Exactly what does the word 'Infallible' mean when
referring to the Bishop of Rome? There are so many
misconceptions as to just what it means to others, especially to our Protestant
brothers and sisters. Here are some answers we have received:
1. The Pope cannot tell a lie.
2. The Pope cannot
3. The Pope cannot make a mistake.
4. Everything the Pope says is the
5. The Pope is perfect in every way.
And the correct answer is...
'None' of the above.
If I were told to believe any of those answers, I would have
second thoughts about 'Papal Infallibility' myself.
Substitute the name 'Jesus Christ' for 'the Pope' in
all the answers above and the correct answer to all of them is a resounding
'YES'. The Pope is the human visible head of the Church, the Vicar of Christ on
earth, just as Jesus Christ is the invisible head.
The correct definition of Papal infallibility (ex Cathedra), as
defined by the First Vatican Council (1870), is:
"The Roman Pontiff, when
he speaks ex cathedra-that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and
teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he
defines a doctrine regarding Faith or Morals to be held by the universal Church, by the divine
assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility
with which the divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed in
defining doctrine regarding Faith or Morals;
and therefore such definitions are irreformable of themselves, and not in virtue
of consent of the Church."
Condensed, this means, a Papal infallible
statement, when all conditions are met, has freedom from error in teaching the
universal Church in matters of faith or morals.
So, is the Bishop of Rome, the Pope a sinner?
Yes, we all are
sinners. He is no different from the rest of us in that respect.
Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, 'Depart from me for
I am a sinful man, O Lord'
...And Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid;
henceforth thou shall catch men'." Luke 5:8-10.
Now what about the authors
of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter and others? Were
they infallible people or were they sinners? As I have already shown, Peter
admitted that he was a sinner, and we all know the story of Saul who became
Paul. We know they were all sinners. How then, could fallible men write such
inerrant documents as the books they authored? It is because they were guided by
the Holy Spirit. GOD prevented them from writing error. GOD is the same
yesterday, today, and forever. If GOD prevented these men from writing error,
why then could He not do the same for the successor of St. Peter today?
The gift of infallibility was given by GOD to a very select
In Luke 10:16, Jesus said,
"He who hears you
hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him
who sent me."
That verse is a verse of authority and it is a verse of infallibility as well.
It is basic rule of Scripture
interpretation to always discern Scripture verses in proper context. So, to put
Luke 10:16 in its proper context, we must look at to whom Jesus spoke when He
said those words of authority and of infallibility. He spoke to His disciples
only, the Apostles, and not to anyone else.
Consequently, the only persons
authorized to preach with authority and infallibility are the Apostles, and
subsequently those who followed them in a long line of succession, the Papal
office and the office of the Bishops (Psalms 109:8, Acts 1:20).
there are well over 36,000 non-Catholic sects in existence, each with at least
one preacher and all of them are preaching something different from one another.
So, given the fact that there can be only one truth of Jesus Christ
with the one authority of Jesus Christ, which one of those tens
of thousands has the authority and infallibility given to him or her by Jesus
Which one of the tens of thousands of them could lay claim to Luke
"...and he who rejects you rejects me,
and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." What
else could this part of Luke 10:16 mean other than to be applied to those who
reject the teaching of His Apostles and their successors through the one Church
which He founded?
There is only one Church in the whole world
which can lay claim to infallible teaching in the matters of faith and
That one Church, the one founded by Jesus Christ, in but one example
out of many, exercised its authority and infallibility over fifteen hundred
years ago by deciding which books of the Bible were inspired by GOD and which
books were not.
It required an infallible decision by Jesus Christ's
infallible Church to proclaim the canon
of that one inerrant book.
"He who hears you hears
Written by Bob Stanley, October 1997
June 17, 2004
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