That Rock Thing Again

Ask just about any Roman Catholic, clergy or laity, about the foundation of the Church and the papacy and he likely will make reference to the words Christ spoke to Peter and recorded in Matthew 16:18-19:

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, 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 heaven. -- Matthew 16:17-19

One trustworthy Catholic source explains:

CHURCH: 1. When the Church is spoken of, it means that visible religious society, founded by Jesus Christ, under one head, St. Peter, and continuing under the governance of his successors, the popes. -- Robert C. Broderick, Ed., The Catholic Encyclopedia, Thomas Nelson Publishers (1987), p. 256; has Nihil Obstat & imprimatur

The RCC dreamworks would have us believe that the Early Church Fathers all accepted this. Fact is, they did not.

It seems the confusion experienced by the Early Church Fathers continues to this day. Turning to the Catechism promulgated by John Paul II, we read evidence that:

552. Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;[Cf Mk 3:16; Mk 9:2 ; Lk 24:34 ; 1 Cor 15:5 .] Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Our Lord then declared to him: 'You are Peter, and on this ROCK I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.'[Mt 16:18 .] Christ, the 'living Stone',[1 Pet 2:4 .] thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakeable ROCK of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.[Cf. Lk 22:32 .] -- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

This teaching clearly depicts Peter as the rock upon which the church is built. How true is this position? Well, the former popentate John Paul II declared that the document from which this is quoted is a "sure norm for teaching the faith." Surely that is a strong indicator that this is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I approved 25 June last and the publication of which I today order by virtue of my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion. May it serve the renewal to which the Holy Spirit ceaselessly calls the Church of God, the Body of Christ, on her pilgrimage to the undiminished light of the Kingdom! -- John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum. Promulgated 11 October 1992

I have often commented on the difficulty confronting committed Catholics who sincerely strive to discover and assent to the dogmas and doctrines of their church. This difficulty, as I have demonstrated so many times, is due in large part to the inconsistency and lack of constancy of even those dogmas to which every Catholic is required to assent as a matter of faith. Consider the above teaching from the Catechism, for example, which declares that Peter is the rock upon which the church is built. Read carefully the following paragraph, taken from the same Catechism:

424. Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'[Mt 16:16 .] On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his Church.[Cf. Mt 16:18 ; St. Leo the Great, Sermo 4 3: PL 54,150 - 152; 51,1: PL 54, 309B; 62, 2: PL 54, 350-351; 83, 3: PL 54, 431-432.] 'To preach. . . the unsearchable riches of Christ'[Eph 3:8 .]" (Catechism of the Catholic Church Doubleday:New York, 1994 United States Catholic Conference, Inc. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, pp. 118-19)

Well, now. Isn't that interesting? In this paragraph, the Catechism clearly teaches that it was on the rock of faith, on Peter's confession of faith, that Christ built His Church. Regardless of how one might care to look at this, the two paragraphs from the same document teach a different "truth." One paragraph says that Peter is the rock upon which the church is built; the other says that it is Peter's faith that is the rock upon which the church is built. These are NOT the same thing. Only one can be true, but which which one?

Let us call upon the labors of Dr. Ludwig Ott, Catholic scholar, theolgian and educator. Dr. Ott is certainly a trustworthy spokesman for the Catholic Church. After all, the book I shall draw from is used in Roman Catholic seminaries.

"According to the teaching of St. Peter, Christ Himself is the "cornerstone," on which the spiritual temple, which the faithful conjointly form, is built, "the foundation which has been built" (Eph. 2,20), and on which the messengers of the Faith must continue to build their missionary work(1 Cor. 3,11). (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc:Rockford (1974), p. 273)

Let's see now. The Catechism teaches that Peter is the rock upon which the church is built. No, wait. The catechism teaches that Peter's faith is the rock on which the church is built. Wait again. A prominent and respected Catholic educator, citing the Bible and the man Catholicism claims was the first pope, points to Christ as the cornerstone upon which the church was built.

I have cast my vote for Ludwig Ott's understanding. This was an easy decision for me because I look to the Scriptures for doctrinal truth. For you Catholics reading this, I reckon you can just draw lots for which teaching you want to go with.

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