Answering Four Common Protestant Objections to the Papacy

Andre, a Protestant on his way into the Catholic Church, recently had something of an exit interview with his former pastor. His pastor made some last-ditch attempts to scuttle Andre’s belief in the papacy. I’ll present each of the pastor’s arguments against the papacy (as described by Andre), followed by a brief response:

(1) I cited Matthew 16:18, but the pastor responded that Christ also says to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.” On that note, he asked me why I should trust Peter as the Pope?

You might turn the question around: if you can’t trust Peter as pope, why trust him as an Apostle?  The answer should be the same: we trust Peter when he’s guided by the Holy Spirit.

It’s a basic prerequisite that for the pope to be infallible, he has to be speaking both as head of the earthly Church, and on behalf of the Church.  Vatican I defined papal infallibility as applying when the Roman pontiff  “speaks ex cathedra, that is, when he, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, decides that a doctrine concerning faith or morals is to be held by the entire Church he possesses.”  This is what Catholics believe about the pope.  Does Matthew 16 disprove this definition?

To find out, look at both examples.  In the first, Jesus asks the Twelve, “Who do you say I am?” (Mt. 16:15).  Peter answers on behalf of them all, defining the core Christological dogma: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt. 16:16).  Would this meet the criteria to be infallible, according to Vatican I?  Yes.  And it is. Jesus tells Peter that this answer “was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in Heaven” (Mt. 16:17).

Annibale Carracci , Domine quo vadis? (1602)

In the second example, Jesus tells the Apostles that He’s going to have to suffer and die. “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to You!’” (Mt. 16:22).  Would this meet the criteria to be infallible, according to Vatican I? No.  First, it’s private, not on behalf of the Church; and second, there’s no dogmatic definition involved.  So we shouldn’t expect Peter to be infallible here.  And he’s not.  Jesus says in response, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Mt. 16:23).

To some Protestant ears, it sounds legalistic to say that Peter is protected by the Holy Spirit in some capacities and not others. But this is something that all Christians believe.  When Peter declared Jesus was the Christ, he was not only infallible, but inspired (Mt. 16:16-17).  When he begged Jesus not to go to Jerusalem, he was speaking as a mere man (Mt. 16:22-23).  When he spoke on Pentecost, he was not only infallible, but inspired (Acts 2).  When he declared the Gentiles part of the people of God, he was not only infallible, but inspired (Acts 10-11).  When he ignored his own public teaching to eat with a Jewish-only group, he was acting as a mere man (Galatians 2).  When he wrote, in his capacity as a teacher of the faith, he was not only infallible, but inspired (1 Peter and 2 Peter).  So every Christian views some (but not all) of Peter’s actions as specially protected by God.  The only difference is that Catholics have a coherent belief as to which are which, and Protestants typically don’t.

(2) He also cited the council of Jerusalem and stated that James spoke with more authority than Peter at that council.

This example always struck me as weird. Yesterday, I said:

A good dad knows which decisions should be left up to his wife and kids: he doesn’t lord over his household like a micromanaging dictator. This is important, because I think that many Protestants expect the papacy to operate this way, since that’s the caricature sometimes presented. The papacy has never operated this way, and will never operate this way.

This strikes me as one of those times that Protestants argue if Peter wasn’t a megalomaniac dictator, he couldn’t be pope. By this test, has there ever been a pope?  After all, what we see in the Council of Jerusalem is totally normal behavior for the pope. It’s not as if Popes John XXIII or Paul VI dominated Vatican II.  And Pope Sylvester I didn’t even attend the First Council of Nicea, sending papal legates in his place. Does that mean these men weren’t really popes, either?

As it was, the Council of Jerusalem started out with much debate (Acts 15:6).  Then Peter spoke, and the dispute promptly ended (Acts 15:7-11).  That sounds like he spoke with some authority.  In fact, “the whole assembly became silent,” enabling Paul and Barnabas to speak next (Acts 15:12).  When St. James finally spoke at the very end, he agreed with what St. Peter said.  In fact, in support of his own views, James cited to two sources: Scripture (Acts 15:15-18), and St. Peter (Acts 15:14).  So when James spoke with authority, it was by appealing to Peter’s authority.  Is there any question that if the reverse had happened, Protestants would point to this to prove that Peter wasn’t really the pope?

(3) He also brought up instances where the Catholic church has declared more than one person pope at the same time.

After the 2000 election, there were credible arguments that either Al Gore or George W. Bush was the true president of the United States.  The election was incredibly close, passions were high, and there were serious procedural questions about how a recount should be done, and the deadlines for reporting the results.  Ultimately, this was resolved by the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, a 5-4 decision that ended the recount, resulting in an electoral victory for George W. Bush in a razor-thin margin.  He was ultimately declared president with 271 electoral votes, one above the bare minimum (Gore received 266).

Did the contentious election cause many people to lose faith in Bush as president?  Almost certainly.  As the t-shirt design depicted at right shows, the controversy over the election didn’t go away quickly.

But here’s something important to remember: one side claimed Al Gore was the validly-elected President of the United States.  The other side claimed George W. Bush was the validly-elected President of the United States.  Both sides, in making these claims, were admitting that the United States was headed by a presidency.  No reasonable person would point to Bush v. Gore and conclude, “therefore, the United States has no president.”  The question wasn’t if there was a U.S. president, but who that U.S. president was.

With that in mind, consider the Papal Schism (depicted above).  Long story short:

  • The College of Cardinals elects Urban VI in 1378.
  • Certain French Cardinals thought Urban VI was a bad choice, and conducted a separate election, declaring Clement VII as the true pope.  
  • Antipope Clement VII  then set up a counter-papacy in Avignon, France. Europe then divides into two factions: Roman and Avignonian. 
  • This is basically what happened at the “Council” of Pisa.
    Pope Martin V
  • In response, a group of 24 Cardinals (14 Romans and 10 Avignonian) met in Pisa, and tried to elect a third man as pope, Antipope Alexander V.  The “Council” of Pisa.   As you might expect, instead of solving the problem, this made it worse.  Now, instead of Rome and Avignon claiming the papacy, Pisa did, too.
  • Eventually, the Council of Constance met. The crisis had gotten so bad that two of the papal claimants, Gregory (the legitimate pope) and Antipope John XXIII (of Pisa) voluntarily resigned.  The Council of Constance then deposed Antipope Benedict XIII of Avignon, who refused to resign.  With a clean slate, the Council then conducted a proper election, and the Church was reunited under Pope Martin V, who everyone agreed was the legitimate pope.
The whole crisis lasted about forty painful years, as you can see from the Wikipedia timeline below.  The true papacy is the Roman line, depicted in blue:

The Three Factions of the Papal Schism

There’s no question that historically, this shook the faith of Catholics to the core: it’s hard to follow the pope if you can’t figure out who the pope is.  And there’s a good argument that if this hadn’t have happened, Luther’s rebellion against the pope would have been unthinkable.

But what this doesn’t do is disprove the papacy, any more than Bush v. Gore disproved the U.S. presidency.   After all, each man on the timeline above acknowledged the office of pope, and each claimed to be the valid pope.   The question wasn’t if there was a pope, but who that pope was.

(4) He was also concerned that the Pope could overturn Scripture at any time.

This is a common concern Protestants have.  To this, I say, have a little faith!  Trust that God won’t establish a Church, then put at the head of that Church someone who will lead His obedient flock into Hell.  After all, in Scripture, we hear (Hebrews 13:17-18):

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.  Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.

Will God ever provide a situation where obedience to Scripture requires someone to sin?  No!  So this anxiety is nothing we need to worry about.  But to address the specific concern, about overturning Scripture, it’s outside the pope’s authority. From Dei Verbum, paragraph 10:

Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort. (7)

But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, (8) has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, (9) whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.
That tells us two things.  First, that the Magisterium (including the papacy) isn’t above the Gospel, but serves it.  But second, it includes an important rebuttal. Namely, that the Magisterium is necessary for the Gospel.   Rather than serving as some sort of obstacle to Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium are absolutely necessary.  To try and have Scripture without Tradition or the Magisterium quickly leaves you without a foundation for Scripture.

Luther Translating the Bible

We see this in the life of Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant Reformation, and the man who invented the doctrine of sola Scriptura.  Almost immediately upon rejecting the authority of the Church, Luther discovered that he had no coherent reason to trust the Bible that Catholic Church told him was the word of God.  So he went through and picked and chose what he’d believe in.  He declared that the Catholic Deuterocanon wasn’t Scripture, but also expressed doubts or outright rejection of numerous New Testament Books: James, Revelation, Hebrews, and Jude.  There’s a sad irony there.  Luther thought he’d somehow liberate Scripture from the Church, but in the end, came to doubt huge chunks of Scripture.

Historically, the risk to Scripture hasn’t been the papacy, but the absence of any Church authority.  It’s this rejection that resulted in Luther’s rejection of much of Scripture, and it’s what brings us liberal theologians and various heretical movements today.  So a love of Scripture should draw us towards the very Church that gave us the Scriptures.  And the Catholic Church really is that Church, both in the sense that Catholic Saints were the human authors of Scripture, and in the sense that the Catholic Church is the only way we know which Books are and are not Scripture.


  1. Awesome Job Joe!!!!

    It always amazes me that Protestants think the Pope is the ultimate “megalomaniac” dictator of the Catholic Church when really he’s more of a spiritual figure head with some power. The body of the Church is so much more than that. And you’ve totally set that record straight on that account.

    There are many arguments made by Protestants without checking the facts, but this one seems to be one based in fear. That somehow “if the Pope says so” a whole lot of Catholics are going to do something horrendous to the rest of our brothers and sisters in Christ. While the Pope has some power, Protestants don’t realize just how much power Bishops hold. And some Bishops, sorry to say, stray way off course. That’s what I worry about more. Although I know the Bishops’ reach is on a smaller scale.

  2. Thefederalist,

    Wikipedia disagrees, saying:

    ‘Simon says’ originated from Latin, the Latin version was “Cicero dicit fac hoc”,[1] meaning “Cicero says do this” (Cicero was a powerful Roman politician).

    The tradition behind the use of ‘Simon’ as the controller of the game may trace back to the year 1264, when Simon de Montfort captured King Henry III at the English town of Lewes. For the next year, any order Henry III gave could have been countermanded by de Montfort until Henry’s son Prince Edward took Simon’s castle by force.

    God bless,


  3. First, I am a Christian. My views are deeply influenced by Luther, and I am part of the Lutheran tradition. It bothers me how Luther and Lutheranism is described in this blog. I recognize that you are Catholic and have Luther issues; you are allowed to have Luther issues since he wanted to reform the church.

    “It’s this rejection that resulted in Luther’s rejection of much of Scripture, and it’s what brings us liberal theologians and various heretical movements today.” How do you reject “much” of scripture and also uphold Sola Scriptura? Yes, Luther did remove the Apocrypha. Luther kept the NT the way it was, even though he had questions. Luther wanted to have a clear discussion and debate about faith, the Bible, and the practices of the church in his day. The Pope was not keen on this idea. Luther was willing to be wrong if he could be shown how he was wrong with the Bible and clear reason. Luther was a faithful to the Christ first and the Pope second. If the Pope had been more faithful to the gospel, then the Reformation would have never happened (but we sadly cannot play “what if” with history). It is amazing to think about the Pope’s of the last century and how faithful they were to the gospel.

    Yes, Protestants have concerns and questions about the Papacy. Our issues stem from some really horrible Popes in the Middle Ages and the Reformation. I hope that any faithful and honest Catholic would understand a Protestant’s issues given the history of the church. I do not have as much issue with the current Pope or recent Popes. Would you really want Pope Leo X today?

  4. Rev. Hans,

    First off, thanks for your comment, as always. You challenged the idea that Luther rejected much of Scripture, saying: “How do you reject ‘much’ of scripture and also uphold Sola Scriptura?” And that’s my point. On the basis of Sola Scriptura, you can’t say which Books are and are not in the Bible. So you can reject as much of Scripture as you want.

    Modern Protestants don’t acknowledge this, but Luther did. He cut out the seven Deuterocanonical Books, as well as large portions of Daniel and Esther. As for the New Testament, he said of Hebrews: “we cannot put it on the same level with the apostolic epistles.” And of James: “I do not regard it as the writing of an apostle.” And of Jude: “no one can deny that it is an extract or copy of St. Peter’s second epistle,” and “it is an epistle that need not be counted among the chief books which are supposed to lay the foundations of faith.” And of Revelation: “I miss more than one thing in this book, and it makes me consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic.”

    He relegated these Books to the back of his famous Bible, placing a warning page before them that said: “Up to this point we have had to do with the true and certain chief books of the New Testament. The four which follow have from ancient times had a different reputation.” If denying the canonicity or inspiration of eleven Books of the Bible (and shaving off large chunks of two more) doesn’t count as rejecting “much” of Scripture, how many would?

    This also answers your second point, that “Luther was willing to be wrong if he could be shown how he was wrong with the Bible and clear reason.” But Luther chose which Books he considered part of the Bible based on his own views. For example, he also said of the Book of James that it “is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works.”

    This is a tacit admission by Martin Luther that the Book of James contradicted his understanding of justification. And his solution wasn’t to submit to the Bible, as he so eloquently claimed he would at the Diet of Worms. Instead, he simply cut James out of the canon of Scripture. We see the same thing with Second Maccabees and Purgatory. My point is that Luther didn’t base his doctrines off of Scripture alone. He based his canon of Scripture off of his doctrinal beliefs. We wouldn’t accept this if it was Joseph Smith, so why accept it if it’s Martin Luther?


  5. (continued)

    Regarding Luther vis-à-vis the pope, one of those two men was placed at the head of the Church. The other was an Augustinian monk, who voluntarily swore a vow of obedience to his religious order. It’s fine that Luther “wanted to have a clear discussion and debate about faith, the Bible, and the practices of the church in his day.” But he wasn’t in charge, and certain conversations in Christianity are rightly considered closed. The pope isn’t required to debate any issue Luther wants to debate, whenever Luther wants to debate it.

    After all, the whole point of Councils and Creeds and the rest is to definitively put an end (once and for all) to certain arguments. This is why we’re not still debating monophysitism. Protestantism’s refusal to accept any discussion as closed has been a disaster: she’s stuck in debate over Calvinism v. Arminianism, women’s ordination, polity, universal salvation, homosexuality, and the like, and there’s no way to ever solve these disputes.

    Don’t get me wrong: Luther had plenty of good points, which the Council of Trent implicitly recognized, and as the pope acknowledged recently. The Church just handled this problems at Her a more deliberate pace. Luther was impulsive, and Christianity is still paying for it five hundred years later, well after the cessation of the sale of indulgences.

    So I don’t think I’m motivated by any psychological “Luther issues.” I just view Luther’s numerous contributions to Christianity as coupled with the damage caused by his pride and impatience. If you can show me where I’ve treated Luther unfairly in the above post (or in this comment), I’ll gladly retract and edit. Here I stand. I can do no other.

    God bless,


  6. Andre,

    Feel free to share this with your (former) pastor if you want. I’d love to start a dialogue.


    I’ll try and do a post on both of those subjects in the near future. If you’re interested, there’s an Eastern Orthodoxy tag you can click at the bottom of the screen.

    In Christ,


  7. Joe,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. If Leo X was as thorough as you, then the Reformation would not have happened (another “what if” of history). Thank you for the Luther reference at the end with “Here I stand.” Very Nice!

    Should there be topics that are no longer discussed? I think that every person and every generation needs to discuss these topics for themselves. Do we still follow church doctrine? Yes. You are right that Luther broke from his vow of obedience. It is rather clear that the Pope broke from the clear teachings of the gospel during the time of the Reformation. God is ultimately going to judge us (not very Lutheran today unfortunately) and so we need to live according to how we understand the Gospel. Luther had to speak up because he saw an abuse. Did that speaking up violate his vow of obedience? Yes, it did. So who do you follow: Christ as he is presented in the gospels and church tradition or Leo x? I am thankful that the RC has had Popes that follow Christ so that this issue is not real today.

    “Instead, he simply cut James out of the canon of Scripture.” Luther did not cut out James from the Bible. All of your quotes about Luther are true, but it needs to be noted that Luther left those NT books in the Bible. He did get rid of the Apocrypha. Ironically, “Liberal Protestantism” has actually brought it back. Do you really read these parts of the Bible for spiritual growth? Then do you read 1 Esdras, Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, or 3 Maccabees? Those are books in the Apocrypha of the Greek and Slovanic Churches but not in the RC. Where do you draw the line? Protestantism has a standard for not using these books on a regular basis, which is that the languages used were of later date than the rest of OT and the theology did not clearly fit the rest of Scripture (purgatory). Another reason is the lack of quotations from these books in the NT. I say lack because there is a reference in the Epistles if my memory serves me well. Lutherans do believe in Purgatory because at some point we need to sober up before going to God. (horrible Lutheran Joke, I know)

    Your brother in Christ,

  8. Rev. Hans,

    Good question regarding the canon. As a Catholic, I follow the canon laid down at the Third Council of Carthage, and confirmed by Pope Damasus I, and enshrined in the Latin Vulgate. It’s the same canon explicitly laid out by St. Augustine in City of God.

    That canon includes the longer versions of Daniel and Esther, as well as Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and 1 and 2 Maccabees, the Books collectively known as the Deuterocanon. These Books are on the same level as any other Book of the Old Testament. We don’t consider them Apocryphal, or secondary in authority. But this canon never included 1 Esdras, Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, or 3 Maccabees, although sometimes non-canonical books were preserved for historical purposes in the back of the Vulgate, lest they be lost forever.

    You asked of the Deuterocanon, “Do you really read these parts of the Bible for spiritual growth?” Yes, absolutely. In fact, I suggest you read Wisdom 2:12-22 (the NAB has a good translation), and compare it with Matthew’s account of the Passion (particularly Mt. 27:41-43). I don’t see how to avoid conceding that Wisdom is inspired, given how specifically it prophesies Christ.

    Or look at Tobit 12:15, in which Raphael says that there are seven angels around the Throne of God, a fact affirmed centuries later by Revelation 8:2-5. How’d Tobit know that, if not through prophesy? That’s a weird thing to simply guess.

    And compare how similarly Raphael and Gabriel speak of themselves (Tobit 12:15 with Luke 1:19): “I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord” and “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God.” In both cases, they define themselves in relation to where they stand before the Glory of the Lord.

    Given that Wisdom and Tobit were written long before Matthew, Luke, and Revelation, it’s not as if the Deuterocanon stole these things from the New Testament. Rather, these are the very sort of prophetic statements we should expect in Scripture.

    In contrast, you correctly note that the Deuterocanon was written later, and much of it appears to have been written first in Greek. As Christians, we accept a whole lot of later-written Books originally composed in Greek: the New Testament. As for purgatory, this gets back to my original point: are you going to base our beliefs off of the Bible? Or base the Bible off of your beliefs?

    As Catholics, we see absolutely nothing anywhere else in Scripture conflicting with Purgatory, and other places supporting the doctrine (see, e.g., 1 Cor. 3:11-15, Luke 12:58-59, Matthew 21:31, etc.). And the early Church believed in after-death purgation, even if there were differences in what that looked like.

    When I said Luther cut James out of the Bible, I should have been more careful. He denied the Apostolic authorship and inspiration of James. In other words, he believed that James 1:1 was false, and that much of the theology presented was not only uninspired, but actually false, and contrary to the true Scriptures.

    So yes, it’s true that he technically left the Book in his Bible, although he moved it to the back and warned people against believing in it. But he rejected it as a source of doctrine or as something inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    Loved the Lutheran joke. Glad we’re not the only group of Christians with relentless self-effacing humor.

    In Christ,


  9. Joe,

    Thank you for your comments, especially your explanation of Tobit and Wisdom. It has been a long time since I have read these books. I will still call them the Apocrypha because it means “the revealing” or “hidden things (revealed)” and these books are clearly in the style of Apocryphal writing. You say that they are “Dueterocanon” but claim that they are not second in authority. That sounds like a contradiction. Duetero means “second”, so these are literally “second canon.” It would make more sense to describe them as Apocryphal then Duterocanon if you believe that they are on the same footing as the rest of the OT.

    You are right about the NT being written in Greek, but Protestants want the OT books to be written in Hebrew (mostly). I personally think that St. Jerome messed up a lot with his translation, which came to eventually be the basis of the King James Version. He translated the Apocrypha and gave little prefaces before these books about their distinct status. These prefaces were soon dropped and people understood them to be just part of the canon. (that info came from the NOAB’s introduction to the Apocryphal Books) It is interesting that Jews agree with Protestants about the books of the OT, even if we messed up the order slightly. I rather stick with the Jews and the Dead Sea Scrolls than St. Jerome, but I have some St. Jerome issues. Peace!

    Your brother in Christ,

  10. Rev. Hans,

    Thanks for following up. I wanted to clarify a couple of points, though. First, Deuterocanon does mean “second canon,” but it’s meant chronologically. Certain Books were immediately recognized as canonical, others took deliberation and debate within the Church. There’s a New Testament Deuterocanon, too — those New Testament Books we talked about with Luther above.

    So the term wasn’t originally meant to signal a secondary authority. Using the term “Apocrypha” is unhelpful, since that’s the term used for everything from 3 Maccabees to Gnostic literature. If we really wanted to get technical, the best term would probably be Antilegomena (“spoken against”), but that’s clunky and pretentious-sounding.

    And you’re right about Jerome, but we should remember that Jerome doesn’t set the canon. He’s not even a bishop: he’s a monk, a priest, and an excellent translator. I know he had qualms about the inclusion of the Deuterocanon, but he ultimately deferred to “the judgment of the churches.”

    And while you’re right about most modern Jews, the Jews at the time of Christ had multiple canons. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls contain Sirach (cave 2) and Tobit (cave 4), which we would consider canonical, and you would not. In addition, other texts, like Enoch (cave 6) and Jubilees (cave 11) are recognized by both Protestants and Catholics as spurious.

    I should mention also that at least one ancient Jewish community has continued to consider part of the Deuterocanon as Scripture for millenia: the Ethiopian Jewish community (Beta Israel). Although they’re mostly in Israel now, they continue to use a separate canon, including Tobit, Sirach, and Judith as canonical.

    Of course, they also have other Books you and I would both reject, but that’s part of my point. The myth of a monolithic historic Jewish canon is just that: a myth. On the sidebar, there’s a set of posts entitled “Helpful Posts.” Many of these deal with the canon question at greater length.

    In Christ,


  11. Joe,

    Good points! Antilegomena sounds great because it is pretentious. We should not use it too much or scholars would require us to change the title of these books. We should create the Apocalypse Canon, which would include Dan, the Apocrypha, and the Book of Revelation. This is me sliding into Protestantism’s attempt to organize the Bible based upon human logic. I will admit that using the “Jewish” texts is hard because there was fluidity in the standards at the time of Jesus. I was not aware that the Dead Sea Scrolls included any of the Apocrypha. This may be the evidence we (Lutherans) need to change our mind about it all.

    By the way, you never answered my question about the Medieval Popes. Would you really want Leo X to be the next Pope? Lutherans have concern with the Papacy, which was the point of your blog entry, because of such popes. You clearly know your history well. Would you like Leo X as the next Pope? I know that I would not. Peace!

    Your reforming brother in Christ,

  12. I don’t like Jimmy Carter, but that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to having a President.

    There are good popes and bad popes. Some are saints and all are sinners.

    But they have never made a mistake when instructing the faithful ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals.

  13. “Would you really want Leo X to be the next Pope?”

    The question implies an assumption that the pope is merely a man in all respects. But that is not what Catholics believe. We believe he is “protected” from teaching error when he determines to publicly teach the Church. That is a supernatural protection.
    Personally I would not want Leo X as the next pope, but NOT because he might teach error, (that could never happen and HAS never happened) I would want someone like SAINT Pius X because he would be a better man and a better leader, and perhaps bring more people to Christ. Just remenber, a pope could murder and pillage and do all sorts of evil yet still be protected from teaching error. Think of the prophecy of Caiphas.

  14. Where does this concept of infallible teaching come from? I can see this teaching coming from Mark 13:11, where Jesus instructs the disciples (including Peter) not to worry when pressed for an answer at a trial because the words will come from the Holy Spirit. This is where my Lutheranism will really show because I understand that passage to include all Christians. I trust that Holy Spirit will provide, which is a great assurance because I do not trust my sinful self. Similarly, I view any Pope as a sinful person because he is still human. I would hope that his teaching would be without error, but I know that we can make mistakes. Peter made many mistakes in the gospels. Peter is a bad example of a Pope because he was also married and Jesus called him Satan after a famous mistake. (See, Luther was right for calling the Pope Satan!)

    Does this understanding also apply to excommunications?

  15. When urim and thummim are used in the old testament when the high priest speaks from the seat of Moses, the result is infallible teaching in faith and morals.

    Christ established a corollary when he set up Peter to have the keys to the kingdom.

    You can’t even prove the Trinity from Scripture alone with the older texts (Alexandrian codex, etc.)

  16. Rev. Hans,

    I’m already one comment behind, so let me just say that it’s not really an issue of whether or not I’d happen to want Leo X as pope. The pope is there because God wants him there. After all, would you really want Judas as an Apostle? Obviously not. But Christ did.

    I’ve met Christians who don’t care for Paul’s writings, finding him too harsh. But you can’t accept or reject Apostolic Christianity on the basis of how well you happen to like the Apostles. The same thing applies with the papacy.

    That said, I do think Leo X gets a bad rap, so I wrote a post defending him. God bless,


  17. I do not think the real question, if Peter really was the first Pope or if we can proof-text the catholic understanding of the Papacy. The real question is: How can I trust the Popes given what they have done in history? My question in return would be: How can you trust the Protestant theologians and ministers, given what they have done in recent history? Because basically we have to depend on our church. For most of us it is not possible to obtain a degree in Ancient Greek, church history, philosophy and theology. Therefore we must rely on our church leaders. Let’s let the Reformation and the crimes committed during this time aside. Let’s look only into the last century in my country.
    Rev. Hans asked, “Would you really want Leo X to be the next Pope?” So my question: “Would you really want Ludwig Müller to be the next Presiding Bishop of your Luthern Chruch?”

  18. I do not think the real question, if Peter really was the first Pope or if we can proof-text the catholic understanding of the Papacy. The real question is: How can I trust the Popes given what they have done in history? My question in return would be: How can you trust the Protestant theologians and ministers, given what they have done in recent history? Because basically we have to depend on our church. For most of us it is not possible to obtain a degree in Ancient Greek, church history, philosophy and theology. Therefore we must rely on our church leaders. Let’s let the Reformation and the crimes committed during this time aside. Let’s look only into the last century in my country.
    Rev. Hans asked, “Would you really want Leo X to be the next Pope?” So my question: “Would you really want Ludwig Müller to be the next Presiding Bishop of your Luthern Chruch?”

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