Papal Primacy or Bible Primacy?


Request for fellow Catholics:
Could someone help by writing a charitable response to this article, that my friend just presented me with? The article starts on page 24 of the September 2007 Levitt newsletter…

**Papal Primacy or **
Bible Primacy?
By Thomas S. McCall, Th.D.



I haven’t read the article yet, but how could you claim Bible Primacy when the Bible doesn’t even claim Bible Primacy? :confused:


How can you have biblical primacy when the letters didnt even exist for up to 60 years later in some cases…

Better yet…

How can you have Biblical Primacy when the Canon couldn’t even be agreed upon until 392AD?

In Christ


Quoted from the good Doctor’s article:

  1. Peter passed on his apostolic
    authority to the succeeding bishop
    of Rome. There is no biblical evidence
    that Peter passed on his apostolic authority
    to a successor. Indeed, the testimony
    of Scripture is that when the
    Apostles died, their apostolic authority
    ceased. All authority from then on was
    in the completed canon of the Scriptures
    nothing was to be added, and
    nothing was to be taken away

All authority was passed on to the completed canon. The only problem was, the Canon was not completed for another 300 years. So, for 300 years, who was in authority. As a matter of fact, Revelation was not even considered Scriptural by the Western Church for over 100 years later.
Nothing was to be added, and nothing was to be taken away**. What was nothing supposed to be added or taken away from? Why Revelation says it very clearly - “This Book”. Read the quote from Revelation:

I warn everyone who hears the prophetic words in this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words in this prophetic book, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city described in this book.

It seems the good doctor is doing EXACTLY what Revelation forbids. He’s adding to the book that no should add or take away from ALL SCRIPTURE when Revelation forbids adding or taking away from the Book of Revelation.

Shame on the good Doctor of Theology.

I’ll let others tackle the rest, but they are just as easy to rebut.


OK, I lied about letting others handle some of the rest, but the good Doctor really ticked me off!

  1. Corruption of the Lord’s Supper.
    The papal traditions have corrupted
    the Lord’s Supper into a superstitious
    belief that the bread and the wine are
    actually transformed into the body and
    blood of Christ by the chanting of the
    priest, through a process known as
    . They see this as a
    recurring sacrifice on the church altars,
    and anyone who does not receive the
    elements from the priest is considered
    outside of the Church. This gives the
    priests the power of heaven or hell over
    the people, and is a total perversion of
    the remembrance of the once-for-all
    sacrifice of Christ through the partaking
    of the unleavened bread and the fruit
    of the vine in the Lord’s Supper.

For someone who claims that the Bible has supreme authority, the Doctor doesn’t seem to follow the same Bible teaching:
Just look at the words of St. Paul (A TRUE Doctor of Theology!!!) in 1 Corinthians, chapter 11:

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.


What were you going to say to him? Do you need apologetics points or pointers as to how to phrase your response(s) that your friend, who I am assuming is a Protestant of the Evangelical or Fundamentalist sort, will understand? :slight_smile: Please give us more to go on.


He said he goes to Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church: Also that he feels the newsletter is from good solid authors.

I don’t know how to respond to him CHARITIBLY (as opposed to a tone of defensive arguement), that’s why I’m asking for some pointers here.



You might want to point out to him that taking the word of someone who is against something without hearing from the person/Church being attacked isn’t fair. Then put some material in his hands from solid Catholic sources. You can find lots here on the Catholic Answers site, a site which is dedicated to making such material readily available. After he has read that be there to answer his questions. And we are always here to help you do that, if needed. :slight_smile:


You can take what I wrote and add a little charity to it. I won’t complain, although I did call him “Good Doctor” ;)!


I would actually like to see a point by point refutation of this article if it can be done.


I think my bible lacks that book where Jesus says: “This is the Bible and upon this Bible I will build my Church.” :rolleyes:


It as been done many times. Just do a search and read until your heart is content.



I’ve covered a couple of points. You want to knock them down and then maybe we could go to the next one on the good Doctor’s list? They’re pretty easy, but I’m feeling lazy, so I’m don’t feel like doing each one.

Like DCD said, there are 100’s of threads on these topics.


Post 1:
In answering these it must be remembered that Catholics have the advantage of not only Sacred Scripture but Apostolic Tradition AND the writings of the Apostolic and early Church Fathers and I will use all of these. To answer these questions using only one source would be like trying to solve a mathematics equation with only a small fraction of the information needed. Remember Sola Scriptura IS NOT BIBLICAL!

At first I thought about answering them item by item, then decided to give you this information and let you use as you will as many of the points brought up overlap somewhat.

This will take several posts so please be patient.

Peter’s name is mentioned more than any other Apostle, his name is mentioned 195 times, John who is second on the list is mentioned 29 times. When you read these, ask yourself, “Is there a reason Peter is almost always mentioned first? Is there a reason it often says Peter and the disciples? Is there a reason that Peter speaks for the other Apostles?” Also notice at the most important events when it is usually three Apostles accompanying Jesus, Peter is always there and speaks for the group. Nothing is in the Bible by accident, there is a reason for it – and I believe the reason for this is to show that Peter was chosen by Jesus Christ as the leader of the Apostles, to be the first leader who had successors. Why didn’t they just come out and say it? In my mind it is because no one thought that they needed to spell it out – everyone knew and accepted it. It wasn’t until 1517 that it became an “issue.”

Matthew 14:25-32 (Peter is the only Apostle to walk on water)
Matthew 15:15 (This is just on example of many where Peter is the spokesperson for the group)
Matthew 16:13-19 (Peter is given authority)
Matthew 17:1-5 (Peter mentioned first and is the only Apostle to speak)
Matthew 26:36-37 (Peter mentioned first)
Mark 3:14-19 (When listing the 12, Peter mentioned first and Judas mentioned last – I’m sure why Mark named Judas last. And it is surely logical to assume that if there was a very good reason Judas was named last, then there must have been an equally valid reason for Peter to be named first)
Mark 5:36-37 (Once again Peter mentioned first)
Mark 8:27-29 (Peter speaks for the group)
Mark 9:2-3 (Peter mentioned first)
Mark 14:32-33 (Peter mentioned first)
Mark 16:6-7 (Peter mentioned separately from the others – importance of ensuring Peter knows)
Luke 6:13-16 (When listing the 12, Peter mentioned first and Judas mentioned last – just as in Mark)
Luke 8:49-51 (Peter mentioned first)
Luke 9:18-20(Peter replies for the group)
Luke 9:28-30 (Peter mentioned first)
Luke 22:7-8 (Peter mentioned first)
Luke 22: 31-32 (Only Peter mentioned –told he will have to strengthen his brothers)
Luke 24:12-13 (Only Peter mentioned)
Luke 24: 34 (Who did the Lord appeared to?)
John 1:42 (Changing someone’s name has great meaning in the Bible. In the Old Testament when God changed someone’s name it meant that they were being set apart for a special purpose)
John 20:1-7 (Tomb not entered until Peter got there)
John 21:15-17 (It is Peter who is told to feed and tend Jesus’ sheep – there is nothing clearer than this that says Peter was given the task of taking Jesus’ place as his steward to look over Jesus’ flock in his absence Peter is told to be the visible head of the Church on earth while Jesus is the invisible head in heaven.)
Acts 1:13-26 (Peter mentioned first, Peter the one who got up to speak, what about Matthias being “counted with” the eleven, shouldn’t he have been part of the twelve? Peter is already set apart in importance from the rest of the Apostles. This also shows that there was going to be Apostolic succession.)
Acts 2:14 (Peter and the eleven – Peter is set apart from the group to show his importance)
Acts 3:1-7 (Peter first Apostle to perform miracle after Resurrection)
Acts 3:12 (It was Peter who addressed the people)
Acts 4:8 (It was Peter who was filled with the Holy Spirit and addressed them)
Acts 4:19 (Peter mentioned first)
Acts 5:3-10 (Peter is speaking and acting as the head of the Apostles?)
Acts 5:29 (Peter mentioned separate from the other Apostles – signifying his importance)
Acts 8:20-21 (Peter excommunicates)
Acts 11:1-18 (Peter first Apostle to accept the Gentiles)
Acts 15:7(Once again Peter is the speaker)
**Acts 15: 19-21 **(Peter gives first dogmatic decision)
**Galatians 1:18-19 **(Paul could have gone to any of the Apostles, but he went to Peter)


Post 2

Jesus knew he would be leaving, he would be the invisible head of the Church in Heaven, and Peter would become the visible head on earth. By giving Peter the keys and the power to bind and loose, Jesus did just that.

The concept of the office of steward is not new nor was it unusual in ancient times. When the steward was appointed he was given the “keys” to the kingdom to rule with the authority of the king, as you will see, the steward “was over the household.”

22:21 and I will cloth him with your robe, and strengthen him with your belt, and I will commit your government into his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. 22 The key of the house of David will I lay on his shoulder; and he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 23 I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a throne of glory to his father’s house.
36:3 **Then came forth to him Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder.

37:1 It happened, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of Yahweh. 37:2 He sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.

**4:6 **and Ahishar was over the household; and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the men subject to forced labor.

**18:3 **Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household.

26:21 Uzziah the king was a leper to the day of his death, and lived in a separate house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of Yahweh: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.

“Over the household” was a term used to denote that the person was given special authority and is in charge of all of the domestic affairs of the King. The person is the steward of the King’s realm.

The concept of steward was in use throughout the ancient world.

41:40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only with regard to my throne will I be greater than you.

When Jesus “gave the keys” to Peter, any first century Jew would know what Jesus meant by such an action. We have to make sure that when we read Scripture we read it with the mind and eyes of a first century Jew, not with the eyes and thought processes of a 21st century American, because if we do, we will often times miss the actual meaning of what we have read.

It is important to remember that the steward was an official governmental office in the ancient kingdoms. When the steward died, the office didn’t just abruptly end, a new steward was appointed to carry on the duties of the office – not the duties of the person. The same is true for Peter and the other Apostles. All of the Apostles were Bishops and the Pope is the Bishop of Rome. Peter was the first Bishop of Rome and since he was the “steward” appointed by Jesus, all of Peter’s successors, the Bishops of Rome, have held the position of steward (Pope), as they do even today, 2000 years after Jesus appointed Peter.

The power to bind and loose. This is a very Rabbinic concept, and first century Jews would have known exactly what Jesus meant when he said it. The religious authority/hierarchy was well structured in first century Israel, and as such, the terms bind and loose represented well known and often used terms for legislative and judicial powers of the Rabbis. By specifying who had the power to lose and bind, Jesus ensured that there would be no disagreements over who actually had the real authority to administrate over His Church on earth and who did not.

**3:7 **Write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia and say, "Here is the message of the holy and true one who has the key of David, so that when he opens, no one will close, and when he closes, no one will open:

In the Book of Revelation, John is told to write to the Church in Philadelphia and say “the one who has the Key of David” …… These keys belong to Jesus, the keys are a sign of his authority and Jesus bestowed these keys upon Peter to place him “over the household”, the visible Church on earth, and because of this, Peter has been given the authority to rule in Jesus’ stead as steward. Jesus did not give his authority away, he still has it, and always will, but the Pope acts as the steward with all of the authority and responsibility that the office has, and will rule Jesus’ earthly Church until He comes in glory at the second coming.


Post 3

The “Laying on of Hands” to convey authority and leadership is in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. I just put in a couple of references, you’ll have to look them up

**Numbers 27:15 **
Deuteronomy 34:9

This same rite was practiced in the early Church and continues to this day, it is part of the ordination of the clergy. The Bishop, by the ‘laying on of hands’, conveys a succession of Priests and Bishops with a commission, giving them the authority and the leadership needed to perpetuate the Church which Jesus Christ founded.

Acts 6:6, 8:17, 9:17, 13:3, 19:6.
**Ephesians 2:20 **
2Timothy 1:6, 4:14, 2:2 .
**Titus 1:5 **
**Hebrews 13:7, 13:17 **
1Thesselonians 5:12

It is pretty obvious that there was succession and the there was a hierarchy in the early Church. The Didache it also speaks of succession.

Didache 15:1, “Elect for yourselves, therefore, Bishops and Deacons worthy of the Lord…”


Post 4 From The Early Church Fathers

“The church of God which sojourns at Rome to the church of God which sojourns at Corinth … But if any disobey the words spoken by him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger.” Clement of Rome, Pope, 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, 1, 59:1 (c. A.D. 96). The “us” refers to the Church at Rome

“And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labors], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus saith the Scripture a certain place, ‘I will appoint their bishops s in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.’… Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry…” Pope Clement, Epistle to Corinthians, 42, 44 (A.D. 98).

"For, since ye are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, … It is therefore necessary that, as ye indeed do, so without the bishop ye should do nothing, but should also be subject to the presbytery, as to the apostle of Jesus Christ, Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Trallians, 2 (c. A.D. 110).

"And do ye also reverence your bishop as Christ Himself, according as the blessed apostles have enjoined you. He that is within the altar is pure, wherefore also he is obedient to the bishop and presbyters: but he that is without is one that does anything apart from the bishop, the presbyters, and the deacons. Such a person is defiled in his conscience, and is worse than an infidel. " Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to Trallians, 7 (c. A. D. 110)

“Peter, who is called ‘the rock on which the church should be built,’ who also obtained ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven…’” Tertullian, On the Prescription Against the Heretics, 22 (c. A.D. 200).

“And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail…” Origen, Commentary on John, 5:3 (A.D. 232).

“By this Spirit Peter spake that blessed word, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ By this Spirit the rock of the Church was established.” Hippolytus, Discourse on the Holy Theophany, 9 (ante A.D. 235).

“There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one Chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering.” St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter to all His People (251 A.D.)

“’…thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church’ … It is on him that he builds the Church, and to him that he entrusts the sheep to feed. And although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, thus establishing by his own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church’s) oneness…If a man does not fast to this oneness of Peter, does he still imagine that he still holds the faith. If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church?” Cyprian, De Unitate Ecclesiae (Primacy text), 4 (A.D. 251).

“And he says to him again after the resurrection, ‘Feed my sheep.’ It is on him that he builds the Church, and to him that he entrusts the sheep to feed. And although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, thus establishing by his own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church’s) oneness. No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, and it is (thus) made clear that there is but one flock which is to be fed by all the apostles in common accord. If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church? This unity firmly should we hold and maintain, especially we bishops, presiding in the Church, in order that we may approve the episcopate itself to be the one and undivided.” Cyprian, The Unity of the Church, 4-5 (A.D. 251-256).

“Thus Peter, the first of the Apostles, having been often apprehended, and thrown into prison, and treated with ignominy, was last of all crucified at Rome.” Peter of Alexandria, The Canonical Epistle, Canon 9 (A.D. 306).

“…Peter, that strongest and greatest of all the apostles, and the one who on account of his virtue was the speaker for all the others…” Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 2:14 (A.D. 325).

“And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, ‘against which the gates of hell shall not prevail’” Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 6:25 (A.D. 325).

“…the chief of the disciples…the Lord accepted him, set him up as the foundation, called him the rock and structure of the church.” Aphraates, De Paenitentibus Homily 7:15 (A.D. 337).

From Peter until today - an unbroken line of succession. Peter, the first steward appointed by Jesus Christ to “feed his sheep.” As it says in John 10:16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. There have been 266 shepherds for Jesus’ flock, since the keys and the Church were entrusted to Peter and the “gates of hell” have yet to prevail against her.



First, it should be noted that the doctor starts from logically & biblically incorrect pair of assumptions - “faith alone” and “scripture alone”.

He also repeatedly makes unbiblical speculations, thereby violating his own advice to go by “scripture alone”.

Finally, since the Bible didn’t exist for over 300 years after Jesus ascension, Sacred Tradition was the primary method of transmission of the gospel.

In any case, the shortest “point-by-point” rebuttal one can post here is a link to a 20-year old book titled “Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The attack on ‘Romanism’ by ‘Bible Christians’”.

Besides, all of these points have been rebutted many times all over this forum.

The claim that it might not “even be possible” is only because you haven’t read them.




maybe I should have said if you guys are up to refuting these points, I didn’t mean to say you couldn’t just meant it as a challage, and maybe they have been addressed on other threads, but that should make it even easier for you.


well DCD and NW the 100’s of threads should make it easy on you guys.

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