Thursday, May 15, 2008

Scripture and the Pope: Part 4

Here is Part 4 in my debate with Amy on papal infallibility as it is found in Scripture. Also see Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
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Somewhere between “Pope” and utter nonsense, is my view of name changes in the Bible. Jesus does not deliver the name change at this point, only makes reference to it. As if he said, “Peter, just like your name means Rock, upon the Rock of what you just said (You are the Son of God) I will build my kingdom.” Kind of like, “Amy (cute girl in the profile pic), Just like your name means beloved, so this smart, Phatcatholic guy loves you.”
I disagree with you here and I think I can prove why, but I also don't think it's necessary. We may be going on a tangent in debating what or who "this rock" is. My understanding is that the identity of the rock confirms Peter's primacy among the apostles and the unique leadership position that Jesus gave to Peter. But, we're not debating that. Instead, we are debating whether or not Peter (and consequently, the popes who came after him) have the charism of infallibility. With this particular topic, the identity of the "rock" is not as important as the meaning of the keys. So, that's what I think we should be focusing on, as well as the other passages that I have utilized.

That said, I can basically skip down to this paragraph:

Peter certainly was foundational in starting the earliest church. The rock being the foundation makes more sense than a man who will speak infallible words and so will his sons (or relatives) I guess Popes don't have sons.
First of all, I think it makes perfect sense that Jesus would grant Peter the charism of infallibility. It's like I said at the end of Part 2 of our debate: how good of a shepherd would Peter be if he was capable of leading the entire Church astray on a matter of faith or morals? If falsehood creeps into the Church, then the "father of lies" has won and the "gates of hell" have indeed prevailed against the Church, contrary to what Jesus Himself said about it.

It also makes sense that this charism would extend to Peter's successors [as a quick aside, note that the successors of St. Peter are not his sons or his relatives, but whoever is chosen to be the next bishop of Rome]. After all, what good is infallibility for the future of the Church if the charism dies with Peter? That just seems a little silly to me.

Finally, papal infallibility makes sense in light of the meaning of the keys, the promise of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church into all Truth, Jesus' prayer for the faith of Peter, and the task given to Peter by Jesus to be the shepherd and guardian of the Church.

There is no mention of his descendants or his future words at all, only that what he just said, was true and was delivered to him by God the Father. His immediate future words were delivered to him by Satan.
By way of reminder, I've already shown (in Part 3) how, regardless of one's interpretation of that incident, the doctrine of papal infallibility is not refuted.

Where in the rest of scripture is any other apostle or disciple told to subject themselves to Peter’s or anyone else’s infallible words, excepting that which is scripture itself?
I think there are a few indications of the other apostles and disciples of Christ "subjecting themselves" to Peter, or acknowledging his authority. For example, Paul went to Jerusalem to consult with Peter for fifteen days in the beginning of his ministry (cf. Gal 1:18), and was commissioned by Peter (as well as James and John) to preach to the Gentiles (cf. Gal 2:9). Peter settled the dispute at the Jerusalem Council ("after there had been much debate .... all the assembly fell silent", cf. Acts 15:7-12), and those who spoke after him simply reiterated and affirmed his position. The apostles often defer to Peter, or allow him to speak on their behalf (cf. Mt 15:12-15; Mk 8:29; 10:27-28; Lk 8:45; Jn 6:67-69; Acts 2:14). Those apostles who wrote Scripture also recognize Peter's primacy whenever they single him out from the rest (cf. Mk 1:36; 16:7; Lk 9:32; Acts 2:37; 5:29; 1 Cor 9:5), Matthew even calling Peter the first from among them (cf. Mt 10:2). I think that this shows an acknowledgement of Peter's unique authority by the apostles and disciples of Christ.

Yes, the key is referenced as that which opens knowledge (Luke 11:52). There is also a key that opens heaven (Matt. 16:19), a key that opens the bottomless pit (Revelation 9:1), a key that opens death and Hades (Rev. 1:18), a key of the house of David (Rev. 3:7).
This is interesting what you wrote here about the different types of keys. I had never noticed that before. Perhaps this plurality explains why Jesus gave Peter keys (in the plural) instead of a single key.

Keys open things. In this case the key opens heaven and is given by Jesus and we know the only key that opens heaven is Christ; even so, only for those who have faith in Him. (You wouldn't say there is another key to open heaven, would you?)
Peter has in his possession the keys to heaven, which is the truth that the Father revealed to him when he said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
I concur, there was a handing off authority to Joseph by Pharaoh and to Haman by the King of Persia. And the Gospel is an amazing thing for Jesus to hand off to Peter for him to guard and take to the world, but I do not see how that is infallible future words by his sons to many generations after him.
Mt 16:19 is not some metaphorical reference to the Gospel that Peter will preach. The keys symbolize the power of binding and loosing, as the second half of the verse explains. So, if we want to understand what it means that Peter now holds the keys, we need to investigate this power to bind and loose.

From the testimony of a wide variety of Scripture scholars and commentaries (see #5 here), we find that the keys and the power to bind and loose is understood as "the symbol of authority," "the office of teaching the word," the "delegation of God's sovereignty," "the authority to teach in [Jesus'] name," "plenary authority," the authority "to be over the Church," to "establish rules" and to "put under the ban," "making halakhic pronouncements" and "regulating the affairs of the household," making "decisions based on the teachings of Jesus," "legislative authority in the church," and "appointment to full authority." They provide both an doctrinal and a disciplinary authority that is unparalleled.

Plus, like I pointed out before, Jesus is ratifying in heaven what Peter declares on earth. There is simply no room for error in such an arrangement.

That is all I can address for now, I know that I didn’t do it justice. My brain hurts, but I am happy. I look forward to more mental and spiritual stimulation.
I apologize for taking so long to respond. Feel free to take your time with this.

Until then, I love this verse found in Psalm 103. "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all"
AMEN!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

6 comments:

No Fluff Required said...

Thanks phat-cat ( a name meant most respectfully of course),

I'm so long in getting back to you. I've been decorating my husband's office at church.

I'll read, digest and respond.

phatcatholic said...

No problem, fluffy! (a name meant most respectfully, of course)

No Fluff Required said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
No Fluff Required said...

sweet!

No Fluff Required said...

I apologize ahead of time that most my comments are not backed with Scripture at this point. I have made most of those already in previous posts. While I put little stock in my own opinions as compared to the authority of Scripture, I am responding to the best of my ability from a biblical worldview rather than by book, chapter and verse. I have prayed extensively about this, as I consider truth claims no light matter that can be made without great accountability. (To whom much has been given, much is required.)
Also, though I seem to say some very direct things, I am feeling no hostility (not sure that always comes through in writing). Sorry for the extensive disclaimer.

You said...
“First of all, I think it makes perfect sense that Jesus would grant Peter the charism of infallibility. It's like I said at the end of Part 2 of our debate: how good of a shepherd would Peter be if he was capable of leading the entire Church astray on a matter of faith or morals?”

I say...
I have been kept from being led astray on these matters of faith and morals by coming to Christ in faith, repenting of my sin, reading the Bible and obeying it. I did that before I ever knew what a Pope was. Or should I say, Christ did that in me. I have submitted myself to church leadership which has explained the scripture to me word for word, verse by verse since I was in 3rd grade. This doesn't make me an authority, only that I have great assurance of this grace in my life. I sin, but I have no trouble knowing what it is.
I confess my sin to my Heavenly Father, just as Jesus and the Apostles have taught me to do from the pages of Scripture. Christ mediates for me just as He promised. I do not see this passage telling me that someone needs to speak other infallible words outside of scripture. In fact, I see a greater danger in giving that man the power of infallibility based on a passage as vague as this one is, in supporting the idea of a single sinful person, capable of heresy and error wielding the power of words considered infallible.

You said...
"If falsehood creeps into the Church, then the "father of lies" has won and the "gates of hell" have indeed prevailed against the Church, contrary to what Jesus Himself said about it."

I say...
Falsehood has indeed crept into the church, Nicholas. The father of lies works hardest not at sending people to the church of Satan and witchcraft, but to plant small seeds of “mis-truth” (though there is no such thing, they are lies) within the church. For a lie to be effective, it must look very much like its opposite with just enough of itself to damn those who believe it. Good lies seem like truth. But I do not believe that the heart of Satan’s affective mischief exists with not having a Pope to combat him, but with those who do not believe on God’s Son and obey the pages of Scripture. And faith in Christ as the Son of God, secures forever, that the gates of hell are shut to me, not by my works, not by Peter, but by Christ who shut them.

You said...
“…how good of a shepherd would Peter be if he was capable of leading the entire Church astray on a matter of faith or morals?”

I say...
Peter was capable of upholding the truth of the Old Testament and securing the church’s adherence to that already revealed truth. Any leader who would rise up after him, after Paul, or after any other Apostle would be capable of leading the church by staying close to the Scriptures and securing their clear explanation to the future generations. Scripture didn’t need more words than it has. (I know you are not saying the Pope’s words are added to the actual cannon of scripture) Peter did have infallible words given to him by the Holy Spirit, what we now call scripture (the books that he wrote). Beyond that there is no mention of others following after him to bring infallible words. It just isn’t in the text. Give me a different text.

You said...
“After all, what good is infallibility for the future of the Church if the charism dies with Peter? That just seems a little silly to me.”

Herein is the heart of our debate. I have been a believer in Jesus Christ, saved by grace through faith in Christ for 26 years and I hadn’t even heard of this charism until I started reading your blog. For me to be saved, based on the clear teaching of Scripture, this charism has not been necessary. Nor do I find its necessity mentioned anywhere in all the teachings in Scripture laying the ground work for church leadership.

Unless of course that is exactly what you are saying, that I am not saved. I will not be offended if you believe this about me.

You said...
"By way of reminder, I've already shown (in Part 3) how, regardless of one's interpretation of that incident, the doctrine of papal infallibility is not refuted."

I say...
On the contrary, if one were to take my interpretation seriously, which I do, the very office of pope was never meant to exist.

You said...
"Mt 16:19 is not some metaphorical reference to the Gospel that Peter will preach. The keys symbolize the power of binding and loosing, as the second half of the verse explains. So, if we want to understand what it means that Peter now holds the keys, we need to investigate this power to bind and loose."

I say...
Yes, the power of binding and loosing, that is what key Peter has been given, I agree. That power, in my reading, is clearly the Gospel. What else can bind and loose anyone on this fallen planet, but Christ’s act of substitution (I repeat myself). It had to be the perfect God-Man making reconciliation between the Holy One who was offended and His enemy, fallen mankind, (to all who believe).


And I will add to these comments one question of vital importance to me.
I have attached a quote below and I’d like to know if you believe it.
It strikes at the very heart of what I believe. How you answer will also either confirm or relieve my concern for you.

The Council of Trent (1500s), but I have heard, is still authoritative in the Catholic church today,
“If anyone says that the sacraments are not necessary for salvation… and that without them… men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification… let him be anathema.”

“If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema.”



I have taken up so much of your blog space. I apologize. Thank you, again, for engaging me in this. It is obviously much more than intellectual to me. And I hope you can tell that I don't care about seeming like I'm right. I just want to convey the purity and simplicity of faith that I strive for in my relationship with God.

I respect your heart of affection and devotion to God and your patient and gracious demeanor.

God is good,
Amy

No Fluff Required said...

One final comment to support my view that Jesus was refering to Himself and the knowlege that He is the Son of God as being the Rock, and not Peter.

Petros: rock or stone
Petra: Large rock or bedrock.

"...You are Petros (stone) upon this rock (bedrock) I will build my kingdom."

(I will go back to your first post and read what you wrote on these words)

As I was trying to do a word study, I found this and forgot to mention it.

According to my understanding Matt. 16:18 would mean:
"And I also say to you that you are called little stone, and upon this bedrock, I will build my kingdom."

He makes a clear point that the Father revealed this knowledge to him that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe Jesus is also drawing a distinction between the humanness and frailty of Peter and the Divine wisdom and Power of Jesus Himself by calling Peter a Stone and refering to the knowlege of the Son of God as bedrock.

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