace are, without ever asking for anything or conveying, all the while communicating with the worship team to make sure that they struck just the right tone to create just the right emotional environment to make everyone really feel the love. No real mention of repenting or feeling remorse over anything specific.

But I take your meaning, the Ave Maria is a mindless, empty prayer. I think it all depends on the spirit in which it is prayed. One could, I would suggest, offer up the Lords Prayer in such a way that God himself finds it empty.

For the record, the Desert Fathers built their ministerial lives on contemplation on the Holy Spirit which, if you have read about them, you will know involved a lot of repetitive prayer.

Prayer is a movement of the soul, and it is the disposition of the soul that determines whether or not the prayer is empty.
 

HornsWin

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We will just have to agree to disagree on Trinity Doctrine, although I'm still not sure where you get this "thousands of years" idea. It may have taken a council to affirm it, as the Nicean did with Christ being begotten of God, but that doesn't mean it wasn't overwhelmingly accepted way before that. Either way, my main contention is that, even if you are correct on the Trinity stuff, it still doesn't reconcile the many, many Catholic traditions that don't stand up against Scripture like the Trinity does.

As far as Peter the Pope goes, I'm not going to go farther on this. I would say that you should do a word study on Matthew 16:18 - the Greek writers of Matthew did some interesting stuff there. Petros vs. Petras, the use of the word "rock" in the NT (especially in Peter's own writing 1Peter) and in the OT to gain proper context. The Catholics also have a funny dodge away from the Greek text that does not support their claim that Peter is the first "Pope".

Finally, on context, your sentence is a complete dodge. The Scripture itself decides its context. It's not subjectivity in the least.
I never once said "thousands of years." I only ever said hundreds of years.

You should be careful ascribing authority to an idea because it is "overwhelmingly accepted." Overwhelmingly is a relative term, and accepted by whom? This is true now as then. There are a lot of things that Mormon's believe about Christ that orthodox Christians would vehemently deny to be true, but they are still overwhelmingly accepted by a segment of society. Does that make them true or authoritative?

You are fixated on my use of Trinity and are missing the point I was attempting to make. The doctrines of the Church, so many of which Protestants owe their understanding of the faith two, are biblically founded, but were developed over time. Scripture laid the foundation, obviously, but it was man's God-given ability to reason that brought everything together. That is how the doctrine of the Trinity was formulated, by the Catholic Church no less, and it was the same method by which all the other beliefs of the Church, and by extension so many of the Protestant mind, were formed. It's a challenging proposition to say that the same men who were perfectly in touch with the Holy Spirit at one point could be so completely in error at other times. You have to, if you're honest, at least give rise to the possibility that maybe they were right about one or two other things.

So far you've asked me what I think about Matthew 6.7 and Matthew 16.18. Should I only focus on those two verses? Because I've been warned against taking such a narrow view in order to understand the larger whole.
 

HornsWin

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As far as Peter the Pope goes, I'm not going to go farther on this. I would say that you should do a word study on Matthew 16:18 - the Greek writers of Matthew did some interesting stuff there. Petros vs. Petras, the use of the word "rock" in the NT (especially in Peter's own writing 1Peter) and in the OT to gain proper context. The Catholics also have a funny dodge away from the Greek text that does not support their claim that Peter is the first "Pope".
I wanted to reply to this specifically.

I will do a word study on Matthew 16.18 if you will do a historical/scriptural study on Matthew 16.19 - the keys of the kingdom. What did Christ mean when he mentioned the keys of the kingdom? Why did he only say this to Peter, directly to Peter, and why did he say this immediately after saying upon this rock he would build his Church? How does this one passage relate to the several other Gospel instances in which Christ gives to Peter very specific charges that he gives to no one else? Or the examples of Peter's word being authoritative, and in one case from the Book of Acts truly supernatural.

The following link offers a pretty simple but thorough rejoinder to your criticisms: https://www.catholic.com/tract/origins-of-peter-as-pope - obviously, consider the source (Catholic, duh). Here is a bit of a teaser, though:

"Some argue that in this passage there is a minor difference between the Greek term for Peter (Petros) and the term for rock (petra), yet they ignore the obvious explanation: petra, a feminine noun, has simply been modifed to have a masculine ending, since one would not refer to a man (Peter) as feminine. The change in the gender is purely for stylistic reasons.

These critics also neglect the fact that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and, as John 1:42 tells us, in everyday life he actually referred to Peter as Kepha or Cephas (depending on how it is transliterated). It is that term which is then translated into Greek as petros. Thus, what Jesus actually said to Peter in Aramaic was: "You are Kepha and on this very kepha I will build my Church."

The Church Fathers, those Christians closest to the apostles in time, culture, and theological background, clearly understood that Jesus promised to build the Church on Peter, as the following passages show."


There's more. Please read it and just offer me one final critique based on having read the link. After that, I will drop the Peter/Pope talk if you want and we will agree to disagree. You get the last argumentative word.

What you will find is that the earliest understanding held by those who were in some cases only 1-2 generations removed from Christ himself, understood Peter as the foundation of the Church. Many if not most of these men you will see scattered all across the early Church as the men who helped to form, solidify, and clarify what the Church believes. If you will not at the very least consider that these men's understanding of the sciptures and the historical reality of the Church is more comprehensive than yours, then we may really be at an impasse.

That's it. You get the last word.
 
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40A

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I never once said "thousands of years." I only ever said hundreds of years.

You should be careful ascribing authority to an idea because it is "overwhelmingly accepted." Overwhelmingly is a relative term, and accepted by whom? This is true now as then. There are a lot of things that Mormon's believe about Christ that orthodox Christians would vehemently deny to be true, but they are still overwhelmingly accepted by a segment of society. Does that make them true or authoritative?

You are fixated on my use of Trinity and are missing the point I was attempting to make. The doctrines of the Church, so many of which Protestants owe their understanding of the faith two, are biblically founded, but were developed over time. Scripture laid the foundation, obviously, but it was man's God-given ability to reason that brought everything together. That is how the doctrine of the Trinity was formulated, by the Catholic Church no less, and it was the same method by which all the other beliefs of the Church, and by extension so many of the Protestant mind, were formed. It's a challenging proposition to say that the same men who were perfectly in touch with the Holy Spirit at one point could be so completely in error at other times. You have to, if you're honest, at least give rise to the possibility that maybe they were right about one or two other things.

So far you've asked me what I think about Matthew 6.7 and Matthew 16.18. Should I only focus on those two verses? Because I've been warned against taking such a narrow view in order to understand the larger whole.
This is a weird way to interpret what I said. If I told you it was widely accepted in the early Christian Church that Christ was the Begotten Son of God, would you tell me it didn't matter until the Nicean Council verified it 200 years later? I would think not.

You invoked the Trinity, not me. For the last time, the Trinity is not in the same ballpark as other Catholic Church liturgy/traditions you would ascribe to "Church Tradition". It's not an appropriate comparison. The Trinity stands up to Scriptural scrutiny.

I'll respond to your posts below, but I think this has gone about as far as it will go. I think you should be careful how tight you hold onto your Catholic traditions, and implore you to begin interpreting the Bible in its correct context. Its self-provided context.

I did notice you had no retort to my breakdown of 2 Thessalonians, just challenged me on "context". Interesting.
 

40A

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I wanted to reply to this specifically.

I will do a word study on Matthew 16.18 if you will do a historical/scriptural study on Matthew 16.19 - the keys of the kingdom. What did Christ mean when he mentioned the keys of the kingdom? Why did he only say this to Peter, directly to Peter, and why did he say this immediately after saying upon this rock he would build his Church? How does this one passage relate to the several other Gospel instances in which Christ gives to Peter very specific charges that he gives to no one else? Or the examples of Peter's word being authoritative, and in one case from the Book of Acts truly supernatural.

The following link offers a pretty simple but thorough rejoinder to your criticisms: https://www.catholic.com/tract/origins-of-peter-as-pope - obviously, consider the source (Catholic, duh). Here is a bit of a teaser, though:

"Some argue that in this passage there is a minor difference between the Greek term for Peter (Petros) and the term for rock (petra), yet they ignore the obvious explanation: petra, a feminine noun, has simply been modifed to have a masculine ending, since one would not refer to a man (Peter) as feminine. The change in the gender is purely for stylistic reasons.

These critics also neglect the fact that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and, as John 1:42 tells us, in everyday life he actually referred to Peter as Kepha or Cephas (depending on how it is transliterated). It is that term which is then translated into Greek as petros. Thus, what Jesus actually said to Peter in Aramaic was: "You are Kepha and on this very kepha I will build my Church."

The Church Fathers, those Christians closest to the apostles in time, culture, and theological background, clearly understood that Jesus promised to build the Church on Peter, as the following passages show."


There's more. Please read it and just offer me one final critique based on having read the link. After that, I will drop the Peter/Pope talk if you want and we will agree to disagree. You get the last argumentative word.

What you will find is that the earliest understanding held by those who were in some cases only 1-2 generations removed from Christ himself, understood Peter as the foundation of the Church. Many if not most of these men you will see scattered all across the early Church as the men who helped to form, solidify, and clarify what the Church believes. If you will not at the very least consider that these men's understanding of the sciptures and the historical reality of the Church is more comprehensive than yours, then we may really be at an impasse.

That's it. You get the last word.
I'm game, this is a lot more fun honestly. And yes, I read it. But I just have to say, there is so much more contradictory context to the fact that Peter is not the "first Pope". Peter never claims this authority, none of the other apostles do, nor does Paul. On top of that, the Old Testament is very clear who "the Rock" is.

1) First, let's talk about the Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16. Catholics say that Petros/Petra is a stylistic change, but what does the context say? Petra is used elsewhere in the New Testament, once to describe an actual rock, but twice to describe Christ. 1 Corinthians 10 describes "petras" as the spiritual rock that the Israelites drank from during their exodus. Paul goes on to claim specifically that the rock "petra" was Christ. And also, more convincingly, Peter himself describes Christ as the rock "petra", in 1 Peter 2.

Why be so murky in the language if the writer was trying to convey that Christ was giving Peter "the keys to the Kingdom" Why not write, "...and upon YOU I will build my Church" It's because the difference between Petros and Petra signify the moveable, unstable rock "Petros or Peter" and the unmovable bedrock of Petra, or Christ. In fact, no man is called to or alluded to being a "rock", whereas we have many, many examples of God/Christ being referred to as such. Christ is called the rock in the OT and the NT, even by Peter himself. Context refutes the Catholic interpretation. But let's keep going.

The "Kepha" or "Kipha" argument I've heard before (I have Hispanic blood, so I know a lot of Catholics) but it's a futile argument as there is no Aramaic (or Hebrew for that matter) original of the Book of Matthew. Catholic apologists have long argued that, due to not having an original of the Book of Matthew in any language, that the copies we have could have been translated from Aramaic or Hebrew, but this is an argument in silence. There is no proof either way - what we have is the Greek. In fact, the Catholic apologists in support of Matthew being originally written in Aramaic or Hebrew, surprisingly, get that belief from oral tradition. That's mighty convenient, no? Either way, the Kepha - Kepha proof makes sense if we have contextual support elsewhere in the Bible. We don't.

To your last paragraph: I'm apathetic to the early church fathers outside of those of Acts and the rest of the Old Testament. Why? Because they understood what was being said by Christ. What do they (and Peter himself) have to say about Peter being the Church Father?

- Peter never identifies himself as the head of the Church. He never even likens himself as over the other apostles, or anybody else for that matter.
- Paul identifies Christ as the cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:20)
- Christ likens himself to the rock. (Matthew 7:24)
- Christ never affirms Peter's position as "head of Church". ("who is the greatest in your Kingdom?")

As to your last sentence, I appreciate the appeal to me being a novice, but my goal is to interpret the Scripture as it is, in the correct context it was written in. That's it.
 

bHero

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I'll jump back into this debate when I have a few hours to read the ground covered.

But I wanted to answer the question that @HornsWin asked me initially about when the church went astray.

The short version of my answer is that I consider the pre-Nicean writings the most authoritative aside from the Bible itself.

I understand that there has been pagan and other monotheistic influences trying to infiltrate the Church since it's inception. I have serious concerns about Constantine's influences on the Church. One simple example would the maps in Bibles and Holy locations. Jebel Musa is identified as Mt. Sinai, but this isn't because the Bible says so or tradition supports the notion. It's because Constantine's mom said God told her in a dream/vision and thus it was declared. There was some Jews in the region calling the location sacred, but nothing widespread and certainly not confirmed. Until Helena's dream, that is. Where Jesus' crucifixion supposedly took place, again, according to Helena? Right next to the temple to Aphrodite. Where Jesus birth supposedly took place? Right next to the memorial to the death of Adonis. And 2 miles north of Hebron where Jesus taught his disciples under a tree, another church was built, right next to the shrine Josephus called Ogyges, where the pagan's worshiped a greek God for centuries. I'll probably harp on this more in the other thread later, but this an example of the concern I have.

After the pre-Nicean writings I also study the pseudepigraphic texts, like Jubilees or Enoch 1. I do not consider them holy writ, at least not yet. I have reservations about the pseudepigraphia, even though Jesus calls them scripture. This is mainly because the OT copies we have were made after His death. As an example, Enoch 1 was begun around 300 BC, however the end of the book written around mid to end of the first century. So when Jesus quotes from Enoch, calling it scripture, He's clearly not quoting parts written after His death.

My general rule of thumb is that the closer to Jesus, the more authoritative. I can't say cleanly when it went "astray," as the external pagan influences were ever present, with their effect ebbing and flowing over time.
 

HornsWin

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This is a weird way to interpret what I said. If I told you it was widely accepted in the early Christian Church that Christ was the Begotten Son of God, would you tell me it didn't matter until the Nicean Council verified it 200 years later? I would think not.

You invoked the Trinity, not me. For the last time, the Trinity is not in the same ballpark as other Catholic Church liturgy/traditions you would ascribe to "Church Tradition". It's not an appropriate comparison. The Trinity stands up to Scriptural scrutiny.

I'll respond to your posts below, but I think this has gone about as far as it will go. I think you should be careful how tight you hold onto your Catholic traditions, and implore you to begin interpreting the Bible in its correct context. Its self-provided context.

I did notice you had no retort to my breakdown of 2 Thessalonians, just challenged me on "context". Interesting.
I was only pointing out that appealing to the popularity of an idea is not a great way to prove or support it's truth or its authority.

The Trinity does stand up to scriptural scrutiny, just as all other Church teachings do. The same Church that formulated the doctrine of the Trinity formulated the many other doctrines of the Church. You're yet to show how any of the issues we've talked about for which I provided more than enough scriptural support fail to live up to scriptural scrutiny, because you can't.

Like I said, you get the last word on the Pope biz, so I will see now what you have to say there and, most likely, bite my tongue super hard.
 

HornsWin

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I'll jump back into this debate when I have a few hours to read the ground covered.

But I wanted to answer the question that @HornsWin asked me initially about when the church went astray.

The short version of my answer is that I consider the pre-Nicean writings the most authoritative aside from the Bible itself.

I understand that there has been pagan and other monotheistic influences trying to infiltrate the Church since it's inception. I have serious concerns about Constantine's influences on the Church. One simple example would the maps in Bibles and Holy locations. Jebel Musa is identified as Mt. Sinai, but this isn't because the Bible says so or tradition supports the notion. It's because Constantine's mom said God told her in a dream/vision and thus it was declared. There was some Jews in the region calling the location sacred, but nothing widespread and certainly not confirmed. Until Helena's dream, that is. Where Jesus' crucifixion supposedly took place, again, according to Helena? Right next to the temple to Aphrodite. Where Jesus birth supposedly took place? Right next to the memorial to the death of Adonis. And 2 miles north of Hebron where Jesus taught his disciples under a tree, another church was built, right next to the shrine Josephus called Ogyges, where the pagan's worshiped a greek God for centuries. I'll probably harp on this more in the other thread later, but this an example of the concern I have.

After the pre-Nicean writings I also study the pseudepigraphic texts, like Jubilees or Enoch 1. I do not consider them holy writ, at least not yet. I have reservations about the pseudepigraphia, even though Jesus calls them scripture. This is mainly because the OT copies we have were made after His death. As an example, Enoch 1 was begun around 300 BC, however the end of the book written around mid to end of the first century. So when Jesus quotes from Enoch, calling it scripture, He's clearly not quoting parts written after His death.

My general rule of thumb is that the closer to Jesus, the more authoritative. I can't say cleanly when it went "astray," as the external pagan influences were ever present, with their effect ebbing and flowing over time.
For what it's worth, I tend to think that Constantine making Catholicism the religion of the empire was a grave mistake. Well-intentioned, obviously, save souls by any means necessary, but that was, I would argue, the beginning of the normalization of the faith. Before that, it was up against the wall and had to stay true to the strictest understanding of the faith in order to survive. After that, once it came out into the public square and was accepted(ish), it became easier to compromise one's beliefs.

You bring up an interesting point about Jubilees and Enoch. If Jesus quoted them, then they're good enough for me, but you do make a good point about the timeline for completion. I hope you will publicly explore that a bit more, as I will be curious to see where you end up.

Finally, to your concern about the locations of certain biblical events and their proximity to Greek or Roman temples, etc., I have an incomplete thought that I am just going to flesh out a bit here and now. In the Book of Acts, chapter 17, Paul preaches to a group of Athenians when he notices how filled with statues and idols to the gods the city is. He performs some Christian jujitsu and basically tells them, yes, you worship Zeus, but you have the name wrong. He isn't Zeus, but God, and God has come to us in the human form of Jesus. That so many gospel events are believed to have occurred at or near pagan places of worship might just be a matter of coincidence - there were enough gods in that day that it doesn't seem unlikely that events would have occurred at or near these pagan locations. Or perhaps these events did actually occur at the memorial to the death of Adonis, and so on, for a reason. Maybe to reclaim them or to redirect those spiritual energies.

This is where I might out myself as something that falls onto your list of concern, but I am a firm believer that profound acts of Good and Evil (intentionally capitalized) leave a very real, if not naturally understood mark. You could use as one example the bit in the gospels wherein it says that the place where Judas hanged himself remains cursed to "this day" (debatable as to whether it is still cursed to this day). With that being said, and this is purely speculation and not an idea I am yet confident in putting my full support behind, I could understand why, by providence or intention or pure happy coincidence so many critical events in Christian history would occur at or verynear to pagan spiritual sites.

Again, just spitballing, but I could believe it.
 
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jamesrh

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For what it's worth, I tend to think that Constantine making Catholicism the religion of the empire was a grave mistake. Well-intentioned, obviously, save souls by any means necessary, but that was, I would argue, the beginning of the normalization of the faith. Before that, it was up against the wall and had to stay true to the strictest understanding of the faith in order to survive. After that, once it came out into the public square and was accepted(ish), it became easier to compromise one's beliefs.

You bring up an interesting point about Jubilees and Enoch. If Jesus quoted them, then they're good enough for me, but you do make a good point about the timeline for completion. I hope you will publicly explore that a bit more, as I will be curious to see where you end up.

Finally, to your concern about the locations of certain biblical events and their proximity to Greek or Roman temples, etc., I have an incomplete thought that I am just going to flesh out a bit here and now. In the Book of Acts, chapter 17, Paul preaches to a group of Athenians when he notices how filled with statues and idols to the gods the city is. He performs some Christian jujitsu and basically tells them, yes, you worship Zeus, but you have the name wrong. He isn't Zeus, but God, and God has come to us in the human form of Jesus. That so many gospel events are believed to have occurred at or near pagan places of worship might just be a matter of coincidence - there were enough gods in that day that it doesn't seem unlikely that events would have occurred at or near these pagan locations. Or perhaps these events did actually occur at the memorial to the death of Adonis, and so on, for a reason. Maybe to reclaim them or to redirect those spiritual energies.

This is where I might out myself as something that falls onto your list of concern, but I am a firm believer that profound acts of Good and Evil (intentionally capitalized) leave a very real, if not naturally understood mark. You could use as one example the bit in the gospels wherein it says that the place where Judas hanged himself remains cursed to "this day" (debatable as to whether it is still cursed to this day). With that being said, and this is purely speculation and not an idea I am yet confident in putting my full support behind, I could understand why, by providence or intention or pure happy coincidence so many critical events in Christian history would occur at or verynear to pagan spiritual sites.

Again, just spitballing, but I could believe it.
Actually in his sermon in Athens he says that I see you are very religious and that you even have an alter to an Unknow God. So he doesn't try to redeem Zeus. Might seem like a minor point, but not entirely without significance.
 
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bodieman

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I love this thread. So much knowledge and wisdom, but the semantics are bull****. The Bible is clear in terms of the value of scripture and the wisdom that comes from study.

I think the Bible also makes it clear that we must approach the gospel as children in order to receive it. In other words, it’s not complicated. It’s accessible to everyone.

Jesus said the most important thing is to love god and love others. He was super humble. He washed the feet of a bunch of people who he knew were about to betray him to be tortured and killed.

For non-believers, even if the story of Jesus isn’t true, the worst repercussion for a believer would be that we loved people a lot.
 
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40A

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I was only pointing out that appealing to the popularity of an idea is not a great way to prove or support it's truth or its authority.

The Trinity does stand up to scriptural scrutiny, just as all other Church teachings do. The same Church that formulated the doctrine of the Trinity formulated the many other doctrines of the Church. You're yet to show how any of the issues we've talked about for which I provided more than enough scriptural support fail to live up to scriptural scrutiny, because you can't.

Like I said, you get the last word on the Pope biz, so I will see now what you have to say there and, most likely, bite my tongue super hard.
To be fair, I gave you a run down on 2 Thessalonians that you haven't addressed yet, outside of saying "who decides context". I think it's fair to say that if you cannot refute what I said there, the other stuff is unnecessary.
 

HornsWin

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2 Thessalonians - context, context, context. 2 Thessalonians is an admonishment to cling to the traditions they had been taught about the return of Christ. The letters to the Thessalonians were to a persecuted Church who had a misunderstanding of the Lord's return. The trick is to understand how Paul writes. "So then" or "Therefore" proceeding a passage as it does in 2 Thes 2:15 is a clue that the proceeding writings all link up to this final say on the matter, for lack of better term. So you MUST interpret the whole book leading up to this in its correct context. It's not a letter for the Church in Thessalonians to cling to tradition in the way you understand it.

Forget that context for a second. Just use common sense here. The Church of Thessalonica was not a long-established church. It wasn't a Jewish church. It was a church in Greece. What tradition do you think he was referring to? They had NO church tradition OUTSIDE OF what they had very recently believed in Christ.

This verse is used by an entire church to validate their traditions, but it simply isn't there. Yes, you may have provided the Scripture in "support" as I could read on catholicism.com, but like on the website, it simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny when you apply the proper context to the Scriptures. And hey, that's not just a knock on Catholicism, either. Many, many Protestant churches refuse to apply the proper context to both the Old Testament (ancient near east context) or the New Testament (1st Century Jewish) Scriptures. It's a problem in the Church as a whole.

But I digress.
Very interesting things in here. It does indeed talk about Christ's return. And smack in the middle, it says this:

2 Thes 1.13-15: "But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers of the beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm in the traditions you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or our letter." [emphasis mine]

You can read the passage I just quoted in full on its own, and it would seem to support my point, or you can read it in the context of the passage before it... and it would still support my point. The passage starts with "But...", indicating a turn away from the direction of the previous passage, which talks about the "Man of Lawlessness" having deceived the Thessalonians. Its also interesting that Paul references our gospel, not the gospel, or the gospels. this can mean one of two things - he is referring to a single, unified gospel story, or he is using "gospel" to mean the good news that he is bringing, which would imply a certain level of accepted authority over the Church.

Chapter 3 also has some interesting things to say on the matter of authority:

"Finally brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

"Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the traditions that you received from us. For you yourselves know you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day... for when we were with you, we would give you this command: if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat."

All told, I just quoted about 1/3 of chapter 2 and about 1/2 of chapter 3. Not an inconsequential

Obviously, the idleness refers to the physical labor St. Paul mentions just a verse or two later. That's not up for debate. But it is interesting, at least to me, how heavy-handed Paul is in making mention of his authority. Also interesting that he calls on the people to imitate "us", not just St. Paul, but presumably any figure of authority. This shows that already a sort of authoritative hierarchy is being developed.

And reading this comment, I am really beginning to wonder if you understand what I am trying to point out here. You say, "This verse is used by an entire church to validate their traditions, but it simply isn't there." This is wrong. The Church does not use a verse to validate our traditions. We use many verses, otherwise known as passages, all viewed in the light of each other and in the greater light of scripture as a whole, to support our beliefs. Because someone provides a list of verses and passages as support doesn't me any one of them works in isolation. Did you notice that the lists I shared above were completely out of order? That's because they are not meant to stand on their own, but to contribute to the larger narrative.

And you keep saying the "proper" context, but you have yet to tell me what that proper context is or to explain what makes it proper as opposed to the context I am using, which is scripture+history.

Finally, you point out that the Thessalonians weren't a Jewish but a Greek church. I know that you know that Christianity sprung up out of Judaism. Once again, Christ came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it, which means that certain traditions from Judaism, the sacred traditions rather than the manmade traditions, were to be upheld rather than abolished. Therefore, a church need not be Jewish in order to be expected to follow those traditions, because those were the traditions of the Church, period.
 

bHero

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For what it's worth, I tend to think that Constantine making Catholicism the religion of the empire was a grave mistake. Well-intentioned, obviously, save souls by any means necessary, but that was, I would argue, the beginning of the normalization of the faith. Before that, it was up against the wall and had to stay true to the strictest understanding of the faith in order to survive. After that, once it came out into the public square and was accepted(ish), it became easier to compromise one's beliefs.

You bring up an interesting point about Jubilees and Enoch. If Jesus quoted them, then they're good enough for me, but you do make a good point about the timeline for completion. I hope you will publicly explore that a bit more, as I will be curious to see where you end up.

Finally, to your concern about the locations of certain biblical events and their proximity to Greek or Roman temples, etc., I have an incomplete thought that I am just going to flesh out a bit here and now. In the Book of Acts, chapter 17, Paul preaches to a group of Athenians when he notices how filled with statues and idols to the gods the city is. He performs some Christian jujitsu and basically tells them, yes, you worship Zeus, but you have the name wrong. He isn't Zeus, but God, and God has come to us in the human form of Jesus. That so many gospel events are believed to have occurred at or near pagan places of worship might just be a matter of coincidence - there were enough gods in that day that it doesn't seem unlikely that events would have occurred at or near these pagan locations. Or perhaps these events did actually occur at the memorial to the death of Adonis, and so on, for a reason. Maybe to reclaim them or to redirect those spiritual energies.

This is where I might out myself as something that falls onto your list of concern, but I am a firm believer that profound acts of Good and Evil (intentionally capitalized) leave a very real, if not naturally understood mark. You could use as one example the bit in the gospels wherein it says that the place where Judas hanged himself remains cursed to "this day" (debatable as to whether it is still cursed to this day). With that being said, and this is purely speculation and not an idea I am yet confident in putting my full support behind, I could understand why, by providence or intention or pure happy coincidence so many critical events in Christian history would occur at or verynear to pagan spiritual sites.

Again, just spitballing, but I could believe it.
To be clear, and provide a short comment for once, Jesus had a reputation for shaming the "God's of Old," and would go to significant pagan spots for certain teachings. Part of this is just because that's where local people gathered. But where He was born and died I wouldn't hold to such irony, given that His birth wasn't an anti-pagan teaching moment for his apostles, nor was His death.
 
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bHero

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For what it's worth, I tend to think that Constantine making Catholicism the religion of the empire was a grave mistake. Well-intentioned, obviously, save souls by any means necessary, but that was, I would argue, the beginning of the normalization of the faith. Before that, it was up against the wall and had to stay true to the strictest understanding of the faith in order to survive. After that, once it came out into the public square and was accepted(ish), it became easier to compromise one's beliefs.

You bring up an interesting point about Jubilees and Enoch. If Jesus quoted them, then they're good enough for me, but you do make a good point about the timeline for completion. I hope you will publicly explore that a bit more, as I will be curious to see where you end up.

Finally, to your concern about the locations of certain biblical events and their proximity to Greek or Roman temples, etc., I have an incomplete thought that I am just going to flesh out a bit here and now. In the Book of Acts, chapter 17, Paul preaches to a group of Athenians when he notices how filled with statues and idols to the gods the city is. He performs some Christian jujitsu and basically tells them, yes, you worship Zeus, but you have the name wrong. He isn't Zeus, but God, and God has come to us in the human form of Jesus. That so many gospel events are believed to have occurred at or near pagan places of worship might just be a matter of coincidence - there were enough gods in that day that it doesn't seem unlikely that events would have occurred at or near these pagan locations. Or perhaps these events did actually occur at the memorial to the death of Adonis, and so on, for a reason. Maybe to reclaim them or to redirect those spiritual energies.

This is where I might out myself as something that falls onto your list of concern, but I am a firm believer that profound acts of Good and Evil (intentionally capitalized) leave a very real, if not naturally understood mark. You could use as one example the bit in the gospels wherein it says that the place where Judas hanged himself remains cursed to "this day" (debatable as to whether it is still cursed to this day). With that being said, and this is purely speculation and not an idea I am yet confident in putting my full support behind, I could understand why, by providence or intention or pure happy coincidence so many critical events in Christian history would occur at or verynear to pagan spiritual sites.

Again, just spitballing, but I could believe it.
Also Paul's speech to the Athenians is a strong message I give to aspiring apologists. He goes to the heart of the Ancient Renaissance, where the most brilliant men of the day go to talk philosophy, and he holds court. When he begins talking, he's mocked, called a "babbler" and one asks what possible wisdom could he offer. Paul's response here "to the world," should be all of ours. He doesn't get defensive or confront them, he builds a bridge. He tells them, "look at this place and people! What a great capacity for spirituality you all have!" (paraphrasing) and then goes on share the gospel in a way that's accessible to them. What a great lesson to us all.
 

Duke Silver

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So what’s the answer to the original question? Don’t have time to read.
 

HornsWin

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The Coming Home Network is a group that publishes and shares the stories of converts to and reverts back to Catholicism. What's great about it is that as the writers of Ecclesiastes says, "there is nothing new under the sun." No points these testimonies raise are new. If you read enough of them, you will begin to see patterns. You might even see a little bit of yourself.

Here is a two-parter from a former Baptist pastor-turned-Catholic apologist.
Part 1
Part 2
 

40A

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Very interesting things in here. It does indeed talk about Christ's return. And smack in the middle, it says this:

2 Thes 1.13-15: "But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers of the beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm in the traditions you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or our letter." [emphasis mine]

You can read the passage I just quoted in full on its own, and it would seem to support my point, or you can read it in the context of the passage before it... and it would still support my point. The passage starts with "But...", indicating a turn away from the direction of the previous passage, which talks about the "Man of Lawlessness" having deceived the Thessalonians. Its also interesting that Paul references our gospel, not the gospel, or the gospels. this can mean one of two things - he is referring to a single, unified gospel story, or he is using "gospel" to mean the good news that he is bringing, which would imply a certain level of accepted authority over the Church.

Chapter 3 also has some interesting things to say on the matter of authority:

"Finally brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

"Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the traditions that you received from us. For you yourselves know you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day... for when we were with you, we would give you this command: if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat."

All told, I just quoted about 1/3 of chapter 2 and about 1/2 of chapter 3. Not an inconsequential

Obviously, the idleness refers to the physical labor St. Paul mentions just a verse or two later. That's not up for debate. But it is interesting, at least to me, how heavy-handed Paul is in making mention of his authority. Also interesting that he calls on the people to imitate "us", not just St. Paul, but presumably any figure of authority. This shows that already a sort of authoritative hierarchy is being developed.

And reading this comment, I am really beginning to wonder if you understand what I am trying to point out here. You say, "This verse is used by an entire church to validate their traditions, but it simply isn't there." This is wrong. The Church does not use a verse to validate our traditions. We use many verses, otherwise known as passages, all viewed in the light of each other and in the greater light of scripture as a whole, to support our beliefs. Because someone provides a list of verses and passages as support doesn't me any one of them works in isolation. Did you notice that the lists I shared above were completely out of order? That's because they are not meant to stand on their own, but to contribute to the larger narrative.

And you keep saying the "proper" context, but you have yet to tell me what that proper context is or to explain what makes it proper as opposed to the context I am using, which is scripture+history.

Finally, you point out that the Thessalonians weren't a Jewish but a Greek church. I know that you know that Christianity sprung up out of Judaism. Once again, Christ came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it, which means that certain traditions from Judaism, the sacred traditions rather than the manmade traditions, were to be upheld rather than abolished. Therefore, a church need not be Jewish in order to be expected to follow those traditions, because those were the traditions of the Church, period.
See the first bolded and italicized. That...is quite the logical leap. I think it's pretty obvious that the gospel he is referring to is the one of Christ only. I've read that passage now over and over and I just cannot find any support for, "the good news that he is bringing, which would imply a certain level of accepted authority over the Church."

We won't get much anywhere on the rest of what you said. I would never (and haven't) refuted the authority of the early church leaders. It's funny, your supporting scripture is something that I've seen before and had a Reformed friend argue - that there's actually more evidence that PAUL should have been designated by the Catholic Church as the first head as he takes a much more commanding role, he was the apostle to the Gentiles, and he wrote the large majority of the NT and cemented the Gospel we teach today. But that's neither here nor there, not trying to throw another wrench into this.

No, I really do understand what you're trying to say. My point from the beginning, however, has been that your use of single passages here and there (which you've done in this very response) are without the proper context, which I pointed out to you in 2 Thessalonians and I'll address here as well.

Yes, while Christianity grew from Judaism, we have no concrete evidence that the early church in Thessaloniki was full of Hellenistic Jews. That early church was likely full of Gentile converts to Christianity, who's church "tradition" would've been whatever pagan religion they had before they converted. But regardless, my argument isn't so much against Church tradition, but the Catholic interpretation and extrapolation we've seen.

Finally, I've said multiple times what the proper context of the Bible is. The Old Testament MUST be interpreted according to the Ancient Near East time period it was written and the New Testament must be interpreted according to 1st century Jewish time period in which it was written. To me, there are four principles to proper reading:
1) Grammar aka word study
2) literal meaning
3) synthesis (what's said like this elsewhere)
4) historical setting

From my experience and study, 1-3 are done pretty consistently. I mean, I went to Bible college and studied a little Greek and Latin. Literal meaning and synthesis are two things on which you and I are literally debating on, so we are good there. However, what's lost is the historical setting on which these books were written.


Check that out if you can, I promise I'm not trying to waste your time here - it's only 10 minutes long. That will explain my position on interpreting scripture.
 
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