Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How We Got The Bible

The Gutenberg Bible
Photo by NYC Wanderer (Kevin Eng), Wikipedia

All Christians revere the Bible as the written word of God. Few, however, know why that is. In fact, most Christians just assume that to be the case without every questioning it. They hear if from their pastors and their churches. Everybody says it. So how do we know it's true? There is really only one way. We need to know where the Bible came from.

So, where did the Bible Come from?

That's a very good question, and to understand where the Bible came from, we have to know a little bit of history. Let's go back, way back, to the 1st century AD. Jesus and his apostles were travelling the countryside in Galilee and Judea. They were Jews, and because they were Jews, they were using the Jewish Bible. Today we call that Jewish Bible the "Old Testament." This was all they had at the time.

However, there wasn't just one Jewish Bible. In fact, there were THREE! You see, each mainline Jewish sect had its own canon (Bible) of Scripture it considered authoritative. In first century Israel, this is what existed...
  1. The Torah - These were the first five books of Moses, originally written in Hebrew. All Jews considered these books authoritative. However, the Sadducees limited their canon to just those five books. Jesus and his apostles clearly disagreed with this approach.
  2. The Tanakh - These were the first five books of Moses, plus the writings of history, psalms, poetry, and prophets. Some were written in Hebrew, others in Aramaic. In total, there were about 39 books. This was the canon of the Pharisees. From the writings of the apostles we learn that Jesus and his followers agreed more with the Pharisees than they did with the Sadducees, and accepted the Pharisaical canon of Scripture as authoritative.
  3. The Septuagint - These were all the books mentioned above in the Tanakh, plus seven more, for a total of 46 books with longer editions to the books of Esther and Daniel. The Septuagint was a Greek translation of the Jewish canon (Old Testament) that had some additions which many Jews considered authoritative. Among those Jews were Jesus and his apostles. 
Upon examining the writings of the apostles, it becomes apparent that they accepted as authoritative both the Tanakh and the Septuagint on equal footing. This is why the early Church Councils decreed that the Old Testament would have 46 books, based on the expanded canon of the Septuagint, in addition to the shorter canon of the Tanakh. Thus, Christians have always had 46 books in their Old Testament. It wasn't until Martin Luther came along in the 16th century and systematically removed 7 books from the Old Testament, preferring to copy the canon of the Pharisees, reducing the number of books in the Christian Old Testament to 39. Today, Christians who follow the teachings of Martin Luther have 39 books in their Old Testament, while as Christians who strictly follow the apostles have 46 books in their Old Testament. How many books does your Old Testament have? If it has 39 books, your Bible is modelled after the teachings of Martin Luther and the Pharisees. If it has 46 books, your Bible is modelled after the teachings of Jesus' apostles and the early Church. Examples of some English Bibles that contain all 46 Old Testament books are as follows...
  1. New American Bible
  2. New Revised Standard Bible - Catholic Edition
  3. Revised Standard Bible - Catholic Edition
  4. New Jerusalem Bible
  5. Contemporary English Version - with Deutercanonicals
  6. Douay-Rheims Bible
  7. King James Bible - with Apocrypha
Now when it comes to the New Testament, all Christians of all types agree. There are exactly 27 books, no more and no less. How did the early Christians decide on these books?

The answer requires a little more knowledge of history. From the time of Jesus, all the way into the 4th century (about 300 years), Christians had no set New Testament. What they had instead was a number of scrolls that came from the apostolic era. What scrolls they used had a lot to do with where they were located, and each area used a different set of scroll. Thus, early Christianity had no set or standardised New Testament.

About that time, a dynamic and charismatic priest came along name Arius. He was a presbyter in the early Church. He rejected the common teaching that Jesus Christ is God, and instead insisted that he was just the greatest of prophets, who was fully human, and had no divine characteristics at all. Sensing the lack of continuity among New Testament Scriptures in the early Church, he began formulating his own list of books (canon) that his followers would use exclusively. This was known as the Arian Canon. It was the New Testament according to Arius, and he had it standardised wherever he went. The Arian canon backed Arius' teaching that Jesus Christ was not divine.

So when the early Church met at the Council of Nicea (AD 325) to refute Arius and his heresy, they made two monumental decisions that would change the history of Christianity forever. The first was the creation of the Nicean Creed. This creed would be learned and recited by all Christians every Sunday for the rest of history. The creed is still recited to this day in all Catholic churches, as well as Eastern Orthodox churches, Anglican churches, Lutheran churches, and several other churches. The second was the decision to standardised a Christian New Testament based entirely on the Tradition of the apostles, as still taught and preserved by the Catholic bishops of that time, so as to oppose the heresies of the Arian New Testament. Thus the decision was made to compile the New Testament we all know and use today. So for years the work was ongoing among Catholic bishops to discern the required books within apostolic Tradition.

In AD 367, about 40 years after the Council of Nicea, Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria, Egypt, compiled a list of 27 books, starting with the Gospel of St. Matthew, and ending with the Apocalypse of St. John (Book of Revelation). His work was a compilation of lists derived from other Catholic bishops in Europe, West Asia and North Africa. Bishop Athanasius was a fierce opponent of Arianism, and was well known in the region for keeping his diocese clean of the Arian heresy. At the Synods of Rome, Hippo and Carthage (late 3rd century), Athanasius' list of 27 books were adopted as the Christian New Testament. In the year AD 405, Pope Innocent I decreed that all Christians would now use this 27 book list as the universal and standard Christian New Testament.

So that's how we got the Bible. It came from the tireless work of Catholic bishops in the 4th century, and the decree of a pope in the early 5th century. The Old Testament was decided early, by the apostles, and affirmed by the pope and Catholic bishops of the 4th - 5th centuries. The New Testament wasn't decided until the late 4th century, and affirmed by a pope in the 5th century. That's the historical fact of how we got the Bible.

So if you like your Bible, and you appreciate that it doesn't contain any Arian heresies, you can thank the Catholic pope and bishops of the 4th - 5th centuries. Sadly, many Christians today show no appreciation to the Catholic Church for this, and instead accept the Bible while proverbially "spitting" on its original publisher. It's an odd behaviour to be sure, but very common these days.

If you would like to learn more about the origin of the Bible, and the organisation responsible for getting it to us, contact your nearest Catholic Church and bookmark the apologetics page of this blog for further reading.

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Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR...
A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
Catholicism for
Protestants

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Living as a Catholic in the Bible Belt

Buffalo River Area, Ozark Mountains, Northern Arkansas

The Ozark Mountains are firmly situated within the Bible Belt of the United States. In fact, the northern frontier of the Bible Belt begins on the western border of Missouri, right at the foothills of the Ozarks. I remember driving back and forth to Kansas a few times for some professional seminars. I found the cultural shift very profound right at the Missouri-Kansas border. On the Missouri side, the dominate churches were Baptist and Pentecostal. On the Kansas side it was Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist. I've found a similar cultural shift within Missouri too, while driving north and crossing the invisible Mason-Dixon line approaching St. Louis. Everything north of it is Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist. Everything south of it is Baptist and Pentecostal. Now to be sure, all of these churches exist on both sides of these borders, but what I'm talking about here is concentration. The Ozarks represent the northern frontier of the Bible Belt on the West side of the Mississippi River, and here, Evangelicalism (Baptist, Pentecostal and nondenominational) are considered the "norm" of Christian faith.

Click to Enlarge
I've used this map many times to illustrate what I'm talking about. The map is from the U.S. Census Bureau and illustrates the dominate religious denomination in each county of the United States. Those areas shaded red represent the Southern Baptist Convention, and this also happens to outline the area commonly referred to as the "Bible Belt" of the United States. Here Evangelicalism (Baptist, Pentecostal, nondenominational) is considered "normal" Christianity. In fact, people who have lived in this area all their lives have difficulty imagining a Christianity any different than the Evangelical model. For example; when speaking with various types of Evangelicals in the Ozarks, they'll often tell me that they really don't know anything about Catholicism, and have absolutely no knowledge of what it is. They've seen it on television, and in the movies, but it's really kind of strange and foreign to them. I can't tell you how many times I've revealed that I'm Catholic and the response I get is something along the lines of: "Oh wait, I once had a friend who was Catholic a long time ago." This statement is of course an attempt to show a sense of familiarity and kindness toward somebody who's religious faith is completely foreign to them. I once had a person say to me: "Oh you're Catholic? Well, Haaaaaill Maaaarry!" She yelled it with an Ozarkian twang, sounding a lot like Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) from The Andy Griffith Show. I chuckled a bit, and said "thank you" quietly, understanding that this was an attempt at neighbourly kindness. Like most people around here, she went on to tell me she once knew somebody who was Catholic. I've learnt that we should never misinterpret such things as mockery or animosity of any sort. Most of the time these people are just trying to be kind and friendly. They only have the best of intentions. It's not their fault that they happen to live in an area where Catholicism is so rare that they have almost no familiarity with it. It's best to graciously accept their little acts of kindness and politely continue the conversation as if nothing is awkward or out of the ordinary.

What I also run into is something even more fascinating. You see, I was raised as an Evangelical (Baptist) Protestant too, but that was in Southern California, wherein we were surrounded by Catholicism. All but two of my childhood friends were Catholic. In fact, Catholicism was such a regular part of my childhood that I often found myself at mass on Sunday mornings whenever I spent the night at a friend's house. So as an Evangelical boy, I was extremely familiar with liturgy, vestments, incense, candles, bells, etc. I didn't believe in any of that stuff at the time, and I was very proud to be raised in a Baptist church, but I at least had a clue when it came to Catholicism. Where I grew up in California, the divide was about 60/40. By that I mean 60% Catholic and 40% Protestant (of various denominations). So I had an advantage the good folks here in the Bible Belt don't have. I was always familiar with Catholicism, and it was never foreign to me, simply because I was surrounded by it. This is not the case here in the Ozark Mountains of the Bible Belt. Most Evangelical Protestants in this area are raised with the notion that Evangelical Protestantism is the "normal" kind of Christianity, and everything else is foreign. As a result, not only do folks around here have little knowledge about Catholicism, but many of them are not even sure if it's Christian. I'll often get such questions as...
  • So, do you Catholics believe in Jesus?
  • Are you Christians?
  • How many gods do you worship?
  • Do you believe the pope is a god?
  • Do you worship Mary as God (big "G") or as a separate goddess (little "g")?
  • Do you read the Bible?
  • How many Bibles do you have?
  • Is the pope above the Bible?
Now you have to understand, these questions are usually asked in sincerity and not in an argumentative way. They genuinely don't know, and are operating only on what they see in the movies, on television, or what they may have heard in their own churches. In my experience, about 80% of the time here in the Ozarks, it's an honest and sincere kind of ignorance. From experience, I know this is not the case in Southern California. When Evangelicals ask such questions there, it's usually in an accusatory kind of way, with the intent of starting a debate. Evangelicals in California know perfectly well what Catholics believe. Here in the Bible Belt, however, where Catholicism is so rare, Evangelicals often genuinely don't know, and are asking in sincerity. I've seen some of my fellow Catholics rudely shut down some of my local Evangelical friends, simply for asking honest and sincere questions. Why? Because my fellow Catholics thought they were behaving as California Evangelicals, and failed to recognise that people here in the Ozarks genuinely don't know.

Here's another phenomenon I've run into. Because Evangelicalism is the norm in the Bible Belt, I have found that most people (even a lot of local Catholics) think it's the norm all over the world. I used to lecture Catholic teenagers years ago, and one of the things I noticed is that a lot of them believed Catholicism was a minority religion everywhere you go around the world. These kids grew up right here in the Ozarks. So you can imagine, if being a minority is all they've ever known, many of them just assume it's that way everywhere. Most of them were shocked when I told them that Catholics make up the majority of Christians in the world. They're even more shocked when I tell them the Catholic Church is the largest grouping of Christians in America, bigger than any other type, with a membership of some 60 million people. When I tell them the Southern Baptist Convention rates a distant second place at just 16 million people, their jaws would drop. "How is that possible!" They would ask. You see, these kids were raised in such a thick Protestant environment, that all their lives they were condition to think they were the minority around the world. 

The same goes for a lot of Evangelical Protestants in this area. A large number of them believe everything is the same everywhere else you go. They have no idea, that worldwide, THEY are the minority, not Catholics. There are an estimated number of about 325 million Evangelicals on planet earth. That's a whole lot of people to be sure! This includes Baptists, Pentecostals, nondenominations, etc. All of them are divided among various denominations and sects, each having their own unique doctrines and practises. Now in comparison, there are about 1.3 billion Catholics! (That's billion with a "b.") That means, worldwide, Catholics outnumber Evangelicals by about 4 to 1. Here in the United States, while Protestantism is the dominate religion, these Protestants are divided into multiple sects and denominations. A lot of those denominations still retain many Catholic characteristics too. In America, Catholics only make up about 21% of the U.S. population, but we have the largest unified Church at 60 million members, dwarfing the second largest unified denomination (Southern Baptist Convention) at just 16 million members. It's just in the Bible Belt that Evangelicalism is concentrated. Those who live here are living in another world, so to speak, much like an "alternate universe" where Catholics are the tiny minority while Evangelical Protestantism reigns supreme. If you've never lived outside of the area, or if you've never bothered to study the issue, it's easy to get confused.


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Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR...
A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
Catholicism for
Protestants

Please share this story. Social media links provided below for your convenience... 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Do We Have An Antipope?

Election of Antipope Paschal III
fresco in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, by Spinello Aretino

The title of this essay is meant to be provocative, but not because I'm asking that question. I am not. Rather, this is the question I've been hearing over and over again, starting shortly after my conversion to the Catholic Church in 2000, and much more frequently after the election of Pope Francis in 2013. That question is: "Do we have an antipope?"

What is an antipope? For some of my non-Catholic readers, this may sound a bit ominous. I imagine that some of my Evangelical friends might wonder if I'm speaking of the Antichrist. I am not. An antipope is not the same thing as an antichrist or the Antichrist. In fact, they have virtually nothing in common. An antichrist is a person who is pretending to be Christ. While an antipope is a person who is pretending to be the pope. Since the pope is not Christ, there is a huge difference.

To simplify, an antipope is really nothing more than a man who is presumed to be the pope, but in fact he is not, either through impersonation or some kind of defect in his election to the papacy. In the case of impersonation, that would imply a wilful act of deception on the part of the papal pretender. In the case of election defect, the pretender to the papal throne may not even realise he is an antipope. Because of this, it is possible to have a very good man (even a Saint) acting as an antipope, who has no intention of deceiving others and no ill intent whatsoever. He himself may be a victim of unfortunate circumstances. Such was the case with Saint Hippolytus of Rome (AD 170 - 235), who allowed himself to be "elected" as the first antipope from AD 217 - 235, but was reconciled with the true pope shortly before his death. He was later canonised as a Saint and shares the same feast day with Saint Pontian (August 13), who was the legitimate pope he reconciled with.

Antipope Michael
Photocredit Youtube
All this has happened before. Throughout the 2,000 year history of the Catholic Church, there have been approximately 42 antipopes of significant following, but most of this came to an end in AD 1449, presumably because of more accountable election processes.  Since then, there have been a few more antipopes, but these people are not usually taken seriously. For example; today there is a former SSPX priest, by the name of Victor von Pentz, who took on the name Pope Linus II after his "election" in 1994 and currently lives in Hertfordshire, England. His following is small and insignificant. Another example is a former SSPX seminarian by the name of David Bawden (pictured right), who took the name of Pope Michael, after his "election" in 1990 and currently lives in Jackson County, Kansas. Again, his following is small and insignificant, consisting of approximately just 30 people. He was featured in a documentary film which you can view here.

In short, antipopes are a real thing in Catholicism, and a real problem. Fortunately they haven't been that big of a problem in a very long time. That is, unless you're part of a small group of Traditional Catholics called sedevacantists which is translated as sede, meaning chair, and vacante meaning vacant. Thus the term means "vacant chair" and is a Latin reference to the notion that the Chair of Peter (the papacy) is currently vacant, and we have no lawful pope. These people propose that every pope, following the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, is an antipope. This would include: John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis.

I should be clear in stating that most traditional Catholics are NOT sedevantists. However, I think it's safe to say that most sedevacantists are traditionalists. In other words, sedevantism is a small strain that runs within traditionalism, but we should never pin sedevanctism on all traditionalists. In fact, most Traditional Catholics are loyal to the current pope.

I first encountered these sedevacanatist shortly after my conversion to the Catholic Church in 2000 and quickly dismissed them. Then, after Pope Benedict XVI liberalised the celebration of the old Latin mass in 2007, a number of them came out of the woodwork in the years following. Apparently they had been in hiding for some time, but thought they could reveal themselves now that the old Latin mass was back. Sadly, there is quite a disproportionate number of them in the Ozarks where I live. I believe this was because of some poor decisions made long ago, wherein the old Latin mass was denied to the faithful for a number of years, and many traditional Catholic practises were openly discouraged.

As a former Evangelical, and Anglican, I learned that one simply does not deny accommodations to those who seek traditional expressions of faith. For example; as an Evangelical, I remember our community having both traditional and contemporary services. The traditional service had old hymnals, a piano player, and a choir. While our contemporary service had a band, with a drummer, and the lyrics of praise and worship songs projected onto screens. As another example; while I was an Anglican, I distinctly remember every Episcopal church I attended as celebrating two "rites" from the Book of Common Prayer. Rite One consisted of traditional English (thees and thous), traditional sung liturgy, pipe organ music, incense, bells, etc. While Rite Two consisted of contemporary English, a much more modern spoken liturgy (similar to the new Catholic mass), some occasional stringed instruments, with much less pomp and circumstance. In both the Evangelical and Anglican world, those who preferred traditional worship always had that option available, and those who preferred contemporary worship always had that option available too. My wife and I frequently bounced back and forth between both forms of worship, as we found positive aspects in both. Never, and I mean never, did we encounter an Evangelical or Anglican community wherein those who preferred traditional worship were "denied." So when we encountered this very thing in the Catholic Church, in our own diocese no less, I was both surprised and extremely curious.

I firmly believe this denial of traditional Catholic liturgy is the very thing that spawned this disproportionate rise in traditionalism and sedevacantism within the Ozarks. My family and I have since transferred to the Ordinariate for former Anglicans, but in the diocesan territory we still reside, a number of corrective actions were undertaken by the previous bishop, and as a result a significant amount of healing has thankfully taken place. Now, various forms of traditional liturgy are much more accessible to local Catholics. This hasn't completely eliminated the problem, but it has gone a long way toward preventing it from getting any worse.

The question arises as to why. Why do some Catholics go down this road? Why does this happen? In ages past, this sort of thing was much more understandable. The papal election process wasn't always clear, and often enough, too influenced by ancient and medieval politics. That came to an end, however, in AD 1449, and since then we haven't had any antipopes with significant following. So what would compel some Catholics to actively believe that every pope following Pius XII was/is an antipope?

I think the trouble that many devout Catholics sometimes run into is the question of "how?"  Specifically; how can the Church be in such a crisis today, when we have a pope? This has led some traditional Catholics to the sedevacantist position. The assumption here is that the Church simply could not be in such crisis today if we had a real pope on the Chair of Peter. A real pope would straighten this mess out. A real pope would "put the hammer down" so to speak. A real pope would excommunicate all the trouble makers. A real pope would put a stop to all of this. Mixed into that mindset is the notion that a real pope would never make any serious error, and a real pope would never tolerate any heresy. Thus, there is a strain of ultramontanism in the mindset of today's traditional Catholics, which has led some into sedevacantism. The term ultramontanism is Latin and translated as "beyond the mountains." It was a term that was used in medieval Europe to point to the power and authority of the pope, who lived "beyond the mountains" (specifically the Alps) and ruled from Rome. The concept here is one of a highly centralised Church, wherein the pope exerts absolute control. Some aspects of ultramontanism won the day in the First Vatican Council (1869 - 1870), but that was counterbalanced by some aspects of conciliarism in the Second Vatican Council (1962 - 1965). Many traditional Catholics put less emphasis on Vatican II, and some of them reject it entirely. (On a personal note, I fully accept Vatican II, but interpret it squarely within the larger context of the Council of Trent and Vatican I.) This ultramontane approach to the papacy, typical of many traditional Catholics, has led some to the conclusion that the pope can make no serious error in the governance of the Church, because he is always guided by the Holy Spirit. It doesn't allow much room for the pope to have free will, and reject the guidance of the Holy Spirit if he so chooses. Therefore, they surmise that if we have a pope who is making serious errors in the governance of the Church, we must have an antipope on the Chair of Peter. Or at least, that's how the thinking goes. To accompany this, they usually cite a long list of grievances against the popes they claim to be antipopes. These include such things as; limitation of the old Latin mass, discouraging the traditional practise of Catholicism, allowing liturgical innovations in an innumerable amount of parishes, ignoring immoral and scandalous behaviour from Catholic public figures, and finally a general failure to teach the Catholic faith in its entirety since the Second Vatican Council.

Now, in recent years, two camps have developed among the sedevacantists. The first is the old guard, which I call the old sedevacantists. These are those traditionalists who insist that every pope since the death of Pius XII (in 1958) was/is an antipope. Then we have the new sedevacantists, who believe that Pope Benedict XVI was the last lawful pope, and that his retirement was an act of disobedience which resulted in the election of Pope Francis. They claim that Pope Francis, and he alone, is now an antipope. To prove this, they point out many of the various actions Pope Francis has taken that have been interpreted as unfriendly toward the traditional practise of Catholicism, culminating in two scandalous synods on the family, and his recent apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia which appears to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion without an annulment.

While I admit that all of these complaints are in some way legitimate, and simultaneously problematic, that does not automatically mean the popes responsible for these things are antipopes. The Catholic Church has never been free of scandal and crisis. Understanding history is to understand that the Catholic Church is ALWAYS in some kind of struggle, either internal or external, and often this struggle leads to the level of crisis. The crisis escalates until it is no longer sustainable. Something breaks. Then some kind of correction is finally made, (which should have been done years prior), and the Church gradually heals, just long enough to find itself in another crisis of some different type. Now admittedly, from a historical perspective, some crisis are worse than others. One of the worst was the Arian Heresy of the early 4th century, and I think its probably safe to say the current situation in the Church is rapidly approaching a crisis comparable to that. How will it end? I don't know exactly. But if things stay true to historical form, it will go something like this. The crisis will escalate until something breaks. The Church will be put into a tailspin, and something will need to be done to pull it out. At that time some corrective measure will be put into place (late as usual), and the problem will gradually be corrected. Then the Church will be given enough time to heal before the next crisis comes along.

Does any of this, however, mean the pope is illegitimate? Well, no. Because if we measured a pope's legitimacy by the level of crisis in the Church, almost no pope would qualify as legitimate. I dare say that St. Peter himself would be disqualified! The plain and simple truth is, throughout history, we have had good popes, bad popes, and mediocre popes. Just because a pope is bad or mediocre doesn't mean he's an antipope. On a personal note, I try to look at things through the lens of history, not the media. If we judged all the popes since Vatican II through the lens of the media, they would all be judged as Saints, except of course for my favourite -- Benedict XVI -- who many in the media dislike. I, however, try to look at things more historically. Since Vatican II, I would judge one pope as great, one as good, one as bad, and two as mediocre. I won't tell you which is which, but I will say that as of this date, Pope Benedict XVI was my favourite, and I'll leave it at that. I think that if we judge our popes through the lens of the media we run the risk of a kind of ecclesial narcissism, which looks only at the good while ignoring the bad.  If we judge them through a more historical lens, we end up with a much more objective view.

Now I should note here that no papacy can truly be judged until it is over, because you see, popes can change. Indeed, they have changed in the past. The first half of Pius IX's reign was very different from his second half. The same can be said of Saint John Paul II, who's reign began as very progressive and ended as very conservative.

In closing, I think the sedevacantists end up shooting themselves in the foot with their own arguments. Because you see, if their ultramontanist (absolute rule) view of the papacy is to be taken seriously, then they would have to admit that nobody can judge a man as an antipope, except of course a legitimate pope. For nobody can sit in judgement of a pope, except another pope. By calling Pope Francis, or any previous pope, and antipope, they are in effect acting as "little popes" themselves. As Catholics, we must always operate under the assumption that the current elected pope is indeed the legitimate pope. Failure to do that puts us in a very bad position. We have to operate under this assumption until we hear otherwise from a legitimate Catholic authority.

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Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR...
A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days

Catholicism for
Protestants

Please share this story. Social media links provided below for your convenience...