Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bishops: the Hidden Admission of the Catholic Church

Titus 1:5-8 in the English Standard Version, says, "This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you- if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined." "Elder" is a translation of the Greek word presbuteros, the origin of the English word "presbyterian," meaning "government by elders." "Overseer" is a translation of the Greek word episkopos, the source of the English words "bishop" and "episcopal," meaning "government by bishops." The use of "elders" in the plural is the origin of the Presbyterian principle of government by a multiplicity of elders, as opposed to a single priest or bishop.

In the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, the precept of "apostolic succession" holds that the bishop is the successor of the apostles, which is also the justification for papal supremacy and infallibility. Some Anglicans and Lutherans also hold to apostolic succession. This precept is, obviously, rejected by Protestants who hold to presbyterian or congregational principles of polity (i.e., "church government").

The New Jerusalem Bible, a Catholic translation, popular among English-speaking Catholics outside the United States, translates this passage with "elder" for "presbuteros," and "presiding elder" for "episkopos." No mention of a bishop, at all. In contrast, the New American Bible, the preferred translation among English-speaking American Catholics, uses "presbyter," a transliteration rather than a translation, and "bishop." However, in a footnote, the NAB says, "In Titus 1:5, 7  and Acts 20:17, 28, the terms episkopos and presbuteros ('bishop' and 'presbyter') refer to the same persons." The NAB also includes this imprimatur in its introductory material: "free of doctrinal or moral error," so the Catholic hierarchy cannot dispense with it as a mere mistake or unauthorized opinion.

I find this astounding! After centuries of claiming apostolic authority for its bishops, the Catholic Church has come out and confessed, whispered though it may be, that their claims are without biblical justification! Ah, if only they would follow through and depose all of their unjustified bishops, especially that blasphemer and Diotrophes in the Church (III John 1:9), the Bishop of Rome. Then I could accept that the Catholic Church may be a true Church of Christ, rather than that kingdom of Antichrist, which I currently profess it to be.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Nehemiah 9:36-37: The American Government on a Well-Worn Path

"Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land You gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. And its rich yield goes to the kings [and presidents?] whom You have set over us, because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress."

As we enter tax season, do these verses not ring bells for us? Not only has the government confiscated an increasing share of our livelihoods, but it burdens us with the paperwork and expense of documenting that pilferage on its behalf! Even so, Americans seem to miss the obvious parallels.

I believe that Nehemiah chose his wording in these verses deliberately, to remind his hearers and readers of the warnings of the Prophet Samuel (I Samuel 8:10-18), especially a military-industrial complex (vv. 11-12), diversion of labor to government (v. 13), confiscation of the means of production (v. 14), taxes (v. 15, wouldn't we love to pay only 10%?), and even our very persons (v. 17, especially  as military conscription).

Our social-fascist government, whether under liberals or conservatives, is the very curse that Samuel warned of. And, as Nehemiah reminds us, it is because we have brought it on ourselves.

In my particular church, the solution is commonly said to be the election of Republicans. Yet, Ronald Reagan, a Republican president with a Republican Senate, doubled the revenues of the federal government. During the 1990's, the Republicans controlled both houses  of Congress, and yet grew the government. Even under Republican President George Bush, with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, the federal government expanded more than under any president, of either party, before him. Here in North Carolina, the Republicans control the governor's mansion, as well as both houses of the legislature, yet state spending grew again.

The solution isn't more Republicans. Or more Democrats, for that matter. Rather, the solution is a spiritual change, a looking to God to be our Savior, not to a redemptive state. That will lead to a renewal of a view of government consistent with the VIIIth, IXth, and Xth Commandments. May God speed that day!