"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Monday, November 1, 2010

When a person is not satisfied with Christ...

TurretinFan to me:
David, You’ve provided an excellent example of what happens when a person is not satisfied with Christ.
Find the exchange here. This is what he is responding to: TFan said: “Instead of having any pope, Christ is the only head of our church. For us, God’s word alone is infallible. Do you think that’s not enough? If so, why?” David M. said: It is not that I think it is not enough, your religion SHOWS me the proof it is not enough. Look around dude, where is your unity? If Protestants were unified (as Luther and Calvin perhaps thought they would be before 500 years went by) your comment here would have some weight, and I most certainly would not have ever dared question sola Scriptura as a Reformed Christian. Its truth would be clearly displayed by its fruit. But its fruit is rotten. You say “Christ is the head” and “his word is infallible”. Agreed. Heretics like Greg Boyd or Ken Hagen or John Macarthur would agree too. For all I know you consider them Christians because they have some similarity to your understanding of the Gospel. (of course you know what a Roman Catholic would be bound to think of them… every Christian would need to personally ask YOU however if you consider them part of the church) Your visible church is a hodgepodge of disagreeing opinions about what they claim the infallible word says. But if I look at the fruit, it is pure disagreement, which means that the supposed “church” that results is by its own definition FULL of error. The book may be infallible, but your church has certainly not been a witness to that by a resulting unity in the truth of Scripture. You guys can say all day that the Catholic “fruit” is evil heresy and such, but instead of the weight of authority behind your claim, it has all the weight of a paper airplane of opinion lightly tossed in my general direction. THEY have the unity. Show me your unity and I will take you seriously when you say Christ is your head. Until that is shown, Christ’s own words in John 17 accuse you day and night. For you to say Christ is the “head” of a church with obvious and serious doctrinal disunity (doctrines your respective church authorities fully admit are disagreed on) just falls flat. Like a politician promising “change” it is just sort of one of those things Protestants say, and is *winked at* when it is known by all too just be viscerally not true. For Protestants, any “unity” spoken of can only be in the distant past or relegated to the far reaches of eschatology in the future. The divisions in the Protestant “church” run deep, are increasing, and the least common denominator of “clear” teachings to agree on to maintain the pretended unity are so watered down there can be only a nominal authority over each watery branch, but none over the Protestant tree. Your church, (whatever it is you describe has THE church, not just your local congregation) by your own admission (correct me if I am wrong) has: (A) Clipped haired female Pastors (B) Grape juice drinking memorialists who vacuum up the crumbs (C) Arminians (those absolutely opposed to pure monergism ala Calvin) (D) Credobaptists And all these areas have the OPPOSITE view accepted as a valid view in your “church”! I know you wish this weren’t so. How could you want this kind of disunity if you (I know you do) love Christ? Think on this sad scenario. Godly leaders in your church wanting to protect the unity of that church admonish someone that he is straying from the Scriptural path, but all he has to say in response is “my conscience is held captive by the word of God” to make their “authority” vanish like the fog at sunrise. AND THEY KNOW IT. I will not even be excommunicated for leaving the PCA. Not that it would matter a wink to me if I was, because I feel convinced based on THEIR authority (Scripture) that I am right and they are mistaken. they self admittedly have no more authority than I do. All they can do is say “we think you’re wrong”. Uhhh, …ok. I think you’re wrong too so see you later. Wow, the hammer of authority feels more like a rubber chicken. TFan, whoever makes the final doctrinal proclamation is the “Pope”. For you that is *you*, informed by other worthy sources like Scripture, tradition and councils of course. For me it is the actual Pope, who is informed by Bishops and the same sources as you. Someone needs to decide what “this is my Body” means. Your Pope decides for you, my Pope decides for me. You submit to your Pope (you) I submit to mine (THE Pope). You can say all day that “Christ is the only head of our church.” but the for you the way His headship is represented here on earth is by your interpretation of His inerrant word. The Protestant fruit I see is division, and Christ is not divided.


  1. David,

    Given TF's reasoning, then by his having a pastor, he is thereby showing his dissatisfaction with Christ.

    If he were to be consistent here, he would give up all pretenses of Church authority, and take the Plymouth Brethren sort of approach.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  2. I remember how clever I felt when as a Protestant I said I wasn't interested in any religious system that stood or fell on the basis of a man instead of on Jesus. No pope or Calvin or Luther for me! Kinda funny how my insistence that a religious system be based on Jesus' power and trustworthiness landed me in the Catholic Church.

  3. From my very limited exposure to these types of dialogues, there comes a point when some people seem to just decide to "stick to their guns" regardless of the strength of their position. This person does not have to agree with you, but the attempt at taking the high ground by claiming not submit to any authority other than Christ is not very convincing to me. Either someone else here on Earth is your authority, or you are your own authority. I have no idea how someone can deny this. If this was not the case, there would be no need for any teachers in the Church.

  4. Thanks for the great comments. It is so frustrating to hear him say: “Christ is the only head of our church.” Because the elephant in the living room is this: Christ is not here to be consulted by him! (he is in the Eucharist, yes, but you know what I mean. And TFan would certainly not consult Him in the Eucharist anyway) When TFan says Christ is the head, he WILL have a human interprative authority who identifies AND interprets revelation. It is just that simple.

  5. David,

    Thank you for articulating so well one of the major things that drove me from Protestantism back to the Church after spending my entire adult life as a Protestant of several stripes. Everytime I upgraded to a more "biblical" denomination, as I did a few times over the years, I kept suppressing the nagging thought I was being my own little pope. At some point every Protestant on the journey towards a more biblical/historic Christianity must, or at least should, struggle with this. It is the only intellectually honest thing to do. You can only kid yourself for so long before the house of cards starts to crumble.

  6. This is why discussions focused on interpretations of Scripture are basically putting the cart before the horse. We first need to know HOW to interpret scripture. I know for an absolute fact that I don't have the authority to be definitve about my own interpretation. That means either someone else does other than myself, or noone does. If I do have authority, how? If someone else has authority, who? And, how do I find them? If noone has authority, what happened to it after the time of the Apostles and how do we know what the truth is? If we can't know what the truth is, how do we know Christ who is Truth?

  7. Great points, especially Bryan's response; I love the short, direct, and to-the-point... that's even better than what I had in mind, which is, in response to "Christ is the head of the Church," to say, "okay *what* Church?" First of all, it's something that would have to qualify as *a* Church, at the very least. And what do Protestants have that could with any warrant be called even that (except that they have to *simply because* because the word "Church" is in the NT, so *something* has to correspond to it). Then via Socratic dialogue you could get all the way to the original point, which is *exactly* what the office of Pope is *for* - without the (Roman) Catholic church, there's no (one, holy, catholic, and apostolic) Church.