From: Len Lisenbee [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 6:50 AM To: email@example.com Subject: A few questionsHello again, Reverend. I have e-mailed you before. I am an evangelical Baptist (oops!) with a few questions. Your church has some really strange "traditions" that are very hard for some of us to understand. I was wondering if you would be willing to take the time to answer a few of them for me?
If your answer is yes, then here is the first one. Matthew 16:16-20 is a powerful series of verses that the Roman Catholic Church claims its authority from. If I understand the tradition properly, the Church claims that Jesus appointed Peter as chief or head of the apostles in these verses. That is an extremely important appointment, because from that instant onward (or possibly after the ascention or Pentacost) Peter assumed the earthly leadership role of Christ's Church. Wow! He became the head of the entire church. What a position! What a responsibility! And, since he was appointed as leader upon Christ's ascention, he would be the most important person in all of the new infant Christian Church.
But wait just a minute! Such an appointment would have been one of the most important events in the entire New Testament, second only to the life and death of our Savior. It would have been monumental in nature, simply because it was a transfer of immense power and authority from God to a single mortal man.
Well, with that said, I was wondering why Mark didn't report any of it? Luke didn't report any of it either. Oh, both of them took the time to report that Peter proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ of God (which just happens to be the "rock" of faith for most Protestants), but neither of them reported anything else. Nothing about Peter becoming the single most powerful mortal man in all of history (next to Christ, of course). Nothing about Peter receiving the power of God on earth. Nothing! They are both completely silent on this, the single most important event in the Christian world outside the completed ministry of Jesus. Furthermore, they are completely silent on Peter being appointed to any position by Jesus throughout their entire gospels! In fact, all of the apostles are completely silent about Peter being apointed to any position by Jesus! How can this be? How can the entire New Testament remain silent on this, a monumental event for Christianity?
Oh, I have found where the Roman Catholic Church claims several other Bible verses that lead the reader to believe that Peter was appointed as chief apostle by Christ. Rather obscure verses, I'm afraid. And, I have studied each of them. Analyzed them. Asked questions about them. Researched them ad nausium. And you can probably already guess what my results were. Yep! Not one of them really support Peter's appointment to anything by Christ.
I fully realize that Peter's primacy is critically important to the Roman Catholic Church. Every bit of the Church's supposed authority hinges on that "fact." However, I find that fact to be nothing more than fantasy.
Your comments, please.
I apologize for being so slow in responding to your thoughtful email. To answer your question I would have to make a distinction between authority and importance. A person may have the greatest authority, but not be the most important one. For example in the Holy Family, St. Joseph had the last word, but he was surely not the most important member! I imagine Joseph exercised his paternal authority somewhat quietly. Perhaps the same for Peter. Authority becomes vital in a time a crisis, but otherwise can be quite gentle and in the background. To use a personal example, as pastor, I have the highest authority in the parish, although I greatly prefer to exercise it without calling any attention to it. And even though I have the final word, I certainly don't consider myself the most important person. No doubt, on a spiritual level there were many people in the early Church more significant than Peter. Perhaps the women at the foot the cross and others.
About Peter's authority, have you read the Catholic Answers tracts?
Regarding your question on purgatory, I received an interesting email from a Lutheran pastor
Also former evangelical Mark Shea has a good article: Purgatory? Where's That in the Bible?
Let me know what you think. Prayers.
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