Thank you all sincerely for taking the time to post and discuss. Sorry it has taken me so long to read everything (so long that I may be losing what I read at first). I am blown away by the material in quantity and quality.
Wow…so please continue to be patient with me as I try to the curb the lens/bias inherent to my Protestant upbringing. Additionally, I confess that I am not a debator, pastor, seminarian, or even an arm chair theologian…but simply a civilian who is skeptical and asks a few more questions than normal and has started raising eyebrows at projector screen services held in sports arenas and gyms.
First, I should state that due to my research and the help I have received I am becoming more convinced that the Eucharist and Baptism are way more important and sacramental than they are often given credit for in Protestant megachurches. I am a Methodist on paper by baptism and membership but am probably actually more inline with a moderately conservative Lutheran by now. Indeed, I spent two years with a Missouri Synod congregation but never joined because I knew I was leaving the state the whole time.
So, you have successfully shown me that the original passage that I cited is not actually problematic like I first thought.
Additionally, the support for Peter being uniquely significant among the discples as explained here would take a bit of willful ignorance to ignore.
I think I understand some of the friction between the apostles coming from the need to be a jew to the jews and a gentile to the gentiles and so forth and the natural comparison of messages that stem from that( Yikes, I was hoping to get away from the many denominations arguing thing only to discover from a second look that it has been there the whole time).
But that raises more questions, like:
What is the Catholic understanding of the entire thrust of the letter of Galatians which is Protestant prooftext bedrock against all things legal and that which hint at being associated with the Judaizers?
In a topical overview and with the same skill as matching closest analogies on a SAT exam, it would seem that one would most likely associate the sprit and theme of Catholicism with legalism, Pharisees, and the Judaizers and the Protestants with the Gentiles. This is based on the declarations of Paul, Peter, and James of not placing such a heavy yoke on the Gentiles. Clearly, this is the fruit of cherry picked verses and it is offensive,ignorant, and simply wrong to make such assumptions; my heart tells me this is so but I do not understand the proper way to view this. Help? What is required of the Gentiles today? I admit that right now the scope of the Canon law baffles me…it seems at once exquisitely beautiful in actually having security and clarity of answers and simultaneously like a weighty overeach with the fast days, who can and can’t have a Carholic wedding or burial, celibacy, penances, obligatory feast days, mortal sins that will condemn you if you pass with them unconfessed and the like that “appear” to go against some of what Paul says in Romans and Colossians, etc.
Clearly Peter is special. Being called Cephas later on by the others does seem to support the play on words. In Acts 15 why did Peter wait for James to comfirm the decision of what to declare to the Gentiles? In Acts 6, why did Peter(?)lead them to decide to turn away from serving the widows in favor of the nobler task of the ministry of the Word when Jesus had explicity illustrated that the real leader serves, waits on tables and washes feet? Can that be explained by simple logistics and necessities of numbers or was that a glossed over form of disobedience? That is huge as it helps setup precedence for deacons and ordination and sucession by laying on of hands (right?).
What is the proof of the continuation of Peter’s office? Is not the history before Constantine ended the persecution scant and filled with controversy within the church due to the stress of severe persecution? Didn’t the Popes during the middle ages have to approved of by the secular rulers at the time (kings, emperors) from various kingdoms and agendas as political power shifted? What of bad popes, and two popes condemning each other, and different locations than Rome? Why exactly did Jan Huss, Luther, and Calvin start all of the pope = antichrist stuff? Why did the Eastern Orthodox split in 1054 and deny the Roman bishop’s primacy over all locations?
I just simply don’t ( or pretend to) know the answers to all of these things yet as I have only very recently considered them past what was necessary to get a good mark in history class. It would appear that I have several years worth of reading to do. I am so torn, I think I even want to believe the Catholic view but it is hard for me to accept that all of those Orthodox and Reformation men that are so much better than me risked bodily death and damnation of the soul just to carnally enjoy a little transient earthly attention. Vicar of Christ is one thing but God on earth is a bit much, yes? That makes old Baptists knee jerkingly reach for Isaiah 14:12-14 and 2 Thess. Chapter 2. Whatever it was that they (original protestants) knew or saw scared them and made them fear greatly for their progeny and countrymen and consequently as a Protestant it haunts me like an urban legend that I can’t explain.