The Catholic Apologist's Claim: Christ said to Peter "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." Jesus told Peter he would build His Church on Him, not set it. To set something on something else usually means whatever it is is a finished piece or independent; to build something is to construct over a period of time. Christ handed this tradition to the apostles, did he not? And the RC tradition is the tradition of the apostles, which was handed to them by Christ. This tradition has developed over time.
My Response: This exercise in general semantics is a weak attempt to validate the self-serving and hopelessly distorted Romish interpretation of Matthew 16:18. I suppose that one could agree that Catholic Tradition has grown over time. Certainly the Catholic Church has added to her Tradition all manner of new revelations which grew out of the inventive minds of the Magisterium. Makes me wonder whether every prince of the RCC does not have hanging on his office wall a little sign that reads, "If God forgot to say it, we can fix it."
Catholic authorities, apologists and wannabe apologists display a penchant for calling up carefully selected extracts from the writings of Early Church Fathers and others in support of the many heretical doctrines of their religion. Yet, when evangelical writers and apologists appeal to the fathers, in the apparently vain hope that they might reach some defender of the Catholic faith with an argument that will be accepted, their citations tend to be rejected out of hand as being “taken out of context.”
Over the years, I have addressed Matthew 16:18 postulations raised by a number of RCC spokesman, often countering their quotations with others drawn from church fathers who disagreed with the idea that Christ built his church on the man Peter. Some said the "rock" was Peter's confession of faith. Others said the "rock" was Christ Himself. None of those I quote claimed that "rock" was Peter. And, it should be recalled, those early lights of the Christian church also were members of the Magisterium of their days.
A point some Catholic apologists seek to make is that, just as the Church is built, so is its tradition. This is, in addition to sophistry, nothing more than a statement of the presupposition one must bring with him if he is to swallow Catholic claims concerning apostolic succession, developing tradition as authoritative, Mary's non-divine divinity, Christ as cracker, etc, without gagging. The Roman Church was built upon the claim that Peter was the foundation rock. Whether that claim is true, is another issue entirely.
In another appeal to sophistry, some Catholic apologists will argue that common sense reveals that, just as human beings are not static but always growing, so also is the Catholic Church. In order to present this case, it is necessary to create an anthropomorphism of the very institution that apologists claim is not to be judged by the human failings of her leaders.
I suppose I am not worthy, for my common sense tells me that the Catholic Church is growing Tradition in the same sense mildew grows on a dark and damp wall. Rome's ever-mutating catalog of Tradition has grown as a consequence of the fevered imaginings of men and women who spent far too much time out of contact with reality, and by the machinations of popes who needed to subdue a recalcitrant enemy or add to their own power.
Though to those who stand outside the shadow of the Vatican it seems clear that Catholic Tradition tends frequently to present conflicting teachings, Catholic apologists may argue that this is not so. They might point out that there can be conflict only if the essence of the tradition contradicts itself. And they will quickly add that this is something that Roman Catholic tradition has not done. This smacks of mysticism. Must one practice transcendental meditation or some other form of Eastern contemplation in order to discover the essence of Roman Catholic tradition? Is it possible for the hoi poloi in the Roman church to achieve understanding? Or must one be a prince of the Church before enlightenment is possible?
I get the idea this is another attempt to dodge the bullet of truth, for the popes and Magisterium frequently have contradicted themselves. Now, we are given a reason -- better, an excuse -- for this. They apparently only were contradicting externals, leaving the essence of the various issues unchallenged. This argument is lame.
What Roman traditions frequently contradict, aside from themselves, is the Word of God.
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