The Pope: Necessary for Unity (II)

I am a scriptural Christian and have been since I was “saved” in 1979. I love the Scriptures, and pray regularly that my life might be in accord with all that they mandate.

With which I would draw attention to person of Peter in the Scriptures.

He is always mentioned when the disciples are listed, whether in groups of 3 or 12 (11 after Judas), and always mentioned first. He is mentioned more often than all of the other apostles.

He is given a new name, a powerful one, one which is used at times for God Himself in the OT, “Thou art Peter (Kephas or rock). God gave others new names, but one is especially reminded of Abram becoming Abraham and Sarai becoming Sarah as the first Covenenant is prepared.

Like many f the prophets, Peter knows of his own unworthiness to the call, Depart from me for I am a sinful man”

Three times Christ singles out Peter as the leader of the Church: “You are rock and on this rock I will build my church,” Strengthen the brethren,” and “Feed my sheep.”


After the Resurrection and the Ascension nothing changes. It is Peter who presides at the selection of Matthias to replace Judas. It is Peter who holds the inauguaral sermon in the new-born Church in Acts 2. It is Peter who presides at the first ecumencial council in Act 15 (with appropritate deference to the local bishop, James).

Did Jesus make these dramatic statements about Peter in Matthew 16 and give him these authorities just for Peter’s lifetime? It’s possible, but it isn’t the only possibility, nor even the most plausible. Did he single Peter out with a new name just to commission him like any other Apostle, or was he establishing an office of Shepherd for the Church, the People of the New Covenant?

Have those of you who reject the papacy thought it through scripturally? Does it make sense for Christ to give someone keys to a kingdom for only one generation? If the first centruy Church needed someone to be called rock, upon whom the Church would be bulit, then every generation needs the same/.

All of the other interpretations fly in the face of the testimony of the Scriptures. Where the apostles are gathered around Peter, there is the center, on earth of the Church. 1

1 I know there are other interpetations. Some say the mantle of authority was passed to Paul. I do not buy it. It makes all that happens in the gospels fade away as if Jesus, having made some sort of mistake investing his three years with Peter and the disciples then finally turns to someone from outside their three-year experience, someone he could rely on, so to speak. Paul is the author of the epistles, but he was not given keys, nor a new name (not by God), nor was he commissioned as the universal pastor of the Church.


Posted in Uncategorized. 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “The Pope: Necessary for Unity (II)”

  1. Christy Says:

    The “You are Peter” passage is also similar to Isaiah 22 where Eliakim is given the key to the House of David and is told that “when he opens no one shall shut, when he shuts no one will open” and that all authority will be given to him.

    There’s also another OT story (sorry, I can never remember where) that talks about a king having to go on a trip. He calls 12 of his most trusted advisor’s, puts them in charge of the city while he’s gone, gives the key and the authority to make decisions on his behalf while he’s gone to one of the 12 in particular.

  2. Christopher Says:

    I don’t think Orthodox doubt the fact that Peter held an important place in the early Church, the question is whether the role of Peter was passed on the his episcopal successors in the last city that he served and the city where he died and his relics were kept: Rome. And, was this inheritance ever acknowledged or understood by the churches outside of the West – does context support this local tradition? While it is possible to argue that the East was simply in rebellion to the tradition, it is difficult to argue for the fact that all of the apostolic churches – except for one, Rome – were wrong at an early date. This seems to counter Christ’s promise that the gates of Hades will not overcome the Church – IF, communion with Rome is a prerequisite for full communion and membership in the Church.

    The role of Peter isn’t at issue with the Orthodox, it is the extent and limits of the role of the one who refers to himself as the successor of Peter that is at issue.

  3. unasancta Says:

    Discussing this with someone who opens as you do often ends up not unlike debating predestination with a Calvinist or faith alone with a Lutheran. As a rule the discussion is futile. Old, well-rehearsed arguments are made on both sides, sometimes tempers flare. I am not sure my response will include anything new, but I will contribute my 2 cents in the hope it will.

    The role Peter played as the visible leader of the apostles, the keys given to him as well as the promises, could have been given to the apostles as a group as were the abilities to bind and loose, and to forgive sin sacramentally. Jesus chose however to confer the keys, the promises (the gates of Hell shall not prevail) and the charge (feed my sheep and stengthen the brethren) on an indvidual. He did so because he knew a visible Church needs a visible leader. That did not change at the death of Peter.

    Calvinists and Lutherans present alternate interpretations of the scriptures and history some of which might be true, many things are possible. Your arguments against the papacy are no different.

    Many other things contriubte to the strong confidence I have in the papacy. For one, its longevity–if it were the hoax you would have it be I doubt it could have lasted as long as it has. 2) The ability of popes to speak to the entire world as the universal pastor as seen especially in JPII but also in BXVI. 3) Even though there are some small unreached language groups people from virtually every tribe and tongue recognize his authority.


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