Jul 22, 2007

Vail Vision July 22, 2007

Pope Fiction

Pope Benedict XVI has really been in the news lately. A few weeks ago, he issued a decree easing the way for Roman Catholic parishes to celebrate the Old Latin Mass. The decree isn't really as exciting as one may think. Any Roman Catholic congregation has been able to worship using the Old Mass; it only required permission from the Bishop. Obtaining permission was not difficult. No, the real excitement for traditional Roman Catholics is that this Pope appears to be reinstating some of the old practices. This is exciting for them because it brings back the "good old days.. that were lost when the Latin Mass was dropped after Vatican II. (Vatican II was a Roman Catholic Conference held in the 1960s that made sweeping reforms in the Roman Catholic Church.)

A corollary would be if our church body started holding Masses in German. When German immigrants settled in the United States they retained their German heritage in worship. But eventually, it simply didn't make sense to keep the worship service in a different language. So gradually everything moved to the English language. I suppose there are a few Lutherans would like to go back to the German Mass, but by and large it simply doesn't make sense. I believe the same to be true in the Roman Catholic Church. Even though Latin is now officially an option, I cannot imagine large shifts in their current practice.

But the other big news from this new Pope is his decree last week stating that the Roman Catholic Church is the only church. This is such a puzzling decree. The Vatican II council decreed that Christianity can exist outside of the Roman Catholic Church. But the new Pope apparently never liked Vatican II and is asserting his new power.

Who is "The Church.. and who is "The Pope.. is a debate that has gone on throughout history but came to a head during the reformation. Martin Luther wrote an excellent pamphlet entitled, "Of the Power and Primacy of the Pope... I would like to point out some of its key points:

 

  1. In Luke 22:25, Jesus expressly prohibits lordship among the Apostles. Jesus points out that they should be sent out as equals as equals to the common ministry of the Gospel.
  2. In Matt 18:2 Jesus talks about the kingdom of God being like a child, that among ministers, there is not to be dominion, just as a child neither takes nor seeks dominion for himself.
  3. In Galatians 2:7, Paul claims that his authority comes from Jesus and not Peter. If Peter was the head of the church, Paul should have said so.
  4. In 1 Cor. 3:6, Paul makes ministers equal “ Paul says, "all things are yours whether Paul, Apollos or Cephas(Peter).. There is no distinction.


 

Luther also makes a few arguments from the council of Nicea that further solidify his point.


The bottom line is that the Pope is a fallible, sinful, man. He is not perfect. And his decree is fiction... Pope Fiction. Salvation does not come by Papal Decree. It only comes by God's grace through Jesus Christ and the faith to believe it. That's what God's Word says and so that's what we believe.

Blessings, Pastor David Hook