Friday, September 17, 2010

Papal Protest

Later today I'll be heading off to London to take part in a protest against the state visit of Pope Benedict XVI. The event has been organised by the Protestant Truth Society, which exists to assist Christians and churches to stand for biblical truth in all its glory and against error in all its forms. It will be a peaceful protest. We have no wish to disrupt the Papal visit. We respect the freedom of Roman Catholics to follow their faith in this land. If they want to gather to meet the pope as he travels around the UK, that’s fine. On some matters we agree with him. For example, he is right to warn against an aggressively secular outlook that has little room for faith-based values in society. We admire Rome's strong stance on abortion, euthanasia and the unique value of heterosexual marriage.

The purpose of our protest is to bear witness to some important biblical truths that we believe are undermined by certain Roman Catholic teachings.

Doctrinal differences

Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics share a commitment to some essential Christian truths such as the doctrine of the Trinity and that Jesus is the Son of God who became man to save us from sin. But serious differences still exist.

1. Who is the head of the Church?

According to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church,
The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful. For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.(Para. 882)
We disagree with that claim. According to Scripture Christ is the sole head of the church He alone has supreme and unhindered power over the people of God, Ephesians 1:22-23. Matthew 28:18-20.

2. Who has authority over the Church?

Is it Bible plus the Pope making infallible pronouncements as Rome says, or is it  solely the Holy Spirit  speaking in the Scriptures?

3. What happens at the Lord’s Supper?

At the heart of Roman faith and worship is the Mass. Rome teaches that the bread and wine at the Lord's Table are "transubstantiated" into the body and blood of Christ. At the Mass the priest re-offers the sacrifice of Christ. We believe that the Lord's Supper is a fellowship meal where the people of God eat bread and drink wine as symbols of the incarnation and sacrificial death of Christ. We feed upon Christ by faith as he is present among his people by the power of the Holy Spirit. There is no need to re-offer Christ's sacrifice as he atoned for sin once and for all at Calvary.

4. How may be come into the presence of God?

According to Rome the faithful may enter the presence of God through intermediaries such as the Pope, priests, Mary and the saints. We believe that Jesus Christ is the sole mediator between God and men, 1 Timothy 2:5. Only by his obedience, blood and intercession may we draw near to the Father by the presence of the Spirit.

We think that it is worth bearing witness to these biblical truths that are undermined by Roman Catholic teaching.

Political

 The pope's visit also has political implications. In the past popes exercised huge political power in Europe and beyond. Famously it was the pope who refused to allow Henry VIII to divorce Catherine of Aragon, which led to Henry’s breech with Rome. Even today the pope wields political power as head of the Vatican City State. The Vatican has diplomatic relations with 178 countries and has a permanent diplomatic mission to the EU. We think that this is problematic, because the church was founded not to wield political power, but to preach the good news of Jesus to the world and nurture the followers of Christ. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world”.

When Pope John Paul II visited the UK in 1982 he came simply to encourage the Catholic faithful. But Pope Benedict XVI is here on a formal state visit. This throws up all kinds of constitutional issues for our Protestant nation. At her Coronation Oath Her Majesty the Queen swore to uphold,

the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel… [and] maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law
But only recently the pope was making overtures to disaffected Church of England clergymen, tempting them to convert to Rome over the issue of women bishops, much to the annoyance of the Archbishop of Canterbury. That puts the Queen as supreme governor of the Church of England in a very difficult position.

The reason why the monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic is not a matter of religious discrimination. It is to save the UK’s head of state from a conflict of interest. Our sovereign should not be subject to the authority of another head of state, namely the pope.

We hope to highlight these issues by holding a peaceful protest this afternoon at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, see here.

I discussed the Papal Visit with Matthew Smith on the this morning's BBC Radio Wiltshire breakfast programme. You might be able to catch the interview on BBC iPlayer, when it becomes available, here. It was broadcast around 7.45am, approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes into the programme.

6 comments:

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Good on you Guy.
But is Britain really still a Protestant nation?

Exiled Preacher said...

In terms of the majority of the population being convinced Evangelical Protestants, no. But the British constitution, in which the monarch is supreme governor of the established Church is emphatically Protestant. (I'd like to see the CofE disestablished, but that's another story). It is still against the law for the monarch to be a Roman Catholic. That's why it is rather strange that the pope is being accorded a full state visit.

berenike said...

According to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church,

The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful. For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.(Para. 882)

We disagree with that claim. According to Scripture Christ is the sole head of the church He alone has supreme and unhindered power over the people of God, Ephesians 1:22-23. Matthew 28:18-20.


But no Catholic disagress with anything in your second paragraph! Try searching "head" in the CCC online :)

God bless!

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Yes, I agree about the constitutional status of the C of E and the monarch, but it seems to me these are merely remnants of what once was. How long before they're torn down? As I blogged recently, when the English Reformation can be reduced in the popular mind to a spat over a royal divorce, what now prevents Anglicans from going over to Rome? The 39 Articles were long ago subscribed by most with tongue-in-cheek. It will be left to the 'non-conformists' and free churches to carry the torch, and that might not be a bad thing.
Anyway, it's been interesting following your 'alternative version' of the Pope's visit.

Exiled Preacher said...

Hi Bereniike,

Thanks for your comment. I'll take your word for it that the CCC doesn't describe the pope as the "head of the church". But my point still stands. Ascribing universal and unhindered power to the Bishop of Rome attributes to him virtually the same authority that is attributed to Christ as head of the church in Ephesians 1.

Besides, other official RC documents besides CCC describe the pope as "head of the church". I quote from Vatican Council I: Pastor aeternus,

Chapter 3: On the power and character of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff

1. And so, supported by the clear witness of Holy Scripture, and adhering to the manifest and explicit decrees both of our predecessors the Roman Pontiffs and of general councils, we promulgate anew the definition of the ecumenical Council of Florence [49], which must be believed by all faithful Christians, namely that the "holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold a world-wide primacy, and that the Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles, true vicar of Christ, head of the whole Church and father and teacher of all Christian people. To him, in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our lord Jesus Christ to tend, rule and govern the universal Church. All this is to be found in the acts of the ecumenical councils and the sacred canons."

(http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/papae1.htm)

Catholic Teuchtar said...

"1. And so, supported by the clear witness of Holy Scripture, and adhering to the manifest and explicit decrees both of our predecessors the Roman Pontiffs and of general councils, we promulgate anew the definition of the ecumenical Council of Florence [49], which must be believed by all faithful Christians, namely that the "holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold a world-wide primacy, and that the Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles, true vicar of Christ, head of the whole Church and father and teacher of all Christian people. To him, in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our lord Jesus Christ to tend, rule and govern the universal Church. All this is to be found in the acts of the ecumenical councils and the sacred canons"

Dear Exiled Preacher. The only problem with this complaint of yours is that the Vatican I quote is perfectly scriptural. For example our Lord gave Peter the Keys to the Kingdom of heaven, the power to bind on earth what would be bound in heaven and loose on earth what would be loosed in heaven.

So your only arguement is that Benedict does not by succession enjoy those remits. Which would be a better arguement.

The arguement that the perogative of authority belongs alone to Jesus Christ when he has patently given it to his disciples ("he who hears you hears me, he who rejects you rejects me") especially St Peter as leader , and his Church as a whole as the "Pillar and Ground of truth" is totally ante scriptural. Clearly. So come of your high horse.

Pr Mark Henderson. No. Not since the Pope visited. :-)