I wrote these series of articles (see menu sidebar to the left) as a Catholic for Catholics, but I no longer accept Catholic teaching as the authoritative source of truth.I have not attempted to align these articles with my current views.
Jesus instituted the ceremony of foot washing (John 13:5) and commands us to do it (John 13:15). Yet how many Protestant denominations practice this? The Catholic Church practices this rite during Easter (although it is performed without emotion, just as on Palm Sunday processing carrying a thin sliver of a palm leaf.)
After His resurrection Jesus gave the apostles the power to forgive sins (John 20:22-23). Protestant denominations have nothing matching this passage (although you would have to be stupid to confess true sins to your priest since he will probably, soon after, inform the congregation, without mentioning your name of course.)
Not everything is in the Bible (John 20:30). There is no indication in these verses that we should limit our understanding to only those passages which were written down (John 21:25). In addition to scripture the Catholic Church values the tradition which has been passed-downfrom Jesus to the Apostles through the Church (but many of these supposedly "passed-down" teachings were never taught by the Apostles at all so they were, instead, "made up".)
This passage supports the idea that Paul considered himself to be a priest (Romans 15:16).
Besides the last supper narratives in the gospels there is one other extended passage regarding the Eucharist: (1 Corinthians 10:16-18) (1 Corinthians 10:21) (1 Corinthians 11:23-25) (1 Corinthians 11:26-27)
The Eucharist is when we eat at the table of Jesus, and the church is His kingdom (Luke 22:30). In this passage Jesus is speaking to the 12 apostles during the last supper.
Those who come to Jesus are those who do not make excuses to stay away when he calls (Luke 14:15). The kingdom is the church and the bread is Christ in the Eucharist who nourishes us.
At the Last Supper, Jesus gave the bread and wine to His apostles (Luke 22:16-18). The Kingdom of God is the church and Christ eats with us in the Eucharist.
Those who partake of the Eucharist are blessed (Revelation 19:9).
There are many references in the very Early Church Fathers which support the idea that the church practiced the Eucharist from the very beginning. And the passage above from 1 Corinthians is very compelling. But we should expect to find additional references to the Eucharist in the letters of the New Testament (and we do).
The Levitical priesthood has no right to eat at the altar (Hebrews 13:10) of the Christians. This altar sounds very much like the Eucharist and the mass of the Catholic church. The sin offering (Leviticus 4:27-29) of the Old Testament provides a way for the people to be forgiven for their sins. In the sin offering the priests eat portions of the animal (Leviticus 5:13) that is offered. In the passage in Hebrews, Jesus is both the high priest (Hebrews 2:17) and the sin offering. Therefore, it is fitting that in the Eucharist we should eat Christ's body (John 6:54).
(Acts 6:2) Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
Very likely the phrase "word of God" refers to preaching, teaching, and administering the sacraments (Eucharist, baptism, Holy Orders, marriage).
(1 John 5:6-8) This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
(1 John 4:2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.
(Hebrews 9:14) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
(1 Peter 1:2) Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.
We should expect to see strong evidence of this in the New Testament and the writings of the Early Church Fathers since it is such a cornerstone for all things Catholic.
(Matthew 19:14,15) But Jesus said, Suffer [allow] little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.
Jesus often lays hands on people to bless them or heal them.
(Mark 5:23) And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
In this remarkable verse someone asks Jesus to lay his hands on someone to heal them. Certainly if Jesus uses the laying on of hands to impart blessing and healing, we should expect the church leaders to do the same. The is the basis of the sacraments.
(Mark 16:18) They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
This verse demonstrates that the power of laying on of hands is valid for all generations.
(Mark 5:30) And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
Notice that power was transmitted from Jesus to the woman when she touched the hem of his garment. This is the basis for sacraments in which grace is imparted via the physical rite.
(Mark 3:14) And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.
Jesus ordained the apostles. Based on Titus 1:5 we see that this succession of ordination is to continue for generation after generation.
(Acts 14:23) And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
The apostles set the standard of ordaining each subsequent bishop. Based on Titus 1:5 we see that this succession of ordination is to continue for generation after generation.
(Titus 1:5) For this cause left I [Paul] thee [Titus] in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.
Paul instructs the bishop Titus to ordain new bishops.
We are born again during Baptism (Colossians 2:11-14).
Just as the males of the Old Testament were circumcised in infancy, so New Testament believers are to be baptized in infancy (Colossians 2:11). A few points to note:
More on baptism
The apostolic church practiced worship on various days including Sabbaths and New Moons (Colossians 2:16). Many Protestant anti-Catholicsconsider such practices by Catholics as idolatry, but these are Biblical practices. They are the shadows of things to come (Colossians 2:17).
As a community of Spirit-filled Christians we are to relate to one another in peace and love (Colossians 3:16). Note that we are to teach and admonish one another through singing. This sounds like a reference to the liturgy of the Catholic Church.
There are certainly in the New Testament clear indications that Christ intended there to be a pope. The foundation passage for the papacy is Matthew 16:18,19. Peter was clearly singled-out as the #1 leader of the early church, but other bishops from time to time outshone him — all bishops have an important role in Church leadership and are to be in communion with the pope.
The papacy required development over many centuries, but it was already an established office of the church by the time of Irenaeus (a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John the apostle).
Jesus singles out Peter for a special role to "feed His sheep" (John 21:15-17).
(Matthew 16:18,19) And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter [rock], and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Christ singles out Peter as the foundation of the Church and gives the power of the keys to him only. It is important when God changes someone's name and the new name is significant (for example: Abram becomes Abraham, Jacob becomes Israel). Christ changes Peter's name to "rock" and refers to him as the foundation stone of the Church.
(Acts 15:14) Simeon [Peter] hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
(Acts 15:19) Wherefore my [James'] sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God.
Peter is the one who God used to include the Gentiles in the Church. But yes, James is the one who decrees what action they should take at the first council of the Church, the Council of Jerusalem.
(Acts 4:19) But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
(Acts 5:29) Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Peter is often the spokesman for the apostles. Here, Peter speaks.
(Acts 5:15) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
Peter is singled out as having this miraculous power.
(Acts 5:3) But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
The incident of Ananias and Sapphira is hard to explain without considering the idea that Peter is the first pope. In lying to Peter they lied to the Holy Spirit, thus, Peter is equated with the Holy Spirit.
(Acts 2:14) But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
(Acts 3:12) And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?
(Acts 4:8) Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
(Acts 15:7) And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
Peter was clearly the leader and spokesman of the early church.
(Acts 2:38) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Peter was the first to decree the necessity of baptism for salvation.
(Acts 15:2) When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
Within a few of decades, people would go to the bishop of Rome (the pope) to resolve church issues, but in this episode of Acts 15 they did not single-out Peter — they went to Jerusalem to discuss with the apostles and elders.
(Galatians 2:11) But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
In this incident Peter was certainly not acting in the role of leader of the Church, but this incident doesn't make Paul the leader of the Church either.
(1 Peter 5:13) The church that is at Babylon [Rome], elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.
Peter was at Rome and appears to be the bishop of Rome, the first bishop of Rome, the first pope.
(Isaiah 22:20-22) And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
(Jeremiah 23:5,6) Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.
The person who receives the key is the prime minister of Christ the King and of his kingdom. This position is to be passed-on in a succession, implying that the papacy is to be passed-on in succession.
(Acts 1:20) For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take.
Peter initiated the election of a new apostle. Previously, only Jesus selected apostles.
(John 21:15) So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these [the other apostles present]? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
Peter is to feed the other apostles
(Galatians 1:18,19) Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
Paul acknowledged Peter as the head of the Church, as the pope.
(Acts 11:18) When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Notice that over time, God revealed more and more about his plan and purpose for the church. There is no reason to assume that this ended with the apostles especially when we consider that it took decades for the New Testament to be written and hundreds of years for the Nicene Creed and the Canon of Scripture.
In speaking about heresies and false teaching, Peter provides guidance for interpreting scripture (2 Peter 1:20). We must interpret it the way God intended. This implies that only those who are authoritative representatives of the gospel can properly interpret scripture. But since the time of the Protestant Reformation any Bible teacher who considers himself qualified teaches whatever he wants as he sees fit (Sola Scriptura).
Christians are to have unity (John 17:23). The schism of the Protestant Reformation destroyed this unity. Centuries later, the Catholic Church finally admits that Protestants are imperfectly joined to the church— the disunity persists.
Protestants who object to the Catholic doctrine of the Assumption of Mary often object that such a thing could never happen (Hebrews 11:5). But it happened to Enoch because he pleased God. Certainly Mary also pleased God since Jesus Christ chose to take up residence in her womb.