(Continued from page 285)
Peter is always listed as the first apostle in all the gospels?
You write: Why is Peter always listed as the first apostle in all the gospels?'
TCE: Peter's name being listed first shows only his importance - not his papacy. It is true that Peter's name often comes first in lists of the apostles (Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16), but this does not mean Peter was supreme or became a pope. Peter certainly played a dominant role in the early church, and may have even become the spokesman and representative of the twelve during Jesus' three-year ministry, but he clearly viewed himself as merely one among many who shepherded God's flock, referring to himself as a 'fellow elder' (1 Peter 5:1). As noted previously, it was James who exercised primacy at the Council of Jerusalem, not Peter (Acts 15:1-35) and Peter was clearly not immune from error or infallible in any way. You have chosen to ignore most of our other points, such as the fact that, if Peter had been a supreme pontiff during this time, Paul would have been completely out of order in publicly correcting him as he did (Galatians 2:11-14). Paul's correction shows quite clearly that Peter was not considered supreme - he made a mistake in a matter of faith [not in a matter of personal behaviour as you try and claim in the very next sentence (below)] and also showed an attitude of hypocrisy in his behaviour which would hardly be fitting for an 'infallible supreme pontiff.'
Jesus didn't say that Peter would be perfect in behavior - only in his teaching?
You write: 'Why would Jesus say to Peter what He did in Luke 22:31-32 and in John 21 (Feed my lambs; feed my sheep)? Peter has a special place among the apostles, that's why. And Fundamentalists think that Paul is so superior to Peter because of Galations, [sic] but they never consider what Paul did to Timothy in Acts 16:1-3. Jesus didn't say that Peter would be perfect in his behavior, only in his teaching ('Whatever you bind and loose...').'
TCE: Jesus' prayer that Peter's faith would not fail relates only to Peter's restoration following his denial of Christ. In Luke 22:31,32 we read Jesus' words to Peter: 'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.' Though Catholic theologians argue that Jesus' prayer ensures Peter's infallibility as pope, the truth is that this passage relates only to Peter's restoration following his abysmal threefold denial of Christ (see Luke 22:34). There is nothing in the verse to even remotely suggest that Christ was making some veiled promise relating to Peter's infallibility. Jesus' prayer for Peter is in keeping with His general intercessory ministry for all believers (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; cf. John 17:15).
Jesus' instruction to 'tend My sheep' was given not to elevate Peter over the other apostles but to bring him back up to their level. Jesus extracts a threefold confession of love from Peter in John 21:15-17 to make up for his threefold denial. The Lord is simply restoring a fallen apostle. The only reason Peter was singled out here is that he is the only apostle who denied Christ verbally. Elsewhere in Scripture we see that the other apostles are also called to feed and watch out for the 'sheep' of the church (see Acts 20:28). This indicates that Peter was not given some unique calling apart from the other apostles. Peter himself wrote:
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory (1 Peter 5:1-4, emphasis added).
We notice two things here: 1) Peter indicates that others beside himself shepherd the flock of God, thereby showing he is not unique; and 2) Peter refers to himself as a 'fellow elder,' thereby putting himself on the same level as others.
No apostle attained a supreme position in New Testament times. All the New Testament verses that speak of Peter are virtually silent about any alleged supremacy on his part. If Peter became pope, wouldn't at least one Bible verse clearly say so?
As we have already proven, one of the most obvious conversations on supremacy, and on which Papal Rome is forced to remain silent occurred just prior to Christ's arrest and crucifixion, when some of the disciples got into an argument over who among them would be the greatest in the kingdom (Luke 22:24-30). Why would the disciples continue to ask this question if the issue had been settled, with Peter having emerged as God's choice for a supreme position? The fact that such discussions took place shows that no apostle had attained a supreme position during Jesus' three-year ministry. Can you come up with a Scriptural explanation for this?
No New Testament epistle teaches that Peter became pope, nor is there any mention of a papacy. Instead, we find all the disciples working together on an apparently equal level of authority. If Peter had attained a supreme position of power, he would likely have said something in his second epistle (2 Peter) to the effect that his readers should be sure to follow his successor in Rome. After all, Peter was getting on in years, and would have supported the papacy had such an institution existed. But Peter did no such thing because there was no papacy.
Paul affirmed be was not inferior to any other apostle (including Peter) in 2 Corinthians 12:11. He would not have said this had a papacy been in existence. It is also highly revealing that while Peter is prominent in the first 12 chapters of the book of Acts, the apostle Paul is the prominent figure in chapters 13-28. This would not make sense if Peter had become the pope.
When Paul lists the authority structure in the early church in 1 Corinthians 12:28, there is no mention of a pope: 'God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers' (1 Corinthians 12:28). Can you explain this omission?
The history of the early church in the book of Acts argues against the existence of a papacy. In the book of Acts we find a detailed history of the early church, and there is not even a hint of the existence of a papacy or of Petrine supremacy. Instead we find verses that indicate Peter was not in a supreme position. Acts 8:14 says the apostles 'sent' Peter and John to Samaria after they heard about God's work in Samaria. Peter would surely have done the sending had he been supreme? Further, Peter played no supreme role in the Jerusalem Council (see Acts 15:1-35), for he is portrayed as one among a number of apostles, but we see that James was apparently in charge of this council (v13-35).
Again, you reveal the sad state your doctrinal bias has reduced you to when you make the foolish statement that: 'Fundamentalists think that Paul is so superior to Peter because of Galations [sic] ...'. As we have shown, Scripture makes it clear that, entirely contrary to the Papal view, no Christian believer is superior to another and it is the one who is the 'servant of all' (to the point that he follows the Masters example - John 13:3-10) who is 'first' because he makes himself 'the very last, and the servant of all' (Mark 9:35) - rather than the pope who demands we kiss his foot! The truth is that no orthodox Christian ever thinks any other Christian is superior or inferior to another - past or present - and in full accordance with Scripture:
Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 3:11: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
It is Papal Rome that has put the thoughts of 'inferior' and 'superior' into your psyche. All the talk drummed into malleable minds that the 'pope' is the 'Holy Father' and has lackeys under him who also rule with a rod of iron and take similarly great (utterly un-Biblical) titles upon themselves is abhorrent in itself, but most serious of all is the Papal elevation of Mary above Jesus!
We are also astonished that you attempt to besmirch an apostle of God because of your Papal bias, complaining about 'what Paul did to Timothy in Acts 16:1-3'! We read in these verses:
1 And he came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, 2 and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
Are you really so ignorant of Scripture? Pushing on through the Cilician Gates (modern Gulek Bogaz) in the Taurus mountains, Paul and Silas came to the Galatian border town of Derbe and then moved on to Lystra. At Lystra he found a young man who was highly spoken of by believers in both Lystra and the neighbouring city of Iconium. The Jewish community at Lystra seems to have been small and without influence (cf. 14:8-10). Probably for that reason Timothy's mother, a Jewess, was allowed to marry a Greek. Timothy, however, had never been circumcised. In Jewish law, a child takes the religion of its mother; so Timothy should have been circumcised and raised a Jew. But in Greek law the father dominates in the home. Apparently the Jewish community at Lystra was too weak or lax to interfere with Greek custom. 2 Timothy 1:5 speaks of the sincere Jewish faith of Timothy's grandmother Lois and of his mother, Eunice, and 2 Timothy 3:15 speaks of Timothy's early instruction in the Hebrew Scriptures. Here Eunice is identified as a Jewess as well as a Christian believer, who had probably been converted during the first visit of Paul and Barnabas to Lystra. From the imperfect verb hypgrchen ('he was') in v3, it may be reasonably conjectured that her husband was now dead. Likewise, from Paul's reference to Timothy in 1 Corinthians 4:17 as his son, we may assume that Timothy's conversion to Christ also dates from the proclamation of the gospel on that first missionary journey.
Most scholars accept at face value the statements in v1-2 and the statement about Paul's desire to take Timothy along with him on his journey (v3a). Many, however, question what is said about Paul's circumcising Timothy and delivering the Jerusalem decisions to the Galatian Christians. The hand of a redactor has often been seen in v3-4 (by doubters) and Luke accused of perpetuating gross confusion - e.g., attributing to Paul's relations with Timothy an erroneous tradition concerning Titus (citing Galatians 2:3) or inadvertently taking over some slanderous rumour that Paul did on occasion circumcise his converts (cf. Haenchen, Acts of the Apostles, p. 482, citing Galatians 5:11). But while Paul stoutly resisted any imposition of circumcision and the Jewish law upon his Gentile converts, he himself continued to live as an observant Jew and urged his converts to express their Christian faith through the cultural forms they had inherited (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:17-24). As for Timothy, because of his Jewish mother, he was a Jew in the eyes of the Jewish world. Therefore, it was both proper and expedient for Paul to circumcise him. As Paul saw it, being a good Christian did not mean being a bad Jew. Rather, it meant being a fulfilled Jew and is a view held by most Messianic Christians today. Paul had no desire to flout Jewish scruples in his endeavour to bring both Jews and Gentiles to salvation in Christ and knew that the cultural barrier to evangelism of the Jews centred on the issue of circumcision. Therefore, since Timothy was a half-Jew, Paul circumcised him so that he would be acceptable to the Jews in their forthcoming Jewish ministry. This action can hardly be looked upon as a compromise of conviction in relation to chapter 15, since Paul had spoken so strongly in favour of the Gentile mission. It should be remembered, however, that Paul was not giving up on the Jews, though he must have experienced a growing awareness of the Gentile thrust of his mission. He would continue to go 'to the Jew first' and then to the Gentiles. This incident teaches us that cultural accommodation in relation to missionary evangelism is often vital to the furtherance of the gospel. It should be observed, though, that such accommodation is made in matters of external preference and should not be made in matters considered morally sinful (see this principle expressed in I Corinthians 9:20-23).
Early Christians prove the Papal view of the Eucharist is correct?
You write: 'I have seen Fundamentalists date the beginning of the Catholic Church anywhere from the year 325 to the year 1000. If one reads the writings of the early Christians, however, a whole different picture emerges. The Didache (70, A.D.) is also known as 'The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles.' It instructs that only the baptized may partake of the Eucharist, because 'This is what Christ meant when He said, 'Do not give what is holy to dogs.'' I can't imagine a Fundamentalist thinking that of the Eucharist.'
We have clearly stated the origins of Papal Rome and any other claims need to be substantiated - whether by mis-guided 'Fundamentalists' or by you. The authors of 'The Didache' are unknown, so quoting them has no authority, even though there is truth in their writings. Here is the full quote from Chapter Nine:
Chapter 9. The Eucharist. Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup:
We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever..
And concerning the broken bread:
We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever..
But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, 'Give not that which is holy to the dogs.'
Why didn't you quote the whole Chapter? Because it gives absolutely no reason to think of the Eucharist in a Papal fashion, talking clearly of 'the cup' and 'this broken bread' and giving no reason to think of them as anything but 'symbolic elements'? And what does 'The Didache' continue to say about this subject:
Chapter 10. Prayer after Communion. But after you are filled, give thanks this way:
We thank Thee, holy Father, for Thy holy name which You didst cause to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality, which You modest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Thou, Master almighty, didst create all things for Thy name's sake; You gavest food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to Thee; but to us You didst freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Thy Servant. Before all things we thank Thee that You are mighty; to Thee be the glory for ever. Remember, Lord, Thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in Thy love, and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for Thy kingdom which Thou have prepared for it; for Thine is the power and the glory for ever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the God (Son) of David! If any one is holy, let him come; if any one is not so, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen.
Again, this does not support the communion of Papal Rome in any way related to her 'Mass' - but an orthodox Christian would not have trouble praying in this manner! The Bible makes it clear that there is only one baptism received by believers (and this does not refer to 'water baptism') and there is a severe penalty (death!) for those who partake of the sacrament in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:30), so you have absolutely no grounds for claiming that 'a Fundamentalist' would not consider this to be a serious matter. 'The Didache' has this to say about baptism:
Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism.
And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.
Does Papal Rome baptise into 'living water'? Clearly not!
And what does 'The Didache' say about leaders?:
Chapter 11. Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and Prophets.
Whosoever, therefore, comes and teaches you all these things that have been said before, receive him. But if the teacher himself turns and teaches another doctrine to the destruction of this, hear him not. But if he teaches so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord. But concerning the apostles and prophets, act according to the decree of the Gospel. Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain more than one day; or two days, if there's a need. But if he remains three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet. And every prophet who speaks in the Spirit you shall neither try nor judge; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven. But not every one who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; but only if he holds the ways of the Lord. Therefore from their ways shall the false prophet and the prophet be known. And every prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it, unless he is indeed a false prophet. And every prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. And every prophet, proved true, working unto the mystery of the Church in the world, yet not teaching others to do what he himself does, shall not be judged among you, for with God he has his judgment; for so did also the ancient prophets. But whoever says in the Spirit, Give me money, or something else, you shall not listen to him. But if he tells you to give for others' sake who are in need, let no one judge him.
We find no special apostle mentioned and a clear indictment of money-grubbers such as the popes and their indulgences and those who take money for their 'work'!
Chapter 15. Bishops and Deacons; Christian Reproof.
Appoint, therefore, for yourselves, bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, and not lovers of money, and truthful and proved; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. Therefore do not despise them, for they are your honoured ones, together with the prophets and teachers. And reprove one another, not in anger, but in peace, as you have it in the Gospel. But to anyone that acts amiss against another, let no one speak, nor let him hear anything from you until he repents. But your prayers and alms and all your deeds so do, as you have it in the Gospel of our Lord.
Again, the Biblical pattern and not a word about popes or priests - who are 'lovers of money'!
Some consider that Barnabas may have been the writer of The Didache, since Barnabas and Paul were 'The Apostles to the Gentiles.' If The Didache is a sample of their teaching, as it certainly seems to be, then it must be dated no later than A.D. 49 because that was when they went their separate ways. The most probable date is either A.D. 44 or A.D. 47. In either case, those dates are earlier than anything in the New Testament. This would make The Didache the earliest Christian document we have. Although rightly regarded as a church handbook, it is not a Gospel or absolutely based on the teachings of Jesus, but provides valuable insights concerning the moral doctrines, theology, rituals, esoteric operations and congregational testing of apostles and prophets, and the basic organization of First Century Christianity.
But we notice that there is not an inkling of anything suggesting the Eucharist of Papal Rome, or a Papal-type leader or organisation!Claims of 'cannibalism' prove the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?!
A letter to Clement proves that the Corinthians appealed to a Bishop and did not consult Scripture?
You write: 'I'm sure you have heard of the Roman city of Pompeii, which was buried in volcanic ash in 79. Pompeii is slowly being excavated, and writings of the inhabitants found there ridicule Christians as cannibals. That can mean only one thing - that the early Christians were Catholic, believing in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
TCE: Again you display the faulty logic and eisegetical methods of Papal Rome - trying to read into the evidence what you wish to prove! Those opposed to Christianity have often ridiculed the 'emblems', accusing Christian who believed that Christ was literally present in the bread and wine of cannibalism. If the blood and flesh of Christ were literally present then they would, of course, be right - for this is what the errors of Papal Rome have led to! There are many examples of evidence being found which supposedly 'proves' some belief to be the truth but, just because examples of errors are found, this does not prove that it was believed or practiced by the ancient Christians. Such is the case with the cannibalism claims.
For many years it has been claimed that nails driven through the palms will strip out between the fingers when made to support the weight of the human body during crucifixion, but anatomists, both modern and ancient, have apparently always considered the wrist as part of the hand anyway. However, evidence supplied by French surgeon Pierre Barbet, who nailed amputated arms from fresh cadavers through the palms and attached weights to the other ends, demonstrated that the historical record holds true when the medical knowledge of a crucifixioner is applied. He found that the nails tore through when the weight was increased to 88 pounds and the arms were wrenched hard. By trying to mimic the force a human body in agony would exert, he concluded that nailing through the palm was impractical. However, after more experiments he established that a nail could be driven readily through an anatomical area known as 'Destot's space', located near where the base of the hand joins the wrist. Because 'Destot's space' is surrounded by the wrist bones a nail there could easily support the weight of the body. Barbet's hypothesis seemed to get a boost in 1968 when archaeologists in Jerusalem unearthed the first known skeleton of a crucifixion victim. The victim's feet had been nailed to the cross sideways through the heel, rather than the arch as is commonly depicted. There was also a scratch on one of the bones of the right forearm (the radius), as though from a nail. In a 1989 issue of Bible Review, Frederick Zugibe, a medical examiner for Rockland County, New York, claimed that there are at least two other possible nailing locations, one of which is on the palm in the 'thenar furrow,' the deep fold where the base of the thumb joins the hand, which can be seen when you touch your thumb to the tip of your little finger. In the Jerusalem crucifixion victim, the nail didn't go through Destot's space in the wrist bones; it apparently went between the two bones of the forearm. The outcome of the argument appears to be that there are at least three places where a crucifixion victim can be nailed: through the area of the hand, wrist and forearm - or tied to the patibulum with ropes. Clearly the evidence that our Lord was nailed to the cross through the hands (or wrists) remains an attested historical fact.
There are many other examples of errors being accepted as fact simply because the correct evidence is not being examined.
You write: 'To say that the Papacy as it exists today was not present in the early Church is incorrect, because its basis as the final authority in matters of faith and morals was there from the beginning. In the year 80, we have the letter of Clement, fourth Bishop of Rome, to the Corinthians. The Corinthians had a serious dispute in their local church, and they turned to Clement, the Bishop of Rome, to settle it. This is when at least one apostle, John, was still alive. Note that the Corinthians appealed to a leader of the Church to solve their problem; they did not consult Scripture to solve it.'
TCE: Again, you are reading into the evidence the result you wish to find. First, the date is disputed and may have been 95 or 96 A.D. - the most widely accepted date. This is the only letter of many attributed to Clement and the opening statement gives us absolutely no reason to agree with your hoped for interpretation:
1Clem prologue:1 The Church of God which sojourneth in Rome to the Church of God which sojourneth in Corinth, to them which are called and sanctified by the will of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace from Almighty God through Jesus Christ be multiplied. 1Clem 1:1 By reason of the sudden and repeated calamities and reverses which are befalling us, brethren, we consider that we have been somewhat tardy in giving heed to the matters of dispute that have arisen among you, dearly beloved, and to the detestable and unholy sedition, so alien and strange to the elect of God, which a few headstrong and self-willed persons have kindled to such a pitch of madness that your name, once revered and renowned and lovely in the sight of all men, hath been greatly reviled. 1Clem 1:2 For who that had sojourned among you did not approve your most virtuous and steadfast faith? Who did not admire your sober and forbearing piety in Christ? Who did not publish abroad your magnificent disposition of hospitality? Who did not congratulate you on your perfect and sound knowledge? 1Clem 1:3 For ye did all things without respect of persons, and ye walked after the ordinances of God, submitting yourselves to your rulers and rendering to the older men among you the honour which is their due. On the young too ye enjoined modest and seemly thoughts: and the women ye charged to perform all their duties in a blameless and seemly and pure conscience, cherishing their own husbands, as is meet; and ye taught them to keep in the rule of obedience, and to manage the affairs of their household in seemliness, with all discretion. 1Clem 2:1 And ye were all lowly in mind and free from arrogance, yielding rather than claiming submission, more glad to give than to receive, and content with the provisions which God supplieth. And giving heed unto His words, ye laid them up diligently in your hearts, and His sufferings were before your eyes.
So, in the introduction, we find no reason to suppose that this letter is written by 'a pope' or a 'superior' bishop even (Archbishops are another invention of man and never mentioned in Scripture) to a subordinate church. The Section in 1 Clem 1:3 makes it very clear who the Corinthian church submitted to and honoured - 'the older men among you'! Yes, there was a Church in Rome - but there is absolutely no evidence at all that it was ruled by a 'pope' or had 'presidence' over other churches! Reading on we find out the example the Church in Rome recommends:
1Clem 5:3 Let us set before our eyes the good Apostles. 1Clem 5:4 There was Peter who by reason of unrighteous jealousy endured not one but many labors, and thus having borne his testimony went to his appointed place of glory. 1Clem 5:5 By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, 1Clem 5:6 having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance.
Peter and Paul are given as examples of 'the good Apostles.' One is not elevated above the other and the Roman writer makes no claim to equality with either of them (although writing: 'There was Peter who by reason of unrighteous jealousy endured not one but many labors ...'!). The writer then goes on to warn against those who would set themselves up in 'pope-like' fashion:
1Clem 14:1 Therefore it is right and proper, brethren, that we should be obedient unto God, rather than follow those who in arrogance and unruliness have set themselves up as leaders in abominable jealousy.
He goes on to re-emphasise the order of leadership:
1Clem 21:6 Let us fear the Lord Jesus [Christ], whose blood was given for us. Let us reverence our rulers; let us honour our elders; let us instruct our young men in the lesson of the fear of God.
There is none of the bombastic bullying nonsense of the Medieval Popes, who wrote vitriolic orders for people to toe to line or risk Papal wrath. We notice that the writer gives good advice when he sticks to quoting Old and New Testament Scriptures (even though his variants may indicate the nature of the Septuagint translation he used, or that he was quoting from memory), but he also shows his human fallibility when he mentions the mythical 'phoenix bird' which supposedly lived in Arabia for 500 years at the end of which it burned itself and its nest, which is supposedly made of frankincense, myrrh and other spices:
1Clem 25:1 Let us consider the marvelous sign which is seen in the regions of the east, that is, in the parts about Arabia. 1Clem 25:2 There is a bird, which is named the phoenix. This, being the only one of its kind, liveth for five hundred years; and when it hath now reached the time of its dissolution that it should die, it maketh for itself a coffin of frankincense and myrrh and the other spices, into the which in the fullness of time it entereth, and so it dieth. 1Clem 25:3 But, as the flesh rotteth, a certain worm is engendered, which is nurtured from the moisture of the dead creature and putteth forth wings. Then, when it is grown lusty, it taketh up that coffin where are the bones of its parent, and carrying them journeyeth from the country of Arabia even unto Egypt, to the place called the City of the Sun; 1Clem 25:4 and in the daytime in the sight of all, flying to the altar of the Sun, it layeth them thereupon; and this done, it setteth forth to return. 1Clem 25:5 So the priests examine the registers of the times, and they find that it hath come when the five hundredth year is completed. 1Clem 26:1 Do we then think it to be a great and marvelous thing, if the Creator of the universe shall bring about the resurrection of them that have served Him with holiness in the assurance of a good faith, seeing that He showeth to us even by a bird the magnificence of His promise?
We see that he writes with good intentions, using the bird to illustrate the resurrection but, unfortunately uses a creature often associated with the occult! We would hope for a better illustration from a bishop, but this is too often found with the Church Fathers who sometimes strayed into error. At 1 Clem 42:1 he makes it clear that the apostles received the gospel - and makes no indication that there was anything to be added as he affirms the method of leadership and the example of writing 'sacred books' by Moses who 'the rest of the prophets followed':
1Clem 42:1 The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. 1Clem 42:2 So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order. 1Clem 42:3 Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. 1Clem 42:4 So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe. 1Clem 42:5 And this they did in no new fashion; for indeed it had been written concerning bishops and deacons from very ancient times; for thus saith the scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness and their deacons in faith. 1Clem 43:1 And what marvel, if they which were entrusted in Christ with such a work by God appointed the aforesaid persons? seeing that even the blessed Moses who was a faithful servant in all His house recorded for a sign in the sacred books all things that were enjoined upon him. And him also the rest of the prophets followed, bearing witness with him unto the laws that were ordained by him.
At 1 Clem 44:1 the writer again makes it clear that the 'bishop's office' is that of the leader who is appointed with 'the consent of the whole Church' and there is no mention of anyone on earth that he is subordinate to:
1Clem 44:1 And our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife over the name of the bishop's office. 1Clem 44:2 For this cause therefore, having received complete foreknowledge, they appointed the aforesaid persons, and afterwards they provided a continuance, that if these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed to their ministration. Those therefore who were appointed by them, or afterward by other men of repute with the consent of the whole Church, and have ministered unblamably to the flock of Christ in lowliness of mind, peacefully and with all modesty, and for long time have borne a good report with all these men we consider to be unjustly thrust out from their ministration. 1Clem 44:3 For it will be no light sin for us, if we thrust out those who have offered the gifts of the bishop's office unblamably and holily. 1Clem 44:4 Blessed are those presbyters who have gone before, seeing that their departure was fruitful and ripe: for they have no fear lest any one should remove them from their appointed place. 1Clem 44:5 For we see that ye have displaced certain persons, though they were living honorably, from the ministration which had been respected by them blamelessly. 1Clem 45:1 Be ye contentious, brethren, and jealous about the things that pertain unto salvation. 1Clem 45:2 Ye have searched the scriptures, which are true, which were given through the Holy Ghost; 1Clem 45:3 and ye know that nothing unrighteous or counterfeit is written in them. Ye will not find that righteous persons have been thrust out by holy men.
Again, it is made clear that, unlike the many usurpations carried out by popes who threw one another off the Papal throne, the bishops who lead 'have no fear lest any one should remove them from their appointed place'. The method they used was clear: 'Ye have searched the scriptures, which are true, which were given through the Holy Ghost; and ye know that nothing unrighteous or counterfeit is written in them. Ye will not find that righteous persons have been thrust out by holy men'.
All of this is light years from the darkness into which the papacy, originated by Constantine in 324 A.D., eventually thrust the Roman Church. The writer again emphasises the different gospel of the writers of the New Testament who warned clearly of the divisions caused by 'one or two persons [who] maketh sedition against its presbyters':
1Clem 46:9 Your division hath perverted many; it hath brought many to despair, many to doubting, and all of us to sorrow. And your sedition still continueth. 1Clem 47:1 Take up the epistle of the blessed Paul the Apostle. 1Clem 47:2 What wrote he first unto you in the beginning of the Gospel? 1Clem 47:3 Of a truth he charged you in the Spirit concerning himself and Cephas and Apollos, because that even then ye had made parties. 1Clem 47:4 Yet that making of parties brought less sin upon you; for ye were partisans of Apostles that were highly reputed, and of a man approved in their sight. 1Clem 47:5 But now mark ye, who they are that have perverted you and diminished the glory of your renowned love for the brotherhood. 1Clem 47:6 It is shameful, dearly beloved, yes, utterly shameful and unworthy of your conduct in Christ, that it should be reported that the very steadfast and ancient Church of the Corinthians, for the sake of one or two persons, maketh sedition against its presbyters. 1Clem 47:7 And this report hath reached not only us, but them also which differ from us, so that ye even heap blasphemies on the Name of the Lord by reason of your folly, and moreover create peril for yourselves. 1Clem 48:1 Let us therefore root this out quickly, and let us fall down before the Master and entreat Him with tears, that He may show Himself propitious and be reconciled unto us, and may restore us to the seemly and pure conduct which belongeth to our love of the brethren.
The writer concludes with an appeal for 'peace and concord' and promises to send 'faithful and prudent men that have walked among us from youth unto old age unblamably, who shall also be witnesses between you and us'. These 'messengers' were 'Claudius Ephebus and Valerius Bito, together with Fortunatus' who were sent 'to the end that they may the more quickly report the peace and concord which is prayed for and earnestly desired by us, that we also may the more speedily rejoice over your good order.' It is a fanciful craving for proof of a Papal system that never existed that causes Romanists to search for evidence of a superior leadership from Rome but, alas for such ambition, it is all in vain:
1Clem 63:2 For ye will give us great joy and gladness, if ye render obedience unto the things written by us through the Holy Spirit, and root out the unrighteous anger of your jealousy, according to the entreaty which we have made for peace and concord in this letter. 1Clem 63:3 And we have also sent faithful and prudent men that have walked among us from youth unto old age unblamably, who shall also be witnesses between you and us. 1Clem 63:4 And this we have done that ye might know that we have had, and still have, every solicitude that ye should be speedily at peace. 1Clem 64:1 Finally may the All seeing God and Master of spirits and Lord of all flesh, who chose the Lord Jesus Christ, and us through Him for a peculiar people, grant unto every soul that is called after His excellent and holy Name faith, fear, peace, patience, long-suffering, temperance, chastity and soberness, that they may be well pleasing unto His Name through our High priest and Guardian Jesus Christ, through whom unto Him be glory and majesty, might and honour, both now and for ever and ever. Amen. 1Clem 65:1 Now send ye back speedily unto us our messengers Claudius Ephebus and Valerius Bito, together with Fortunatus also, in peace and with joy, to the end that they may the more quickly report the peace and concord which is prayed for and earnestly desired by us, that we also may the more speedily rejoice over your good order. 1Clem 65:2 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and with all men in all places who have been called by God and through Him, through whom be glory and honour, power and greatness and eternal dominion, unto Him, from the ages past and forever and ever. Amen.
So, once again, we find your claims are without a vestige of foundation.
(Continued on page 287)