A young Catholic lay Apologist who has an addiction to all things Papist, Romanist, and shiny.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Anti-Catholicism and Apologetics: What do we do?

Ever been to one of those youth group meetings at the local (insert favourite denomination here) church? Or, have you ever been on-line and went to one of those 'Christian' apologetics websites, where you were the only Catholic? If you've been in that position, then you definitely know how it feels when someone starts throwing out the usual "the RCC (or Roman Catholyc Church, some evil entity somehow forged from misconceptions of the Catholic Church) teaches a false gospel/worships Mary/(insert favourite misconception here)". You can often feel overwhelmed. You want to help correct them and their views, but they just seem so stuck in their heads that you just give up.

Dear reader, have hope. We have two options. The first, which I consider a last resort, is to "shake the dust from your sandals" and move on." This is what you can do when you have no other way to reach them, and you're at your wit's end, where you fear that your very faith would be shaken by spending any more time in such an environment. By all means, shake the dust. It better for you to save your own soul, and trust that you've done all you can, and to leave it in the Lord's hands than to waste any more time in such a place.

Now, there is a second option. Take a break, 'reset', and begin anew. We must always "re-stock", as it were. To learn from our mistakes, to learn more about the faith, and apologetics. But the most important reason why you should do this, is to focus on the most important reason you're trying to be an apologist in the first place: your relationship with Christ. We're called to have a deep, strong relationship with our Lord, and with our family (the Church, with all of her Saints). Sometimes we can get so focused on apologetics, working on arguments, etc., that we put devotion to Jesus on the back-burner. As G.K. Chesterton said, "Let your religion be less of a theory and be more of a love affair." We're called to love God with everything, our bodies, our minds, our hearts and our spirits. So, let us take the time to reset ourselves. To remember why we've come to this battlefield of apologetics: our love of Christ. For the Catholic Apologist, let three verses of Scripture be branded upon your hearts:

  "And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.'" (Matthew 22:37-39)
"...but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence;" (1 Peter 3:15) 
 "Strive even to death for the truth and the Lord God will fight for you." (Sirach 4:28)
 Let these verses always be kept close to your heart. For this is what we are to build upon all of our works: Christ. Let us defend the faith and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which Christ built, with love and zealousness, with complete trust in the Lord, and with sound preparation.

Dominus Vobiscum!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Refutation of DofJC post "Is Mary the Moon...?"

This is the first of what should be many refutations of the blog posts of YAQUBOS, owner of the "Disciple of Jesus Christ" (which from now on will be simply called DofJC) blog.

Now, the first thing I must mention is that, as people should know, we do not worship Mary. This is a misconception going back hundreds of years. However, YAQUBOS is not aware of this, and thus we must deal with the wording of his posts. What does the Church teach about Mary, God, and worship/veneration?
"The worship which is due to the Most Holy Trinity, to each of the Divine Persons, to our Lord Jesus Christ, even under the Sacramental Species, is cultus latriae; that which is due to the Blessed Virgin Mary is cultus hyperduliae; that which is due to others who reign with Christ in heaven is cultus duliae." (Code of Canon Law, c. 1255 paragraph 1)
"The first commandment does not forbid us to honor the saints in heaven, as long as we do not give them the honor that belongs to God alone. The veneration paid to the saints in heaven differs essentially from the adoration of God. The saints are creatures and are not to be given the supreme worship due to the Creator alone. The supreme honor given to God only is adoration in the full and strict sense of the word. The veneration given to the Blessed Mother and to the saints is an act of respect and honor of an entirely different nature." (Baltimore Catechism #3 p. 130). 
 As you can see, Church documentation clearly shows that this misconception is false, and should be discarded. Nevertheless, I now move on to the post at hand. His post will be in Red. My words will be in black.
On the above mentioned page given to us by a Roman Catholic, the author explains why he wastes his time with a Marian catechism when Christ is the center of Christian Faith; he says:
“Is the moon any less important or lovely because the sun is the center of our solar system? Just as the moon is beautiful (yes, and beneficial) by reflecting the sun’s light, so is Mary beautiful and beneficial to us by reflecting the Light and Glory of Christ.”
And by this philosophy, this heretic wants to make a solar eclipse! He wants to make an obscuration of the light of Christ by putting a moon (Mary) between us and Christ… Instead of putting the moon between us and the sun, the moon should be in the same position with us from the sun to receive the light of the sun and to reflect it on us, and not in the position of intervention between us and the sun…
My opponent is referring to this page, http://www.ancient-future.net/marynew.html. We must look at how the author of this page is using the analogy of the moon, and then look at my opponent's twisting of this analogy. The author defending Marian veneration is clearly showing that the moon is not in the way of the sun, blocking it, but is actually reflecting the light which comes from the sun. And that the moon is only beautiful because of the sun's light. This is actually Scriptural:
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Who is the light of the world? Jesus. Whose light is it that his followers have, that his followers are (per Matthew 5:14)? It is Jesus' light. Not our own. We will have his light, which is the light of life, and we shall not walk in darkness. We reflect the light of Jesus in our lives. This perfectly fits in with the moon analogy and the Blessed Virgin. Now, let us address what my opponent says in response. I cannot see how the author of the Moon analogy wants to make a "solar eclipse". If we look at the analogy in question, it is clear that the SUN, not the moon, is the centre of the solar system. And it is clear that the moon, in this analogy, is reflecting the light of the sun, and not actually generating it's own light. There is no justification to say that the author is wanting to say that Mary should be more important, or "in front", of Christ. To further the analogy which my opponent is arguing against, saying that the moon should not be in a place of "intervention" between us and the sun, we know full well that the only thing which can truly be put between us and the Lord is our sins. This is most evident when we look at our planet. When it is night, it is that the earth, which is turning, is what is blocking us from recieving the light of the sun. In the same way, it is our sins which blocks the light of Christ from coming from us. If my opponent is arguing that we cannot intervene or intercede with one another, then he goes against Scripture. For example,
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 
(1 Timothy 2:1-4).
 Is St. Paul saying that we should block the light of Christ, by interceding for one another? Are we not intervening when we pray for another person? This is the intercession which my opponent is denying. This is clearly unscriptural, to say that we cannot intercede for one another, that by doing so, we are "blocking the light of Christ". Therefore, this argument against the intercession of Mary is made null, because we know that all Christians are called to these Scriptural mandates, and that the Blessed Virgin is, rather than blocking the light, is actually reflecting the light through her prayers.

Besides this, the Word of God never teaches that only Mary (or any saint alone) is the moon that reflects the light of Christ. On the contrary, Jesus clearly said to all true believers:
“Ye are the light of the world”(Matthew 5:14)
N.B.: True believers (i.e. the saints who are on earth) are the light, i.e. they reflect the light of Christ. And the part that receives this light is NOT other believers, but the world… In other terms, with his comparison of Mary with the moon, this heretic confessed that Roman Catholics are not a moon like Mary, but they are the sinful system of the world that needs the light of the moon and cannot reflect the light of Christ! Indeed, how can an unbeliever reflect the light of Christ? How can the world which is the kingdom of darkness have any light? So Roman Catholics need to worship a creature (Mary), because they don’t have the light of Christ and they can’t reflect it as true believers do…
 I don't see how the analogy which the author was using is supposed to assume that Mary is the only one who can reflect the light of Christ. It was merely a way to show that Mary (as well as all of us) can do this. I also wonder why my opponent says that all true believers are only those who are on earth. We know that, from what Scripture states, the Saints (true believers) are in Heaven as well:
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.
They cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 
(Revelation 6:9-10). 
 Only those who truly believed are the ones whom would have been killed for the word of God and for the witness they had borne (which is the testimony of Jesus, as shown in Revelation 12:17.) However, I digress. My opponent's refutation of the idea that Mary reflects the light of Christ is contradictory. He states that because the world recieves the light of Christ, Mary cannot reflect the light of Christ. However, according to this same opponent of mine, it is the true believers (who are Christians, as I have clearly shown in Scripture), which reflect the light of Christ! And we know full well that Mary was a true believer, for we see her always supporting her son, being there even as he died (and being with the Apostles when the Holy Spirit descended upon them).  To say that those in Heaven are not true believers is, logically, to say that they are false believers. Which is nonsensical. Only true believers are in Heaven. Therefore, my opponent contradicts himself entirely in his first sentence of his refutation!

Again, I do not see at all how the Catholic author was saying that, through the analogy, all Christians (and the rest of the world)  cannot reflect the light of Christ. When you read the page, you do not see this in the slightest. This is simply the false assumption and warping of this Catholic author's good work. I have contacted the author of the article which my opponent has quoted, and I shall update this post when I am given a reply. 
You see how the human philosophy of this heretic turns against him…
So my question to this author would be: Why don’t you also write a catechism of us, believers, just as you do about Mary? Why don’t you also worship all the believers who are the light of the Lord in this dark world, just as you worship Mary?… Doesn’t Mary receive her light from Christ just as we do? Does she have any personal light that she has not received from Christ? If not, then what’s the difference between her and us? And why do you worship her?
And the author adds another reason for his Marian catechism: 
“the New Testament has more material on Mary than on any other woman. That tells me that Mary is an important figure and that I ought to take notice.”
In the Old Testament, there is a whole Book called with the name of a woman: Ruth! There is also another one: Esther! Does this mean that these two women were more important than all the other women of the Old Testament?? Of course not. We could just mention Sarah, and everyone would realize how inconsistent is the argument of this author… And in the New Testament, there is almost as much material about Mary the sister of Lazarus as there is about Mary the mother of our Lord, and maybe even more! And interestingly, nowhere did Jesus ever tell us to consider His mother in flesh as more important than any other saint! On the contrary, when a woman wanted to put the first seed of Roman Catholicism by suggesting a worship of Mary, Jesus discouraged her! Read with me:
“And it came to pass as he spake these things, a certain woman, lifting up her voice out of the crowd, said to him, Blessed is the womb that has borne thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep [it]. (Luke 11:27-28)
No, I do not see how this "human philosophy" is turned against this man. Frankly, I cannot see how this is "human philosophy" at all! Again, twisting the Scriptures to condemn those who speak the truth. It is not right or just in any sense. What my opponent is "asking" the Catholic author, he actually could have asked (I have e-mailed the author, as I have already noted). Again, I digress. The problem is that my opponent still is confusing worship in the latria (adoration due to God alone) sense, with the dulia (honour due to the Saints) and hyperdulia (honour due to the BVM, whom is the Mother of our Lord, and is the Immaculate Conception). Thus, when my opponent asks "why do you worship Mary?", it has an inherent fallacy, a misconception which he will not reject. To his other questions, There is such a Catechism, it is known as the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which helps show us the teachings of the faith. Catechesim means "an exposition of doctrine". Marian doctrine needs teaching, because there are many (such as my opponent) who do not understand Marian doctrines and thus reject the assumptions they have about them.

To properly format his question in a way which would make sense to a Catholic, why do we not honour the Saints in the same way that we honour Mary? Because Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant. She is, as St. Ambrose writes:
"It can scarcely be doubted that the Holy Spirit too is to be adored when He that, according to the flesh, was born of the Holy Spirit is to be adored. And let no one divert this to the Virgin Mary: Mary was the temple of God, not the God of the temple. And therefore He alone is to be adored, who was working in the temple." (Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit, 3:11:79; 381 AD 
This quotation also serves as historical evidence of our understanding of latria (adoration) and dulia/hyperdulia (veneration). By stating that Mary is the temple of God, St. Ambrose is clear that Mary held the presence of the Lord within her, and is to be honoured in this way.  My opponent notes that because Esther and Ruth had more written in the New Testament, they should be considered more important than all those women of the Old Testament. I argue that neither of those women gave birth to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This is one of the profound differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Catholic author is simply noting that because there is much written about Mary in the New Testament, we should not just ignore her. That she is an important figure. Which is a fair assessment, we can agree that she is an important figure in the New Testament (being the Mother of God, Jesus Christ). I dispute that there is more material on Mary, the mother of Lazarus. We do not see her mentioned in the Scriptures beyond two events: The anointing of the Lord with ointment, and when Lazarus is dead. However, we see the BVM noted repeatedly, in all four Gospels and in Acts. The Nativity narrative is expounded on for the first two chapters of Luke, and we have the Wedding at Cana, as well as when Mary is with the Apostles in Acts.

This objection of Marian devotion by noting that Jesus said "blessed, rather, are those who hear the word of God and keep it", is an old one. It has been answered sufficiently by many apologists. One of the titans of apologetics, in my opinion, Dave Armstrong, notes this in his blog post Did Jesus renounce Marian veneration? (Luke 11:27-28)" (I would ask that you check out the full post, as it makes additional argumentation):

My New Bible Commentary (ed. D. Guthrie, rev. 1970, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, p. 906), a reputable Protestant source, states:
    The woman's rather sentimental benediction on Jesus' mother meant, 'If only I had such a son as this.' Jesus' reply is that something else matters far more, to hear the message He proclaimed and to obey it (cf. 6:46-49).
This verse has no bearing whatever on the veneration of Mary, let alone undermining it. One must understand the Jewish "literary technique" of comparison and contrast, and it is improper to regard all instances of that in terms of an "either/or" approach, as Protestants are so often prone to do.   
 Thus, this argument is a rather ludicrous attempt at trying to make Marian Devotion unscriptural.
Does this in any way mean that Mary is not blessed?? Not at all. For Mary also is one of those who heard the Word of God and kept it. But this surely proves that Mary is not “more saint” than the other believers and that we should write catechisms about her and not about the other believers…
Besides this, have you ever read in the New Testament Jesus saying that we should tell about something the virgin Mary did as an important companion of the Gospel Message? Well, Jesus said the following about what Mary, the sister of Lazarus did:
“Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:13)
Does this mean that we should write a catechism about Mary of Bethany now?… Roman Catholics never write a catechism about her…
We actually agree on this, that Mary was blessed because she heard the word of God and kept it. I also propose that she was also blessed for another reason, that she was the mother of God. Scripture notes this clearly:
And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
(Luke 1:46-48)
Do I argue that she was blessed not because she heard the word of the Lord and believed? No. This is true, for it is mentioned only a few verses before. However, what are the great things that he who is mighty has one for the Blessed Virgin? That of giving her His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the great thing that He has done for her.  Therefore, it is safe to say that Mary is blessed because she will be the mother of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, and because she heard what the Lord had proclaimed through the lips of the Angel Gabriel, and she believed. My opponent does not understand the need for writing a Catechism about the BVM, which the reason for is what I have stated already: peope have misconceptions and do not understand the Marian doctrines, therefore we must teach them properly and not leave others to the changing winds of doctrine that are so evident in Protestantism today. With regards to the next argument of my opponent, I again make note that the Blessed Virgin Mary did not merely do what Mary, mother of Lazarus did. Mary, the Mother of Lazarus, merely put oil on our Lord's feet with her hair. Don't get me wrong, this is a very admirable thing. But my opponent is trying to compare this, to being the mother of our Lord. To have been the one to give birth to him, raise him, to be a good mother to him. To, as Simeon said, endure the "sword which will peirce your own soul also". As Martin Luther noted,
"God is born...the child who drinks his Mother's milk is eternal; he existed before the world's beginning and he created heaven and earth...these two natures are so united that there is only ONE God and Lord, that Mary suckles God with her breasts, bathes God, rocks him, and carries him."
This is what the Blessed Mother did. In this statement I have noted, we also find proof that Luther, chief of the Reformers, clearly accepted Mary as the Mother of God. I shall leave this tangent, and continue forward. 
The Spirit of God tells us in the Bible about the Grace of God revealed in the life of His saints so that we learn from their example and we walk in their way: they worshiped God alone, and not creatures. The virgin Mary worshiped God alone, and she confessed that He saved her from her sins; we should learn this and many other things from her example, as the Bible is written to teach us the truth and to encourage us to righteousness. Yes, Mary is an important figure in the Bible just as are all the saints of the Bible, and we should take notice of this; but she’s not God, so we should not worship her and we should not put her in the center of our Faith. Christ is the Lord, and not Mary.
You see how the human vain philosophies of heretics turn against them…
 We have acknowledged that we cannot and should not EVER worship a creature, for creatures are not worthy of the latria that is due to God ALONE. This is a teaching you will continually find in the Church, both in Sacred Scripture and in Sacred Tradition. We cannot worship a human being. We are called, however, to honour one another. We know that whatever we do to another one of our brothers and sisters in Christ is done against Christ himself! (Acts 9:4-5). Therefore, we do Christ honour when we honour our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we do Christ dishonour when we dishonour our brothers and sisters (Matthew 25:31-46). This final statement which I am responding to, I actually agree with. However, I cannot fathom how this connects to the Catholic faith, for we do not worship the BVM. I hope that in this blog post, I have helped explain and refute the false notions presented by my opponent, and that I have glorified Jesus the Lord in this work. I shall continue to respond to each post, as I am commanded to in 1 Peter 3:15:
"...but in your hearts, honour Christ the Lord as holy, always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..."  
Dominus Vobiscum! 

Refutations of blogger "Disciple of Jesus Christ (AKA YAQUBOS)" and his blog series "Roman Catholic Defense of Marian Worship"

I have been challenged by CARM chat user "YAQUBOS", who is the owner of the blog "Disciple of Jesus Christ", to answer the posts on the "heresies of Roman Catholicism". I am sure that they are full of misconceptions, etc. Every Monday, from today onwards, will be spent on each post of the series "Roman Catholic Defense of Marian Worship". The next post shall be focused on refuting the Introduction Post, entitled "Introduction -Is Mary the Moon...?"

Dominus Vobiscum!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Perplexity's Closing Statement

I want to thank ASR for participating in this debate and I hope it's of some benefit to the reader. I've certainly learned from, and enjoyed the experience.

Over the course of this debate, ASR and I have been evaluating the probability that Jesus instituted the papacy in Matt. 16:18-19 given certain pieces of evidence.

ASR has proposed a number of such pieces which he believes makes it probable that Jesus instituted the papacy in Matt. 16:18-19 [this thesis is a.k.a. H1], including Peter’s name change, Jesus’ being the new and final Davidic King, and the early Church’s belief in Petrine primacy, etc.

My basic contention has been that H1 is improbable given the relevant evidence, and I’ve sought to demonstrate this in two ways:

First, I attempted to show that the arguments ASR adduced in favor of H1 fail. I did this by showing that his proposed evidence confirms H2 at least as well as H1, or that the proposed evidence shouldn’t be accepted as evidence in the first place. This leaves ASR without a case for H1, but doesn’t necessarily establish that H1 is improbable (i.e., or more importantly, less probable than H2).

Second, I proposed my Main Argument. This argument seeks to show that H1 is false. Since this argument is logically valid, the only way to avoid its conclusions [(4)-(5)] is to reject one of its premises [(1)-(3)].

Now, if my second method succeeded, I wouldn’t really need the first. As I said in a previous post, we can grant ASR’s proposed evidences for H1 and my Main Argument stands untouched. However, I wanted to cover all my bases.

ASR accepted premises (1) and (3) of my Main Argument, but rejected (2). If I could show that his objections to (2) fail, we’d have to conclude, based on the information provided in this debate alone, that the Main Argument succeeds and H1 is false.

Briefly I want to point out how his objections to (2) fail (note, I’ll almost completely be using material I’ve previously posted).

ASR’s Objections and My Responses:

His first objection to (2) was that “Luke did not have need to write the text of Matthew 16:18 in his Gospel, because he would later document and expand upon this doctrine through looking at his next text, the Acts of the Apostles.”

My second question to him implied a rhetorical rebuttal to this objection: why would Luke want to record the institution of the papacy only through descriptions of the papacy in action? Indeed, how could the descriptions of the papacy-in-action describe its institution? I believe ASR would concede that none of the texts in Acts which he believes describe the papacy-in-action explicitly or implicitly deal with Jesus’ institution of the papacy. So, I don’t think his first objection should be accepted.

His second objection to (2) was that “if we are to assume that if a title or a concept is not equally found in the Synoptic Gospels (such as comparing Matthew and Luke) in the same wording, then that particular instance of the terminology must not have been important to the early Christian communities.”

My fourth question addressed this objection, and ASR conceded by saying it is reasonable “to believe that Luke would've been interested in recording such an important ecclesiological event such as the institution of the very foundation of the Church if he was aware of it.” So, I don’t think this objection should be accepted. A fortiori, in conceding this it seems ASR accepts (2) and the debate is over.

His final objection is that the early Church overwhelmingly exhibits a belief in Petrine primacy, and this belief doesn’t make sense unless H1 is true. He cites 13 independent early Church sources (some twice etc.) to illustrate a belief in Petrine primacy.

This objection shouldn’t be accepted because H2 doesn’t imply the early Church wouldn’t believe that Peter was the rock or wouldn't believe in Petrine primacy. So if the early Church did believe these things, it couldn’t count against H2. As I stated earlier, H1 is not that Peter is the rock or that the NT/early Church clearly exhibits Petrine primacy. H1 will include a very particular understanding of Peter being the rock and Petrine primacy, but Peter’s being the rock and Petrine primacy can certainly exist apart from H1 (that is, on H2). So, these cannot be used as evidence for H1.

For instance, Clement of Alexandria speaks very highly of Peter in ASR's provided quote, but on the basis of texts other than Matt. 16! So, this quotation can’t illustrate a belief in Petrine primacy relevant to which interpretation of Matt. 16 is correct.

Interestingly, we both cited Tertullian’s On Modesty. How is that we could both cite the same text for two different ends? It’s because all ASR finds in the On Modesty citation is Tertullian saying Peter is the rock. However, as I showed, Tertullian is arguing against H1 here! In James White’s debate with Butler and Sungenis, the exact same thing happened. They both cited this text. Butler only cited it because it said Peter is the rock, White quoted it because Tertullian contradicts Rome. White calls such methodology (citing simply because it says Peter is the rock) the Peter Syndrome.


No proposed objection to the Main Argument succeeds and the argument should be accepted as sound (logically valid with true premises).

Bayes’ Theorem:

The Main Argument concerns the probability that Jesus instituted the papacy in Matt. 16:18-19 given Lukan Silence.

Recall that Lukan Silence is the failure of Luke, in his parallel to Matt. 16:18, to record any element in Matt. 16:18-19 that Roman Catholics believe evidence H1. Let’s call this Lukan Silence, L, for simplicity.

So, symbolized, the probability the Main Argument is concerned with is:

P(H|L & K)

Given the Sub-Conclusion above, L supplies a fatal objection to H1: H1 has nearly no explanatory power over L at all. This makes for the following probability:

P(L|H1 & K) = 0.1 [This means the probability of Lukan Silence given H1 and our background knowledge is incredibly low]

However, it’s great for H2:

P(L|H2 & K) =0.8

Recall that to discover the posterior of these hypotheses given (L & K), we also need to calculate the following priors: P(H1|K), P(H2|K) and P(L|K).

Once we’ve got these numbers we can plug them into the following formula:

P(H|E & K) = P(H|K) * P(E|H & K) / P(E|K)

What is the prior probability of L? That is, how probable does our background knowledge make L? Well, as I've demonstrated, Luke was interested in compiling strong historical evidences to secure those sayings about Jesus’ life and teachings given to Theophilus. He probably traveled widely to interview witnesses and cross examines sources. So, L should only be surprising to us (given K), if we think Matt. 16:18-19 contains things Luke would've recorded if he could, given his historical/doctrinal interests. This may sound like Catholics would have to place L's prior very, very low; but, they also believe Luke was inspired! So, God Himself inspired L. Therefore, its prior will actually be very, very high for Catholics (and Christians in general).

Interestingly, it doesn’t really matter how you calculate H1’s and H2’s priors…H1’s posterior will almost certainly turn out to be improbable!

Because H1’s explanatory power of L is so incredibly low, the only way to get H1’s posterior > 0.5 is to drastically increase H1’s prior and substantially decrease L’s prior. Try it out and you’ll see what I mean.

The problem is that, L’s prior will almost certainly drop no lower than 0.2 (for those considering L on a purely historical basis!) and H1’s prior can raise no higher than 1. As noted, Catholics will have to assign a very high probability to L’s prior, probably something like 0.8! This makes for the following calculations:

1.0 * 0.1 / 0.8 = .12 !

Let’s drop L’s prior to 0.3 and see if that helps:

1.0 * 0.1 / 0.3 = .33!

(Note that giving H1 a prior of 1, and L a prior of < 0.4 is crazy lol)

H2’s posterior is quite high.

We can find out what H2’s prior is by subtracting H1’s from 1: P(~H|K) = 1 - P(H|K). H2 is just another way of saying ~H since it’s simply the denial of H1. There’s no way I’m giving H1 a prior of 1! In fact, for *me* it’s be extreeemely low. However, let’s give both priors a 0.5 to be fair. H2’s posterior still skyrockets:

0.5 * 0.8 / 0.4 = 1

You could tweak with L’s prior to try and save H1…raise it 0.8, you’ll still have a H2 posterior of 0.5, which is greater than H1. However, since H1 and H2 are mutually exclusive hypotheses, their probabilities must add up to 1. So, H2's will almost always be far, far greater than H1's.

So, I really can’t see a way the Catholic can get out of this.


I feel quite confident that I've established my basic contention. The probability that Jesus instituted the papacy in Matt. 16:18-19 given Lukan Silence is incredibly low, such that it’s irrational to believe H1, given L.     

My Closing Statement

Closing Statement

I wish to thank Perplexity for carrying out this debate with me. I have learned some interesting things, developed some new skills, and generally enjoyed myself in this. If I have insulted or have been offensive to Perplexity or anyone in any way, I sincerely apologize.

There is no word limit to the closing statement, however I will try to keep this brief, and I will not bring any new information or arguments into this, as some sort of odd ‘parting shot’, which would be unfair to Perplexity. I still do believe that my first post in itself remains unaffected, due to the fact that the main topic of this essay was about whether Matthew 16 supports the Papacy. I assumed this would be an exegetical debate with regards to the text in question, though Perplexity has presented this ‘source criticism’ factor into this, which is a bit new to me. For orthodox Christianity, I will suppose that my Scriptural arguments towards the Papacy with regards to Matthew 16 (and other verses which have been mentioned before) should suffice if someone is ever to ask me or another Catholic where we find the Papacy in Scripture. If I can be honest, I do find that the playing field is slightly different for both Perplexity and myself, as we are working with two different presuppositions (the inspiration of Scripture, to be precise). Though now I consider it, (having put writing my post off again), I could have presented the support for the interpretation of Isaiah 22 which Perplexity asked for. I apologize, and I hope to present this either in a later blog post, or perhaps in a post on this thread. I do think that this debate would have changed dramatically if we were to agree upon Scriptural inspiration, but I digress. I propose that we must go to Matthew 16 itself to understand was Jesus was saying to Peter, and I believe this is what I have done.

I have presented what Scriptural evidence I have to support the claim that Matthew 16 supports the Papacy, and I have responded to the objections to the best of my ability. Again, I do thank Perplexity for giving me this opportunity, and I hope that all people “to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4). In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.     

Perplexity's response to my Questions.

I have noticed that it appears that you do not hold the Scriptures in the same sense as the average Christian would (inspired word of God). If I am wrong, please correct me. But working with this presupposition, my question is if we agreed that Scripture is inspired, does this affect your argument?

Really, the only way I think a theory of inspiration could affect my argument is if it discouraged source criticism. So, if the theory we adopted permitted source criticism (as the Catholic one does) the argument would be unaffected.

Working with the same presupposition, my next question is, if we agreed that Scripture is inspired, how does it affect my argument?
Hmm, well, it could give you what Fr. Raymond Brown calls sensus plenior:

“The sensus plenior is that additional, deeper meaning, intended by God but not clearly intended by the human author, which is seen to exist in the words of a biblical text (or group of texts, or even a whole book) when they are studied in the light of further revelation or development in the understanding of revelation.” - Brown, Raymond Edward. The Sensus Plenior of Sacred Scripture. Baltimore: St. Mary's Univ., 1955., p. 92. Cf. Summa Theologica, P. 1, Q. 1, A. 10.

This could allow for a correlation between Is. 22 and Matt. 16. The problem would be in trying to show that your interpretation is in fact the sensus plenior, and that’s a particularly difficult thing to do. There doesn’t seem to be a principled methodology here.

There are many Church Fathers which speak about Peter as the Rock, as a major leader (if not the leader). If the early Church did not accept this understanding, what is the source of this idea of Peter as Leader and Rock? Where did it come from?
The Catholic interpretation is not that Peter is the rock per se; but that Jesus instituted the papacy (which includes a certain understanding of Peter being the rock). So, I don't think when a father says Peter is the rock (or something relevantly similar) he's thereby saying anything about the Bishop of Rome, necessarily. I would say for a lot of Church Fathers who say Peter is the rock, they derive this through their exegesis. Further, those Church fathers who claim Peter is the rock on the basis of Tradition are probably referring to older exegetes who said Peter is the rock. Tertullian is one of the earliest such exegetes of this text and he says Peter is the rock (although what he means by this contradicts the Catholic understanding). [I think the only earlier interpreter we know of is the opponent to which Tertullian is trying to refute. This person (or persons) thought Church’s akin to Peter derived his ‘power’. Tertullian was refuting this.] He doesn’t indicate he derived his understanding from Tradition, this is just the best he could make sense of the text. I’m of the position that the universal interpretation of the early Church is contrary to the Catholic interpretation so I don’t think we need posit the papacy to account for their understanding.

Focusing on the primary text in question (Matthew 16), how would you interpret the meaning of what Jesus says to Peter?
I think Jesus gives Simon the title Peter to signify the change underwent by acquiring divinely-caused Faith. I think it's this kind of faith which Jesus refers to as the foundation upon which he will build his Church. Further, he promises that his Church (those who have the faith Peter has) will overcome death and rise to new life when he says the Gates of Hell won't overcome 'it'. Cf. Eph. 5:22-27. I think the keys were simply the power to bind and loose sins, given to all the Apostles later in the Gospel. I want to note something though. Like Augustine, I don't think there is any significant doctrinal content here such that people should understand this text in a certain way in order to assent to some binding, important meaning. It seems vague to me. And, I'm with a lot of scholars who don't think Jesus said these words in this context. I'm not sure why Matthew places them here.

My Response to Perplexity's Questions

Quote Originally Posted by PerplexityView Post


1. Supposing that Luke didn’t record your understanding of Matt. 16:18-19 because he would record the papacy throughout Acts, and that the early Church did believe in some kind of Papal primacy, why must we understand Matthew 16:18-19 as you do in order to account for the early Church’s belief in some kind of Papal primacy rather than just other texts like Acts, John 21 or Luke 22?
I believe that because I am not the only person who understands this text in the way that I do. If I may;
Tatian the Syrian

"Simon Cephas answered and said, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah: flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee also, that you are Cephas, and on this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it" (The Diatesseron 23 [A.D. 170]).


"Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called ‘the rock on which the Church would be built’ [Matt. 16:18] with the power of ‘loosing and binding in heaven and on earth’ [Matt. 16:19]?" (Demurrer Against the Heretics 22 [A.D. 200]).

"[T]he Lord said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. . . . What kind of man are you, subverting and changing what was the manifest intent of the Lord when he conferred this personally upon Peter? Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys" (Modesty 21:9–10 [A.D. 220]).

The Letter of Clement to James

"Be it known to you, my lord, that Simon [Peter], who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus himself, with his truthful mouth, named Peter" (Letter of Clement to James 2 [A.D. 221]).

The Clementine Homilies

"[Simon Peter said to Simon Magus in Rome:] ‘For you now stand in direct opposition to me, who am a firm rock, the foundation of the Church’ [Matt. 16:18]" (Clementine Homilies 17:19 [A.D. 221]).


"Look at [Peter], the great foundation of the Church, that most solid of rocks, upon whom Christ built the Church [Matt. 16:18]. And what does our Lord say to him? ‘Oh you of little faith,’ he says, ‘why do you doubt?’ [Matt. 14:31]" (Homilies on Exodus 5:4 [A.D. 248]).

Cyprian of Carthage

"The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . . ’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], 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 [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. . . . 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?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).
I argue that these quotes from these historic Christians and historic Christian documents support that Matthew 16:18 was understood in the way that I understand it now. These Christians present Peter as one who, because he is the Rock, as Scripture says, is deserving of much Respect, whose authority is unparalleled. They help express how the Papacy was understood at this time, only a few hundred years after the birth of the Church.
Quote Originally Posted by PerplexityView Post
2. Supposing there is a significant difference between Jesus’ institution of the papacy in Matt. 16:18-19 and the papacy’s existence and activity functioning within the NT Church, why would Luke desire to record the former only through descriptions of the latter?
This is a particularly interesting question. I would answer that Luke is primarily focused on writing, rather than a mere historical text, an educational text which not just documents, but focuses on the many miracles and events which occured in the Early Church. Luke is not focused on presenting an apologetic to defend the early Papacy, but is simply focusing on the historical and supernatural nature of the Church, the Body of Christ. However, this is presupposing the significant difference between Jesus' institution of the Papacy and the writings of Luke.

Quote Originally Posted by PerplexityView Post
3. Do you know of any Christian in the first 700 years of Christianity that drew an analogy between Is. 22 and Matt. 16:18-19 as you have?
No. Because of my laziness at coming to answer your questions, I did not have the time to do the research to see if there are any Christians who recognized this analogy. However, I believe that with some time, I could and would be able to present such evidence. This is what I shall be doing, and I will post the results on my blog, if this is suitable to you.

Quote Originally Posted by PerplexityView Post
4. Granting that we shouldn't assume that "if a title or a concept is not equally found in the Synoptic Gospels (such as comparing Matthew and Luke) in the same wording, then that particular instance of the terminology must not have been important to the early Christian communities", is it reasonable to believe that Luke would've been interested in recording such an important ecclesiological event such as the institution of the very foundation of the Church if he was aware of it?
Yes, I do believe it is reasonable. However, I would argue that, for orthodox Christianity, which accepts the inspiration of Scripture as a fact, we would have to still go back to Matthew 16 and ask ourselves, why did Matthew write these words? We have to look towards this text, we need to ask ourselves why Matthew would be spending precious ink and 'paper' (I know it's not conventional paper, but I'm just saying that to make a point) to write something which would not be an important feature of the Church, or of an action of Jesus, which if not really important at all, could have been used to depict a more important teaching of Christ Jesus. Why go to all the trouble? If we accept the historical, orthodox view of Scripture as Christians since time millenia have, we must go to the text of Matthew itself, which would be the Word of God. And we would have to understand how this verse, and the verses preceeding and following it, would have been understood by early Christians. As shown, I believe that early Christians explicitly teach upon the important of this text, because, as Christians do today, they accept Matthew as the Word of God and thus must be understood and followed, so as not to fall into error.