Last year I became interested in the Catholic Faith and seriously considered converting. The one hangup I had was the Papacy. Specifically papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction. Then I read Pope Fiction by Patrick Madrid.
Now I am converting to Orthodoxy.
Patrick Madrid is a very intelligent apologist, but a close look at his arguments has sent me East.
Let me show you what I mean. In each chapter, he takes on a different “myth” about the papacy and attempts to debunk them with arguments that seem plausible enough…until you look deeper.
Ch. 1 Peter had no Special Authority
Pg. 23 “In Acts 15, at the Council of Jerusalem…he [Peter] delivers apostolic teaching at the assembly of Apostles and disciples that stilled the debates raging back and forth and caused the whole assembly to fall silent."
Was it Peter’s teaching that “stilled the debates,” or the testimony of Paul and Barnabas? “The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.” (Acts 15:12)
Pg. 23 “The Lord delivered special revelation regarding the status of the gentiles to Simon Peter, and it was through Peter that this revelation was given to the Church at the council.”
But it was James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, who, after pointing out that Peter’s statements were in keeping with Sacred Scripture (Acts 15.14-18), made the final decision on behalf of God and of the church: “‘It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.’” (v. 19)
The evidence in this passage is not of papal universal jurisdiction, but of the authority of the church. Likewise here: “Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.” (v. 22); “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:” (v. 28)
Pg. 28 “At the tomb of Christ, St. John waited, apparently out of deference, to allow St. Peter ahead of him (John 20:6).”
No indication of deference, certainly no apparent indication: “So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. (John 20:3-6)
Pg. 29 “The risen Christ appeared to him first before he appeared to the other Apostles (Luke 24:34)”
But He appeared to Luke and Cleopas in verse 15: “As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.”
Pg. 31 “Christ makes him the shepherd of His Church, telling him, again in the singular form, ‘feed My lambs…tend My sheep…feed My sheep’ (John 21:15-17).”
**Why wasn’t this simply a three-fold reinstallment of Peter among the shepherds of the flock, mirroring his three-fold denial of Christ? If Peter understood that he was being made Supreme Pontiff, why was he “grieved”? **
Pg. 31 “In Acts 1:13-26, St Peter leads the other Apostles in choosing Matthias as successor to Judas.”
**It was Peter’s suggestion, but the *church *made the decision: “So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.” (vs. 23)
Pg. 32 “He performs the first Pentecost miracle (Acts 3).”
Miracles were being performed before Acts: “Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.” (Acts 2:43)
Pg. 32 “…he is the Apostle who first welcomes them [Gentiles] into the church.”
It looks like all the Apostles welcomed them together: “When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.’” (Acts 11:18)
Pg. 32 “St Peter’s dogmatic pronouncement…caused all disputes to cease at the Council of Jerusalem. (Acts 15)”
Again, was it this or Paul and Barnabas’ testimony? “The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.” (verse 12)
Pg. 32 “After his conversion and healing from blindness, St. Paul went to visit St. Peter to have his teachings confirmed by him. (Gal. 1:18)”
**The text says *nothing *about Paul having Peter “confirm” his teachings. “Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.”
Pg. 32 “Notice that in Galations 2:1-2, Paul repeats this link to Peter’s authority, if indirectly, when he says he received ‘by revelation’ the call to go and present himself to ‘those of repute.’ Clearly, Peter was the foremost of ‘those in repute’ in Jerusalem.”
There is no mention of Peter in this passage. If Paul is refering to Peter “indirectly,” as the “foremost of ‘those in repute,’” then he didn’t seem to think very highly of Peter’s position or input: “As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing to my message.” (Gal. 2:6)
And the verses that follow indicate the equality of Paul’s mission, ministry, and authority to that or Peter: “On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.” (Gal. 2:7-8)
Ch. 8 Peter never went to Rome
Pg. 107 “No other city—not even Antioch, where he resided for a time during his apostolate—claimed he ended his days there.”
**“Resided”? According to the Antiochian Church, he was more than just a resident, he was bishop there from 45 till 53, before he went to Rome (antiochian.org/667)). So, then why doesn’t the Patriarch of Antioch, as the first successor of Peter, enjoy the universal jurisdiction and papal infallibility of the bishop of Rome?
Ch. 10 The Papacy is a “medieval Roman invention”
Pg. 119 “The earliest account we have…Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians.”
This letter was written in A.D. 80; Clement was not Bishop of Rome until A.D. 88
Pg. 120 “The fact that no bishop in the world—not a single one—disputed his authority as bishop of Rome…”
**Several did, including Irenaeus, bishop of Lugdunum: “But this did not please all the bishops. And they besought him to consider the things of peace, and of neighborly unity and love. Words of theirs are extant, sharply rebuking Victor.
“Among them was Irenæus, who, sending letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul over whom he presided, maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord’s day. He fittingly admonishes Victor that he should not cut off whole churches of God which observed the tradition of an ancient custom…” (Eusebius, Church History, Book V, Ch xxiv)