by Matt Slick
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that its Bishops must be followed as you would follow Christ (862, 896) because it has supreme authority over the church (883), to teach the true faith (939).
- CCC 862, "Just as the office which the Lord confided to Peter alone, as first of the apostles, destined to be transmitted to his successors, is a permanent one, so also endures the office, which the apostles received, of shepherding the Church, a charge destined to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops." Hence the Church teaches that "the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ."
- CCC 883, "The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, as its head." As such, this college has "supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff."
- CCC 896, “Let all follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ follows his Father, and the college of presbyters as the apostles; respect the deacons as you do God's law. Let no one do anything concerning the Church in separation from the bishop."
- CCC 939, "Helped by the priests, their co-workers, and by the deacons, the bishops have the duty of authentically teaching the faith, celebrating divine worship, above all the Eucharist, and guiding their Churches as true pastors. Their responsibility also includes concern for all the Churches, with and under the Pope."
The following quote is not from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Instead, it is from the Council of Trent (1545-1563) which expounded on official Roman Catholic teachings. In light of what the CCC says, this is most important since it deals with interpreting Scripture.
" . . . no one, relying on his own skill, shall, - in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, - wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church, - whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures, - hath held and doth hold," (Trent, Session 4, "Decree Concerning the Edition, and the Use, of the Sacred Books")
If, as the CCC says, we are to follow the Bishops because they represent Christ and Trent says no one is allowed to interpret scripture contrary to what the "mother Church" says, then why do we have the following scriptures?
- Acts 17:11, "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so."
- Romans 14:5, "One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind."
In these two verses, Paul seems to speak to the contrary of the CCC and Trent when he PRAISES those who examine what he said against Scripture - instead of just believing what they were told. Think about it. He was the apostle Paul! He did not instruct them to follow him and not intepret scripture contrary to what he stated. He praised them for looking into the word of God by themselves and checking even what he said against Scripture.
It is apparent that the Roman Catholic Church is raising itself to a position of authority and leadership that contradicts Scripture. Should we simply submit to the RCC's bishops because of what they claim? Not at all. As the Bible says, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good," (1 Thess. 5:21).