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March 25, 1897
“The Headship of the Church. Jesus Himself, or a Papal Regent?” The Signs of the Times 23, 11, p. 6.
Jesus Himself, or a Papal Regent?
IN the Scriptures the church of Christ is described under the figure of the human body as God made it. The relationship between Christ and his church is shown and illustrated by the relationship that exists between the human body and its head: and the relationship between Christ and the members of his church is illustrated by the relationship between the members of the human body and the head of that body as God has placed it.SITI March 25, 1897, page 6.1
The church is his body. . “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” . The members of his church are “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” . Christ is, the head of this body, which is his church. For “he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead.” . “God raised him from the dead.... and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body.” . And it is Christ himself, too, who is head of this church. Not Christ by a representative; not Christ by a substitute, a vicar, or a regent; but Christ himself, in his own proper person. This is certainly true, because in stating this same thought under the figure of a building, the Word declares that Christ “himself” is the chief corner-stone, “the head-stone of the corner.” And here are the words: “Ye are God’s building.” ; .SITI March 25, 1897, page 6.2
Yet the claim of the Papacy is that a man is head of the church of Christ. The claim of the Catholic Church is that the head of that church is the head of the church of Christ. The claim of the Church of Rome is that the Bishop of Rome is head of the church of Christ—in the place of Christ—as the “representative,” the “substitute,” the “vicar,” the “regent,” of Christ. Here is the authoritative statement:—SITI March 25, 1897, page 6.3
Says the Council of Florence (1430), at which also were present the bishops of the Greek and the Latin Church: “We define that the Roman pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, and the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole church, the father and doctor of all Christians; and we declare that to him, in the person of blessed Peter, was given him by Jesus Christ our Saviour, full power to feed, rule, and govern the universal church.”SITI March 25, 1897, page 6.4
The pope is here called the true vicar or representative of Christ in this lower kingdom of his church militant; that is, the pope is the organ of our Saviour, and speaks his sentiments in faith and morals.—Cardinal Gibbons, in The Faith of Our Fathers, pp. 154, 155.SITI March 25, 1897, page 6.5
Let us look at this claim of the Catholic Church in view of the statements made in the Scriptures on this point. As we have seen, the church of Christ is his body in this world, and he is its head. God is the builder of this body, the church of Christ, as he was the builder of the human body in the beginning; for “God hath set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased him.” Now, take a human body as God made it, with the head in its place as God set it. In the place of that head, which God gave to that body, you put a “representative” head—a substitute head. In the place of the true head, which God set to that body, you put a “regency” head—another head to occupy the place in the absence of the true head—then what have you? Take away the head from a human body, and you have left only a dead body. This is the very first and only result of taking away the head. And even tho you set another head on this headless body, it is still only a dead body.SITI March 25, 1897, page 6.7
Now this is precisely the case of the Church of Rome. It was once the church of Christ; its members were members of the body of Christ; and Christ was its head. It had life from Christ, its living head, the life which is by faith, so that its “faith was spoken of throughout the whole world.” . But there came “a falling away.” . The bishops and councils of the church put away Christ, the true head whom God had set, and put another, a man, in his place, as head of that church. The putting away of Christ, its living head, left it only a lifeless body; and the putting of another head in his place did not, and could not, give life to that lifeless body. So far as spiritual life is concerned—the real life of the church of Christ—the Church of Rome is as destitute of it as is a human body with its own head cut off and another head put on in its place. Thus the Church of Rome is destitute of the life that vivifies the church of Christ, and partakes only of the elements of death. The only hope for it, or for those who are connected with it, is to recognize that it is indeed spiritually dead, and have Christ, the Life-giver, raise them from the dead, and connect them with himself as their living head, that thus they may live indeed.SITI March 25, 1897, page 6.8
Warning was given against this very course of that church in the first days of the church of Christ, and the same warning is yet given. In the second chapter of Colossians it is written: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.... Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding the head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting [punishing, margin] of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.” .SITI March 25, 1897, page 6.9
This is the divine warning against the spirit that made the Papacy, against the Papacy itself, against all its workings, and against its very nature. Men, fleshly-minded men, ambitious men, in the church, not being dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, holding the rudiments of the world and not holding the head—these were the men who put away from the people Christ, the true and living Head, and put a man, one of their own sort, in his place. And to supply the lack of him and his life they imposed upon the people a host of forms and ordinances, and commandments and doctrines of men, and voluntary humilities, and will-worshiping, and punishings of the body in penances and pilgrimages, and worshiping of angels, and saints, and dead people called saints. And this is the body of which Leo XIII., pope is the head. This is the Church of Rome with a man as its head, in the place of Christ. This is the Catholic Church. And this is how the bishop of Rome obtained his “regency of God on earth.”SITI March 25, 1897, page 6.10