Friday, October 15, 2010

PART 5 - Response to Engwer on the Papacy

PART 5 - Response to Engwer on the Papacy

Engwer continues:
I had mentioned that Peter is given his second name prior to the events of Matthew 16, as we see in John 1:42. Scott responded:
And as for John 1:42 referring to Simon as Peter allegedly before Matthew 16, the objective reader must note that John’s Gospel was written perhaps 60 years after the events recorded in Matthew 16! John knew Simon BarJonah as Peter, so it is no special surprise that he calls him “Peter” in the first chapter of his Gospel.
Does John 1:42 merely refer to what John thought sixty years later? No, it refers to what Jesus said. Jesus was calling Simon by his second name in that passage, even though the events of Matthew 16 hadn't occurred yet. Why does Scott keep failing to even understand the arguments he's supposed to be responding to?

Well, two things to consider here:  1) Mr. Engwer’s assertion that “it is what Jesus said” does not detract from the FACT that St. John was recalling this some 60 years after the events transpired.  2) For the sake of argument, let’s say Jesus gave Simon Bar Jonah the name “Peter” earlier than Matthew 16, this does not detract from the FACT that Jesus opens Matthew 16:18 calling him “Simon” and finishes calling him “Peter” (or Cephas).  Mr. Engwer’s objection is moot at this point.

Engwer continues:
He gives us the usual abuse of Acts 1:
When an “office” was vacated it had to be filled, as we saw even in the vacating of Judas’ office/bishoprick in Acts 1.
See my discussion of that passage and some other relevant New Testament material here.
Well, allow me to quote the pertinent section here and now and save the reader from having to follow more rabbit trails:
One of the passages of scripture most often abused by Catholics when discussing this subject is Acts 1:16-26. Dave (Armstrong) appeals to it:
"Later in the chapter [Acts 1] we see explicit proof of apostolic succession (as discussed in my linked paper above): Judas was replaced by Matthias (1:17-26), and an OT passage is cited: 'His office let another take' (1:20)."
Judas was being punished by having another man take his office. Judas is replaced as a unique fulfillment of prophecy (Acts 1:16), and his being replaced is seen as something negative (Acts 1:20), not something positive. He's replaced by one man (Acts 1:20, 1:22), not by multiple men all claiming to be his successors. The requirements that Judas' replacement had to meet can't possibly be met by people alive today (Acts 1:21-22). And when people like James (Acts 12:2), Paul, and Peter are killed or are nearing death, the events of Acts 1 aren't repeated. People are told to remember what Jesus and the apostles had taught (Acts 20:28-35, 2 Peter 1:13-15, 3:1-2), not to expect all apostolic teaching to be infallibly maintained in unbroken succession throughout church history.
How is it that Judas was “punished” by having another take his office?  Judas was DEAD by this time!  Clearly Mr. Engwer is objecting to apostolic succession here - but this is so obvious through even a casual reading of the ECFs that denial of apostolic succession is simply a laughable position to take.  I suppose it could be an ignorant position, but Mr. Engwer has been around apologetics long enough to not be ignorant of all the evidence for apostolic succession.  The fact remains, the Apostles held the office of bishop - they were our first bishops!  Clearly that “office” continued in the Church after the Apostles died.  My point was, and remains, that when St. Peter died - his office too needed to be filled.

Getting back to Matthew 16, Engwer continues:
Scott writes:
Except that Matthew 23 and Luke 11 do not make any reference to “keys,” and both Matthew 16 and Isaiah 22 do!
Keys are associated with binding and loosing and opening and shutting (Isaiah 22:22, Revelation 3:7, 9:1-2, 20:1-2), and that's what an actual key does (Judges 3:25), so separating the keys in Matthew 16:19 from the power of binding and loosing is contrary to the context of the rest of scripture. It goes without saying that if you have the keys, you can bind and loose (or open and shut). And if you can bind and loose (or open and shut), it goes without saying that you have the keys. These things are all part of the same imagery. Some passages mention one, some mention the other, and some mention both. Matthew 23 and Luke 11 are parallel passages. One refers to opening and shutting without referring to any keys (Matthew 23:13). The other does refer to a key (Luke 11:52). Similarly, Revelation 20:1-2 mentions binding just after mentioning a key, whereas verse 7 mentions releasing without mentioning the key. But the use of the key in verse 7 is implied. To try to separate the keys of Matthew 16:19 from the power of binding and loosing that all the disciples had (Matthew 18:18), then assume that the keys represent papal authority, is irrational and speculative.

There is nothing irrational about pointing out the FACT that while Jesus uses nearly the same words in Matthew 18 as He did in Matthew 16 - He makes absolutely no mention of “the keys to the kingdom of Heaven” in chapter 19!  Certainly there are other references to “keys” - but NOT to the “keys to the kingdom of Heaven.”  Mr. Engwer goes off on tangents of wholly unrelated verses in an attempt to minimize the importance of Jesus’ words in Matthew 16.  Therein lies the folly of Mr. Engwer’s argumentation, minimizing the words of Christ.

Engwer continues:
If Scott is saying that Matthew 23 and Luke 11 don't use the plural "keys", whereas Matthew 16 and Isaiah 22 do, then he's mistaken. Isaiah uses the singular. And these passages don't have to be referring to the same keys in order to have some relevance to each other. Similar themes suggest some similarities in meaning.
Well, I am not making an issue of plural verses singular use of the word “key.”  Mr. Engwer has attempted to predict my argument or read my mind - and has failed.

Engwer continues:
I had pointed out that the recipient of the key in Isaiah 22:22 is a prime minister who's under the authority of a king. If Peter is to be paralleled to the prime minister, then who in the church should be paralleled to the king? God gives the key in Isaiah 22, and Jesus gives the keys in Matthew 16, so Jesus would be parallel to God rather than to the king. Who, then, is the king? A church leader with more authority than Peter? Scott responded:
Who said anything about a prime minister? God gives the key to the king in Isaiah and God gives the key(s) to Peter in Matthew.
Scott needs to read Isaiah 22 more carefully. Eliakim isn't a king. He's in a lower office that's often referred to as that of a prime minister or steward (John Oswalt, The Book Of Isaiah: Chapters 1-39 [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1986], pp. 418, 422).
I missed something the first go-round with Engwer here.  Let me recap, using the analogy Engwer proposed, again, he is using an analogy I have not proposed or ever used prior to this encounter.  Now, if the key in Isaiah 22:22 is being given by the king to the prime minister, and St. Peter is to be paralleled to the prime minister, then who in the Church should be paralleled to the king?  Therein lies Mr. Engwer’s flaw - the giver of the keys in Matthew 16 is Jesus Christ who is God.  Engwer continues “God gives the key in Isaiah 22, and Jesus gives the keys in Matthew 16...”  RIGHT!  Continuing: “ Jesus would be parallel to God rather than to the king.”  Again, HERE is where Mr. Engwer falters.  God IS the parallel to the king!  So, while I missed the “king” aspect in my first response - my answer was clear and remains the same.  It is the voice of God, speaking through Isaiah the Prophet, who gives the key to the (prime minister) and it is God Himself speaking in Matthew 16 promising to give the keys to the kingdom of Heaven to St. Peter (His prime minister).  Like I said, I’ve never used this comparison before, but now that Mr. Engwer has pointed it out to me, I may use it in the future!  Thanks Jason!

I had pointed out that 1 Corinthians 12:28 refers to apostles, not Peter or a papacy, as the first rank in the church. Scott replied:
First off, yes - all the Apostles were bishops! All of them shared a responsibility and authority, just as every bishop to this day shares. It is not as though Cephas was made a king and the rest were princes, no! They were all bishops! The office of the bishop is the highest in the Church. Each bishop is essentially the “pope” of his jurisdiction. The Bishop of Rome has fundamental jurisdiction over Rome itself, but also a jurisdiction of unity which extends to all the jurisdictions of the world.
But 1 Corinthians 12:28 doesn't mention "bishops" as the highest rank. And if the bishop of Rome has authority over all other bishops, then why should we think that the highest rank belongs to all bishops? Scott isn't explaining 1 Corinthians 12:28. Rather, he's explaining his own ecclesiology, which is something different.

Well, I can’t help Mr. Engwer much further here.  He simply dismisses the explanation as a matter of my own ecclesiology - yet what I explained is that it IS TRUE that ALL bishops share in responsibility and authority.  The matter, which 1 Cor. 12:28 does not get into, of unity however is given to St. Peter’s successor.  The numerous times in which St. Peter was singled out, but especially in John 21:15-17 where in the presence of the rest of the Apostles/bishops, St. Peter is given a special three-fold command to “Feed My lambs... tend My sheep... feed My sheep...”  Peter (and the office he held) was given, by Divine Authority, a special leadership here - it was the Good Shepherd (Jesus) passing on His Own Authority to St. Peter to become His stand-in or “vicar” - just before He ascended into Heaven.

Engwer continues:
Scott writes:
Pope Clement clearly speaks to the need of successors to the office of the bishop, and he himself is named by other ECFs as the third in succession from St. Peter as the Bishop of Rome, Epiphanius writes in the latter half of the fourth century
Epiphanius' testimony is problematic for Catholicism, for reasons I've explained elsewhere.

Engwer seems to think that because Epiphanius apparently gives equal status to both Sts. Peter and Paul as bishops in Rome that this is problematic for Catholicism.  It is not.  St. Peter was still selected prior to St. Paul, and thus has primacy.  It would seem that Mr. Engwer is making a mountain from a molehill here in his attempt to dismiss the CLEAR reference to apostolic succession in the Early Church Fathers, specifically Epiphanius in this case.  The POINT REMAINS that St. Clement IS listed as third in succession from St. Peter by Epiphanius, and Mr. Engwer has said/written nothing to counter that.

Scott continues:
The “keys” are given ONLY to Peter. Keys are a symbol of authority, and the keys are given to ONE. The “power” to bind and loose is another issue, and even here - Peter is given this authority alone (Matt. 16:18-19) whereas the rest of the bishops are given this authority as a group (Matt. 18:18).
I've already explained why it's erroneous to separate the keys from the binding and loosing. At this point, I'll add that the church fathers repeatedly contradicted Scott on this issue. Tertullian commented that ""For though you think heaven still shut, remember that the Lord left here to Peter and through him to the Church, the keys of it, which every one who has been here put to the question, and also made confession, will carry with him." (Scorpiace, 10) Origen said that all Christians possess the keys (Commentary On Matthew, 12:10). John Chrysostom said that the apostle John possessed the keys (Homilies On The Gospel Of John, 1:2).

It must be noted here, I am not the one who is a sola scripturist - yet I supported my statement from Scripture and Mr. Engwer goes off on tangents of allegedly conflicting men, and when it comes to the papacy, all three whom he names SUPPORT the papacy!
"…that the power of binding and loosing has thereby been handed on to you, that is to every church akin to Peter? What kind of man are you, subverting and changing what was the manifest intent of the Lord when He conferred this personally upon Peter? On you, He says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys, not to the Church; and whatever you shall have bound or you shall have loosed, not what they shall have bound or they shall have loosed. " [Modesty, qtd in Jurgens 387]
"Peter, upon whom is built the Church of Christ, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail..." [Commentaries on John, qtd in Jurgens 479a]
And why, then, passing by the others, does He converse with Peter on these things? (John 21:15). He was the chosen one of the Apostles, and the mouth of the disciples, and the leader of the choir. On this account, Paul also went up on a time to see him rather than the others (Galatians 1:18). And withal, to show him that he must thenceforward have confidence, as the denial was done away with, He puts into his hands the presidency over the brethren. And He brings not forward the denial, nor reproches him with what had past, but says, 'If you love me, preside over the brethren ...and the third time He gives him the same injunction, showing what a price He sets the presidency over His own sheep. And if one should say, 'How then did James receive the throne of Jerusalem?,' this I would answer that He appointed this man (Peter) teacher, not of that throne, but of the whole world. (Chrysostom, In Joan. Hom. 1xxxviii. n. 1, tom. viii)
Peter himself the Head or Crown of the Apostles, the First in the Church, the Friend of Christ, who received a revelation, not from man, but from the Father, as the Lord bears witness to him, saying, 'Blessed art thou, This very Peter and when I name Peter I name that unbroken Rock, that firm Foundation, the Great Apostle, First of the disciples, the First called, and the First who obeyed he was guilty ...even denying the Lord." (Chrysostom, T. ii. Hom)
So what I have quote above negates what Mr. Engwer is attempting to say.  Tertullian specifically answers to those who wish to “subvert and change the manifest intent of the Lord” in regard to giving the authority of the keys to all when that was specifically given to Peter, alone.  The piece from Origen is contextually referring to the epistles written by St. Peter, but noteworthy is the title he gives to St. Peter.  The words from St. John Chrysostom speak for themselves.

Engwer continues:
Scott goes on:
So again, this letter of Firmilian to Pope Stephen is NOT a denial of the papacy, as Mr. Engwer falsely asserts, it expresses his frustration in Pope Stephen’s “folly” and “defaming” of the papacy.
He's referring to Firmilian's comments recorded in Cyprian's Letter 74. Scott assumes that Firmilian believed in a papacy, but he doesn't demonstrate it.

I suggest that people read Firmilian's letter for themselves. Note that he refers to how the Roman Christians "vainly pretend the authority of the apostles" (74:6). He refers to how the Roman bishop Stephen "boasts of the place of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter" (74:17). Speaking to Stephen, Firmilian says, "while you think that all may be excommunicated by you, you have excommunicated yourself alone from all" (74:24). It doesn't seem that Firmilian agreed with the claims the Romans and Stephen were making. Yet, Scott suggests that Firmilian not only didn't oppose the papacy, but even believed in it. Where's his evidence?

I will say that Firmilian is quite critical of Pope Stephen.  Firmilian speaks of Pope Stephen’s boasting, but does not deny that which he boasts!  THAT was all I was getting at.  While being critical of Pope Stephen’s position on baptism of heretics - he still lauded the position of Sts. Peter and Paul at Rome and acknowledges Pope Stephen’s claim to the valid succession.  Clearly he’s not happy with Pope Stephen but that does not equate to a denial of the papacy.  There were things Pope John Paul II did which did not please me, and I even spoke out about them, but I did not and do not deny his papacy!

Engwer continues:
He writes:
The first 15 popes were all martyred (into the 3rd century) and several others after that too.
The (anti-Catholic) historian Philip Schaff commented:
"Irenaeus recognizes among the Roman bishops from Clement to Eleutherus (177), all of whom he mentions by name, only one martyr, to wit, Telesphorus...So Eusebius, H. E. V. 6. From this we must judge of the value of the Roman Catholic tradition on this point. It is so remote from the time in question as to be utterly unworthy of credit." (History Of The Christian Church, 2:4, n. 225)
As Schaff notes, Irenaeus refers to the Roman bishop Telesphorus as a martyr without making any such comment about the other Roman bishops he names in the surrounding context (Against Heresies, 3:3:3).

The patristic scholar J.N.D. Kelly wrote of Telesphorus, "he is the only 2nd-cent. pope whose martyrdom is reliably attested" (Oxford Dictionary Of Popes [New York: Oxford University Press, 1996], p. 9).

It seems that what Scott is referring to is a late, unhistorical tradition. He seems to believe a lot of late, unhistorical traditions about the papacy.
First off, Schaff is quite the anti-Catholic, as one can easily see in the commentary he adds to his rendition of the ECFs.  Likewise, J.N.D. Kelly is no supporter of Catholicism!  Mr. Engwer does not present actual EVIDENCE to counter what I said, he provides non- or anti-Catholic commentary.  That’s not valid scholarship.  Would I grant that at least some of the tradition of the martyred popes is tradition?  Yes, I would - but certainly not “late tradition.”  

Engwer continues:
Scott goes on to make some nonsensical comments about conciliarism. He admits that conciliarism is inconsistent with his beliefs and has been condemned by Roman Catholicism. Yet, he says that it was acceptable for church leaders to "experiment" with it. He writes:
However, it [conciliarism] was still a movement which required papal approval to take root - which it got for a while - and the system was eventually brought back to the original structure and conciliarism was condemned....

The problem, again, which Mr. Engwer has is the fact that the pope consented to the alleged conciliarism of the day....The only way any form of conciliarism has “worked” was under the blessing of the sitting pope....

Modern Catholics need not worry about this papal approved conciliarism for again, since it was approved by the papacy - it is not a system superior to the papacy.
Since conciliarism denies the view of papal authority Scott is advocating, is he saying that its contradiction of his view had "papal approval" and "the blessing of the sitting pope"? If a papacy with authority over councils was a concept always understood and believed by the church, as the First Vatican Council suggested, then why would Christians, and even church leaders, have been supporting a system that contradicted that concept?

Scott seems to think that if a Pope went along with conciliarism, or if a council advocating conciliarism tried to coordinate its efforts with a Pope, then conciliarism must be consistent with papal authority over councils. But how does Scott's conclusion follow? Papal cooperation doesn't prove papal supremacy. The conciliarists in question were denying papal supremacy. Pointing to their cooperation with Popes doesn't change that fact.

It would appear that Mr. Engwer has not studied the period in which the “experiment” of concilliarism took place.  Yes, indeed there were those in the Church who sought to diminish the authority of the Pope and did so through this “concilliarist” movement - WITH the sitting pope’s approval!  It could be argued that he was relatively forced into the decision, but the fact remains it was a decision left to him to make.  After this “experiment” was found to be lacking in practicality as well as Sacred Tradition - it was scrapped and condemned.  One thing this episode does show is that the Catholic Church is not so rigid as some think her to be.  Changes CAN happen, and changes HAVE happened!  Not all change is good, likewise, not all change is bad.  In the case of concilliarism - the change was deemed to be “bad” and it was rejected.  I’m not real sure why Mr. Engwer thinks he’s making any headway with this argument for as I pointed out, the approval of the sitting pope was still necessary for the “experiment” to even be tried, so it still points to papal authority.

Engwer concludes:
Scott writes:
After going through “all (Engwer’s) 6000 words of the papacy entries” (which is actually 4814 words, but who’s counting?) and demonstrating either their lack of applicability, contextuality, and outright validity, perhaps it is Mr. Schultz’ reading comprehension skills which suggest some needed improvement?...It would seem that Mr. Schultz’ agreement with Mr. Engwer has clouded his objectivity - or perhaps Mr. Schultz has not even fully read all 4814 words from Mr. Engwer for himself?
Scott makes those comments after having replied to the wrong series of posts. I had directed readers to the correct series by name, I described some of the contents of that series, and Matthew Schultz did the same. Matthew even quoted part of what I wrote in the series. Yet, Scott misinterpreted all of that information and replied to the wrong posts. I suspect that a similar methodology has led him to his belief in the papacy.

Again, I have explained how I ended up on the “wrong series” - since the immediate subject matter was that of the papacy and St. Augustine, not Catholicism in general.  I do concur, Mr. Engwer named the correct series, my attention was drawn to the other series (actually more appropriate series for the discussion at hand) so I responded to that one first.  I have, since then, responded to series Engwer initially intended and I have now responded to this, at times uncharitable response from Mr. Engwer.  

I assure the objective reader, my belief in the papacy is not based in studying a tangential series on the papacy!  Jesus Christ Himself established our first leader, the one He chose to be His stand-in, or vicar, after He ascended into Heaven.  The apostolic office is deliberately referred to in Scripture as an OFFICE and one which, of necessity, needed to be filled when vacated.  The Early Church Fathers are full of references to the valid succession from St. Peter’s office, AND the necessity of being in communion with THAT see.  It is my hope and prayer, especially for anyone who has taken the time and effort to read through these series between myself and Mr. Engwer, that the Lord our God guides them to all truth.



  1. I love your comment regarding Engwer's "rabbit trails." He does that all the time rather than give an answer in the here and now. I especially like when does the I already addressed that "here, here, and here."

  2. Thanks, however in fairness, at least SOME of the "rabbit trails" are called for. I don't expect Jason to respond to my long blog articles anymore than I would hope he expects me to in a combox - thus a whole new blog entry is not unwarranted. However, when he makes a reference to something which is a sentence or two, even up to a paragraph or two, it's not too much effort to just copy and paste that into the blog and save the reader from having to follow a "rabbit trail" to a short reference - especially if the reference he's referring to is just a portion of the link he's providing.

  3. I had to laugh when I read Engwer's latest comment/response to this series! He said:

    Since he didn't interact much with what I said, there isn't much for me to say in response.

    Just look at how many times I said, "Engwer continues..." etc. and try to justify how Mr. Engwer could say I didn't interact much with what he said!

    I think what we call that is "surrender."

    In JMJ,


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