What Happened to the Church the Moment the Apostles Died?

Discussion in 'Church History' started by John P, Sep 13, 2016.

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  1. John P

    John P Puritan Board Freshman

    So, I was reading Ignatius today so that I can say (over time, of course) that I have read the works of the Church Fathers (I know that Ignatius isn't the only Church Father, but I'm starting with the Apostolic Fathers and moving forward), and I was shocked at what Ignatius, who was supposedly trained under Peter and John, said about the Bishops and Presbyters. He basically said they are infallible and are, to an extent, the vicar of God. My question is how this became such a major theological doctrine the moment the apostles passed. Like, I have read sections of Augustine saying the church is infallible, and I have read similar things by Polycarp as well.

    The thing is, the Bible NEVER says that we are to serve our Bishops as if they are God. In fact, the Bible says the opposite. We are to accept their authority as leaders, but are to serve God only (Luke 4:8), follow Jesus (Luke 9:23), and have the Holy Spirit teach us, to the point that we do not need anyone else to teach us (1 John 2:27). So, if the Apostles and Jesus did not teach the bishops and Presbytery being the vicar of God and totally infallible, then how did this become the common theology the moment the apostles passed? Surely, we are to follow the Bishops and Presbyters, but we are to serve God above all, and be Berean Jews, whom the Apostles praised for checking everything against the Old Testament to see if it was true.
     
  2. zsmcd

    zsmcd Puritan Board Freshman

    Welcome to the board John, hope you find it useful for encouraging you in faithfulness.

    I myself need to do some reading of early church leaders, theology, and worship. This is one area that I have yet to dig into. With that said, I have struggled with the same questions you have. One of the answers that has been helpful to me is that, the NT Church visible was in its infant stages, and the Scriptures themselves show the coming false teaching that would soon, and already was, attacking the doctrine and practice of the Church. Simply looking around today can show us just how quickly a local congregation can move from doctrinal and practical purity to false teaching and living. So it is not too surprising that even those taught by the Apostles themselves would go astray in some areas. These are questions I am still asking myself but have learned to trust in Gods wise counsel in directing the history of the Church in the way it has gone.
     
  3. John P

    John P Puritan Board Freshman

    While I agree with you, I think the problem is very pertinent, since nobody really said Ignatius was heretical when he said that. Instead it's almost like they all decided to go along with it for fear that nobody would listen to the church again. Like, all Ignatius had to say was that the church is profitable for maturing in your faith and that we should not neglect the fellowship of the brethren since bad company corrupts good morals (Basically just cite Paul the Apostle, since Paul extensively wrote about the importance of church and fellowship).
     
  4. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Calvin notes in one of his tracts that the church Fathers were so engrossed in controversies of "certain dreaming fanatics" that "they gave less heed to the principal points. And because of all the errors that distort their writings from one side to another, they are now for the most part out of bounds, and we can only partially receive fruit from their books."

    (Responsio Ad Versipellem Quendam Mediatorem, p. 41–44. [Cf. CR 37 (CO 9), 542. Cf. [French]“Response a Un Certain Moyenneur Ruse,” Recueil des Opuscules (Geneva: Stoer, 1611), 2191–2192. This tract was published in English translation: “In Translatiōne: Calvin’s Response to a Certain Tricky Middler,” The Confessional Presbyterian 8 (2012)).

    In this light, context is important. I'm assuming the writing of Ignatius you reference is this:

    (From The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians).

    Certainly, as Calvin noted, the bolded statement has been twisted and extended beyond distortion historically. But when read in the context of church harmony, it is not particularly remarkable. We all accept that the preacher preaches in the place of Christ and under his authority. A bishop, properly exercising his authority, does preside in the church as a representative of God. Strictly speaking, a vicar is an agent or representative. So for Ignatius to say, in essence, "your bishop acts under ordained authority of God to regulate the church" is not a particularly outlandish.

    But as things progressed, you get someone else saying, "well, Ignatius said bishops act in the place of God, and therefore they are infallible." This demonstrates the ability of prideful man to easily and readily make unwarranted and unscriptural jumps.

    How did things go south so quickly? Sin, of course. Praise God his Word has been preserved to act as a measure and corrective.
     
  5. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    We also have to remember that was during the time of the Gnostics. Bishops fought against them so as not to have it creep into the churches. He wants them to follow true Bishops not false bishops who did not know the Apostles nor were ordained by them whether or not they claimed to have secret knowledge.
     
  6. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Since the available historical literary fragments are just that--fragmentary--the older the record is, it is conjecture to write, "nobody really said Ignatius was heretical when he said that."

    The best one could say--assuming the claim concerning him is remotely accurate--is: we apparently lack the remains of contemporary critics who might have objected. Assuming we do lack. Martin Luther, highly educated and reasonably familiar with such material, noted in his famous defense at Worms that individual authorities and councils of the church were notorious for contradicting themselves. So, the fact is that until we have some "objectionable" comment from Ignatius or some other, we cannot even scour the rest of the remains of the fathers for possible authoritative refutation.

    It was because of the pluriform witness of the church that Scripture alone was the final authority. This is the true meaning of the Reformation phrase sola scriptura: not that there are no other authorities for Christians, nor that the church lacks God-given authority; but that only Scripture is the unimpeachable authority, the sole "norming norm" of all other norms. And for this stance one can produce many marvelous expressions from the ancient church.


    But there is a bigger problem here than offering categorical statements in the OP and in replies. There are no quotes being offered, no links to online material. In other words, the readers of this thread are being asked to take what the OP admits is a neophyte's acquaintance with ancient church-writings and his assessment of the same, and adopt his interpretation. As in: "I read Ignatius [missing: where he wrote "_________."] Sounds like he means that Bishops and Presbyters are infallible and the vicar of God."


    My point is not to discourage reading the ancient Church fathers. Even with limited materials, the eras covered are as long as the whole history of European colonization in North America, 400+ years; the geography is more vast than the Roman Empire, including cultural and linguistic diversity within and without its borders. To be thoroughly acquainted with even a narrow range of this material on a scholarly level is doctorate level work. So, swing for the fences.

    But making claims about what one of the ancients must mean by his words (nothing referenced), as well as asserting certain implications of the words, is unwise.

    People cherry-pick the Fathers all the time. Papists do it plenty; and so do some Protestants (when they can be bothered to engage with the past). The fathers were men of their time and place; and many observers of the transition from living Apostolic days even one generation to the days of the Apostolic fathers have noticed a profound qualitative difference in the writings of both groups. For the Apostles--being inspired--wrote not for just one generation to follow, but for all time conveying the mind of God.

    The church at the end of the 1st century was "orphaned," the Apostles now being dead. But Jesus promised not to leave his disciples orphans, but to come to them, Jn.14:18, which he would do through the Spirit of truth. He (the Spirit) would bring to their (the first disciples, the eyewitnesses) remembrance his (Jesus) words, so that those who love him will have and keep them, vv23-26. And then he prayed for that and all succeeding generations, that his people would be "sanctified by thy (God's) truth; thy Word is truth," Jn.17:17.

    It is no wonder at all that the young NT church made mistakes, and declined from a pure understanding of the whole of divine truth in not-so-long a time after the Apostles were departed. It is a miracle she was not only successful, but also thriving; this, in spite of all the troubles that assailed her. Of course, God was with her; this seems like an unquestionable faith-conclusion. She won over her secular persecutors; and she clung to vital doctrines that defined the faith against religious challenges from inside and out.

    But, in the process she did not entirely escape the influence of the world, the flesh, and the devil. We see for example movement (which took a couple centuries) away from the church-government established by the Apostles, to the "efficiencies" of adopting the hierarchical, secular order; monarchical bishops and centralized control--the apotheosis of which came to be Rome's outrageous pretentions to universal supremacy.

    However Augustin's deference to Rome may be described, he did not admit such a thing. And we have the person of Gregory the Great (last ancient/first medieval Bishop of Rome) denouncing anyone (least of all one occupying own Roman see) who might claim a "universal bishopric"--such a person would be, he said, antichrist.

    In spite of not maintaining all aspects of the church in purity, the church survived. The church combatted heresy, and won (in the long run) more often than she did not. And this battle has gone on well past the ancient era, into the medieval, then into the post-medieval ages, down to this present hour. The story of the Reformation is the story of Augustin vs. Pelagius continued. Or the story of Athanasius vs. the (Arian) world continued.

    The question of the Reformation--and of all times and our own--is this: Where in my hour is the true church to be found? Rome's answer (which she tries to base in significant measure on putative historical claims to "unbroken succession") employs a quite different use of history than the Reformers. Rome's trivially falsifiable claim is that her present truth claims are entirely apostolic in origin, and traceable in some manner and invariably improved through history. In the end, Rome says, "Believe we are the true church, because we say so."

    Or, you can seek the true church: 1) where the Word of law and gospel is preached in its purity, 2) where the sacraments are faithfully administered, and 3) where church discipline is pastorally and faithfully conducted.


    So, read the fathers; read them with respect and charity; but not slavishly. Not with (for example) a preconceived idea that the Eastern's or Rome's (often at variance), or even a Protestant "grid" is a fine filter for the opinions they held. We should not believe what we believe simply because it has been believed before (still, a valuable principle). Every truth has been believed by someone, and much truth by many at once. But error has also been believed, and only the Bible is proper as the final rule by which to judge the "things to be believed."

    The true believers listen to the Voice of the Good Shepherd. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:" "And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers," Jn. 10:27, 5. Therefore, judge them who profess to speak in his name, and the name of his faithful Apostles: "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them," Is.8:20.
     
  7. johnny

    johnny Puritan Board Sophomore

    We can also take heart in the warning by the Holy Spirit that certain errors would arise from within the church, for the fight against these heresies helped to establish the truth of God.

    1 Tim 4:1
    Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.


    Calving Commentaries 1 Tim 4:1
    Such is the mind of the world that it always dreams of worshipping God with carnal customs, as though God himself were carnal. In the ancient church, little by little, things went from bad to worse, until we arrive at the tyranny according to which it is wicked for priests and monks to enter into marriage, and under which no man dare eat meat on certain days. Therefore, we are today far from wrong in applying this prophecy to the papists, who urge celibacy and abstinence from foods more forcefully than any precept of God.
     
  8. johnny

    johnny Puritan Board Sophomore

    And thank you for your wonderful post Reverend Buchanan, it is very encouraging.

    I love reading the Church Fathers but I am aware that some Christians avoid them like the plague, saying there is no profit to be had in them, and that they are simply early versions of Roman Catholics.

    Your post encourages us all to get beyond this crazy way of thinking.
     
  9. John P

    John P Puritan Board Freshman

    When you say "representative of God," do you mean infallible? Since I feel that is the general tone of Ignatius. Of course we are to follow our church leaders, but there is nothing wrong with questioning what they are preaching, since the Berean Jews did the same thing and were praised for it. I take offense at the "infallibility argument," which it seems, to me, that Ignatius is arguing here. Should I submit to a bishop who teaches that homosexuality is ok? According to Ignatius, I must, since that bishop is "in the place of God." Kind of antithetical to what Jesus taught to me...
     
  10. John P

    John P Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for your in-depth response, Reverend Buchanan. While I do admit that, for now, I am a neophyte, I am much more well-versed in church history than I am in Church Fathers and famous theologians. You do bring up some great points, about how the church is definitely imperfect and that we have so many writings missing. However, why, of the major writings, do we see no contention over Sola Scriptura vs Bishopal authority? Was it merely assumed? I know the church was fighting Gnosticism and fighting over the deity of Christ and whether he came in the flesh. However, it seems weird to me that Ignatius would so boldly state that the Bishop is infallible. Although, I might have to chalk it up to shady translating, since other translations translate the paragraph that I am referring to in a variety of ways. Also, the "God-sinpired" part appears to be a name that this translation seemed to write according to its definition instead... Why are there so many interpretative translations lolol. Anyway, I found a book by Philip Schaff that has many of the church fathers across 10 volumes that I will probably read instead of trying to find them online.

    To help with clarity, I am below releasing the quotations in question along with the source I have read them from:

    - Ignatius, Letter to the Magnesians, from Silouan Thompson

    - Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians, from Silouan Thompson
     
  11. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    John,

    Welcome to the board.

    I think Ignatius makes his point clear in the latter half of the first quote you provided--the bishop (read pastor) is to be respected for his office's sake. In his office, he stands in the place of God, insomuch as he administers God's Word, sacraments, etc. to the people of God. To respect and defer to the pastor is to respect and defer to God, so far as he is obedient himself. I see nothing objectionable in Ignatius's statement.
     
  12. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    The opening of the letter to the Ephesians and Magnesians: Ἰγνάτιος, ὁ καὶ Θεοφόρος, and five other of the "genuine" letters.

    The second term reads, "also [called] Theophoros," like many people in nearly any age he had a second name or titie. For instance, almost every one of Jesus Twelve Disciples has at least two identifiers. E.g. Simon, Barjona, Peter. John, BarZebedee, Boanerges. Etc. The meaning of any name applied to an individual does not call for literalism.

    Moreover, "God-inspired" as a translation of theophoros truly needs some rationale offered. Phorew is a verb meaning "to bear," and the name is sometimes rendered in translation, "God-bearer," that is accoutered with God (so, the word in Rom.13:4, "...he bears not in vain the sword;" or in Jas.2:3, "...him that wears fine clothes." Another plausible connection is the noun phoros, meaning "tribute;" so this name might be glossed, "a tribute to God," or somesuch.

    According to CBTEL (Cyclopedia, 1895, an old multivolume reference work) Ignatius himself offered this meaning for Theophorus: "a title which he explained to the emperor Trajan as meaning 'one who has Christ in his heart.'” Given this notice (presumably genuine), why did the translator you read offer such a representation as he did? Does he take the term "inspired" not as in 2Tim.3:16, θεόπνευστος (..."all Scripture is God-breathed") but more like "motivated?" Who knows...

    ****************************

    My point in acknowledging what you acknowledged, about being new to this field, is hopefully so you will recognize that a claim like "no one disputes X," or "this means that," is dilettantish. By what authority could you possibly say so? If it is the opinion of someone else, then folks have a right to assess (so far as possible) the competence of that authority, and have the opportunity to propose an alternate (if desired) of equal or even greater cachet.

    When you point to the (apparent) absence of contentions over expressions in this significant Father Ignatius (who is so largely because he wrote a few letters and they survived), we have not even begun to compare his writings to other material from that age; nor have we established the true meaning (what HE intended to communicate) by the terms he used.

    Many times, later church authorities have "read into" previous writings and terms used their own developed doctrines. This is pure anachronism; such as when all the trappings and accretions of rank of the monoepiscopate "bishop" of the 4th century and later is attributed to a simpler "bishop" like Ignatius.

    Then, must you read Ignatius as if he must mean by his strong terminology views that are quite in keeping with the later monoepiscopal developments? Or, is one perfectly accurate to assess his terminology against the background of the NT, and to look for the basis of his statements? The former method is useful for justifying the "progress" of hierarchical church orders. Ignatius is read "backwards," in that case.

    On the other hand, if we read Ignatius primarily against previous revelation, we take note of where the emphasis has turned in his day. We are free to assess the "progress" or "regress" of matters by his short day, in light of the apostolic beginnings.

    **********************************

    There's yet another issue that has yet to be raised in this discussion. Convenient to both the Roman view and the anti-authority views of much modern evangelicalism is the impression that the only two choices are 1) church authority, and 2) Bible/personal authority. While Rome professes a triple-authority (Scripture/Tradition/Magisterium), in practice there can be only one final authority, which for them is the Magisterium--because they assert the current accepted meaning of any Scripture, and which tradition is meaningful or what some tradition means.

    The radical individualists are Rome's ideal foils. They are not--indeed they are proud not to be--beholden (they think) to any tradition. They are, indeed, autonomous interpreters of Scripture, and think of themselves as pure biblicists who need no church. For them, institutional church is largely a fellowship gathering, and not an exhibit of the eternal Kingdom complete with order and discipline; exercised through officers that bear a measure of Christ's authority; which power is exercised through the combined ministry of Word and Spirit.

    The Reformation church is neither of these things, but a third option, offensive to both the Roman and the Biblicist perspective. Rome doesn't want there to be any church that challenges her over "whose history" goes from A.D. 100-1500. They don't mind so much the church that "disappeared" for 1400yrs or so, according to the sectarians. People with no historical roots can be more easily persuaded first of Rome's historical claims; followed by her interpretive claims as to Scripture; and ultimately her raw claims to know what is spiritual good on no other basis than sheer weight of "inevitability."

    The magisterial Reformation neither rejects church history, nor accepts Rome's "inevitability" by means of that history. The best and most faithful of that history is our history, and she cannot take it from us. The Reformers did not exclusively go back to Scripture, except as the final authority. But they appealed constantly to the ancient fathers, and the best of medieval Christianity as well.

    Calvin's encyclopedic knowledge of the fathers (especially Augustin) was legendary. In fact it has been said, it was the Reformers who basically invented Patristics as a discipline. Because with quotes from the ancients they challenged the ignorant priests who only parroted: "Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est," and knew none of the facts of the father's faith or the text of Scripture.

    **************************

    That said, we may ask the question: Is Ignatius' ecclesiology "too high?" Does he too-highly magnify his office as a bishop? Any claim that Ignatius' official authority (authority of office) is at variance with Scriptural authority is a contention that must be specified and demonstrated.

    Please give the line where Ignatius claims infallibility as (or for) a bishop. I haven't found it. It doesn't appear in the passage you cite. In that passage, Ignatius seems to counsel the Ephesians to honor the derived authority of her bishops, as those who occupy that position bearing authority delegated down from Christ.

    Indeed, this is not typical American congregationalism. Most churchgoing people today think of the pastor as someone who is given his authority "from the people." that is, from below. They may think of him, afterward, as wielding unchallenged authority for the collective. They may think their only choice in disagreement is to "leave," thereby reclaiming their little bit of autonomous power. But this view is not the view of the Presbyterians, or the Reformed, or the Lutherans, Anglicans, etc.

    To the typical American evangelical, our view of church authority simply makes us "Roman-lite." The irony is, it is more difficult (though not impossible) for a pastor to exercise tyranny in a Presbyterian church than in a Congregationalist. This is because a pastor like myself is always under authority of my peers in the sister churches; and the congregation is ruled jointly by its own non-clergy elders together with its pastor. I have no delegated "authority" UP from the congregation, by which to rule them all through the exercise of a collective "will."

    As minister, I exercise the authority of Christ, giving Word-based advice to the elders, and publicly and privately ministering the Word. I have no authority to speak where the Word has no counsel. Where the Word gives clear guidance, I have full authority to tell the people the mind of God as best I can. And if they believe it is so for me, as a function of my office, then they should pay no mind to my youth (1Tim.4:12), not that I have youth anymore...), but honor that Word as it "really is, the Word of God," not the word of men, 1Ths.2:13.

    Thus do I read Ignatius' advice. I do not interpret him as going beyond the Word of God, at least not in your excerpt. I do not interpret him as saying to the Ephesians they should act all "spooked" at the sheer holiness of their minister/bishop, as if he were God on earth. Of course, the "bishop must be blameless," 1Tim.3:2; Tit.1:7. He must be an example as 1Tim.4:12 says, in love, spirituality, faith, and purity. But the deference Ignatius speaks of is not to his person, as rather to his office and his preaching. If he is to be "obeyed," surely that must be exclusively in matters wherein he has the authority from God and Christ to give command; and not simply at a whim.



    I hope these are thoughts by which you are able to read these writers freshly. The translation should be quality, but do not ignore good teachers who synthesize this material, together with deep understanding of the times in which they were written, the currents of thought, the social realities of the day. Always keep in the fore the final authority of Scripture.
     
  13. John P

    John P Puritan Board Freshman

    But the pastor isn't God. He's a person who was put in place by God to teach, but we are not to treat them with the same respect we give God since nobody is God but God.

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  14. John P

    John P Puritan Board Freshman

    If I understand you, you are saying that you are given authority by God to teach the Word. If so, then I agree, and if that is what Ignatius was trying to say, then I also agree.

    I guess what I took contention with was that it seemed that Ignatius was saying that to even question your bishop is to question God. I do not believe that is the case. I believe it is perfectly fine to question and reason out the Scriptures. Man is definitely not God, and, like I've already written, the Berean Jews were called noble-minded because they checked everything they heard with the Scriptures. So, why can't we do the same? I don't think there is anything unBiblical about checking your pastor. Now, there is being contentious, which is condemned wrong by the Bible, and there is being thoughtful. I believe the Bible says that,we must use our minds and reason out the Scriptures, asking God to be our teacher. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Be the Berean Jew. If that is wrong then please correct me.

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  15. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    When the Jews came to stir up trouble for Paul the believing Bereans came to his assistance, which supposes they recognised his ministerial authority. Insofar as Ignatius' letters are genuine, and without interpolation, we can judge that he is speaking of the recognition of ministerial authority, which is in accord with 1 Thess. 5:12-13; Gal. 6:6: Heb. 13:7, 17, and the general teaching of the New Testament on the gifts and blessings of the pastoral ministry.
     
  16. John P

    John P Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't think that's what happened with the Berean Jews...

    If you're seriously suggesting we cannot question our pastors then I am worried for you. I never once said that pastors do not have ministerial authority. I merely stated that we cannot just blindly follow our pastors since they are fallible people. The only person we should blindly follow is God, and He says that we should think about the Bible and serve Him with our mind. Last I checked, God told us to serve him only, so that is what I will do. If God places someone in authority over me, then that person is in authority over me, but I still serve God, and God says not to exceed what is written and to serve Him, which means, by extension, obeying His word which He commands us to do.

    So, in short, I am just arguing against the blind following of our pastors in favor of a faith that measures the Pastor up to the Bible, since Paul said to be on the alert and guard against false doctrine.

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  17. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Friend, no one said or implied anything like it. All that has been stated on this thread is that there is a way of understanding Ignatius as upholding ministerial authority in accord with the teaching of the New Testament. The aim is to show that you do not need to read him as teaching ministerial infallibility. Please give it some consideration. Your extreme reaction is difficult to understand.
     
  18. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    And I think becoming aware of a potential misunderstanding of this ancient writer should serve you in a couple ways.

    1) Recognize that your first impression of any writer isn't necessarily the correct read. At the end of the day, when all the evidence is in, we may wish to criticize Ignatius' terminology or his actual views of the bishop as needing to be reigned in; perhaps he pushed Paul and Peter and others a bit too far? We must try to avoid a prioris in either direction: whether reading back into his words the whole structure of post-Constantinian development; or naïve purity.

    2) Recognize that a charitable conclusion and one based on Ignatius' obvious familiarity with and reliance on 1Timothy and other NT writings, is that he received the apostolic witness as the uniquely norming authority for the church and its ministry. So, expect to work for understanding, and question your own assumptions. And when you hear so many echoes of the biblical text in a man's sentences, first try to read him as one who shares your love of Scripture, maybe loved it even more than you.

    Men worthy of our admiration, more than of our criticism, may still have spoken and thought in ways that we find hard to appreciate, at first. We are hampered by our parochial cultural and sub-cultural expectations. The one thing above all our shared humanity that makes these kind of ancient writers accessible to us is that we share the same Bible, and like them we simply believe what it says. Many people who have Bibles today still can't appreciate Ignatius and others, because moderns tend to use the Bible more as a sounding board than a shaper of one's self-perceptions.

    You definitely should compare what men say in the name of God with the Word of God, regardless of their office. As you observed, the apostles themselves were subject to this kind of scrutiny. Occupying an office in the church is no carte blanche. But we need teachers, or else Jesus gave them for no reason, Eph.4:11. Jesus conducts much of his work to this very hour in hands-on fashion through his representatives; who may be weak in certain ways to the human observation, but who are in possession of instruments that are "mighty in God" for the destruction of human opinions (2Cor.10:4-6), so that more of those in the church will have their thoughts made obedient to Christ.

    You need men to teach in the church whom you can trust not to shipwreck your faith, leading you into their own foolish and hurtful lists "which drown men in perdition and destruction," 1Tim.6:9. There really is a balance, between: "Don't question your teacher!" and, "I'm just as smart and gifted as that seminary-trained stuffed-shirt."
     
  19. John P

    John P Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you all for helping me with this. I see now that this passage could be interpreted as Ignatius merely stating that we should respect our teachers as a teacher and leader but not above the Bible or as God. I know we all agree on this, but it is nice to know that I might have misinterpreted him
    L

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  20. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    To under-gird what Rev. Winzer has stated, there is a high, biblical office of "Minister of the Word". The office is ordained of God and that is all the warrant we need to hold the office in high esteem and respect the officer. While it may be appropriate to question a particular teacher on his rendering of a passage, it is never appropriate to regard the office as "ordinary" or to have disdain toward it or the man that holds it. Sometimes a man needs to be removed from that office, but that is what a robust, ecclesiastical magistrate is for. In less robust systems of church governments, the proper recourse is circumvented and neither office-bearer or non office-bearer is protected.
     
  21. John P

    John P Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, we must respect and obey the authorities placed over us.
     
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