I am sharing my responses to a recent comment on one of my older Youtube videos hoping it will be edifying. The questions regard how Protestants and Roman Catholics interpret the process of church discipline in Matthew 18. Some format and spelling errors have been corrected, but nothing substantial has been changed.
1) If you teach me a false teaching, using a bad interpretation of scripture to do so, is that sinning against me? Yes or no.
It’s an interesting question. I think the answer is “Yes,” though admittedly, it isn’t uncommon to distinguish between “faith and practice” or “doctrine and morals.” So there is a very real chance that all that is in view here is moral errors – errors of practice – not errors of doctrine.
Interestingly enough, Gerry Matatics protested James White for interpreting “good works” to include the teaching of doctrine. Gerry did this because he felt the strength of 2 Timothy 3 when Paul tells us the Scriptures (and mentioning nothin else) are able to perfectly equip the man of God for “every good work.” If you want to define “good works” as including the teaching of true doctrine, then perhaps I can return the question to you:
Why do you deny Sola Scriptura when Paul tells us that Scripture alone is able to equip pastors to teach every true doctrine?
2) What if you’re a Presbyterian and I’m an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist? Which “church” do you tell it to?
You tell it to “THE church” (singular) to which you are subject. These are, after all, the fellow believers in proximity to us so that they can sin against us.
The fact remains that the Holy Spirit has made some elders in authority over some Christians (Acts 20:28). Everyone should go to the elders the Holy Spirit has given them, not to the elders the Holy Spirit has not given them. Of course, if a Christian who belongs to another communion sins against me, I can, for the sake of sanctification, bring it to the attention of said person’s elders. The elders can then decide if church discipline needs to be administered.
3) What does “binding and loosing mean?”
The metaphor of binding and loosing has the same meaning as Jesus’ metaphor to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:13: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” Binding and loosing is similar to closing and opening a door. We bind people to the church, and therefore, to the kingdom of God, by membership, and we loose people from the church through excommunication. When this process is done correctly, it carries out the will of Christ in heaven. But merely having the process entrusted to us does not mean that it will always be done correctly, just as the fallible Pharisees were the ones who opened the door of God’s kingdom to others.
Your strawman) You don’t call the pope to settle a dispute. You go to the local parish who has a priest, who has the authority to settle matters of interpretation. You obviously don’t understand the structure of the Christian Church.
I did not create a strawman. I was not attempting to describe the Roman Catholic process; but rather, I attempted (successfully) to demonstrate your equivocation of the word “church” in this passage (Matthew 18). Your local parish is not infallible. Your local parish is not ‘THE infallible church (singular).’ Thus, you practice Matthew 18 by going to a fallible local church, but then you turn around and claim that Matthew 18 establishes the Roman Church is infallible? If Matthew 18 teaches you to take your disputes to the infallible church, then you should not take your disputes to your local parish because that priest and congregation there are not infallible. Your regional bishop is not even infallible. So, if Matthew 18 is a requirement to take our problems to the infallible church, then we ought to take them to the Roman Catholic Magisterium. That, in your system, is the only ecclesiastical body with infallibility. Rather, you seem to agree in practice with us Protestants (contrary to Ferris’ video) that Matthew 18 teaches us to take our disputes to our local (fallible) churches.
4) How can a Protestant church “excommunicate” someone. Can’t they just go down the street and find another church to go to? If the Baptist church “excommunicates” someone, what is stopping them from just going two blocks down to another independent congregation?
Protestant churches excommunicate people just as Matthew 18 prescribes and which 1 Corinthians 5 & 6 model. We remove people from the church. It’s pretty simple.
In regards to what “stops” people from just going down the street to the next church has more than one answer depending on what you mean by “what is stopping.” Typically, most local churches check from previous churches when they receive new members to make sure the outsiders are not fleeing discipline. If it is discovered they are fleeing discipline, they will not be allowed in the fellowship. It is true far too many churches (at least in America) no longer practice excommunication. The Lord will judge these leaders on the last Day. May God have mercy on them. And therein lies the final answer.
The judgment of God is what “stops” people. If you want a physical force that literally prevents people from attending a new church or lying about their past, that doesn’t exist. You should know God gave man free agency. This is no different in the Roman church. If you kick someone out they can just join a new denomination or maybe find some liberal Roman church to accept them. We aren’t in a different boat there. But we Protestants are not so quick as you to over-realize the eschaton. People are able to sin now. That Protestantism doesn’t prevent sin isn’t an argument against it. If a person and another church want to ignore the rules and judgments of valid church discipline they can do so in this life, but they will answer for it in the next.
5) Where do you see anything about keys in Matthew 18? You see an authority given to “THE (singular) Church, but nowhere is that specifically saying ‘local church’. You’re adding that in. That’s not what the verse says. This would only fool someone engaging in confirmation bias.
Speaking of Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB), I always love to see Roman Catholics borrowing their hermeneutic. It’s very entertaining to see Roman Catholics channel their inner fundy when they are faced with a text that is glaringly opposed to their religion. So I suppose the answer is to inform you that I am not an IFB and I reject their woodenly literal approach to Scripture, the one you are arbitrarily assuming (speaking of confirmation bias) by your question. My hermeneutic maintains that the words “local” nor “keys” need to be in the passage in order for the passage to be speaking of those things.
Where are the keys? They are part of the binding and loosing. Matthew already made it very clear to us that the power to bind and loose comes from the keys: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). Matthew gives us no textual evidence to divorce binding/loosing from the keys. So, if you want to argue that we don’t need the keys to the kingdom to open and shut the door of the kingdom, then I will leave you to it. But I am sticking with the established precedence of Matthew tying binding and loosing powers to the keys.
Where do I find the concept of “local”? This is much more obvious. Contextually the local church has to be in view here. For starters, the text is dealing with a person sinning against another person. How can some one not living in my age, year, time, and place sin against me in such a way? How can I approach the person and tell him his fault if he is not near me? Obviously, Jesus is dealing with people in proximity to one another. Additionally, when the offender refuses to listen to a second group of witnesses, then we take it to the church. The singular in this passage implies that both parties involved belong to the same congregation, and such is the congregation that makes the final disciplinary decision. Are you trying to suggest that every single Roman Catholic weighs in on the excommunication of every individual dispute, or will you recognize that the congregation in view must be a local one to which both parties are accountable?
6) Please show me the verse that says ‘the scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for Christians’. If you can’t show me that verse, then please explain why you have that doctrine that isn’t in scripture, while claiming all doctrine must be ‘biblical’ and also while demanding any and all Christian (and by that I mean Catholic) doctrine must be explicitly found in the pages of Scripture.
There you go again with that fundy hermeneutic. Assuming a singular verse is needed to prove a doctrine is “biblical” is not a hermeneutical principle either of our respective churches share.
Sola Scriptura is more like the Trinity, it’s a doctrine built through a compilation of divinely revealed facts (think Trinity). I hate to take something so grand and simplify it so quickly, but I’ll try to do some justice to the doctrine with brevity. When I say Sola Scriptura is Biblical derive that from a number of facts:
- Scripture is God-breathed and therefore infallible (2 timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21).
- Scripture is capable to make someone wise for salvation (2 timothy 3:15; John 20:31).
- Scripture is capable of equipping a pastor for every good work, including teaching true doctrine (2 timothy 3:17).
- Scripture is the litmus test Jesus uses to establish whether oral tradition is true or false (Mark 7:1-13).
- Jesus never appealed to oral tradition to settle disputes, but did often appeal to Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11; 19:1-12).
- Jesus never said oral tradition could not be broken, but He did identify only Scripture as that which cannot be broken (John 10:35)
- All alleged oral traditions I am told to follow contradict Scripture (Acts 17:11).
- No other alleged tradition has equal attestation to 1st century apostolic teaching as Scripture.
For more on how Sola Scriptura is in fact derived from Scripture you should read David King’s excellent book “Holy Scripture the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith: A Biblical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura (Volume 1)”.
6 cont.) The fact that the Jews, Jesus Christ, His apostles, and the first century Church, and NO Christian for 1,500 years practiced ‘sola scriptura’ IS injurious to your position because it shows it’s novelty. Christianity didn’t change when the apostles died. Hence why they had successors.
No one claims Sola Scriptura was practiced by Christ and the Apostles. That is not injurious to our position. That no one practiced Sola Scriptura from 100 – 1500 AD is debatable. I think there were those who did. Time obviously won’t permit me to try and prove that here beyond the shadow of a doubt. So I will instead leave one quotation and a book recommendation:
“Have thou ever in your mind this seal, which for the present has been lightly touched in my discourse, by way of summary, but shall be stated, should the Lord permit, to the best of my power with the proof from the Scriptures. For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.”(Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture 4,17).
As for a book, you would do well to read William Webster’s “Holy Scripture the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith: An Historical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura (Volume II)”. (I failed to recommend also the third volume which would be very helpful on this topic.)
But to turn the tables on you, you’ve actually proven too much. If the authority of the church could not change, then you would be forced to maintain there are living apostles today; yet, you deny such a thing. Merely having their “successors” doesn’t mean anything if they are not apostles themselves. You can’t have your apostle cake and eat it too. Thus, you think the authority of the Church changed, too. You think it shifted from the Apostles and Prophets themselves to apostolic successors who are neither apostles nor prophets. This is a novel “office” in all of Scripture and history up to that point no doubt. That men are sometimes infallible even though they are neither apostles nor prophets is a hard position to prove existed anytime before 3rd century.
I’ve seen enough. I’m half way through and already you’ve shown a woeful lack of self awareness and willingness to be contradictory….Come on dude, you have 6 subscribers. I know you saw my questions lol
I find it odd that you do not feel the need to listen to my entire argument, and think you can judge it without even finishing it, but then immediately feel entitled to all of my time. Apparently, it is incumbent upon me to read your entire response and respond, but you have no obligation to listen to my entire video. Typically, it isn’t good to make a judgment before you’ve heard the whole presentation.
I will also say that Youtube does not notify me of every single comment. I miss many comments all the time unintentionally. Also, I get more comments than you might think, and these replies take up a lot of time. It is likely that I will never answer every comment ever made on my videos. Admittedly, I likely won’t respond to this any further, so I will give you the last word.