Had a very busy weekend with guests (who showed up earlier than expected on Friday afternoon), and finally have some ‘free’ time for the internet. After reading through my emails, I began ‘surfing-the-web’, and eventually checked in on TurretinFan’s (hereafter, TF) website/s, where I had earlier submitted a comment. I discovered that TF has now responded to my post, but given the length of TF’s response (and his penchant for pointing out spelling errors in combox responses that cannot be corrected), I felt it best to compose my rebuttal here at AF (allowing me the opportunity to correct the “spelling, grammar, and any other errors” that TF is so fond of pointing out).
I shall reproduce my original combox response:
In my reading of Catholic literature, I have never came across any author/theologian/bishop who has denied the fact that our Lord, Jesus Christ is the “single chief Shepard” of His Church. Yet with that said, I also do not of know any Catholic author/theologian/bishop who would deny that there is one true King of God’s Kingdom; and yet, Scripture speaks of many who were anointed as kings of God’s earthly Kingdom. If the one, true, single King can (and did) appoint earthly representatives to the position of king, why is the notion that He has appointed an earthly chief shepherds such a difficult concept for you?
[For TF: “came”, should be “come”; “Shephard”, should be “Shepherd”, and “appointed an earthly chief shepherds”, should be “appointed earthly chief shepherds”.]
TF chose to create a NEW THREAD to respond to my late night musings, and began his polemic with:
I. Misdirection / Misinformation
The first stage of the comment is misdirection and/or misinformation. No one, we are told, denies that Jesus is the single chief Shepherd. Here's the problem, while there may be folks who claim that Jesus is the chief Shepherd, an official position ("official" in the sense that it is to be found in a papal encyclical, which - of course - is different from it being a de fide dogma) is that, on earth, the pope replaces Jesus…
TF then cites examples of Roman Bishops (Popes) who utilize the title “chief shepherd”. My initial thought on these quotes is: and this is a problem? My goodness, TF needs (and I mean this sincerely) to spend a bit more time in Sacred Scripture. Scripture informs us that our Lord’s “flock” will have but “one Shepherd” (John 10:16 – see also Ez. 34:23, 34); and yet, we know that Christ’s Church most certainly has more than “one Shepherd”. [The concept delineated by our Lord in John 13:20 is certainly germane to this discussion.]
Further, though Scripture informs us that there is but “one God”, and that God the Father is the “one God”, I doubt that TF will deny that Jesus is also the “one God”. (‘Complicating’ matters a bit further, Scripture also terms angels, kings, and judges “God/s”).
In the famous Shema, we read that: “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah” (ASV); and yet, the angel of Jehovah is termed “Jehovah” and Jerusalem is called “Jehovah”! [See Deut 6:4; Zech. 3:1-2; Jer. 33:16.]
So, it seems to me that if one applies a bit of objectivity, one can discern that terms and phrases that appear to be ‘absolute’, in fact, have varied degrees of application.
We now proceed on to TF’s next section, II. Scriptural Confusion.
TF’s remark that, “Israel's human kings were a symbol of their rejection of God”, is perhaps the most convoluted statement of his that I have yet to read. Such a view ignores the promises given through Moses concerning the future kings (human) of Israel (see Deut. 17:14-20). And further, if “Israel's human kings were a symbol of their rejection of God”, why would God via Sacred Scripture extol a human king of Israel in such a lofty manner as we find in Psalm 45? (Which includes the title God/Elohim; for another Psalm of praise concerning a human king of Israel, see Psalm 72.)
TF’s section III. is, IMHO, not worth commenting on, so I shall move on to section IV:
IV. Confusion of ReasoningI was going to call this section "rational confusion," for the sake of parallelism, but the connotation in English would be wrong. The confusion of reasoning in this comment lies in trying to change the question from "did" to "could." Since, by now, the comment may no longer be fresh in your mind, I'll remind you what he said: "If the one, true, single King can (and did) appoint earthly representatives to the position of king, why is the notion that He has appointed an earthly chief shepherds [sic] such a difficult concept for you?"Notice how the comment seems to argue (implicitly, of course) from the idea that God could appoint a king while still being the one true King, to the idea that God did (just assumed, not demonstrated) appoint an earthly chief shepherd. From a logical standpoint, that misses the main argument by simply assuming what needs to be demonstrated. It needs to be demonstrated that God did appoint such a chief shepherd.
It is “demonstrated” in Scripture that Jesus did in fact appoint “an earthly chief shepherd”, but TF’s anti-Catholic bias seems to cloud his mind to this concept. The famous Petrine passages in the NT demonstrate that Peter was appointed the head/chief of the apostles, and as such the head/chief of our Lord’s visible Church. Some important Protestant scholars affirm this (e.g. Oscar Cullman’s, Peter), while denying Petrine succession—which, of course, is a separate issue.
Jesus commands Peter in the Gospel of John to “shepherd My sheep”, and Peter most certainly carries out this command of our Lord; he becomes the “chief” shepherd, among many shepherds, even though our Lord clearly states that there is only “one shepherd” over His fold (John 10:16).
Ultimately, TF’s overall polemic differs little from the Arian, Socinian, and Unitarian attacks on the doctrine of the Trinity (i.e. only God the Father is called the “one God”, hence, Jesus cannot be the “one God”), a polemic that suffers from the apparent inability to move beyond an absolute reading of certain terms and phrases found in Scripture, towards a mindset that can grasp broader concepts and applications of those terms and phrases.
Much more, of course, could be said, but I sincerely believe that I have adequately addressed TF’s polemical post.
Grace and peace,