Monday, September 2, 2019

Ignatius Of Loyola And Submission To The Roman Catholic Church

          "To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed." (Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, Thirteenth Rule)

          Irrespective of whether or not we interpret Ignatius as using hyperbole, it stands to reason from the above excerpt that he taught unconditional surrender of the intellect and will to the Roman Catholic hierarchy. It is the Magisterium that pronounces the allegedly infallible dogmas we are to embrace unquestioningly; dissenters are to be anathematized. This excerpt from Lumen Gentium provides us with additional commentary:

          "...the faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishops' decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance of mind. This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and sincere assent be given to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention, which is made known principally either by the character of the documents in question, or by the frequency with which a certain doctrine is proposed, or by the manner in which the doctrine is formulated."

          Yes, Scripture does tell us to submit to figures of authority. God has ordained the existence of various authoritative offices for our own good. We should obey our leaders to the extent that their decisions are sound and godly. However, the Roman Catholic Church requires a level of allegiance that simply cannot be substantiated on scriptural grounds. The pope requires the submission of both intellect and will in all situations. It is not good enough to simply obey. Hence, we see that the Roman Catholic Church actually wields a significant amount of power over its adherents.

          The Jehovah's Witnesses Watchtower Society is known for thought control. Members are forbidden from attaining a college education. The Jehovah's Witnesses are also forbidden by their church government to obtain blood transfusions and have regulations as to what they can even look up on the internet. Mormonism is another perfect example of a sect whose government has established all sorts of legalistic rules and regulations. For example, Mormons are forbidden to drink coffee and tea. In the same vein, the Church of Rome has dietary regulations on various holidays as a requirement for salvation. What all three groups have in common is that adherents are made to obey an authoritarian leader. The hierarchies of these three sects claim to play an indispensable role to the salvation of their followers. All sorts of harsh and arbitrary rules are imposed on these deceived people.

          These are drastic and unfortunate consequences of submitting to a church hierarchy that requires unconditional submission. That way of thinking is cultic. It simply does not pan out well. Church authority clearly has its limits. The New Testament gives us the liberty to individually choose whatever days to observe and foods to eat in thanksgiving and glory to God. No self-proclaimed pastor has the right to dogmatically impose rules that can be found nowhere in God's Word. The Apostle Paul called out Peter for potentially splitting the Christian church as he ceased eating with Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-16). Even the most godly ministers and theologians can make serious blunders in matters related to faith and morals. If we uphold the principle of Sola Scriptura, then it follows that we have an objective standard (Scripture) by which leaders are held accountable for their actions (Acts 17:10-11; 2 Timothy 3:16). God is the only One who we owe unconditional submission of the intellect and will (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29; James 4:7). It is to Him alone that all will give an account for their deeds performed in the body on Judgement Day.

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