Who Holds the Keys? (Pope or Prophet)

Rebuttal to Barry Bickmore's Opening Statement
by Steve Clifford - Representing the
One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church's Teaching
on "Apostolic Succession"

  Which is the Catholic Church?
  The Catholic Church?
  Common Ground
  Early Church Fathers


In his opening statement, Barry Bickmore touched on some of the common beliefs the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has with the Catholic Church. It is good to remind ourselves that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, striving to do God's will in our lives. Seeking to find the common ground between our two faiths is an admirable thing to do and I commend Barry for his efforts. I am especially pleased that we can agree on the need for a valid succession of priesthood ordinations that can be traced back to Jesus Christ Himself. Without valid priesthood authority derived from the foundation of Jesus Christ, there can be no true church (1 Corinthians 3:10-13). However, as I pointed out in my opening statement, there can only be one truth concerning the LDS theory of the total apostasy of the early Christian Church. The question we must answer here is: "Did Jesus Christ leave His entire flock without any earthly shepherds for almost 1,800 years of total apostasy or did He keep His promise to be with His Church until the end of time through apostolic succession?"

The one holy catholic and apostolic Church can support her claims to apostolic succession of the priesthood through the evidence of Holy Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the teaching authority of the successor to Peter and the validly ordained bishops in communion with him. Holy Scripture clearly tells us that Christ left a Church that would continue to teach the Gospel until the end of time. History shows that the Catholic Church has been in existence for almost 2,000 years, teaching the same Gospel as was taught by Jesus Christ to His Apostles and entrusted by them to the whole Church in the "Sacred deposit" of the faith (depositum fidei). On the other hand, the LDS church can only trace her earthly authority as far back as the early 1800's when a series of private revelations from resurrected beings, angels, and messengers from heaven restored the "lost" priesthood to the earth through Joseph Smith and his followers.

Which is the Catholic Church?

To begin with, I would like to address Barry's incorrect interpretation that the Catholic Church includes the Orthodox, Anglican, and Monophysite churches. I submit that these churches have all cut themselves off from the Catholic Church through their refusal to accept the primacy and authority of the successor to Peter. How can we tell which is the Catholic Church and which churches, such as the Orthodox, Anglicans, Monophysites, Protestants, and others, have separated themselves from the Mystical Body of Christ? To help answer this question, the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 issued a creed composed by the Council Fathers in response to the Arian heresy. It is commonly called the Nicene Creed and it presents the chief doctrines of the Catholic Faith. The Nicene Creed identifies four marks (qualities or characteristics) which help to identify the true Church of Jesus Christ. The Nicene Creed states, "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church". Thus we have the four identifying marks or characteristics that we can expect to find in the true Church.

    The Church is One (CCC 866)

    The true Church of Jesus Christ must have a unity in belief, in worship, and in government or leadership. Unity in belief and worship means that the Church of today must hold to the same teachings and traditions that were given to the Twelve Apostles by Christ and subsequently passed on to their successors. The true Church must adhere to the same beliefs today as were practiced by the early Christians. The Bible tells us that there should be one flock (Jews and Gentiles) and one shepherd (John 10:16). Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11 and John 10:14). He entrusted His flock on earth (the Church) to Peter and his successors (John 21:15-17). Jesus knew that there would be contention among His followers so He prayed for unity of His Church "that they may be one" (John 17:11 and John 17:22-23). The unity that Christ prayed for is to be for ALL: ALL nations, concerning ALL doctrines of faith and morals, and for ALL ages to come. 1 The unity of the Catholic Church is to be found under one visible head of government and leadership, the Apostolic College with Peter and his successors as its head. (see also CCC 813)

    The Church is Holy (CCC 867)

    The true Church of Jesus Christ must have holiness. Holiness in its founder, holiness in its principles, holiness in its members, and holiness in its miracles. The Bible tells us that Jesus prayed for the holiness of His Church, to "Sanctify them" (John 17:17), "consecrated in truth" (John 17:19). Jesus Christ desires that the Church consist of His own sheep who have been purified for Him as an acceptable people (Titus 2:14). However, we must expect that there will be unworthy members in His Church as well. To demonstrate this, Jesus gave us some parables to help in our understanding. In the parable of the sower of seed, Jesus shows us the good and bad dispositions with which various men hear the word of God (Matthew 13:3-8). In the parable of the weeds and the wheat, He said that we must allow both the weeds and the wheat to grow together in the field until it is time for the harvest (Matthew 13:24-30). In another parable, he likened the kingdom of heaven to a net full of good fish and bad fish which will be separated by the angels at the close of the age (Matthew 13:47-50). Jesus also tells the story of the king who saw one of his guests without a wedding garment. When asked how he got there, the man was speechless and the king had him cast into the outer darkness (Matthew 22:11-14). All of these parables point to the fact that there will be both holy and unholy people together in the Church until the final judgment when the unholy members will be cast out (Matthew 7:16-17). Indeed, scandalous crimes have been committed by some members of the Catholic Church. Sometimes these mistakes have involved not only the laity, but also priests, bishops, and on occasion even a pope. These scandals do not prove that the Catholic Church is false, only that the Church contains sinners as well as saints. Paul's words concerning the Jews also applies to Christians. (Romans 3:3-4) (see also 2 Timothy 2:13)

    The Church is Catholic (CCC 868)

    The word "catholic", with a small "c", means general or universal, from the Greek word katholikos. "Catholic" comes from the Greek. "Universal" comes from the Latin. They both mean "all". The word "catholic" first occurs in Christian use in the letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrnaeans around A.D. 110: "Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be, even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church". The Catholic Church consists of a universality in time and in place. There are two elements to the word "universal": 1) all AND one, and, 2) all IN one. The Catholic Church has consistently been the "universal" Church for the past 2,000 years. The Bible tells us that the gospel will continue to be preached throughout the whole world until the end of time (Matthew 24:14), to the whole creation throughout all the world (Mark 16:15), and by the power of the Holy Spirit to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). The Catholic Church (with a capital "C") is catholic (with a small "c") or universal because it consists of "ALL of Christ's teachings to ALL men at ALL times in ALL places." 2 (see also CCC 830-831)

    The Church is Apostolic (CCC 869)

    The true Church must always teach the identical doctrines that were originally delivered to it by Peter and the Apostles. Her ministers must derive their powers from the Apostles by an uninterrupted chain of succession and their teachings must be the same as those of Christ's Apostles. "Consequently, no church can claim to be the true one whose doctrines differ from those of the Apostles, or whose ministers are unable to trace, by an unbroken chain, their authority to an Apostolic source; just as our Minister to England can exercise no authority in that country unless he is duly commissioned by our Government and represents its views." 3 We read in the Bible that Peter is the rock upon which Christ will build His Church (Matthew 16:18). Christ knew that Peter would not live until the end of time, so the promise to protect His Church against the powers of death must have been intended to include Peter's successors as well. Jesus commissioned His disciples to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations. He promised that He would be with them always, to the close of the age (Matthew 28:18-20). Again, since He knew that the disciples would not live until the close of the age, this promise must also apply to their successors. The Church was "built upon the foundation of the Apostles" (Ephesians 2:19-22). "Any church claiming to be Christ's own must be able to trace its lineage in unbroken continuity back to the apostles." 4 (see also CCC 857)

The Catholic Church?

Mr. Bickmore is in error when he suggests that the Orthodox, Anglican, and Monophysites fall under the umbrella of the Catholic Church. These churches have all cut themselves off from the Catholic Church primarily through their refusal to accept the primacy and authority of the successor to Peter. The following is a brief summary of these three groups and some of the reasons why they cannot be considered in full Communion with the Catholic Church.


    Orthodox (Eastern Christians) have a valid sacramental and hierarchical system but are not in full Communion with the Catholic Church (they do not accept the authority of the Pope as the successor of Peter). The Orthodox Church separated from the Catholic Church almost 1,000 years ago in the "Great Schism" of A.D. 1054. Catholic Christians long for the day when we can be reconciled with our Orthodox brothers and sisters and once again have unity between us according to the mind of Christ.


    The Anglican (Episcopal) churches came about as a result of the King of England, Henry VIII, severing the English ties with the Catholic Church at Rome, primarily because the Pope refused to grant him a divorce with the right to re-marry. The Catholic Church considers Anglican Holy Orders to be invalid. This is based on a papal pronouncement issued by Pope Leo XIII entitled Apostolicae Curae dated September 13, 1896. The New Advent online Catholic Encyclopedia entry for Apostolic Succession also has a good explanation of why the Anglican claim of continuity through the pre-Reformation Church of England to the Catholic Church is not valid.


    The Monophysites deny that Jesus Christ has two natures, divine and human. Monophysism is a Christological heresy from the fifth-century. It was condemned at the Second Council of Constantinople in A.D. 553.

Common Ground

There is, in fact, a "common ground" between the Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We both agree that:

  • A valid chain of priesthood authority through ordinations is necessary.
      The Catholic Church teaches and believes that this chain of priesthood authority, through "apostolic succession", has remained unbroken for the past 2,000 years.
  • Peter was singled out by Christ to be first in authority among the apostles.
      The Catholic Church teaches and believes that this primacy of authority has been passed on to each subsequent successor to the "Chair of Peter", the Bishop of the Church at Rome.
  • Appointments were always made with the assurance of the Holy Ghost.
      The Catholic Church teaches and believes that the Holy Spirit has continued to guide the one holy catholic and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ for the past 2,000 years (John 16:13).
  • Either the Catholic position or the Latter-day Saint position must be correct and therefore the other position must be incorrect.
      There cannot be two truths in opposition to each other. The Catholic Church teaches and believes that through "apostolic succession" the Church of Jesus Christ has remained continuously on the earth since it was founded by Our Lord in A.D. 33. The marvelous spread of the Catholic Church (the kingdom of heaven on earth) for the past 2,000 years can be likened to a grain of mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32).
  • TOTAL apostasy of the early Christian Church.
      Historical and Scriptural evidence does not indicate that the apostasy consisted of a complete removal of Christ's Church from the earth. The New Testament Scriptures repeatedly describe an apostasy "FROM" the Church, not an apostasy "OF" the Church. The Old Testament also documents numerous instances of members of God's chosen people falling away from the Laws and Commandments given to them, only to be once again reconciled with God. At no time did God completely abandon His chosen people. In fact, at one point in the Old Testament the Prophet Eli'jah thought that he was the last believer left on the earth. He was convinced that the people had completely turned their backs to God, thus making the apostasy of the children of Israel complete and total. However, God revealed that there were still 7,000 believers left who were entirely unknown to Eli'jah (1 Kings 19:14-18). Likewise, at no time has God totally abandoned His people of the "New Covenant" by taking the keys to the kingdom of heaven away from them through a loss of priesthood authority on earth. Only God can judge the internal disposition of hearts. It is not for us to decide who is a true believer and who is not. We have the promise of Christ to remain with His Church until the end of time. We must have faith that God has given us His Word and that He has steadfastly protected His Church from total apostasy as He has promised. We must look to that same Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, for the fullness of the truth.
  • Apostolic succession does not imply an actual succession of "apostles".
      Jesus Christ chose the Twelve to be His apostles. There were other disciples, but only Twelve were counted as the apostles (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:13-16; Acts 1:13). The word "apostle" comes from the Greek apostolos, which means one sent off or commissioned. To be an apostle, the requirements were: 1) to have accompanied the Lord Jesus, from the baptism of John until the day when He was crucified; and 2) to be a witness of His resurrection from the dead (Acts 1:20-22). The Twelve appointed others to be their disciples and they gave them the priesthood authority to lead the Church. However, when the criteria for being an "apostle" could no longer be met, no others were appointed to that position. In the early Church, the apostles are called bishops but the bishops are never called apostles.

      The Early Church Fathers understood the importance of the Church as the repository for the truth as taught by the apostles. St. Irenaeus speaks of the tradition of truth handed down from the apostles to their successors and that everything which pertains to the truth can be found in the Church.

        "When, therefore, we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek among others the truth which is easily obtained from the Church. For the Apostles, like a rich man in a bank, deposited with her most copiously everything which pertains to the truth; and everyone whosoever wishes draws from her the drink of life. For she is the entrance to life, while all the rest are thieves and robbers. That is why it is surely necessary to avoid them, while cherishing with the utmost diligence the things pertaining to the Church, and to lay hold of the tradition of truth. What then? If there should be a dispute over some kind of question, ought we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches in which the Apostles were familiar, and draw from them what is clear and certain in regard to that question? What if the Apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the Churches?"
        St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies (inter A.D. 180/199), Jurgens5, para 213
  • Catholic bishops cut themselves off from Christ's Church during the Middle Ages.
      Some Catholic bishops have cut themselves off from the Church, not just during the Middle Ages, but at various times throughout the history of the Church as well. Even in modern times there have been bishops excommunicated from the Catholic Church for their refusal to submit to the teaching authority of the Magisterium and the Bishop of Rome. However, at no point in history have ALL the bishops throughout the entire world cut themselves off from the Church at the same time. St. Augustine of Hippo wrote an epitome of the proceedings of a conference of Catholic and Donatist bishops held at Carthage in A.D. 411. His comments were applicable then; in the Middle Ages; and even still today. He wrote:

        "Catholics refute their calumny about two churches, proving again and again more clearly what they declare, that is, that being now a Church mixed with evil members, it does not on that account call itself a Church foreign to the kingdom of God, where there will not be this mixture containing evil members; but the same Church, one and holy, is now in one condition and then it will be in another. Now it is mixed and has evil members, then it will not have such. Now it is mortal because it is made up of mortal men; then it will be immortal, because there will be nothing corporeal in it, nothing that can die."
        St. Augustine of Hippo, Brief on the conference with the Donatists, (A.D. 411), Jurgens, para 1714.

      At this point it might be good to explain some terms which are sometimes confusing or misused. When the Catholic Church claims that she has the authority to infallibly define a teaching as revealed by God (in Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition) and therefore binding on the faithful, it does not mean that the pope or any of the bishops in communion with him are themselves infallible or impeccable. The Catholic Church has the authority to speak in Christ's name. Jesus entrusted His teachings to the Apostles and to their successors (1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6) who were chosen by means of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2). The Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church (John 16:13) and helps her to guard the deposit of sound doctrine (2 Timothy 1:13). Infallibility is the assurance of freedom from error when solemnly proclaiming the truths of God to the Universal Church in matters of faith and morals (Matthew 28:20). Impeccability implies the impossibility of sinning. Jesus is impeccable because of His divinity. The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was impeccable because she was conceived without the stain of original sin. We also believe the saints in Heaven cannot sin because they experience the beatific vision. However, everyone else, including popes and bishops, are capable of sinning. Indefectibility means that the Church will last until the end of time (Matthew 16:18
  • "Latter-day Saints, in general, do not consider Catholicism to be "anti-Christ", without truth...."
      This is an interesting comment from Mr. Bickmore, considering the fact that in the Book of Mormon, 1 and 2 Nephi, one can find no less than sixteen references to the "abominable church" of the devil. This "great and abominable church" has allegedly taken away many plain and precious parts from the gospel and the book (the Bible) (1 Nephi 13:25-29). One can only conclude that these are direct references to the Catholic Church. Additionally, the vision received by Joseph Smith as described in the Pearl of Great Price is a condemnation of all religious sects of the time (Joseph Smith - History, 1:18-19, First Vision). Again, one can only conclude that the Catholic Church is also declared an abomination in the site of God, according to Joseph Smith.
  • "...this rebellion and loss of authority was accompanied by some rejection of various revealed truths..."
      I would like to respectfully ask Barry to list exactly what these various revealed truths are that have been rejected by the Catholic Church. Once these truths have been identified, it is incumbent upon Mr. Bickmore to show where they are taught in the Bible or Sacred Tradition and not taught in the Catholic Church now. In the absence of any historical proof of these allegedly revealed truths being taught by Jesus Christ to His apostles/disciples and being accepted/practiced in the early Christian church, these claims are without basis in fact.
  • Continuing public revelation and prophecy after Christ.
      God's Spirit has spoken to us through the prophets from the beginning until "the fullness of time" (Galatians 4:4). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the prophets preserved the revealed Word of God in Sacred Scripture. The Jewish tradition of the Old Testament is separated into three distinct categories: 1) The Law; 2) The Prophets; and 3) The Writings. The Catholic Church also considers those who wrote the books of the New Testament to be "prophets" (inspired by the Holy Spirit). (CCC 702)

      John the Baptist is the precursor to Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that he is "more than a prophet" (Luke 7:26). In him, the Holy Spirit concludes His speaking through the prophets (CCC 717-720). Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecies. In Him, God has said everything there is to be revealed. He is the Messiah; the apostle and high priest; the prophet; and the king that Israel had been waiting for (CCC 436). There will be no new public revelation expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ (CCC 65-67). God has revealed Himself fully by sending His own Son, in Whom He has established His covenant for ever. The Son is His Father's definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after Him (CCC 73).

      The early Church Fathers also taught that after the death of the Apostles it was not possible for the body of revelation to be augmented or diminished. There is an ancient writing called the "Didache" (the Teaching) which scholars believe was composed sometime in the latter half of the first century. It states that:

        "You shall not abandon the commandments of the Lord; but you shall keep what you have received, adding nothing to it nor taking anything away." (see also Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32 and Revelation 22:18-19) (Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, [ca. A.D. 140], Jurgens, para 2)

    Tertullian wrote around A.D. 200 that, "After Jesus Christ, there is no need of further search; nor, after the Gospel, is there any further inquiry. Inasmuch as we believe, we desire nothing further to believe. For beyond what we already have, we believe there is nothing further that we ought to believe. (Tertullian, The Demurrer Against the Heretics [ca. A.D. 200], Jurgens, para 288)

Early Church Fathers

A careful reading of the Early Church Fathers shows that they consistently teach Catholic doctrines throughout their writings. St. Clement talks about the authority as Bishop of Rome and head of the Church. He also describes the Mass as a sacrifice. St. Gregory I writes that there was a progressive revelation until the death of the Apostles. St. Irenaeus indicates that it has not been possible for the body of revelation either to be augmented or diminished since the death of the Apostles. He also speaks about how the Church was handed down from the Apostles to the bishops through succession and that the Church contains the complete tradition of the Scriptures. He tells us they have been guarded against falsification by the Church and her bishops. Tertullian also tells us not to expect any further revelation other than that which has been received through the Church founded by the Apostles. He says that the truths Christ revealed to the Apostles can only be proven through the same Church founded by the Apostles. St. Athanasius writes that the Catholic Church does not invent new doctrine but rather she infallibly defines the doctrine taught by the Apostles. St. John Chrysostom emphasizes the importance of obedience and faith in following the teachings brought to us from the Apostles. St. Vincent of Lerins has some interesting things to say about those who claim they have knowledge of revealed truths other than that which was entrusted to the Church by the Apostles. He also talks about the importance of guarding "what has been committed" against the ingenuity of private revelation put forth by individuals. St. Cyprian of Carthage writes about how the true Church of Christ can be recognized by certain notes such as "One and Catholic". St. Augustine of Hippo also identifies the four marks of the Catholic Church and states emphatically that she cannot be beaten by the gates of hell. In another letter, St. Augustine of Hippo writes about the unity, holiness, authority, and the succession of priests from the Apostle Peter, which can only be found in the Catholic Church. St. Ignatius of Antioch 6 tells the early Christians that they are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ; that they are to maintain union with their bishop because they have obtained their ministry through apostolic succession directly from the Lord; and that nothing should be done without the bishop. These and many other writings from the Early Church Fathers overwhelmingly show that there was a unity of belief and organization in the ancient Church. We have no indication of extraordinary concern for a total apostasy of the Church in any of their writings. Quite to the contrary, we see the Church growing and spreading throughout the world, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ just as she has received it directly from the Apostles. This same Gospel has been protected and preserved for the past 2,000 years by the successors to the Apostles, the bishops of the Catholic Church.


It is interesting to note that the Apostles are generally listed ahead of the prophets in the New Testament because of their importance above the prophets (1 Corinthians 12:28-29, Ephesians 2:20, Ephesians 3:5, Ephesians 4:11, and Revelations 18:20). Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophesies. The final public revelations from God are made known to us through the Apostles, who gave us their writings (the Bible) and their oral teachings (Sacred Traditions), protected and passed down to us through the Church. The bishops of the Catholic Church are nothing less than the legitimate successors of the Apostles. As such, they alone have the authority to teach in His name.

In Sacred Scripture (Matthew 7:24-27), we are told that Jesus is like the wise man who built his house (the Church) on a rock (Peter) (Matthew 16:18). In Matthew 18:15-18, Jesus tells us to take disputes involving religious matters to the Church. To understand Christianity one must look first to its founder Jesus Christ. He must have known that the Church would remain true and continue in its existence until the end of time. The Catholic Church has consistently demonstrated strength, stability, and permanence in teaching the truth for the past 2,000 years. If there was a break in the Church on earth through a total apostasy, when exactly did it happen? When did the Church of Jesus Christ cease to exist and when did the Catholic Church come into existence?

I would like to conclude with some interesting comments I read in a recent article in This Rock Magazine, published by Catholic Answers, Inc.. The article was taken from the introduction to a book entitled "The Continuity of the Catholic Church", written by Duane G. Hunt, who was appointed as the Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City in 1937. 7  Bishop Hunt wrote that, "Christianity is both visible and invisible, both physical and spiritual, both body and soul". We know through the writings of the Early Church Fathers, as well as non-Christian historians, that the Catholic Church has been physically visible for the past 2,000 years. We also know through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that He will be with His Church spiritually until the end of time. Bishop Hunt went on to say that "continuity is the measure of validity". Only the Catholic Church can claim 2,000 years of continued existence on the earth with authority derived through apostolic succession directly from the Apostles chosen by Jesus Christ. According to Hunt, "every doctrine of the Catholic Church has been denied by some group of persons at some stage in the Church's long history". Despite all of this, she continues to proclaim the fullness of Christianity. She is the Church of the living God, the "pillar and bulwark" (foundation) of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

References and Footnotes

All Bible references are taken from the
Revised Standard Version (RSV) - Catholic Edition


Sheed, Frank J., Theology for Beginners, (Ann Arbor: Servant Books, 1981), p.110.

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Trese, Leo J., The Faith Explained, (Manila: Sinag-Tala Publishers, Inc., 1991), p.131.

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Gibbons, James Cardinal, The Faith of Our Fathers, (Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 111th Printing, 1980), p.32.

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Trese, Leo J., The Faith Explained, (Manila: Sinag-Tala Publishers, Inc., 1991), p.131.

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Jurgens, William A., The Faith of the Early Fathers, 3 vols., (Collegeville, Minnesota, The Liturgical Press, 1970-1979)

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The Writings of the Early Church Fathers, Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Extracted from the 38 volumes of the Eerdman's Reprint of the Edinburgh Edition.

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Duane G. Hunt, Introduction to the Continuity of the Catholic Church, quoted in This Rock Magazine, April 1998. For more information about This Rock Magazine, see the Catholic Answers, Inc. web site.

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(1 Corinthians 3:10-13)

"According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw -- each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done."

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A heresy of the fourth century which asserted that the Son of God was not truly divine but created; that He was not eternal but temporal. It is named from its principal proponent, Arius, a priest of Alexandria. He refused the command of his bishop, Alexander, not to advance these novel opinions and was excommunicated by a synod of Egyptian bishops around A.D. 319. Arius tried to gain popular support through his book, Thalia, and from influential bishops, especially Eusebius of Nicomedia.

Because of the unrest caused by this conflict Emperor Constantine called, with papal acquiescence, an ecumenical council in Nicaea in 325. The Council Fathers (about three hundred, mostly from the East) read from Arius's Thalia and declared it unacceptable. The formulation of a positive statement of belief which would reject Arian views was more difficult. The key word of the creed adopted, a forerunner of the Creed used at Mass, was homoousios (consubstantialis, one in being or nature). The creed explicitly anathematized those who denied the eternity of the Son or held Him to be of a different nature from the Father. Constantine enthusiastically accepted this statement, following the advice of his theological adviser, Bishop Hosius of Cordoba.

The issue was doctrinally settled but continued to be the subject of fierce conflicts for about fifty years. Constantine wavered in his support of Nicaea and after his death (337) the Arian party waged a persistent campaign against the definition. They were supported by Constantius II, sole emperor after 350. St. Athanasius, present at Nicaea as a deacon with his bishop Alexander, succeeded Alexander, became the leader of the Catholic party, and for his efforts was exiled from his see of Alexandria for much of his life.

The various factions of Arians formed three major groups: the most extreme, Anomoeans (anomoios, dissimilar) asserted a difference in nature of Father and Son, with only a moral unity; Homoians (homoios, similar) avoided dogmatic precision; and the Homoiousians (homoiousios, similar in nature) or Semi-Arians wanted to stress both similarity and dissimilarity. After 379 the political situation improved and the theological contributions of the Cappadocians led to a new council at Constantinople (381), which reaffirmed Nicaea and taught the consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit.

Arianism is treated as a Trinitarian heresy, but its doctrine has Christological implications. The tendency of Alexandrian Christology was to speak of a union in nature rather than a union of natures (i.e., essential rather than personal union). With their neo-Platonic biases against matter, it is natural that they would question how a transcendent Logos can form one entity with matter. Thus Arianism is linked with the earlier subordinationism of Origen and some of the Apologists and with later Apollinarianism and Monophysitism.

Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.L. Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, Our Sunday Visitor.

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Nicene Creed (A.D. 325)

"We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."

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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 866)

The Church is one: she acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (cf. Eph 4:3-5 "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism,"), at whose fulfillment all divisions will be overcome.

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(John 10:16)

"And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd."

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(John 10:11)

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

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(John 10:14)

"I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,"

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(John 21:15-17)

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."

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(John 17:11)

"And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one."

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(John 17:22-23)

"The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me."

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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 813)

The Church is one because of her source: "the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit." The Church is one because of her founder: for "the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, ... restoring the unity of all in one people and one body." The Church is one because of her "soul": "It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity." Unity is of the essence of the Church:

    What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the
    universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit,
    everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become
    mother, and I should like to call her "Church."

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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 867)

The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is "the sinless one made up of sinners." Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.

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(John 17:17)

"Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth."

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(John 17:19)

"And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth."

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(Titus 2:14)

"who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds."

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(Matthew 13:3-8)

And he told them many things in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."

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(Matthew 13:24-30)

Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.' "

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(Matthew 13:47-50)

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth."

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(Matthew 22:11-14)

"But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen."

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(Matthew 7:16-17)

"You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit."

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(Romans 3:3-4)

What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every man be false, as it is written, "That thou mayest be justified in thy words, and prevail when thou art judged."

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(2 Timothy 2:13)

"if we are faithless, he remains faithful -- for he cannot deny himself."

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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 868)

The Church is catholic: she proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times. She is "missionary of her very nature".

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(Matthew 24:14)

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come."

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(Mark 16:15)

And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation."

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(Acts 1:8)

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama'ria and to the end of the earth."

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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 830-831)

The word "catholic" means "universal," in the sense of "according to the totality" or "in keeping with the whole." The Church is catholic in a double sense:

First, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. "Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church." In her subsists the fullness of Christ's body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him "the fullness of the means of salvation" which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession. The Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost and will always be so until the day of the Parousia.

Secondly, the Church is catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race:

    All men are called to belong to the new People of God.
    This People, therefore, while remaining one and only one,
    is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages
    in order that the design of God's will may be fulfilled:
    he made human nature one in the beginning and has decreed
    that all his children who were scattered should be finally
    gathered together as one.... The character of universality
    which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord
    himself whereby the Catholic Church ceaselessly and
    efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity and
    all its goods, under Christ the Head in the unity of
    his Spirit.

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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 869)

The Church is apostolic. She is built on a lasting foundation: "the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Rev 21:14 - "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."). She is indestructible (cf. Mt 16:18 - "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it."). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops.

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(Matthew 16:18)

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it."

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(Matthew 28:18-20)

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

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(Ephesians 2:19-22)

"So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."

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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 857)

The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

  • she was and remains built on "the foundation of the Apostles," the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;

  • with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the "good deposit," the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;

  • she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ's return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, "assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church's supreme pastor":

      You are the eternal Shepherd
      who never leaves his flock untended.
      Through the apostles
      you watch over us and protect us always.
      You made them shepherds of the flock
      to share in the work of your Son....

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Orthodox Church

That body of Eastern Christian believers identified as possessing and maintaining a valid sacramental and hierarchical system but separated from full Communion with the Catholic Church by remaining independent of the Pope. Orthodoxy as a theological construct surfaced with the decisions of the early ecumenical councils, primarily Nicaea I (325), Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451), to distinguish Churches that accepted true teaching (orthodoxy) from the believers of false doctrine (heresy).

The definitive date on which most historians agree marks the separation of the Orthodox and (Roman) Catholic Churches is July 16, 1054, when Cardinal Humbert, the head of a papal delegation in Constantinople, placed a document of excommunication on the altar of Hagia Sophia, the cathedral church of Constantinople. The official reasons for this were the removal of the filioque from the Creed; the practice of married clergy and some liturgical errors (for example, the use of leavened instead of unleavened bread for the Eucharist).

This historic act resulted in a schism between the Eastern and Western Churches which still exists. A symbolic gesture of reconciliation by the late Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I in 1966 lifting the anathemas of 1054 occurred and has advanced ecumenical dialogue. The patriarch of Constantinople remains the acknowledged, honored head of Orthodoxy, while for all practical purposes the Orthodox Church is now distinguished along national lines with many autonomous Churches. One can thus speak of the Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, Rumanian, Albanian, Ukrainian and Syrian Orthodox Churches, among many others.

Some important differences between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches include the acceptance by the Orthodox of only the first seven ecumenical councils, their rejection of any single supreme head of the Church, the remarriage of divorced individuals and the questioning of such Catholic dogmas as purgatory, papal infallibility and the Immaculate Conception.

There is a great richness of forms of the spiritual life in the Orthodox Church, exemplified in its monasticism and in its concept of complete renunciation of the life of this present world. Mysticism of the highest order marks the spiritual theology of the Orthodox. An important common element between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches is a shared and abiding love of the Mother of God.

Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.L. Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia. Copyright (c) 1994, Our Sunday Visitor.

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Anglican, Anglicanism

The Anglican Church is not synonymous with "The Church of England" but is an organization of many member churches which form the worldwide Anglican Communion. In places where the British Empire once held sway, the Anglican Church was formerly the established church. The Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Hong Kong and the Anglican Church of South Africa are examples. Today, the Anglican Church is still the state or government-supported Church in England and is popularly referred to as "The C of E" (The Church of England). The separation from the Roman Catholic Church began in the sixteenth century, when King Henry VIII declared himself head of the church and rejected papal claims to universal spiritual jurisdiction.

Anglican doctrine has always been comprehensive, for historical reasons. After the time of Henry VIII, doctrine swayed back and forth between Calvinistic positions and more moderate, even Catholic ones. The Book of Common Prayer, or Prayer Book, has always been a focus for Anglican worship and it underwent various revisions in the sixteenth century and in the twentieth century. Traditionalist Anglicans in the twentieth century prefer the 1928 version, opposing emendations brought in during the 1960s. This is perhaps more for the question of language than for the content. The official version for the United States was adopted in 1979.

The British monarch no longer has supreme authority as such in spiritual matters in the Anglican Church. The monarch and parliament have a legal relationship of governorship over the church in the United Kingdom. Supreme authority is to be found in the General Synod of the Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the nominal or symbolic head of the Anglican Churches, even though he has no power to enforce binding doctrine or moral practice.

After the American Revolution, the church became known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (PECUSA), later simplified by dropping the word "Protestant" (ECUSA). However, as late as 1990 the "President's church" in Washington, D.C., St. John's, continued to show the words "Protestant Episcopal" on its outdoor advertisement.

Symbolically, the Oxford Movement began July 14, 1833. This intellectual "renaissance" produced ferment in the Anglican Church. Some Anglicans, such as John Henry Newman, joined the Roman Catholic Church as a result. Others, notably Edward Pusey and John Keble, remained Anglicans and were content with the Branch Theory. This was an ecclesiology which held that there were equal sister churches - Roman, Greek and English - which could all be considered "Catholic." The divisions since 1054 were not regarded as touching the essence of catholicity. From the Oxford Movement's influence there finally crystallized three principal schools of thought within Anglicanism. They are still popularly known as the "high," the "low," and the "broad" churches. The high church was originally an emphasis on the authority of the bishop and the church as an institution; later, this group was identified with solemn ritual and pageantry. The low church was evangelical and its theological roots were Calvinistic. The broad church became a kind of vague description for Anglicans who were middle-of-the-road and considered themselves rather all-embracing and tolerant.

Perhaps the most famous Anglican apologist of our time was Clive Staples Lewis, who died November 22, 1963. His defense of Christianity continues to influence the English-speaking world. But the cultural climate which developed after his death proved devastating to Anglicanism in England and North America, especially in terms of moral erosion. Already in 1930 the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops had approved of artificial contraception within Christian marriage. Sixty years later, some Anglican clergy were openly espousing sterilization, abortion, divorce, euthanasia and homosexuality.

The ordination of women recently has been perhaps the most controversial issue in the Anglican Communion. In 1975, the first women were ordained to the Episcopal priestly ministry in the United States. Later, Barbara Harris was ordained the first Episcopal female bishop as suffragan to the bishop of Massachusetts. These ordinations have caused schisms of varying proportions and ecumenical friction with the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. The Continuing Anglican Movement was formed after 1975 and other groups have reorganized themselves to try to remain Anglican without approving of the actions of the main body. One such group, the Episcopal Synod of America, was formed when two thousand persons met in Fort Worth in June of 1989. This organization was concerned about the inroads made by radical feminism into the church's liturgy and theology. Official sources admit that in the United States alone the Episcopal Church has lost at least a quarter of a million adherents in the second half of the twentieth century. It has also been indicated that more former Roman Catholics (clergy and laity) join the Anglican Communion than vice versa.

Vitality in the Anglican Church today is evidenced principally by two facts. The "low" or evangelical church, which at times resembles Fundamentalism, has a coherent morality and a clear doctrinal program. It is thriving in the First World, though remains relatively small alongside other evangelical or fundamentalist denominations. In the Third World, the Anglican churches in the developing nations of Asia and Africa, remnants of the colonial past, are alive and prospering. Observers have noted that today there are more non-white Anglican bishops than white ones, the most famous being Archbishop Desmond Tutu of Cape Town, South Africa.

Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.L. Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia. Copyright (c) 1994, Our Sunday Visitor.

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Anglican Orders

The validity of Holy Orders in the Anglican Church was a disputed question among Catholics for centuries until it was settled by Pope Leo XIII in the papal pronouncement entitled Apostolicae Curae (September 13, 1896). With that decree, the Pope declared that Anglican orders were considered invalid for two basic reasons: defect in the form of the Rite of Ordination and defect in the intention of the ordaining bishop. At the present time this pronouncement is still in force.

Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.L. Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia. Copyright (c) 1994, Our Sunday Visitor.

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Monophysism (also Monophysitism)

This fifth-century Christological heresy has been attributed to Eutyches, but it probably had many contributors. It repudiated the two natures of Christ as expounded by the Council of Chalcedon, holding instead that Christ had but one composite nature. While a case can be made that the original dispute was perhaps merely terminological, the Monophysites became schismatic when they rejected the authority of councils to formulate any doctrine which was contrary to their thinking on the matter. Following their condemnation at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, their formal sect fell into decline, although Monophysite sentiment lingered for nearly one thousand years, especially in the East.

Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.L. Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia. Copyright (c) 1994, Our Sunday Visitor.

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(John 16:13)

"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come."

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(Matthew 13:31-32)

Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."

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(1 Kings 19:14-18)

He (Eli'jah) said, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." And the LORD said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall anoint Haz'ael to be king over Syria; and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel; and Eli'sha the son of Shaphat of A'bel-meho'lah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And him who escapes from the sword of Haz'ael shall Jehu slay; and him who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Eli'sha slay. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Ba'al, and every mouth that has not kissed him."

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(Matthew 10:2-4)

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zeb'edee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

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(Mark 3:16-19)

Simon whom he surnamed Peter; James the son of Zeb'edee and John the brother of James, whom he surnamed Bo-aner'ges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Then he went home;

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(Luke 6:13-16)

And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

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(Acts 1:13)

and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.

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(Acts 1:20-22)

For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it'; and 'His office let another take.' So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us -- one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.

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(1 Timothy 4:14)

Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.

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(2 Timothy 1:6)

Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;

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(Acts 1:2)

until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.

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(John 16:13)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

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(2 Timothy 1:13)

Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus;

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(Matthew 28:20)

teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.

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(Matthew 16:18)

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.

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(Galatians 4:4)

But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,

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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 702)

From the beginning until "the fullness of time," the joint mission of the Father's Word and Spirit remains hidden, but it is at work. God's Spirit prepares for the time of the Messiah. Neither is fully revealed but both are already promised, to be watched for and welcomed at their manifestation. So, for this reason, when the Church reads the Old Testament, she searches there for what the Spirit, "who has spoken through the prophets, wants to tell us about Christ.

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(Luke 7:26)

What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 717-720)

717 "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." John was "filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb" by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary's visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.
718 John is "Elijah [who] must come." The fire of the Spirit dwells in him and makes him the forerunner of the coming Lord. In John, the precursor, the Holy Spirit completes the work of "[making] ready a people prepared for the Lord."
719 John the Baptist is "more than a prophet." In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the "voice" of the Consoler who is coming. As the Spirit of truth will also do, John "came to bear witness to the light." In John's sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.... Behold, the Lamb of God."
720 Finally, with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of "the divine likeness," prefiguring what he would achieve with and in Christ. John's baptism was for repentance; baptism in water and the Spirit will be a new birth.

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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 436)

The word "Christ" comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means "anointed." It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that "Christ" signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets. This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively. It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet. Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet, and king.

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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 65-67)

65 "In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son." Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father's one, perfect, and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one. St. John of the Cross, among others, commented strikingly on Hebrews 1:1-2:

    In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word - and he has no more to say ... because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.
There will be no further Revelation

66 "The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ." Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

67 Throughout the ages, there have been so-called "private" revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 73)

God has revealed himself fully by sending his own Son, in whom he has established his covenant for ever. The Son is his Father's definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him.

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(Deuteronomy 4:2)

You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

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(Deuteronomy 12:32)

Everything that I command you you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to it or take from it.

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(Revelation 22:18-19)

I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

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(Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 25-29)

Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God. And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of a great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest -- because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God -- because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.

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(Joseph Smith - History, 1:18-19, First Vision)

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) -- and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof."

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St. Gregory I, Homilies on Ezechiel (A.D. 593), Jurgens, para 2329

We must recognize that the knowledge had by our spiritual fathers increased with the passage of time. For Moses was more learned in the knowledge of Almighty God than Abraham was, the Prophets more than Moses, and the Apostles more than the Prophets. If I do not err, the Scripture itself says: "Many shall pass over, and knowledge shall be manifold" (Daniel 12:4)

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St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies (inter A.D. 180/199), Jurgens, para 226

The preaching of the Church truly continues without change and is everywhere the same, and has the testimony of the Prophets and the Apostles and all their disciples.  ... That in which we have faith is a firm system directed to the salvation of men; and, since it has been received by the Church, we guard it. Constantly it has its youth renewed by the Spirit of God, as if it were some precious deposit in an excellent vessel; and it causes the vessel containing it also to be rejuvenated.  ... In the Church, God has placed apostles, prophets and doctors, and all the other means through which the Spirit works; in all of which none have any part who do not conform to the Church. On the contrary, they defraud themselves of life by their wicked opinion and most wretched behavior. For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God, there the Church and every grace. The Spirit, however, is Truth.

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St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies (inter A.D. 180/199), Jurgens, para 242

The true gnosis is the doctrine of the Apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of bishops, by which successions the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere; and the very complete tradition of the Scriptures, which have come down to us by being guarded against falsification, and which are received without addition or deletion; and reading without falsification, and a legitimate and diligent exposition according to the Scriptures, without danger and without blasphemy; and the pre-eminent gift of love, which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy, and more honored than all the other charismatic gifts.

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Tertullian, The Demurrer Against the Heretics (ca. A.D. 200), Jurgens, para 293

From this, then, we draw up our demurrer: if the Lord Jesus Christ sent the Apostles to preach, no others ought to be received except those appointed by Christ. For no one knows the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son gives a revelation. Nor does it seem that the Son has given revelation to any others than the Apostles, whom He sent forth to preach what He had revealed to them. But what they preached, that is, what Christ had revealed to them - and here again I must enter a demurrer - can be proved in no other way except through the same Churches which the Apostles founded, preaching in them themselves viva voce as they say, and afterwards by their Epistles. If these things are so, then it follows that all doctrine which agrees with the apostolic Churches, those nurseries and original depositories of the faith, must be regarded as truth, and as undoubtedly constituting what the Churches received from the Apostles, what the Apostles received from Christ, and what Christ received from God. And indeed, every doctrine must be prejudged as false, if it smells of anything contrary to the truth of the Churches and of the Apostles of Christ and God. It remains, then for us to demonstrate whether this doctrine of ours, of which we gave the rule above, accords with the tradition of the Apostles, in which case all other doctrines proceed from falsehood. We communicate with the apostolic Churches because there is no diversity of doctrine: this is the witness of truth.

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St. Athanasius, Letter Concerning the Councils of Rimini and Seleucia (A.D. 361/362), Jurgens, para 785

[The Fathers of the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea], without prefixing consulate, month, and day, wrote concerning Easter: "The following has been decided." And it was at that time decided that all should comply. But concerning matters of faith, they did not write: "It has been decided," but "Thus the Catholic Church believes." And thereupon they confessed how they believed. This they did in order to show that their judgment was not of more recent origin, but was in fact of Apostolic times; and that what they wrote was no discovery of their own, but is simply that which was taught by the Apostles.

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St. Basil the Great, Faith (inter A.D. 370/378), Jurgens, para 972

Faith, therefore, is unhesitating assent, in the fullest conviction of their truth, to the things heard in what is, by God's grace, proclaims.  ... Plainly it is a falling away from faith and an offense chargeable to pride, either to reject any of those things that are written or to introduce things that are not written.

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St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistle to the Romans (ca. A.D. 391), Jurgens, para 1181

"Through whom we have received grace and Apostleship for obedience unto faith." (Romans 1:5)  He does not say "for questioning and reasoning," but "for obedience." We were not sent, he says, to argue, but to give what was entrusted into our hands. For when the Master makes some declaration, those who hear are not to bluster about and be meddlesome about what is told them; they have only to accept it. It was for this reason that the Apostles were sent; to tell what they had heard, not to add to it anything of their own; and that we, for our part, should believe.

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St. Vincent of Lerins, The Notebooks (ca. A.D. 434), Jurgens, para 2169

To announce, therefore, to Catholic Christians something other than that which they have received has never been permitted, is nowhere permitted, and never will be permitted. And to anathematize those who announce anything other than that which has been received once and for all has never been unnecessary, is nowhere unnecessary, and never will be unnecessary.

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St. Vincent of Lerins, The Notebooks (ca. A.D. 434), Jurgens, para 2173

"Guard," he says, "what has been committed." (1 Timothy 6:20) What does it mean, "what has been committed"? It is what has been faithfully entrusted to you, not what has been discovered by you; what you have received, not what you have thought up; a matter not of ingenuity, but of doctrine; not of private acquisition, but of public Tradition; a matter brought to you, not put forth by you, in which you must be not the author but the guardian, not the founder but the sharer, not the leader, but the follower. "Guard," he says, "what has been committed." Keep the talent of the Catholic Faith inviolate and unimpaired. What has been faithfully entrusted, let it remain in your possession, let it be handed on by you. You have received gold, so give gold. For my part I do not want you to substitute one thing for another; I do not want you impudently to put lead in place of gold, or, fraudulently, brass. I do not want the appearance of gold, but the real thing. O Timothy, O priest, O interpreter, O teacher, if a divine gift has made you suitable in genius, in experience, in doctrine to be the Beseleel of the spiritual tabernacle, cut out the precious gems of divine dogma, shape them faithfully, ornament them wisely, add splendor, grace and beauty to them! By your expounding it, may that now be understood more clearly which formerly was believed even in its obscurity. May posterity, by means of you, rejoice in understanding what in times past was venerated without understanding. Nevertheless, teach the same that you have learned, so that if you say something anew, it is not something new that you say.

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St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter of Cyprian to Florentius Pupianus (A.D. 254), Jurgens, para 587

You have written also that on my account the Church now has a portion of itself in a state of dispersion. In truth, the whole people of the Church are collected together and made one and joined to each other in an indivisible harmony. They alone have remained outside who, were they within, would have to be ejected. ... And the Lord too, in the Gospel, when the disciples abandoned Him while He was speaking, turned to the twelve and said, "And do you too wish to go away?" Peter answered Him, saying, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the word of eternal life: and we believe and know that you are the Son of the Living God." (John 6:68-70)
There speaks Peter, upon whom the Church would be built, teaching in the name of the Church and showing that even if a stubborn and proud multitude withdraws because it does not wish to obey, yet the Church does not withdraw from Christ. The people joined to the priest and the flock clinging to their shepherd are the Church.
You ought to know, then, that the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishop; and if someone is not with the bishop, he is not in the Church. They vainly flatter themselves who creep up, not having peace with the priests of God, believing that they are secretly in communion with certain individuals. For the Church, which is One and Catholic, is not split nor divided, but is indeed united and joined by the cement of priests who adhere one to another.

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St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermon to Catechumens, on the Creed (forte ca. A.D. 395) Jurgens, para 1535

This Church is holy, the one Church, the true Church, the Catholic Church, fighting as she does against all heresies. She can fight, but she cannot be beaten. All heresies are expelled from her, like the useless loppings pruned from a vine. She remains fixed in her root, in her vine, in her love. The gates of hell shall not conquer her. (Matthew 16:18)

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St. Augustine of Hippo, Against the Letter of Mani Called "The Foundation" (A.D. 397), Jurgens, para 1580-1581

In the Catholic Church, not to speak of that purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual men attain in this life, in such a way that, in its least part only, for they are but men, they know it without any doubting, while the rest of the multitude finds its greatest safety not in lively understanding but in the simplicity of believing, - not to speak, I say, of that wisdom which you do not believe is present in the Catholic Church, there are many other things which, most properly, can keep me in her bosom. The unanimity of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority, inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the Apostle Peter, to whom our Lord, after His resurrection, gave the charge of feeding His sheep, up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And at last, the very name of Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called Catholic, when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house.
If you should find someone who does not yet believe in the Gospel, what would you answer him when he says: "I do not believe"? Indeed, I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so.

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St. Clement, Letter to the Corinthians (ca. A.D. 80), Jurgens, para 20-21

The Apostles received the gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; and Jesus Christ was sent from God. Christ, therefore, is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both of these orderly arrangements, then, are by God's will. Receiving their instructions and being full of confidence on account of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and confirmed in faith by the word of God, they went forth in the complete assurance of the Holy Spirit, preaching the good news that the Kingdom of God is coming. Through countryside and city they preached; and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty: for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier. Indeed, Scripture somewhere says: "I will set up their bishops in righteousness and their deacons in faith."
Our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned, and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry. As for these, then, who were appointed by them, or who were afterwards appointed by other illustrious men with the consent of the whole Church, and who have ministered to the flock of Christ without blame, humbly, peaceably and with dignity, and who have for many years received the commendations of all, we consider it unjust that they be removed from the ministry.
Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its Sacrifices. Blessed are those presbyters who have already finished their course, and who have obtained a fruitful and perfect release; for they have now no fear that any shall transfer them from the place to which they are appointed. For we see that in spite of their good service you have removed some from the ministry in which they served without blame.

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St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Trallians (ca. A.D. 110), Logos, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I

Chapter II. - Be Subject to the Bishop, Etc.

For, since ye are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, ye appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order, by believing in His death, ye may escape from death. It is therefore necessary that, as ye indeed do, so without the bishop ye should do nothing, but should also be subject to the presbytery, as to the apostle of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, in whom, if we live, we shall [at last] be found. It is fitting also that the deacons, as being [the ministers] of the mysteries of Jesus Christ, should in every respect be pleasing to all. For they are not ministers of meat and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They are bound, therefore, to avoid all grounds of accusation [against them], as they would do fire.
Be ye subject to the bishop as to the Lord, for "he watches for your souls, as one that shall give account to God." Wherefore also, ye appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order that, by believing in His death, ye may by baptism be made partakers of His resurrection. It is therefore necessary, whatsoever things ye do, to do nothing without the bishop. And be ye subject also to the presbytery, as to the apostles of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, in whom, if we live, we shall be found in Him. It behoves you also, in every way, to please the deacons, who are [ministers] of the mysteries of Christ Jesus; for they are not ministers of meat and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They are bound, therefore, to avoid all grounds of accusation [against them], as they would a burning fire. Let them, then, prove themselves to be such.

Chapter III. - Honour the Deacons, Etc.

In like manner, let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ, and the bishop as Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father, and the presbyters as the sanhedrin of God, and assembly of the apostles. Apart from these, there is no Church. Concerning all this, I am persuaded that ye are of the same opinion. For I have received the manifestation of your love, and still have it with me, in your bishop, whose very appearance is highly instructive, and his meekness of itself a power; whom I imagine even the ungodly must reverence, seeing they are also pleased that I do not spare myself. But shall I, when permitted to write on this point, reach such a height of self-esteem, that though being a condemned man, I should issue commands to you as if I were an apostle?
And do ye reverence them as Christ Jesus, of whose place they are the keepers, even as the bishop is the representative of the Father of all things, and the presbyters are the sanhedrin of God, and assembly of the apostles of Christ. Apart from these there is no elect Church, no congregation of holy ones, no assembly of saints. I am persuaded that ye also are of this opinion. For I have received the manifestation of your love, and still have it with me, in your bishop, whose very appearance is highly instructive, and his meekness of itself a power; whom I imagine even the ungodly must reverence. Loving you as I do, I avoid writing in any severer strain to you, that I may not seem harsh to any, or wanting [in tenderness]. I am indeed bound for the sake of Christ, but I am not yet worthy of Christ. But when I am perfected, perhaps I shall then become so. I do not issue orders like an apostle.

Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

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St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians (ca. A.D. 110), Logos, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I

Chapter I. - Praise of the Bishop.

Which bishop, I know, obtained the ministry which pertains to the common [weal], not of himself, neither by men, nor through vainglory, but by the love of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ; at whose meekness I am struck with admiration, and who by his silence is able to accomplish more than those who vainly talk. For he is in harmony with the commandments [of God], even as the harp is with its strings. Wherefore my soul declares his mind towards God a happy one, knowing it to be virtuous and perfect, and that his stability as well as freedom from all anger is after the example of the infinite meekness of the living God.

Chapter II. - Maintain Union with the Bishop.

Wherefore, as children of light and truth, flee from division and wicked doctrines; but where the shepherd is, there do ye as sheep follow. For there are many wolves that appear worthy of credit, who, by means of a pernicious pleasure, carry captive those that are running towards God; but in your unity they shall have no place.

Chapter III. - Avoid Schismatics.

Keep yourselves from those evil plants which Jesus Christ does not tend, because they are not the planting of the Father. Not that I have found any division among you, but exceeding purity. For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of repentance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren. If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If any one walks according to a strange opinion, he agrees not with the passion [of Christ.].

Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

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St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans (ca. A.D. 110), Logos, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I

Chapter VIII. - Let Nothing Be Done Without the Bishop.

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.

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(Matthew 7:24-27)

Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.

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(Matthew 16:18)

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.

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(Matthew 18:15-18)

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

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(1 Timothy 3:15)

if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

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(1 Corinthians 12:28-29)

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

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(Ephesians 2:20)

built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,

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(Ephesians 3:5)

which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

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(Ephesians 4:11)

And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,

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(Revelations 18:20)

Rejoice over her, O heaven, O saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!

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