PAPAL PRIMACy

 


  1. Bullet Catholics believe Peter was the First Pope appointed by Jesus Christ


  1. Bullet Peter and Paul died in Rome


  1. Bullet The Catholic church is One



Objection #1: On what grounds do you claim that Christ founded the One RC Church with Peter as its head?


Roman Catholics base their conclusion starting first on the fact that Jesus being God cannot err. He is also a God of unity and when he speaks (as such) though, we may not initially understand as in his teachings to his disciples in John 6:35-42, he does reveal his nature or explain himself throughout the Gospels as he sees fit. The theme of unity abounds in the New Testament after Pentecost in John 10:16, 1 Cor. 1:10, Phil 2:2, etc.


St. Cyprian writing in 250 AD wrote "God is one, and Christ one, and one the Church of Christ" (De eccl. unitate, xxiii); and again in his epistles he insists that there is but "One Church founded upon Peter by Christ the Lord" (Epist. 70, ad Jan.) and that there is but "one altar and one priesthood" (Epist. 40, v). St. Ignatius, Tertuillan and St. Irenaus also had strong words to say on the unity of the church.


On the subject of unity the Catholic encyclopedia has this to say "...it [Church] must unite its members in unity of doctrine, expressed by external, public profession; in unity of worship, manifested chiefly in the reception of the same sacraments; and in unity of government, by which all its members are subject to and obey the same authority, which was instituted by Christ Himself."


St. Paul himself expressed that unity in 1 Cor. 12:13, Ephesians 4:3-6 and elsewhere. From his teachings and those of the early church fathers we must conclude that it is not simply a spiritual bond that unites us, but it is a whole lot more. Now why should there be more than just the fractured aspects of Christianity as displayed by Protestantism in a so called spiritual bond? A bond that is fractured in teachings and practices which should be our first clue. Let us now consider the often ignored words in the Gospel of Matthew 16:19 which says:


"[19] And I will give to thee [Peter] the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."


Catholics interpret Jesus saying here that he gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. He is speaking to Peter and Peter alone. With those keys comes the responsibility that whatever Peter decided on earth shall be done in heaven. Now, did Jesus power and command to Peter stop after Peter died? It could not have been stopped, as Jesus knew that Peter was only going to live for roughly 64-33=31 years after Jesus died. That makes no sense given the prominence of Peter who is mentioned in the Bible some 195 times (even more than all the apostles combined) and revered by all. If there is no apostolic successor to Peter then what guarantee do we have that authority can be maintained, tradition passed down, or someone to guide the church during its crisis of faith. And they had many controversies as we all know! The answer of course lies in Apostolic succession (John 10:16, Eph 4:11, 1 Tim 3:1, 8:5:17).


In Matt. 16:13-16 we encounter the first straw poll in history with consequences,


[13] And Jesus came into the quarters of Cesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is?

[14] But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

[15] Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?


[16] Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.


We note the diversity of answers that Jesus gets which is indicative of what many people throughout the course of history have thought about Jesus down to this day.  In the course of the conversation they themselves are next directly asked the question, but only Peter answers correctly.  What is Jesus response?


[17] And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.


Peter’s response is therefore one of a confession of faith indicative of his leadership role to come. A charism that is conferred on him alone by the Father in heaven.


Before I proceed about the preeminence of Rome in early times, the books of Acts talks about many of the things Peter did such as give the first sermon, miracles, excommunication, head the early church and make the first dogmatic decision. In looking at the word authority it means leadership. Jesus asked Peter to feed his sheep in John 21:15. This is what a leader does as Peter took care of the church and the apostles and did all these things, but the leadership did not end with his death, as the church was essentially still an infant history wise, and there was no new revelation after all the apostles died. This means the shepherding and teaching ministry of Peter had to continue as was his [Jesus] disciples work. Just as Mathias was elected to take Judas place, someone must take Peter place, otherwise the church would not have survived. Others would have to take the Apostles place as well. The first Apostolic fathers. There is scriptural support for that as well in Luke 6:12-16, Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:21-23, and 2 Thess. 2:15.


Objection #2 Nothing that Christ ever said connected Peter, the Rock, with Rome.


Jesus Christ left us with the words of Matthew 16:17-18;


[17]. And Jesus answering said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.

[18]. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


“This Rock” has been a hotly contest point in the past but most scholars agree that Peter is truly the rock that Jesus refers too here. The NIV version of this passage translates the original Greek correctly so it shall be our starting point as we establish the link between Peter (the Rock) and Jesus. The onus therefore is to prove the second link. That is Peter was in Rome. For this we have to turn to the writings of the Early church fathers to hear what they have to say on the matter:


Dionysius of Corinth

"You [Pope Soter] have also, by your very admonition, brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth; for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time" (Letter to Pope Soter [A.D. 170], in Eusebius, History of the Church 2:25:8).


Irenaeus

"Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church" (Against Heresies, 3, 1:1 [A.D. 189]).


Clement of Alexandria

"The circumstances which occasioned . . . [the writing] of Mark were these: When Peter preached the Word publicly at Rome and declared the gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had been a long time his follower and who remembered his sayings, should write down what had been proclaimed" (Sketches [A.D. 200], in a fragment from Eusebius, History of the Church, 6, 14:1).


Tertullian

"But if you are near Italy, you have Rome, where authority is at hand for us too. What a happy church that is, on which the apostles poured out their whole doctrine with their blood; where Peter had a passion like that of the Lord, where Paul was crowned with the death of John [the Baptist, by being beheaded]" (Demurrer Against the Heretics 36 [A.D. 200]).


"[T]his is the way in which the apostolic churches transmit their lists: like the church of the Smyrneans, which records that Polycarp was placed there by John, like the church of the Romans, where Clement was ordained by Peter" (ibid., 32:2).


Clearly these writings and many others of the Church fathers establish that Peter and Paul died in Rome thereby completing the link. Petrine tradition tells us was hung upside down on a cross for he considered himself unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus Christ and Paul being a roman citizen was beheaded for his beliefs.


Objection #3 – Peter, the leader of the Apostles and the first among equal Apostolic rocks, also founded many other churches. The Church of Jerusalem is the Mother Church historically and Peter founded the Church of Antioch before Rome. Why therefore the preeminence of Rome?


You mentioned that the church of Jerusalem is the mother church and Peter founded the Church of Antioch before Rome. Both your statements are true, but there are two considerations you have neglected in your statement. The first is that Antioch was the second city of the Roman empire but Rome was the first or capital even though Antioch can claim Peter as its first Bishop. The second point is that both Peter and Paul ministered and died in Rome which was the political and cultural capital city of the Romans.


As in any country in modern times the capital is symbolic of power and Rome would have been in its time, even though Antioch and Jerusalem deserve just mention in history. In fact many of the Apostolic church fathers met their death and hence martyrdom in Rome such as St. Clement, St. Ignatius, St. Polycarp, and St. Justin Martyr to name a few.


There exists a further point to support the claim above and that is from the words of the apostolic fathers themselves in Irenaus (Against heresies 3, 1:1), Caius in Disputation with Proclus, Tertuillan (in Against the heretics 36) all in the support of Peter as first head of the church.


To further illustrate the preeminence of Rome in early times we have the example of Polycarp (John’s Disciple) when summoned to Rome by Pope Anicetus to resolve the dispute over the date when Christians should celebrate Easter (fixed or moveable). Polycarp eventually had to agree to disagree and they parted amicably. Note he was summoned and not the other way around. This later translated into the story of the Easter Controversy as Asian Bishops and even St. Irenaus of Lyon (Polycarp disciple) and the then Pope Victor I clashed over the undecided dates of Easter. Other Bishops as well joined the fray but finally Pope Victor insisted that the Asian Christians and Bishops toe the line or be excommunicated. Needless to say they humbled themselves and none questioned the Pope's authority and the practice of Easter dates remains as it is today from the third century.



Objection # 4  - Matthew (and related passages in the Gospels such as John 20:23) make clear that Jesus delegated the power to bind and loose to all Christians not just to Peter alone.



First of all John 20:23 refers to the power of forgiveness of sins that Jesus gave to his disciples while Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18 focus on the power to bind and loose not just sins. In fact neither Matthew 16:19 or Matthew 18:18 say anything about delegating this power (binding and loosing) to all Christians. It is also illogical to give the power to bind and loose to all Christians since clearly all Christians will not agree on everything. Therefore Tom cannot claim to bind X and Jim claim to loose the same X. That is simply illogical.


In Matthew 16:19 Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. This verse is and most scholars agree taken directly from Isaiah 22:22 where the King hands the equivalent of the Prime Minister (Eliacim) the keys as ultimate power. The Isaiah passage is:


[22] And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open.

[23] And I will fasten him as a peg in a sure place, and he shall be for a throne of glory to the house of his father.

[24] And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, divers kinds of vessels, every little vessel, from the vessels of cups even to every instrument of music.


Note the King in the early passages is above the Prime Minister in power but the Prime Minister still has power as Isaiah 24 tells us. He is in charge of the Kings servants until he returns. Note also in Matthew 18:18 there are no keys as that occurs only in Matthew 16, but the power to loose or bind is given in both passages to the apostles as a whole. That Prime minister would have the ultimate power or say, to bind or loose until the King returns. St. Peter is that Prime minister or Vicar of Christ in charge and the King is Jesus until he returns. The Apostles share in the power of binding and loosing but can carry it out only in union with St. Peter. This is further evidenced by Peter's preeminent role after Pentecost.


Objection #5 - I heard there were bad Popes in history doing bad things. that proves that the Catholic church claim to Petrine Primacy is fallible.


First we must state what Catholics mean by when they speak of the Pope being infallible.  Infallibility refers only to when the Pope is talking about matters concerning faith and morals and it must be done in Ex Cathedra. That is from the chair of Peter. His Ex Cathedra decisions are not the result of his private deliberations and they can sometimes take hundreds of years in consultations with other Bishops and theologians of the church. Thus the Catholic definition of Petrine infallibility is very narrow and has no connection with the personal individual behind the chair. The fact that Peter himself was a sinner in denying Jesus three times proves that Popes are indeed truly human without diminishing the office they hold. In history there have been three really bad Popes (during the Middle ages) who were guilty of extravagant excesses, nepotism and other indiscretions unworthy of the office they held.  Interestingly during that time, not one of those three Popes changed any of the churches doctrines, probably because they were too busy being bad.


Objection #6 - James if the head of the church in Jerusalem, not Peter.


In the book of Acts it does not state that James is the head of the church of Jerusalem while Peter is there. Most people infer this because he spoke last, but the reality is that Peter was the first to speak. Peter name is also mentioned 195 times more than anyone else. The fathers of the church do say that James the Just did become head, but only after Peter moved on to form others churches at Antioch and Rome. In fact the prominence given to James in Acts probably shows why he was chosen to head the church in Jerusalem after Peter left.


Objection #7 - Paul rebuked Peter in Galatians showing that Peter could not be the head of the church and infallible.


This is a case where most people confuse the office of authority with the man in the office. Of course Peter was genuinely rebuked by Paul, but his rebuke was due to the fact that Peter was insincere by eating with Gentile Christians one minute and then not eating with them when the Jewish Christians were there in the next minute. That was clearly wrong as he gave preference to the Mosaic law when he should not have. Paul uses the example of Peter in Galatians to reinforce the idea that it is the Grace of Jesus Christ and not the Mosaic law that we are justified by and should live by. This in no way diminishes the office that Peter holds but rather reminds the office holder to hold to high standards. Can you think of a President or Prime Minister who has never been criticized by the media and in subsequent elections the office of President or Prime Minister has been removed because of less than impeccable behavior?


Questions:


Does your church have a head pastor? Is he the same head as the head of the church a few blocks from you which probably will have at least one different Christian belief from your church? Why then do you deny that Peter can be and was the head of the Roman Catholic church?


Can you prove that Peter died outside of Rome?


Can you prove that some other Apostle other than Peter was the leader of the Apostles?