Twenty-Two Protestant Questions on Papal Primacy & Infallibility


#1

Some of these are easier to answer than others, but I’d appreciate any insight that fellow Catholics can provide. Perhaps, if each respondent addresses two or three of the questions, all 22 will eventually be covered. I’ll be dividing the questions between two posts. Thanks in advance for the help.

[size=4]Twenty-two Protestant questions on[/size]
[size=4]the Papacy & Papal Infallibility[/size]
(adapted from Robert L. Reymond, The Reformation’s Conflict With Rome: Why It Must Continue [Christian Focus[/COLOR]
Publications, 2001], pp. 37-44)

The Roman Catholic apologist must…be able to address, to the satisfaction of reasonable men, the following twenty-two questions:

1. Why do Mark (8:27-30) and Luke (9:18-21), while they also recount the Caesarea Philippi conversation between Jesus and Peter, omit all reference to that part of Jesus’ conversation which grants to Peter his alleged priority over the other apostles, the point which for Rome is the very heart and central point of our Lord’s teaching ministry?

2. Why does the New Testament record more of Peter’s errors after the Caesarea Philippi confession than of any of the other apostles?

3. Why can the disciples after the Caesarea Philippi incident still dispute among themselves concerning who was the greatest (Matt. 18:1; 20:20-28; Luke 22:24)? Apparently they did not understand that Jesus’ statement had given Peter any priority over them. And if Christ had in fact intended by his Caesarea Philippi pronouncement that Peter was to be his “vicar” and leader of all Christendom, why did he not clear up the disciples’ confusion once and for all by telling them so straightforwardly?

4. Why was Peter, if he was the head of the church, instead of sending other apostles to investigate the Samaritan revival, dispatched by the leaders of the Jerusalem church to investigate what was going on in Samaria (Ac. 8:14)?

5. Why did the other apostles and the brotherhood in general feel they could challenge Peter’s involvement in the Cornelius incident if he was in fact the undisputed and infallible head of the church (Ac. 11:1-18)?

6. Why does Paul list Peter as only one of the “pillars” in Jerusalem, and second after James at that (Gal. 2:9)? And in this connection, why at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, over which James quite obviously presided, is Peter merely the first speaker, assuming no special prerogatives in the debate that ensued, and not the president of that Council? Why was the entire matter not simply submitted to Peter rather than to the Council, and why did not the decision go forth as a “Petrine” deliverance rather than an “apostolic” decree?

7. How can Paul say of the Jerusalem leadership (James, Peter and John) who “seemed to be something” (Gal. 2:2, 6, 9), if Peter was the Christ-appointed leader of the church: “What they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality” (2:6)?

8. How can Rome escape Paul’s implicit charge of creating a “Corinthian faction” disruptive to church unity (1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:3-9) when it urges the “primacy” of Peter over Paul, Apollos, and the universal church?

9. Why, if Peter was the bishop and pastor of Rome, as the Roman church maintains, and if it was Paul’s established missionary practice “to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (Rom. 15:20; see 2 Cor. 10:16),—why, I ask, does Paul declare that he had longed to come to Rome and had purposed many times to come there (but had been prevented from doing so) “so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong” and “in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles” (Rom. 1:11-13)? Would not such activity at Rome on Paul’s part have been both a denial of his own missionary policy and an affront to Peter whom Rome alleges was pastor there at that time?

10. Why does Peter describe himself as simply “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” as one among many “living stones” (Greek, lithoi zones), and “the fellow elder” (ho sumpresbuteros), with other elders (1 Pet. 1:1; 5:1)?

11. Why does Peter, if he was Rome’s “first pope,” contradict medieval Roman Catholic teaching that the purchase of indulgences will bring forgiveness of sin for oneself and will deliver one’s loved ones from purgatory when he declared that “it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18-19)?

12. Why does Peter, if he was Rome’s “first pope,” teach, contra Rome’s teaching that the laity needs a priestly clergy to mediate between them and God, that in Christ all his readers are “a holy priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:5, hierateuma hagion) and “a royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9, basileion hierateuma) who have direct access to God through Christ?

[cont. below…]


#2

…cont. from above]

13. Why does Peter, if he was Rome’s “first pope,” teach, contra Rome’s teaching, that the authority of the emperor, not the pope’s, is “supreme” (huperachonti) in secular matters (1 Pet. 2:13)?

14. Why does Peter, if he was Rome’s “first pope,” teach, contra Rome’s teaching, that Christians do not need to go to God through the mediation of Mary or any other saint since God gladly hears the prayers of his true children when they pray: “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their prayers” (1 Pet. 3:12)?

15. Why does Peter, if he was Rome’s “first pope,” teach, contra Rome’s teaching concerning the Mass as a necessary and essential ‘unbloody’ sacrifice of Christ, that Christ “died for sins once for all hapax], the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Pet. 3:18)?

16. Why, if Peter was the living, earthly head of the church at that time, does he disappear completely from Luke’s Acts after Acts 15, with very few references to him, apart from his own two letters, in the rest of the New Testament?

17. Why in the earliest Patristic literature is Paul venerated as often as Peter, a fact admitted by Roman Catholic scholars?

18. Would John the “beloved disciple” and one of the original apostles, who apparently outlived Peter, have been subject to the bishop of Rome (Linus or Clement?) who succeeded to Peter’s “throne”?

19. Why did no Roman bishop before Callistus I (d. c. 223 A.D.), who was sympathetic with modalism, though not uncritically so, use the Matthew 16 passage to support the primacy of the Roman bishopric; and when he did, why was he rebuked by such a notable contemporary as Tertullian who totally rejected the notion that Jesus’ saying applied to later bishops at all? And Firmilian, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, opposed the notion that the Roman bishopric is entitled by succession to the “throne” of Peter.

20. This raises the larger question, namely, while the church at Rome was no doubt influential, why is there no indication in the first several centuries of the Christian era that any section of the church recognized the Roman church as supreme or that the rest of the church acceded to Rome any claimed or recognized sovereignty over Christendom? And the Eastern church has never acceded this to Rome.

21. Why did the first four ecumenical councils, which were held—two in the fourth, and two in the fifth century (whose doctrinal decisions are generally admitted by all Christians everywhere, including Protestants, to have been essentially orthodox)—neither say nor do anything which affords the slightest endorsement of the claim of the Roman bishop’s supremacy but to the contrary in several instances actually passed decrees or canons which the bishop of Rome (or his agents) opposed and protested against, with the first such council being the Fourth Lateran Council held under Pope Innocent III in 1215 A.D.?

22. How does Roman Catholic theology in this entire matter avoid the charge of “asserting the consequence” or of “reasoning in a circle” (petitio principia) when it makes a highly questionable dogma (based as it is upon exegesis which has been approved by only a small minority of Fathers in the church), namely, its self-serving dogma of the primacy of the Roman bishop, the basis for its claim that it alone is justified in proclaiming any dogma whatsoever, including the Roman bishop’s primacy over the entire church?

~ ~ ~

Needless to say, in my opinion Rome’s exegesis of Matthew 16 and its developed dogmatic claim to papal authoritative primacy in the Christian church simply cannot be exegetically demonstrated and sustained from Scripture itself.


#3

It seems like these questions were written from the perspective that Peter is more like the king of all Catholics than the first among many equal bishops and is thus empowered to command whatever he likes. Communion with the Bishop of Rome is important, as he’s central to the Church on earth and has the power to teach infallibly, but I think a lot of these questions are based on an overstatement of the Pope’s role and authority. #4 and #10 are particularly egregious examples of this: #4 presumes that the relationship of the Pope to the clergy is one of king to servants, and #10 seems to make that relationship explicit. The Pope is the Bishop of Rome; the other bishops are expected to be in communion with him, but he is also expected to respect the autonomy of his fellow bishops.

Assuming I’ve got this relationship correct (we only discussed it in my Intro to Catholicism class on Wednesday), it will likely be important to keep in mind when addressing the other questions.


#4

**

  1. Why do Mark (8:27-30) and Luke (9:18-21), while they also recount the Caesarea Philippi conversation between Jesus and Peter, omit all reference to that part of Jesus’ conversation which grants to Peter his alleged priority over the other apostles, the point which for Rome is the very heart and central point of our Lord’s teaching ministry?**

How many times does Jesus have to say something for it to be true?


#5

QUOTE:

The Roman Catholic apologist must…be able to address, to the satisfaction of reasonable men, the following twenty-two questions

UNQUOTE

I don’t know who Robert Reymond is but I’m curious as to what his definition of “reasonable men” is. If he or the people he refers to are protestant fundamentalists and anti-Catholics then it won’t matter what answers are given because they won’t be accepted.


#6

Reymond is a Refromed (Calvinist) theologian, and author of a major textbook on systematic theology.

Blessings,

Don
+T+


#7

I have enough patience to answer only a few of them. These stood out for their particular foolishness.

I’ve read the Catechism of the Catholic Church cover to cover. Nowhere does it teach that the pope is “supreme” in secular matters. On the contrary, separation of Church and state is a fundamentally Catholic principle.

“Rome” doesn’t teach that we “need” to go to God through mediation of saints. Only that we may, which is what the Bible teaches.

It’s the same sacrifice, not some different sacrifice.

Three questions in a row, this author has misstated Catholic doctrine. Why would anyone take him seriously?


#8

Please address:

11, 19, 20, & 21

Thanks,
Tim


#9

11. Why does Peter, if he was Rome’s “first pope,” contradict medieval Roman Catholic teaching that the purchase of indulgences will bring forgiveness of sin for oneself and will deliver one’s loved ones from purgatory when he declared that “it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18-19)?

Because it was never authorized under Church teaching to buy or sell indulgences. Such an idea has always been considered Simony, a grave sin.

See: Myths about Indulgences


#10

#11

So with infallibility - as a temporal ruler, confessor, legislator, etc., the man who is Pope is either not acting in the capacity of Pope, or is not exercising infallibility. The promulgating of the 1983 Code is a Papal act: it is not an exercise of infallibility. When the Pope hears confessions, he is not acting as Pope at all - so that is not an exercise of infallibility either.

Papal authority in the Church is supreme - that does not mean he cannot seek advice. ISTM the author is mistaking supemacy for solitude.

That isn’t a complete answer BTW.

6. Why does Paul list Peter as only one of the “pillars” in Jerusalem, and second after James at that (Gal. 2:9)? And in this connection, why at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, over which James quite obviously presided, is Peter merely the first speaker, assuming no special prerogatives in the debate that ensued, and not the president of that Council? Why was the entire matter not simply submitted to Peter rather than to the Council, and why did not the decision go forth as a “Petrine” deliverance rather than an “apostolic” decree?

Two points:

[LIST]
*]Peter was not a Pope
*]the procedures which have developed over the centuries cannot be read back into those from which they developed.[/LIST]That’s why, although the canon is a post-Biblical & post-Apostolic development, it is even so not illegitimate - even though there is a strong Biblical case against having a written NT. The canon is post-Apostolic, & is not in the Bible - that does not prove it a distortion. So with the Papacy - except that Papacy is based on what is found in the Bible: that is, on the commission to Peter of the keys which are proper to Christ Himself. Peter’s gain is not a loss to his Master; this is not transferral, but sharing.
(BTW, it seems that the Papacy is more securely founded in the NT than the NT canon…)

A Pope is not an autocrat - the question mistakes autocracy for supremacy, & ignores collegiality.

7. How can Paul say of the Jerusalem leadership (James, Peter and John) who “seemed to be something” (Gal. 2:2, 6, 9), if Peter was the Christ-appointed leader of the church: “What they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality” (2:6)?

8. How can Rome escape Paul’s implicit charge of creating a “Corinthian faction” disruptive to church unity (1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:3-9) when it urges the “primacy” of Peter over Paul, Apollos, and the universal church?

Because Papal authority is over all Christians - it is not a siding with a single party among them, however much they may differ. An Italian Pope may prefer Italians,but as Pope he is the common father of Italians, Germans, French, Scots, all sorts of people. So the seeming analogy is a false one.

9. Why, if Peter was the bishop and pastor of Rome, as the Roman church maintains, and if it was Paul’s established missionary practice “to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (Rom. 15:20; see 2 Cor. 10:16),—why, I ask, does Paul declare that he had longed to come to Rome and had purposed many times to come there (but had been prevented from doing so) “so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong” and “in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles” (Rom. 1:11-13)? Would not such activity at Rome on Paul’s part have been both a denial of his own missionary policy and an affront to Peter whom Rome alleges was pastor there at that time?

10. Why does Peter describe himself as simply “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” as one among many “living stones” (Greek, lithoi zones), and “the fellow elder” (ho sumpresbuteros), with other elders (1 Pet. 1:1; 5:1)?

11. Why does Peter, if he was Rome’s “first pope,” contradict medieval Roman Catholic teaching that the purchase of indulgences will bring forgiveness of sin for oneself and will deliver one’s loved ones from purgatory when he declared that “it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18-19)?

Indulgences do not buy forgiveness. That is not what they are for. Forgiveness cannot be bought; all the money in the universe, however hugely multiplied, could not buy forgiveness for one single sin. Reymond is not objecting to Catholic teaching & practice, but mistaking distortions of them for that teaching & practice. Rightly understood, the doctrine of indulgences is a very gracious doctrine & fact - not the horrid monstrosity it is mistaken for :frowning:

That’s enough from me :slight_smile:

12. Why does Peter, if he was Rome’s “first pope,” teach, contra Rome’s teaching that the laity needs a priestly clergy to mediate between them and God, that in Christ all his readers are “a holy priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:5, hierateuma hagion) and “a royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9, basileion hierateuma) who have direct access to God through Christ?

[cont. below…]


#12

I’ve seen a copy or two of it - it’s huge :slight_smile:

I like his tone - it’s a nice change from the aggressiveness one meets with at times. :slight_smile:


#13

Hi Michael,

I was glad to see this list posted as 3 or 4 of the questions touch on concerns that I have with the papacy. I’m also glad to see that you are giving good responses to them. In a couple of I cases I believe you may not have totally grasped the gist of what the questioner is trying to get at so I’d like to rephrase and see if you would add anything to your answer.

I think the questioner was making an indirect reference to the argument made by many Catholics that peter is listed first and listed more times than other Apostles. I don’t find that argument or Reymond’s particularly compelling.

I don’t so much think infallibility proper was the intent of the Cornelius question, but rather “given that the others were aware that Jesus had given Peter the keys, giving him the administrative responsibility for the church as well as the mandate to lead, why would they be contentious about his decision regarding Cornelius, which would appear to be a normal exercise of his authority?”

Does that change anything for you and how you would respond?


#14

Perhaps a slightly different twist on the Paul/factions questions: “Why did Paul write what he did, instead of writing something along the lines of ‘it is wrong to say I follow Paul or I follow Apollos, rather you should all say I follow Peter as he is the Lord’s Shepherd for the church’ wouldn’t that have been a more accurate way to respond to the Corinthians, if the Catholic view of Peter’s role is correct?”

I personally would be interested in the answers to 3, 5, 8, 18, 21, 22 with the answers to 5 and 8 touching on the points in this post and my previous one as these touch on a number of my concerns with the Catholic role of Peter and the papacy. (not saying that any person in particular would need to answer them, just hoping that someone will touch on these)

Thanks :slight_smile:


#15

Someone has to be first on record as doing so - is that a problem ?

and when he did, why was he rebuked by such a notable contemporary as Tertullian who totally rejected the notion that Jesus’ saying applied to later bishops at all?

Tertullian’s text may not refer to Callistus at all - it is also a possibility that T. was criticising Agrippinus of Carthage; there is no way of being certain, so Patristic scholars are divided on the question. I don’t think any more need be said on the issue, in the circumstances: unless the question has been decided. If so, on what grounds ?

Apart from anything else, “X rebukes Pope Y” tells us, so far, no more than that Pope Y was rebuked, & that X was the rebuker - it does not tell us which (if either) was in the wrong.

And Firmilian, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, opposed the notion that the Roman bishopric is entitled by succession to the “throne” of Peter.

Source & quotation, please ?

20. This raises the larger question, namely, while the church at Rome was no doubt influential, why is there no indication in the first several centuries of the Christian era that any section of the church recognized the Roman church as supreme or that the rest of the church acceded to Rome any claimed or recognized sovereignty over Christendom? And the Eastern church has never acceded this to Rome.

Oh dear…

  1. What is the placing of the names of the Roman legates Vitus & Vincent in the lists of the fathers at Nicea 1 before the names of all the bishops except for Ossius of Cordova (who was president at the Council), **if **it is not a recognition of Roman primacy ? Priests do not precede bishops - not on their own account. And some of the bishops were not subjects of the Roman Empire - yet they were bishops of the Church.

  2. What the Orthodox reject is Roman primacy of jurisdiction - they accept Roman primacy of honour. Even together, these do not amount to sovereignty.

  3. The Pope does not have sovereignty over the Church - for he is not its king; Christ the Lord is King. The royal authority exercised in the Church does not have the Pope as its source - the source of it is Christ. The Pope is (in effect) the vizier in Christ’s Kingdom; that does not make him the King. He is like Eliakim, servant of Hezekiah of Judah - not like Hezekiah. The Pope has great authority - its very greatness & its scope are a clue that it is not his at all, but is exercised by Christ the King. Christ works through His other servants - so why should the Pope be left out ?

21. Why did the first four ecumenical councils, which were held—two in the fourth, and two in the fifth century (whose doctrinal decisions are generally admitted by all Christians everywhere, including Protestants, to have been essentially orthodox)—neither say nor do anything which affords the slightest endorsement of the claim of the Roman bishop’s supremacy but to the contrary in several instances actually passed decrees or canons which the bishop of Rome (or his agents) opposed and protested against, with the first such council being the Fourth Lateran Council held under Pope Innocent III in 1215 A.D.?

For the same reasons as other truths which are in due course acknowledged as such are questioned or denied.

Lateran IV is a strange choice - it accepted canon 28 of Chalcedon; it did not reject it, as Leo I had; as he was free to. Canon 6 of Nicea 1 is not an acceptance of supremacy, granted, but it does recognise Rome’s jurisdiction in the West as very extensive - as including Roman Africa, among other places. This is far more than some Evangelicals have admitted.

What were the canons referred to by Reymond about ? Without knowing what is referred to, there is not a lot one can usefully say. It does not follow that because jurisdiction is rejected in one case or aspect or connection, it is rejected in all. That is why detail is so important.

BTW, disciplinary canons & dogmatic ones are not of equal weight: though whether this is also the view on these matters of the Eastern Churches, in union with Rome or not, I don’t know. This question needs investigation.


#16

:eek: & :slight_smile: & thanks.

I think the questioner was making an indirect reference to the argument made by many Catholics that peter is listed first and listed more times than other Apostles. I don’t find that argument or Reymond’s particularly compelling.

I don’t so much think infallibility proper was the intent of the Cornelius question, but rather “given that the others were aware that Jesus had given Peter the keys, giving him the administrative responsibility for the church as well as the mandate to lead, why would they be contentious about his decision regarding Cornelius, which would appear to be a normal exercise of his authority?”

Does that change anything for you and how you would respond?

I’ve just been wrestling with 19 to 21 to try to reply to an OP - I hope to get back to the points you’ve raised ASAP (but not tonight).


#17

Much appreciated I’ll look forward to them with anticipation-I’m heading to bed soon as well. :slight_smile:


#18

Try the Syllabus of Errors published by Pius IX.

Condemned proposition #55: The Church ought to be separated from the .State, and the State from the Church

Rome has changed her social doctrine concerning seperation of church and state.


#19

Nah…what happened is that Ole Pius IX (May God be good to him) was expressing an ideal in a perfect world where everything works the way it should. Under such circumstances, (which the church still looks forward to) he’s right, and so is the church today until then.


#20

No, he was condemning the idea of separation of church and state as an error. Hence the name Syllabus of errors not syllabus of realties that I don’t like


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