Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Keys and Rocks and Popes and Fathers: One last Response to John Salza

John Salza responded to my exegesis of Matthew 16. As you can see, it is a quite lengthy response. We must note, however, that in all of its length Mr. Salza failed to admit or correct the errors and miscitations he made in his initial response to me. As a friend of mine noted, Mr. Salza seems like someone that will keep you writing for a long time. I have already written what he has asked (the exegesis of Matthew 16–a piece that went beyond what he asked). So my response here will be neither detailed nor lengthy–at least compared to his last response. There is no need to restate what I have already said. The only task here is to point out what I have already said to Mr. Salza–to be a little reminder, if you will. Let’s look at a few highlights:

Another of Mr. May’s tactics is to try to convince you at the beginning of the debate how illogical his opponent’s arguments are going to be, but this is nothing more than a smoke screen for the inadequacy of his own position. Please have patience with this dialogue, and you will see how Mr. May twists the Scriptures to his own destruction (2 Pet 3:16).

…Mr. May kicks things off by blowing a lot of smoke at his readers, but we will soon discover how shallow his approach to Scripture and the Fathers really is. We will see whose position is more defensible exegetically. We will also see how the Fathers not only fail to help Mr. May, but actually refute his contentions.

I’m sure we could find many words to describe what is cited above. “Humorous,” “ironic,” and “inconsistent” will suffice here. How are my opening statements any different from what Mr. Salza states above? He states, “… but we will soon discover how shallow his approach to Scripture and the Fathers really is.” Should I respond to this in a different manner than Mr. Salza did? Should I not simply state, “One of Mr. Salza’s tactics is to try to convince you at the beginning of the debate how illogical his opponent’s arguments are going to be, but this is nothing more than a smoke screen for the inadequacy of his own position”? Isn’t Mr. Salza claiming victory a bit early?

I have little problem with any of this, but it is a bit long winded and off line. Yes, Christ is establishing the Church which is part of His Messianic mission. The question Matthew 16 answers is upon whom Christ builds the Church and with whom Christ invests His authority to carry on His mission. As the text demonstrates (but which Mr. May denies), the answer is Peter.

Mr. Salza may view what I stated concerning v. 15-17 as long winded, but that is simply because his exegesis does not focus on this section. He does not build v. 18-19 off of the foundation and context of the passage. His interpretations of v. 18-19 make no sense in light of the preceding verses. Exegesis is about context. It is about foundation. And Christ’s “examination” of his disciple precedes his statements to Peter in this text.

But we must also ask Mr. Salza another question: where have I denied that Peter is the one on whom the Church is built? Where was that in my exegesis? (I did not affirm it, but I certainly did not deny it). You see, it was quite evident in my last interaction with Salza that he does not read my statements with care.

Here is where Mr. May runs into trouble. He says that Peter’s declaration did not give Peter “any primacy or superiority” above the rest of the apostles. A plain reading of the subsequent text, however, demonstrates this is not at all the case. After Peter communicated the Father’s revelation, Jesus renamed Simon to Peter, declared that He would build the Church upon the rock of Peter, gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and invested Peter with the singular authority to infallibly bind and loose (since what Peter binds or looses on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven).

Jesus gave none of these privileges to the other apostles. So it is not only exegetically untenable but also dishonest for Mr. May to tell us Peter was not given “any primacy or superiority” over the other apostles. Mr. May accuses Catholics of “reading back” into the text what we want to see, and yet his own exegesis reveals himself guilty of the error, not me. The text is clear that Jesus was giving Simon Peter a unique role in the early Church, and the Fathers were unanimous about this fact.

And here is where interaction with Roman Catholic “e-pologists” ceases to be enjoyable. They use the same language as the text but give it meaning that it never had, and yet still conclude that it is exegetically based. It isn’t enough to call Peter “rock” like the text does. What matters is that when you do so, you are alluding to what the text means by “rock”. The same goes for the Fathers. Modern Romanists tend to use some of the same jargon as the Fathers. But this doesn’t mean that they are saying the same things as the Fathers when they use this jargon. So my claim that Romanists “read back” modern Romanism into both the text and the Fathers is demonstrated here, and Mr. Salza’s only basis of denying it is to use historic jargon and, in essence, to read back into the text and into the Fathers. This the way it works with Roman Catholic “e-pologists.” You accuse them of being anachronistic, so they defend themselves using an anachronism.

Mr. Salza and I can use the same jargon when it comes to this text. But what matters is that what we mean by this jargon matches what the text intended it to mean. Are Mr. Salza’s conclusions supported by the rest of Scripture? Do we see Peter acting as infallible Pope in the rest of Scripture? Is that how the rest of the Apostles viewed these statements of Jesus? It isn’t enough to just point to the statements and claim that they support your position. You must demonstrate that your position matches the intentions behind the statements.

In regards to whether or not Jesus “invested Peter with the singular authority to infallibly bind and loose,” I must ask Mr. Salza, where does the text state that Jesus gave to Peter alone the Keys of the Kingdom? Yes, Jesus is addressing Peter here. But the verb is in the future tense (”I will give you”), so it is not here that he is giving the Keys. He does it later. And we see him do this two chapters over:

Mathew 18 18Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

This is the same content that is found in Mat 16. But here the authority is given to all of the Apostles, not just Peter (here the “you” is plural rather than singular). So Scripture directly contradicts Salza’s claim that Jesus gave to Peter any “singular” authority that he did not give to the rest of the Apostles.

No, Mr. May, only Peter “answers the question correctly.” Only Peter knew Christ to be the Son of God. The other “disciples” got it wrong (this is another example of Mr. May reading into the text what he wishes to see). That is why Jesus conferred upon Peter alone the special privileges of the keys and the singular authority to bind and loose. The readers will notice that Mr. May repeats this error in various ways throughout this dialogue. He does this in an attempt to minimize Peter’s importance. He wants you to believe that Jesus did not give any special privileges to Peter, but the text does not allow for such a conclusion.

“The other disciples got it wrong”? Where do we see that in the text? (Notice that Salza made this statement right before he said, “This is another example of Mr. May reading into the text what he wishes to see”). What we see is Peter answering on behalf of the disciples, and no disciple objecting to what he said. And Peter’s statements were correct because they were granted by divine revelation, not anything in Peter.

…The implication of your statement in this section (that Peter’s knowledge was based on divine revelation) contradicts your subsequent arguments that Jesus builds the Church only on Peter’s “faith,” but not his “person.” There is nothing about “faith” in Matt. 16:18-19. The passage is about God giving Peter a divine revelation, and Peter communicating that revelation.

1. Where did I argue “that Jesus builds the Church on on Peter’s ‘fath’ but not his ‘person’”?

2. The emphasis is on neither the person nor the faith. The emphasis is on the revelation. What is exegetically inconsistent with saying that Christ built his church on this revelation?

No problem. Peter would be nothing without Jesus. Catholics agree. But this isn’t relevant to the discussion. Mr. May is creating a straw man to knock down.

No, I’m exegeting the passage to its full potential rather than approaching it with a traditional point of view before I even allow for it to be meaningful.

Matthew 16:18-19 does not say “Christ is the rock on which the Church is built.” It says Peter (Petros) is the rock on which the Church is built.

No, it says Petra is the rock on which the Church is built. Don’t accuse me of putting things into the text in the very moment that you are guilty of doing so.

It is interesting that you used the title “Prince of the Apostles.”

Where have I done this? Mr. Salza certainly does not read me with any care.

You imply that calling Peter “rock” does not “necessitate an infallible Pontiff,” and then make a statement about “apostolic succession.” Let’s deal with these one at a time. First, you admitted that Peter made an infallible declaration in calling Jesus the Christ, which He received from the Father. So you are not going to deny that God gives Peter the ability to communicate infallibly, are you? And as a result of Peter’s infallible declaration, Jesus says He will build His Church upon Peter, and gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven and the authority to bind and loose.

Where does the text state that God gives Peter the ability to communicate infallibly? The text states that Peter received revelation of truth from the Father. What was the revelation? It concerned the person and work of Christ. I affirm that the Father gives this revelation to all believers. No one has within them the capacity to believe. I am a Calvinist, remember, Mr. Salza. The elect must be regenerated and have the person and work of Christ revealed to them.

Let’s skip down and take a quick look at Mr. Salza’s handling of the Fathers:

Mr. May quotes from the early Fathers primarily to prove that Peter is not really the rock of the Church.

You will notice in Mr. Salza’s handling with me that he treats me as if I were some generic protestant. Is he really reading my arguments? Has he given any care to what I have to say? My point was not to prove that Peter is not really the rock of the Church. My point, rather, was to show that the early Fathers are divided on the issue, that we lack the “unanimous consent” that the Church demands, and that the notion that Mr. Salza’s interpretation of this passage has any basis in “tradition” is a propagated myth.

Augustine is not saying that Peter is not the rock of the Church, as Mr. May contends. Augustine is saying that Jesus is the rock and Peter is ingrafted into Jesus because he is Jesus’ Vicar. Jesus is the source, not Peter. That is why Augustine says “Peter is so called from the rock; not the rock from Peter.” This is what I have said all along. Jesus is the rock, but He shares this status with Peter. Augustine’s comments underscore that Peter has truly received a divine appointment from Christ. He rules and governs the Church as the Vicar of Jesus Christ Himself.

Augustine’s comments also highlight the unifying principle that Peter’s seat of authority brings about in Christ’s true Church. Augustine says “Peter is the Christian people” because Peter is the source of unity for the entire, universal, Catholic Church. This is why the thousands of Protestant denominations (all who reject papal authority and even disagree with each other on basic Christian doctrines) cannot be Christ’s true Church.

Augustine also says:

“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, Psalmus contro Partem Donati (A.D. 393).

Augustine recognizes not only Peter’s seat of authority, but also that Peter’s chair has successors. Mr. May, who are Peter’s successors? Can you provide us a list? I can.

Who does Augustine say the Petra is in Matthew 16? He says that it is Christ himself. Augustine disagrees with Mr. Salza on this text, yet Salza acts as if Augustine supports his position. But we still have so many unanswered questions. Where does Augustine call Peter the “Vicar of Christ”? Where does Augustine consider Peter to be infallible Pope? And who does Augustine consider to be a successor of Peter? And does that agree with the rest of the Fathers? Does his list match Rome’s?

Gregory Nazianzen explains that true apostolic succession comes from doctrinal correctness, not a historical lineage:

“Thus, and for these reasons, by the vote of the whole people, not in the evil fashion which has since prevailed, nor by means of bloodshed and oppression, but in an apostolic and spiritual manner, he is led up to the throne of Saint Mark, to succeed him in piety, no less than in office; in the latter indeed at a great distance from him, in the former, which is the genuine right of succession, following him closely. For unity in doctrine deserves unity in office; and a rival teacher sets up a rival throne; the one is a successor in reality, the other but in name. For it is not the intruder, but he whose rights are intruded upon, who is the successor, not the lawbreaker, but the lawfully appointed, not the man of contrary opinions, but the man of the same faith; if this is not what we mean by successor, he succeeds in the same sense as disease to health, darkness to light, storm to calm, and frenzy to sound sense.” (Oration 21:8)

“On him He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep; and although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles, yet He founded a single chair, and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was; but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair.” Cyprian, c.A.D. 246, De ecclesiae catholicae unitate 4, in Jurgen’s The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol. 1 (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1970), p. 220.

Mr. May, did you catch that? Cyprian says “but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair.” Will you now recant your irresponsible reliance upon Michael Winter and your own position that Peter does not have primacy?

Anyone with a basic knowledge of the early Church Fathers would never make the claims that Mr. May advances. It just shows that Mr. May doesn’t really know the Fathers or Scripture like he thinks he does.

Again, same questions: Where does Cyprian consider Peter to be infallible Pope? Where does Cyprian exegete Matthew 16 the way that Salza does? But we should also note that Salza’s response here has no relevance to anything I have said. I have no where claimed that Cyrpian did not view Peter with primacy (and, by the way, it isn’t enough to simply cite the Father as having a view of Peter unique to the other Apostles. He must view him as infallible Pope). As to Salza’s question, no, I will not “recant” my position based upon this quote of Cyprian. My position is based upon the foundation of the Scriptures, not of the Fathers. But Rome’s foundation is supposed to be based upon the tradition of the Fathers, but we have yet to see a Father view this passage in the same way that Salza does.

These same principles apply the Mr. Salza’s handling of the rest of the Fathers. He makes the “jargon” error: semantic anachronisms. He sees a Father calling Peter “rock,” or attributing to Peter some primacy, but we never see Peter referred to as infallible pope. It would simply be too lengthy to go through each individual one (even lengthier than his response). But readers may see what he has to say by looking at his comments for themselves. Near the end of his reply, Mr. Salza states “Catholics do not believe in Sola Ecclesia.” This may be easily uttered in words, but practice denies it. Romanists argue that the church defines Scripture (i.e., the canon), that the church interprets Scripture, that the church defines tradition (arbitrarily, we might add), and that the church interprets tradition. What, then, has more authority than the church?

I hope this short dialogue is helpful to those who read it, Catholic and Protestant alike. I will take my leave and let the readers be the judge of who is more faithful to the plain meaning of Scripture, me or Mr. May. If Mr. May comes back and continues to accuse me of “reading into” the text, we will know why this debate is over.

I’m glad that Mr. Salza has engaged me on this issue. I apologize that my reply here was not more detailed, but I simply do not have the time to re-hash everything that has already been stated, when a reply in principle would suffice.

Thank you readers,
Evan May.

2 comments:

  1. .
    If I could speak in any
    language in heaven or
    on earth but didn't love
    others, I would only be
    making meaningless noise
    like a loud gong or a
    clanging cymbal. If I
    had the gift of prophecy,
    and if I knew all the
    mysteries of the future
    and knew everything
    about everything, but
    didn't love others, what
    good would I be? And
    if I had the gift of faith
    so that I could speak
    to a mountain and make
    it move, without love
    I would be no good to
    anybody. If I gave
    everything I have to
    the poor and even
    sacrificed my body,
    I could boast about it;
    but if I didn't love others,
    I would be of no value
    whatsoever. Love is
    patient and kind. Love
    is not jealous or boastful
    or proud or rude. Love
    does not demand its
    own way. Love is not
    irritable, and it keeps
    no record of when it
    has been wronged.
    It is never glad about
    injustice but rejoices
    whenever the truth
    wins out. Love never
    gives up, never loses
    faith, is always hopeful,
    and endures through
    every circumstance.

    May You Always
    Experience This
    Kind Of Love,
    Dr. Howdy

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  2. Mr. Salza is quoting Cyprian quite selectively. Let's take a look.

    "The Lord saith unto Peter, I say to thee (saith He) that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heven (Mt. 16:18 - 19). To him again, after His resurrection, He says, "Feed my sheep." Upon him being being one He builds His church, and although He gives to all the Apostles and equal power, and says, "As My Fatehr sent Me, even so i send you; receive yet the Holy Ghost: whosoever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted to him, and whosoever sins ye shall retain, they shall be retained (John 20:21); yet in order to manifest unity, He has by His own authority so placed the source of the same uniity, as to begin from one. Certainly the other Apostlesalso were what Peter was, endued with an equal fellowship both of honour and power; buta commencement is made from unity, that the Church may be set before as one; which one Churchk, in the Song of Songs, doth the Holy Spirit design and name in the Person of our Lord: My dove, My spotless one, is but one; she is the only one of her mother, elect of her that bare her (Cat. 9:6). On the Unity of the Church 3 - 4.

    One looks in vain in this for any kind of affimation of jurisdiction over the other sees. All we see is that the relationship is chronological and symbolic, not jurisdictional.

    Cyprian denies there is ANY Pope:

    "For neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another. But let us all wait for the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only one that has the power both of preferring us in the government of His Church, and of judging us in our conduct there." - The Seventh Council of Carthage.

    Cyprian says that ALL bishops are successors of Peter:

    "Our Lord, whose precepts and admonitions we ought to observe, describing the honour of a bishop and the order of His Church, speaks in the Gospel, and says to Peter: 'I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' Thence, through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the Church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers." (Epistle 26:1)

    Cyprian said laymen can appoint appoint bishops, directly contrary to modern Rome's practices:

    "a bishop is appointed into the place of one deceased, when he is chosen in time of peace by the suffrage of an entire people, when he is protected by the help of God in persecution, faithfully linked with all his colleagues, approved to his people by now four years' experience in his episcopate"

    On which account a people obedient to the Lord's precepts, and fearing God, ought to separate themselves from a sinful prelate, and not to associate themselves with the sacrifices of a sacrilegious priest, especially since they themselves have the power either of choosing worthy priests, or of rejecting unworthy ones....For which reason you must diligently observe and keep the practice delivered from divine tradition and apostolic observance, which is also maintained among us, and almost throughout all the provinces; that for the proper celebration of ordinations all the neighbouring bishops of the same province should assemble with that people for which a prelate is ordained. And the bishop should be chosen in the presence of the people, who have most fully known the life of each one, and have looked into the doings of each one as respects his habitual conduct. And this also, we see, was done by you in the ordination of our colleague Sabinus; so that, by the suffrage of the whole brotherhood, and by the sentence of the bishops who had assembled in their presence, and who had written letters to you concerning him, the episcopate was conferred upon him, and hands were imposed on him in the place of Basilides." (67:3, 67:5)
    (Letter 54:6)

    They may even do so in opposition to the bishop of Rome:

    "On which account a people obedient to the Lord's precepts, and fearing God, ought to separate themselves from a sinful prelate, and not to associate themselves with the sacrifices of a sacrilegious priest, especially since they themselves have the power either of choosing worthy priests, or of rejecting unworthy ones....For which reason you must diligently observe and keep the practice delivered from divine tradition and apostolic observance, which is also maintained among us, and almost throughout all the provinces; that for the proper celebration of ordinations all the neighbouring bishops of the same province should assemble with that people for which a prelate is ordained. And the bishop should be chosen in the presence of the people, who have most fully known the life of each one, and have looked into the doings of each one as respects his habitual conduct. And this also, we see, was done by you in the ordination of our colleague Sabinus; so that, by the suffrage of the whole brotherhood, and by the sentence of the bishops who had assembled in their presence, and who had written letters to you concerning him, the episcopate was conferred upon him, and hands were imposed on him in the place of Basilides." (67:3, 67:5)

    The Unity of the Chruch is written v. the Novatianists. Cyprian has in mind Peter, literally, not the papacy itself and of the unity which Christ intended for His Church when he founded it on Peter, and which Novatian was destrying. That unity, in his theory, was constituted simply by the union of the bishops among themselves. Indeed Cyprian himself rejected the ideas of Pope Stephen with respect to baptism. So, Mr. Salza is reading The Unity of the Church quite apart from the issue to which it was addressed. Cyprian expected the bishop of Rome not to meddle in the affairs of the other sees. He was not an infallible authority over all the sees. Quite the opposite. Mr. Salza should read Augustine more carefully, for Augustine quotes Cyprian as saying:

    For no one of us sets himself up as a bishop of bishops, or, by tyrannical terror, forces his colleagues to a necessity of obeying, inasmuch as every bishop, in the free use of his liberty and power, has the right of forming his own judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he can himself judge another. But we must all await the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone has the power both of setting us in the government of His Church, and of judging of our acts therein.' Now let the proud and swelling necks of the heretics raise themselves, if they dare, against the holy humility of this address [of Cyprian]." (On Baptism, Against the Donatists, 2:2-4)


    Robert Eno, an RCC historian writes: "Elsewhere I have argued in detail Augustine's views of authority in the Church and that, in my opinion, the council [not the Pope] was the primary instrument for settling controversies....I believe that Augustine had great respect for the Roman church whose antiquity and apostolic origins made it outshine by far other churches in the West. But as with Cyprian, the African collegial and conciliar tradition was to be preferred most of the time." (The Rise of the Papacy [Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, 1990], p. 79)

    Augustine recognizes not only Peter’s seat of authority, but also that Peter’s chair has successors. Mr. May, who are Peter’s successors? Can you provide us a list? I can.

    Actually, he can provide a list of Rome's successors (actually, not all those lists agree, so he has to pick one of them), but Mr. Salza needs to learn to read Augustine. Now, he's parading his ignorance. Augustine believed that the Chair of St. Peter was located in Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Rome-the chief cities of the episcopates of his day. Each had its own line of bishops. Johnann Joseph Ignaz von Dollinger, an RCC historian wrote "Yet from all his (referring to Augustine) numerous works, filling ten folios, only one sentence, in one letter, can be quoted, where he says that the principality of the Apostolic Chair has always been in Rome--which could, of course, be said then with equal truth of Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria. Any reader of his Pastoral Letter to the separated Donatists on the Unity of the Church, must find it inexplicable...that in these 75 chpaters there is not one single word on the necessity of communion with Rome as the centre of unity. (Dolllinger, The Pope and The Council, 1869 p.70 - 74.

    He did not believe Rome to be the single chair ruling all others:

    "Wherefore, if Peter, on doing this, is corrected by his later colleague Paul, and is yet preserved by the bond of peace and unity till he is promoted to martyrdom, how much more readily and constantly should we prefer, either to the authority of a single bishop, or to the Council of a single province, the rule that has been established by the statutes of the universal Church? For no one of us sets himself up as a bishop of bishops, or, by tyrannical terror, forces his colleagues to a necessity of obeying, inasmuch as every bishop, in the free use of his liberty and power, has the right of forming his own judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he can himself judge another. But we must all await the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone has the power both of setting us in the government of His Church, and of judging of our acts therein.' Now let the proud and swelling necks of the heretics raise themselves, if they dare, against the holy humility of this address [of Cyprian]." (On Baptism, Against the Donatists, 2:2-4)

    Moreover, Augustine actually retracted his earlier statements about Peter.

    "In a passage in this book, I said about the Apostle Peter: 'On him as on a rock the Church was built.'...But I know that very frequently at a later time, I so explained what the Lord said: 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,' that it be understood as built upon Him whom Peter confessed saying: 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,' and so Peter, called after this rock, represented the person of the Church which is built upon this rock, and has received 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven.' For, 'Thou art Peter' and not 'Thou art the rock' was said to him. But 'the rock was Christ,' in confessing whom, as also the whole Church confesses, Simon was called Peter. But let the reader decide which of these two opinions is the more probable." (The Retractions, 1:20:1)

    Finally, so what if Augustine and Cyprian can be found to support Petrine Primacy and the whole range of modern Rome's claims about her Popes. That proves what? Does it prove unianimous consent of the Fathers? No, would prove that a handful of the Fathers held this view. But Rome requires "unanimous consent," not smigen here and a pinch there. She fails her own standard by which she validates her doctrines.

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