Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 19, 1953
NUMBER 28, PAGE 9-10

Dunne - Pickup Discussion

Harry Pickup, Jr.

Proposition: "The Roman Catholic Church Of Today Is The Church Established By Jesus Christ"

In order that we may present the issues of this discussion as lucidly as possible, the Negative will state the case first in brief form.

A. The affirmative offers two propositions — both having to do with government — in defense that the "Roman Catholic Church is the church established by Jesus Christ."

1. The church of Christ is "hierarchally" governed. He affirms that the apostles ruled as legislators and judges in "the forum of the human conscience." The Negative denies that Christ committed such power to any man and that there is any such thing as graduated authority in the church of Christ, as is demanded in a church ruled "hierarchally."

2. The church of Christ has a human Monarch who is the "final tribunal and ultimate authority in the universal church." We deny this and say this proposition usurps Christ's authority and effaces His claim to be the "only sovereign."

B. The Negative says:

1. That all authority resides in Christ, who rules through His Word.

2. That inspired men did not rule in the sense defended by Mr. Dunne. They acted as "earthen vessels" and "deliverers" of the King's "perfect law of liberty."

3. That the organized functional work of the church is carried on only through the local congregations who are bound to sister congregations only through obedience of the "one faith."

The issue between the affirmative and the negative is clearly one of authority. The affirmative insists that one must choose between episcopal authority or majority rule. Either of these propositions in untenable because they lack the sanction of scripture. The true proposition, the one supported by scripture, is that Christ rules in all matters through His Word.

Mr. Dunne claims that the church of Christ is ruled "hierarchally" and "monarchally." He has attempted to obviate any "emotionally charged prepossessions against the word 'hierarchy' by defining it to mean 'sacred authority' and by saying that he means the same by it as Mr. Cope does when he speaks of 'bishops ruling'." (Mr. Cope is the author of "Majority and Manners," an article appearing in the September, 1952, issue of "Son-Light.") We know that Mr. Cope and Mr. Dunne do not agree on this point, but we are content to let Mr. Cope speak for himself.

As to the definition of "hierarchy" being "sacred authority," we say this is the thing to be proved. The affirmative's use of the word shows that he assigns authority and rule to men that Christ did not give; and, more than this, taught against. (Matt. 23:1-12; 20:20-25) His documentation proves no more than that certain men had functions to carry out that others did not have. "Hierarchal" rule demands by implication graduated authority. Such is not intimated in the New Testament. We see nothing such as: one man possessing some authority, others having more authority, others having most authority and one having supreme and "ultimate authority."

Mr. Dunne's understanding of bishop-rule is that bishops have the right to "legislate, judge, impose sanctions." This is not taught in the "sacred authority." His emphatic statement is: "Only a church which recognizes the principle of episcopal authority can make any claim to be the church established by Christ."

In order to see this point clearly one must keep in mind that the affirmative uses the terms bishop and apostle interchangeably. He maintains that bishops are successors to apostles. (We will show why this is untrue later on in the article.) If he therefore, can establish that apostles had the authority to make laws, bishops being successors to apostles, may rightly do the same. Mr. Dunne not only confuses the two but he ascribes to either or both authority which the New Testament denies them.

The apostles had no authority per se — in themselves. The authority was in Jesus Christ, The King. They were only His agents acting "in his name" — "by his authority." Thus Peter commanded the people in Acts 2:38. "to repent and be baptized .... in the name of Jesus Christ"; thus he said to the lame man, "in the name of Jesus Christ... rise up and walk," Acts 3:6; thus he declared "for there is none other name (authority) under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) It is "in the name of Christ" — by His authority — that everything we do "in word or deed" (Col. 3:17) must be done. The inspired men had a mission to perform and a function to carry out.

The affirmative advances Matthew 18:18 to prove that the apostles had full legislative, judicial and coactive authority or power. The passage does not teach it. The affirmative has not carefully analyzed these texts, Matt. 16:19, Matt. 18:18, either in the light of the context or other passages which deal with the mission of the apostles. Christ did not say: "You apostles will bind on earth and then I will bind in heaven"; "you will loose on earth and then I will loose in heaven." What He said was: "You will bind and loose on earth what has been bound in heaven." This latter is actually what the text teaches and is consistent with what happened. Would it not be unusual for the subjects of the absolute monarch to make the law? Is it not that the King decrees and the delegates make known his word? This is compatible with the work of the apostles as deliverers of the King's Word.

A. T. Robertson, a renowned Greek scholar, says: "shall be bound, loosed," from somewhat rare Greek New Testament usage of the periphrastic perfect tense, consisting of two parts, the third person singular, future indicative. May be translated 'shall have been (permanently) bound,' etc." (The 'permanently' from the fact that Greek perfect contains the idea of completed action that remains completed.) From, "A Grammar of the Greek New Testament In the Light of Historical Research," by A. T. Robertson, pages 375, 361, 907.

To explain the meaning of the Greek words for "bind and loose," we use an illustration supplied by a Greek scholar. He is Mr. James Harrel Cobb, School of Religion, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. "The Greek perfect contains the idea of completed action like the English perfect plus the idea that the completed action remains completed. Thus if in Greek I said, "I have shut the door," I would say, "I have shut the door and it remains shut." So the Greek in this verse means "shall be loosed and remains loosed." The verb for "shall be bound" is exactly the same: "estai plus dudemenon."

What the apostles delivered had been "bound and loosed" and remains bound and loosed. To tamper in any way with the word which has been divinely legislated and delivered is to place one's self under condemnation of the divine anathema.

The bishops were another class of men entirely. Neither did they have any authority to "legislate." Nor were they "deliverers" of the word. They acted in compliance with the word already authoritatively delivered.

(1 Tim. 3:4, 5; Titus 1:9)

Using Mr. Cope's article as a "springboard" Mr. Dunne concludes that while we agree on the fact of the ruling of bishops we disagree as to the "scope" of their rule. But we deny the affirmative's "fact and scope" of "priestly rule." I maintain the scope of the bishops' function was fixed just as emphatically by inspired men as the fact.

To prove this point we read from the sacred authority. "The next day he (Paul), set out with Barnabas .... and when they had appointed presbyters for them in each church... they commended them to the Lord . . . ." These men — "presbyters" — were appointed in each church. (Acts 14:20-22)

Presbyters were also called bishops. See Acts 20:1, 28. Paul sent for the "presbyters." It was to them he directed this authoritative discourse. They were also called bishops. "Take heed . . . . to the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as bishops." Certainly it could not be imagined the apostle intended that the bishops of Ephesus were to "take heed" to every member in the universal church. Peter divinely defined the scope of the bishops rule. "I exhort the presbyters among you .... I, your fellow-presbyter . . . . tend the flock of God which is among you ...." (1 Peter 5:2) To prove his proposition of "hierarchal rule" the affirmative needs to produce sacred documentation that says bishops would be placed over bishops.

Bishops are appointed overseers of a church — congregation. They are to oversee those "among them." Their scope of oversight is limited to one church. There is no example in the entire New Testament of local bishops ruling over other local bishops in any matter. The plan of government having been revealed in the sacred authority, we dare not teach otherwise lest we fall under the anathema of God for preaching "a gospel other than that which we (apostles, H.P. Jr.) preached." (Gal. 1:8)

The affirmative opines that Christ gave "full authority" to a class of men and their successors to make laws and pass judgments. I maintain that the scriptures teach "full authority" rests in Christ. Also, that never were men, either as individuals or as a group, given "full authority." They were deliverers of the King's Word; they were "earthen vessels" which contained divine "treasure"; they were "ambassadors."

Mr. Dunne says Christ delegated authority to them. No, he delegated to them a work. Which was:

1. To reveal and deliver truth, once and for all. Eph. 3:3-5; 1 John 1:1-4; Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 3:1,2.

2. To reconcile man to God, by the Word. (2 Cor. 5:18-20)

3. To give the "light of the knowledge of God."

(2 Cor. 4:1-7) "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." (v. 7.)

Though schooled by the world's master teacher for over three years, it was impossible that the apostles, by human erudition alone, could successfully accomplish the responsibility of their divine ambassadorship. Therefore, Christ sent them the Holy Spirit. He would "teach them all things" and "bring to your remembrance whatever I have said to you." (John 14:25) They received the Holy Spirit, according to promise, on the Pentecost after Christ's resurrection. (Acts 1:7, 8; 2:1-4) Then they began to (1) "bind and loose," that which had divine authority, (2) "bear witness of me," (3) "reveal all things." (Mt. 18:18; John 14:25; 15:26, 27; 16:13)

These men would not live forever. Consequently, the King provided the divine plan by which the result of their work would be permanent and incorruptible. The affirmative says that these men appointed other delegates as their successors to "bind and loose." The New Testament says these men left us an indelible pattern — "the incorruptible seed, the Word" — which should establish all men in every age in these identical truths.

Here is the heart of the argument between us. I maintain the scriptures teach that "The Word, the incorruptible seed" (1 Peter 1:19-25), was that which should "endure forever" in order to lead men to a knowledge of the truth. The Roman Catholic Church maintains that the church would "endure forever" to accomplish this program. She also teaches that the New Testament is merely a compendium of the apostles' work which needs to be filled in with progressive revelation. I defend the New Testament as containing "the faith once and for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 3)

(To be continued)