Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Responding to Bugay - Built on Sinking Sand (1)

Built on Sinking Sand: The “Scriptural” Foundation for the Papacy

Scott Windsor here says “that (James) White and (William) Webster try to make [the case] that the entire doctrine of the papacy hinges on and/or was created due to this forged document. This could not be further from the truth.”

First, this is not at all what they said. Here is what they said:
In the middle of the ninth century, a radical change began in the Western Church, which dramatically altered the Constitution of the Church, and laid the ground work for the full development of the papacy. The papacy could never have emerged [as a political force in the Middle Ages] without a fundamental restructuring of the Constitution of the Church and of men’s perceptions of the history of that Constitution.
And of course, this “radical change” was that Rome began “foisting” the notion that it not only had spiritual “primacy” (always in question), but that it now also had temporal primacy -- that it could exercise sovereign authority over kings.

The real point that William Webster is making is that Rome has no problem in using lies, forgeries, whatever misinformation it can find to press into service the notion that the pope is in charge of the whole world.

Of course, that use of lies, forgeries, and fictions, has been well-documented.

But the fact that Windsor can get away with mis-stating White and Webster's true intention (and apparently this is an argument he has made in the past) is evidence of the true impoverishment that he and his like-minded fellows unknowingly suffering under.

Well, perhaps unbeknown to Mr. Bugay, I was referring to White's claims he made in one of our IRC chatrooms.  The claim was that St. Thomas Aquinas formed his entire foundation for the papacy upon the False Decretals and/or the Donation of Constantine.  I documented this to be untrue, quoting from St. Thomas' Summa Theologica citing St. Cyril of Alexandria, which is not part of the False Decretals or the Donation of Constantine.  I know what White said and I stand by my reply.
On to what Scott says is the “scriptural evidence”:
Scriptural Foundation:
Matthew 16:18 – “And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Here we have Jesus bestowing upon Peter (whose name means “rock”) the foundation of the Church. In fact, in the Aramaic, which is what Jesus was likely speaking when speaking to His Apostles, and also the likely original language that the book of Matthew was written in, there is no distinction between the name “Peter” (Kepha) and the term for “rock” (kepha). Hence, if we stuck closer to the original language (instead of transliterating it to Greek and then English), that same verse would read something like: “… thou art Kepha, and upon this kepha will I build My Church.” This one verse alone is enough for one who has The Faith....
This is the thing that I was taught was taught for years. Jesus spoke Aramaic, and so supposedly [no one can know this for certain] Jesus would have said, “You are Kepha, and on this Kepha I will build my church.”

This is ecclesiastical vaporware.

Never mind that we don't have any record of what Jesus said, other than the Scriptural record. So to base an argument like this one: the divine institution of the papacy, on the possibility that Jesus said “Kepha/kepha,” and then to require the rest of professing Christendom to accept this claim, is (a) arrogant, and (b) false.

First off, I said Jesus was LIKELY speaking Aramaic, I did not emphatically state it as fact.

Secondly, I explained IF Jesus spoke in Aramaic (which would have been most likely when speaking as a Hebrew solely in the company of His Hebrew Apostles) that the wording WOULD have been "Kepha" and "kepha," without the (quite explainable) distinction we find in the Greek translation.

Thirdly, the FACT that in several places throughout the New Testament Simon's new name is left in the untranslated Aramaic as "Kephas" or "Cephas"- which is PROOF that the Aramaic name was indeed given him!  Ask yourself the question, why would these Greek texts insert an Aramaic name?  Why not continue to use "Petros?"  Here's a list of passages using "Cephas:"  John 1:42; 1Cor. 1:12; 1Cor. 3:22; 1Cor. 9:5; 1Cor. 15:5; Gal. 2:9; Gal. 2:11 and Gal. 2:14.

Jesus did not ever mince words. If he were setting up a foundational structure of popes/bishops, we might have expected a clear and articulate word from him about what exactly he was going to “build”. According to Hebrews 1, Jesus Himself is “the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being. He sustains all things by his powerful word.”

Where is the “powerful word” on the papacy? Where is the powerful word on this “leadership for all time,” against which the gates of hell will supposedly not prevail?

For those who have eyes to see... the "powerful word" has already been given to Mr. Bugay.  Jesus promises to build His Church upon this rock - and in the same context has just given Simon BarJonah the name "Rock."  St. John in Revelation tells us of the "Twelve Foundations" each with the name of "The Twelve Apostles" inscribed upon them (Rev. 21:14).  Clearly the "office" of the Apostles is that of the "bishoprick" (Acts 1:20).  For those who don't WANT to see - they won't. 

Instead, an Aramaic word-play -- I should say, a possible Aramaic word-play, that nobody really understands -- is foundational to Roman and papal authority.
Anyone with even a high-school education should be able to understand what has been said.  I am not saying that everyone will AGREE with what is said regarding Catholicism and papal authority and the scriptural roots thereof, but to say "nobody really understands" is quite insulting to all those who DO understand - even those who do not agree.  As you can see by just continuing a bit further in Mr. Bugay's response - he quotes from some Protestant antagonists who clearly do not agree - but DO understand the Catholic position!  Mr. Bugay defeats his own argument in presenting these quotes!
Both David Garland (“Reading Matthew: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the First Gospel”, New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1995) and Everett Ferguson (“The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today”, Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1996) point to the 1990 study by C.C. Caragounis, “Peter and the Rock” (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter)

Here’s Garland’s account:
C.C. Caragounis’s study of this passage carefully argues, however, that the rock refers to something other than Peter. The demonstrative pronoun “this” [in the phrase “on this rock”] logically should refer to something other than the speaker or the one spoken to and would be appropriate only if Jesus were speaking about Peter in the third person and not speaking to him. If Jesus were referring to Peter, it would have been clearer to have, “You are Rock, and upon you I will build my church” (Caragounis 89). Petros usually meant a free-standing “stone” that could be picked up; and petra usually was used to mean “rock,” “cliff,” or “bedrock.” But the two terms could reverse their meaning and no clear-cut distinction can be made between the two (Caragounis, 12, 15). If the two words were intended to refer to the same thing, petros could have been used in both places since it could be used to mean both stone and rock. The use of two different terms in the saying, petros and petra, implies that the two were to be distinguished from each other.
Actually, the use of "petros" v. "petra" is quite easily explained.  When translating into the Greek you would not refer to a man's name with the feminine noun of "petra;" likewise, you would not refer to a "rock" with the masculine noun of "petros."  The Greek is then grammatically correct with "petros" and "petra" both in the same context referring to "this rock."
The appeal to a hypothetical Aramaic saying is not decisive.
Note, this writer is not stating the Aramaic argument is not understandable, but that it is, in his opinion, not decisive.  Mr. Bugay's argument collapses in upon itself.
Caragounis contends that if an Aramaic word lay behind the Greek petra, it was probably tnra (compare the Syriac version). According to Caragounis, each of the two words in the word-play has a separate referent and a separate meaning (Caragounis, 90). The word-play (Petros, petra) has two foci, similarity and dissimilarity. ”Petros has given utterance to a petra, but the petra is not Petros.” The similarity is “in the sound and general sense.” The dissimilarity is in the meaning of specific reference. Petros, a man’s nickname, refers to a stone; petra refers to bedrock, the content of his confession (Caragounis, 109). The assertion “you are Peter” is a solemn affirmation formula to introduce what follows: “As surely as you are [called] Petros, on this rock of what you have just said I will build my church” (Caragounis, 108-113).
And again I remind the reader that "Cephas" is used SEVERAL times throughout the New Testament - which is the Aramaic (and equivalent to "Kepha").

Meanwhile, if Jesus ever did speak of the papacy, he did it in terms like this:
Luke 14: Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The papacy is an office that clearly, having been invited to the table as a leader of the church in the capital city of the empire, made a conscious and sustained effort to take a place of honor, which Jesus himself said “is not mine to give” (Matt 20:23). 
And, of course, these passages are not in reference to the papacy!  Luke 14, in reference to the Wedding Feast, is a parable about being welcomed into His kingdom in Heaven, not His Church on Earth.  Matthew 20:23 is in the context of a woman pleading for her two sons to sit at the right and left of Jesus in Heaven - again, this is not related to positions of authority or governance of the Church Militant (here on Earth), but rather she is interested in their place in the Church Triumphant (in Heaven).


  1. I will have to find my reference for you, but I am sure that I read that the use of the word "petros" was almost unheard of in Greek before this time. There are one or two instances in Greek poetry where the feminine noun did not fit the context so a masculine noun was used. However, it was not what one would call an every day Greek word. A feminine noun would only be given a masculine ending if it were appropriate to the context. They were not two seperate words (petra/petros) with two seperate meanings (bedrock v. large stone). It was/is one word (petra) with two endings (feminine and masculine). The supposition that petra and petros had two seperate meanings is a very recent (less than a century) innovation.

    Even Martin Luther himself belived in the authority of the office of St. Peter. Martin Luther just seemed to believe that he had inherited that authority.

    "Why are you searching heavenward in search of my keys? Do you not understand, Jesus said, 'I gave them to Peter. They are indeed the keys of heaven, but they are not found in heaven for I left them on earth. Peter's mouth is my mouth, his tongue is my key case, his keys are my keys. THEY ARE AN OFFICE. They are a power, a command given by God through Christ to all of Christendom for the retaining and remitting of the sins of men. (Martin Luther 1530 - after he left the Church!)(Source: Scott Hahn. A CLOSER LOOK AT CHRIST'S CHURCH: Answering Common Objections.)

  2. Nice quote from Luther there cathmom5, did Hahn list the primary source for that citation?



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