Questioning Rome’s Catholic Understanding of Matthew 16:18-20

Keys Given To Peter

When Christ said: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (verse 18), did He mean Peter or Peter’s confession, was the rock to which He built His church?

Leo the Great(c. 400-461 A.D.), the first Roman Catholic Pope, understood that it was Peter. This passage shows, according to Leo I, the ordination of Peter before the rest of Apostles. He wrote,

For he was ordained before the rest in such a way that from his being called the Rock, from his being pronounced the Foundation, from his being constituted the Doorkeeper of the kingdom of heaven, from his being set as the Umpire to bind and to loose, whose judgments shall retain their validity in heaven, from all these mystical titles we might know the nature of his association with Christ. (Leo 1895: 117)

An eminent Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott, following Roman Catholicism perspective, contended that it was Peter whom Christ buildt His church. As proof from Scripture, Ott quoted this passage to argue that, “Christ appointed the Apostle Peter to be the first of all the Apostles and to be the visible Head of the whole Church by appointing him immediately and personally to the primacy of jurisdiction.”(Ott 1954: 279 bold removed). He contended,

The primacy was promised on the occasion of the solemn confession of the Messiahship in the house of Caesarea Philippi (Mt. 16, 17-19)[…] These words are addressed solely and immediately to Peter. In them Christ promise to confer on him a threefold supreme power in the new religious community […] which He is to found.(ibid 280)

Contrary to Rome Catholic view Origen (c.185–254 A.D.), Aurelius Augustine (c.354–430 A.D.) and John Chrysostom (c.347-407) believed that it was Peter’s confession, and not Peter to be the rock which Jesus would build his Church.

Chrysostom expounded that it was “on the faith of his [Peter’s] confession.”(Chrysostom 1888: 333) to which Christ promised to build his Church. Augustine also contended,

Peter is so called from the rock; not the rock from Peter; as Christ is not called Christ from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. “Therefore,” he saith, “Thou art Peter; and upon this Rock” which thou hast confessed, upon this Rock which thou hast acknowledged, saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, will I build My Church;” that is upon Myself, the Son of the living God, “will I build My Church.” I will build thee upon Myself, not Myself upon thee. (Augustine 1888: 340)

Augustine, as Chrysostom, rightly concluded: “On this rock, therefore, He said, which thou hast confessed. I will build my Church. For the Rock (Petra) was Christ; and on this foundation was Peter himself also built.”(Augustine 1888b: 450)

If any disciple of Christ, according to Origen, confesses like Peter, then he or she “ become a Peter […] For a rock is every disciple of Christ of whom those drank who drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, and upon every such rock is built every word of the church, and the polity in accordance with it; for in each of the perfect, who have the combination of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the blessedness, is the church built by God.”(Origen 1897: 456)

Question: Which reading, the Roman Catholic or Origen-Augustine-Chrysostom, which reformers picked up, is correct? I welcome a positive comment exchange giving reasons for or against these views. I am persuaded that Origen, Augustine and Chrysostom are correct. But before I share my reasons I want to hear from both sides, mostly from my Catholic brothers and sisters.

Bibliography:

Augustine of Hippo. (1888). Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament R. G. MacMullen, Trans.). In P. Schaff (Ed.), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume VI: Saint Augustin: Sermon on the Mount, Harmony of the Gospels, Homilies on the Gospels (P. Schaff, Ed.). New York: Christian Literature Company.

____________________ (1888b). Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel according to St. John J. Gibb & J. Innes, Trans.). In P. Schaff (Ed.), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume VII: St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies (P. Schaff, Ed.) New York: Christian Literature Company.

Chrysostom, John (1888). Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople on the Gospel according to St. Matthew G. Prevost & M. B. Riddle, Trans.). In P. Schaff (Ed.), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume X: Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew (P. Schaff, Ed.) New York: Christian Literature Company.

Leo the Great. (1895). Sermons C. L. Feltoe, Trans.). In P. Schaff & H. Wace (Eds.)Vol. 12a: A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, Volume XII: Leo the Great, Gregory the Great (P. Schaff & H. Wace, Ed.) New York: Christian Literature Company.

Origen. (1897). Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew J. Patrick, Trans.). In A. Menzies (Ed.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume IX: The Gospel of Peter, the Diatessaron of Tatian, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Visio Pauli, the Apocalypses of the Virgil and Sedrach, the Testament of Abraham, the Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena, the Narrative of Zosimus, the Apology of Aristides, the Epistles of Clement (Complete Text), Origen’s Commentary on John, Books I-X, and Commentary on Matthew, Books I, II, and X-XIV (A. Menzies, Ed.) New York: Christian Literature Company.

Ott, Ludwig (1954) Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Ed. James Canon Bastible, Trans. from Germany: Patrick Lynch. Roman Catholic Books. Fort Collins.

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118 thoughts on “Questioning Rome’s Catholic Understanding of Matthew 16:18-20

  1. The Bible states that it alone has the authority and that the gospel doesn’t change. I follow Christ, not someone else who says he followed Christ. You need go no further than the Bible. In fact, to do so is forbidden. I base my faith on scripture and not on the opinions of man.

    God bless,

    Az4christ.wordpress.com

    • Thank you for a brilliant input. I too hold that the Scripture alone has the final authority though I do read the early Church fathers, and a line of brilliant godly men in Church history to help me understand the Bible and communicate its truth to the world.

      The gospel does not change, but we do. In order for me to reach out and proclaim an unchanging truth to the changing world, I become a Catholic to Catholic, knowing that they highly value tradition, so that I may, as Paul, persuade some.

      • The only time we can really change is when God saves us. Contrary to common opinion, we can’t save anyone through brilliant opinion or logic (or prevent God’s saving some by dim ones). I’ll leave it to God into which category i fall. God condemns the traditions of man that are unbiblical. Catholicism is filled with such traditions. If the Bible intended to use a pope or a succession of them to change His Gospel, He wouldn’t have included Gal 1:8!!!

        God bless
        AZ4christ.wordpress.com

      • The scriptural canon, at the time Galatians 1:8 was written, was not finalised, so your position is ridiculous. Where in the canon of scripture is it written that so and so books are to be included in the canon of scripture? Or where is it written that scripture is intended to be the only definitive reference point for the Christian? It is nowhere written. Moreover, it IS written, as I will repeat until I am blue in the face, God so help me, that the Church is “the pillar and foundation of all truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). You ignore the scripture, because you are an heretic.

        The Church is the final authority in this earth, because the Church is Christ, as I have shown… from Scripture. You prefer to make yourself the final authority, and you deny Christ, because you are a disciple of Antichrist. I notice that you have no answer to my questions re what a ‘biblical perspective’ actually consists in, and indeed there is none. You depend as much as I do on ‘human traditions’ to understand your scripture, only 1) you are pleased to pretend to the contrary, and 2) your human traditions are many and various, having of themselves no scriptural mandate, whereas THE Holy Tradition is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, having a divine mandate.

        • The canon of scripture wasn’t closed until the apostles all died. The first century church knew this. The books of the bible were in steady use by those who followed christ ever since.

          Further, the gospel was created by God and didn’t change. The apostles had the authority to explain it and protect it. When the canon was closed, no additional books were authorized by God.

          What you call the church and what the bible does is very different. The bible states that Jesus is the head of the church and Jesus is the word. (John 1). Catholic dogma tries to reverse this and make the church higher than the word, higher than Jesus. Worse still, they create a different gospel that according to catholic leadership changes and evolves. To buy that, you have to ignore Gal 1:8.

          Cheers

        • quiavideruntoculi challenge 3:

          [The scriptural canon, at the time Galatians 1:8 was written, was not finalised, so your position is ridiculous. Where in the canon of scripture is it written that so and so books are to be included in the canon of scripture?]

          I submit to you that The canon (measuring rod, norm) of scripture originated in God’s mind, long before the New Testament events begun. That’s what divinely inspired means. Paul was inspired to write gal 1:8 in the middle of the New Testament events as though it was already happened. There isn’t a sense that God or he was making it up as they went along. Otherwise he would be writing something that would curse himself, if it indeed changed what God had already envisioned and wanted written. Mind tripping, isn’t it?

          [ Or where is it written that scripture is intended to be the only definitive reference point for the Christian? ]

          In one sense scripture is written for all mankind, since the eternal destination depends on knowing it, and the great commission commands it. In another sense, it was written to the Jewish people and the visible church. God knew that not every Jewish person followed him. “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” (Romans 2:28, 29 NKJV) Likewise, not everyone who claimed to be Christian, was.”“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:21 NKJV) More on biblical authority will follow.

          [It is nowhere written. Moreover, it IS written, as I will repeat until I am blue in the face, God so help me, that the Church is “the pillar and foundation of all truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). You ignore the scripture, because you are an heretic.]

          “but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” (I Timothy 3:15, 16 NKJV)
          You presume too much. What does God mean and the Bible teach that the church is? Those who are spiritually regenerated, see their sinfulness, repent, and obey God. They depend totally on Jesus’ sacrifice to propitiate God’s wrath, they are justified by Jesus’ blood on their behalf, they are given God’s indwelling Holy Spirit as their guide and guarantee of sanctification. Their body becomes the house of God, because God’s spirit ii there. Together with the other redeemed elect, we are the church. Not based on our testimony, but based on god’s promise and His testimony, and our supernatural desire to obey Him. We (the church) stand as the pillar of truth, on God’s ground of truth (His word). In Christ, we seek godliness, and when obedient are godly. This is a far cry from what the Catholic dogma teaches and it’s traditions practice. Biblically, who is the heretic?

          [The Church is the final authority in this earth, because the Church is Christ, as I have shown… from Scripture.]

          The scripture says IT is the final authority.
          “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry”. (II Timothy 4:1-5 NKJV)

          “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16, 17 NKJV)

          The true church is in Christ. Christ leads her, protects her, sanctifies her. The Catholic Church doesn’t preach the biblical gospel, doesn’t require repentance as fruit for baptism, doesn’t disciple believers in Biblical Godliness, but rather teaches, promotes, and practices unbiblical heresies. So when the Bible says church, it does NOT mean the apostate Catholic organization as representing the true Christ, anymore than the Pharisees did.

          [You prefer to make yourself the final authority, and you deny Christ, because you are a disciple of Antichrist. I notice that you have no answer to my questions re what a ‘biblical perspective’ actually consists in, and indeed there is none. You depend as much as I do on ‘human traditions’ to understand your scripture, only 1) you are pleased to pretend to the contrary, and 2) your human traditions are many and various, having of themselves no scriptural mandate, whereas THE Holy Tradition is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, having a divine mandate.]

          That’s quite a diatribe opinion. The Bible is the ONLY authority. The Bible claims to present God’s view and will without error, and without permitting men to change it. Are you saying the Bible is flawed? How do you justify ignoring Gal 1:8, biblically? If the bible is outdated, than God isn’t the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV)If that is the case, why even try to justify Catholic dogma with Bible verses? You have the pope, bishops, and traditions. You can’t have it both ways LOGICALLY. Either trust every claim of the Bible, or throw it away. An unreliable Bible is as dangerous as an organization that claims to represent a Biblical God without maintaining biblical authority. Hitler was seen as an antichrist. He proclaimed that Jews were sub human and evil, and that became dogma to Germany. I will stand for the Bible and hold firm to its inerrant truth. Without a fixed reliable reference, anything can be justified and or corrupted and will be.

          God bless

          AZ4Christ.wordpress.com

      • The Gospel does not change or evolve, and the Church does not teach that it does. If a leader in the Church does teach it, then I defy him to his face, and may God have mercy on his soul.

        I know that revelation stopped with the last apostle. But it is unhistorical to claim that there was a defined scriptural canon (though of course the texts were all extant) until the Church defined it: the whole reason the Church had to define it was that people were able, with some plausibility, to promote deviant canons at the time. Or why else do you think She did it? On a whim? Just out of exuberance? My point, which still stands, and will always stand, was that the Canon qua Canon is the Church’s gift to mankind. It is by her divine authority that we still acknowledge and read those books called ‘canonical’.

        The only people who have tried to wrench the canon apart are Protestants and Jews: Luther wanted to tear the book of James out, because it conflicted with his pet heresies (for the which, he is presently burning in Hell). The Jews, having rejected Christ, downplayed the Deuterocanon (Apocrypha) because it was too amenable to Christian teachings concerning the resurrection, explicitly degrading it at the council of Jamnia (c. AD 70 – 90). Protestants also hate the Deuterocanon, because they are as much sons of Satan as the Jews.

        As to this “The bible states that Jesus is the head of the church and Jesus is the word. (John 1). Catholic dogma tries to reverse this and make the church higher than the word, higher than Jesus”, firstly the Bible is NOT Jesus, and if you think it is you are an idolater. Second, the Church clearly teaches that Christ is the head of the Church, concerning which point there can be no serious doubt. YOU make yourself higher than Jesus, because you put your interpretation and pet heresies above that teaching authority established by Christ Himself through the Apostles. Third, the Church, according to Her Apostolic mission, is made the guardian of the Holy Tradition, of which the most important part is the Scripture, and so in that sense She is higher. The Bible doesn’t look after the Church, the Church looks after the bible. Or who will believe the contrary? That God has given a dumb book care of the Church?

        • quiavideruntoculi commented on Questioning Rome’s Catholic Understanding of Matthew 16:18-20.

          [The Gospel does not change or evolve, and the Church does not teach that it does. If a leader in the Church does teach it, then I defy him to his face, and may God have mercy on his soul.]

          Show me in the New Testament where Peter acted like the pope. Peter was humble, the pope looks like a ridiculous idol. Peter considered himself as one of co equals. No healing before Peter, no venerating of Peter, no ring to kiss. Kissing of rings was a pagan roman tradition. No bishops. No ruling. No progression of apostolic authority. No Mary worship. Every believer was a saint.no prayers to anyone or thing but God. No mass. Communion was symbolic (Jesus said this is my body…as he broke the bread. Do you think Jesus really thought he was literally breaking his own body and ate himself? No rosaries, no nuns, no commandment of celibacy, and on and on and on. Since these thing exist in catholic doctrine now but didn’t then, catholic doctrine is different than the biblical one and someone extra biblical changed it. Defy yourself and your catholic friends to their face over these things.

          [I know that revelation stopped with the last apostle. But it is unhistorical to claim that there was a defined scriptural canon (though of course the texts were all extant) until the Church defined it: the whole reason the Church had to define it was that people were able, with some plausibility, to promote deviant canons at the time. Or why else do you think She did it? On a whim? Just out of exuberance? My point, which still stands, and will always stand, was that the Canon qua Canon is the Church’s gift to mankind. It is by her divine authority that we still acknowledge and read those books called ‘canonical’.]

          The canonization process was to preserve what the original biblical church during the period the 12 apostles lived considered divinely inspired scripture. The scripture was given to the church by God, not to the mankind by the church. Canon means the measuring rod or norm or authority of the true church. Listen to sermon audio of RC Sproul canonicity for deeper understanding. There is the Bible record is set and not to be changed. Everything Catholics and Protestant have added to and subtracted from it if it changes what God established is accursed. To change what God has provided is called corruption. Only the 12 apostles who were chosen by Jesus, met Jesus, and guided the original church had apostolic authority. The true church follow Christ. The Catholic “church” isn’t the church that follows Christ, since they corrupt it in doctrine and practice.

          [The only people who have tried to wrench the canon apart are Protestants and Jews: Luther wanted to tear the book of James out, because it conflicted with his pet heresies (for the which, he is presently burning in Hell). The Jews, having rejected Christ, downplayed the Deuterocanon (Apocrypha) because it was too amenable to Christian teachings concerning the resurrection, explicitly degrading it at the council of Jamnia (c. AD 70 – 90). Protestants also hate the Deuterocanon, because they are as much sons of Satan as the Jews.]
          Luther consider removing James and other books because they seemed different than the others. In his final analysis, though, he kept all 66 books in the Bible he translated. Jesus was a Jew. He obeyed the Jewish law given by God. He quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures but never the apocrypha. Jesus didn’t consider it part of the holy scriptures so it wasn’t part of Jesus’ canon. The Catholics didn’t include it originally but added during the counter reformation. Jesus described who the followers of satan were like. The record of changing Catholic dogma and practice and the behavior of Popes and Bishops do not support your perspective. Lies and distortions are not God’s part of God’s character.

          [As to this “The bible states that Jesus is the head of the church and Jesus is the word. (John 1). Catholic dogma tries to reverse this and make the church higher than the word, higher than Jesus”, firstly the Bible is NOT Jesus, and if you think it is you are an idolater. Second, the Church clearly teaches that Christ is the head of the Church, concerning which point there can be no serious doubt. YOU make yourself higher than Jesus, because you put your interpretation and pet heresies above that teaching authority established by Christ Himself through the Apostles. Third, the Church, according to Her Apostolic mission, is made the guardian of the Holy Tradition, of which the most important part is the Scripture, and so in that sense She is higher. The Bible doesn’t look after the Church, the Church looks after the bible. Or who will believe the contrary? That God has given a dumb book care of the Church?]

          In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 NKJV) read it and weep. The only authority I accept is the Bible. Jesus is the head of His church. That idolatrous peacock pope isn’t. The Pope’s blasphemy is that he claims to be the spiritual father (god), means of salvation (the Christ), and the mediator (holy spirit). The Bible says otherwise and warns us about the person who makes such claims. The bible calls him an anti Christ.
          God the father, God the son, God the Spirit, and scripture doctrinally agree.
          “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (II Thessalonians 2:15 NKJV)
          Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; (Colossians 2:8, 9 NKJV)
          He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men —the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” He said to them, “ All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:6-9, 13 NKJV)

          What you call Holy tradition, ie that which the Catholic Church has added or changed, isn’t Biblical. Jesus condemned the Pharisees then, and in principle condemn the Catholic practice now. Where did holy tradition come from? God? The apostles? Or man. Since it isn’t in the Bible, it was man and therefore Condemned by Jesus himself!

          [The Bible doesn’t look after the Church, the Church looks after the bible. Or who will believe the contrary? That God has given a dumb book care of the Church?]
          “In the beginning was the Word” God’s will and word preceded the church. God gave his church the word, to equip it to be the body of Christ and to protect it from corruption. Dumb book? It’s not the book that is dumb. But clearly the Catholic dogma is unbiblical.

          I will respond to your comments in order and ASAP. I appreciate your challenge to my assumptions. I seek to honor God’s view and don’t really mind if I’m corrected by the process. In fact I desire to see things as God does.

          God bless

          Az4christ

      • P.S.

        True, you can’t save anyone with brilliant logic; but you can certainly damn yourself with terrible logic! “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Hosea 4:6

        • What you see depends on where you stand. Only godly knowledge applies. If I, you, Pharisees, pope, or bishop presents ungodly/ unbiblical knowledge that is accepted by others, it is corruption in God’s eyes, not knowledge. I’m only human. I know I cannot fully understand what God does. But correct assumptions, valid logic and a desire to be Godly is all that I can offer God. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect apart from His guidance. But he does expect us to seek godliness and to love Him above all else. That I do.

          God Bless

      • re QVO challenge 3 and the rest.

        I will make this my last for the time being, unless and until you can produce something more substantial.

        “I submit to you that The canon (measuring rod, norm) of scripture originated in God’s mind, long before the New Testament events begun.”

        Yes, congratulations. You will notice that I did not deny any of this: what I remarked upon, as being – I should say – of some moment is that God chose to seal and reveal this Canon (qua Canon – the texts were already there) through his human ministers on earth, viz. the bishops of the Catholic Church. These same bishops, by that same authority, condemned and condemn heretics, like you.

        “In one sense scripture is written for all mankind, since the eternal destination depends on knowing it”

        No, it doesn’t. You are an idolater. Eternal salvation depends on knowing Christ. Will you say that the old testament saints, who had no new testament to read, are damned because they never read ‘the gospel’?

        “You presume too much. What does God mean and the Bible teach that the church is?” &c.

        I do not. You, on the other hand, lie, and wrest scripture, saying, “We (the church) stand as the pillar of truth, on God’s ground of truth (His word).” No. That’s not what the Scripture says. Read it again. It says, “which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth”. Not ‘the pillar built on the ground’ but the err… PILLAR and GROUND. How can you possibly hope to escape Hell, when you are such an egregious liar and blasphemer?

        You make a contrast, saying, “Not based on our testimony, but based on god’s promise and His testimony, and our supernatural desire to obey Him.”

        Who is the more relying on his own testimony? The one who stakes his salvation on his own interpretation of the Bible, or the one who renounces even his own intellect, offering it up to God, and submitting to the teaching authority of His Holy Church, where his own understanding fails him? Faith is the foundational intellectual virtue, and faith is rewarded with knowledge: but pride prefers one’s own capacities, own’s own reason, one’s own axioms.

        “The scripture says IT is the final authority.”

        No it doesn’t. None of those passages you quote says that, and you know it full well. Those passages simply establish 1) in the first case that the Gospel, communicated by the Apostles partly in writing and partly by oral tradition, must be preached, 2) in the second case that Scripture is infallible and inspired (which I do not by any means deny).

        “The Catholic Church doesn’t preach the biblical gospel, doesn’t require repentance as fruit for baptism, doesn’t disciple believers in Biblical Godliness, but rather teaches, promotes, and practices unbiblical heresies.”

        The Catholic Church makes more of repentance than anybody else – if you die in mortal sin unrepented of, you will go to Hell -, and Her moral teaching has endured where everyone else’s has failed and changed. But then I suppose, being a son of the Devil, you approve of contraception, and other evils rightly condemned by the Church but lapped up by every filthy dog. Damn your huge pride! When was the last time *you* confessed your sins, heretic? When was the last time *you* donned sackcloth and ashes and made an act of penance, like the fathers of the old testament, and like the dear brothers and sisters of our Catholic religious orders, mortifying themselves for their own sins, and for the sins of many? Never, I will wager; I expect you think that your repentance would take away from the One Sacrifice of Christ. Hypocrite! I suppose you will also forbid baptism to infants, on the grounds that they cannot answer for themselves, being happy to send them to Hell rather than impair the purity of your damned theology.

        “That’s quite a diatribe opinion. The Bible is the ONLY authority. The Bible claims to present God’s view and will without error, and without permitting men to change it. Are you saying the Bible is flawed? How do you justify ignoring Gal 1:8, biblically?”

        No, the Bible is not the only authority, or will you claim that God and the Bible are one? Idolater! I do NOT ignore Galatians 1:8 by any means: I observe it myself, in rejecting the heresies taught implicitly by the last few popes, and I understand the value of it. I didn’t say the Bible is flawed; I said you – damned heretics – cannot agree among themselves on ANYTHING AT ALL, and that as a result you, who *do* change day by day on what you think, by your own admission, have no grounds whatsoever for criticising the so-called ‘changeability’ of the Catholic Church. The Faith is One, the Church is One; no Catholic believes anything other. I expect you, by contrast, will have profound differences even with your closest friends: I certainly did as a Protestant. But that doesn’t matter of course, so long as you and your friends are all in the good ship, “Biblical Christianity” and hate the Church of Rome. Heretic!

        “Without a fixed reliable reference, anything can be justified and or corrupted and will be.”

        Yes, quite right. But Divergent opinions among you heretics prove that there is no such ‘fixed reliable reference point’ in your theology. The only thing that even resembles a fixed reference point for Christians is the teaching magisterium of the Catholic Church. You still have not answered my question; what does ‘a biblical perspective’ mean, more than ‘my perspective’? You cannot answer it, because to answer it would destroy you.

        “Show me in the New Testament where Peter acted like the pope. Peter was humble, the pope looks like a ridiculous idol.” &c.

        You don’t know what a Pope is, ignorant heretic, so this would be of no help to you, and moreover you presume to judge the hearts of men you do not know. But I can show you, and I’m sure you do know, where in the Old Testament God commanded his priests to be decked out in costly vestments.

        “Peter considered himself as one of co equals.” “No ruling.”

        Qua apostle, he was. So too with the Pope. The keystone is just a stone, yes, but it’s also qualitatively distinct from the others, by virtue of its position. So too with Peter. The Pope does not rule by a law of power, but he has authority according to a law of love. You cannot understand this, because you conflate all authority with power, being a foul Protestant, as your father the Devil has taught you to.

        “no venerating of Peter, no ring to kiss. Kissing of rings was a pagan roman tradition.”

        If you do not venerate anyone, you are, at best, impolite. Also, eating bread was a pagan Roman tradition.

        “no bishops”

        The word for a bishop *IS* in the Bible.(1 Tim 3)

        “No progression of apostolic authority.”

        The Apostles do, in fact, appoint successors, ordained according to the laying on of hands, and this is recorded in the Scripture.

        “No Mary worship”

        I am grateful to many beatified saints, especially to Our Lady, for their intercessions on our behalf. I ask them to pray for me, and I reverence and respect them as my superiors. Most of all Our Lady and St Joseph, who are – since Christ has grafted me into Himself – my mother and father respectively.

        “Every believer was a saint.no prayers to anyone or thing but God.”

        Every believer is a saint, but no one still living can be a CANONISED saint. If you ask someone for the mustard, you have prayed to someone other than God, “Prithee, pass me the mustard”.

        “Communion was symbolic (Jesus said this is my body…as he broke the bread. Do you think Jesus really thought he was literally breaking his own body and ate himself?”

        The sacrament is not bound by temporal constraints, because Christ’s sacrifice is not bound by temporal constraints, so your position is manifestly facile. If it was only symbolic, why did the disciples all go away in disgust when He told them about it? (Jn 6:53 &f.) Why didn’t He explain the symbolism?

        The doctrine of transubstantiation is very well attested in the very earliest documents we have from leaders in the Church, some taught by the apostles themselves. Either you have to believe that these people conspired to lie about this, or that they were completely incompetent (which would reflect terribly on the apostles and on Christ) or you have to believe that God taught us the doctrine of transubstantiation.

        “no commandment of celibacy”

        You really are quite a compulsive liar, or a vast ignoramus. Nobody is *commanded* to be celibate; some choose celibacy, and willingly bind themselves to certain obligations, just as a person marrying binds themselves to certain obligations. St Paul makes clear his preference for the celibate life.

        “Since these thing exist in catholic doctrine now but didn’t then”

        Removed is the premise, removed also is the conclusion.

        “The true church follow Christ”

        Again, who are these people? You and those who agree with you? Damn your pride!

        “Jesus was a Jew.”

        Jesus was a Jew by blood, but a Christian by religion. The Jews, who are a Synagogue of Satan, along with you and every other prideful Hell-hound, rejected Him.

        “Lies and distortions are not God’s part of God’s character.”

        No, but they are part of your character – see above, passim.

        “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 NKJV) read it and weep.”

        I don’t weep, I rejoice. And you condemn yourself out of your own mouth! “God is the Bible and the Bible is God”. You are an idolater.

        “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (II Thessalonians 2:15 NKJV)

        This proves the insufficiency of your sola scriptura nonsense: the Apostles themselves taught by word of mouth, as well as in their writings.

        The rest of your post degenerates into emotional rhetoric.

        YOU STILL HAVE NOT ANSWERED MY REPEATED QUESTION: What does ‘a biblical perspective’ actually mean?

        “I seek to honor God’s view and don’t really mind if I’m corrected by the process. In fact I desire to see things as God does.”

        Heretic: you will only be satisfied, when YOU understand, on YOUR terms. You are utterly faithless, and so God has darkened your understanding; how will you ever learn the things of God, if you insist on accepting only those things presently amenable to your reason, not considering that *your* reason might itself be malnourished and broken?

        • Wow
          Never let the truth get in the way of a good story! The Bible is spiritually discerned. You are the proof.

          Biblical perspective means let the Bible say what it says rather than go to it, twist it, to justify what your itchy ears want to hear.

          My words to you are like pearls to swine. Clearly you don’t believe because you can’t believe. You don’t have the spiritual capacity.

          Enjoy purgatory!

      • “My words are as pearls to swine”

        So you are God’s gift to Christianity, are you, with a thing or two to teach the Catholic Church? The Great Lone Prophet (with whom no-one else exactly agrees, has ever agreed, or ever will agree) speaking truth to Authority, where all the saints and Christ Himself have failed? Some gift you are, heretic, when you hate my soul so much you would so lightly abandon me to a terrible fate, saying “Enjoy Purgatory”! Or do you withdraw because you know your position has been utterly destroyed by the penetrating Truth of God, of which the Church is His vessel? I hope the latter, for your sake.

        “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story! The Bible is spiritually discerned. You are the proof. Biblical perspective means let the Bible say what it says rather than go to it, twist it, to justify what your itchy ears want to hear.”

        What exactly is more comfortable about Catholicism than your excrementitious excuse for a religion? I have to do as I am bid; you are free, so far as I can see, to do as you please. You will not believe me, because you are a liar, and you see your base wickedness in everyone else, but I can assure you that I have had to make a great many sacrifices in my pilgrimage to and in the Catholic religion, and it is not at all ‘comfortable’. I can also assure you that it was the SCRIPTURE that directed me to the Church, nothing else; for a long period of time I hated the Church – or what I thought was the Church – and railed against Her much as you do, fool that I was. You have demonstrated by your utter failure to engage with my points that your knowledge of Scripture is poor, your knowledge of human nature is poor, and your knowledge of yourself is non-existent.

        “Clearly you don’t believe because you can’t believe. You don’t have the spiritual capacity.”

        No, not of myself, I don’t; that is from God. You, I suppose, think – in your vaunting pride – that you DO have that ‘spiritual capacity’. How richly you deserve the torments of Hell!

        • We can’t agree. The Bible is my supreme authority because it the word of God. I use exegesis to seek what it originally meant and accept it. If the Bible is perfect, it isn’t self contradictory. If it seems to be, our assumptions are flawed, not the bible.
          Lets give it a rest. Your comments presume too much.
          (Matthew 7:6 NKJV admonished me, so i will leave this interaction on a high road).

          • “The Bible is my supreme authority because it the word of God.”

            No, you are your own supreme authority, and you have offered nothing to dissuade me of that manifest truth.

            “If the Bible is perfect, it isn’t self contradictory.”

            No, it isn’t self-contradictory. And nor does it seem self-contradictory to me; I have shown that it contradicts you and your hermeneutic, and you have utterly failed to counter my *scriptural* arguments.

            You are an hypocrite: you say, ‘be obedient to Scripture, not man’ but that, for you, is in practice just a stick with which to beat other people into submission to your *own* view.

            Every charismatic person has the power to play that card as disingenuously (or ignorantly) as you, and many are deceived by it. But the truth is that Scripture establishes the authority of the Church, whereas you seek – clearly – to establish nothing other than your own authority at the expense of the Church’s.

  2. Philosophically, I can’t imagine why Jesus would turn focus away from himself – his message, his obedience, his mediation, his fulfillment of all OT types and prophesies, in sum, His person and work as the Redeemer — to focus on anyone other than himself. If He did, I would suggest that John the Baptist was a more suited candidate.

    • I think I will join in your wonder Lon. It is odd Rome’s view of Peter simply appear sudden, if true, without OT promises as it was with John the Baptist.

      I also find it at odd with the debate of who among the disciples was the greatest. If Rome’s Matthew 16:18-19 view is correct, then it seems the disciple would not have a dispute on who is the greatest(Luke 9:46 cf 22:24, Mark 9:34 all these account happens after Peter’s confession). But the disciples seems to have had a dispute on who is the greatest. Therefore Rome’s Matthew 16:18-19 view is not correct.

      I agree that Peter was a chief of Apostles and first in order of honor but I do not see how Rome could justified by Scripture the jump from first in order of honor to first in order of authority. Contra Rome I think Peter is first among equals.

      • Thanks for the reply. Love your blog. Lot’s of really well-informed people here (with many perspectives) for me to learn from. One more philosophical comment… The RC really can’t give up Peter as the foundation of the Church, else what foundation is left for apostolic succession, and papal infallibility?

    • @Lon I agree. This discussion was awesome because though I still come to the same protestant conclusion I truly understand the Catholic theology of Scripture + Magisterium+ Tradition as a sincere approach of keeping to the authentic and original Way to follow Jesus. Instead of arguing anti-Peter my perspective now is just pro-Christ which I think in some form was what @physics was alluding to.

      • well said, especially with regard to RC motives. It’s an honorable thing to take our responsibility seriously with regard to “holding fast to the way of truth” Jesus established. Makes me glad to be small in the kingdom.

      • @zanspence

        I’m really delighted that you find yourself less at sea with the Catholic Church’s position; you are in my prayers.

      • zanspence,
        If there was a way to giving you a “thumbs up.” I would. (I’m still very atheist though. Only I think your thoughts on this matter become exemplar. Kudos to you too Prayson, seems like you also learned a lot. I hope you also figured out that your interpretation into a confession was a square peg into a round hole.)

      • O I learned a lot. I have been reading ever since. I have being reading books by Catholic historians and Church fathers which I will say, I am not the same Prayson that I was when I first pause this question.

    • Lon,

      re “Philosophically, I can’t imagine why Jesus would turn focus away from himself…” &c.

      You can’t imagine this, I submit, because you misunderstand the incarnation. The whole point of God becoming man, in the words of St John Chrysostom, was that man could become God. In giving Peter a share in His very own Ministry, Christ in fact crowns and consummates that ministry, he does not diminish it. For “man is the image and *glory* of God” (1 Cor. 11:7), and Peter – by Faith in Christ – is become a second Christ. Why does this offend you? All Christians are called to be second Christs, to become adopted sons of God. Peter had one calling (admittedly quite an exclusive kind of calling, applicable to only one man in every pontificate, viz. the Pontiff), you and I have another.

      God wants us to participate in His work: obviously He doesn’t need us to, but He wants us to. God delights in delegating. Remember the passage in Ezekiel where God says, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” (Ez. 22:30). God didn’t NEED Abraham to pray for Sodom and Gomorrah: it wasn’t that God need a man’s permission, or that He needed a man’s charity.

      He just wanted him to, and was pleased when he did, even though in the end He destroyed the city. I am distressed on your account that you should find such intimate and essential truths of the Gospel so offensive.

      • Thanks for your perspective and concern. I’m pretty sure I didn’t say I was offended, and don’t know why you would think I was. Debate doesn’t have to be offensive, even if neither is convinced by the other. And I’m afraid I’ll have to let the discussion rest. I don’t think I’ll be able to solve 500 years of debate with my wisdom.

      • I would say the Prayson who started this article is not the same as I commenting for I learned a lot from you, I wish I knew your name, and Richard. Thank you a lot for edifying us who do not have inside perspective of Rome Catholicism.

        In my recent article I moved from both views to what I think capture the essence of Matt. 16:13-23. I agreed that Jesus gave Peter a share in His very own Ministry, but where I do not agree is that He gave to Peter alone.

        It is on that ground we sweetly differ. I love Rome and I think it is the mother of those who hold reformed tradition. Thanks for everything.

        Prayson

      • @PD

        I’m overjoyed if I have been of any service to you. Forgive me if I do not reveal my name: in my country (the UK) people are starting to be arrested for holding ‘extreme’ views, and – though I hope I am willing to receive the palm of Martyrdom for Christ – I do not wish to place my head in the lion’s jaws. Gentle as lambs and wise as serpents &c.

        @Lon

        I didn’t mean to suggest that you took a kind of personal offence: I was referring to intellectual offence. Just as we can find a smell or taste offensive, so we can find an idea offensive or not to our taste. You seem to be offended in the way that some disciples were offended, when Christ told them point blank that they had to eat His body and drink his blood. He did not elaborate or obfuscate: He did not seek to ease their qualms by stressing the symbolical significance of what He was describing, He told them the (awesome) matter point blank, and they were offended. Not because they thought Christ was insulting them, but because they found the idea unconscionable.

  3. Thanks you so much Richard and David Demboski for your contribution. I when I penned this article I was persuaded that Peter’s confession was the correct view. You have helped me to careful read the Fathers and examine the case closer. Though I would differ with the conclusion, from viewing Peter alone as the rock, you two have made a great impact in my revaluation my position on Matthew 18:16. Thank you so much.

  4. So the whole source of this ridiculous reinterpretation of something that simple is that you think that you need an excuse not to be Catholic? This is amazingly lame. The passage clearly reads as Jesus renaming this guy (Simon-whatever), into “Peter” which means rock, so that his name, Peter, signifies that he, Peter, is the rock that is the foundation of his (Jesus’s) church. Charging that it is Peter’s “confession” is incredibly dumb, and useless (lame). Even if it were, Peter or his confession would still be the foundation, so no way of getting around Peter.

    It’s amazing how crazy you religious guys are. It’s clear cut. It names Peter as the foundation of the church. No way around. What to do after Peter (Popes, or no Popes, inherited leadership, whatever), might be a different matter, but trying so desperately to change the meaning of something this clear is lame, lame, lame, lame. Ridiculous. Useless. Needy. Et cetera, et cetera. It comes to show how Christians in different denominations just put whatever meanings they find convenient into their bibles, ignore whatever they rather ignore, cherry pick, et cetera. It comes to show that deep inside you guys know that your bibles are not the words of any gods, otherwise you would not try so hard to twist their meanings. I’m so glad these aren’t my problems.

    • Thanks for your input though I would ask for no ridicule or name calling. I have yet to delete any ones comment because I believe we are reasonable people who can agree or disagree in respectable manner.

    • physics,

      How, on the one hand, can you say, “It’s clear cut” in favour of the Catholic interpretation, and then go on to claim that all Christians just cherry-pick? The Catholic Church at least does not cherry-pick in this case, by your own admission.

      I personally would agree with you that the Protestant position on this point is for *some* sustained by a desire to deny the plain sense of the text. But why are you so hostile to this kind of debate in general? Moreover, what entitles you to say, “deep inside you guys know that your bibles are not the words of any gods”?

      I could say of you that your bothering as an unbeliever to post on the blog of a ‘crazy religious guy’, speaks to the fact that, ‘deep down’, you don’t believe in your own atheism. Probably we all are prone to doubt at one time or another.

      I am a convert to Christianity from Atheism: debates like these helped me, because they shed light on the differences between different religious world views. Very often, a persistent disagreement over even a small point between different religious groups speaks to a profound difference in theology: that alone – I submit – should be proof enough that such debates are worth having.

      • Hey quiavi,

        That the interpretation is clear cut does not mean that Christian don;t cherry pick. The only reason protestants don’t jump over this one is because they must have been presented with it as “proof” that the “true” Christianity was the Catholic one. SO they are left with nothing else but try and misinterpret what the text clearly says. The way Prayson tried to force so awfully the text into a different meaning is the example of “putting whatever meaning they want into their bibles” from the standpoint of a protestant. That does not mean that Catholics don’t do so other times (though I admit that Catholics are the least prone, but not exempt, to this kind of trickery).

        There’s no reason to doubt my atheism. Nothing would turn me into a Christian. The proposition starts with a god whose description and his created situations are as nonsensical as square circles. I think these debates are good to have, however, because they expose the problems with religions plainly and for all to see. We who have nothing to lose can watch and see clearly what’s going on. In this case, some denomination trying to protect itself from being judged illegitimate by attacking a meaning that’s too clear to be denied. Prayson cherry-picked even here, because he carefully avoided showing that Jesus Christ was renaming this guy, Simon Whatever, as Peter, which makes it much harder to claim the the foundational stone was not Peter, but “Peter’s confession.” That reinterpretation is so forced, so much of a square peg into a round hole, that it has no other proper adjectives but lame and ridiculous (Sorry Prayson, but it truly is. I only apologize because you find that offensive, but the evidence is clear. What would you call it? Just “wrong” would not make the size of problem with this reinterpretation any justice, and would not force you to be much more careful with those arguments, would it?).

      • Physics,

        “The proposition starts with a god whose description and his created situations are as nonsensical as square circles.”

        Why do you expect that the things of God will be immediately amenable to your intellect (I do not say, however that they are truly contradictory, as e.g. a square circle would be)? Faith is the foundational intellectual virtue.

        If God is 3d, you are 2d. If someone from a 2d has some aspect of the 3d world explained to them, he will not be able to understand it, and it may strike him as nonsensical: but just as even 3d objects can make 2d impressions (a cube can impress a square, for instance), so too men can perceive God’s working, albeit indirectly. If you, working in 2d, accept the explanation of the 3d from the trustworthy witness – the Catholic Church, or an author of the Gospels, or any sane Christian for that matter – on Faith, you will find the explanatory valuable of this revelation irresistibly convincing. From the other side, having believed the 3d principle, and seen the practical fulfilment of this doctrine, you will be find it much less ridiculous.

        Learn the Church’s trustworthiness from Her impeccable record on teachings in spheres that *are* subject to natural human reason (morality, in particular, of which only a few non-Christians in any generation have ever had the fibre to retain a half-passable apprehension: I would cite perhaps Aristotle as the outstanding example), and try taking the further step.

      • quiavi,

        I am far from expecting “that the things of God will be immediately amenable” to my intellect.* First, I do not think that there’s any gods. So, there would be no say for me to expect anything from a god, let alone yours. Second, what I was referring to, is square-circle level nonsense, not some obscure and mysterious thing. Third, if the bible is supposed to be the word of some god, wouldn’t we expect it to make sense to us? Otherwise who would it be written for? If not us, why do we have access to it? Only so that many could be taken away from “The Faith” until the “real” recipient came along? You see? This soon, I already found some plain and basic nonsense, and I have not touched the surface of what you said yet.

        Why would your 3d even offer me (2d) and explanation that will not make sense to me? If all 3d can offer me is explanations that will not make sense to me, then where’s the omnipotency?

        I doubt that morality has not come close to what Christians have today (while ignoring the “morality” of the old testament) in other cultures. Our societies have advanced far beyond anything provided by the bible. I would venture that we have done so despite the bible. Only now Christians tend to claim that what we have is originally Christian, forgetting that the moralities existing since year 0 and on have been quite different and quite questionable, while being named exactly the same: “Christian,” and that previously morality was quite different too, which does not make sense since the moralities in question include those written in the old testament. It seems like morality is not a very strong point for Christianity, and raises a point of debate about why would morality change from one god to another if both gods are one and the same (I know some standard Christian excuses for this, which don’t work, only I have little time now to cover the problems properly, and perhaps you don’t adhere to the same excuses as the standard apologists, which tend to be protestant).

        I gave you only a very short version of an answer. Lots of loose ends out of brevity. I do not know if we can have this conversation properly today though. Sorry.

        -physics.

        *Of course. I reject the nonsensical idea that “Faith is the foundational intellectual virtue.”

      • Re faith as the foundational intellectual virtue, I didn’t mean faith exclusively in a religious sense (though religious faith is a type of this faith). Allow me to explain.

        Some things we accept as axiomatic, other things we accept because we can reasonably deduce them from a given set of axioms. If someone else presents us with a conclusion deduced from declared axioms, we can apply reason to evaluate the merit of the same. But if we want to decide whether to accept or reject an axiom, we cannot apply reason, and it’s very much a case of ‘suck it and see’, since 1) the admission of any new axiom will change the terms according to which we can reason, and 2) axioms are, in any case, pre-rational (the ‘priori’ in ‘a priori’), we can’t reason to them, only from them.

        I say that faith is the foundational intellectual virtue, because axioms are foundational to our thought, and we cannot accept axioms except on faith. If you observe something consistently to happen often enough, you may make the leap and hypothesise a general physical law. You make this leap on the basis of an implicit faith in the reliability of your senses and your brain’s innate capacity to identify patterns. The value of the hypothesis is measured in terms of its explanatory power.

        I did not mean to suggest that divine revelation is strictly unintelligible – just that it is properly *incredible*. Imagine someone who, for some reason, could not properly interpret sense information from his eyes without crossing them, but had never done this. He saw in double, and assumed that everything was, therefore, in double. The assertion from e.g. an optician that the world really was not in double, and – moreover – that it was possible to judge distance instinctively by merely looking at a thing would seem absurd to the double-vision fellow. However, if he trusted the optician, he might bring himself – against his own better judgement – to attempt the following of crossing his eyes. On seeing at once that everything the optician said was true, he would 1) trust him all the more and 2) be convinced of what only a moment ago could only have seemed to him an absurdity.

        God is not unintelligible: we can know God, and His revelation is not obscure, it is as clear as it could possibly be. But Faith is the key that unlocks it; willing submission to God and trust in the same is a necessary precondition to our profiting from Divine revelation. We must trust Him in the same sense that the boy must trust the optician. That doesn’t mean we can’t understand His instructions, just that they will seem ludicrous to us until we see the fruits of faith with our own eyes.

      • P.S.

        I don’t think morality is the property of religion per se (though morality does inform a sense of religious obligation to the creator, for which reason e.g. we are instinctively inclined to turn to prayer in times of difficulty, or in times of great celebration) – it is accessible to human reason, such that even Pagans are utterly without excuse when they breach the moral law.

        I knew a professor, for instance, who was a 1) militantly atheistic and 2) morally ultra-conservative, fully endorsing a wide range of social taboos which – I imagine – you would deprecate as tribal and backward. I would be happy to say of her that she was a more *moral* person than most (still damned, though). But this does not go for many Atheists these days.

      • P.P.S.

        Christian societies obtain to a far higher standard of morality than any savage or heathen culture (I include in this, e.g. the cultures of the Chinese and the Turk), in some cases immeasurably higher even than some of the most civilised (ancient Carthage being a particularly diabolical example of an highly civilised but utterly wicked state). Pagan Rome was, as Pagans went, one of the best; ancient Greece had some real issues, especially in Sparta, but there were some minds even there that were able to attain to some degree of insight into moral truths, and even to appreciate a purely moral beauty.

        Your idea that morality can progress or be superseded disturbs me, and is biologically untenable. We are, if you will, evolved for a purpose, and we identify ourselves as a species according to that common purpose. Moral actions are those which further that purpose, immoral actions those that hinder it, both at the individual and collective level, since “man is by nature a political animal”. If you admit ‘progression’ into that purpose, you admit the possibility that ‘backward’ (or ‘forward’) moralities indicate the inhumanity of their adherents (or our own inhumanity).

      • Quiavbi,

        Your idea that morality can progress or be superseded disturbs me, and is biologically untenable.

        No, it’s not biologically untenable.

        We are, if you will, evolved for a purpose, and we identify ourselves as a species according to that common purpose.

        The only “purpose” behind evolution is survival. What we make of life is quite our problem. Not biology’s. We might have evolved some basic instinct towards ethics. That does not mean that we can’t improve our ethics beyond that basic instinct. After all, our current situation(s) are far from those of old times.

        Moral actions are those which further that purpose, immoral actions those that hinder it, both at the individual and collective level,

        I would truly be grateful if you spelled that “purpose” out. This makes no sense without some clear thing to talk about.

        since “man is by nature a political animal”. If you admit ‘progression’ into that purpose, you admit the possibility that ‘backward’ (or ‘forward’) moralities indicate the inhumanity of their adherents (or our own inhumanity).”

        Yet, I can’t deny that my own morality has changed at more than one particular. By that alone I have a demonstration that there’s progression. But beyond my personal experience, we have humanities: women are excellent examples: women were considered among man’s possessions (look at you shall not covet your neighbour’s stuff, among them their wives, for example). Today that’s changed. Women were not allowed to vote. Now they do. What about slavery? It’s was considered all right for too long a time. Now it doesn’t. So, yes, there’s progression. It’s simply undeniable. There’s a long way to go though.

        That societies where morality has progressed happen to have lots of Christians does not mean that they are Christian societies. Not that the progression comes from being Christian. I said it before, but you missed it. Progress has been made despite the Bibles. Christianity is a hold back that has not held us back because “Christian” societies just assume that they are Christian, but few of the people if any have read what those books say. They are kept happy thinking that’s all about love. Works. But it would have worked had our society developed with a majority of any other religion as long as the religion was just as domesticated as Christianity has been.

      • You’re confusing moral opinion, which does change, with moral fact, which does not change. I’m happy to agree, for the sake of argument, to your contention that we are evolved only to survive: fine. But the point is that we have evolved to survive *in society* with other human beings (hence ‘man is by nature a political animal’), and – like every other species – that survival depends on some perceived moral ties with other members of our species. In order for those ties to be efficacious, they must be clear, immovable and innate; unlike more solitary species, those moral ties are also quite numerous and complex. But until somebody ‘evolves’ to the point at which he is no longer a human being, he must – by definition – participate in the conception of the good life called ‘Human’, and – what is more – we are bound *biologically* to believe that he must, because it is that instinctive assumption of an ultimate *ability* (realised or not) to act for the good rather than the evil which is the basis for that bond of fraternal love which binds all humanity together in its struggle for survival.

        So some societies have practised child sacrifice; are we to believe those men did not understand that child sacrifice was wrong? They performed child sacrifice, in fact, to placate the evil spirits, precisely *because* it was wrong. Their moral error was in supposing that one might do evil that good would result, but some were persuaded – by better men – of a better path, rejecting their worship of devils and embracing the worship of the true God, and they rejoiced to be free of that fear and superstition which had enslaved them to a baser way of living, and ultimately destroyed their society.

        The reason I said I found your idea of progression disturbing is this: if you go to e.g. a tribal society in which men treat their wives as slaves, and you hold to this idea of moral ‘progression’ you have *absolutely no moral right* to tell those people to behave in a different way, because you will say, “Their morality is (in this case) simply less advanced than mine”, and if you really believe that they are so fundamentally different to you on a moral level, you won’t even attempt to try to reason them saying, “Can’t you see that this is wrong?”, because – by your logic – they can’t and won’t, and it isn’t wrong for them in any case. Don’t you see how that de facto treats the men of this society as subhuman? Worse still, think about it this way; if I believe that somebody is fundamentally opposed to my idea of a good life, and they can never be reasoned with, then they are as hostile and hateful to me as e.g. a tiger, who views me as food, and whose good life is the antithesis of mine. Such a man I could not love; I could not reason with him; I could not have any society with him. There would be nothing left but for me to avoid him or kill him.

        You say that we can ‘improve’ on our morality; if by that you mean, we can bring our practice closer to our ideals, I wholeheartedly agree with you. But if by that you mean we can progressively change our ideals, I think that’s ridiculous: according to what ideal do we change our ideals? How do you decide to decide that e.g. stealing is wrong, unless you have already decided that stealing is wrong? It’s circular, or arbitrary, and arbitrariness is the antithesis of justice, which is integral to our apprehension of every moral principle..

        N.B.

        As to the Bible treating women as possessions, think about this way round; if the author of the Bible intended men to treat women as possessions, why did the decalogue forbid coveting them? It is perfectly possible to covet someone else’s wife – that is to treat her as a possession -, though she is NOT in fact a possession. It is possible to lust after a man’s wife immorally, and it is possible to be envious of a man’s luck in e.g. finding such a pretty wife. Both acts are covetous, both acts are wrong, and both are moral errors BECAUSE they treat the woman as property, when they are not. And both acts are condemned by the Mosaic law.

        The Bible, rather than establishing womens status as property, disestablishes it. Furthermore, it establishes the equality of women and men before the law (adulterer and adulteress must BOTH be punished for the crime), and even records the brave exploits of a woman – Deborah – who took on the mantle of manhood (because the men were too weak) and led the Israelites in war, for the which she is honoured.

        The equality of men and women is a Judeo-Christian idea. In the New Testament we read “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28).

      • quiavi,

        You made a very important claim: “You’re confusing moral opinion, which does change, with moral fact, which does not change.” Believe me. I would be happy if it was that easy. But it is not always straightforward. Example women rights. For centuries it was assumed that they were to be at home, stay at home, and just obey their husbands (it’s in the bible, in case you have not noticed, yet there’s no “obey your wives,” which would lead me to remind you that you guys cherry pick from the bible in order to make the points that everything good is biblical, which is far from true). The issue here is that for centuries women did not even think that they could fight for those kinds of rights. At least not that we know. Do you truly think that males knew that they were doing something wrong by not telling women, hey, maybe you should be able to vote too! I doubt that they truly thought there was anything wrong with the situation. Anyway, I should have chosen a harder topic. I have one: suppose someone’s diagnosed with a cancer, then she learns that it’s in metastasis, and that within a few week she will start having horrid pains, will become mostly useless, but this will not kill her until maybe one year later. She will have to be cleaned, put into medication to avoid the pain, that will not help it too much, but some, but it is inevitable that she will be incapable of taking care of herself in any possible way. Pain will be most of her life from that point until the cancer finally gets her. Suppose that she doesn’t want any of it, thus she decides to die. Is it morally right for her to suicide?

        As per how could I tell somebody that their morals are not as good as mine. For one, I cannot presume that we have the best moralities all around. Some things we might be better off, other things other societies might be better off. The issue here is how can we measure for that. In order to reason about it and show if we have a better idea than “them,” would be to explain how the issue hurts whomever it hurts. Pain and suffering is universal, and that’s something we can relate to. It’s not that simple, but that’s a start. The true danger to me is when people base their morality on what’s written in such primitive texts as the Bible or the Koran.

        I have issues with your excuses about women as property. Let me show you clearly, since it seems like you have not actually read your bible. Deut 5:21: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

        As I told you, the wife is listed among other possessions. Not to make it known that women are no possessions, quite the contrary, it makes the list showing clearly women to be among other possessions.

        As per Gal 3:28, it is just rhetorical imagery about all being united in jesus, not about all being equal. See also that it refers to those who have been baptized, not everybody, and that this contradicts other parts that clearly show women to be possessions. (Remember I talked about cherry picking? Well, maybe some parts give equality, other parts take it away, then it’s contradictory.) Also remember that for almost 2000 years since the supposed life of Jesus women had little rights and were considered possessions. All backed up by biblical passages chosen as carefully as you chose this one. Why wasn’t this much clearer? Why not one that said: clearly and very visibly: women are no possessions. Stop treating them as such and give them the very same rights as any males. If there was such clarity, women would not have had to fight so hard for it. Check it out, and for most mayor issues in history people were showing each other different biblical passages in support for contrary positions (slavery is another example).

        Child sacrifice was an unwise choice, unless you have something hidden under your sleeve. The god of the bible was supposed to be appeased and be offered sacrifice. Burnt offerings, blood, and such things that when we see it in savage societies, we shudder. Yet this god is exactly the very same evil spirit you were talking about. Don’t tell me that you don’t know where that thing about the blood of the lamb, when referring to Christ, came from. This god of yours did not have enough with lamb, or burnt birds, or blood in general. It needed something much stronger. Human life! Nope, not enough. Ah, I know, I know! Divinized human! And there you go. Christ’s sacrifice. That’s what was needed for your god to forgive us for being the failures he created us to be (I know the excuses. No they don’t work). I truly don’t think that many people understand what this sacrifice means about their god. It’s pretty clear to me though. It shows that this god is an evolved version of an imaginary being, just as bloody, despicable, and violent, as any other volcanoes and suns needing sacrifice to be appeased.

      • Re wives as property, I probably should have been more specific. My wife IS my property, and I am her property, “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” (1 Cor. 7:4) I suppose I should have used the word, “chattel”, which would have been more clear; my wife is my property, but not my chattel. Even a bond servant – listed along with one’s spouse – is not a “chattel”, because bond servants, at least in Ancient Israel, had legal rights and could not simply be treated as means to ends (one definition of a chattel might be that it is something concerning which you have the right to dispose of it as a means to your ends).

        Re Galatians, it’s not just rhetorical imagery, but I agree that some Christians do take liberties with its interpretation, using it to justify retrospectively reading modern egalitarian dogmas back into the Bible. I agree, that will not work – but then I am no Egalitarian.

        Let me make the following clear also: I believe, and the Bible teaches, that the equality of men and women is strictly a MORAL equality. This means 1) that men and women are held to account by the same divine law, irrespective of their sex, 2) that men and women equally merit the rewards of their righteousness or wickedness in this life, 3) that men and women are fully human, and worthy of the honour proper to that. That is not the same as teaching that men and women are the same; the Bible clearly teaches that men and women have differentiated and complementary roles to fulfil. Furthermore, the Bible clearly teaches Patriarchy (I refer you to my blog post [http://quiavideruntoculi.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/patriarchy-and-the-male-primacy/] on this, which explains my understanding of what it means) – which, though now highly controversial – I wholly endorse.

        Re the sacrifice of Our Lord, the enormous difference is this: that Christ died willingly, whereas the Carthaginian infants died unwillingly. You are so eager to conflate the two, that you miss this massive difference. Why? As to the sacrifices of animals, these were *meant* to be sobering affairs, I’m not going to argue they were a picnic. But the blood sacrifice of an animal is not immoral, or are you a vegetarian? The only difference between blood sacrifice of an animal and modern day slaughter of animals (in both cases you end up eating some part of the animal) is that in the modern case we do not thank God for His gifts, or reflect in any way on our own sinfulness. Sacrifice was done reverently, with an eye to the animal’s welfare; even in Pagan societies, if the animal was distressed the sacrifice would be discontinued, this taken for a sign that it was not pleasing to the gods.

        Concerning women you say, “For centuries it was assumed that they were to be at home, stay at home, and just obey their husbands”. Expectations of men were just as rigorous and just as inflexible, and the image you paint of women as automatons being ordered around by their husbands is ridiculous. How can you seriously believe that husbands and wives ever lived like that? I suggest you try reading Tertullian’s ancient treatise on Marriage:

        “How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in hope, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice. They are as brother and sister, both servants of the same Master. Nothing divides them, either in flesh or in spirit. They are, in very truth, two in one flesh; and where there is but one flesh there is also but one spirit. They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another, side by side they visit God’s church and partake of God’s Banquet; side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another; they never shun each other’s company; they never bring sorrow to each other’s hearts.”

        That is the view of the Early Church; whether you claim it is unbiblical or not – or, for that matter, whether any idiot Protestant claims it is unbiblical or not -, it has always been the Church’s view, and it is my view.

        As to this:
        “In order to reason about it and show if we have a better idea than “them,” would be to explain how the issue hurts whomever it hurts. Pain and suffering is universal, and that’s something we can relate to. It’s not that simple, but that’s a start.”

        You concede the whole of my case! That’s EXACTLY how we reason about morality, and how we can certainly know the whole of the moral law; suffering is universal, empathy is universal, and the human nature is universal. So, we think “how would that affect me, for better or for worse?” and then we use that, as an infallible rule, to judge how it would affect any other person. That is the strength of the Golden Rule; its weakness is that it relies on people being honest with themselves.

        And this:
        “The true danger to me is when people base their morality on what’s written in such primitive texts as the Bible or the Koran.”

        I already said the Catholic Church does not believe morality is the peculiar property of one religion; the Church believes that, in order for us all to be held morally accountable, we must all be able (with or without divine revelation) to apprehend moral truth.

        Finally, on these points:
        “Suppose that she doesn’t want any of it, thus she decides to die. Is it morally right for her to suicide?”

        What you have described is not suicide; suicide is the wilful taking of one’s own life. In the case you describe, there is no indication that she *wants* to die, merely that, knowing that she will die, she wants to die in the least painful manner. That is perfectly moral; we should not force medication on people.

        Suicide proper is never morally right. Neither should she, nor should she be allowed to commit suicide, because wilfully to kill herself would be to approve the judgement, “my life is not worth living”, which entails a misevaluation of life in general – which is the only inalienably valuable thing -, and of the lives of those people in her predicament in particular. In her own case, her illness will – barring a miracle – almost certainly be fatal; but in the case of others, her example of despair might render fatal a situation that would not otherwise be.

      • Hello quiavi,

        You concede the whole of my case!

        Well, no. I was openly conceding most of your point, but I added that it was not always that easy. As per the kind of equality between males and females, while I won’t agree that the bible is clear about any equality at all, because I have read some pretty nasty passages that contradict yours (no consistency), I agree that our equality is not complete. It’s in rights, it’s in many ways, but we stay being males and females, and, regardless of political correctness, we have differences besides the obvious physical. That does not mean that either is inferior/superior to the other.

        Were women automatons obeying their husbands and such? That’s far from what I meant, but sure lots of women did think they had to obey their husbands. I have been through several cultures and times, maybe you are much younger than me, and sure enough, some women in the worst cultural situations had strong personalities and will, but I saw a lot of “obeying” despite a deep internal lack of satisfaction. I heard more than once the dreaded “what can I do, he’s my husband?” I could not convince them otherwise. They “knew their place.” So sorry, but the cultural background might blind us about what we deserve, what we are, and a long et cetera. Only after lots of frustration accumulated did women in general start to realize that the situation had to be challengeable.

        As per Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. Missing the point? This god needed a bloody sacrifice in order to forgive. Whether Jesus volunteered or not, this god remains as savage, violent, blood thirsty, and primitive as the volcanoes and suns (from which this god certainly derives). Since lamb blood and burnt offerings were no longer enough, divine human was “The” thing. What good does us to thank a god with a burnt offering that we will not eat? Why did this god want the carbonized animal or lamb’s blood at all? Why did this god need a bloody promise in the form of circumcision? Come on. Sure if you saw that performed for other gods you would have judged it differently. (In some old tribes in South America it was considered an honor and a privilege to be sacrificed to the sun. Does that make any difference to you? It does not make me feel like worshiping the sun at all.)

        It’s been really interesting talking with you quiavi. I don’t know if I will have enough time to continue though. Happy Easter.

        • I have enjoyed our discussion as well. Show me the passages you mean, and I will be happy to discuss them, if you have time.

          Re this:
          “I have been through several cultures and times, maybe you are much younger than me, and sure enough, some women in the worst cultural situations had strong personalities and will, but I saw a lot of “obeying” despite a deep internal lack of satisfaction.”

          I do not dispute that women have at all times and in all places been abused, and defending a Christian complementarian view of the sexes is not the same as defending what has happened in broader society, even in nominally Christian countries. While men remain physically more powerful than their wives, I think they always will be. I think in modern Britain women are severely abused, being expected to raise children and work a full-time job at the same time.

          If by a disposition to obey you mean a kind of servile contempt of the self, then I would share your distaste at that response (Aristotle himself says of the Barbarians that they show themselves to be natural slaves, because they treat their wives as slaves); tyranny does breed servility. But the practice of true obedience, especially in adversity, can be very a noble thing, and very prudent. Sometimes, the best way to melt the heart of a violent person and change his mind is to give him what he wants (in so far as that does not entail doing anything immoral), rather than to battle with him over a thing; as the Scripture says, “a gentle word turneth away wrath”.

        • P.S.

          Also, re blood sacrifice, you seem to have shifted the goal posts. You initially questioned my invocation of Carthaginian infant sacrifice, claiming that, because the God of Israel demanded the same (viz. sacrifice of His own Son), this made Him just as barbaric.

          Now you say it’s to do with the blood, and that this is what makes Him primitive. Well, He is primitive. Why does that offend you? Blood symbolism, our relationship to blood in general is extremely primal, and it makes perfect sense that God should make it the medium for conveying profound spiritual truths to us.

          It is both literally and symbolically true that the life of an animal is in its blood; the wages of Sin are, we hold, spiritual death, which is more horrific than corporeal death (Christ suffers both in some measure on the cross, “Why hast thou forsaken me?”). But the outward reality of corporeal death is a figure of, or reflects the inward reality of spiritual death, and God deliberately employs the symbolism of the one to educate us in the mystery of the other.

          Horrific, yes – but sin is horrific.

          • One minor addition to your comment Q. Blood sacrifice is horrific, but sin is MORE horrific; for in the economy of God (and for reasons the natural mind may not comprehend) the “horrific” alone atones for the “more horrific”.

          • I agree with you that sin is more horrific; not quite sure what you’re getting at with the broader horror hermeneutic of atonement, but you’re certainly right that the sacrifices of the old testament commemorated horror with horror, and blood with blood.

            Btw, did you get my e-mail?

          • My friend Q,

            Your unbelieving friend seemed to equate the horror of animal sacrifice with the horror of sin. Such a position comes from the lack of understanding of the nature of sin. Sin isn’t merely doing something wrong or going against the rules, sin is a violation of the very nature and character of a holy God.
            Sin is a greater horror than animal sacrifice.

            For sin and death to be both conquered and defeated, required a “horror” even greater than itself. For the power of sin and death to be merely matched with another horror of the same degree would have resulted in an eternal draw, if you will. Your unbelieving friend fails to comprehend this; but how could he being in spiritual darkness?

            The blood of sheep and goats was insufficient to atone for the sins of a fallen race because it’s horror (again, if you will) did nothing to truly satisfy the horror caused by sin. Thus the Son of God, the perfect Lamb, came to have His blood shed in the most horrific event of all time. The eternal Second Person of the Godhead suffered and died to pay the penalty for sin once-for-all.

            The perfection of His act of suffering and death, the horror of all horrors, however, gave way in the greatest triumph of all time. As the unbelieving world searches for colored eggs laid by a mystical bunny, and exchanges chocolates, we celebrate the victory of Christ’s horror on our behalf. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and has now sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

            I admire your knowledge and wisdom in the things of God. Keep holding to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is Risen!

          • He is risen indeed. Alleluia! All wisdom is Christ’s.

            I agree with you that the sacrifice of the cross is a greater horror than the horror of sin. I am still puzzled, though, by your horror hermeneutic; is it the *horror* of the sacrifice of Calvary, per se, which lends it its salvific efficacy? If it did, it would seem that all sins were in fact forgiven, and none should be condemned, whereas we know in fact that, while Christ came to make a way for forgiveness, that all *might* be saved, the sins of those unrepentant are nonetheless retained, and the same will have Hell on that account.

            I hope I am not being a pedant, but this also struck me as slightly odd or in need of clarification “sin is a violation of the very nature and character of a holy God”. Can we violate God’s divine nature? Surely not. But we can, and did, violate His human nature in Christ, since He suffered by us unto death for our sins.

          • No, I don’t not believe that the horror of the Cross provides any efficacy. It is Christ’s death alone which atones for sin. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.” I raise the *horror* of His suffering only as a comparison to the *horrors* of sin and animal sacrifice. Christ’s suffering and death, as the Incarnate Son of God, are a greater *horror* than the killing of animals or of sin.

            I also don’t believe that atonement was made in Christ’s death for all people, but only for those whom the Father elected to salvation.

            As to sin and the nature of God: when we transgress the nature of God, we have violated His nature and character. As the nature of God is, for instance, holy, any unholiness on the part of the creation is a violation of His character. He is love; hatred is a violation of His nature and is thus sin. Mankind’s fallen nature stands in opposition to the Divine nature.

            Sin is sometimes defined as the violation of God’s law; but this definition, in my understanding, is insufficient. Why has God given His law except that it is an expression of His very character and nature? Why has He forbid telling a lie? It’s not an arbitrary decision on His part; lying is forbidden because He is truth. At least this is my musing. If I’m mistaken in my reasoning, please help me.

            Blessings from the other side of the Pond.

          • Ah! I think we were speaking at cross purposes, if you will pardon the expression.

            I think, provided we understand that, as you point out, God’s laws are not arbitrary, but rather flow infallibly from His perfections, and could not be otherwise (they are good because He is good), the ‘transgression of law’ interpretation of sin is true as far as it goes. But I agree with you that it is not the whole story.

    • If Peter is the foundation of the Church, why would or could Paul challenge Peter on doctrine and win? Jesus is the stone that the builders rejected that became the cap stone ( Head) of the Church. Not Peter.

      God bless

      AZ4Christ. WordPress.com

      • Because Peter wasn’t perfect.

        Yes, Christ is the capstone of the whole Church; but Peter, his vicar, is the capstone of the Church militant. Before Christ ascended to Heaven, he appointed someone to take on his role among the apostles: that person was Peter, which fact is abundantly clear from Scripture.

  5. I have sought the advice of my priest today after Holy Mass, and Father confirms my position in its entirety: so much for this only being the sort of thing a layman would say.

    He says:

    1) That apart from those infants baptised into Protestant confession without the use of Reason (who *will* go straight to heaven), Protestant Baptism is of a very qualified and limited benefit because Protestants do not subsequently go on to receive a valid absolution or valid Eucharist. This means, as soon as a Protestant gets into mortal sin, he is, so far as we can *assume*, stuck there: not a happy predicament. Will you, catholicboyrichard, maintain that none of your Protestant friends have committed mortal sin? I think not.

    2) That the wilful election to persevere, after the age of reason, in a false religion – including Protestantism – is an objective mortal sin against faith. Obviously, we may *hope* that at least some Protestants are ignorant of what they do, to the extent that they are inculpable. But we must not assume this. Rather, we should assume the contrary – to be on the safe side – and urge them to convert and repent of their errors.

  6. I definitely and categorically deny the accusation that I am presenting some emotional perversion of the Catholic position on salvation with regard to those not officially part of the Roman Catholic Church. We could argue forever here but I would simply share a number of paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) and would let the reader decide. They are as follows:

    816 “The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it.… This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.” (830)

    The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism explains: “For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God.”

    Wounds to unity

    817 In fact, “in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church—for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.” The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ’s Body—here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism270—do not occur without human sin: (2089)

    Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.

    818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers.… All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.” (1271)

    819 “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.” Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”

    Catholic Church. (2000). Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd Ed.) (215–216). Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference.

    I copied this directly from VERBUM, which is the Logos Bible Software (Catholic edition). Great resource by the way. There are many statements within the CCC that I have struggled with at times, so I would needfully say that I am not acting upon my emotions in what I am sharing here. But this one is so important that, despite my desire to end this once and for all, I must share and will leave it here.

    Thanks to Michael B also for sharing a link to the document “Dominus Iesus,” and would clarify that the new Catechism is very heavily footnoted with huge sections based very directly upon the Catechism of Trent. Far from denying earlier traditions it enhances and clarifies them in a way which applies them to the 21st century. Moreover it is even more footnoted with references to Sacred Scripture. Even if one believes, as I did, in Sola Scriptura, when I first began reading and studying it in 2005 after 35 years an evangelical, I found it (even as a non-practicing Catholic) to be both fair and charitable towards those who believe otherwise. And that is a huge part of what drew me back to the Faith. And I appreciate that it admits blame on both sides for the wounds to unity within the Faith too (see above in 817). We are past the days of the Inquisition, at least as it was used in the early post-Reformation days, and either side burning each other at the stake, even figuratively. I pray we are anyway. Thanks for letting me share.

    • There is misunderstanding, and in some cases animosity, toward each side side and from each side. These two daggers seem most often to come from the laity rather than any officially recognized leadership. After so many decades of investigation and dialogue between the Roman Church and the various other groups, there really seems to have been no progress toward mending the divisions; but at least we are not hating and hunting those with whom we disagree.

      As a protestant minister, who has both spoken in a Roman church and had a priest preach in mine, I long for unity among all of our Father’s children, though we, as in any family, will disagree with each other at times and over certain issues we hold near and dear. I appreciate the mostly honest, fair, and charitable dialogue that Prayson’s post has created.

      Sadly, it seems clear that we will not mend the deep divisions in some aspects of our understanding of the Faith apart from the physical and bodily appearance of Jesus Himself. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Until He comes, however, let us love one another, for it is by this love that Christ said His people would be known.

      • I am not sure Richard L Rice, if you are directing your words towards me at all but if you read any or all of my comments, you will find that I have done my utmost to stay within the unity of the Spirit during this discussion, both towards the Catholic brother I have disagreed with and with the Protestants here. If you will note the quotations from the Catechism which I mentioned above, they thrust of them was and is precisely meant to reach out in love and harmony to our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ. That in fact has been my whole point.

        I would just add that I normally say very little on these threads, but felt so strongly that another fellow Catholic’s view unfortunately has been rather attacking those of you who are Protestant and I felt I could not remain silent as a result. Had I not felt so strongly about this I would not have continued because, as I mentioned before, I personally feel embarrassed in fact at the in-fighting that has seemingly occurred here. That has not been my intent in the least. I am sure it has not been his either.

        So please do not include me in your assessment of your first two sentences–“There is misunderstanding, and in some cases animosity, toward each side and from each side. These two daggers seem most often to come from the laity rather than any officially recognized leadership.”

        I will clearly state that I have not pretended to be an official representative of the Church. However I have shared my understanding as someone with 7 years of theological training (4 as a Protestant and 3 as a Roman Catholic), and spent 12 years as a Protestant evangelical minister (Assemblies of God) before my return to Catholicism. And I have shared what I have with extreme care, in an attempt to separate myself from the attacks upon Protestants which one–and only one–commenter has been making. I have attacked no one here.

        So I would ask you not to misunderstand my motives nor to assume my lack of credentials. And very perhaps you are not doing so–I am not suggesting that you are–but I would just reiterate that my one motive here has been to keep peace and harmony, while sharing what I believe to be official Catholic teaching.

        And I agree with you that the Lord cannot come soon enough:).

        • Richard, my comments were directed to you as a man I can admire and appreciate. I count you as a brother in Christ and appreciate your efforts to bring clarity where others have seemed to only rub salt in wounds created centuries ago.

          I have not made the transition to the Roman Church, but believe we have far more in common than we disagree upon. May we work together as one in Christ; soli Deo gloria. Blessings to you!

      • You cannot reconcile the mutually exclusive. As a student of scripture, you should know this and be careful when you teach others. Gal1:8 condemns the Catholic gospel. The Council of Trend condemns the Biblical Gospel. The followers of one side of this debate will be condemned by God. Its just comes down to who has the authority. The Bible or the Pope. Pastors, popes, and the rest of us will honor God and His Word or suffer the consequences. I take no joy in proclaiming the unvarnished truth apart from the hope that God may use His Truth to snatch some from the fire !

        All Glory to God!

        AZ4Christ. WordPress.com

    • Nothing in what you have quoted here comes close to justifying your bizarre – and perverse, and wrong – assumption that Protestants are probably saved. Also, for the record, I am not ‘attacking’ Protestants, as you so effeminately put it: I love Protestants, that’s why I want to tell them that they are wrong, and that being wrong they are in great peril. Clearly, you hate Protestants, because you desire that they should accept you personally, rather than that they should learn the Truth. I will be delighted if you prove me wrong.

      I have already agreed that Protestants are rightly called brothers and Christians. If somebody is raised a Protestant, I agree that they *may* be saved: that’s all these passages say. They do not, however, in any way, legitimate your wrong assumption that they are mostly saved, and that they don’t very urgently need to convert. They do need to convert: only someone who remains invincibly ignorant of the Church’s Truth can be saved without conversion. It is a sin of presumption to assume of *anybody* that they are saved, but it is doubly wrong to go around imputing salvation to those in a position which is in fact known to be VERY perilous to their souls. (That said, of course we must piously hope for their salvation, even against such steep odds). Why? Because it encourages them to stay where they are! Or do you not think there is any difference, between the ONE HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH (which is, visibly, *only* the Catholic Church: I can quote Dominus Jesus as well as the next man – see below in this thread), and these ecclesiastical communities, with no apostolic succession, and no valid Eucharist?

      Dominus Jesus clearly teaches that there is one Church, and that Church is the Catholic Church, and there is no salvation except in it. Whatever may incidentally serve, according to God’s mysterious plan, to bring a Protestant to the Faith from the liturgy or teaching of his own anti-church only does so because it is stolen from the Catholic Church. As *understood* in the Protestant manner however (that is, as *misunderstood*) it is not salvific at all, but damnable. Or will you say that Protestants are in error, but that error can somehow save us?

      Yes, there were faults on both sides in the Reformation, but they were not qualitatively comparable: the faults of the Reformers were faults of infidelity and heresy. The faults of *some representatives* of the Church were carnality and other sins. The Church has never, and will never, err in anything whatever. How desperate you are to slander Holy Church, and how eager you are to flatter Protestants!

      If you ask a Protestant whether he affirms something contrary to the Council of Trent, you will likely find that he does. If a man denies a thing, you must assume that he means what he says: it is possible that he doesn’t know his own mind, but *likely* that he does. Or do you think all Protestants are hopelessly stupid?

      If he does know his own mind, he’s a formal heretic and damned, because under solemn anathema.

      Mr Rice: admittedly many figures in authority in the Church are fully in support of the kind of false ecumenism which catholicboyrichard goes in for. This, to some degree, excuses his mad errors. But we know, from Our Lady’s apparition at Akita, and from her prophesy at Quito, that the church was prophesied to be full of wicked ministers at this time. None of these considerations changes the truth: a truth which, against a great deal of opposition from almost everyone, it is still possible to learn, if you are willing to wrestle with hard sayings.

      • quiavideruntoculi–I did not respond to most of what you have been saying in the last few posts for some simple and practical reasons–I work 2 jobs, have some serious health issues, and it takes much time to do this, at least for me. I spent literally all day Saturday of this weekend dealing primarily with this post and your comments in particular. I just do not have the physical time and energy to do more than that.

        Somehow the topic went from Prayson’s original “what did Matthew mean” about the Papacy to, “do I believe all Protestants are saved?” (Something I never once said by the way). Some will be and some will not be. Same with Catholics. But in doing a bit of research I find you are part of the Society of St Pius X, which is a splinter group not in full communion with Rome. That is not an accusation, it is simply your theology, and very different than mine. I respect choice that but disagree with many premises in that group. I am also not going to start an argument on that issue here or later. Obviously though that colors your views on Vatican II and the last several Popes, in fact since John XXIII I believe. So of course we and even your priest are going to see this issue in a very different light. Again those are facts and not slams.

        I have not run from you. I have responded to each of your postings. But I had to wrap it up on my page (and here also) as I think we are now beating a dead horse, as they say. God bless you, no insults were intended or ever once given, and I am not insulting you now either. I definitely did not walk away from the discussion at all as you seem to believe I have.

        But I do need to walk away from it now. God bless you and all.

      • I didn’t accuse you of not responding, or of walking away from the discussion. Where did I say that? Indeed, you have responded at length, and I am grateful that you have seen fit to spend your valuable time in doing so.

        I accused you of not *engaging* with my points, and evading the matter of my complaint by deflection, and what I regard as a smokescreen of emotive irrelevancy. This accusation stands. I don’t agree that my being affiliated with the SSPX (the membership of which, mark you, is in full communion; it is only the society as an organisation which is at present canonically irregular) or my take on Vatican II has anything to do with it: the question has long been a settled part of the Church’s teaching, ever since the Council of Trent, and I am simply putting what until very recently would have been the standard response of any Catholic theologian to the question, “Are Protestants saved?”, viz. “Generally, no.” You know this is true, and it amazes me that you can so calmly dismiss the view as a ‘minority’ opinion. God’s opinions often are in the minority.

        I recognise the same Pope as you, and I recognise the same magisterium as you; that is enough. I do take a generally low view of some recent pontificates, starting with John XXIII’s, but I am not alone in this, and nor is this a thing peculiar to the SSPX. A good friend of mine, who goes along to a Novus Ordo parish, shares my criticisms on this point. It is also – more importantly – an entirely legitimate thing to believe that a Pope was a bad Pope. So it is NO argument against me whatever to point this out; you, however, have often been pleased – it seems – to try to discredit me as ‘less than fully Catholic’ rather than actually trying to engage with my points. I know you don’t mean it as an insult, and I am in fact *pleased* to be identified by you as your opponent, which I am. Better that than to have it pretended otherwise.

        Questions are not decided by argy-bargy over personal credentials; they are settled by reason. So far as I can see, you haven’t given any reason to support your position: you have only quoted Church documents – which I maintain do not state what you claim they state, as in fact they do not – and appealed to majority Catholic opinion, which I reject as evidence of any kind (most professing Catholics are theologically illiterate, as I’m sure you know), except evidence of your own apparent failure properly to identify what is and what is not evidence for your case.

        You say, “So of course we and even your priest are going to see this issue in a very different light.”

        I hope not, since there is only One Light, and if you are not seeing it in that Light, you are in big trouble. If we are both Catholics, which I sincerely hope, I trust that we are seeing things in the same Light.

    • @catholicboyrichard

      On your own site you make several false claims about my position, which – since I can’t see any way of addressing them to you there – I must address here.

      I do NOT question the validity of several of the past popes: I question that they were good popes. That is an wholly different thing, and not such a minority stance as you want to paint it.

      Effeminacy and being feminine are two wholly different things as well, as I am sure you know. What I criticised as ‘effeminate’ was the way you were trying to avoid answering my points by painting me as an aggressor and claiming the moral high ground without engaging me like a man.

      You also claim that I resort to personal invective, without making my points carefully. Let God and the other posters on this site be my judge: I have given a reason for everything I have said. Disagree by all means, but don’t wriggle out of the argument by claiming I haven’t said anything of substance.

      You by contrast have simply blathered on about how pro-Christian unity you are, without addressing any of my reasoned objections. I don’t put these points to you because I want to bash you, or because I’m fixing for a fight: I bother to do it, because I very strongly object to the impression you are giving these Protestants about the nature of the Catholic faith.

      • From a Biblical perspective, Catholicism is a different Gospel. Catholicism holds that tradition, Papal decree, and scripture carry equal weight. This is logical hogwash. In practice, the Bible takes a back seat and the current Pope can say anything without regard to former Papal or Biblical positions. The last couple of Popes are trying to sweep dogma under the rug and claim that we are all following Christ is some mystical way and thereby deceive the world. Catholic dogma in the council of Trent makes it very clear that they reject the clear Biblical Gospel . The Bible is clear that no one has the authority to change the original Gospel. I reject what some protestants and catholics try to say that we are all Christians. Only in the loosest sense, one that includes every cult or person who claims to follow Christ in name only, are we Christians. Every religion and person makes it crystal clear that we fundamentally believe different gospels (by what we believe, say, and do). In the end, only the Biblical in doctrine and practice will hear Jesus say “well done good and faithful servant”. The rest will get what they deserve, in hell not fictious purgatory. Don’t be deceived -This debate matters. There is still time to double back to the Bible and change the road you are on!
        Biblically in Jesus’ Name,
        AZ4Christ.wordpress.com

      • @az4christ

        I am a convert to Catholicism from Protestantism, and I was originally a convert to Protestantism from Atheism.

        Which has the more authority, the Canon of Scripture, or the Church, who, exercising Her divine authority, infallibly defined the Canon of Scripture?

        Re ‘this is logical hogwash’ &c., your understanding is hogwash. The Faith IS the Holy Tradition, to which Scripture, Papal decrees, ecumenical councils &c. infallibly bear witness in their own ways. There is nothing illogical in that.

        Your understanding of purgatory is also erroneous: it is not a kind of hell ‘lite’, as you seem to think. It’s a temporary condition of purgation for those souls blessed and happy in the certain prospect of heaven, but with some stain of venial sin still attaching to them. What saith the Scripture? “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire [see? Fire for the righteous too…] shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Cor. 3:13-15). The doctrine of Purgatory makes sense of that Scripture: you, being an heretic, have to ignore it, because to acknowledge its meaning would be to discard your pet heresy.

        I agree with you that the last couple of Popes have tried to sweep dogma under the carpet, but I think you yourself are labouring under a severe delusion if you think that the Pope can on a whim bind the Church to error against the Scripture or any part of the Tradition, including ecumenical councils and infallible Papal teachings. No Pontiff, however bad, has ever succeeded in that (it is held to be impossible), though many, of course, are pleased to follow an evil example when they see one.

        You are quite right also that we believe different Gospels: you are part of the mystical body of Antichrist, and will burn forever in Hell except you repent. I trust the Church, which is Christ (1 Cor. 12:12); you would hold everyone to a ‘biblical orthodoxy’, on the content of which none of you heretics can agree, and which has had for its fruits more bloodshed, discord, schism, and downright nonsense than anything else under the sun. Is God the author of disorder? Does God talk with many voices? No. The Truth is One, the Faith is One, the Church is One.

        As to this, “from a Biblical perspective”, what, concretely, can you possibly mean by that, more than “from my perspective” or “in my judgement”? Does your Bible talk to you? Does it interject, and correct you when you start thinking or talking nonsense? The Church will, though, which I guess is why you resent it so much.

        • Find the word “purgatory” in the bible.
          The saved are the church in christ. Jesus and His word are one. Our works are filty rags before God. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross paid for our sins (all of them). He said it is finished. Without the sheding of blood there is no remission of sin.
          Regarding changes, Everything other than what is in the Bible has been changed by man or pope. God condemns all changes to His Gospel ( Gal 1:8) by saying those who do are accursed. Can the true church be accursed by God? Therefore, logically the Catholic changes are accursed. There are many protestants that have changed the Gospel, too. The truly saved are spiritually regenerated and accept God’s word. I don’t claim brilliance or special mystical knowledge. God saved me and I accept His truth, will, and standard without reservation. If something i state turns out untrue biblically, I freely accept God’s correction. Im a redeemed sinner and far from perfect. But I know God and His word is perfect and i cling to His every word and promise. You cling to a Catholic belief that is flawed, unbiblical, and corrupt. It keeps changing, so you must be willing to accept its changes. But i sense that you are having trouble with the changes. If something claims to be truth but changes, how true could it have been? I have trouble with protestant changes, too. But the Bible doesn’t claim a perfect church, just one redeemed and sanctified by a perfect all powerful God.

          I have more details on my blog, if you are really seeking truth. Its not about us, its about God’s will. I pray to God in the name of Jesus that God will save you.

          AZ4Christ.wordpress.com

      • I will, Deo volente, examine your blog presently.

        Find the word ‘Trinity’ in the Bible. Find the phrase ‘substitutionary atonement’.

        I have shown you where the existence of purgatory is clearly taught in the Bible; I challenge you to give an alternative explanation of that passage. Don’t tell me it’s only suggestive or ambiguous: every single element of the doctrine of Purgatory is present there, as plain as a pikestaff.

        Also, the Bible does teach the existence of a perfect Church, as for instance “My dove, my *undefiled* is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her” (Song of Solomon 6:9) This is why we confess in the creed belief in “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church”.

        The Church is perfect, because it is the body of Christ. In Baptism, we are grafted into Christ, after the parable of the True Vine (John 15:1-17), He abides in us and we in Him. How can God have any fellowship with unrighteousness? He cannot, and so He makes us a new creation, righteous and perfect, through baptism, though our old nature remains and we can still fall into sin. The Church of those Baptised and in a state of Grace (that is, having not committed mortal sin, and abiding presently in the love of God) is essentially perfect.

        Again and again you make this ridiculous assumption that God intended you to work everything out from the Bible yourself. I asked you a straightforward question, viz. what can you possibly mean by a ‘biblical perspective’ other than, ‘my own perspective’? You still can offer me no answer. What, for instance, can you make of this (Our Lord speaking), “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” (Matthew 23:2-3) ? Answer: nothing.

        That Scripture destroys your ‘biblical perspective’: here is Our Lord, laying an obligation on His disciples, to observe every detail of what the OFFICIAL TEACHING AUTHORITY OF GOD (at that time, the Scribes) told them. You reject all such authority, because you are a rebel against God. I accept it, which is *WHY* I accept every word of Scripture as infallible and God-breathed, and why I am very content to treat it as canon. But what I reject utterly is this idea that *my own private interpretation* can carry any weight against the interpretation of Holy Church, founded by God, amongst other things, for that teaching purpose.

        I notice that you have no answer to those scriptural passages in which the authority of the Church is clearly established (including my favourite, 1 Tim. 3:15).

        Where is ‘sola scriptura’ written in the Bible?

      • Mr Rice,

        I was quoting the Song of Solomon, treating it as foreshadowing or prefiguring the Church. Although naturally members of the elect lived before the time of Christ, I believe we can only talk of the Church proper being established by Christ, and not existing beforehand. Through Christ’s harrowing of Hell, those saints of the Old Testament were finally grafted into it retrospectively, if you will.

  7. Thanks for this.

    IV. UNICITY AND UNITY OF THE CHURCH

    16. The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5). Therefore, the fullness of Christ’s salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27),47 which is his body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13, 27; Col 1:18).48 And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single “whole Christ”.49 This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-29; Rev 21:2,9).50

    Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: “a single Catholic and apostolic Church”.51 Furthermore, the promises of the Lord that he would not abandon his Church (cf. Mt 16:18; 28:20) and that he would guide her by his Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13) mean, according to Catholic faith, that the unicity and the unity of the Church — like everything that belongs to the Church’s integrity — will never be lacking.52

    The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity — rooted in the apostolic succession53 — between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: “This is the single Church of Christ… which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth’ (1 Tim 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in [subsistit in] the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him”.54 With the expression subsistit in, the Second Vatican Council sought to harmonize two doctrinal statements: on the one hand, that the Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand, that “outside of her structure, many elements can be found of sanctification and truth”,55 that is, in those Churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church.56 But with respect to these, it needs to be stated that “they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”.57

  8. Third, but certainly not last, was my friend Michael Blissenbach, however he posted on both pages so it is already in the thread. I do have one additional link to add though, and that is to a Catholic Christian singer and writer by the name of Mark Mallett who is from Canada. He wrote an excellent piece that is quite relevant to this discussion, and perhaps tends to refute claims of certain Popes being “valid” and others not, etc. He also deals with the issues of infallibility and Sacred Tradition as opposed to “private revelation” and the Catholic Church view on those. The link to this piece is:

    http://www.markmallett.com/blog/2013/02/entering-perilous-times/

    I include his piece as he does a good job of separating what even Catholics “think” we believe on these topics and what is actual doctrine, which, whether one agrees with the Church or not, is important to this discussion, I believe. Thank you again for doing this Prayson, and letting us have a great discussion here.

  9. The next is from my friend David Demboski, who is a young man with a future I believe. He just yesterday shared a FB picture of he and his wife shaking hands with Benedict XVI…and he is a professor at a major Catholic institution as well. Some people…in any case what he wrote was par excellence. Here goes:

    Feb 28, 9:21 am

    Sorry this is so long, Richard.
    Prayson Daniel, I enjoyed the post. Thank you for presenting a forum for honest and open dialogue.
    Obviously this is a huge question, but here are a few points:
    1) Leo the Great was not the first pope, so to speak. The title “pope” is just the way of designating the bishop of Rome, who had always held primacy among the bishops (even before that title was given). It comes from the Latin, “papa”. After the title was designated to the bishop of Rome it was retroactively applied to them all. Not a big deal but thought I would mention it.

    2) The interpretation presented by Origen-Augustine-Chrysostom in the quotes above were not the majority position among the early Church Fathers. And while I am not familiar with that Augustine’s writings, I know that Origen and Chrysostom did hold that Peter was the rock as well, and that for them the two positions were not necessarily mutually exclusive. For example, Origen also says, “Look at [Peter], the great foundation of the Church, that most solid of rocks, upon whom Christ built the Church [Matt. 16:18]. And what does our Lord say to him? ‘Oh you of little faith,’ he says, ‘why do you doubt?’ [Matt. 14:31]” (Homilies on Exodus 5:4 [A.D. 248]). How can he say both things? Well, the early Fathers often interpreted passages on many levels. It is very possible that Origen thought the literal sense of the text was that Peter was the rock, but it could also be read in a spiritual way so that it also applied to faith in Christ.
    The Chrysostom quotes are taken from his homilies, and I think if we look a bit further at them we find he definitely believes Peter to be the rock of the Church. A first note about the quote you use: Chrysostom actually says that “the primacy was promised”, meaning the primacy of Peter, of the bishop of Rome. So even if one were to argue that Peter was not the rock, according to Chrysostom he has primacy among the Apostles (which is obvious from the rest of the NT). Here is the part you allude to, ““And I say unto you, You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church;” that is, on the faith of his confession. Hereby He signifies that many were now on the point of believing, and raises his spirit, and makes him a shepherd.” Chrysostom does not separate the faith of Peter from the person, which is why Jesus “makes him a shepherd” (see Jn 21); He doesn’t make Peter’s faith a shepherd. But here is another quote from Chrysostom’s homilies on Matthew, “Do you see how He [Jesus], His own self, leads Peter on to high thoughts of Him, and reveals Himself, and implies that He is Son of God by these two promises? For those things which are peculiar to God alone, (both to absolve sins, and to make the church in capable of overthrow in such assailing waves, and to exhibit a man that is a fisher more solid than any rock, while all the world is at war with him), these He promises Himself to give; as the Father , speaking to Jeremiah, said, He would make him as “a brazen pillar, and as a wall;” Jeremiah 1:18 but him to one nation only, this man in every part of the world.” Chrysostom says that Jesus promises to Peter 2 promises which are peculiar to God, the ability to forgive sins and the ability to make sure the Church will never be “overthrown in such assailing waves.” Then he says that just as God the Father made Jeremiah “a brazen pillar” for Israel, so Jesus has done for Peter, but not just for Israel, for every part of the world. And he says that Jesus makes Peter “more solid than an rock”.

    3) Not only do 2 of these men not believe Peter to not be the rock, but that position, if actually taken by Auralius Augustine (I do not know), it is by far the minority opinion among the early Fathers. Tertullian, Origen, Clement, Cyprian of Carthage, Firmilian, Ambrose of Milan, and Augustine of Hippo, among others, all hold Peter to be the rock, and they all come before Leo the Great.

    4) When we look at the text itself, I would argue that trying to make anything besides Peter be the rock is an extremely awkward process, and requires a most unnatural reading. Here is the whole passage, “And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
    And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.
    I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:17-19).
    When Jesus says, “on this [taute] rock [petra]” what is “this” referring to? Most naturally it refers to what comes directly before it. Jesus just changed Peter’s name to be “rock” (not small rock, or pebble; that is not a proper translation), and then says he will build upon this “petra”, rock. In Greek every noun has masculine, feminine, or neuter endings, and the word for rock just happened to be feminine. Therefore, in order to avoid giving Peter a feminine name, the author literally creates a new name/word so that Peter’s name may be masculine and still mean rock.
    If we try to say “this rock” refers to Peter’s faith, then “this” (taute) would have to refer back to the previous verse (or further back) and refer to…nothing actually, because in English Jesus says, “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you” – that “this” is actually not present in the Greek (there would be a taute or touto or a form of that word); it is silent, or assumed in the text without actually being written. That, then, would make it even more awkward to refer to word that is not actually present. You know what I mean?
    In sum, the most obvious and natural reading of the text, in Greek especially but also in English, is that Peter is the rock, especially in light of the fact that 16:17-19 is a blessing upon Peter. This is clearly a special moment for Simon-Peter. Jesus does not say, “blessed is your faith” or “blessed is the Father who revealed this to you” (although both would be true), but “blessed are you Simon bar- Jona”.

    5) We know that in Aramaic Peter is called “rock”, which is what most scholars, if not all, agree that Jesus would have been speaking. How do we know what “Petros” would be in Aramaic? Well, two other New Testament authors are kind enough to translate it for us. John (1:42) and Paul (Gal. 1:18, 2:9) call Peter “Kephas”, which would have been the word Jesus used for both “Petros” and “petra”. And wouldn’t it just be strange for Jesus to literally create a name that means “rock” for this special blessing to Peter, and then intend for him not to be the rock of the Church? By “create a name” I mean that we do not know of any usage of “kephas” or “petros” as a proper name before the New Testament, not in Aramaic or Greek. So, it appears that Jesus literally made up a name for Simon, which I think is pretty cool.

    6) Lastly, many Protestant scholars are moving away from this position because they know it is untenable. I read a vast number of commentaries on Matthew, and much to my surprise many of the Protestant scholars admitted that Peter was the rock (although they did not always conclude that he had the primacy, or if he did have the primacy they would have other arguments to explain why the pope does not have it). I would certainly not say all Protestant scholars do, but definitely many of them have come to hold the position that Peter is the rock.

    Hope this helps. Sorry if I wrote too much. And I apologize for typos. I was typing fast. If you would like to chat about it some more please let me know.

    DAVID THEN ADDED THIS AS AN AFTERWORD:

    David Demboski Feb 28, 4:09 pm

    Wow, so I did not realize that St. Augustine of Hippo was also Aurelius Augustine as well. Not sure how I overlooked that. Let me say this: one odd bit of knowledge about Augustine that some might not know is that he knew very little Greek, and almost no Hebrew. So, he obviously had some difficulty with the difference with Greek words like Petros and Petra. Moreover, if you read his writings it could not be more clear that he upheld the papacy and the primacy of Peter. And we have a number of passages where he does uphold Peter as the rock. Here’s a few quotes from him:

    “Number the bishops from the See of Peter itself. And in that order of Fathers see who has succeeded whom. That is the rock against which the gates of hell do not prevail” Augustine, Psalm against the Party of Donatus, 18 (A.D. 393).

    “If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them [the bishops of Rome] from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it.’ Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement. … In this order of succession a Donatist bishop is not to be found” (Letters 53:1:2 [A.D. 412]).

    “And if a Jew asks us why we do that, we sound from the rock, we say, This Peter did, this Paul did: from the midst of the rocks we give our voice. But that rock, Peter himself, that great mountain, when he prayed and saw that vision, was watered from above.”
    In Psalms, 104[103]:16(A.D. 418),in NPNF1,VIII:513

  10. Per Prayson Daniel’s request, I am posting a couple things from my page which were responses I received after reblogging this…the first is from my friend Tony Layne…Feb 28, 12:32 am

    Tony’s 2 great blogs are as follows:

    http://tonylayne.blogspot.com
    http://impracticalcatholic.blogspot.com

    Because the Gospels were originally written in Greek koine, we tend to think the conversation took place in Greek when Jesus and the Twelve most likely spoke Aramaic as their mother tongue and Hebrew as a liturgical language; Greek would have been a tongue of trade and Latin of little necessity. John gives us a useful clue: “‘So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas’ (which means Peter)” (Jn 1:42). And in his letters Paul constantly refers to him as “Cephas”, which is the Aramaic Ke’pa’ transliterated into Greek. Now, there’s no point in any of this if they understood Jesus to be referring to Peter’s faith or his testimony; moreover, Jesus doesn’t mention Peter’s faith, but only that his knowledge has been revealed to him by God (Mt 16:17).

    Cephas took the name “Peter” when dealing with Gentiles because “Petra” would have been a woman’s name. Ke’pa’ is a masculine noun, so there would have been no confusion in gender as there is in the Greek Petros/petra; in fact, his name in Syriac texts is Ke’pa’ Sh’moun. Also, the Greek of verse 18 says, “… and on this same (tautē tē) rock …”, which reinforces the identity of one rock with another — no “big rock/little rock” here!

    Traditional theological interpretation has held that there are as many as four different layers of meaning in some Scriptural passages. Peter’s faith as the rock is possible on the analogical level; however, the analogical is built on the literal: Peter’s faith could be likened to a rock because Peter himself was a rock — steady, constant and (mostly) reliable, like the fisherman he was.

    Summary: The two interpretations aren’t mutually exclusive. But in the end, priority goes to the literal understanding, which tells us that Jesus meant Peter himself.

    • Excellent!

      I would only remark that it is perhaps not so very unlikely that Christ did speak Greek as well. But I wholly endorse your conclusion.

  11. I had reblogged this and have gotten several responses which may be helpful, so I am going to link to those comments here…particularly one is from my friend Tony Layne, and a couple others from David Demboski. Both are very well-versed in some of the questions being asked here. Here is the link…and Prayson if you wish me to post the comments over here I can do that too. Also Michael Blissenbach’s link is good, and he is one of my friends as well. All these guys have a lot of brain power between them:).

    http://catholicboyrichard.com/2013/02/27/4954/

    I also wish to address some comments made by quiavideruntoculi regarding the last several Popes being “bad” and his hinting strongly that those who are Protestants are not likely to be saved. That is NOT the general thinking among Catholics, contradicts our Catechism, and we proudly and gladly accept you as our family in Christ. To deny that there are theological differences would be dishonest obviously, but I believe he goes far beyond orthodoxy in those statements and would simply say that is not Catholic teaching, official or otherwise. If needed I can get some specific quotes from our official Catechism, but if you happen to have one I will just share this much as a reference…Paragraphs 846-848 explain the meaning of statements made in the past such as “Without the Church there is no salvation” for starters. They are not aimed at our Protestant brothers and sisters. Sadly in the past they have been used against you. I would point out that the Catechism was promulgated with the authority of the Pope and the world’s bishops, and it is a synthesis of overall Catholic teaching as we now understand it. While that is another whole issue, I am stating this simply to say that we definitely consider you “part of the Church.” We also believe that there is a fullness and completeness in Catholicism that those from other Christian communions do not have, but that we are nevertheless united in baptism and our personal faith in Christ first and foremost.

    • Thanks Richard. I will so much for you for you to post the comments over here also. I think as far as I read, this has being a brilliant good exchange, full of respect and love for one another in Christ as we try to understand each other.

      Thank you for showing the unity, in diversity. I looking forward to share this thoughts and my position in a future post.

      PD

      • I will gladly do so, and thank you for your willingness to make yourself vulnerable and share this post as well. God bless you and your work. Your brother in Christ, Richard

      • PD,

        It gives me no pleasure at all to say this, but the apparent unity of Catholicism and Protestantism is skin deep and illusory. There is a radical difference between the way Protestants conceive of God, and the way Catholics do; I know this, both because my reason tells me it is so, and also from my own sad experience of discovering a huge brick wall dividing myself from former Protestant friends when I started on the path to Catholicism. I don’t think it helps anyone to stress the ways in which we seem to be the same. It’s the differences that matter, if we want to achieve real unity, and you will find – I assure you – that those differences are absolutely radical.

        The whole philosophy of Sola Scriptura (the hall mark, so far as I can see, of most Protestantism) is profoundly anti-Catholic, because it rejects the central Catholic idea that you should first accept divine truths on *blind faith* and then learn to reason about them afterwards. Protestantism says that all the truths you need to know about God are divinely revealed in black and white in the ‘plain text’ of the Bible, and you just have to ‘earnestly and prayerfully’ work them up into a workable theology. It’s an attractive view, but it’s profoundly anti-Catholic. It goes against everything we believe. Theology is not yours to write: it belongs to the Church, and the Catholic response is to practice absolute, religious submission of the will and intellect to the Church’s teachings. Who will claim that Protestantism teaches anything like this?

        Even if you arrive at theological conclusions that look similar to ours on paper by thus reasoning, you will inevitably view and respond to those conclusions in a radically different way, because the hermeneutic by which you derived them is likewise different.

        • Hej,

          I think there a great common ground that Rome and reformers have. We can show unity in loving one another and trying to understand, not necessarily agreeing, each other where we differ.

          When love comes first, disagreement follows at right and proper place. When love comes first, we seek to understand each others positions, correct, and edify one another though we differ in same points.

          Thanks for everything. I am writing an article addressing some of the position rose in this discussion. May the love of Christ be upon you.

          • Prayson I agree with you on the fact, both of our many similarities, and also differences as well. I did not choose to further quote any other sweeping sections of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), which is the one we currently follow, revised after over 400 years and solemnly declared by Blessed John Paul II as a “sure norm” for our Faith, clarifying and expanding upon (but not changing) the basic teachings of the Church, however I do not wish to see the Catholic Church position misrepresented here by someone, Catholic or other, who assumes you or other Protestant Christians are hell-bound if you do not accept our theology. That is not what we teach or believe as Roman Catholics.

            I do not see this post as a forum for two Catholics to in-fight (although there are many such quotations from the CCC which clearly assume the ultimate salvation of non-Catholic Christians who sincerely and lovingly follow the same Lord Jesus Christ we do). While it is true that there is a huge difference between invincible or vincible ignorance on both sides in fact, that is just as true within your framework of Sola Scriptura as it is in our belief of the three legged stool of Sacred Scripture/Sacred Tradition (not all tradition is sacred either!) and the Magisterium (which is the teaching of the world’s bishops in union with the Holy Father). Either doctrinal mindset can be thinking or unthinking. Either can be misused by those promoting their own agenda rather than that of our same Lord Jesus Christ.

            All of us have the responsibility to investigate Truth as best we know how, and then follow it going forward. How we go about this may be different, due to different presuppositions or hermeneutics as was mentioned by my esteemed brother quiavideruntoculi in another comment, but the idea that this makes us saved or lost is not the concept behind the Catholic belief of “outside the Church there is no salvation.” Far from suggesting we should not attempt to convince one another or discuss differences, we can do so with full recognition of the Christianity of our non-Catholic neighbors. He had also suggested earlier that I should base my findings upon a “different” Catechism, but the one I quote from (and which I might add has many more pages of clarifications on this issue in fact which very much refute the idea of heaven being only open to Catholics) is indeed the current one we follow as post-Vatican II Catholics. It was fully approved by the bishops of the world in union with the Holy Father, and it is therefore official Magisterial teaching. I cannot say it more clearly than that nor do I wish to belabor the point, but “q” has a minority view which is not accepted by most Catholic theologians or in fact the Vatican itself. That may be why he believes that the last two Popes were not in line with Catholic teaching–but they are. If their official teachings are truly wrong, then I would submit to you that there truly is no such thing as apostolic succession, which is what this thread is primarily about in the first place.

            I will leave the remainder for you to share your insights, but I did find a wonderful YouTube link which is quite timely, in a satirical way, dealing with the upcoming Conclave. Here is the link–I laughed until I nearly cried. Blessed Lent to all, and again thank you for opening up this discussion, Prayson Daniel.

      • @catholicboyrichard

        My position is entirely Orthodox, in no way denies the apostolic succession – or whatever else you mean to imply – and is congruent with the historic teaching of the Catholic Church AS WELL as the New Catechism.
        Your position is only congruent with a violent perversion of the New Catechism, and completely ignores magisterial teaching on the status of Protestants over 400+ years.

        You can point to no doctrinal statement *anywhere* which legitimates your assumption that Protestants are probably saved. Where is it written? Nowhere. You are jumping on an emotional bandwagon, in which you have been encouraged by BAD Popes – like Blessed John Paul II – wanting to believe oh-so-cosily that those who wilfully put themselves outside of the church are probably saved.

        You talk about what the catechism ‘implies’, and then show yourself completely ignorant of the Church’s traditional position, and hostile to it. How can you know what it does or does not imply UNLESS YOU COMPARE IT WITH PAST TEACHING? I repeat my sound advice that you seek clarity through studying older catechisms in tandem with the present one.

        You mistake, deliberately, it seems, the catechism’s assertion of the BROTHERHOOD of all Christians, and the status of Protestants AS Christians and Brothers, for the idea that Protestants are saved. Where does that follow? Good heavens! The Saints of the Church have been worried enough about the prospects of FULLY PAID UP CATHOLICS, and even themselves, and you presume to impute salvation to those who wilfully oppose the Church!

        WHAT IS MORE, you make no attempt to explain the fact that the Council of Trent INFALLIBLY teaches that ALL PROTESTANTS ARE CERTAINLY DAMNED. You can wave your misinterpretation of post-Vatican II Catholicism at me as much as you like: it won’t wash, it’s dishonest, and you are leading Protestants like Prayson Daniel astray by suggesting to him that he’s alright where and how he is.

        Do you deny that that’s what you’re doing?

      • PD,

        I agree with you when you say, “When love comes first, disagreement follows at right and proper place. When love comes first, we seek to understand each others positions, correct, and edify one another though we differ in same points.”

        I would want to add, however, that correction and edification can take different forms, and that while it is right to soft-pedal with some, it can be appropriate to play hard ball with others. I also don’t agree that the Reformers and the Catholic Church have any common ground, except on paper. Christ is One, and the Faith is One. You either have the Faith, or you don’t – there’s no middle ground.

        Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli lost the Faith, and are – unless they repented, which is extremely doubtful – presently in Hell. They were baptised, and they were our ‘brothers’ in Christ. But they were damned, because they were heretics, and the murderers of countless souls.

    • @catholicboyrichard

      You misrepresent my views, and you calumniate Holy Church, when you say things like “Sadly in the past they have been used against you.” It is highly dishonest – or plain ignorant – to attempt to sweep the inconvenient truth about the Catholic Church’s historic teaching under the carpet, or to pretend that it has changed. It hasn’t changed: Protestantism is Antichrist, formal Protestants (as opposed to material Protestants) are ipso facto part of the mystical body of Antichrist, and will have Hell except they repent.

      I am sorry to have to call you out on this, but no Catholic teaching permits you, or anyone, by any means, to *assume* or suggest that any Protestant is saved (even though IF he is invincibly ignorant – concerning which we DON’T KNOW – of course he *might* be) because, by definition, he consciously espouses one or other heresy which places him under an anathema of the Council of Trent (at least: many Protestants are at odds with other councils as well). Anyone under solemn anathema is ipso facto excommunicate, and if he persists in this error unto death, he will – we hold DE FIDE – be damned. Your assumption should be, as the assumption of the Church has always been, that every Protestant qua Protestant is damned, and on this basis you should expend every effort to convert him to the Catholic Faith, and not go on about how everything is hunky dory, because we’re all ‘brothers in Christ’. In doing so, you commit an objective mortal sin, and put your own salvation in jeopardy.

      Paragraph 818 has no bearing on the *salvation* of Protestants, as you dangerously imply, it merely affirms that they are rightly called Christians, if validly baptised, and since every Christian is grafted into Christ and adopted as a Son of God, rightly called brothers. But even many of our Catholic ‘brothers’ will be damned (cf. paragraph 837 of the same catechism): do not imagine that this affirmation of Protestantism’s participation in some parts of Catholic heritage in any way permits the opinion that non-Catholics are ‘probably saved’. If anything, Protestantism are in a worse state than the heathen, because of the extra grace they have received and abused, following in errors.

      What the majority Catholic opinion is on the matter makes to me no odds: I am concerned with what the Church teaches, and what the Church teaches – in the Council of Trent – is that any Calvinist, Lutheran, Zwinglian or other Protestant Heretic is damned, except he repents and becomes a good Catholic.

      To say that a Pope was a bad Pope is against no catechism whatever; if you want my reasons, I can give them. To say a Pope can’t have been bad at being Pope – because he’s a Pope, and everyone liked him, &c – , however, IS against the Catholic faith. Even if he is beatified.

    • I would strongly recommend getting hold of some better Catechisms (all of which are valid, and all of which are part of the Ordinary Magisterium). The 1992 one is ambiguous in places (e.g. re Capital punishment, where many theologians – including one of the Pope’s own, Msgr Gherardini – and faithful lay people have pointed to this failing) and, frankly, a bit weak, and as Pope Benedict has said concerning Vatican II, where there is apparent ambiguity or uncertainty, we should refer to the Church’s historic teaching for clarification. Not claim ‘rupture’ and go on as if the uncertainty is an excuse to come up with our own false heretical doctrines: this is precisely what modernists in the Church want you to do!

    • @catholicboyrichard

      Of the paragraphs 846-8 to which you refer, not one of them says anything about the status of somebody who wilfully chooses to put his faith in a false religion. They only speak about the invincibly ignorant.

      Also, I would draw your attention to 848, 848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”

      Notice, “the obligation… to evangelize ALL MEN.” That includes Protestants, and completely supports my position.

  12. @zanspence

    Re binding and loosing, and 1 Tim. 2:5, I want to make the following observation. In wondering why this passage, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,” apparently had no purchase on Leo I, you seem to imply that there is something contradictory about God granting powers of binding and loosing to men on the one hand, and the unique mediating role of Christ on the other hand. That seems very untenable: how on earth would you interpret the passage re the power to bind and loose, if not to say that this is a clear example of God delegating his power of judgement to the ministers of the Church? Anything less, and the passage makes no sense.

    I would harmonize the two passages this way: Christ is the one mediator, and all salvation depends on Him, yes, but God enjoys bringing human beings in on his plans. He likes it when we participate, and – IN CHRIST – we can. That’s the wonderful thing about the redemption in Christ, that we can become co-labourers – I will even say co-redeemers – with Christ, doing God’s work for the salvation of Souls.

    • Thanks for your response. I’m starting to understand more about Catholic theology. The office of the pope and authority is about trying to get as close to early Christianity as possible. It’s good that even when we come to different conclusions that we can see the original intent and the heart of a matter. I’ve met plenty of sincere Catholics who love God and who are saved by the definition of salvation(Romans 10:9). I have another question. It seems that in scripture and by Jesus renaming Peter to Peter and by Matthew 16:18 Peter is established by the first pope. But in terms of action and result it seems that Paul would be a better candidate as the first pope and example of leadership in early Christianity (given all the letters we have). What do you think about this? Has this ever been discussed in Catholicism? What do you think about Galations 2 where Paul rebukes Peter?

      • @zanspence

        It’s a pleasure to answer your questions.

        I think you touch on an interesting point re Peter and Paul. The trivial answer is that God chose Peter because He’s God and knows what’s best. But as to *why* God chose Peter – if it is not an impious question to ask -, when we in fact hear more of Peter’s failings than of Paul’s failings in the NT, and when Paul might appear in some respects to have been of stronger leadership material (I personally don’t see this, myself), my own off-the-top-of-my-head explanation of this would be that God wanted to hammer home the point that Peter – especially Peter – was not perfect.

        Papolatry is a serious problem in the Church today; many neoconservative Catholics (and liberals, especially under JP II and Paul VI) have distorted the doctrine of Papal infallibility into the false idea that the Pope can do no wrong, and we need to be strongly reminded of the failings of St Peter, in order to keep our view of the present pontiff in the proper perspective.

        The instance of Paul rebuking Peter in Galatians 2 is there, I think, to embolden us – when the necessity arises – to follow Paul’s example, and that of Athanasius the Great, in opposing *even the Pope* where he urges anything contrary to the Gospel. Popes have been heretics in the past (very few of them, I grant, but an heretic pope is a very very dangerous threat to the Church). The most notorious example is Honorius I. One of the Johns also unwittingly taught heresy concerning purgatory for some time during the middle ages, until he was corrected by a French University and duly recanted. There is a strong argument to be made that John Paul II has (however unintentionally) implicitly taught heresy by e.g. encouraging ecumenical gatherings which seem to set false religions (Protestantism, Islam, Judaism, Animism, Buddhism, &c.) up on a par with the Catholic Faith.

  13. @zanspence

    Re “I am sincerely curious about what scriptures drive Catholic theology and doctrine.”

    I am delighted that you want to learn more about the Catholic faith. But if you are looking for the basis of Catholicism in Scripture, you will be disappointed, because the Holy Tradition of the Faith, which subsists uniquely in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, is the basis for Holy Scripture, not the other way around, and the basis of this in turn is a living person, Christ, whose teachings were oral, and not directly written down. Of course, all of Scripture is *consonant* with Catholicism, and naturally amenable to and affirmative of a Catholic reading (after all, the Catholic Church compiled it), but it can be wrested, misconstrued, and distorted out of shape and context: this is what Protestantism invariably does, because its hermeneutic – Sola Scriptura – rashly neglects to avail itself of the sanctifying wellspring of the Holy Tradition, and the consensus fidelium, that is, the consensus of the faithful servants of God throughout the ages. (This is odd, because Holy Tradition is, apart from anything else, Historical evidence, and Protestants are not generally bothered about using e.g. Archaeological findings to inform their exegesis. Why is that, by the way?) Viewed disinterestedly, the scripture can be seen naturally to align itself with Catholic teachings. Especially if you don’t cut books out of it (e.g. the Deuterocanon). But an appeal to Sola Scriptura in dissecting Catholic Doctrine just won’t work: we don’t think like that.

    The Church is called “the pillar and foundation of all Truth”, (1 Tim 3:15); we are, to paraphrase Augustine, moved to believe the truths of the gospel by the authority of the Catholic Church, and Christ came, not to write a book, but to found a Church. If you approach Holy Scripture, which is the single most important repository of that Holy Tradition, without reference to that broader context, and without reasoning in the Holy Spirit, you will make nonsense of it. If, however, you approach the Scripture, seeking to understand what you obediently and humbly acknowledge must be true, according to the infallible witness of the Church, which – I cannot stress this enough – is the PILLAR AND FOUNDATION OF ALL TRUTH, then your search will be rewarded and your understanding will be increased.

    The Holy Tradition is the Catholic Faith, the uniformity of which is guaranteed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each individual believer, according to which – while he perseveres – he is infallibly led unto all Truth. (John 16:13). This is because each individual believer is made part of Christ by baptism, and indeed, even a second Christ. The Church, the mystical body of Christ, literally re-presents (makes present again) Christ in this world, and can do nothing but echo His teachings verbatim. Go to the Catholic Church, and you may have the whole truth on any matter pertinent to Salvation: that is what Christ founded it for. If you go down the Sola Scriptura route, you can get nothing but confusion and discord – which had been the essential condition of the schismatic, heretical Protestant diaspora, from its inception to the present day.

  14. Mr Rice,

    You say; “That doesn’t necessitate him being the leader of any churches outside of Rome. The historical record bears no evidence of Peter’s supremacy among the apostles;” I say, what about the historical testimony of the Church Tradition? Isn’t that historical evidence?

    Also, just think about it: it makes *perfect* sense that the Roman See – being at the heart of the Roman Empire – should have held the primacy. From a purely practical point of view, if you’re going to coordinate a global church (St Thomas got as far as India in his lifetime) the best place to have your nerve centre and commander-in-chief is Rome. You can try to say that the fact that Sts Peter and Paul operated from Rome as their base is purely coincidental if you like, but I don’t see why you want to do that: the obvious inference is that one of the two held Primacy.

    Church Tradition informs us that it was St Peter, and not St Paul; I don’t know if there’s any way of establishing this more certainly from archaeology, but as a matter of sheer common sense, why opt to suspend judgement – or claim rather obtusely that there was no primacy – when the Church’s tradition offers a *perfectly* plausible account, fully in line with Christ’s singling out of Peter in the New Testament, in this respect? Our Lord said to Peter, very deliberately, “Feed my sheep”, three times. In this, we understand that He conferred to him his own primacy; Peter was appointed the vicar of Christ, to be the shepherd the flock par excellence in this world.

    I know that you will resist this, because your religion depends on circumventing the truths of the Holy Tradition, and muddying the historical waters with faithless scepticism, reducing religion down to the sum total of what *you* can make out of scripture unaided. I myself am a convert to Catholicism from Protestantism, and I sympathise. But I implore you simply to try to look at the Scripture with fresh eyes. Ask yourself, if you knew nothing about e.g. the Protestant myth that the Pope is Antichrist, or the foolish notion that the Catholic church is somehow or other the great bogeyman of the Western world (when in fact, it was she that *made* the Western world), or that Priests ‘get between the faithful and God’, or whatever other diabolical fancy you might have succumbed to, would you take from these passages about Peter anything other than that Christ was singling him out for a special task? And would you be at all surprised to find that this differentiated ministry became part of the established order of the Church, through the Apostolic succession? Would it not be the most natural thing in the world, for God, having first thus honoured Peter, to elevate the commander-in-chief of his Church in this World – the Church militant – to the See of Peter, viz. the Roman See?

    • Just to briefly interject, I do not get the sense that anyone is attempting to attack Catholicism here, but rather search out this issue from both sides. I would hope all the commenters bear this in mind in their replies. It is not my page to say this perhaps, but as a brother in Christ and one with deep respect to Prayson Daniel, I am just saying let us not attack one another but learn from each other. God bless.

      • I do believe Catholicism is being attacked – however unwittingly -, because the raison d’etre of Protestantism is to attack Catholicism, and the Protestant hermeneutic is hostile to the Catholic hermeneutic: this is perfectly logical, and I bear Protestants no ill will on this account.

        I’m not interested in attacking any person, but I am interested in attacking an ideology – viz. Protestantism – because I believe it kills the supernatural life of the soul, and I will have to answer to God for my conduct in this life. I would submit that a debate carried on as if there were not these very significant differences (both re hermeneutics and re conclusions) between the Catholic and Protestant positions on this, as on every other subject, will be a fruitless, and – ultimately – a disrespectful one. I have unqualified respect for any man who holds his ground and argues robustly and honestly for his beliefs like Prayson Daniel and the rest of this blog’s worthy company, but I won’t give an inch where I don’t think an inch can be given, and it would be a sin of omission against to forbear to point out what I take to be an highly dubious and irrationally selective tendency toward scepticism in the approach of some to this issue, amongst others.

        I put to Mr Rice a very reasonable question: Why does he want to sidestep the obvious conclusion that the Petrine primacy of the Holy Tradition is perfectly consonant with the facts of history and the testimony of Holy Writ, and continue to cast doubt on this? Whence this sceptical inclination to call into doubt the received wisdom of the whole Church on no positive evidence? I believe – and I will be delighted if he denies it – that the inclination stems from a systematic desire to discredit the Church of Rome, which is inherent to the Protestant outlook. I don’t believe that there is sufficient matter for doubt in any of these sources of testimony: where are the alternative Traditions or sources claiming that the Church was a democracy, or that St Paul was the first Pope, or that Christ was speaking generally where He apparently is speaking particularly? They do not exist. Therefore I ask: why are Protestants bothered about casting doubt on this issue? What have you got to lose?

      • Hey catholicboyrichard, Do you think you or someone could address Leo I’s statement with scripture in the same way I did? Particularly my definition of “arguments” 2-4. I honestly see where Leo I was going with argument 1 and John 1:42 but I think more scripture should be the key driver for all of our conclusions whether we feel someone has misinterpreted the scripture or not. I agree with you that we should not be in the spirit of accusation and attack but unless there is scripture under girding our thoughts and conclusions then I don’t think there is much to say. I am sincerely curious about what scriptures drive Catholic theology and doctrine.

        • A wonderful young brother in Christ and the Church, David Demboski, shared a response which should show up either above or below yours here. Since I re-blogged it will actually show up on my site, but I will list the link. Another helpful one is from Tony Layne. Both of these guys could outsmart me even in my sleep. So hopefully they will be of help:).

    • As this is not my “play pen” but that belonging to Prayson, I don’t want to get into arguments. I was simply replying to Prayson’s post as he asked. Let me say that I don’t believe the Pope to be the Antichrist (I’m actually a great supporter of the current and previous pope), the Constantine controversy, or any of the other ideas stacked unfairly on my plate.

      The question of the primacy of Rome is not just a divide with Protestants, but with Copts, the various Orthodox communions, and others.

      I believe you hit the nail on the head to large measure, quiavideruntoculi, when you wrote that my “religion depends on circumventing the truths of the Holy Tradition, and muddying the historical waters with faithless scepticism, reducing religion down to the sum total of what *you* can make out of scripture unaided.” This really is the great divide between historic Romanism & Protestantism: the role of “Holy Tradition.”

      From a purely human standpoint, I agree that it makes sense for Christ’s work to be …. headquartered in the locus of of the world …. but that has not been Rome for many years; and one could argue that the spiritual locus of Christianity was Jerusalem or even Antioch where believers were first called Christians. But are we to take a human standpoint in matters of faith or the clear and established testimony of Holy Writ?

      Quite honestly, it matters not to me where the visible church is headquartered. To me, and all informed Protestants, this issue comes down to the “more sure word of testimony” rather than the traditions of men, whomever those men may be. I happen to stand with Martin Luther: “Since then your imperial majesty and your lordships demand a simple answer, I will give you one without teeth and without horns. Unless I am convicted of error by the testimony of Scripture or by manifest evidence…I cannot and will not retract, for we must never act contrary to our conscience….Here I stand. God help me! Amen!”

      • Praise God for your candour!

        I hope, splendid fellow, that I did not seem to despise you, when I listed speculatively a number of common Protestant errors concerning the Pope which you might have been entertaining. I know that this is an issue that divides Catholics from both Protestants and the Eastern Schismatics, but e.g. to believe that the pope is Anti Christ seems to me quite a logical and defensible position, if you believe e.g. that the Great Schism and the Protestant Reformation were essentially Rome’s fault. I held that position myself for a long time. The Church of Rome is either the supreme work of Satan, or bride of Christ.

        You do certainly fall foul of one great diabolical error, however, and in this you are certainly the child of the Heresiarch Luther, and so my speculations were not wholly wide of the mark. In essence, you say with Luther, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Verily, there you stand, and verily there you will perish, as God is my witness, unless you allow God, through the ministrations of His Church, to lead you, and you follow in humble and blind faith, to the fullness of Catholic truth. As G K Chesterton said, you can only reach truth with logic, once you have first reached it without.

        I don’t trust your ‘more sure word of testimony’ hermeneutic, because, while there seems to me plenty in the Scripture to support and correlate with the Catholic view that Peter had this particular mission (though it is not explicitly stated in so many words, I grant you), and everything in plain common sense to suggest that where Peter left off his successors to the Petrine See would continue, there is *nothing* in Scripture, or in history, or in any tradition whatever to gainsay it categorically. Perhaps at times Peter was less assertive, and maybe James took more of a role at some points. I don’t know. But this sort of consideration proves precisely nothing: modern Popes vary in their approach, and the issue is not to establish the finer detail about how Peter’s papacy worked, but simply to establish in Scripture a solid justification for believing what the Church has always believed, namely that Peter had a special role in God’s plan for the founding of the Church, and his monarchical, vicarious and differentiated pastoral ministry is a necessary part of the organic structure of the Body of Christ, which essentially persists to the present day in the office of the Supreme Pontiff.

        I believe that justification exists, and I don’t believe there is any real justification for doubting it – unless, of course, you just don’t want to obey the Church.

        • Quiavideruntoculi, your strawmen are entertaining and your name-calling endearing. I bear each name as a badge of honor, though I wonder if you treat all of your “separated brethren” with such distinction! Your kind words and thoughtfulness outshines that of any of the popes since the Second Vatican Council.

          My cause is not a church but its’ Christ. My standard not a Tradition but the Text of Holy Writ. My leader is no man but the God-Man Jesus. I will march with the army of my Sovereign Lord and King, no matter what tribe they hail from, as long as they bow the knee in full-surrender to Him.

          God’s richest blessing upon you Quiavideruntoculi. Thank you, sincerely, for putting a smile upon my face for this day. If I were not needing to leave from work, I’d be glad to continue this dialog.

      • Thank you for your blessing; I pray that it will count in your favour on the day of Judgement, as it is written, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Genesis 12:3).

        I am glad that you are not repelled by my direct approach, but I don’t want you to think I speak idly, or rashly, when I use these terms. As to Straw Men, we shall see, and let God be the Judge, who has the straw men.

        I am also gratified that you think “[My] kind words and thoughtfulness outshines that of any of the popes since the Second Vatican Council.”, since many mistake the truth for offence. All of the popes since the second Vatican council have been bad popes: that is not to say bad men – only God knows that – but definitely bad popes. And they – with the possible exception of Benedict XVI – have completely failed to stem the tide of modernism and hogwash that has over topped the gunwales of the Barque of Peter.

        As to this: “My cause is not a church but its’ Christ. My standard not a Tradition but the Text of Holy Writ. My leader is no man but the God-Man Jesus. I will march with the army of my Sovereign Lord and King, no matter what tribe they hail from, as long as they bow the knee in full-surrender to Him.”

        I answer:

        My cause is not a church, but Christ; and Christ said, of the Apostles – whose successors are the Bishops – whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven them, and whose sins you retain, they will be retained. (John 20:22). He also said, he that hears you, hears Me (Luke 10:16). And the Holy Ghost tells us that – as I will never, Dei gratia, tire of repeating – the Church is the PILLAR AND FOUNDATION OF ALL TRUTH (1 Tim. 3:15).

        Your standard, I submit, is not Tradition, or the Text of Holy Writ (which is part of Tradition); it is Sola Scriptura, which is a reductionist philosophy, designed to denude the Scripture of its richness and robbing it of its context. My standard is Christ, and the Church is His body, and the Holy Bishops are His mouth. I listen to them, because they speak in one accord, and their voice is my Lord’s voice. The first of them, the Apostles, wrote the Scriptures of the New Testament; their successors preserved them, canonised them and passed them down to us.

        As to the whole marching thing, we agree on paper. But there is no one disobedient to the Church, who can also claim to be obedient to Christ. Quid autem dicit Scriptura? HE WHO HEARS YOU HEARS ME. (Luke 10:16).

  15. One other thing. Let’s say for the sake of argument that historically speaking, we could prove that Peter was the leader of the church in Rome. So what? That doesn’t necessitate him being the leader of any churches outside of Rome. The historical record bears no evidence of Peter’s supremacy among the apostles; and the Biblical record is even more clear.

  16. The only thing I can add to the discussion thus far is this: the Roman church advocates for Jesus setting Peter aside as the primary among the apostles; however, in Acts 15, at the Jerusalem Council, James was at the least the co-leader of the discussion and in Galatians 2:9 & 12, it appears that James held greater weight that Peter.

  17. Hey my brother…I just reblogged this to get some of my Catholic (and other) friends from my page to give some input too. I will save my thoughts for later but I will share them too once I gather some from people who follow my blog. This is important stuff. Thanks for sharing in such a fair and impartial way. God bless.

  18. Reblogged this on catholicboyrichard and commented:
    From a Calvinist brother in Christ (and an eminently fair one by the way) who wants the Catholic perspective on this issue. Please add your comments, and I will gladly forward the best ones on to him. So go to it folks:). This is THE major issue which separates us from Protestants. So it is worth some thoughtful answers. No attacks please. We are all brothers and sisters here if we have been baptized into Christ and are living for Him.

  19. All we christians have at last ten centuries of common past and faith.
    Remember this because we had many Popes.
    Christ gave the Keys to Peter. The seconde Pope and the ones who followed knew that those Keys where to them too.
    We need a head of the Church. Christ knew that.

  20. As a Roman Catholic, I would want to affirm both interpretations. I don’t see that they are mutually exclusive, but rather mutually reinforcing. Christ is talking about Peter’s faith, yes, but that means He is, by necessary extension, talking about Peter as a person. If Christ were just talking about faith in general, why would he address this to Peter in particular? Whether it’s the person Peter or the faith of the person Peter, there’s no escaping that we’re talking about… Peter, and his apostolic ministry. This is not a generic message about faith being the bedrock of the Church: it is a particular message about the particular role of a particular person, namely Peter, and his faith, and the Church believes that it is also a prophetic message about the role that the Petrine see has had to play in Church history, because of other passages, e.g. “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32).

    It is an historic fact that the fullness of the Catholic faith has only been preserved in Rome in unbroken Tradition, and the role of the Roman see in converting and reconverting the rest of the Church back to the Christ is a striking feature of the Church’s development. In the East, there is still celebrated the feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, where the faithful remember the *five* occasions – prior to the Great Schism – when the Popes of Rome gloriously called foul on various heretical movements that had won over all of their brother patriarchates in the East. More shamefully for Protestants, only Rome has managed to hold the line even on *moral* teaching; this is seen particularly in the sphere of sexual ethics, and the rapid disintegration of Protestant ethics into a relativistic mush, in the midst of which moral ruin the Catholic Church alone stands erect and defiant.

    God has form on dignifying his servants’ posterity on account of their faith – Abraham being the prime example. I believe that the institution of Church government by Christ among the Apostles has remained substantially intact in the ordering of Church governance through to the present day, and that Peter *and* his successors according to the laying on of hands have a special and differentiated role to play in the mission of the Church. As St Peter had a special role to play among the apostles, so his successor continues to have a special role to play among the Bishops, who are the successors to the Apostles. This is the sense of the scripture: where’s the difficulty? Is it that if you concede that there’s something more concrete to this Petrine thing than a platitude, you might have to concede a lot more?

  21. As it pertains to the debate between Catholics and Protestants, it very well could be that Jesus was referring to Peter himself and not Peter’s confession. But if so, so what? How does the papacy follow from this? All Jesus identified Peter as the person on whom He would build His church, not Peter’s physical or spiritual descendents. Just Peter. So even if they are rightly understanding Jesus to be referring to Peter’s person, the idea of papal supremacy and papal succession does not follow.

  22. If one follows in the NT the various confessions of who Jesus is, using the death of John the Baptist for the timeline, one finds that Peter was apparently the last of the Apostles to make such a confession. I believe that Jesus’ point was that even Peter now believes, and so this must have been revealed to him from above. And that is how any one of us comes to believe who Jesus really is. So, I say that it was not even Peter’s confession per se that Jesus was impressed with and responding to; rather, it was the fact that Jesus’ identity was revealed to Peter from on high. This is what the church of Jesus is (being) built upon.

  23. I’m a protestant and believe along the lines of Origen-Augustine-Chrysostom

    Leo the I’s argument has these 4 main parts
    1)For he was ordained before the rest in such a way that from his being called the Rock,
    2)from his being pronounced the Foundation,
    3)from his being constituted the Doorkeeper of the kingdom of heaven,
    4)from his being set as the Umpire to bind and to loose, whose judgments shall retain their validity in heaven,

    I can understand his interpretation of part 1 because when Jesus called Peter he renamed him
    from Simon to “Peter/Cephas” where both mean stone: “And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (John 1:42, KJV).

    I think part 2 is referring to the transfiguration? (Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28–36,2 Peter 1:16–18). But
    James and John were there as well. In fact Peter, James and John were also the ones that Jesus chose exclusively to wait and pray with him in the garden (Matt 26:37-38).

    Part 3 and 4 are similar but I don’t know of any scripture that would’ve been interpreted to support them.

    My theory is that the very spirit of division that was alive at the Church of Corinth that Paul addressed in 1 Corinthians 1:10-15(NIV 1984) below is what has survived in Christianity to this day:

    I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
    My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.
    What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
    I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.

    My other question is that by the time Leo I wrote his comment cannocity had been established in late 300’s. So they had access to Paul’s letters. I wonder why the letter to Corinth and letter to Timothy(1 Tim 2:5) that states there is no mediator between God and man did not have some weight.

  24. I like the historical view of scriptural interpretation, but I’m wondering and at an immediate loss for the differing implications of each position. Can you enlighten?

    • That is a good question. In a simple way, the implication of the Rome’s Catholic view is that it was used to claim the primacy of Peter and his successors, Roman’s Pope, as the visible head of the universe church. The other view, all believers are the visible church.

      This was one reason the reformers protested against the Roman Catholicism.

      • I think you are right Prayson.

        I always believed the name Peter (Greek, Petros) means “rock” or “rock-man.” In the next phrase Christ used petra (upon this rock), a feminine form for “rock,” not a name. Christ used a play on words. He does not say “upon you, Peter” or “upon your successors,” but “upon this rock”—upon this divine revelation and profession of faith in Christ.

        It would seem then the Church is the whole of believers and not a specific denomination.

  25. Origen-Augustine-Chrysostom, is the correct one based on the Greek reading and the words Petros and petra.
    If the Jesus really spoke in Aramaic why didn’t he simply use the word Kephas?

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