Welcome to the LESSON 2 in the CATECHESIS CORNER. We use this medium to thank and acknowledge all those who responded to our LESSON ONE by way of appreciation, questioning and various comments via mail or text messages. We received over 50 questions pertaining to the Catholic faith, so we promise to respond in due time. We may respond privately to you or we may treat your questions in the course of our future LESSONS.
As usual we implore you to necessarily get your Bible and “the Catechism of the Catholic Church” (popularly known as CCC) for a fruitful catechesis session. We have also decided to be recommending books to help deepen the understanding of the true apostolic faith.
Join us in prayer as we begin this LESSON 2 edition: Spirit of the Living God, enlighten our mind to know the Truth, strengthen our hearts to accept the Truth and cause us to live for the Truth. Through this Catechesis Corner, restore those who have fallen from the Truth, convince the doubting hearts, clarify the confuse mind and lead us all to the fullness of Truth in the name of Jesus.
We shall present our Lesson 2 in form a dialogue between a curious protestant student and his professor adopted from Scott Hann and edited by us. The conversation goes thus: Professor, maybe am suffering from amnesia, but somehow I’ve forgotten the simple reasons why we believe the Bible is our sole authority. The professor replied; what a dump question. Just give me a dump answer said the student. Ok, said the professor, you really can’t demonstrate sola scriptura from the scripture. The bible doesn’t expressly declare that it is the Christian’s only authority. In other word, sola scriptura is essentially the historic confession of the protestant reformers, over and against catholic claim that it is Scripture plus the Church and Tradition. The professor continued; for us, then, it is a theological presupposition, our starting point rather than a proven conclusion. Isn’t it ironical? Asked the student, we insist that Christians can believe only what the bible teaches, but the bible doesn’t teach that the scripture is the sole authority of a Christian.
At this stage of the conversation, the professor wanting to convince his student that the scripture alone is sufficient, said to his student; ‘if you agree that we now possess the inspired and inerrant word of God in the scripture, then what more do we need?’ In reply the student said to his professor; ‘ever since the Protestant reformation, over twenty-five thousand different protestant denominations has emerged, and experts say there are presently five new ones being formed every week. Every single one of them claimed to be following the Holy Spirit and the plain meaning of the scripture. The student continued; is there a nation on earth where everybody has the final authority to interpret their constitution? In the case of Nigeria as many other nations, beside the constitution, there is a supreme/final court to give the final authoritative interpretation of the constitution. For where everybody is considered to possess the right and final authority to interpret the constitution the result is anarchy, and this is what the protestant has done with the church of Christ as regard the bible. For by insisting that everybody has the final authority to interpret the bible, Protestantism is characterized by hundreds of conflicting rules of faith or interpretations of the bible.
Prof. said the student; I am beginning to think strongly in line with 2 Peter 3:15-16, ‘So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.’ Hebrews 5:11-12, ‘About this we have much to say that is hard to explain, since you have become dull in understanding. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food.’ And 2 Peter 1:20, ‘First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.’ It is contrary to the word of God to teach or hold that every person’s interpretation of the bible is correct and final. For according to 1Cor. 12:28-29 not all are teachers of God’s word.
The professor asked the student; who do you think has the authority to give the right and final interpretation to the scripture? The student replied; prof. is not who I think, but who did the word of God impose that responsibility? So, what did you know that the scripture says about that, asked the professor? It is the church, precisely Peter, who has the duty to feed and tend the flock and the key to administer the church in communion with the rest apostles. Where is it in the bible, asked the professor? Prof. Acts 1:15, 5:1-10 attests to the fact that peter presides in council. Also when the problem of how to decide the fate of the Gentiles who entered the church came up, it was not left to everybody to decide, rather the apostles in union with Peter gathered at Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15 :1-21, and verse 6-7 says; …. The apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them……’ at the end of the deliberations Peter’s position was upheld. So prof. the bishops who are the successors of the apostles in union with the pope who is the successor of peter has the duty and authority to interpret God’s word. This is interesting, said the professor. But you know peter and its successors are all humans? Yes replied the student. So they are liable to mistake or error, and as such we cannot rely on them, rather let us rely on the Holy Spirit, said the professor. Prof. the church and the office of Peter (that is, the pope) cannot err in teaching the truth of faith and moral replied the student. How can you believe that, are you a catholic? No yet replied the student. But prof. do you know that we all believe (both Catholics and protestants) that God most certainly rendered Peter infallible on at least on two occasion? I don’t think so, when, Said the professor. When he (Peter) wrote first and second Peter, replied the student, so if God through the Holy Spirit could do that when he wrote, why can’t God do it when he speaks? If we doubt the infallibility of the church and the pope, how can we be sure that even the scripture itself is infallible? Because it was the church and her children that compiled, documented and canonized the New Testament as we have it today, for it was in 393 and 397 A.D. in both Hippo and Carthage respectively, (both council receive the approval of the pope) gave the New Testament as we have it today to be use and reverence as the word of God. Furthermore, said the student, in both Matthew10:20 and Luke 12:12 Jesus says, ‘for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.’ And in Luke 10:16 the bible said, “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” Also in Luke 22:32 Jesus prays for Peter, ‘but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ In John 16:13, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to guide the church into all truth. Already Jesus had promise that gate of hades will not prevail. So prof. it makes more sense to believe the bible that the church is the ground and pillar of truth (1Timothy 3:15) empowered by Jesus in Matthew 28:18 to teach all nation, so she cannot teach error. For the Spirit of Truth has been given to her to guide her into all truth, so that when she speaks, it is Jesus who is speaking, for who listen to the church, listen to Jesus. Through the key given to her visibly head Peter and his successors, they under the guidance of the Spirit continue to open the gate of heaven to her faithful children who obey their teachings.
CCC 889 said “in order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility…,” “The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfil this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms: “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith – he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith and morals … The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the Supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council”. – [CCC 890-891]
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, may our learning deepen and strengthen our faith in Christ Jesus the TRUTH in the name of Jesus-Amen. Thanks for reading through, see you in our next edition, endeavour to carry out the study guide below little by little daily before next lesson/edition.
CATECHESIS STUDY GUIDE: CCC No. 888-892
“ROME SWEET HOME” by Scott Hahn
TAKE HOME QUESTION: Is the Church and the Pope Infallible? Why and How?