If I met the Pope, what would I say? I’m no head of state, nor do I have access to a bully pulpit, so it is very unlikely that a meeting would be arranged by our people. As a man that “labors in the Gospel”, I do have some opinions about the Pope.
So, what would I say?
I know what I would NOT say: I wouldn’t call him my spiritual Father. [Matthew 23:9] Nor would I bid him God speed, [2Jo 1:10] for the teaching of the Catholic church has become so foreign to the doctrines found in the Bible.
I also wouldn’t be mean, or bitter, rather, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” [Col 4:6] Whatever words I use would need to be purposeful, for defense of the Gospel, and intentional for the conversion from the errors. [Jas 5:20]
So, what would I say?
- Why is the doctrine of the Catholic church so different from the word of God?
- Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:4 “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” Clearly, we as people can understand the word of God as revealed to the Apostles by the Holy Spirit, and if any of us lack wisdom we can ask of God and He gives it to us liberally. [James 1:5]
- Have you considered all of the verses warning against such changes to the word of God? [De 4:2; 12:32; Pr 30:6; Rev 22:18] Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” [Mat 28:18] How is it that the office of Bishop (His title being the Bishop of Rome) has been elevated above the one described in the New Testament, and that he has power to make doctrine? Even Paul told Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” [1Ti 4:16]
- Paul also marveled that the Galatians had become removed from Christ to another Gospel. [Gal 1:6-9] The Gospel certainly includes the doctrines of Christ, for in addition to teaching all nations and baptizing them, Jesus gave this command, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” [Mt 28:19-20]
- He may respond with some argument that the Pope has authority to make new doctrine. He’ll likely cite Matthew 16:19 saying that Jesus has given the Pope the “keys” to the Kingdom. He’ll also note that he is infallible only if he speaks under 3 conditions, 1) ex cathedra (from the Chair of Peter) in his official capacity, 2) the doctrine must be binding on the whole Church, and 3) It must be on a matter of faith or morals. 1
- To this I would ask in reply, “Are you saying that you can make new doctrine, because Jesus gave you the keys? Wouldn’t that mean Christ has abdicated His role as head of the church to a man?” [Eph 1:22; Php 2:9-10; Col 1:16; Eph 1:1Co 15:27-28] Based on these and other verses, Matthew 16:19 is more accurately understood to mean that whatever Jesus has bound in Heaven will be bound on Earth and whatever is loosed in Heaven will be loosed on Earth.
- If it’s by faith, which clearly means by hearing the revealed word of God [Rom 10:17], then you could speak nothing different than that which has already been revealed in the word of God. Therefore, there would be no need of you in the capacity which you serve and the New Testament pattern for organization, doctrines, and teachings would be sufficient. [2Timothy 3:16]
Of course, none of this would ever occur. However, all of us as Christians do come into contact with Catholics here in Borger. Perhaps you found this fictional exchange helpful in your evangelistic efforts. We need to be ready and know how to answer every man. [1Peter 3:15; Col 4:6]
Our goal is to shine as lights in this dark world.
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; [Php 2:15]
Spencer is the evangelist for the Franklin St church of Christ, Borger Tx.
- Infallibility of the Pope; http://www.staycatholic.com/papal_infalibillity.htm.