THE CATHOLIC RESPONSE, PART III
In "What to Expect from Catholic Apologist and How To Respond To It", Jason writes that Catholics engage in
"Unwarranted Assumptions. Many arguments for Catholicism rely on reading assumptions into the scriptures and other early
church documents. For example, Peter being referred to first in lists of the disciples (Acts 1:13) is assumed to be evidence that Peter was a Pope, the leader of the other apostles. That it was common for such lists to be led by the eldest person in the group is overlooked. All other possible explanations are overlooked as well. It's just assumed that the only reason Peter would be listed first would be that he was a Pope."
Don't you think it is an assumption to say that Peter was the eldest person in the group? What Scripture passage can you put forth to assert this? How do you even know whether Peter was the oldest apostle or not? Even if he was, the rest of the apostle's are all listed in varying order. In other words, we are to believe Peter is listed first, even called the first in Matthews account, only because of his age, and the others are listed with disregard for their age. It is a contradiction.
Putting that aside, however, if the fact that Peter were named first in the list of Apostles were the basis for Catholic doctrine on the papacy, I'd say Jason had a point. Happily, we have the words of Christ himself in Matthew 16, the Old Testament typography of Isaiah 22, the witness of the early Church, and a staggering amount of Biblical suppport above and beyond the listings of the Apostles:
1. Peter is mentioned in the Bible more than any other Apostle, with 191 times; John was mentioned the second most at 48
2. He acted as the spokesman for the Apostles (Mt 18:21; Lk 12:41; Jn 6:68).
3. Peter was one of the Apostles invariably present at key moments in the ministry of Jesus: accompanying Him at the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mk 5:37; Lk 8:51), witnessing and speaking to the Lord at the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1; Mk 9:2; Lk 9:28), requested by Jesus to be with Him during His agony in the garden (Mt 26:37; Mk 13:33).
4. Jesus prays for Peter alone in Lk 22:32; Peter was the only one who was told to "strengthen your brethren" (Lk 22:32),
and the only one who Jesus said had received divine knowledge by a special revelation (Mt 16:17).
5. After the Resurrection, Peter was the first Apostle to enter the empty tomb--Lk 24:12-- and John's Gospel even specifies
that the disciple whom Jesus loved reached the tomb first, but waiting for Peter to enter before he did. Peter was also the
first Apostle to whom Jesus appeared (Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5).
6. After the Ascension, Peter stepped forward and was the first to preach to the crowds at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40), the first to work healings (Acts 3:6-7), the first to raise the dead after Christ (Acts 9:40), and the one who received God's revelation that the Gentiles were to be converted and baptized (Acts 10:46-48).
7. Peter was the one who called for a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:22) and the first to recognize and refute heresy (Acts
All of this was because of the assumption that Peter was the eldest Apostle???
Jason's essay continues:
"Even though the apostles denied the concept that Peter was their ruler (Luke 22:24, 1 Corinthians 12:28, 2 Corinthians
First of all, "pope" is not synonymous with "ruler". Jesus Himself explained that Christian leadership is to be of a
different sort than the world knew: "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave" [Matthew 20: 25-27], and He Himself gave the example par excellance of servant/leadership at the Last Supper, when He washed the feet of the Apostles.
Now, let's look at the passages Jason cites as "proof" that "the apostles denied the concept that Peter was their ruler":
1. Luke 22:24 "A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest." Hmmm... somehow I was expecting the "proof" to be something along the lines of "We, the Apostles, deny that Peter is the Pope," but this is actually quite interesting. The Apostles are arguing about who is greater, and what does Jesus tell them? Does He say, "No one is greater, there is no heirarchy, you will have no leaders"? No.Jesus goes on to say what I had quoted earlier-- that a Christian leader is not to think of himself in terms of being greater than others, but rather in terms of being most bound to serve others. He says, "let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves." And so, contrary to what Jason alleges, it was not the Apostles who were speaking; it was Jesus, and Jesus did not deny a leadership role; He spelled out how it should be administered.
Also interestingly, a mere 6 or so verses later, Jesus singles Peter out by saying, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded
to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." And so we see from these passages why the Pope has the title of "Servant of the Servants of God", and also why, in encyclicals, he often writes that he is acting in his capacity as "confirmer of the brethren."
2. 1 Corinthians 12:28 "And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers
of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues." Again, one would expect this
great "proof" to be Paul saying "I deny that Peter is Pope," but what we find instead is that Paul sets up a picture of a *heirarchical* church. If I remember correctly, Jason spent a good bit of energy denying that the church was heirarchical,
forgetting, I suppose, that he used this quote later on.
3. 2 Corinthians 12: 11"I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at
all inferior to these superlative apostles, even though I am nothing. " Now this is Jason's best effort yet; at first glance, out of context, it actually appears to bear some relevance to the issue at hand. If you read the surrounding verses, however, it quickly becomes clear that St. Paul is not talking about Church heirarchy at all. The next two verses read "The signs of a true apostle were performed among you in all patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!" and after that, "I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by guile. Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you?" Clearly, the Corinthians had been grumbling against Paul and disputing the Gospel he had preached to them, and so he was compelled to assert his authenticity and real authority as an Apostle, as well as to assure the Corinthians that their church
suffered no lack from having been founded by him rather than one of the other Apostles. This is not a treatise on Church government, and there is no reason to mention the papacy here.
Jason goes on to say:
"any passage in which Peter seems to have any leadership role in any way is assumed to be evidenceof a papacy."
First of all, it is interesting to note that Jason admits that there "are" passages in which Peter seems to have a leadership role. Second of all, if Protestants will not accept biblical evidence of Peter's leadership role, what sort of evidence will they accept? Finally, the evidence found in Bible passages which depict Peter in a leadership role is just that-- evidence. The "basis" for Catholic doctrine on the papacy is
1. Jesus' giving Peter the Keys of the Kingdom.
2. The way this office has been continued from Peter down to the present-day Pope, in an unbroken line; basically, the consistent practice and belief of the Church since its inception.
Jason's essay continues:
" Such examples of Catholics reading assumptions into early church documents, on every issue from the papacy to salvation to Mary, could be multiplied many times over. It's important to constantly ask whether the text Catholic apologists are citing actually says what they claim the text says."
Interestingly enough, although Jason alleges that such examples could be "multiplied many times over", he doesn't offer us a single one. Instead, he throws out terms that will grab attention (papacy, salvation, Mary), and says that the texts Catholic apologists cite do not actually apply. I suppose that Jason expects his readers to simply believe him. What is most amusing, however, is that his own assertions (such as the Apostles denying that Peter was their "ruler") are built entirely upon assumptions and falsley cited texts.
Jason asserts that Catholic apologists engage in "unwarrented assumptions":
"Matthew 16:18 probably is the most popular passage of scripture in Roman Catholic apologetics. The passage seems to be referring to a theme we see elsewhere in scripture. Peter is one of many rocks built upon the larger rock of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11, 10:4, Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:4-8, Revelation 21:14)."
That sounds nice, until you realize that Jesus did not say, "You are one of the many rocks built upon the larger rock of Me." It is entirely true that "no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11). He is the ultimate foundation, without Whom we have nothing (likewise with 1 Corinthians 10: 4, which calls Christ the "Rock"; He is the ultimate "Rock"). Jason himself provides us with the Bible passage which explains how the Apostles being called a "foundation" does not contradict Jesus being the foundation: "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ
Jesus himself being the cornerstone" (Ephesians 2: 20). And so Jesus is the cornerstone "in whom the whole structure is joined together", but He has built upon the foundation of the apostles. 1 Peter 2:4-8 again calls Jesus the "cornerstone", and, like the quote from Ephesians refers to Christians as being "stones" built into the structure. his passage, however, like 1 Corinthians 3:1,
does nothing to prove that anyone other than the Apostles were called a foundation in the foundation of Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone, as we see explained in Ephesians 2: 20. Indeed, Revelations 21: 14 backs up Ephesians: "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."
Now, what we have so far is Jesus being the ultimate foundation, and the Apostles being "foundations" in His foundation. What we see in the Bible, however, is that Jesus gives the Keys of the Kingdom to Peter alone, that only his name is actually changed to "Rock", and that Jesus in giving the Keys to him makes explicit referece to an Old Testament office which was occupied by one man. (I will go into this in further detail below.) And so what we have is the ultimate foundation of Jesus, the heirarchical
foundation of the Apostles (whose successors are Bishops), and within this apostolic foundation, the singling out of Peter (whose successors are the bishops of Rome, where Peter was bishop) by Christ to be "named" Rock and given the Keys of the Kingdom.
"Consider the assumptions that must be read into the text in order to arrive at the Roman Catholic interpretation:
1.) That Peter is the "rock" of Matthew 16:18."
I am at a loss as to see who else might be the "Rock" of Matthew 16: 18. Who else was Jesus speaking to? Is Jason alleging that Jesus was schizophrenic, and therefore was referring to Himself when He said "You are Rock"?
In Christo Domino et Maria,