Dr. James White asks Mitchell Pacwa some pointed questions about the Roman Catholic priesthood

The issues:

1.  Is the office of priesthood a legitimate church office?  It is not even in the New Testament.

2.  1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10 teaches and shows us that all Christians are considered priests.

3.  The book of Hebrews does not mention a NT office of priests, but does mention Jesus Christ as our only high priest.

4.  Mitchell Pacwa admitted that Roman Catholic Priests cannot be married.  (except for the eastern catholic rites, and a few Roman Catholic priests who were married before they converted to Roman Catholicism.)  This obligatory rule is a “discipline” (but not a dogma), but it is still contradictory to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, where the elders/ministers were expected and assumed to be married.  Some people have the spiritual gift of singleness (1 Corinthians 7:7), but for the Roman Church to make that a rule is very contradictory to Scripture.  All the apostles were married, except for the apostle Paul.  (1 Corinthians 9:1-5)

5.  Mitchell Pacwa admitted that Roman Catholic priests who are married are expected to abstain from sexual relations, at least in the early church and middle ages.  Wow.  Is that still true today?  What a contradiction to 1 Corinthians 7:1-9; Genesis chapters 1-2, Proverbs 5:15-23, and the Song of Solomon, a book that celebrates romantic sexual love in marriage.

5.  Mitchell Pacwa thinks that the Roman Catholic priesthood has as much Scriptural basis as the doctrine of the Trinity.  Wow.  That is truly amazing.

6.  A Roman Catholic priest is considered an “alter Christus” = “another Christ” in Roman Catholic theology, one who can, like Christ, offer sacrifices and perform grace giving powers – like speaking the words in Latin over the bread and wine and causing them to change into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, hearing someone’s confession, proclaiming forgiveness of sins over a person.

7.  It seems that the Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus) would have mentioned the office of priest, if it was suppossed to be God’s plan for local church leadership.  They mention elders (presybuteros) and overseers/bishops (episcopos) and deacons, but not priests.  The elders and overseers are the same office.  (Titus 1:5-7; Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1-4)   Even other early church writings such as 1 Clement (96 AD), the Shepherd of Hermas (140-155 AD ?), and the Didache(70-120 AD), all very early, point to only 2 offices in the church – elders/overseers and deacons.  1 Clement 44 shows that the presbyters and overseers/bishops/episcopais are the same office.  There was no mono-episcopacy (one bishop over the college of elders) in the NT nor in the earliest church history.  (“earliest”, meaning earlier than Ignatius (107-117 AD) – so “earliest” history is mainly in the canonical Scriptures (48-96 AD),  1 Clement (96 AD) and the Didache (70-120 AD).   I realise there is some time overlap in here with Ignatius and the Didache and Shepherd of Hermas; and also 96 AD is very close to 107-117 – they are contemporaries.  But in Ignatius we see a distinct change from the church government of Clement of Rome to Ignatius’ writings.  Ignatius does not mention a mono-episcopate bishop (bishop over the college elders) when writing to the church at Rome, at that time, which is very interesting, because he does mention a mono-bishop in all the other churches that he writes to.  The evidence for the college of elders in Rome is also in The Shepherd of Hermas.  Later, Jerome, around 400 AD, even admits that the elder and bishop are the same office, and that is was “custom” and “not divine appointment” that created the office of the mono-episcopate (one bishop over the college of elders).  (see below in addendum *)  The Roman Catholic Church claims that a priest is a development later in church history of the word “presbyter”.  There are many problems with this, especially adding the sacrificial aspects of the office.  They seem to apply the OT ideas of a mediator and priest and possibly the Roman pagan ideas of the culture onto the idea of elder/presbuteros.

You can order the entire debate here.  

* Addendum 1 – Jerome’s comments on bishops and elders:

“When subsequently one presbyter was chosen to preside over the rest, this was done to remedy schism and to prevent each individual from rending the church of Christ by drawing it to himself.” (Jerome, Letter 146:1)

“A presbyter, therefore, is the same as a bishop, and before dissensions were introduced into religion by the instigation of the devil, and it was said among the peoples, ‘I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, and I of Cephas,’ Churches were governed by a common council of presbyters; afterwards, when everyone thought that those whom he had baptized were his own, and not Christ’s, it was decreed in the whole world that one chosen out of the presbyters should be placed over the rest, and to whom all care of the Church should belong, that the seeds of schisms might be plucked up. Whosoever thinks that there is no proof from Scripture, but that this is my opinion, that a presbyter and bishop are the same, and that one is a title of age, the other of office, let him read the words of the apostle to the Philippians, saying, ‘Paul and Timotheus, servants of Christ to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi with the bishops and deacons.’” (Commentariorum In Epistolam Ad Titum, “Commentary on the Epistle to Titus”, PL 26:562-563)

And:

“Therefore, as we have shown, among the ancients presbyters were the same as bishops; but by degrees, that the plants of dissension might be rooted up, all responsibility was transferred to one person. Therefore, as the presbyters know that it is by the custom of the Church that they are to be subject to him who is placed over them so let the bishops know that they are above presbyters rather by custom than by Divine appointment, and ought to rule the Church in common, following the example of Moses, who, when he alone had power to preside over the people Israel, chose seventy, with the assistance of whom he might judge the people. We see therefore what kind of presbyter or bishop should be ordained.” (Commentariorum In Epistolam Ad Titum, PL 26:563)

Dr. White cited these Jerome passages in his response to Paul F. M. Zahl, who argued for the Anglican-Episcopal -mono-episcopate church government. (Perspectives on Church Government: Five Views of Church Polity, Edited by Chad Owen Brand and R. Stanton Norman; Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2004, p. 252-252) [my emphasis and bolding]

Addendum 2:

For more details on early church history related issues, see here:

An Evangelical Introduction to Church History – Part 1 – http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/12/evangelical-introduction-to-church.html

Part 2 – http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/12/evangelical-introduction-to-church_15.html

Part 3 – http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2011/06/between-orange-and-trent.html

Part 4 – http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2011/06/scripture-over-church.html

Historical Developments that led to the eclipsing of the doctrine of justification by faith alone until the Reformation.  

 

 

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About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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6 Responses to Dr. James White asks Mitchell Pacwa some pointed questions about the Roman Catholic priesthood

  1. Sam Shamoun says:

    A couple of errors:

    5. Mitchell Pacwa admitted that Roman Catholic priests who are married are expected to abstain from sexual relations, at least in the early church and middle ages. Wow. Is TAHT still true today? What a contradiction to 1 Corinthians 7:1-9; Genesis chapters 1-2, Proverbs 5:15-23, and the Song of Solomon, a book that celebrates romantic sexual love in marriage.

    TAHT should be that. And:

    6. A Roman Catholic priest is considered an “alter Christus” = “another Christ” in Roman Catholic theology, one who can, like Christ, offer sacrifices and perform grace giving powers – like speaking the words in Latin over the bread and wine and causing them to change into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, hearing SOMEONE confession, proclaiming forgiveness of sins over a person.

    SOMEONE should be someone’s.

  2. Sam Shamoun says:

    To be fair, you need to rewrite your last paragraph since it is simply not true that there was no mono-episcopacy in the early Church. In every one of Ignatius’ letters with the exception of the one to Rome he presupposes such a structure since he exhorts all the recipients to submit to the bishop who is head over the presbyters and deacons. Since Ignatius is writing quote early (c. 107-112), and since he happens to be a disciple of the Apostles such as John then this becomes very powerful evidence that such a structure was already in place early on. The most you can prove is that there was no such structure in Rome during this time, as evidenced by both 1 Clement and the fact that Ignatius mentions no bishop when writing to the Romans, since that was adopted later on in the middle of the second century AD.

  3. Sam Shamoun says:

    “Since Ignatius is writing quote early…” = “Since Ignatius is writing quite early…”

  4. Ken Temple says:

    Hi Sam,
    Thanks for catching those typos. Corrected. On the last paragraph, you are right, that is why I wrote the word “earliest” – earlier than Ignatius, meaning 1 Clement and the Didache especially, but I see your point that it needs more clarification. Thanks. Let me know what you think of my correction.

  5. Ken Temple says:

    I am also interested in knowing if you know how to get a hold of the Al Ghazzali quotes that I ask for in the post below. I asked Abdullah Kunde, by email, but he apparently either could not track it down or just doesn’t have time; and/or he has forgotten by now. That was a while back soon after the debate with Samuel Green.

  6. Sam Shamoun says:

    I thought you would be interested to see my response to Williams’ use of Ehrman concerning Jesus forgiving sins: http://badmanna.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/a-series-of-questions-for-jehovahs-witnesses-pt-5a-by-sam-shamoun/#comment-2772

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