Vol. 5, No. 10
Since You Asked
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Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.
The spirits of departed people are in Hades, the place where the souls of the dead await the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and final judgment (Luke 16:19-23 ASV). It is clear from the context of Luke 16:19-23 that though the dead desire to affect the living favorably, they cannot communicate with the living. Further, the apostle Paul assured the Thessalonians that the living and the dead would meet the Lord together in the last day (i.e., neither living nor dead saints will precede the other into heaven, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). In answer to the question, then: (1) Our loved ones are not in heaven as no saints have entered heaven, yet; (2) no, the dead cannot guide, comfort or communicate with the living.
Catholic theology claims that apostle Peter was the first pope, though neither the Bible nor the historical record reveals whether he ever visited Rome. Catholic lists of supposed popes from the time of Peter onward disagree with each other respecting the order different persons and the years they were said to serve as pope. Though for many years the Roman church tried to claim for itself supremacy, dissenters to those aspirations were many.
The first pope, in the real sense of the word, was Leo I (440-461). Being endowed by nature with the old Roman spirit of dominion, and being looked upon by his contemporaries, in consequence both of his character and his position, as the most eminent man of the age, he developed in his mind the ideal of an ecclesiastical monarchy, with the pope at the head, and endeavored with great energy to transform the constitution of the Church in conformity with his ideal. (McClintock and Strong)
Yet, still Leo I was not universally recognized as pope and no one was viewed as such for centuries to come. Boniface III claimed for himself universal pope in A.D. 607 and the Emperor bestowed the title of universal pope on Boniface III in A.D. 606 (McClintock and Strong, "Boniface, Pope" and "Oceumenical Bishop"). Neither the word "pope" nor any teaching about the "pope" appears in Scripture. Rather than a centralized government ascribed to successors of Peter, the New Testament describes independent, self-governing congregations that follow New Testament instruction (1 Timothy 3:1-6; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 14:23).
As far as God and the Bible are concerned, there has never been and there is not now such an office as the pope. The first universally recognized pope was Boniface III (nearly 600 years after the establishment of the Lord's church in Acts 2).
McClintock, John and John Strong. "Boniface, Pope." McClintock-Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2000.
- - - - - - "Oceumenical Bishop." McClintock-Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2000.
- - - - - - "Papacy." McClintock-Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2000.
Luther, a Catholic priest, dissented from Catholicism. Initially, he and his followers were called "Protestants" in derision in 1629. The term Protestants was applied shortly to all of the Reformers who dissented from Catholicism (McClintock and Strong). Differences among Reformers and their groups within Protestantism led to polarization or denominating themselves with names and creeds to distinguish them from each other as well as from the Catholic Church. The word "denominationalism" was coined in America for these diverse Protestant groups (Schaff).
McClintock, John and John Strong. "Protestants." McClintock-Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2000.
Schaff, Philip. "Protestantism and Denominationalism."History of the Christian Church. CD-ROM. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997.