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The Truth About St. Peter's Primacy and Matthew 16:18

replying to the disinformation in Evangelical Outreach's "Information for Catholics"

Chapter 1 of Truth for Catholics

"He looks through it feverishly for texts to be twisted in favor of a prejudice...." (G. K. Chesterton)

Evangelical Outreach (EO) has several questions and objections—and vehement conclusions, too—in its St. Peter's Primacy and Mt. 16:18 webpage at its Information [sic] for Catholics website.

I will try to faithfully convey Evangelical Outreach's questions, objections, and conclusions here—but, I encourage you to read EO's St. Peter's Primacy and Mt. 16:18 to verify that I have built no "straw man" here to argue against.

Matthew 16:18

Evangelical Outreach correctly observes, "Nearly a billion people around the world believe that St. Peter was the first pope, the chief of the apostles, and was given the 'keys' to the Kingdom", because the Catholic Church teaches that, according to Matthew 16:18, St. Peter was the Rock on which the Lord Jesus Christ said He would build His Church":

"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it". (New International Version)

EO proceeds to explain why it disagrees with the Catholic interpretation; these are EO's ten points, which I analyze in detail below:

  1. St. Peter was a married man (Matthew 8:14)
  2. St. Paul opposed St. Peter (Galatians 2:11-14)
  3. St. Peter's role at the Apostolic Council (Acts 15:6-30)
  4. St. Peter is "the fellow elder" in 1 Peter 5:1
  5. The Apostles "sent" Peter and John (Acts 8:14)
  6. Both St. Paul and St. John wrote more books in the Holy Bible than did St. Peter
  7. St. Paul worked harder than St. Peter (1 Corinthians 15:10)
  8. The Apostles argued about who among them was the greatest (Luke 9:46 and 22:24)
  9. St. Peter didn't teach about Mary, etc.
  10. The Greek of Matthew 16:18

1) St. Peter was a married man (Matthew 8:14)

St. Peter was married: "When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever" (Matthew 8:14 NIV).

Evangelical Outreach is aghast: "If Peter was the first pope, he was also a married man!"

Well, yes. And that should come as no surprise to anybody. The article on St. Peter in the Catholic Encyclopedia, for instance, cites Matthew 8:14 (and Luke 4:38) and remarks, "Simon was thus married, and, according to Clement of Alexandria, had children".

EO's question, though, is not how St. Peter could have been a pope if he was married—that is an "objection" that some Protestants do raise—but, "Why does Catholicism forbid present-day popes to be married like Peter?"

Having unmarried clergy is a custom, not a doctrine; it is a practical and spiritual decision, not a matter of faith or morals. And the decision has been made either way at different times and in different places. Both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Vatican Council II give adequate answers to Evangelical Outreach's question:

All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church... are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" [Matthew 19:12]. Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to "the affairs of the Lord" [1 Corinthians 7:32], they give themselves entirely to God and to men. Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church's minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1579)
Perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven was recommend by Christ the Lord [Matthew 19:12]. It has been freely accepted and laudably observed by many Christians down through the centuries as well as in our own time, and has always been highly esteemed in a special way by the Church as a feature of priestly life. For it is at once a sign of pastoral charity and an incentive to it as well as being in a special way a source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world. (Vatican Council II, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis # 16)

And, please note, the Catholic Church cites Scripture (Matthew 19:12 and 1 Corinthians 7:32) when it explains why most of its clergy are unmarried. (I take this topic up again in my concluding observations below.)

Can I blame Evangelical Outreach for not knowing that? I mean, after all, the Catechism is a fairly large book, and Vatican II produced sixteen official documents: can I honestly blame Evangelical Outreach for not being familiar with the quotations above? Yes, I can blame Evangelical Outreach. For EO quotes from both Vatican Council II and the Catechism when it suits EO's own purposes.

For example, EO purports to quote from Vatican II in "Born Again" Catholics And The Rosary and even dares to trumpet its supposed knowledge of Vatican II in Thus Saith Vatican Council II. (You must see my reply, Thus Saith NOT Vatican Council II.) And, in Roman Catholics and Communion, EO quotes several times from the Catechism, and even throws in a little Latin and some names and numbers—"the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Libreria Editrice Vaticana — In the USA, Liguori Publications, 1994), Imprimi Potest Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger)"—to try to convince people that EO knows what it's talking about.

So, how come EO couldn't quote Vatican II and the Catechism to answer its question about married popes? Maybe because EO really isn't honestly looking for answers?

(If you are interested, the Catholic Encyclopedia has a long and detailed article on Celibacy of the Clergy, including its history and theology; there you may also read about St. Clement.)

2) St. Paul opposed St. Peter (Galatians 2:11-14)

Evangelical Outreach quotes St. Paul's account of his interaction with St. Peter at Antioch:

When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" (Galatians 2:11-14 NIV)

Evangelical Outreach concludes, "St. Paul would never have openly opposed St. Peter if he was the 'visible head of the church'. Can you imagine a Catholic bishop publicly opposing the Pope today?"

Before anything else, observe that Evangelical Outreach concedes in its very question that St. Paul was, indeed, a Catholic bishop: else, EO couldn't have asked that question at all—right?

But EO's analogy is false: St. Paul was not merely a Catholic bishop: St. Peter and St. Paul were both Apostles, infallible teachers, and the human authors of Sacred Scriptures; they were both appointed immediately by the Lord Jesus Himself personally to their respective positions: there is no suitable comparison between their relationship and the relationship between a pope and a bishop.

Moreover, EO's assertion is contradicted throughout the history of the Catholic Church: as David G. Armstrong points out, even laymen have "opposed" popes. In his article Laymen Advising and Rebuking Popes, Mr. Armstrong notes that "St. Catherine of Siena, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and St. Francis of Assisi rebuked popes, and their advice was respected and heeded". (Dave Armstrong is a Catholic who used to be a Protestant.)

So, Evangelical Outreach's objection to the primacy of St. Peter and his successors, based on a highly biased Protestant interpretation of Galatians 2:11-14, is flawed on two counts: it involves a false analogy, and it is contradicted by plainly evident events in the history of the Catholic Church.

(If you are interested, see Saint Peter and Saint Paul and Galatians for a much fuller treatment of this topic. You may read more about St. Catherine, St. Bernard, and St. Francis in the Catholic Encyclopedia.)

3) St. Peter's role at the Apostolic Council (Acts 15:6-30)

This is the account of the first Council of the Catholic Church, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles:

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses". The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.... Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are".... When [Barnabas and Paul were finished speaking] James spoke up: "Brothers listen to me.... Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself.... It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood...." Then the apostles, and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.... With them they sent the following letter: ".... You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality...." The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. (Acts 15:5-30 NIV)

Evangelical Outreach thinks that St. James "presided" over this Apostolic Council, and thus concludes that, since St. Peter was present at the Council, he could not have been the head of the Church. Indeed, according to EO, "This is one of the most powerful and clear proofs that St. Peter was not "the head" of the early church!"

If you will read the passage as I have quoted it above (that is, including verse 5) rather than as Evangelical Outreach cites it (that is, beginning at verse 6), something becomes clear that is otherwise occluded: St. Peter was the first to speak on the topic of discussion, proposed a course of action with regards to it, then let others speak. St. James agreed with him, and added some details. The decision the Council made was that which had been proposed first by St. Peter: not to burden the Gentile disciples with the ritual demands of the Mosaic Law.

Far from being "proof" that St. Peter was not the head, this episode in the life of the early Church is a fine example of effective leadership.

Moreover, the Apostolic Council set the example that has been consistently (though not invariably) followed in all councils and synods of the Catholic Church that have had universal importance. Take the modern World Synods of Bishops for instance: the pope does not preside personally, but opens and closes the assembly that debates the details of what he has proposed for consideration.

So, using Acts 15:5-30 to argue against the headship of St. Peter, Evangelical Outreach ignores the most obvious and important aspect of the Council (and encourages its readers to do so, by the way it cites the passage), and ignores the evidence of many centuries, including that of our own times, about how that Council was a model for all those since.

Thus, if this is "one of the most powerful and clear proofs"—then, in fact, there is no proof that is powerful or clear. And that, of course, is the case.

4) St. Peter is "the fellow elder" in 1 Peter 5:1

The conclusion of the First Letter of Peter begins this way: "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed...." (1 Peter 5:1 NIV).

Evangelical Outreach says of this, "Peter wrote to other elders but never mentioned any primacy that he uniquely had...."

I say of that, so what?

When the pope addresses priests today in pastoral letters, he invariably refers to himself as a "fellow priest", or to them as "fellow priests", or something similar. (And remember, "priest" is the English equivalent of the Latin presbyteros and the Greek presbuteros, both of which mean "elder".)

Here are two examples from contemporary papal letters:

So, what are we to conclude from this? That Pope John Paul II doesn't think he is the head of the Church on earth? Of course not. Then neither may we conclude from St. Peter's humble self-reference—which Pope John Paul obviously takes as an example to be followed by St. Peter's successors—that he did not know himself to be the head of the earthly Church.

5) The Apostles "sent" Peter and John (Acts 8:14)

The Acts of the Apostles records an episode in the life of the early Church: "When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them" (Acts 8:14 NIV).

Evangelical Outreach flatly asserts, "If St. Peter was 'the head' of the apostles, he would have ordered other apostles to go to various places, but instead St. Peter (and St. John) were sent by the other apostles!"

Look again at EO's preceding objection (about 1 Peter 5:1). Since EO obviously hasn't the faintest idea how the current pope (and many of his predecessors) address priests today, why in the world should anybody pay any attention whatever when EO dares to state what St. Peter would or would not have done two thousand years ago?

Nonetheless, I have paid attention. In truth, there is nothing whatever in the narrative that precludes St. Peter having proposed a course of action and the other apostles agreeing to that. There is nothing in the narrative to preclude many other possibilities. Evangelical Outreach is reading into a brief narrative—one sentence—whatever fits in best with EO's anti-Catholic preconceptions.

Besides, Evangelical Outreach assumes that the apostles knew immediately what it meant for them to be apostles and for one of them to be their chief and the head of the earthly Church. Isn't this assumption absurd? Even in a merely human situation, with a merely human group or organization with a merely human purpose, it takes time—sometimes, much time—to sort out who is to do what, and how different persons and offices should relate to one another.

We can take contemporary political situations in the USA for example: the Constitution clearly spells out that the President is the Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief, and that the Congress alone is the Legislature. But even in our own days—two centuries and more after the founding of the Republic with the Constitution as paramount law—we have the War Powers Act and the line-item veto, both of which cut right to the core of the separation of powers prescribed in the Constitution, yet both are the subject of continuing (and sometimes fierce) debate.

How much more, then, would it take time, and experimentation, and experience—and why not the experience of decades or of centuries?—before the offices and relationships become clear in a completely new, unheard-of-before venture with a divine purpose?

No, this "objection" is a bit premature.

6) Both St. Paul and St. John wrote more books in the Holy Bible than did St. Peter

Evangelical Outreach asks, "If St. Peter was the head of the church (visibly), why did both St. John and St. Paul write more of the New Testament than he did?" (EO counts not only the books, but the chapters, written by each man: I shall spare you.)

I must say, I had to ponder this question for a long time before I even began to comprehend how it might have made any sense whatever. Finally, I understood that it springs from the un-Christian and irrational mindset that says the Holy Bible is the only rule of faith. (That doctrine is a false gospel taught nowhere in the Sacred Scriptures, nor was it believed before the sixteenth century by any group calling themselves Christians, and it is flatly self-contradictory since the Holy Bible itself does not say anywhere what books belong in the Holy Bible and what books don't belong there. But I digress.)

I can still make no sense whatever out of this objection. All I can say is this: "It was not St. Peter's principal ministry to write. So where's the problem with that?"

Well, I can ask a question, too: does Evangelical Outreach think that St. Paul was the head of the Church on earth? No? Then why could EO ask this question, if having written the most of the New Testament has nothing to do with being the head?

Oh... actually... I can say one thing more: apparently, Evangelical Outreach denies that the Lord Jesus Christ is Head of the Church: He wrote even less of the Holy Bible than St. Peter did. Right?

So, let's add it up: St. Paul wrote more of the New Testament than St. Peter did—but Evangelical Outreach would surely deny that St. Paul was the head of the visible church. And the Lord Jesus wrote less of the NT than St. Peter did—but, surely, EO believes that the Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church (on earth and in heaven).

Clearly, EO's premise—that the head of the Church would have written the most of the New Testament Scriptures—is without foundation.

7) St. Paul worked harder than St. Peter (1 Corinthians 15:10)

St. Paul wrote, "For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:9-10 NIV).

Evangelical Outreach asks, "If Peter was the 'head' of the apostles, why did Paul work harder for the Lord than the rest of the Apostles, including him [that is, St. Peter]?"

As a professor has pointed out to me, if the one working the hardest should be the head, then the janitor would be running his university department. Enough said.

But wait. EO's quotation itself answers the question: grace. It was St. Paul's grace that he work harder than the others. It was not St. Peter's grace to work harder than the others. If Evangelical Outreach wants to question God's grace, so be it. I myself will not engage in such unspeakable presumption.

8) The Apostles argued about who among them was the greatest (Luke 9:46 and 22:24)

According to St. Luke, "An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest" (Luke 9:46 NIV; see also Luke 22:24).

Evangelical Outreach says, "Clearly, this last passage occurred after Jesus spoke Mt. 16:18 and in Jesus' presence! Please note that Jesus never corrected them by saying Peter was made the 'head' at the point of Mt. 16:18! The other apostles never thought that verse uniquely exalted Peter above themselves, so why should we?" [emphasis as in EO].

Why should we think differently than the Apostles did at that time? Because we know better than they did. Seriously. The consequences of certain actions—even, or maybe especially, serious actions of the Lord—are not always immediately apparent: why should it not take time, even much time, for the implications of the Lord's words and deeds to unfold?

The apostles were weak, foolish, stubborn, proud sinners—that is, they were men like the rest of us. The Gospels show continually how they were slow to believe and slow to understand. (See, for example, John 11:11-15 and 14:8-9.) At first, they did not understand what the Lord Jesus meant when He gave Simon a new name and a new, unique authority: why in the world should we think that weak, foolish, stubborn, proud sinners would understand right away? The Lord did not "correct" them because it would have been to no purpose to correct them at that time: that could wait until the Pentecost (see John 15:26-27 and 16:13).

Besides, as I have shown above, by the time the apostles met in council (Acts 15), they were happy to let St. Peter take the lead and agree to his proposals. Why? Because, eventually, they began to understand.

This "objection", too, is a bit premature.

9) St. Peter didn't teach about Mary, etc.

Evangelical Outreach's penultimate "objection" to the Primacy of St. Peter is a long, convoluted, wearying mishmash: I hope it will suffice for me to say that EO can't find certain Catholic doctrines in the Sacred Scriptures.

Properly, I should decline to address that observation: there is no conceivable way it can be an objection to the Primacy of St. Peter (which is also true of the first objection, about St. Peter's having been married). However, I shall proceed.

First, let's light a fire to the straw man

Evangelical Outreach quotes from St. Peter himself, as recorded three times in Acts:

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12 NIV)

All the prophets testify about him [that is, Jesus] that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (Acts 10:43 NIV)

We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they [that is, the Gentiles] are. (Acts 15:11 NIV; this statement is from the Apostolic Council, quoted more fully above)

To all that, as a completely faithful Catholic, I say amen! amen! amen!

The Catholic Church teaches now, has always taught, and always will teach quite clearly that the Lord Jesus—and only the Lord Jesus—is our Savior. (In fact, Protestants believe that Jesus is our only Savior only because the Catholic Church taught so in the first place; if the Catholic Church hadn't always taught so, the Acts of the Apostles, for instance, wouldn't be in the Holy Bible for Protestants to quote against the Church. But, again, I digress.)

For example, the Council of Trent (AD 1545-1563) quoted Acts 4:12 in its discussion of baptism and original sin:

If any one asserts, that this sin of Adam,—which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propagation, not by imitation, is in each one as his own,—is taken away either by the powers of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who has reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, sanctification, and redemption [1 Corinthians 1:30]; or if he denies that the said merit of Jesus Christ is applied, both to adults and to infants, by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the Church; let him be anathema: For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved [Acts 4:12]. Whence that saying: Behold the lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world [John 1:29]; and that other: As many as have been baptized, have put on Christ [Romans 5:12]. (Council of Trent, Decree on Original Sin, Session 5, 17 June 1546, Number 3; quotations are italicized in the original Latin)

The crux of the matter

But, Evangelical Outreach observes about those quotations from Acts, "Peter exalted Jesus and faith in his name for salvation with no mention of Mary, even in an indirect way!"

That is exactly right. And that is exactly wrong.

Evangelical Outreach's superficial observation is indisputably correct—and truly superficial. For EO's assumption is that St. Peter's teaching on salvation is contained entirely in his quotations in Acts and in his two canonical letters. If that be true, then St. Peter was a man of very, very, very few words. He probably lived for about thirty more years after the events recorded in the Acts of the Apostles: the assumption that all his teachings on salvation are recorded for us in the Holy Bible is preposterous.

But, one might object, it's not that St. Peter didn't have anything else to say about salvation or the Lord or the saints or the Church: it's just that we don't have to believe anything that isn't written in the Holy Bible!

Tell that to St. Paul. He told the Thessalonian Christians, "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thessalonians 2:15 NIV). And, when he gave instructions to St. Timothy, he didn't tell him to make sure people go only by the Bible; no, he told him, "[T]he things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2 NIV).

So, the idea that we must believe only what is written in the Holy Bible is itself an un-biblical idea.

(For a fuller treatment of this issue, see Dave Armstrong's Bible and Tradition: "Maintain the Tradition...". Or see Is Sola Scriptura True?, a point-by-point refutation of Protestant arguments for the Bible Alone, by Mario Derksen and Brent Arias. And see Derksen's Explaining Away 2 Thessalonians 2:15.)

10) The Greek of Matthew 16:18

Evangelical Outreach's last "objection" is, by far, the easiest for me to refute.

The objection is a quibble about Greek diction. (No, I'm not kidding.) Evangelical Outreach quotes Matthew 16:18 from the Amplified Bible to demonstrate EO's position:

And I tell you, you are Peter [Greek, Petros—a large piece of rock], and on this rock [Greek, petra—a huge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it]".

(In case you are not familiar with the Amplified Bible, I should tell you that the bracketed and parenthesized phrases in that quotation appear exactly that way—in brackets or parentheses—in the text of the Amplified Bible.)

EO asserts that, because there may be a slight difference in meaning between the two forms (petros and petras) of the Greek word for "rock" in this verse, both words cannot refer to the same person or thing. EO also quite correctly points out that the first form (petros) is masculine while the second (petra) is feminine.

Yet this is by far the easiest objection for me to refute. Not because I am a Greek scholar. Far from that! But because several men have done a great deal of work to assemble numerous quotations from Protestant biblical scholars who say that the difference in the Greek forms of the word "rock" in Matthew 16:18 amounts to nothing, and that Simon Peter is the rock.

You don't have to take my word for that: please read my Who is the Rock of Matthew 16:18?, where you will find twelve quotations from ten Protestant biblical scholars who say that EO's interpretation of Matthew 16:18 is simply wrong.

But that's not all. Even the Amplified Bible does not support EO's position without qualification. For the Amplified Bible has a footnote to the word "Peter" in Matthew 16:18; that footnote says this:

The rock on which the church is built is traditionally interpreted as either Peter's inspired confession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah, or it may be Peter himself (see Eph. 2:20) [emphasis added]

So, even the source that Evangelical Outreach uses to assert that Peter isn't the rock, says that Peter might very well be the rock—and cites another scripture as supporting evidence! (By the way, when the Amplified Bible mentions that the "traditional" interpretation is "Peter's inspired confession", what it really means is the "traditional Protestant" interpretation.)

A few observations and conclusions

The Apostolic Council

Evangelical Outreach seems to like the Apostolic Council recorded in Acts 15: EO lamely appeals to it as evidence against the primacy of St. Peter, and quotes from it elsewhere, and calls it an "important council dealing with circumcision and its non-role in salvation".

It seems to me that the last thing any good Evangelical should do is even allude to the Apostolic Council. Every good Evangelical simply denies that the Church has any authority at all: "the Bible Alone!" they say. But in Acts 15 we see in the Sacred Scriptures themselves that the Church had authority to make decisions. It is simply not good enough to say that we are bound by the Council's decision only because it is recorded in the Holy Bible: for the first Christians to whom the decision applied had no New Testament scriptures whatever to go by: the New Testament books simply hadn't even been written yet.

Clerical celibacy

And then there's celibacy. It seems to me that another thing that any good Evangelical should never ask the Catholic Church is why it has unmarried clergy. For the Church's custom is rooted in teachings in the Holy Bible (Matthew 19:12 and 1 Corinthians 7:32); and, though there certainly are good arguments (even from the Sacred Scriptures) for having married clergy, doesn't asking the question reveal that the Evangelical has not considered all sides of the biblical teaching?

The Lord Himself said that some "have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:12 NIV). Because of the kingdom of heaven. A good reason, yes? And St. Paul pleads, "I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs.... But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world...." (1 Corinthians 7:32 NIV). It seems to me, then, that the Evangelical should ask, not Why does the Catholic Church have unmarried clergy?, but Why do Evangelicals have so few single pastors?

A plea from them, and a plea from me

Evangelical Outreach concludes with a passionate plea:

In summary, it is impossible to embrace the correct interpretation of Mt. 16:18 without considering the aforementioned facts of Peter's life and doctrines. Sadly, when one considers the sum total of the evidence, it must be stated that a distortion of Mt. 16:18 has led to the spiritual destruction of multitudes over the centuries. Dear reader, don't let this happen to you or your Catholic friends!

I couldn't agree more: "a distortion of Mt. 16:18 has", indeed, "led to the spiritual destruction of multitudes over the centuries". But, as we can see here, the distortion has been the work of Protestants, like Evangelical Outreach: it has led, over the past four centuries, to the bewildering plethora of Protestant denominations, all of them supposedly founding their beliefs on "the Bible Alone", yet all of them disagreeing with each other over essential doctrines. Don't let that happen to you.

(See also Patrick Madrid's Sola Scriptura: A Blueprint for Anarchy, and Mario Derksen's "And You Will Know the Truth....", and Questions for "Bible Christians", by Steve Ray, a Catholic who used to be a Protestant.)

What's really happening in Evangelical Outreach's anti-Peter screed

Thus does Protestant oral tradition wage war with Holy Scripture. Protestant dogma must be protected, whatever the cost. We have just seen some examples of the cost.... Peter's authority must be denied, and Holy Scripture and history distorted, to conceal from the Protestant himself the fact that if he is in a sect which so denies this authority, he is not in the new "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16). And if he is not, Protestantism is built on a lie. And the Church Christ founded is built on Peter, and is called "the Catholic Church".

Pauline Zingleman
Catholics, Protestants & the Bible pages 83-84

Evangelical Outreach's St. Peter's Primacy and Mt. 16:18 is a hideous example of sacrilegious abuse of the Sacred Scriptures to support a Protestant doctrine that is simply not taught therein. For the primacy of St. Peter is attested by the the Holy Bible at many points, as David G. Armstrong observes in his New Testament Proofs for Petrine Primacy. To get around this, Protestants are forced to distort the obvious purport of biblical passages, resort to false quibbles about Greek diction, rely upon the flimsiest of excuses for reasoning, grasp at the sheerest of straws, and ignore the plain facts not only of history but even of our own times.

And why is all this done? Is it, as Protestants would claim, out of obedience to the Word of God? No! Rather, Protestants do this out of blind, unthinking obedience to their Oral Tradition that insists the Catholic Church is wrong, no matter what, and that demands the Catholic Church must be shown to be wrong, no matter what. No matter what abuse, distortion, and degradation must be inflicted even upon the written Word of God, it is all justified so long as their anti-Catholic doctrines can somewhere, somehow be "found" in the pages of the Holy Bible.

That is not taking the Holy Bible as one's only rule of faith: that is making the Holy Bible the abject slave of one's anti-Catholic bigotry.

St. Ambrose of Milan
(circa AD 335-397)

Where Peter is, there is the Church.
And where the Church, no death is there, but life eternal.

Commentaries on Twelve of David's Psalms
quoted in W. A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol. 2
(Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1970), page 150

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