Bible-believing Baptists Do Not Have A Pope Or A Magisterium

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
Spearfish, SD

Holy Bible: 100% Pure - Absolute Truth

In this post I want to deal with the fact that, in contrast to Roman Catholics,  Bible-believing Baptists do not have a pope or a magisterium. The pope is the head of all true Roman Catholics. They claim he is their spokesman on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ. So what he says, the Lord supposedly says. Not only do Bible-believing Baptists not have a pope. They also do not have a magisterium. The Roman Catholic magisterium plays a very vital role in Roman Catholicism, even though many non-Catholics are not as familiar with it as they are with the pope. This unfamiliarity is due to the fact that, though we often see the pope on the TV, read about him in newspapers and magazines, and, perhaps, hear about him from Roman Catholic friends, the magisterium seldom makes the news. To get a better idea of the Roman Catholic magisterium, read the following information taken from a Roman Catholic website called “Catholic Essentials,” a link to which is given here: I would also suggest that you look over other subjects on this website, and specifically note the authoritarianism of the Roman Catholic Church. Here is the quote:

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church

Defined as “the Church’s divinely appointed authority to teach the truths of religion”. In other words, Our Lord gave His Church the authority to teach the faithful about what is expected of them, and that is what the Church has done consistently from the start.

The Magisterium of Catholic Church teaches the faithful in two ways;

1) Solemn Magisterium: is Church teaching which is used only rarely by formal and authentic definitions of councils or Popes. This includes dogmatic definitions by councils or Popes teaching “ex cathedra”
2) Ordinary Magisterium: this second form of Church teaching is continually exercised by the Church especially in her universal practices connected with faith and morals, in the unanimous consent of the Fathers and theologians, in the decisions of the Roman Congregations concerning faith and morals, in the common sense of the Faithful, and various historical documents, in which the faith is declared.

(Definitions from A Catholic Dictionary, 1951)

Now, how do the authority of the pope and the magisterium differ from the authority accepted by Bible-believing Baptists? The answer is simply this: Bible-believing Baptists look to the Bible alone as their ultimate authority for their beliefs and moral standards. In other words, Bible-believing Baptists believe that God has communicated to all the world through the Bible what doctrines he wants us to believe, and how we are to behave. Therefore, we as individuals read the Bible to find out the mind and will of God. We have pastors and theologians to which we look for guidance on matters of doctrine and morals, but the Bible alone is our ultimate authority. Therefore, we compare the teachings of our pastors and theologians with the teachings of the Bible, and if our pastors and theologians contradict the Bible, we follow what the Bible says. It alone is always right. That is the primary reason that Bible-believing Baptists reject the Roman Catholic Church. Having compared its doctrines with the Bible’s doctrines, we have seen that Roman Catholicism teaches more falsehoods than truths. Two of its primary falsehoods are the pope and the magisterium. The Bible knows nothing of the Roman Catholic Church’s pope or its magisterium.

Let me now make an application of this to Bible-believing Baptists themselves. Since we do not have a pope or magisterium, we must be very careful to not allow any Bible-believing Baptist to assume the role of a Baptist pope. No Bible-believing Baptist speaks for all other Bible-believing Baptists. He can declare his convictions on any an all subjects of concern. But he cannot make it sound like his opinion is the only right one and that the rest of must conform to his convictions. His opinions must be subjected to the Bible’s teachings, and if they contradict the Bible, or cannot be truly found in the Bible, he must accept the fact that his opinions are opinions and nothing more. Not only do Bible-believing Baptists not have a pope who speaks for all Bible-believing Baptists. They also do not have a Baptist magisterium. We do not believe that Baptist beliefs and practices, recorded in Baptist histories, are the standards to which we must conform. While we admire the Bible-believing Baptist scholars of the past and present, their views are not infallible and have no ultimate authority for us as individuals or for our churches. This is true of their sermons, their commentaries, their books on doctrine, and their confessions of faith. All of these things must be evaluated in the light of the Bible’s teachings, which we claim to believe is our ultimate authority on the subjects about which it speaks. Bible-believing Baptists are rooted in the whole Bible, but especially in the New Testament portion of it.

(The words “Bible-believing Baptists” are used in this post to distinguish them from those who call themselves “Baptists,” but who do not really believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God.)

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