The news of pope Benedict XVI resigning from his position has created headlines far and wide around the world. This act of abdication makes him the first Roman Pontiff in 600 years to do this. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Pope has infallible authority over the church. He is viewed as the supreme teacher, with supreme judicial authority and governance over the church. Such a thought of resignation could sound devastating!
Well, what does the Scripture teach concerning infallible authority over the church? Who is the supreme of the church? Or to ask another question, who gives the marching orders? Sadly, many view the Pope as an earthly representative of Christ (The Vicar of Christ – “Vicarius Christi”). Some may say their pastor or even a denomination is the supreme of the church.
The truth is, none of these are the supreme of the church. This right exclusively belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. On various occasions in the New Testament He is referred to as the Head of the Church. In Paul says, “He is the head of the body, the church.” Here “the church” is called “the body“ and Christ is “the head“. In this verse the use of “body” reveals the churches need for
its “head.” The term “head” in this context suggests Divine supremacy, authority and rule. The Lord Jesus Christ alone provides Divine direction and the church ought to never look to any but Christ. He alone is “the head of the body.” When it comes to the physical human body, it is the head that directs and determines what the body does. So it is with the church – Jesus Christ is her authority. Of course, He did ascend to the glory of Heaven and was seated at the right hand of the Father where He continues to be the head of the Church. But whom did He send to be the One who testifies of the truth of God’s word in an infallible way? Who testifies of Christ to the church with infallibility? It was no mere man, but rather it was the third member of the Holy Trinity – the Holy Spirit (). I conclude with some helpful words by James R. White,
“…the person who is subject to the authority of the Word of God cannot be subject to the Pope, having seen that the Papacy as an institution has no real basis in the Scriptures. I invite the individual Roman Catholic to look to the Scriptures as the sole infallible source of God’s revealed truth so as to determine just how he or she can have peace with God.”
 James R. White. The Roman Catholic Controversy, Bethany House Publishers, 1996. p. 124
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19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.