Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Roman Catholic Misuse Of Moses' Seat

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholic apologists oftentimes quote the following passage of Scripture in support of their extra-biblical oral tradition:

          "Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses." (Matthew 23:1-2)

          They seem to view this text as a parallel biblically establishing an office that functions similarly to their Magisterium, but such an interpretation only makes sense at a superficial glace of the passage being examined.

          What needs to be understood, however, is that the reference to Moses' seat was a symbolic expression of teaching the Pentateuch, which is the first five books of the Bible (Exodus 18:13-16):

          "Keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn." (1 Kings 2:3)

           So, this would actually be more supportive of Sola Scriptura because it emphasizes written revelation rather than oral revelation. Furthermore, this "Seat of Moses" would pertain much more to civil law than issuing religious dogma. Moses was judge; the priesthood constituted a theocracy. These Jewish leaders did not continually make up new laws, but rather upheld the laws that God had originally given to His people through Moses.

           Roman Catholics simply assume without proof that there exists a logical connection between Moses' seat and their chain of so-called apostolic successors. They simply commit eisegesis by applying Matthew 23:1-2 to their church hierarchy. In fact, this Catholic argument is anachronistic. They cannot produce one inspired saying of Jesus Christ or the apostles, that is not recorded in Scripture. The New Testament says nothing concerning a chair of Peter, let alone apostolic successors. Christ says nothing in Matthew 23:1-2 about adherence to extra-biblical authorities or traditions. There is no evidence for a tradition of successors from Moses' seat. The Old Testament knows nothing regarding the existence of a "pre-apostolic succession". Neither is there any evidence existing that the Jewish people attributed infallibility to their leaders. In fact, we know from Scripture that the Scribes and Pharisees did indeed promulgate doctrinal error. They were even once referred to by Jesus as "blind guides" (Matthew 23:16).

           Whatever teaching from the writings of Moses and the Prophets that the Scribes and Pharisees had enforced, Christ instructed the people to obey. He told them to not emulate the poor moral example of these teachers:

           "therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them." (Matthew 23:3)

           These religious leaders made themselves appear extremely pious and zealous in their daily religious practices before others, but God knew that their hearts were in reality far from Him. He knew that these Jewish authorities were only seeking flattery from the public. Their worship of God was fake, which is something that He absolutely detests. We should all take this passage of Scripture as a warning against arrogance. But why would Roman Catholics want to apply a text addressing religious hypocrites to their own church hierarchy?

            It is quite ironic to see that there exists striking parallels between the Scribes and Pharisees back in the days of our Lord Jesus Christ's earthly ministry and the modern Church of Rome, which are anything but positive. Catholics appeal to a physical, traceable lineage to lend credence to the veracity of their arguments, yet Christ rejected the Scribes and Pharisees who advanced the same logic (Matthew 3:7-9; John 8:36-45). The Church of Rome claims to possess divine oral tradition, yet Christ strongly rebuked the religious leaders of His day who made identical claims (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:7-13). Roman Catholic officials unashamedly wield religious titles of honor, yet Christ expressed emphatic disapproval of the leaders who reserved such for themselves (Matthew 23:8-12). Just as the critics of Jesus asked by what authority He performed miracles (Luke 20:2), Roman Catholic apologists ask the same question in regard to us making interpretations of Scripture. Perhaps all of these likenesses are symptomatic of the Church of Rome being a hive festooned with pompousness and religious hypocrisy.

            If Jesus Christ had really instituted an infallible interpreter of Scripture, then why is it that He held people accountable for how they interpreted Scripture?:

            "But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God." (Matthew 22:29)

            "And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” (Luke 10:26)

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