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Non-Catholics Section: Visible / Hierarchical Church

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Non-Catholics Section:

Visible / Hierarchical Church

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Do You Deny that Jesus Established a Visible, Hierarchical Church?

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Do You Deny that Jesus Established a Visible, Hierarchical Church?

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* Do you reject the concept of authority in the Church? Do you believe that obedience is not due to any hierarchy in the Church? Click here

* How can you deny that Christ established a visible, hierarchal church when Scripture clearly shows St. Peter received the supreme office in the Church (see Mt. 16:18-19, Jn. 21:15-17)?

* How can you deny that Christ established a visible, hierarchal church when Scripture clearly shows the apostles received an office in the Church (e.g. Mt. 10:1, Mt. 28:19-20, Mk. 16:15-16, Jn. 20:21)?

* How an you deny that Christ established a visible, hierarchal church when Scripture clearly tells us that when persons reject those whom Christ sent they reject Him (see Lk. 10:16)? 

* How can you deny that Christ established a visible, hierarchal church when Scripture clearly shows a successor being appointed to take over Judas' office (see Acts 1:15-26)?

* How can you deny that Christ established a visible, hierarchal church when Scripture clearly refers to the hierarchical nature of the Church (especially, the New Testament letters clearly demonstrate this fact!) [e.g. 1 Cor. 12:28, Eph. 4:11, 1 Thes. 5:12, Heb. 13:17]?

* How can you deny that Christ established a visible, hierarchal church when history shows that Christ's Church has always been visible and hierarchical?

* Why would we be commanded to obey the ministers of the church if the church was not visible or hierarchical (e.g. 2 Thes. 3:14, Heb. 13:17)?

* How can the faith be passed on to future generations without a visible, hierarchical church?

* How can Sacraments be dispensed without a visible, hierarchical church (cf. Acts 8:14-18)?

* Can you not see that there has to be a visible structure in the church to ensure that the authority given to the apostles by Christ is passed on (e.g. the power of the keys, the power to forgive sins)?

* Can you not see that there had to be a visible authority to determine the books of the bible since "there is no 'inspired table of contents'"? (How would you expect a visible bible from an invisible church?)

* Considering that all groupings of people have a visible structure (e.g. families, governments, companies, etc.), why do you deny this to the church? Those without structure would certainly perish.

* "An invisible church is not biblical."

* "An invisible church does not take into account the realities of this world with visible people!"

* How can the Church be invisible considering that Christ said..."You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father." (Mt. 5:14-16)...?

* How would Christ, being visible, have established an invisible Church?

* Since when does a visible flock not need a visible shepherd? How would visible sheep be protected by visible wolves without a visible shepherd?

* Considering that Jesus said that we must consume His flesh (see Jn. 6:22-69), can you not see how this alone necessitate a visible church? Note: If you deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, click here.

* Why would God establish a visible, hierarchical 'church' (so to speak) in the Old Testament, but not in the New Testament?

* In this world, men must be governed visibly - it is unreasonable to expect that visible people on earth could be governed invisibly. Even in the family setting, we know that children would get into much trouble without parents, police, schools, etc. How can one expect better in a much larger grouping of people? Does not common sense tell you that visible people need a visible government?

* A visible structure has been necessary throughout history for protection - there have been many enemies of the faith who would capture Christians (including men, women, and children) and torture & kill them. They have also been captured and forced to submit to false religions. Under such fierce attacks, it is clearly necessary that the Church have a visible structure in order to protect her members.

* The Church's very mission requires her to be visible. How can she teach if she is invisible? How can an invisible church apply visible Sacraments? How can an invisible church preserve doctrine intact?

* How can Christ expect us to obey the church if she is not visible? Is it not necessary that she be visible to all? "Considering that forthwith upon salvation being brought out for mankind, Jesus Christ laid upon His Apostles the injunction to 'preach the Gospel to every creature,' He imposed, it is evident, upon all men the duty of learning thoroughly and believing what they were taught. This duty is intimately bound up with the gaining of eternal salvation: 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be condemned.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890 A.D.)

* How can there be "one flock" (Jn. 10:16) if the church is invisible and without structure?

* Since Christ established that the forgiveness of sins would come through men (Jn. 20:23), this alone necessitates a visible church.

* How could St. Paul have persecuted the Church if it was invisible (see Gal. 1:13)?

* We see from Scripture that the apostles had authority. How can this be if the church was not visible and hierarchical?

* How can St. James speak of calling "the presbyters [priests] of the church (see Jms. 5:14-15), if the church is not visible and hierarchical?

* How can Jesus tell us to "tell the church" (see Mt. 18:17), if the church is invisible?

* How can Scripture speak of bishops, presbyters (priests), and deacons, etc. (cf. Acts 14:23, Acts 15:4, Phil. 1:1, 1 Tm. 3:1, 1 Tm. 3:8, 1 Tm. 5:17, Ti. 1:5, Ti. 1:7-9) unless the church is visible and hierarchical?


Closing Quotations...

"Moreover as our Savior does not rule the Church directly in a visible manner, He wills to be helped by the members of His Body in carrying out the work of redemption." (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.)

"Such is the Church: a spiritual, but at the same time an exterior and visible society; just in the same way as man is spiritual and because of his soul and material because of his body, which is an essential part of his being. The Christian, therefore, should love the Church such as God has made her; he should detest that false and hypocritical spiritualism which, with a view to subvert the work of Christ, would confine religion within the exclusively spiritual domain. We never can admit such a limitation. The Divine Word has assumed our flesh; he permitted his creature man to hear and see and handle him; and when he organized his Church on earth, he made it speaking, visible, and so to say palpable." (Dom Gueranger)

"[T]hose who arbitrarily conjure up and picture to themselves a hidden and invisible Church are in grievous and pernicious error: as also are those who regard the Church as a human institution which claims a certain obedience in discipline and external duties, but which is without the perennial communication of the gifts of divine grace, and without all that which testifies by constant and undoubted signs to the existence of that life which is drawn from God. It is assuredly as impossible that the Church of Jesus Christ can be the one or the other, as that man should be a body alone or a soul alone. The connection and union of both elements is as absolutely necessary to the true Church as the intimate union of the soul and body is to human nature." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"[W]e are told that [the Church] was to spread, and actually has been spread, throughout the whole world. Now how could such progress and conquest have taken place, if the spiritual society founded by our Redeemer had not also been exterior and visible? On earth, souls cannot hold intercommunication without bodies. Faith cometh by hearing, says the Apostle: and how shall they hear without a preacher? When, therefore, our Risen Jesus says to his Apostles: Go, teach all nations! He distinctly implies that the word of God will be heard, that it will resound throughout the world, and that its sound will be heard both by them that obey and by them that reject the teaching of his ministers... [I]f this people, which is to attract all others to itself, be not visible, how can it do its work?'" (Dom Gueranger) 

"Thus it is that the divine Founder of the Church, who willed that she should be a city seated on a mountain (Mt. v. 14), gave her visibility; it was an essential requisite; for since all were called to enter her pale, all must be able to see her. But He was not satisfied with this. He moreover willed that the spiritual power exercised by her pastors should come from a visible source, so that the faithful might have a sure means of verifying the claims of those who were to guide them in His name. Our Lord (we say it reverently) owed this to us; for, on the last day, He will not receive us as His children, unless we shall have been members of His Church, and have lived in union with Him by the ministry of pastors lawfully constituted [cf. Lk. 10:1-16]. Honor, then, and submission to Jesus in His vicar! Honor and submission to the vicar of Christ in the pastors he sends!" (Dom Gueranger) 

"And, since it was necessary that His divine mission should be perpetuated to the end of time, He took to Himself disciples, trained by himself, and made them partakers of His own authority. And, when He had invoked upon them from Heaven the Spirit of Truth, He bade them go through the whole world and faithfully preach to all nations what He had taught and what He had commanded, so that by the profession of His doctrine and the observance of His laws, the human race might attain to holiness on earth and never-ending happiness in Heaven. In this wise, and on this principle, the Church was begotten. If we consider the chief end of His Church and the proximate efficient causes of salvation, it is undoubtedly spiritual; but in regard to those who constitute it, and to the things which lead to these spiritual gifts, it is external and necessarily visible." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"So that we could fulfill our duty of embracing the true faith and of persevering unwaveringly in it, God, through his only begotten Son, founded the Church, and He endowed his institution with clear notes to the end that She might be recognized by all as the guardian and teacher of the revealed word. To the Catholic Church alone belong all those things, so many and so marvelous, which have been divinely ordained to make for the manifest credibility of the Christian faith. What is more, the Church herself by reason of her astonishing propagation, her outstanding holiness and her inexhaustible fertility in every kind of goodness, by her Catholic unity and her unconquerable stability, is a kind of great and perpetual motive of credibility and an incontrovertible evidence of her own divine mission. So it comes about that, like a standard lifted up for the nations, she both invites to herself those who have not yet believed, and likewise assures her sons and daughters that the faith they profess rests on the firmest of foundations." (First Vatican Council)

"That the Church is a body is frequently asserted in the Sacred Scriptures. 'Christ,' says the Apostle, 'is the Head of the Body of the Church.' If the Church is a body, it must be an unbroken unity, according to those words of Paul: 'Though many we are one body in Christ.' But it is not enough that the Body of the Church should be an unbroken unity; it must also be something definite and perceptible to the senses as Our predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Satis Cognitum asserts: 'the Church is visible because she is a body. Hence they err in a matter of divine truth, who imagine the Church to be invisible, intangible, a something merely 'pneumatological' as they say, by which many Christian communities, though they differ from each other in their profession of faith, are united by an invisible bond. But a body calls also for a multiplicity of members, which are linked together in such a way as to help one another... Again, as in nature a body is not formed by any haphazard grouping of members but must be constituted of organs, that is of members, that have not the same function and are arranged in due order; so for this reason above all the Church is called a body, that it is constituted by the coalescence of structurally united parts, and that it has a variety of members reciprocally dependent. It is thus the Apostle describes the Church when he writes: 'As in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office: so we being many are one body in Christ, and everyone members one of another.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.)

"Christ our Lord, when about to leave this world and return to the Father, entrusted to the Chief of the Apostles the visible government of the entire community He had founded. Since He was all wise He could not leave the body of the Church He had founded as a human society without a visible head. Nor against this may one argue that the primacy of jurisdiction established in the Church gives such a Mystical Body two heads. For Peter in virtue of his primacy is only Christ's Vicar; so that there is only one chief Head of this Body, namely Christ, who never ceases Himself to guide the Church invisibly, though at the same time He rules it visibly, through him who is His representative on earth. After His glorious Ascension into heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter, too, its visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same. They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it." (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.)

"The Apostles received a mission to teach by visible and audible signs, and they discharged their mission only by words and acts which certainly appealed to the senses. So that their voices falling upon the ears of those who heard them begot faith in souls - 'Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the words of Christ' (Rom. x., 17). And faith itself - that is assent given to the first and supreme truth - though residing essentially in the intellect, must be manifested by outward profession - 'For with the heart we believe unto justice, but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation' (Rom. x., 10). In the same way in man, nothing is more internal than heavenly grace which begets sanctity, but the ordinary and chief means of obtaining grace are external: that is to say, the sacraments which are administered by men specially chosen for that purpose, by means of certain ordinances. Jesus Christ commanded His Apostles and their successors to the end of time to teach and rule the nations. He ordered the nations to accept their teaching and obey their authority. But this correlation of rights and duties in the Christian commonwealth not only could not have been made permanent, but could not even have been initiated except through the senses, which are of all things the messengers and interpreters. For this reason the Church is so often called in Holy Writ a body, and even the body of Christ - 'Now you are the body of Christ' (I Cor. xii., 27) - and precisely because it is a body is the Church visible: and because it is the body of Christ it is living and energizing, because by the infusion of His power Christ guards and sustains it, just as the vine gives nourishment and renders fruitful the branches united to it." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

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