Monday, August 11, 2014

Calvin: “The entire church is polluted by the papacy.”

In the comments below, explorer wrote:

When the Popes launched all the “horrific events” in the middle ages etc, was that counted as “solemn/infallible judgement” or just a “discipline” or was it “only committed by the secular state”?

In that same comment thread, Matthew Schultz asked, “How would the situation been different if Roman Catholicism had not ‘disfigured’ the Gospel? Do you think a proper Gospel would have somehow contained Islam? (Perhaps launched more effective Crusades?)”

I’m grateful for these questions. I seriously get disgusted first that Roman Catholicism attempts to sweep all of its past under the rug, and second, that its attempts are successful, insofar as people just forget about all of it. And every “papal conclave”, we see on TV the thoughtless crowds cheering on “il papa”, and the ignorant news casters suggesting that the pope is somehow the leader of all Christians.

I do stand by what I said about Rome and the papacy – it doesn't take much reading in church history to understand that the direction it took was a wrong one. If the church at Rome had been more faithful to Christ, instead of pushing its own agenda of domination, I'm sure that history would have turned out much differently.

This isn’t my own opinion. I have picked up on this theme which was earlier articulated by John Calvin.

Calvin begins Book IV of the Institutes – the section on the Church – with a comment succinctly describing the papacy’s relationship to the Gospel, to the church and the world:

In the last Book, it has been shown, that by the faith of the gospel Christ becomes ours, and we are made partakers of the salvation and eternal blessedness procured by him. But as our ignorance and sloth (I may add, the vanity of our mind) stand in need of external helps, by which faith may be begotten in us, and may increase and make progress until its consummation, God, in accommodation to our infirmity, has added such helps, and secured the effectual preaching of the gospel, by depositing this treasure with the Church.

He has appointed pastors and teachers, by whose lips he might edify his people (Eph. 4:11); he has invested them with authority, and, in short, omitted nothing that might conduce to holy consent in the faith, and to right order. In particular, he has instituted sacraments, which we feel by experience to be most useful helps in fostering and confirming our faith. For seeing we are shut up in the prison of the body, and have not yet attained to the rank of angels, God, in accommodation to our capacity, has in his admirable providence provided a method by which, though widely separated, we might still draw near to him (Institutes 4.1.1)

So, given all that God has done for man (Institutes 1-3 – through Creation, fall, and redemption), we still, through “ignorance”, “sloth”, and “the vanity of our minds”, need help in “accommodation to our infirmity”. To this end, God has given us “the Church”, within which “He has appointed pastors and teachers, by whose lips he might edify his people (Eph. 4:11)”.

Note how Calvin now describes the relationship of “the papacy” to “the Church”:

Wherefore, due order requires that we first treat of the Church, of its Government, Orders, and Power; next, of the Sacraments; and, lastly, of Civil Government;—at the same time guarding pious readers against the corruptions of the Papacy, by which Satan has adulterated all that God had appointed for our salvation (Institutes 4.1.1).

That was from the online Beveridge translation. The Battles translation refers to:

those corruptions by which Satan, in the Papacy, has polluted everything God has appointed for salvation (Vol 2, pg 1012).

The entire church is polluted by the papacy. This is not in any way a stretch or an exaggeration.

All the good things that God has given to us in the church, visible and invisible, is polluted by the papacy. Pastors, teachers, Scriptures, interpretations, sacraments/ordinances. Everything. That is why I work so hard to bring this to light. If we can remove, or at least understand this curse, God’s blessings to us in the church will be so much more available to the world.

In the spirit of Luke 9:46 (and similar verses), “An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest”, the papacy – the “successor to Peter” – the “Petrine ministry” – whatever they are calling it these days, has consistently brought bitterness and strife into the church.

I’ve written extensively on the topic of “The Nonexistent Early Papacy”, and I’ve encouraged the work of others on this topic (most notably Brandon Addison, a WSCal grad who has gone farther and deeper, in a more pastoral and scholarly way than I ever could have done).

The whole church, virtually all through history, has the stench of pollution in it because of the papacy. Because of the impulse of early bishops of Rome to say “I’m the greatest. I’m the ontologically and epistemologically necessary component of ‘the Church’. I’m the connection between heaven and earth.”

Calvin, however, said it best: “Christ’s headship is not transferable” (Institutes 4.6.9).

No comments:

Post a Comment