Scriptural Apologetics #2: Obeying Sinful Prelates

This post addresses an objection to Catholicism similar to the last one: “What about all of the sinful Popes/bishops/priests? How you can you seriously listen to them?”

Let’s deal with it this way:

You: Are you saying that someone who commits sin cannot have religious authority to teach and command others?

Them: Yes. [Again, I don’t know how long it will take to get to this point. It’s really what the objection boils down to, and of course it’s nth-degree silliness.]

You: If I showed you from the Bible that Our Lord Himself acknowledges human religious authorities, even though they are sinners, and commands His followers to obey the teachings of these sinful religious authorities, would you admit that your position is wrong?

Them: Yes. [I would NOT accept, “Show me where,” as an answer. Get them first to agree to change their position if proven incorrect. If they don’t agree, denounce them as dishonest and tell them that liars go to Hell.]

You: Read Matthew 23:1-3: “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not.'” Here Jesus says:

1.) The Scribes and Pharisees are sinners.

2.) The Scribes and Pharisees have inherited genuine religious authority from Moses.

3.) Do what they say, i.e. what they say in their capacity as religious authorities, but ignore their sinful personal example.

This is exactly what the Catholic Church teaches. If a Pope, or a bishop or priest in communion with the Pope, exercises his proper religious authority, obey him. The Pope has this authority because he sits in the Chair of St. Peter. If he does something sinful, pray for him, and don’t imitate him. The Catholic Church, being the true Church of Christ, follows Christ’s commandment on this point. Now, repent of your heresy.


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