Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Catholic Church As the Fulfillment of the Kingdom

The following was written by this fabulous, brilliant young man, Dave Brokke, who spent years online with me debating Catholicism and winning! And am I so thankful to God for that! He is getting his masters in Theology (I think) at the Franciscan College and is soon to be a full time missionary. He has given me permission to post this here:

Something very important to always keep in mind is the fact that the first Christians were not the same as the Christians of the 20th century but were in fact Messianic Jews, Christ came not to do-away with the law, but to fulfill the law and so Christianity is not the destruction of Judaism but the fulfillment of Judaism. Because the first Christians were Jews including Christ and the Apostles, it is important to look at Scripture through the lens of a Jew.

Catholics believe that from the very beginning, God intended the perfected Church to be the fulfillment of creation. Yet if the Church is what God intended for creation, why was it that when Christ came He only mentioned the “Church” twice, yet mentions the “Kingdom of God” over one hundred times? Why is it that He explains to His Apostles that not the gospel of the Church, but that the “gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations” (Mt 24:14, RSVCE)? The answer is both in the Old and New Testament…

David is the central figure of the Old Testament. It is through David that the kingdom of Israel reaches its climax. David is promised the covenant of the Kingdom that will last forever on which a descendant of his will reign forever.

Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son…And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever (2 Sam 7:11-14,16).

Because the sons of Solomon had committed sin, the structure of the Davidic kingdom fell and Israel went into Exile, yet the Lord promises through the prophets that He will be true to His promises, He will not go back on His covenant. Therefore a descendent of David, shall reign on his throne forever.

I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His line shall endure for ever, his throne as long as the sun before me (Ps 89:20-22,29-36).

Hear then, O house of David...Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Is 7:13,14).

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it (Is 9:6-7).

For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel (Jer 33:17-18).

My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statues…and David my servant will be their prince for ever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people (Ezek 37:24,25-27).

The prophets set the stage for a descendent of David to come and fulfill the Lord’s promises that would be fulfilled in Jesus. In order to show how Jesus truly is the fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom as well as the promise to Abraham, the Gospel writers constantly reinforce Jesus’ fulfilling the Davidic lineage in their writings. Observe the passages below.

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to…a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary…And he came to her and said…’And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus…and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end (Lk 1:27,28,31-33).

Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, for he has visited his people, and has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that he would save us from our enemies…to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham (Lk 1:68-73)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled…And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first born son (Lk 2:1,4-7).

Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David…being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendents upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up… being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear (Acts 2:29,30).

He raised up David to be their king…Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised (Acts 13:22,23).

In addition to these texts, throughout Jesus’ ministry, Jesus is continually recognized as “Son of David” (cf. Mt 9:37, Mt 12:23, Mt 15:22, Mt 20:23, Mt 20:31, Mt 21: 9, Mt 21:15, Mt 22:42, Mk 10:47, Mk 10:48, Lk 18:35, Lk 18:39). The Gospel writers found it particularly important to stress this fact. So Jesus is the heir and ruler to the throne of David and his kingdom.

The Inauguration of the Kingdom
If Jesus is the king, then He must have a kingdom. It is no wonder than that many Jews thought that Jesus' kingdom would be an earthly kingdom and that the Messiah would set them free through a military victory over the Romans. But Christ came to bear testimony to the truth and His kingdom would not be of this world full of error but a kingdom of truth.

At the institution of the Last Supper, Jesus shares bread and wine with His disciples acting in the order of Melchizedek, as both priest and king. Jesus offers bread and wine to them as His body and His blood and then promises His disciples “I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” and “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Mk 14:25, Lk 22:15,16). Yet we read later on that while Jesus was on the Cross He received the vinegar (fruit of the vine) placed before His mouth. It is precisely through the Cross then that not only the Kingdom is born but also the Church.

The Church is born primarily of Christ’s total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. “The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus.” “For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the ‘wondrous sacrament of the whole Church’” As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church was born form the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross (CCC §766).

After Jesus resurrects from the dead He eats of the meal that He would not eat until it was fulfilled in the Kingdom using the same manner of taking the bread and giving it to them (Jn 21:13, Lk 24:30). The Kingdom of God is then fulfilled in the age of the Church, which is why to make manifest the Kingdom of Jesus Christ the Apostles continued the breaking of the bread (Acts 2:42).
The central theme to the book of Acts is the kingdom. The book of Acts begins with the theme of the Kingdom. “To them [Jesus] presented himself…speaking of the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). And the Apostles ask at the time of the Ascension, “Lord will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Throughout the book of Acts, the Kingdom is being preached (cf. Acts 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25).
The book of Acts also ends with the theme of Kingdom. “[Paul]…welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered” (Acts 28:30-31). Yet the book of Acts is continually examining the beginning of the Church. This is precisely because the Church is the fulfillment of the Kingdom. Alfred Loisy commented, “Jesus came preaching the Kingdom, and what arrived was the Church,” as if the promise of the Kingdom was a broken promise or a promise yet to be fulfilled because all that happened was the Church (Loisy 166). Yet the Church is the glorious and mystical fulfillment of that Kingdom.

The Davidic Kingdom and the Catholic Church
You might ask, what does this have to do with the Catholic Church? If we look a little closer at the Davidic kingdom, we begin to understand what it means for the claims of the Catholic Church.

In the Eastern kingdoms, each king has a kingdom, and each king would have a “master of the palace.” The king would delegate the authority and administration of his kingdom to this “master of the palace,” who managed the kingdom, almost to the point of ruling, especially in his absence. The keys were a sign of the authority of the king, and the king would at times delegate the keys to the steward of the kingdom (Ray 266, 268). In the Davidic kingdom, there was the office of the master of the house (1 Kings 4:1,6). This office is more clearly explained through the office of Eli’akim, “who was over the household” (2 Kings 18:18).

And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place…In that days says the Lord of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a sure place will gave way; and it will be cut down and fall (Is 22:22-23,25).

The office of the master of the house in the Davidic kingdom will thus be renewed in the New Covenant through someone who will be given the keys to open and to shut, to loose and to bind.

Now we will discuss the notion of a Jewish rabbinate. The rabbi was the teacher who had pupils who would follow him. How one became a rabbi was that they joined a rabbinate as a pupil and would follow a rabbi. The rabbi would designate a chief pupil who then would argue with the rabbi. Once the pupil could outwit the rabbi in an argument, the pupil would be worthy to become a rabbi himself. This is extremely important in examining Matthew 16.

Peter is following the traditional model of the rabbinate. He follows Christ and then Christ seemingly designates him as the chief pupil to which Peter assumes that it is his time to argue with Jesus. Jesus says He must go to Jerusalem to die, to which Peter argues. At that Jesus rebukes Peter in order to show Peter that this is not a typical rabbinate. Peter will never outwit Christ and Christ will always be the Teacher and Peter’s job is not to declare anything new but only declare that which is revealed to him by the Father.

This relationship between the structure of the Davidic kingdom and the structure of the Kingdom proposed by Christ continues to have similarities. One such similarity is in the office of the “master of the palace” which is given to Peter.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt 16:18-19).

Jesus ascended the throne of David, and God gave Him all authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus was in possession of the key of David, yet He delegated the keys to Peter (cf. Rev 3:7, Mt 16:18-19). Peter is designated as the “master of the palace.” This authority given to Peter would not end with his death, but would continue on through his successors.

The office of steward in the old economy is now superseded by the Petrine office with the delegation and handing on of the keys. The office of steward was successive, and so is the Petrine office in the new kingdom (Ray 274).

However, the Petrine office’s authority is not over temporal matters, but rather spiritual matters as Peter was given the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. The Petrine office is given the authority to “bind” and to “loose.” The terms to “bind” and to “loose” are rabbinical terms that designate authority in teaching on matters in faith and morals. Notice how Matthew uses very similar language to that of Isaiah but instead of using “open” and “shut” uses the term “bind” and “loose” in order to show that his authority is not in earthly matters but authority in being able to declare the truth to which not even the gates of hell could prevail against.

This teaching authority based on the Petrine office is found only within the Catholic Church. His teaching authority would be infallible for the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors (Council of Ephesus, 431 AD, qtd. in Ray 235).

St. Cyprian of Carthage wrote in 251 AD…"The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ . . . On him he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep, and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair, and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).

The holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront…by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church”…The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the Apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it (Pope Damasus, 382 AD, qtd. in Ray 212).

Christ is the Good Shepherd who gives his flock to Peter, who is the “one shepherd” who is over the one flock who is told, “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” “Feed my sheep” (cf. Ezek 37:24, Jn 21:15,16,17).

In addition to the master of the house, the king took counsel with these twelve officers, who would advise him how to answer the people of the kingdom. (1 Kings 7:7,1 Kings 12:6-7).

The twelve officers of the Davidic kingdom managed the household of the king, advised the king, and provided food for the king’s household. This too will play a significant role in the Kingdom that will be established by Christ. Christ too appointed twelve officers who would oversee the people of His Kingdom.

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot…These Twelve Jesus sent out, charging them ‘Go… and preach as you go, saying “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 10:1-4).

These twelve were the keepers of the Kingdom who were sent out to preach the Kingdom. These twelve are able to feed the household of the King most directly through the Eucharist.

Christ is the prophet, who was prophesized by Moses (Deut 18:18-19, Acts 3:20-23). Christ, as the Truth, came to bear testimony to the truth (Jn 14:6, 18:37). Jesus spoke with an authority that other rabbis at the time did not (Mt 7:28). He proclaimed the truth as a prophet, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. He thus covenants His authority to proclaim the truth to the Apostles and the keys of His Kingdom to Peter, the first of Apostles.

The Apostles were commissioned with Jesus’ authority to teach all nations to observe all that He commanded (Mt 28:18-19). He gave His Holy Spirit to the Apostles that they may be guided into all truth, bringing to their remembrance all that Jesus said (Jn 14:26, 16:13). If anyone received what they taught, they received Jesus; if anyone rejected what they taught, they rejected Christ (Lk 10:16). Thus Christ acts as the promised prophet through the Church, who proclaims the truth. If anyone would not listen to the prophet through His Church, God will require it of him (Deut 18:18-19, Lk 10:16). The Apostles in union with Peter are the shepherds under the one shepherd who care for the faithful. “I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, says the Lord” (Jer 23:4). This is why it is particularly interesting that right before Jesus gives the Apostles a similar authority to the authority of Peter, He tells the parable of the lost sheep.

... So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven (Mt 18:14-19).

The Church is seen as the final authority because the Church is “the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the cornerstone” (Eph 2:19-20). If one does not listen to the Church they are to be treated as a Gentile. Because of the authority of the Church, built upon the foundation of the apostles, we might know how to act and what to believe, because the Church would declare the truth. “If I am delayed you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of truth” (1 Tim 3:15). This fullness of faith, fullness of truth is passed down to those whom the Apostles appointed and is protected by the Lord.

This fullness of faith is the deposit of faith which has been guarded, protected, and preserved without error by the Apostles and their successors. "Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort.

But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed." (Dei Verbum, 10)

For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher…for I know Whom I have believed, and I am sure that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me…guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (2 Tim 1:11-14).

Christ promised that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against the Church fulfilling the Abrahamic promise that Abraham’s descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies (cf. Mt 16:18; Gen 22:16-18). The Church will last forever and will not fall into error.
The scribes and Pharisees sat on Moses’ prophetic seat or cathedra, and therefore the Jews were obligated to practice and observe whatever the Pharisees or scribes taught (cf. Mt 23:2-3). Jesus, however, appoints the twelve Apostles the Kingdom He was given, and gives to the Apostles the thrones or cathedra to teach, to bind and to loose.
As my Father appointed [covenant] a kingdom for me, so do I appoint [covenant] for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Lk 22:29-30).

Thus the Apostles speak for Christ as His prophets, teaching with His authority. The offices of the Davidic kingdom were successive, and this is true of the new kingdom in Christ. This is why when Judas died it was necessary to fill his office as seen in the Scripture below.

In those days Peter stood up among the brethren… “Brethren the Scripture had to be fulfilled…concerning Judas… ‘His office let another take.’” …And they prayed and said, “Lord…show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthi’as; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles (Acts 1:15,16,20,24,25-26).

This is the meaning of apostolic succession, which is found within the Catholic Church. Apostolic succession is the filling of the seats of the Apostles in order that the prophetic ministry of the Church might continue.
The elders of the Church in union with apostles in union with Peter had the ability to answer questions with authority through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question…the apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and [spoke]…and all the assembly kept silence…then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole Church, to choose men from among them and send them… with the following letter: “The brethren, both the apostles and the elders…it has seemed good to us in the assembly…to tell you the same things by words of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things” …they delivered the letter. And when they read it, they rejoiced at the exhortation” (Acts 15:2,6-7,12,22,23,25,27,28,30,31).

The elders with the apostles in agreement with Peter were able to speak of what the Holy Spirit wanted for the whole Church. The churches rejoice at the exhortation because now they knew the truth concerning the Gentiles. The elders are the priests who are under the Apostles who are under Peter, the chief of Apostles, who is under Jesus Christ, the King of the Kingdom. This is essentially the hierarchy of the apostolic and prophetic Catholic Church, in which the small mustard seed grew into the greatest of all shrubs (Mk 4:31-32).