Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Who Was The First Pope?

I know, silly question - but that's the topic of a discussion/debate which has been going on between Steve Hays and myself...

I posted an article (here) which was in response to one posted by Steve Hays (here).  Mr. Hays responded again (here).  So, what follows is my current response.

“Again with the straw man! Who here is claiming that St. Peter ‘founded’ the Church at Rome?”

Irenaeus, for starters:
“Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul.”

Thanks, but last I checked St. Irenaeus wasn’t “here.”  That being said, it IS a valid argument to say that Sts. Peter and Paul founded the Church at Rome - for they did bring the bishoprick to that city, which previously had small “mission” or “home” meetings for church.  


But if you wish to dismiss the testimony of Irenaeus, that’s fine with me.

I do not dismiss St. Irenaeus’ testimony.  Did Sts. Peter and Paul found the small, in-home mission churches?  No, folks like Aquila and Priscilla did.  Did they bring the hierarchy of the Church to Rome?  Most certainly.  Both views are correct - you’re looking at two parts of the same elephant.

“I, for one, have explicitly DENIED he did!”

You don’t speak for Rome Catholicism. You merely speak for Scott Windsor.

Most certainly I speak for “Scott Windsor,” a “Roman Catholic.”  I try to keep myself fully in line with Catholic teaching.  If you feel I have misrepresented Catholic teaching in any way, please point such out and I will either explain myself or recant.  In the above statement I have explained myself.

“AS I SAID BEFORE TOO: St. Peter's first see was likely at Antioch, but we don't trace THE Apostolic See (of the Vicar of Christ) to Antioch, but to Rome …”

Roman Catholics trace it through Rome. What a surprise!

And your point is?  My point remains that St. Peter’s see is traced through Rome.  However, the Antiochian see is also traced to St. Peter.  There’s a difference between these sees.  

“But NONE of it says these two were called ‘bishops’ or even ‘overseers.’”

They don’t have to be bishops. You’re framing the issue in Roman Catholic terms, which begs the very question at issue.

Tap, tap... is this thing on?  Um, Mr. Hays - YOU started this discussion YOU framed it in Roman Catholic terms - so how does that make ME “begging the question?!”  Need I remind you of your own words?
As you can plainly see, the original "bishops" of Rome were Pope Aquila and Popessa Priscilla. They headed the 1C church of Rome.

Any papal claimant who can't trace his succession back to Aquila and Priscilla is an Antipope.
Now, did you or did you not use the terminology of “bishops” and “popes” here?  

“ALL we have as FACT is that they held church in their house.”

Yes, a Roman house-church. That’s all the 1C church of Rome amounted to. The pope didn’t preside. Peter didn’t preside. Aquila and Priscilla did.

In the first century we had Peter, Linus, Cletus and Clement (who took us into the second century).  Aquila and Priscilla “presided” over a mission church in their home - they did not preside over Rome and did answer to the Apostles - who had not made it there yet.

“The rest of your conclusion is pure speculation.”

i) Any historical reconstruction involves an element of speculation. Your assertion that Peter’s “bones” are there (in Rome) “to this day” is pure speculation. Do you have a sample of Peter’s DNA to ID the bones?

No, my statement of Peter’s bones being buried there is based in testimony, and the fact that those bones are actually there.  
...scientific testing has lent some credence to his assertion (they've been proved to belong to an older man; the bones of the feet are missing, as they would be from a man crucified upside down, as Peter is said to have been, etc.)  http://www.slate.com/id/75795/
Do I have a sample of St. Peter’s DNA to ID the bones?  Again, silly question.  

ii) My conclusion was far from “pure speculation.” That is based on exegetical and archaeological evidence. You don’t even attempt to refute the evidence.

And just what archaeological evidence did you provide regarding Aquila and Priscilla?  

“Based on the ‘evidence’ provided here (Mr. Hays) we have nothing more to go on than they too were ‘missionaries’ who established a ‘mission church’ at Rome.”

In which case it wasn’t founded by Peter (pace Irenaeus). Rather, it was headed by Aquila and Priscilla.

You don’t seem to pay attention to the evidence provided even by yourself!  There were several “in home” churches and A&P hosted one of them.  Wasn’t this part of what YOU provided?

“It is quite plausible that Sts. Peter and Paul were the first bishops to arrive at Rome.”

Peter and Paul were never bishops. They were apostles. You commit a category mistake.

As I pointed out already in the combox on Triablogue, the apostolic office IS that of bishop!  If Judas Iscariot’s office was that of “bishoprick” as Acts 1:20 tells us - then why wouldn’t the office of Sts. Peter and Paul have also been a bishoprick?  It is not I who is making a “category mistake” here.

“As for the comment about (Fr.) Raymond Brown being a ‘mainstream Catholic scholar...’ he WAS ‘mainstream’ during a VERY liberal era for the Church, but he can HARDLY be considered ‘mainstream’ when we look at the big picture here. He was a modernist and a revisionist and his commentaries, IMHO, are relatively worthless to one seeking orthodox Catholic teaching. Of course, NON-Catholics flock to his dissenting and revisionist views, so it's no surprise that we find him lauded in this forum.”

He was appointed to the Pontifical Biblical Commission by two successive popes. It’s counterproductive for you to defend the papacy by distancing yourself from the papacy. But, of course, you’re hardly the first Catholic epologist who labors to save the papacy from the pope.

And of course you leave out the part where I answered your distraction attempt here.  You introduce Fr. Brown as if he would support your comments, but your anachronism did not consider that Fr. Brown died in 1998.  You also claimed he was a “priest and bishop” - and while an ordained priest, he scarcely served as one - spending most of his time pursuing his “scholarship.”

11/08/2010 7:08 AM

On the one hand:

"The rest of your conclusion is pure speculation."

On the other hand:

"It is quite plausible that Sts. Peter and Paul were the first bishops to arrive at Rome."

Nothing like pure speculation.

“Mr. Hays seems to think that if he uses lots of names (mostly, if not wholly, Protestant commentators) that we will be impressed.”

i) I gave author, title, and pagination to back up my claims. That’s the responsible way to argue for one’s position–unlike Windsor.

Hmmm, in my first response to your silliness and admitted sarcasm, I not only included links to your articles, but also supplied several other sources, with links, supporting what I was saying.  In my second response I didn’t use as many sources, but I did cite Scripture and a link (to a non-Catholic source) supporting what I said about Fr. Brown.

ii) If Windsor is going to dismiss scholarship just because it’s Protestant, then he’s not a real apologist. He refuses to engage the argument. At best, he only accepts preapproved, in-house authors.

Not true, Mr. Hays.  The point is when you’re debating with a Catholic, and then you cite numerous Protestant only commentaries (which are not primary sources) you can’t expect any Catholics to be impressed.  Of course, your “choir” appreciates it - but you’re not scoring any debate points in merely preaching to the choir.  That is one of the reasons I tend to seek out non-Catholic sources when I’m dealing with non-Catholics.   Your accusation of me only accepting pre-approved in-house authors is patently false.

Imagine a Mormon rejecting Protestant scholarship against Mormonism simply because it’s Protestant.

Again, the point would be if you’re debating with a Mormon - you should cite SOME Mormon sources.  If you were going after Mormonism and merely supplying Protestant commentary, you would be (fairly) criticised for that as well.

iii) But, of course, Windsor also rejects Catholic scholarship unless it already agrees with his position.

Just because you picked one who is noted to be contrary to orthodox Catholic thought, even by non-Catholics (such as the source I quoted and cited) does not mean you provided a good argument, and now you whine about me pointing out how lacking your “scholarship” is.  Get over yourself.

So he’s just a fake apologist.

I can take fair criticism of my work, and I will defend what I’ve said.  I also try to refrain from reducing my arguments to ad hominem - sadly, you do not.

iv) For that matter, Jesuit scholar Joseph Fitzmyer, in his commentary on Rom 16, corroborates Lampe’s exegesis at that juncture.

So now you move to Fr. Brown’s PARTNER in the Jerome Bible Commentary so what are you expecting to accomplish here?  Yes, he’s just as liberal minded as Fr. Brown!  Even James White agrees on that point!  “I can't tell you how often I hear Shabir Ally or other Islamic apologists trotting out Brown or Fitzmyer to prove that this or that biblical teaching is "mythological" or the like.” (source).  Sometimes I think some Protestant apologists knowingly point to known liberal Catholics for two reasons: 1) they say what you want them to say; 2) when a more orthodox Catholic tells you they hold to liberal theology then you attack the more orthodox Catholic for the disagreement - as a red herring/distraction tactic and never deal with the FACT that these “scholars” are liberals.

v) Moreover, I didn’t cite these scholars as authority-figures. I cited them for the evidence which they adduce.

And all you’ve “cited” from them is their commentary - that’s not “evidence.”  All you’ve done is shore up your protesting opinion with the opinion of a liberal who himself is at odds with orthodox Catholicism.

“As I stated in my initial response to him - we don't claim St. Peter ‘founded’ the Church at Rome - but he is the first Bishop of Rome.”

Windsor may not, but Irenaeus did, and the claims of Irenaeus are certainly a fixture in the standard Catholic apologetic for Roman primacy.

If, however, Windsor wants to drop Irenaeus from the Catholic arsenal, that’s fine with me.

As I pointed out in the combox, St. Irenaeus perspective is on the founding of the hierarchical structure of “The Church” in Rome, not the founding of home-hosted mission churches.  Your comparison is like apples to oranges.

“There we agree! And if we slip in the word ‘informally’ then we could also use the word ‘formally’ - and validly claim the ‘formal’ formation of the Church of Rome was when the bishops, Sts. Peter and Paul, arrived there. Then it went from a ‘mission’ community to a ‘formal’ church.”

That’s an institutional myth. There was nothing above and beyond the informal founding of the Roman church.

So why did cities like Jerusalem and Antioch get bishops and hierarchy, but your argument is that Rome got “nothing above and beyond the informal founding.”  That’s about the most irrational statement I’ve seen from you.  I’m sure your agenda would like to dismiss this fact and go with that.  The Church at Rome did not get a bishop immediately, so when did Rome get a real bishop?  Who was that first real bishop?  Through whom are ALL the successors of the Bishop of Rome traced through - bar none (except something like your 21st century revisionist statements)?

Indeed, there was no one church of Rome in the 1C. Rather, you had a number of independently founded house-churches. These were at best loosely affiliated, and there is evidence that some of them were rivals (i.e. Paul’s shadowy Jewish opponents).

And yet we have testimony that not only St. Peter was there, but St. Linus, St. Cletus, St. Clement and St. Evaristus (who took us into the second century).  We have St. Ignatius, who was a disciple of St. John the Apostle - and successor to St. Peter’s see in Antioch, writing to the Church of Rome:
Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the Church that has found mercy in the transcendent Majesty of the Most High Father and of Jesus Christ, His only Son; the church by the will of Him who willed all things that exist, beloved and illuminated through the faith and love of Jesus Christ our God; which also presides in the chief place of the Roman territory; a church worthy of God, worthy of honor, worthy of felicitation, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy of sanctification, and presiding in love, maintaining the law of Christ, and bearer of the Father's name: her do I therefore salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. Heartiest good wishes for unimpaired joy in Jesus Christ our God, to those who are united in flesh and spirit by every commandment of His; who imperturbably enjoy the full measure of God's grace and have every foreign stain filtered out of them. (http://www.americancatholictruthsociety.com/docs/ignatius_romans.htm)
Such praises St. Ignatius lauds over this Church of Rome - which “presides  in the chief place of the Roman territory.”  

Pope Clement I, writing about circa 80-95ad speaks of the need for apostolic succession:
"Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier. . . . Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry" (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4–5, 44:1–3).

Back to what Mr. Hays wrote (quoting me first):
“And again, this would appropriately describe a MISSION community, where several MISSION churches/chapels were established prior to officially establishing the Church hierarchy at Rome as was done in other cities.”

Yes, the mythical, backdated “official establishment” of the Roman church.

So again I ask, who was the first Bishop of Rome?  When did this “official establishment” take place in your allegedly non-mythical view?  (I thoroughly expect these questions to be ignored).

“They left due to the edict and didn't return until after Claudius' death. Then some historians have it that they left again for Asia on more MISSIONARY work, and were martyred there.”


Irrelevant?  You proposed that they were the first bishops of Rome!  You proposed they should rightly be called the first pope and popessa of Rome.  It is wholly relevant to demonstrate that they were MISSIONARIES and not holding the office of bishop, as your satire alleges.  Are we to assume, based on your dismissiveness here, that you are conceding your initial satirical, yet serious presentation is false?  All you were doing was poking fun at Catholics and throwing out a totally bogus satire just because Scripture does not say explicitly that Peter went to Rome.

“They were Jewish tentmakers, hardly a position of ‘nobility’ in Rome! Now, amongst Jews they may have had some stature and/or financial stability, and perhaps those resources assisted them in attaining a household in Rome large enough to host church meetings (or perhaps they met in a tent!), but to jump to ‘Roman noblewoman’ seems quite the leap here. I can't prove she wasn't of Roman nobility, so if Hays, et al, wishes to make that leap, sobeit.”

i) It’s a “leap” because he’s too lazy and intellectual insecure to study the evidence which scholars like Lampe and Jewett (among others) present.

What evidence?!  Mr. Hays presented a bibliography and added his own comments, and didn’t quote the commentaries/opinion pieces (as if that is valid “evidence”) at all!  No, he presented us with virtually nothing and then has the audacity to throw ad hominem insults my way!  One way to judge who is losing a debate is to see who reduces their arguments to invalid ad hominem.  

ii) If she married down, she would acquire her husband’s business through marriage. It would thereby become a family business.

I have not disputed the family business.

iii) This dovetails with the Lucan theme of Godfearers and proselytes who are drawn to the true faith via their contacts with the Jewish people.

iv) It explains how they could afford to maintain establishments in Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus.
Again, I have not disputed the potential resources gained from the family business.

v) It would explain how she was in a position to intervene on Paul’s behalf with the Roman authorities (cf. Rom 16:4).

I have not challenged her pedigree - I only stated from what Mr. Hays has presented thus far, we have no evidence other than she was married to a Jewish tentmaker.  Comments on commentaries don’t count as evidence.

vi) It would explain how they could afford a house-church in the upscale Aventine district.

Again, I have not questioned the resources of the family business.

vii) It would explain why Santa Prisca is named after her rather than Aquila. She held the title-deed.

“The identity of St Prisca is uncertain. One tradition claims that she is identical with Priscilla, who is mentioned in the New Testament, another that she was the daughter of Aquila and Priscilla.” (Source).  For a story of Saint Prisca (who is not Priscilla, but perhaps her daughter) click here.

viii) Through ignorance, Windsor disregards the evidence of her noble Acilian pedigree.

Blah, blah, blah... we saw no “evidence!”  All you presented was a bibliographical list and YOUR comments on what was contained in their commentary/opinion pieces!   You try to pass yourself off as presenting scholarly material, but you haven’t.  I’m sure “the choir” just accepts your commentary on commentaries of other Protestants - but pardon me for not bowing to your bibliography.

“All this ‘probably’ and ‘may have been’ is pure speculation - all we ‘know’ is he was a Jewish tentmaker who did missionary work for St. Paul.”

Missionaries planted churches. Who was in charge? The missionary. Not the pope.

Missionaries are seldom the ones “in charge.”  Those who SENT the missionaries may be, but again we’re into the realm of speculation.  All we KNOW is that they hosted church meetings in their home, as did other families in Rome.

“THEN to jump to ‘vicars of the heavenly head (Christ)’ is taking it (again) WAY too far!”

I’m recasting the issue in Catholic terms for the sake of argument.

Thank you for admitting it is YOU who is putting things in Catholic terms, but again, you go WAY too far to imply that just because they hosted church meetings in their home that they were “vicars of the heavenly head (Christ).”

“Jesus Christ Himself selected His vicar in St. Peter - ALONE - in John 21:15-17.”

That would come as news to the author of John, who was the “vicar” of the churches in Asia Minor.

Hmmm, where was St. John given this title?  Even if that were so, which it is not, the “Vicar of the Churches in Asia Minor” cannot be equivocated to the “Vicar of Christ.”

“No, Jesus was singling him out to be the lead Shepherd to "feed (His) sheep" after He ascended into Heaven.”

i) Jesus doesn’t single out Peter as the “lead Shepherd.”

Do the math.  St. Peter is there with the rest of the Apostles and Jesus singles out St. Peter and in a threefold command the Good Shepherd has told St. Peter to feed His sheep.  In short, He was passing on the reigns.

ii) Anyway, Peter isn't the pope or vice versa.

You’re begging the question!  The title of “pope” or “papa” comes later, so let’s not try to argue that anachronism.  The fact is though that title is given later, it is given to the one who occupies the same office as St. Peter.  That being said, initially “papa” or “pope” is used of other bishops too.  In LATER use it becomes more exclusive to represent the Bishop of Rome.

“So, Mr. Hays admits to building this straw man - and then he proceeds to knock it down. Does he really think he's convincing anyone here (besides the choir)?”

It’s not a straw man to engage the opposing view on its own grounds for the sake of argument.

Let us look at your words to which I was responding:
That usage is admittedly anachronistic, and I myself don’t subscribe to the papacy. Since, however, Catholic apologists never hesitate to retroject later unscriptural developments back into the 1C, I’m simply responding to them on their own grouds. If they reisist the application of papal terminology to Aquila and Priscilla, then they need to ditch the anachronism of a monarchical episcopate in 1C Rome.
Again, the title of “pope” comes later - but it is applied to the office of the Bishop of Rome, eventually in exclusivity to that office.  That doesn’t make earlier holders of that office less of a pope just because the title was not used until later.  Your straw man is actually a non sequitur since our refusal to apply the title of the pope to Sts. Aquila and Priscilla does not mean we cannot apply it to St. Peter and those who followed him in that office.  Sts. Aquila and Priscilla never held the office of bishop, as St. Peter did.

“I realize the Protestant need to throw the ‘if’ in there... they wish to deny that St. Peter ever even went to Rome in their fear of the papacy.”

Peter may well have visited Rome–among other places. If he was ever there, his presence there is no more or less significant than any other apostle who paid a visit to Rome.

So you claim in your acquiescence.

“I hope the readers have noticed the bait and switch here which has reduced his argumentation to ad hominem (invalidity). What difference to the substance of what these Catholics say is affected by whether or not they are laity and/or converts? He seems to think that if one is a layperson or a convert that they have a lesser voice in apologetics. What it boils down to is that he is trying to minimize what is levied against him through character attacks (ad hominem).”

i) Since the Roman church is hierarchical, and Windsor isn’t a member of the hierarchy, then by definition his lay status makes him a lesser voice.

Moreover, it’s not as if the hierarchy put him on some papal commission. He has no institutional standing in a hierarchical institution.

We’re not “voting” here, we’re debating.  I make no claims of hierarchical ascendancy, but again the objective reader will note - Mr. Hays is attacking ME now and not what I’ve SAID.  He’s moved from any chance of validity into wholly invalid argumentation.  My “rank” - or lack thereof - does not affect the TRUTH (or lack thereof) in what I’ve SAID.  Mr. Hays would do well to study up on what constitutes a valid argument and avoid the pitfalls of the common fallacies in rhetoric.

“The fact that Fr. Brown held liberal, modernistic and revisionist ideas is not unknown to the Catholic faithful, even this short bio (http://www.christianbook.com/html/authors/3001.html) by a non-Catholic source admits he has his critics - especially in Catholic circles. I am also wholly unaware of his ascension to the bishoprick! When did this happen?”

Notice Windsor’s implicit admission that the pope is a counterfeit shepherd. Even though it’s the duty of a shepherd to protect the flock from wolves, two successive popes allowed the wolfish Fr. Brown to infiltrate the fold, and prey upon the sheep, by appointing him to the Pontifical Biblical Commission.
The objective reader who was paying attention (and hasn’t given up by this point) will note that Mr. Hays explicitly stated that Fr. Brown was both “Priest and Bishop” - which I challenged him to show us when and where Fr. Brown was elevated to the office of the bishoprick.  He is mute on that question.

Second, my conceding that the “smoke of Satan has entered the Church” in AGREEMENT with Pope Paul VI does not mean I admitted to the pope (or two of them) being “counterfeit shepherds.”  Again, Mr. Hays uses the invalid non sequitur here.  Pope Paul VI recognizing that the “smoke of Satan has entered the Church” does not make him a fake or counterfeit!  The fact that he may have been duped into allowing Fr. Brown on the Pontifical Biblical Commission does not make him any more (or less) duped than Adam and Eve were when they listened to the serpent in the Garden of Eden.  By Mr. Hays logic, God Himself is a counterfeit for allowing that serpent to be in the Garden of Eden!  

What we see presented here by Mr. Hays is a series of invalid arguments.  Perhaps he thinks if he posts enough of them his challenger will be overwhelmed and quit on the debate.  I believe I have shown that is not the case with me.  I am not intimidated by long-winded posts.  All Mr. Hays has done is allow me to expose the common fallacies he’s engaged upon, repeatedly, and the objective reader, I am confident, will see his argumentation for what it is.  One thing he DOES accomplish in such long responses is delaying me from an immediate response to the entire posting.  I have posted a few preliminary responses to the combox (comment box) of the original posting I’m responding to now - but you just can’t do justice to such a long post in a combox.  Such delays may prevent some readers from actually seeing or tying together my response to his original, but that’s the nature of this beast.  I pray that God’s Will be done and that those whom He desires to read both sides of this debate will actually do so.



  1. Mr Hays ignorance is painful. His comments on DNA shows his lack of scientific knowlegde. We could do a test on St Peter's bones, but unles we knew who his forefathers were and we had samples of their DNA, all we could get from the bones is yes this was a Jewish man. Or if he and his brother had kids, we could identify the descendants of that man from the boney DNA. However, we know these are Peter's bones because we have testimony from the early church fathers that Peter was buried on Vatican hill, right where St Peter's is at this day.

  2. CathApol said... I am not intimidated by long-winded posts. All Mr. Hays has done is allow me to expose the common fallacies he’s engaged upon, repeatedly, and the objective reader, I am confident, will see his argumentation for what it is.

    Hello CathApol ,you are correct.We sure do watch and see his argumantation for what it obviously is. We dealt with many of his ad hominem on some blog threads as well too.And when he finally saw what a losing battle he and others there fought.To save face, Steve Hays or somebody else on the triablogue blog, it seems obviously must have decided to refuse to repost anymore of our comments, even though we made sure to have requested they please kindly do so.

    And after having done some more research we found we are not the first to be banned from commenting.

    juscot said... Mr Hays ignorance is painful

    Hello juscot.Thats exactly what our own group finally all agreed.Steve Hays and many of his Calvinist blog following friends on triablogue are very busy exposing their own ignorant manner.

    We have kept copies of all our comments.Including copies of whole threads on triablogue which show sign of some of our comments that we posted, that later were seen to have suddenly disappeared.


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