Stress-testing the
mind of Christ

Where a recovering ex-atheist rams the Bible into other worldviews to see what breaks (note: Scripture cannot be broken)


proofs
A simple proof that Pope Benedict XVI is an illegitimate pope

A 6-step argument showing that the bishop of Rome doesn’t have the credentials required to hold his office.

Following up on my previous proof that the Roman Catholic Church is illegitimate, it occurs to me that a much more modest, albeit equally damaging argument can be made about the good ol’ Pontiff himself.

  1. If a man is not above reproach, then he is not qualified to be a bishop and cannot legitimately hold that office (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9)
  2. Benedict XVI is not above reproach
  3. Therefore, Benedict XVI is not qualified to be a bishop and cannot legitimately hold that office

This leads pretty obviously to a second argument. Let’s assume that Catholics are right about the papacy. By definition, the pope must be a bishop. The Catholic Encyclopedia observes:

The title pope, once used with far greater latitude, is at present employed solely to denote the Bishop of Rome, who, in virtue of his position as successor of St. Peter, is the chief pastor of the whole Church, the Vicar of Christ upon earth.

This being the case…

  1. Benedict XVI is not qualified to be a bishop and cannot legitimately hold that office
  2. Therefore, Benedict XVI is not qualified to be the bishop of Rome and cannot legitimately hold that office
  3. Therefore, Benedict XVI is not qualified to be the pope and cannot legitimately hold that office (by definition)

Or, put another way, therefore, Pope Benedict XVI is an illegitimate pope.

I’m not sure exactly what the trickle-down effect is if this is true—I’ll let Catholics work that out—but I imagine it is somewhat debilitating. For one thing, how can Benedict XVI be a legitimate successor to Peter if he is not a legitimate pope? But if he is not a legitimate successor to Peter, then we don’t have unbroken apostolic succession, which is central to Rome’s authority (and presumably Benedict isn’t the first bishop of Rome to fail the grade). So at least you get sedevacantism. But given Rome’s top-down hierarchy, it’s easy to see that the implications would be far more wide-reaching. Indeed, it seems likely they’d be catastrophic.

You might object…

“Benedict XVI is above reproach after all”

Obviously this hinges on what Paul meant by “above reproach” when he wrote to Timothy and Titus; and what the actual facts are about Benedict’s conduct. And if his conduct were less dubious, I might have a thorny job on my hands proving just what standard Paul was assuming. But I think the following statements are just obviously true, and if anyone disagrees with them it is clearly not I who has the burden of proof:

“If Benedict is an illegitimate bishop, then so are lots of others—maybe even in your own denomination”

Well, I’m Reformed Baptist and we don’t have bishops, but let’s say “elder” and the point stands. So what? Obviously I think many Catholic bishops are illegitimate because many Catholic bishops are implicated in these kinds of scandals. And many Catholic bishops are not even Christians, which naturally enough excludes them from legitimately taking a Christian office. Etc.

But perhaps my argument proves that lots of bishops or elders in lots of churches are illegitimate. So much the worse for those bishops and churches, I’m afraid—it doesn’t show that the argument is wrong.

“You’re a filthy Catholic-hater and you’re only saying this to upset your sister”

That’s not really an objection, is it? I don’t hate Catholics, though I do hate evil institutions such as the Catholic Church. “O you who love the Lord, hate evil!” (Psalm 97:10); “the fear of the Lord is hatred of evil” (Proverbs 8:13).

Now, if my sister (or any Catholic) is upset by my calling attention to those evils, wouldn’t it be better to leave the institution that fosters them—rather than shoot the messenger?

9 comments

  1. reginald

    You have grossly misrepresented Scripture.
    Nowhere does Timothy write that a bishop must be
    beyond reproach. Look at what he actually says.

    6 Not a neophyte: lest being puffed up with pride, he fall into the judgment of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony of them who are without: lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

  2. TimothyH

    You know nothing about this topic. Your level of ignorance on this matter is truly mind boggling.

    Reproach means disapointment or dissaproval. No one is above reproach before God. Peter was not above reproach. James and the rest of the apostles fled. Yet the historical fact is that the Church established by Jesus Christ which operated in the first and second century had bishops.

    Elders are not bishops. In the Catholic Church, Bishops are successors to the Apostles. Bishops hold the office of Apostle. Elders do not hold the office of Apostle. At best, elders are deacons, but they are not Bishops. You don’t even know anything about your own Baptist faith. Comparing elders in the Baptist Church to Bishops is a rediculously ignorant of both Catholicism and your own faith.

    To state that many Catholic Bishops are not even Christian is the hight of stupidity. You know nothing about Catholicism except what you read on a few websites and books. Sad.

    I can take you to a sexual addiction recovery group here in the Atlanta suburbs where 150 pastors, youth ministers, elders, deacons, music ministers, and all kinds of pastoral care workers from every denomination under the sun meet every Monday night. Many of these are child abusers, porn addicts and homosexuals. None of these are above reproach before God. Yet there they are, deacons and pastors and ministers, holding office in their Churches.

    The Catholic Church hired the top child abuse expert from the FBI to design their program to protect minors and vulnerable individuals and now has the model program for all other organizations according to the FBI. The Cathoic Church in the United States is one of the safest places for minors and other vulnerable individuals right now. That is according to the FBI.

    You are simply don’t know what you are talking about.

    -Tim-

  3. Anthony Hulse

    Let’s do this with St. Peter.

    Was he without reproach? No – he denied Christ publicly three times on the eve of his crucifixion.

    Let’s do this with St. Paul.

    Was he without reproach? No – he at least attended the public execution of Christians, and went around actively pursuing and persecuting them, even if he did not put them to death himself.

    How about the rest of the Apostles:

    Were they without reproach? No – like a bunch of cowards they all ran after the Eucharist had been instituted at the Last Supper, and after Christ had already told them about his death.

    As to Pope Benedikt – neither you nor I actually know any facts about any of these cases. All we have are suppositions.

  4. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Reginald, I didn’t say Timothy wrote this; I said Paul did. In both Titus 6 and 1 Timothy 3 he explictly says an elder must be “above reproach”. Check your facts before commenting.

  5. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    TimothyH:

    Reproach means disapointment or dissaproval.

    Considering that you start out by saying my level of ignorance is truly mind-boggling, it is pretty brazen of you to then demonstrate gross ignorance of basic English. Reproach means blame or disgrace.

    Peter was not above reproach. James and the rest of the apostles fled. Yet the historical fact is that the Church established by Jesus Christ which operated in the first and second century had bishops.

    Why you think my argument should prove that bishops can’t exist is beyond me. Since Paul himself wrote these instrcutions, presumably you must understand his comment about reproach to be attenuated in a way that excludes the kind of history he had. Otherwise you would think Scripture was in error. The obvious candidate for such attenuation is repentance and a consistent display of moral fortitude where once there was reproachful behavior. Has Benedict XVI repented of his involvement in the cases I cited, or taken any steps (which, given his power, should be significant) to correct the wrongs he was complicit with? Not to my knowledge.

    Elders are not bishops.

    Bishops, however, are elders. And the term Paul uses, which the ESV translates “overseer”, is in the Greek episkopos—which is traditionally translated “bishop”. Again, your accuastions of ignorance are ironic to the point of comedy.

    To state that many Catholic Bishops are not even Christian is the hight of stupidity. You know nothing about Catholicism except what you read on a few websites and books. Sad.

    It is amazing that you know so much about me. Oddly, you don’t know that I was raised a Catholic.

  6. Tom

    1) None of us is totally above reproach. We’re all sinners.
    2) Paul appointed bishops.

    Ergo, Paul appointed sinners as bishops.

    So, did Paul break his own “commandment”? Or maybe, just maybe, you’re misinterpreting him?

  7. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Tom, what do you think Paul meant when he instructed Timothy to appoint someone above reproach, if indeed no one is above reproach? Was he instructing Timothy to appoint no one as bishop? That would be where you logic leads us. So clearly he did not mean “sinless”. Try again.

  8. Chris Griffin

    Hi, Bnonn,
    I wanted to express my appreciation for your bold pro-life stance. It is heartening to see that you “get it” about abortion. I don’t know how you arrived at your conclusions; most people make excuses for abortion and mitigate the crime of abortion. THANK YOU.
    On the other hand your criticism of the Catholic Church is unreasoned and unsound, doubly so because you were raised Catholic. Your “Ad Hominem” attacks are old hat. Jesus said there would be false teachers in his Church.
    I will show you the error of your criticism in three easy steps. They are common sense, well known, obvious mistakes you and millions of others have made.

    1. Chris teaches that we must prove our Faith by our deeds.
    The Divine command is set forth in the most stringent terms by Christ, and the failure to comply with it is visited with the supreme penalty of eternal damnation (Matthew 25:41): “Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, in everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in; naked, and you covered me not; sick and in prison, and you did not visit me”, etc. The great and fundamental truth is that no faith but that which proves itself by works can secure a title to the kingdom of Heaven. It is every where taught by him that brotherly love is a peculiar fruit of faith, the very test of its genuineness; and we cannot wonder, therefore, to find it made so prominent in this passage. Sympathy and assistance rendered to believers are made the sole standard, and all other tests thrown out.
    2. The Catholic Church is the only Church in the world to doctrinally call abortion: an attack against God, intrinsically evil, murder, an abomination and unspeakable crime worthy of Hell itself and the innocent Blood cries out to God for vengeance. Every Catholic is commanded to be pro-life under the threat of the pain of Hell and this doctrine is infallible, global and unchangeable. Reformed churches certainly do not have this doctrine and they are powerless to do so and fearful of the attempt. If you are pro-life you should be Catholic.
    3. The Protestant denomination is the most divided and fractured denomination in the world.
    There are a thousand of them, every one of them a “church” unto themselves. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. 1Jn 2:19. Protestants “went out” in droves, weather over great things and over little things, it does not matter. Protestant divisions will never be healed, that is the fruit you will eat.
    4. As you reform so shall you be reformed.
    If you think that you “reformed” the Catholic Church then there is no reason in the world that another group will come alone and ‘reform” you. It is inevitable and again it is your fruit.
    5. “I can commit murder a thousand times a day and God’s grace will still save me” – Martin Luther. Your good pal here says that a woman can commit up one thousand abortions and still be saved. He is unquestionably the spiritual father of modern day abortion.

  9. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Chris, you can’t mount a counteroffensive while your flank is exposed. Even supposing you have a decent argument here, which I’m afraid you simply don’t, it does nothing to defuse the argument I have made.

    I will show you the error of your criticism in three easy steps.

    You then proceed to list five items. Perhaps you are not as clear in your own head as you suppose. Am I just supposed to be paying attention to the first three steps?

    1. Chris teaches that we must prove our Faith by our deeds.

    A centerpiece to my argument. The deeds of Rome stand for themselves as proof that she is an illegitimate church and has no claim to the name of Jesus. Her fruit are rotten and disgusting all the way through the core.

    2. The Catholic Church is the only Church in the world to doctrinally call abortion: an attack against God, intrinsically evil, murder, an abomination and unspeakable crime worthy of Hell itself and the innocent Blood cries out to God for vengeance.

    Demonstrably false. Many evangelical churches denounce abortion, including my own.

    Every Catholic is commanded to be pro-life under the threat of the pain of Hell and this doctrine is infallible, global and unchangeable.

    Indeed, yet like the Pharisees your church pays lip service to the law while utterly ignoring it. Witness all the high-profile pro-abortion Catholic politicians who regularly attend mass and receive communion. These are people with the blood of millions of innocent children on their hands. Welcomed by Rome. No repercussions. No church discipline.

    One of the marks of a genuine church is that it disciples and disciplines its members. So once again, we see that Rome is not a true church, but a counterfeit. So far, your argument is not only based on false premises, but is completely refuting your own view.

    Reformed churches certainly do not have this doctrine and they are powerless to do so and fearful of the attempt.

    You are either maliciously ignorant or maliciously lying. Either way you indict yourself by spouting such unadulterated garbage.

    3. The Protestant denomination is the most divided and fractured denomination in the world.

    Sorry, you don’t get to beg the question by supposing that Rome is anything other than just another denomination. If we take “Christendom” as a whole, papism is just one other schismatic group along with Reformed denominations, Methodism, Lutheranism, Eastern Orthodox, heck, even Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    There are a thousand of them, every one of them a “church” unto themselves.

    Your number is either too high or too low. If you’re talking about broad denominational distinctions, there are maybe a dozen or two. If you’re talking about individual churches, there are millions. But so what? You have precisely the same problem within Rome—you just paper over the diversity of opinion by tolerating it all under the rubric of papism. Indeed, I’d wager you couldn’t get any two Roman Catholics to agree on every major point of doctrine.

    If you think that you “reformed” the Catholic Church then there is no reason in the world that another group will come alone and ‘reform” you. It is inevitable and again it is your fruit.

    This makes no sense. Protestantism reformed Christianity; it didn’t reform Papism. That remains as resolutely anti-Christian now as it was in the sixteenth century, and earlier.

    Moreover, if I am wrong about some doctrine, and it can be shown from the Bible that I am wrong, then I should reform my doctrine! And I would be glad of anyone who sought to reform me.

    “I can commit murder a thousand times a day and God’s grace will still save me” – Martin Luther. Your good pal here says that a woman can commit up one thousand abortions and still be saved. He is unquestionably the spiritual father of modern day abortion.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at your slanderous misrepresentation of Luther. Of course, he is not saying that one is permitted to murder a thousand times a day; he is saying that even the worst sinner is not beyond the infinite reach of God’s saving grace.

    That said, why don’t you try to document the “unquestionable” connection between Luther and modern abortion? It should be a pretty straightforward matter of citing the relevant historical documents and legal precedents, given how certain the matter is!

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