There has been an on going to debate in “letters to the editor” in our local paper between catholics and protestants in the small town I live in. We are definately a minority here. In my area there are only three catholic church’s and 340 protestant church’s! Most of them Church of Christ and Baptist.
I am not very good at debating. I know my faith, but not as well as I should and I get nervous and can never think of the right things to say. The good protestants in my area have attacked my faith in a very harsh way as long as I can remember, so I have become very sensitve in my old age. I started to just let it go after reading the letter, but because most of my family have left the Church I do feel an obligation to defend the faith. I just need help saying the right things. The letter is in response to a Mr. Clark and I did not get to read that one.
This is lengthy, but I am hoping some of you can help me out.
Titled: No Trace Of The Papacy
To the Editor:
In his defense of Peter being a Pope, although he was married, Mr. Clark quoted Matt. 19:12 and asked what Jesus meant by a person “renouncing marriage for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven”. I concluded that he was implying that Peter had made that choice and showed that Peter was a bishop (1 Pet. 5:1) and that a bishop must be married and have believing children (Titus 1:5,8)
I appreciate Mr. Clark’s respnse that he believes that Peter was a married man when he became a bishop and “there was no change in that status during his lifetime” (quoting Mr. Clark). I would like to point out that the word eunuch does not necessarily mean what Webster says about it. W. E. Vine’s Dictionary of New Testament words says it may refer to one who is emasculated, or one “voluntarily abstaining from wedlock.” The context of the statement is not about a man who would become a bishop, but about one who would be committing adultery if he married (Matt. 19:9,10; 14:4)
Furthermore, if Peter could be a “universal bishop” as Roman Catholics teach, and be married, why do they require their bishops to abstain from wedlock? If Peter could “lead the way to the kingdom of Heaven” and be married, why could not other bishops do the same?
In his letter, Mr. Clark quoted Matt. 16: 18,19 and said this is when Peter became a bishop. First, the same authority that was given to Peter in this passage is given to all the apostles in Matt. 18:18. Peter had no more authority than any other apostle (2 Cor. 11:5). Secondly, the church was not built upon Peter (Pestros: a pebble, or stone that may be easily moved, se W.E Vine), but upon Petra ( a mass of rock, boulder) - the confession that Peter made of Christ’s deity, as Paul clearly stated in 1 Cor. 3:11. Augustine (a priest in 391) wrote: "What do the words mean, “I will build my church on this rock?”…on this rock which thou hast confessed I will build my church, since Christ is the rock."
Bishop Stroussmayer testified at the Vaticn Council, 1870 (which declared the Pope to be infallible), "Now, having read the whole New Testament, I declare before God, with my hand raised to that great crucifix, that I have found no trace of the papacy as it exists at this moment…I have sought for a pope in the first four centuries, and I have not found him."
The first bishop to declare himself “the universal bishop” was John of Constantinople, in 588. Bishop Gregory, of Rome, said "none of us hath permitted this title to be given to him, none has assumed this bold title."
About eighteen years later Biniface III, of Rome, was declared “universal bishop.” No such office existed in the first century. It is a tradition that contradicts what the NT teaches about the qualifications and work of bishops.