Do Anglicans believe that Christ founded the Church on Peter?

The more study I do of Anglicanism the more I see that my thread title is problematic. So to narrow it down a bit and to avoid the inevitable reminder that Anglicanism is broad in its beliefs, lets just focus on Anglo-Catholics.

Chesterton wrote the following in his Heretics.

…the things that have been founded on the fancy of the Superman have died with the dieing civilizations which alone have given them birth. When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its corner stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward - in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church. and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All empires and kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible.

Though not named specifically, Chesterton is of course referring to Peter as the, “shuffler, snob and coward” which Christ built His Church upon. Chesterton wrote this while he still considered himself an Anglican (not converting to the Catholic Church for another 17 years) which led me to wonder, do Anglicans agree with Catholics in their interpret of Matt 16:18? Or was Chesterton wrong (in the sense of Anglican beliefs go) with his interpretation?

God bless

Speaking for the broad class of Anglo-Catholics who are currently typing on my keyboard, I rather think he was correct; in his customary paradoxical mood. This does not fully define what is meant by that assertion, but it is correct, IMO.

And while it was true he did not formally make the leap for 17 years after HERETICS, Chesterton was fairly well committed, in his mind, by roughly 1909, to make the trip.


So there is no official Anglican stance on Matt. 16:18 Anglo-Catholic or otherwise? How about this; is this interpretation, in your experience, common among Anglo-Catholics? Or Anglicans in general for that matter?

And while it was true he did not formally make the leap for 17 years after HERETICS, Chesterton was fairly well committed, in his mind, by roughly 1909, to make the trip.

I have not reached the 1909 and later years in Oddie’s book and since the book ends with Chesterton’s Orthodoxy I probably wont find out about that time period of Chesterton’s life from Oddie’s book. :blush: I have taken a long time to read this particular book, rereading whole chapters more than once before moving on. I am starting to become as interested in Chesterton’s political beliefs as his religious beliefs. Which, like most people’s, are not generally separate things.

Thanks and God bless

It will not surprise you that there is no official Anglican stance on this or on anything else you can think of. I cannot say how common it is among ACs; I don’t think it is uncommon.

Oddie ends the book in 1909 because of the publication of ORTHODOXY and that, for Chesterton, the year was a watershed in his development. Good dramatics. I do hope there is more to come; certainly the source material he used, now cataloged, is far from exhausted.


Those Anglicans who are faithful in doctrine do accept the authority of Scripture, and therefore recognize the words of Jesus concerning Peter to be important.

While there is no categorical statement in the Church of England about the Petrine ministry, there are serious ongoing discussions about the importance of the pope to Anglicanism. Anglicans understand themselves to be part of the Universal Church, and, as a result of discussions held through the mechanism of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the sense has emerged that the pope’s role for Anglicans is more than that of “primacy of honor” among the bishops of the church. But this is only a sense, nothing truly clear-cut. You can read about it in a document which the commission produced entitled Growing Together in Unity and Mission, and in ensuing comments on that document.

In other words, officially (through the work of an official committee) Anglicans think the pope has some kind of magisterial role for the Universal Church (which means he has a role for Anglicans) but exactly how that role plays out formally in Anglican ecclesiology has still to be enunciated.

On the ground, many doctrinally orthodox Anglicans (including certain Anglican bishops) already acknowledge the teaching authority of the pope in the same way that faithful Roman Catholics do. But other Anglicans, who have respect for the pope, do not go so far. And still others read the text of Matt 16:18 in ways which are quite foreign to Roman Catholics.

Personally–and this is entirely a personal view–pre-conversion Chesterton got it right. Otherwise, why do Anglicans, either get into ecumenism with Rome in a search for unity, or find the papacy such a burr under the saddle? Why? Because Peter somehow is that important.

If I remember correctly (and I might not) Growing Together in Unity and Mission was produced by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, not ARCIC. One might also consider the various ARCIC statements in AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH. But, (again, IIRC) none of these documents is binding or definitive, but are statements of the positions of the Commissions. Interesting, for all that.


Many Anglicans do think the Bishop of Rome has a special role of some kind. Very few believe in the idea of papal infallibility, or that power should be centralized to the degree it is within Catholicism. Many see a system more like the one found now in the Orthodox Church to be what is called for.

Lots of Anglicans don’t think about it at all.:frowning:

The view that many Anglicans have is that all the 12 apostles were given the keys, all were able to bind and loose, all were equal, and that Peter was just a primus inter pares of the apostolic college.

Some view Peter as having a stronger primacy but by no means infallibility.

Some low church evangelicals view the ministry as not being sacramental, sacerdotal, etc. but rather presbyters were “elders” and the binding and loosing is a charism of all the faithful, a priesthood of all believers…

And some high church Anglicans have an affection for the papacy but are not prepared to deem him infallible.

Some Anglicans fall in between these views. Anglicans are a diverse lot!

Indeed. A motley crew.


As long as they’re not Motley Crue…

LOL…In that case I’d never attend their parish! LOL

I see you have a photo from the last vestry meeting. :stuck_out_tongue:

Next diocese over.


I think it’s actually a group of delegates from the last Anaheim Episcopal conference LOL



I better be careful. There’s a liberal Episcopalian who got his nickers in a twist when I posted a picture of Dustin Hoffman dressed as Tootsie and said that this would be the next presiding bishop of the TEC (since they now allow “transgenders”) and the thread got pulled! LOL…uh-oh! lol I don’t know what was so upsetting. Everybody liked Tootsie! LOL

Basically Anglicans should not belive it because it means that the CC is the right one and Anglicanism is not. They just need to justify the existence of their denomination so they need to interpret this passage in a wrong way. One more thing - so called “Anglo - Catholics” don’t exist. They cannot obey the pope and Anglican authorities at the same time, as the Scripture says - you cannot obey two masters. I think these people have a problem with making up their mind, they think they can be in between and everything is fine. In fact it’s obviously not. Catholics are those who are in unity with the pope, they aren’t.

I would disagree with this post in a few areas. First of all, your perception that the Catholic Church is the “right one” is your opinion, which you are entitled to have 100% but that doesn’t mean that Anglicans cannot believe that Peter had a primacy? Primacy and infallibility are two different animals. Read “The Primacy of Peter” by John Meyendorff and you’ll see the Orthodox distinctions on this subject. Also, your saying that Anglicans want to justify something to themselves that is untrue to comfort their own wrongness is just not accurate. Isn’t it possible that Anglicans actually don’t accept the papal claims? They might actually be sincere in their belief that the papacy is not what it claims to be instead of being liars who are trying to convince themselves of untruths. And finally you say that there cannot be any such thing as an Anglo-Catholic. I disagree. You look at the word “Catholic” through the lens of Roman Catholicism, they see Catholic as being the Catholicism prior to the Renaissance with more of a conciliar approach and yet a very strong liturgical sensibility coupled with many medievel pious devotions. They don’t see the papacy as an essential component of being Catholic. You do. That’s fine but I don’t think it’s productive to try and read into their hearts or to denegrate their Catholicity. It’s just a different viewpoint. Anglicans are not trying to obey two masters at all. I think you don’t know what Anglo-Catholics truly are. They, much like the Orthodox, express a non-papal Catholicism. To a Roman Catholic the papacy IS Catholicism but to these groups it is not.

**The Anglican faith is founded on Revelation and Tradition, whilst that of the Roman Church is, for a great part, built on medieval accretions. Traditional Anglicanism, is of the Body of Christ, its genesis was in the upper Room in Jerusalem and it had spread to Britain by a very early date indeed and claims were made by the Britons themselves [Albanacus] within a few years of the Crucifiction! 37 AD.To describe Anglicanism as a ,‘denomination,’ is at least an error. Anglicanism as it has been held by the faithfull, the traditionalists,is no more or less than a manifestation, an outshowing, of the Body of Christ! Anglicans hold the Apostolic faith and orders as ,‘Revealed by Christ to the saints’. That without addition or diminution. Following Trent and Vatican 1, can this be said of Rome?

You give no proofs of your statement,‘Catholics are those who are in unity with Rome,’ where is this in scripture or tradition? Catholicity is held or followed, by those who follow the teachings of the Apostles and Fathers of the First Centuries, you will need to justify your claims from that source only, not medievalism!

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