Papacy Posts

Papacy Posts


Here is an explanation of papal infallibility by Paul Whitcomb:

Why do Catholics believe the Pope is infallible in his teachings when he is a human being, with a finite human intellect, like the rest of us? What is the scriptural basis for this belief?

The doctrine of Papal Infallibility does not mean the Pope is always right in all his personal teachings. Catholics are quite aware that, despite his great learning, the Pope is very much a human being and therefore liable to commit human error. On some subjects, like sports and manufacturing, his judgment is liable to be very faulty. The doctrine simply means that the Pope is divinely protected from error when, acting in his official capacity as chief shepherd of the Catholic fold, he promulgates a decision which is binding on the conscience of all Catholics throughout the world. In other words, his infallibility is limited to his specialty--the Faith of Jesus Christ.

In order for the Pope to be infallible on a particular statement, however, four conditions must apply: 1) he must be speaking ex cathedra . . . that is, "from the Chair" of Peter, or in other words, officially, as head of the entire Church; 2) the decision must be for the whole Church; 3) it must be on a matter of faith or morals; 4) the Pope must have the intention of making a final decision on a teaching of faith or morals, so that it is to be held by all the faithful. It must be interpretive, not originative; the Pope has no authority to originate new doctrine. He is not the author of revelation--only its guardian and expounder. He has no power to distort a single word of Scripture, or change one iota of divine tradition. His infallibility is limited strictly to the province of doctrinal interpretation, and it is used quite rarely. It is used in order to clarify, to "define," some point of the ancient Christian tradition. It is the infallibility of which Christ spoke when He said to Peter, the first Pope: "I will give (o thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven." (Matt. 16:19). Certainly Christ would not have admonished His followers to "hear the church" (Matt. 18:17) without somehow making certain that what they heard was the truth--without somehow making the teaching magisterium of His Church infallible.

For a complete understanding of the Pope's infallibility, however, one more thing should be known: His ex cathedra decisions are not the result of his own private deliberations. They are the result of many years--sometimes hundreds of years--of consultation with the other bishops and theologians of the Church. He is, in effect, voicing the belief of the whole Church. His infallibility is not his own private endowment, but rather an endowment of the entire Mystical Body of Christ. Indeed, the Pope's hands are tied with regard to the changing of Christian doctrine. No Pope has ever used his infallibility to change, add, or subtract any Christian teaching; this is because Our Lord promised to be with His Church until the end of the world. (Matt. 28:20). Protestant denominations, on the other hand, feel free to change their doctrines. For example, all Protestant denominations once taught that contraception was gravely sinful; but since 1930, when the Church of England's Lambeth Conference decided contraception was no longer a sin, virtually all Protestant ministers in the world have accepted this human decision and changed their teaching.

Paragraph two uses a faulty, but common, concept of "imposing" one's point of view. The way one imposes one's point of view is by force. The Church uses no force. As Stalin observed, the Pope has no armies. The Faith must be accepted freely, and this has been and is the unwavering teaching of the Church in every century. The reality is that the Church merely promotes its teachings, just as any other group in the world. The only "force" the Church has is the force of each person's conscience along with the knowledge of the natural moral law inscribed on each person's heart.

The "right" of women to abortion presumes that the baby in her womb (a human being from conception, as scientifically shown by renowned genetics expert Dr. Jerome Lejume) has no right to life-- the right which is the basis of every other right a person has. I don't know of any other case in which a person has the right to kill an innocent human being.

I addition this "right" also harms the women who take advantage of it: post-abortion trauma, both physical and psychological are common. I won't go into a lengthy exposition here. If you would like to know more (as I'm sure an open-minded person like yourself does), please read the attached "Twenty Questions about Abortion."

Paragraph three displays a great, but not uncommon, ignorance of the basic tenets of Christianity. I don't claim to be an expert in Buddhism, so I will base my explanation on my conversation with those who know more. Buddhism as commonly practiced is quite similar to any other form of paganism. However, the Buddhism practiced by the greatest of the enlightened aims at achieving the knowledge that "everything is nothing." I think that it is this latter form of Buddhism that the Pope means. In Christianity, however, the basic reality is personal: the three Persons that form the Holy Trinity in the Divine Unity of God. The reality we observe around us, far from being nothing or meaningless, participates in a finite way in the perfections of God. Reality is also a sign and symbol pointing us to God. The primary sign in the world that directs us to God is love-- the caring and generous self-giving of people to each other. (I think this last point is really the basis of all of John Paul II's teaching.) If you want to know more about this, the Augustine Club at Columbia will soon have a Web page featuring an essay on this topic, as well as a spectrum of other Catholic apologetics essays. I can send you more details later if you like.

The fourth paragraph is also in error. You are indeed wrong about the antipathy of the Church toward science. I suppose you are alluding to the Galileo affair. In the first place, you must remember that the Galileo affair was only one isolated instance. (I suppose that somehow many tend to link with Catholic teaching the rejection of science by some Protestants). As recent historical studies show, and as the Pope in the last few years declared, the whole thing was a misunderstanding. This misunderstanding was exacerbated by Galileo's difficult personality. Galileo wasn't even given that great of a punishment: imagine the hardship added when an old man is confined to his mansion! There was an article by Sim Johnston in Catholic Digest last year; I can look up the citation if you are interested.

Further evidence of the Church's amiability toward science is the fact that Copernicus, and many other scientists, were Catholic priests. Also noteworthy is John Buridan, a priest and professor of philosophy at the Sorbonne, who, in explaining the motion of the heavens devised the notion of impetus, which was the fore-runner of momentum (as per Newton), and thus is in some way responsible for the birth of modern science. A fuller explanation of these ideas is found in the works of Stanley Jaki, and also recent works of other historians of science.

The fifth paragraph repeats the error of the first.

By: John Keck -


Some say kephas means stone. Others say kephas means rock. Check out the commentaries etc that the Blue Letter Bible has to offer (particularly Chuck Smith on Mt 16:18), as well as CatholicCom, and see what I mean.

Now, as some of you know, I like to be the observer in the middle position. I am completely neutral for this purpose. So then, who should I believe?


JamesT,

Whom should you believe?

Believe the Catholic Answers tract. Why? Because they have to proper interpretation...as we have knowledge that Jesus and the Apostles spoke Aramaic. I shouldn't have to lay the groundwork, as you have probably read the article from Catholic Answers.

Now, I have had discussions with persons about this issue time and again. In one case, a person contacted a Biblical Research Institute, that was non-Catholic...and they confirmed the use of kepha for Peter...as well as the traditional interpretation - although they answered that the Protestant interpretation has also been held...though they presented that in such a way to allude that the Church has held both ideas in it's history; they did not make a judgements...however, they didn't want to admit that the Protestant position is quite lacking in historical basis, as well as biblical basis.

God bless, Matt


So kephas is Aramaic for 'rock', while petros can be (poetic?) Greek for 'stone', or it can be koine (common) Greek for 'rock' (or stone-it didn't really matter). But Aramaic and Hebrew are two different languages, aren't they? How different? How come those commentaries didn't mention any of that??? And how come that concordance seems to indicate kephas as being Hebrew when the word was actually Aramaic? Are these guys not suppose to be scholarly not to mention Christian (if that's what they consider themselves), and as such, honest and open?
I don't get it and my head's spinning on this. If the otherwise uninformed person interested in this, s/he would be misled


The otherwise uneducated or unknowing person would be misled...that's precisely what they want, in most cases.

If you took a look at the tract at Catholic Answers, I believe it explains the petros and petra distinction...

Now, Hebrew was the religious language of Jesus' day. The common langage was Aramaic...later Greek became common, as I understand... There is some Aramaic that remains in the orginal texts....Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani? (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?) We even have Peter being called Cephas in John's gospel...and Acts...which is a transliteration into Greek of the Aramaic.

So, we would have Matt 16:18 rendered in the following way...Thou are Kepha and upon this kepha I will build my church..." Upon translation we have "Thou art Petra and upon this petra I will build my church..." However...petra, in Greek, is a feminine noun..meaning rock. Simon Peter could not be given a feminine name, so, according to rules of Greek language...petra becomes petros - made into a proper noun - Petros - but the common noun "petros" means "stone", such as a "rolling stone" (not Mick Jagger :->) or a "pebble".

Only one's that ignore supporting evidence, and rely on incomplete knowledge do not come to the proper understanding. This is what you have seen in these "other" commentaries.

God bless, Matt


Many Biblical scholars have referred to Aramaic as "Hebrew," because it was the vernacular language of the Syro-Chaldaic Hebrew people. (In fact-- and somebody correct me-- the "Hebrew" in the inscription on the Cross may have actually been Aramaic.)

As for Cephas, some scholars have pointed out that that name not only means rock, but also sounds very similar to the name of the vault in Jerusalem where the keys to the city were kept. In addition, it is quite close to the name of Caiphas, who was High Priest at the time. Scott Hahn points out these two puns by Christ, in his "Salvation History" lecture series.


So was Jesus a Syro-Chaldaic Hebrew person whatever that is?

And what does vernacular mean?

Also, then, did those Blue-Letter Bible & Concordance folks just conveniently use the notion that Aramaic could be Hebrew and then treat "cephas" as being Hebrew and then equating that with its Greek {which wasn't even the right form of Greek} "petros", saying that if petros meant stone then cephas also meant stone? Seems like it to me


JamesT,

Regarding this "Blue-Letter Bible" and Concordance...keep this in mind...not all books are accurate merely because they say "Bible" on the cover...this is why the Church places imprimatur and nehil obstat on books. This is why the Church has "approved" translations of the Bible.

Let's say I wrote a book on 5 computer progamming languages...but I only knew 3 programming languages; and my thinking was that the other 2 were similar to those 3 I already knew (even though they had things contained within them that were different.) I couldn't really be as reliable as someone who wrote a similar book knowing all 5 languages, now could I?

Just some food for thought about the "inaccuracies" of these other "scholarly works".

God bless, Matt


Hello James,

What is the difference between a rock and a stone. I've always considered them synonyms. Apparently, so does Webster's Thesaurus.

May Our Lord and Our Lady bless you, De Maria


There is a huge difference: Don't use an English dictionary to understand Greek writings.

The text in question (Matthew 16:18) uses two separate words: Petros for Peter and Petra for rock.

"Petros" is ONLY found in the Bible in texts referring to Peter; it never is used for rock or stone in any other context. Young's Analytical Concordance specifies "small stone" in its reference to John 1:24 ("...Cephas, which is, by interpretation, a stone...").

"Petra", on the other hand, is used on 15 different occasions. These uses fall into two different categories, literal and symbolic.

I'll dispose of the literal uses first. Close examination of these texts in their contexts clearly finds that the rock being referenced is not a stone that can be picked up easily and moved about:

1. Mt. 27:51 Rocks being rent by the earthquake that accompanied Christ's death on the cross.

2 & 3. Mt. 27:60 and Mk. 15:46 The rock out of which Christ's tomb was hewn.

4 & 5. Rev. 6:15 and Rev. 6:16

The rocks of the mountains among which people will hide themselves in the cataclysm of the Second Coming, and which they will beg to fall on them.

Clearly we are not talking about small stones here.

The symbolic uses are even more critical to understanding of the text in question:

6 & 7. Mt. 7:24 and Mt. 7:25
The person who hears Christ's words and does them are likened to a man who builds his house on the foundation of a rock. In these verses, the "petra" in question clearly is Christ's words.

8. Mt. 16:18
The text in question: I shall return to this.

9 & 10. Lk. 6:48 (twice)
Luke's retelling of the analogy in 6 & 7.

11 & 12. Lk. 8:6 and Lk. 8:13
Parable of the sower. The seeds fell upon a rock and were burned up. This is not the stone that one would find strewn along a wayside, but rather the kinds of large rocks a farmer finds in a field and in the old days, would just "plow around."

13 & 14. Rom. 9:33 and 1 Pe. 2.8
The "rock of offense" that is laid in Zion. (Compare Mt. 5:17, Ps. 118:22). This is quoting Isaiah 8:14, which is a Messianic prophecy referring to Christ.

15. 1 Cor.10:4
The spiritual Rock that followed Israel in the wilderness, which is specifically identified here as Christ.

With the exception of the rock in the parable of the sower, which Christ himself identifies as the condition of the hearts of some of His hearers, each one of these symbolic uses refers either to Christ or His words, even the reference in Mt. 17:18, to wit:

Christ has already used the word metaphor of the large foundation stone to refer to His own words. If He meant for Peter to be the foundation of the church, would He not have said, "Thou art Petros, and upon this petros will I build my church". Or similarly, He could have said, "Thou are Petra and upon this petra..." But He did not.
He was presenting a contrast here. He was saying, Simon, you are merely a small stone. My church will be built on a much greater foundation than you. I will build My church on the foundation of Me and My words.

If you have doubts as to the use of the rock being a symbol of Christ, I would recommend you look up the words "rock" and "stone" in a good concordance and look at all the occasions in the Old Testament where they are used to symbolize the God of Israel, Whom we all know was Christ in His preincarnate form.

Finally, I would ask you this: At what point, if Peter was the first pope, was he invested with this office? Did he receive the "keys" at Christ's ascention? If so, then why is it that at the meeting described in Acts 15, where the new church's leaders are debating the question of what should be required of the Gentile converts, and at which meeting Peter is present, why is it that it is James who presides and who makes and announces the final decision? Can you imagine a papal meeting today at which this would occur? Clearly Peter was not treated as the head of the church by his contemporaries; and early church history reveals that, until the bishop of Rome began to amass power unto himself, the first generations of biships were all considered to be and behaved as equals.


Thanks for your post. It is an example of much of the poor scholarship found in some of fundamentalism.

And so I say to you, you are Peter." (V.18) Christ chose to rename Simon Peter or Cephas, which means "the rock." What Jesus literally said was "You are the rock." It is very likely that no man had ever been named Rock before.

Simon is commonly called Cephas by Paul. What does Cephas mean? It is Aramaic for "Rock". This is likely the word Jesus used when naming Simon. When Matthew was writing the gospel in Greek, the common word for rock, Petra, is a feminine word. (Many language has different nouns for masculine, feminine, and neutral items. It would have been an insult to use the feminine noun when it applies to a male. So the alternative masculine noun, Petros, was used.

Consider the absurdity of the notion that Christ was insulting Simon by calling him a small pebble. "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjonah! You are an insignificant little pebble!" What kind of blessing is that?

Secondly, the difference in meaning of the Greek words is deceptive. In classical Greek poetry, petros was used for small stone, as opposed to petra for a large mass of rock. But this difference had passed from usage centuries earlier. By Christ's time, the two words meant the same, while the word lithos was used for a small stone.

Our Lord spoke Aramaic, and early testimony offers evidence that the Gospel of Matthew was also composed in Aramaic. In the Aramaic language, no difference occurs. "You are kepha, and upon this kepha I will build my Church." This is evidenced by the account of the same event in John 1:42. "You are Simon the son of John, you will be called Kephas." Indeed, this slight difference in Greek words, a fact which "alone should settle the issue," is absolutely irrelevant.

Honest Protestant scholars admit as much. Consider this excerpt from the Zondervan NIV Commentary: "[M]any have attempted to avoid Peter as the rock on which Jesus builds his Church yet if it were not for Protestant reactions against extremes of Roman Catholic interpretations (sic), it is doubtful whether many would have taken Ďrock' to be anything or anyone other than Peter."

(I borrowed bits of this post from the tract found on the CS Articles page).


Clearly Peter was not treated as the head of the church by his contemporaries; and early church history reveals that, until the bishop of Rome began to amass power unto himself, the first generations of biships were all considered to be and behaved as equals.

Protestant Greek scholars like D.A. Carson and Joseph Thayer admit there is no distinction in meaning between petros and petra in the Koine Greek of the New Testament? [Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), 507; D.A. Carson, "Matthew," in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor's Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), vol. 8, 368.] As you pointed out, petra means a 'rock.' It even usually means a 'large rock.' And that's exactly what petros means, too ó large rock. It does not mean 'pebble' or 'small stone,' as you've been told. The Greek word for 'pebble' or 'small stone' is lithos, not petros.

"In Matthew 4:3," you continue, "the devil cajoles Jesus to perform a miracle and transform some stones, lithoi, the Greek plural for lithos, into bread. In John 10:31, certain Jews pick up stones, lithoi, to stone Jesus with. In 1 Peter 2:5, St. Peter describes Christians as 'living stones,' lithoi, which form a spiritual house. If St. Matthew had wanted to draw a distinction between a big rock and a little rock in Matthew 16:17-19, he could have by using lithos, but he didn't. The rock is St. Peter!"

YOu will also find the vast majority of the early church fathers that also understood Peter to be the rock in Matthew 16:18.

Peter's name occurs first in all lists of apostles (Mt 10:2; Mk 3:16; Lk 6:14; Acts 1:13). Matthew even calls him the "first" (10:2). Judas Iscariot is invariably mentioned last.

Peter is almost without exception named first whenever he appears with anyone else. In one (only?) example to the contrary, Galatians 2:9, where he ("Cephas") is listed after James and before John, he is clearly preeminent in the entire context (e.g., 1:18-19; 2:7-8).

Peter alone among the apostles receives a new name, Rock, solemnly conferred (Jn 1:42; Mt 16:18).

Likewise, Peter is regarded by Jesus as the Chief Shepherd after Himself (Jn 21:15-17), singularly by name, and over the universal Church, even though others have a similar but subordinate role (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:2).


First let me ask you this; did Jesus speak Greek or Aramaic?

My understanding is that in translating to the Greek, scholars were unwilling to give Peter a feminine name (Petra).

Niether the Aramaic nor the Hebrew have a distinction between feminine (smaller) and masculine (larger) rock, whereas Greek does. In Greek, Petra is the feminine and Petros is the masculine. There is no neuter option available.

It is not hard to understand why the translators gave Peter the masculine 'Rock' (Petros). Oterwise they would be calling him, in effect, Rockett or Rockina (Petra).

Jesus used the same word each time to say Rock. The translators couldn't do so without calling Peter by a feminine name. When read in context, there is no other way to understand the text where Jesus calls Peter Rock

If the Rock upon which Jesus was to build the Church was not the same as the Rock Peter, then what is the point of Jesus changing Simon's name at all?

May the Lord continue to bless your studies, and enlighten me if I am wrong.

As we wait in joyful hope

polycarp

Oops!

I took so long to compose my response, that by the time I had posted it, Martin had posted twice! I would not have bothered if I had seen his.

I will only add that it is my understanding as well that most respected protestant scholars have abandoned the 'Petros/Petra' argument.

Well done Martin

polycarp

rock, stone, cephas, petro, petros.....I think to much is being thought about one word. Jesus said ; I tell you that you are rock
(whatever the actual word that was used doesn't matter) and on this rock..... He said ; "you are rock" then he changed the direction of thought to himself by saying "and on this rock"... He didn't continue by saying and on that rock . He said THIS meaning himself. God would not build his church on the back of a man, especially one so prone to mistakes as Peter.

Pat


He didn't continue by saying and on that rock . He said THIS meaning himself. God would not build his church on the back of a man, especially one so prone to mistakes as Peter.

This totally renders Jesus giving Simon a new name totally meaningless. "Here Simon ... I'm calling YOU rock ... but I really mean myself when I use this term."

Your eisegesis betrays you.


He already had changed his name when they first met (John1:42) so this is not what he was doing here.

Pat


He already had changed his name when they first met (John1:42) so this is not what he was doing here.

He was doing precisely that. Along giving him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (see also Isaiah 22:20-22), and binding and loosing authority.

Let's look at what those keys are. The keys represent an position of authority which is handed down from from one successor to the next.

Isaiah 22:20-22 In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, . . . and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

Now this sounds extremely similar as to what Jesus tells Peter!

Scott Hahn relates it like this ..... "The House of David is the Davidic kingdom, the Davidic dynasty. We know this because David has been dead for hundreds of years when this is happening in Isaiah 22, "I will give you the key of the House of David. He shall open and none shall shut, and he shall shut and none shall open. He will become a throne of honor to his father's house." Look at all of the symbols of dynastic authority that are being given to this individual. First of all, an office. Second, a robe. Third, a throne and fourth, keys, the key of the House of David, these royal keys.

Now, what is going on here? I'll just summarize it in rather simple terms. Hezekiah was at the time, the king over Israel. He was the son of David, hundreds of years after David had died. He was in the line of David and also he was ruler over the House of David. Now all kings in the ancient world had, as kings and queens have these days, cabinet officers, a cabinet of royal ministers. Like Margaret Thatcher is the Prime Minister, so there are other ministers under the Queen in Great Britain. Hezekiah, as King, had as his Prime Minister before Shebna who proved unworthy. So he was expelled, but when he was expelled, he left an office vacant. Not only did you have dynastic succession for the king, but you also have a dynastic office for the Prime Minister. When Shebna is expelled, there is an empty office that needs to be filled and that's why Eliakim is called to fill it.

Now, Eliakim is a minister in the cabinet, but now he is being granted the Prime Minister's position. How do we know? Because he is given what the other ministers do not have, the keys of the kingdom, the key to the House of David. That symbolized dynastic authority entrusted to the Prime Minister and dynastic succession. Why? Because it's the key of David; it's the House of David.

Let me go back and try to simplify this even further. I'll read the quote. Albright says, "In commenting upon Matthew 16 and Jesus giving to Peter the keys of the kingdom, Isaiah 22:15 and following undoubtedly lies behind this saying." Albright, a Protestant, non- Catholic insists that it's undoubtable that Jesus is citing Isaiah 22, "The keys are the symbol of authority and DeVoe rightly sees here the same authority as that vested in the vicar, the master of the house, the chamberlain of the royal household of ancient Israel." In other words, the Prime Minister's office.

Other Protestant scholars admit it too, that when Jesus gives to Peter the keys of the kingdom, Peter is receiving the Prime Minister's office, which means dynastic authority from the Son of David, Jesus, the King of Israel, but also an office where there will be dynastic succession.


Martin,

Let me ask you this;
What is the one and only thing needed for salvation?
How do we get this thing ?

Pat


Answer

A. Grace

B. By Faith (which implies/ includes works - as 'dead faith' cannot save anyone).

I am sure, Pat, that you can hash this out further if you have conceded the argument on this thread. But that is the topic of another thread.

Don't you agree?

polycarp

ok...poly,

I asked, What is the one thing needed for salvation.
You said, grace

Then I asked, how do we get it.
You said, faith.

Don't you have it backwards?
Don't we need faith before we are given grace?

The point of my questions were;

What do we have faith in? That Jesus is the son of God,and that he was resurected from the dead. Or that Peter is the rock the church is built on? Jesus has to be the rock the church is built on. Without him there is no church. Without peter there would still be the church.

See, my thoughts do belong on this thread.

abic,

Pat


Pat, et al...

If you look, there are number of other threads on this topic of "rock or pebble", under the Apologetics heading. In one thread, the idea that none of the "Church fathers" thought of Peter as "the rock" of Matt 16:18 is clearly and decisively refuted.

Now, perhaps you'd like to get into a historical argumentation on whether your interpretation holds up under 2,000 years of Christianity?.....

(I am starting a new "How are we saved?" thread to address the "salvation issue" so that this thread does not get off-topic...please address all "salvation" issues on that thread. Thank you.)

God bless, Matt


Actually, I thought the topic was changing to "salvation", (as I believe Polycarp thought as well)....but, as I read further, I saw it really was getting at where faith is...so I will adress it here....

What do we have faith in? That Jesus is the son of God,and that he was resurected from the dead. Or that Peter is the rock the church is built on? Jesus has to be the rock the church is built on. Without him there is no church.
Without peter there would still be the church.

We have faith in Christ Jesus. That faith comes through His Church. Ultimately, Christ Jesus is the most important figure of the Church...and Catholics neither deny that fact, nor ignore it. But, in an effort to justify your postion that the Catholic Church is not the "true Church", you (like many before you) attempt to discredit the hierarchy of the Church - to no avail, though, because history clearly disagrees with you, from the first century A.D. until today.

I challenge you to find a Church scholar, theologian, etc. who was not declared to be in heresy, and refuted, who taught that Jesus was the "rock" of Matt 16:18, to the exclusion of St. Peter. Until you do so, your ideas are merely personal opinion, not grounded properly in Scripture or history.

God bless, Matt


"Don't you have it backwards? Don't we need faith before we are given grace?"

No.

To find out why, continue discussion over on SAVED BY GRACE - message # 5440.

polycarp

Pat, did I miss something? I thought this thread was about Peter as the Rock. Is your changing the subject a way of subtly conceding the point?

For your edification, here is what some of the Church Fathers had to say about Peter as the Rock:

"Peter, who is called 'the rock on which the church should be built,' who also obtained 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven...'" Tertullian

"Number the priests even from that seat of Peter. And in that order of fathers see to whom succeeded: that is the rock which the proud gates of hades do not conquer."
Augustine

"Peter, that head of the Apostles, the first in the Church, the friend of Christ, who recieved revelation not from man but from the Father...this Peter, and when I say Peter, I mean that unbroken Rock, the unshaken foundation, the great Apostle, the first of the disciples, the first called, the first to obey" John Chrysostom

God bless,

Rich


For more on what the "Church Fathers" had to say regarding this....and an exegesis on Matt 16:18...see my previous post under "Matt 16:18 and the Papacy"....or
Message #4295

God bless, Matt


Matt,

First of I would like to say I like your dedication. If we had more Christains like you, what a wonderful world this would be.

I am a Christian and yet I do not attend a Catholic Church. I don't believe Jesus wants me to attend a Catholic Church as he wants me to stay where I am. How can this be if the Catholic Church is the only true Church?

Nigel


How do you know that God doesn't want you to convert to Catholicism?

Do you think the fact you found this board might be a way God is leading in that direction?

Please feel free to ask us any question you would like.


Martin,

I have spoken to Jesus a few times regarding my Church. Each time he tells me it is where he wants me to be.

I don't see visiting this site as him wanting me to move. I'm just interested that's all.

Nigel


Nigel,

I don't really believe that God ever wants us to "stay where we are"; I believe He wants us to live and grow in faith and love. But, this is probably not what you are meaning when you make that statement; however, such an assessment is not totally off base, I believe.

I believe that non-Catholic Christian denominations have varying degrees of truth within them. And, further, within the members of those churches, we find varying degrees of faithfilled confession of those and other truths. This is not without exception to the Catholic Church as well; for her membership, there are many whom profess faith through the Catholic Church, but subscribe to varying levels of assent in that faith.

Where the difference comes, I believe, is in that degree or amount of truth that is taught within the Catholic Church. I believe that only within the Catholic Church (not necessarily in her membership) is the fullest possible degree of truth taught and preserved. The truth is taught to such a level, that error cannot possibly exist with it.

Now, you may wonder how this pertains to your question about the "true Church." I don't believe it's merely in the attending of a Catholic Church, but in the search for and assent to truth, that we become a member of the "true Church." Catholic Christianity is not merely resolved to get one "saved", but is set apart to form a whole relationship with the Creator, at every level of one's life, through learning and understanding the whole revelation of truth found in Christ Jesus. It is not merely "head knowledge", but also experience, where the totality of this revelation is found.

We must believe that there is such a thing as the "true Church", and that within her exists no error. This must logically be if we consider the Church to be the very Body of Christ, for error cannot exist within pure truth.

So, I would respectfully and humbly ask that you re-examine and reconsider what the Lord asks of you. Not only a re-examination of "facts and figures", but I also invite you to experience those truths expressed within Christ's Church, which "subsists within the Catholic Church."

I hope that gets to answering your question....

God bless, Matt


Well stated, Matt. I think what you have spelled out really is the core issue. The Church, the Body of Christ, simply isn't a means of getting saved ..... it is about relation with our creator and us, with our Savior and us. It is also about our relation with all of God's family, the Body of Christ. The Saints in heaven and earth ... and how we are one in CHrist. It is more than just a "personal relationship" with Christ. It is partaking in his Body and Blood through the Church He established for caring for and preserving truth. The Church is an organic body ..... not merely an institute.

If the church is the pillar and ground of truth, which other Church would this be? For this scripture to be correct, there must be a church which has taught truth and continues to teach truth from the beginning.

This is the relationship that is very clearly illustrated in "The Spirit of Catholicism".


Rich,

I didn't change the subject. I simply stated our faith lies in Jesus and not Peter. Therefore Jesus is the rock not Peter. Without Jesus there is no church, without Peter there would still be the church. Do you really think it matters what the name of the building you worship in is? Anyone who does as Paul says in Romans 10: 9-10 is a member of Christ's church. Does it really matter that you call yourself Catholic or Protestant or what ever? If you think it matters then maybe you should read 1 Cor 3

abic,

Pat


Matt,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I agree with you in some things you say.

I have no problem with where I worship. I could go to a Baptist, Catholic, Charismatic or Pentecostal Church and would find it acceptable. But the reason I don't move is because when I talk to Jesus he tells me that he wants me to stay where I am. This meand that Jesus is talking directly to me. You know, with words and all. It's kinda hard to do something Jesus tells you not to do (move that is).

Nigel


Nigel, this is a serious question, not just a rhetorical question. How do you "hear" these answers? And how do you know it's Jesus?


How do I know which interpretation of the bible is correct? There are so many views that they all cannot be right. But the Holy Spirit leads us and guids us into all truth. That's his Job. I know which is right because of the leading of the Holy Spirit. But that is not to say I have it all. Nope, I'm not there yet, but I continue and press on.

I know it's Jesus when he talks to me because the sheep know his voice.

Nigel


Pat, we agree with Romans 10 .... but we also don't take this passage to the exclusion of many others. What else does scripture tell us?

You must endure to the end. Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:13, Mark 13:13.

You must accept the Cross (suffering). Matthew 10:38, Matthew 16:24-25, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27.

You must be baptized with water. Mark 16:16, John 3:3-5 Titus 3:5, I Peter 3:20-21.

You must be a member in God's true church. Acts 2:47.

You must confess your sins. James 5:16, I John 1:9

You must keep the Commandments of God. Matthew 5:19-20, Matthew 7:21

You must eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ. John 6:51-58, I Corinthians 10:16, I Corinthians 11:23-29

1 Corinthians 4:4-5:

"For I am not conscious to myself of anything. Yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore, judge not before the time: until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. And then shall every man have praise from God."


Martin, Hi...I just wanted to say that i'm not trying to put you or anyone else down. These are my thoughts and beliefs just as you have yours. I'm not saying your wrong and i'm right. Just that we won't always agree. It should be clear to any Christian, that faith is the first step of Christianity. If you are really and truly saved you will produce fruit. Yes, we must hold stead fast until the end. You said, You must accept the Cross (suffering). Matthew 10:38, Matthew 16:24-25, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27 I agree. That's called Faith. You said, You must be baptized with water. Mark 16:16, John 3:3-5 Titus 3:5, I Peter 3:20-21. Baptism does not save you, faith does. You said, You must be a member in God's true church. Acts 2:47. Any Christian is a member of the body of Christ, therefore a member of his church. You don't need to be a Catholic. You said, You must confess your sins. James 5:16, I John 1:9 Are you trying to say, if for some reason we don't get a chance to confess our sin to God we won't go to Heaven? If it is, I don't think you really know the word of God very well. You said, You must keep the Commandments of God. Matthew 5:19-20, Matthew 7:21 As Christians, His laws are written in our hearts. If we slip and fall he forgives us. He's not keeping a record . You said, You must eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ. John 6:51-58, I Corinthians 10:16, I Corinthians 11:23-29 Your talking about communion, right? I don't understand these to mean what you do. Maybe that's a different topic. If we look in the book of Revelation 21: 7-8 it tells you who pretty much won't get in, 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." So who is it that overcomes. 1John 5:5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Faith is the one thing you need. With that faith comes everything else. abic, Pat


Nigel,

You say that you have no problem with where you worship, and I'll tell you forthright, that I have no problem with where you worship either. Thus far, in this conversation, you've given little indication that you disagree with much the Catholic Church teaches ~ which is a great thing ~ only that where you choose to worship is not a Catholic Church. However, I would imagine that you might miss hearing and learning more about certain things that you may believe to be truth in attending your current place of worship. (Please understand that I'm not pushing you to become Catholic or anything like that...just saying some things that are on my mind, for your consideration.)

I believe that Jesus wants us to be wholly a part of His Body...His Church. The ability to be wholly part of His Church, I believe, comes from being in an "environment" where one can hear, learn, eventually understand, and live the whole truth of what He came to teach us ~ which encompass' His whole life from birth to death, and beyond. I believe, therefore, that the Catholic Church is the Church which enables us to fully live out that revelation and relationship.
I want to make clear at this point that I'm not specifically speaking of salvation (as in non-Catholics are not saved); as I stated in my previous post, I don't believe the Church is merely here for that purpose.

Now, basically, your statements are saying that you are hearing an audible voice telling you that the Catholic Church is not the Church founded by Christ and the Apostles. And by saying that you'd be comfortable in any church, whether Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, etc., you're pretty much saying that the doctrinal differences among these churches don't matter. On the contrary, I believe that these doctrinal differences *do*, indeed, matter, for most, if not all, strike at the very heart of truth, and the ability to fully proclaim that truth. Further, I believe it does a disservice to those who fought for a particular doctrine (or negation thereof), to state that a particular doctrine is not important. I believe we must view these differences among churches as being important because they were important enough to create division among the People of God.

Since the relationship comes through truth - whether knowledge or experience - it is important to hear and follow such truths, which is only possible, in the fullest sense, in Christ's Church ~ which I believe evidence has shown to be the Catholic Church.

God bless, Matt


Martin, Hi...I just wanted to say that i'm not trying to put you or anyone else down. These are my thoughts and beliefs just as you have yours. I'm not saying your wrong and i'm right. Just that we won't always agree. It should be clear to any Christian, that faith is the first step of Christianity.

I agree ... with the exception of infant baptism. But faith is indeed the initial step for adults.

If you are really and truly saved you will produce fruit.

At what point does someone become "really and truly saved"? When they live sinless lives? All too often, when someone falls back into a life of sin, Protestants will say "he was never saved to begin with".

Yes, we must hold stead fast until the end. You said, You must accept the Cross (suffering). Matthew 10:38, Matthew 16:24-25, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27 I agree. That's called Faith.

So faith entails holding fast and enduring whatever cross we must carry? That sounds very Catholic!

You said, You must be baptized with water. Mark 16:16, John 3:3-5 Titus 3:5, I Peter 3:20-21. Baptism does not save you, faith does.

You contradict scripture ....You must be born anew of the water and the Spirit. (John 3:5) .... Baptism now saves you (1 Pet 3:21) .....

You said, You must be a member in God's true church. Acts 2:47. Any Christian is a member of the body of Christ, therefore a member of his church. You don't need to be a Catholic.

Show me a biblical example of anyone setting up their own denomination based on their personal interpretation of scripture.

i>You said, You must confess your sins. James 5:16, I John 1:9 Are you trying to say, if for some reason we don't get a chance to confess our sin to God we won't go to Heaven? If it is, I don't think you really know the word of God very well.

I'm saying that you must confess your sins and repent from your sins. Does faith entail no turning away from our sins? Just mere belief in Jesus? I'm not referring to extraordinary circumstances (good thief on the cross situations). What if we refuse to repent from our sins? You would like say we were never saved to begin with.

You said, You must keep the Commandments of God. Matthew 5:19-20, Matthew 7:21 As Christians, His laws are written in our hearts. If we slip and fall he forgives us. He's not keeping a record .

In a couple sentences, you contradict yourself (Rev 21:7-8). Can I continue to practice sexually immorality and be saved? Yes, the Ten Commandments can be summarized of love of God and love of others .... but which one can I violate (according to Jesus' statements) and be saved without repenting?

You said, You must eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ. John 6:51-58, I Corinthians 10:16, I Corinthians 11:23-29 Your talking about communion, right? I don't understand these to mean what you do. Maybe that's a different topic.

Do you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood? If so, how?

If we look in the book of Revelation 21: 7-8 it tells you who pretty much won't get in, 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." So who is it that overcomes. 1John 5:5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

And obeys ... and repents, is baptised, forgives others, etc., etc., etc.! Yes, all of these entail faith .... but does faith itself save if I refuse to obey? You pit grace, faith, and works in opposition with each other.

The requirement of "faith" by God puts man in a position of obligation to God. Man is obliged to believe everything God has declared about himself, whether he wants to or not. If faith were merely an option, then man would not be obligated to believe.

He is obligated to believe to the extent that if he does not believe he will be condemned by God. He cannot ask God to annihilate him out of existence so that he will not be required to make a choice to believe.

Why does God choose faith as the primary vehicle to obligate man to himself?

One of the problems with the theory of imputed righteousness is that it ends up proving too much. If we carry the theory of imputation to it's logical conclusion, then there whould be no reason why the individual must exhibit faith as a prerequisite for imputation. If the process is all God's, then he would just impute righteousness to us and the matter would be over. Any faith or works that came from that imputation would merely be the result of God's action but not a prerequisite for God's action. This presents a huge problem for the imputation theory for the theory holds that those who do not exhibit faith cannot receive the imputed righteousness. To compund the problem, the Protestant understanding requires a high quality of faith in order to appropriate the alien righteousness of Christ. For the Protestant theory to be compatible with the teaching in James, the individual's faith must be of such measurable quality that it is then, and only then, able to be the instrument to receive the alien righteousness of Christ.

For example, R.C. Sproul in "Faith Alone" notes .... "The three elements of saving faith - notitia, assensus, and fiducia - seperately lack the force of sufficient condtion. When added together they compose the essense of saving faith and then the level of sufficiency. When these three necessary conditions of saving faith are met, then the faith that is present is a sufficient condition for justification .... We will recall that the formula "justification by faith alone" means that faith (as noted above) is the instrumental cause of our justification. This instrumental cause is sufficient for justification and in effect ex epore operato."

So, according the Sproul, faith can only be an instrument if it meets three conditions. In a word, faith is not just an instrument, it is an instrument that must be "tuned" properly in order to function as intended. In the end, then, justification depends on the instrinsic quality of faith of the individual. How does the Christian know if he has met the three conditions of makind faith an instrument of justification? If he cannot be justified until faith meets these three conditions, then it is imperative that he have some way to measure whether he has met them.

In reality, a man could spend his entire life wondering if his faith had met the three conditions. If he sins and falls away from faith then he is told that he was never a Christian originally because he never had "saving faith".

Does God give incomplete gifts to some and complete gifts to others? Or does it have anything to do with our free will and cooperation with the gift?

Some Protestants understand faith as a condition for justification (like Sproul), others do not (like Joel Beeke.

In putting Abraham through these tests, God was attempting to draw out something deep within the heart of Abraham ..... an uncompromising, undaunted faith and love in God that accepted Him regardless of circumstantial evidence.

When God determines that a person such as Abraham has developed this kind of deep and seasoned character, he in turn views that faith and love as righteousness.


Pat,

Thanks for your reply. Of course our faith lies with Jesus; however, in order to be true to that faith we need to look to the plan of salvation Christ established for us.

You say that without Jesus there is no Church, and that there is a Church without Peter. I think, however, you are missing the point. The question before us is: Did Jesus establish a Church? And, if so, how did He establish it?

I think the first question is self-evident. Matt. 16 reflects Christís words: "And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church ..."

The second question then, is how did Christ establish that Church? I think that the previous posts address this question thoroughly and I wonít try to do so again here.

So then, as to faith in Jesus, if you believe that Christ established a Church, and He established that Church on Peter, can you honestly say that you are being faithful to Christ if you reject the Church that He established?

Writing barely 200 years after Christís ascension, Cyprian of Carthage wrote: "If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?"

God bless you and Merry CHRISTmas!

Rich


Matt,

You are a very calm and kind person. I like you already.

But you are taking me out of context a bit.

>Now, basically, your statements are saying that you are >hearing an audible voice telling you that the Catholic >Church is not the Church founded by Christ and the Apostles

No one told me (especially Jesus) that the Catholic Church was not founded by Jesus. It was. But so are the others. One thing I don't see Jesus doing is fighting against himself. If he made only one Church to worship in, then he would not have begun all of the other denominations.

I believe that there is truth in every denomination that is magnified, that is not present to the same extent in the others. The Baptist have eternal security (No I wont dicuss it), the Charismatics have the Spirit (Wont discuss that either), and the Catholics have unity, Love and the reality of the saints. But it will only be when we all come together that we get the fulness of the truth given by Jesus to His Body.

So I really like the Catholics. You have some things that I need to learn, so I do. Yet there is also some things that you need to learn to come to the fulness of the truth that Jesus has given to His body on the earth.

It's interesting you know. As I talk to Christians all over the world they all say the same things. "Come to my Church, it's the closest to what Jesus wants". Can they all be wrong? Yes and No. But it's only when we come to the unity of the faith that we will walk in the fulness of what Jesus has given to His body on the earth.

Matt, you cannot but help yourself to walk in Love, and I see it growing in you each day.

Nigel


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