From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 1),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914
Christian and Catholic
THE ROMAN CLAIM
THE Roman claim is not that the bishop of Rome is entitled to the first position of honor and primacy in the Church by virtue of its canon law. This, all Catholics will admit, certainly was once his position. Is it asked why, if we admit this, should we not by joining Rome recognize it? The answer is twofold. First, because Rome has repudiated this as her true position, and anathematizes those who hold it, and we could not submit to her without acknowledging an authority essentially different. And secondly, according to canon law, whatever Rome may have had she, by excess of claim, has now forfeited. Excess of privilege is destructive of the privilege itself. "Privilegium omnino meretur amittere qui permissa sibi abutitur potestate." As Archdeacon Manning, in his "Unity of the Church," wrote, "The defeat of the pope's canonical privileges is with himself."
What, however Rome claims, is not a primacy either given by canon law, or in other way. The underlying fallacy of many Roman arguments is that they cite ancient authorities in favor of a primacy, which fall short of proving their claim to a supremacy. The two are widely apart. Rome does not assert that Peter, and so the bishop of Rome, was first among peers, because in their high office the popes have no peers. The pope is not first in the order of bishops, but as supreme pontiff holds an office distinct from the episcopate. Christ, it is claimed, established two essential orders, the episcopate, each member of which shares in its solidarity, and the apostolate, which now resides, in its plenitude of jurisdiction, solely in the pope.
He is the vicegerent of Jesus Christ. He is the supreme governor of the Church. It is written of him, "Whatever power Jesus Christ Himself could exercise were He visibly present as the head of the Church, the same does His vicar exercise. The Church is bound to yield to him the same obedience which she would give to Jesus Christ, were He to demand it in His own proper person. The pope is Christ in office, Christ in jurisdiction and power." This power extends over things temporal and spiritual. The pope stands on the apex of all authority. He holds in his hands the two swords. In the bull Unam sanctam, the pope claimed that "being set above kings and kingdoms by a divine pre-eminence of power, we dispose of them as we think fit." In virtue of this power the pope has absolved subjects from their allegiance, and claimed the right to take away their dominions from those princes who would not purge their dominions from heretics. In things spiritual we are told that "whatever of power, whatever of sacramental grace, whatever of heavenly dispensation is given by Christ the head of the Church, all this is committed to the pope's dispensation." So that "it is altogether necessary for salvation that every human creature should be subject to the Roman pontiff."
In relation to the Church we read, "he alone has the right to convoke councils and decide where they shall be held, and to preside over them in person, or by his representatives. Apart from him they cannot act, so that in the vacancy of the see, they can decree nothing. To him it belongs to appoint all the bishops, to transfer and depose them. He alone has the right to create, destroy, or change dioceses, and to make and unmake archbishops. It is his to intervene in all that concerns the general good of the Church, and to no one on earth is he accountable. He judges all, but is judged by none. As the supreme judge in all causes that belong to the Church, recourse may be had to his tribunal, and no appeal lies from him to an Ecumenical council. For the exercise of his authority he claims that an independent territory over which he is to rule as a temporal sovereign is needed. The proper exercise of the spiritual powers Christ gave him requires him to be an earthly king.
He is also the supreme doctor to whom the assistance of the Holy Spirit is pledged, that he may inviolably keep and expound the faith, and that his ex cathedra utterances in his official capacity in faith and morals may be infallible. Very naturally and well may the faithful as the result cry out, "We hail thee, O Pope of Rome, successor of Peter, as the one infallible witness and exponent of the truth on earth. We bow before thy voice, O Pius, as before the voice of Christ, the God of truth." In the words of an approved Roman divine, "Every pontiff is the perennial voice of God, placed in the world to teach and guide all nations. He is the heir and minister of all the powers of Christ, pontiff and eternal king." The pope's voice is a "voice of heaven, not of earth; the voice of God, not of man. . . . He is the only plank of salvation in the terrible shipwreck of perverted ideas and facts. . . . He is the only true saviour of moribund society." The above, taken from Roman sources, declare the pope's office, and how he is regarded.
He is thus the Church's supreme monarch, the centre of unity, the source of all jurisdiction, the independent possessor of its executive, judicial, legislative powers, and, as doctor and teacher of the Church, apart from council or general acceptance, infallible.
The claim is a tremendous and appalling one. Did our Lord bestow it? Is it set forth in Holy Scripture? Was it held by the Apostles? Was it so stated by the Fathers? Was it commonly recognized throughout Christendom that all the bishops were directly or indirectly appointed by the pope? Was it as a matter of fact accepted as a law, that all their jurisdiction came from him? Was communion with the pope the acknowledged test of being in the Church? Were none ever acknowledged as saints save those who lived and died in communion with the holy see? Did the bishop of Rome always summon the general councils and preside over them by himself in person or by his legates? Was the monarchical principle of the papal supremacy always acted on by all portions of Christendom? Did the Church in times of heresy at once appeal to the infallibility that rested in the papal pontiff, or did it assemble in council? Can the claim of privilege, which requires by canon law positive and clear evidence of its original gift, public exhibition and transmission, be proved? The weight of testimony in response to these questions will not, we believe, be found on the Roman side. Let us, however, examine the matter more in detail.
We are met at the outset by the prima facie fact that four out of the five patriarchates of Christendom, the fifth being Rome, or the claimant, deny and reject the claim, and have done so at the expense of a separation which has lasted nigh unto a thousand years. Looked at from the orthodox and venerable East, and from Jerusalem, which is the Mother Church of Christendom, the rise of the present monarchical papacy is seen to be the result, in a large part, of human, worldly causes, and the expression of that intellectual pride and independence which is the basis of Protestantism. The pope, the East declares, was the first Protestant. He rebelled against the Church universal, and because it would not submit to him became a schismatic, erecting an independent Church, claiming like the Donatists of old, to be the whole and only body of Christ, and deceiving the West, by the forged decretals, into an acceptance of his claims, and by worldly policy building up in the West his assumed monarchical powers. But sin always finds man out, and the sin the parent commits is often visited upon him by his children. If Jacob lied, his children in turn lied to him. The pope became the first Protestant and rebelled against Christendom, and then, following his example, his children rebelled against him. Entrusted with the care of Western Europe, he lost the major part of it. When at last the forgeries of the decretals were discovered, aroused by the corruption and worldli-ness of the papacy, for whose reform cardinals and councils had for years vainly pleaded, the north of Europe, awakened to the unevangelical, legal, mechanical system as then preached, revolted, and claiming the right of private judgment, broke with the papacy. The sin of the papacy came back upon itself. It lost half of Europe, and to-day, confined chiefly to the Latin races, it is seen to be a decaying force in Europe. But the East, though exposed to terrible sufferings and the inroads of Mahometanism, has survived its assaults, has accomplished a wonderful missionary work of evangelization among the Tartar tribes of Russia, and throughout the whole of the north of Asia. God has blest its labors. It maintains the Catholic position and faith, as it has come from the fathers and Apostles, while it rejects the papacy. To understand the papacy one must look at it from the viewpoint of the East and Jerusalem. The Apostolic Orthodox Catholic churches of the East have repudiated it as not part of the Catholic religion.
In the face of this testimony and that of antiquity some have undertaken to defend the Roman claim by the theory of development. But "no theory of development," says Bishop Seymour, "will explain the change from the original government instituted by Christ to the papacy as it now exists. Revolution, usurpation, substitution, come between, not development. The change is not such as comes from growth, as when a child becomes a man, but such as happens when Caesar strangles the republic and reigns supreme." Newman's theory of development, as Mozley and Archer Butler, as well as the Roman Catholic Bronson, showed, failed to satisfactorily account for the transformation.
That which is a sufficient and should be the decisive test of the validity of Roman claims is to be found in Holy Scripture. It is all our space allows us to consider. What does it disclose to us? Does it sustain the claim of the bishop of Rome to be the Church's absolute monarch,--the source of all jurisdiction, its supreme governor, infallible teacher, the vicar of Jesus Christ?
Now the prophetical, priestly, and kingly powers entrusted to the Apostles were always given to them by Christ in their corporate and collegiate capacity. Our Lord said to the Twelve, in respect of the teaching and judicial office, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven." He said to them assembled together in the upper chamber, "Offer this as a memorial of Me." He made them representatives of His kingly power when He gave them mission and jurisdiction and said, "Go ye, and make disciples of all the nations." He then gave to the united apostolate their world-wide jurisdiction. Like as He had given them as a body their prophetical and priestly commissions, so in the days of His royalty He gave to them mission and jurisdiction. Just as they could gather others into union with their prophetical and priestly offices, so they could apportion to others a share in their universal jurisdiction. Thus, we find the Apostles assigning to Paul jurisdiction over the Gentiles, and appointing Peter to jurisdiction over the Jews. This clearly shows that our Lord did not give a primacy and plenary jurisdiction to Peter, from whom it was to be given to the other Apostles, but the reverse. This settles the case of the Roman claim to be the one source of jurisdiction.
It is equally clear that S. Peter was not the supreme governor of the Church as it is claimed the pope is. It is claimed that the pope as supreme governor by a power derived from Peter appoints the bishops, transfers them of his own motion, can depose them at his will. In the New Testament we find Peter pointing out a vacancy in the apostolate, but not filling it. We do not find him consecrating a single bishop or ordaining a single priest. We find S. Paul, on the other hand, without any reference to S. Peter, doing these very things. S. Paul ordains elders and consecrates S. Timothy. Again, so far from appointing any one of the clergy to any special jurisdiction, we find that S. Peter was himself sent on missionary duty by the Apostles. "When the Apostles which were in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John." Peter did not send the other Apostles at any time to any place. They sent him. He was not the supreme governor.
The pope claims that he alone has the right to convoke councils and to preside over them and confirm their decrees. In the Acts we do not read that the first council was called by Peter, but "that the Apostles and elders came together to consider the matter." Nothing is said about Peter calling them. Very clearly he did not preside. He addressed the council, so did the others. He spoke without assuming an authority different from the other Apostles. Moreover, the decree ran not in his name, but in that of "the Apostles and elders and brethren." S. Peter had no exceptional, judicial, or legislative authority, but only possessed such authority in common with the Apostles.
What, we may ask, is the testimony respecting his being the centre of unity? It was to S. John, not to S. Peter, that the care of the Blessed Virgin, the special type of the Church, was committed. To S. John especially was the vision of the Church, in all its parts and workings, revealed. He is made keenly alive to the faults and failings in faith and practice of the seven representative churches. If God had established a centre of unity in Rome, it is impossible to suppose it should not have been found in the warnings and instructions given them. The seven churches (a type of the whole Church) would have been earnestly called on to hear what the Spirit, "through Peter," says to the churches. What we find is that the seven churches are placed on the same level, and there is no intimation of any church holding superiority over the others, or one being the centre of church unity.
Again, the Church is represented as having twelve gates and twelve foundations, no one of which is marked out as being superior to any other. The priesthood of the old and new dispensation is represented by the four and twenty elders, no one of which is above his fellows. "Come hither," said the angel, "I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb." The four-squared city, we may observe, was not, as is popularly conceived, in the form of a cube, but in that of a four-sided Eastern cross. It was after this fashion and order that Israel marched through the wilderness. The Holy City has consequently four arms, twelve sides, a gate on each side, and its twelve corner-stones. The head or chief corner-stone is not placed on one side, but is in the centre, and so is the bond of union to all the parts, and the head and corner-stone is Christ. Thus in this revelation of the Church, given by the Holy Spirit, there is no special place reserved for Peter or the Roman pontiff. As our Lord said, I am the vine, and ye, including Peter, "are the branches." Peter is thus only one branch among others, and so too the heavenly city has twelve foundations, and Peter is only one of them. This destroys the claim of his being different from the others as the centre of unity.
Again, not only in the book of The Revelation does the Holy Spirit, who is the guide of the Church into all truth, give us the structure of the Church, but He does so in the plain, literal, explicit words of S. Paul. The Church is the body of Christ. As a body it has a head. Like a human body it can have only one head. As a divine society or body it must have a divine head. This head can be no other than Christ. He is a divine and visible head. He is visible to the saints in glory. He is visible to the waiting Church, as the individual members of it pass before His judgment seat. He has visible and official representatives of Himself in the Church militant in the bishops of each diocese, each one of whom is made visible to all the members of it by the duties of his office. The pope, however, does not fulfil the requirement of being a visible representative of the unseen head. Locally confined by his office to one city he is visible only to those who dwell there or visit him. But as no obligation rests upon the faithful to visit Rome, such as compels each bishop to meet his clergy and people, the pope fails of being a visible head. The oft-repeated saying that "a visible Church must have a visible head," is just as true as that "a divine Church must have a divine head," but it does not prove that the pope is that head. On the contrary, as a divine church must have a divine head the head of the church is Christ.
The question is, Did our Lord set one Apostle over all the others and make his successors to be His vicegerent on earth?
It has been argued that as every family has a head and every nation a head, so the Church militant should have a head. It is true that every family and nation must have a head, but not that there should be one head over all families and nations. Every diocese, as the Church unit, must in like manner have a head, but it does not follow that -there must be a visible head over all dioceses. Christ did, however, designate one who should be His vicar, and did appoint Him in express terms. He would send the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, who should guide the Church into all truth, who should glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. To demand more, and that there shall be one visible chief representative of Christ's headship on earth, is to rebel against the ordering of Christ The pope, therefore, is not the representative head of Christ on earth.
Is the pope the infallible teacher and doctor in all matters of faith and morals?
However it may be explained on a matter of discipline which involved that of doctrine, S. Paul withstood S. Peter to the face and said "he was to be blamed." The ground is most explicitly stated, because he was not walking uprightly, according to the truth of the Gospel. The various defences made show how difficult it is felt to reconcile this condemnation with Peter's supposed office of supreme pastor and doctor. S. Peter, we may also observe, makes no claim to any personal authority as the teacher, the centre of authority, or source of all jurisdiction. He was, if it was part of the faith, bound to do this. He cannot be excused from not owning it under plea of humility no more than Christ could if He had refrained from declaring Himself to be the Son of God. His failing to do this showed that he did know himself possessed of any office different from the others. He was not the supreme doctor of the Church.
Again, S. Peter calls himself not the chief of the Apostles but a fellow-elder. In his epistles, unlike the other Apostles, he gives no disciplinary instructions. There is less explicit dogmatic teaching in them than in the epistles of S. John. He nowhere asserts himself to be the rock, or a foundation in any sense other than that of the other Apostles. He nowhere makes the claims Rome assigns to him. So far from union with him being a test of unity, to say "I am of Peter" is the sign of a schismatical spirit. Those were condemned who said, "I am of Cephas." It was a mark of schism to adhere thus specifically to Peter. It is a mark of schism now.
We thus find the prima facie witness borne against the papal claims by the four patriarchates corroborated by the Acts, Epistles, and Revelation, wherein we find the Church revealed in its complete and established form.
If we turn to the accounts, given in the gospels, of the Church in its preparatory and formative stage, we find Peter acting, as we have seen, with the prominence of a leader, but with no such office assigned him as the papal claim requires.
After Peter had fallen away, and by denying Christ had forfeited his apostleship, we find on his repentance our Lord restoring him to it. In reparation for his former boldness and threefold denial, S. Peter makes a most humble and threefold protestation of his love and loyalty. Our Lord asks him, referring to his former hot assertion made in his own strength, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" Peter will not repeat Christ's word and say, "I love Thee," but humbly says, "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest I have an affection for Thee." Changing his question, Christ finally asks him if he has an affection for Him. The broken heart, placing no longer reliance in itself, Peter replies, "Lord, Thou knowest." "By this triple confession of blessed Peter," says S. Cyril, "his sin consisting of a triple denial was done away, and by the words of our Lord, 'Feed my sheep,' a renewal of the apostleship bestowed upon him is understood to take place."
Thus upon this lowly acknowledgment Christ restores Peter to his Apostleship and to his special office in it. He is to tend the sheep. He as the foundation layer and holder of the keys and opener of the kingdom is to shepherd the sheep. He is to guide the sheep of the old dispensation into the new. He is also to feed them and the new-born lambs of the new kingdom.
There is nothing herein said of his having jurisdiction over any of the other shepherds of the flock. Indeed, it is explicitly denied that he has any authority over other Apostles. For when S. Peter, seeing S. John says, "What shall this man do?" Our Lord says, "What is that to thee?" In our rough English, "That is no affair or business of yours." If the other Apostles were to have any subordinate relation to Peter, this was the time to declare it. If Peter was to be the inheritor of the powers of the collective Apostolate, when the individual members of it had all passed away, this was the time to make it known. But no, any superiority is not merely omitted, it is explicitly declared that Peter has no jurisdiction over the other Apostles. John's person and work are here declared to be entirely independent of S. Peter. He had nothing to do with them. Nor was he to be an inheritor of the Apostolate when its members had passed from earth. He was to die, so Christ foretold, while S. John might tarry till Christ came. The meaning of our Lord is plain. The Apostolate of which S. John was a part was to continue, but the office that S. Peter held would pass away with his death. S. Peter could have no successor who could have jurisdiction over S. John, for Peter possessed none himself; and so too no jurisdiction over the episcopate resting on S. John's foundation or that of any other Apostle.
Take another text, alleged as giving infallibility to S. Peter. Our Lord said, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you (plural and so signifying the Apostles), that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." It is said by Roman writers that here "Jesus the Omnipotent prays absolutely that the faith of one shall be unfailing. Then Simon's faith being established, he is commanded to strengthen the brethren in the faith in which he had been solidly established. Jesus first renders Simon's faith stable, and Simon in turn is to give stability to the faith of his brethren." Over against this we will quote the conclusion of the learned authors of Janus. "No single writer to the end of the seventh century dreamt of such an interpretation; all without exception, and there are eighteen of them, explain it simply as a prayer of Christ that His Apostle might not wholly succumb and lose his faith entirely in his approaching trial." The true exegesis is, that Satan desired to have all, but Christ prays for Peter as being, as the result shows, in the most danger. We may assume that Christ's prayer was answered. Now Christ prayed, not that Peter should not deny the faith, for this he did. He denied the faith when he said of Him whom he had confessed to be the Son of God, "I know not the man!" But our Lord prayed that so denying in terms the faith, Peter's faith in Christ should not fail. And it did not. At Christ's look he was converted anew and more thoroughly than ever. Having passed through that terrible spiritual experience of fall and recovery, by divine grace, he could, out of that signal experience of love and mercy, confirm his brethren. Christ had forgiven him his greater sin, He would forgive them who in the hour of trial fell into a lesser one and deserted Him and fled. There is nothing in this text that supports the infallibility of Peter.
We have then only the text in S. Matthew to consider. Roman Catholics are so brought up to repeat this text that they take it. for granted, often without examination, that it favors the papal claim. Let us consider its meaning. "Jesus asked His disciples, saying, Whom say ye that I am?" Simon Peter, replying for them said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." "Jesus said, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven."
We have seen what in this text was meant by the power of the keys. What was promised to Peter separately and representatively was subsequently given to all collectively. The Apostolate was never to pass away, for Christ said, "Lo, I am with you alway unto the end of the world." It was also to remain as held in joint tenure by a body. Pressed by the difficulty that S. John, the last surviving Apostle, could not have been subject to Linus, who is said to have succeeded S. Peter at Rome, the modern Roman theory is, that, after S. John's death, the whole Apostolate survived in Peter. The theory, however ingenious, is certainly lacking in scriptural or historical proof. According to Scripture, the Apostolate was not to remain surviving in Peter alone, for the Church was to be forever resting, as S. John described it, on its twelve foundations. Seeing that the Apostolate must remain, and that there is no proof it does so in Peter alone and his supposed successors, it is clear that it remains in the episcopate. By it our Lord fulfils His promise to be with you, a collective body, until the world's end. S. Peter, as we have seen, had in it a special and glorious office, but a personal one. Of the Twelve he was the first. In regard to the Apostles, he was a leader, a spokesman, and by the experience of his own recovery, a strengthener of their faith. In regard to the Church He was a foundation layer, a guide to the sheep of the old covenant, a feeder of the sheep and of the lambs of the new one. But the keys, while they connote stewardship and so far oversight, do not denote superiority over other stewards, or aught that Rome now claims.
It remains, then, to inquire who is signified by the rock on which the Church is built As the text says, it is built upon this rock, it points to one particular subject. To what does "this" refer? Is it to Peter or to Christ, confessed by Peter, to be the Son of God?
Some of the reasons why it does not refer to Peter are these. If Peter was to be the rock our Lord would have made this clear by saying, "Thou art Peter, the rock on which I will build my Church;" or, "Thou art Peter and upon thee I will build it." The text is thus sometimes incorrectly quoted. It is so cited in sermons that it has become a common notion with the Roman laity that our Lord said He would build His Church on Peter, or that Peter was the rock. The first error, then, to be pointed out, is this misquotation or misleading use of the text. Our Lord did not say, "Thou art Peter, the rock on which I will build my Church," but said, upon this rock I will build my Church. The test of the correct meaning is, to whom does "this" refer? Is it to Peter or to Christ who was revealed to and confessed by S. Peter to be the son of God?
Now the word "this" in conversation may refer to the speaker, as when our Lord says, "Destroy this temple," meaning Himself, or it may refer to a third person. "But it is doubtful whether any passage can be cited in the New Testament where it is used to denote a person to whom the person using it speaks." Here our Lord is speaking to S. Peter and therefore "this rock" cannot refer to him.
Again, that it cannot refer to S. Peter is obvious from the fact that the two words, "Peter" and "rock," are of different genders. Peter, being a man's name is in the masculine gender, while rock is feminine. They cannot, therefore, refer to the same thing.
To this it has been replied that our Lord spoke in Syriac or Aramaic, in which languages this distinction would not be made. But other and as learned scholars have thought otherwise. They have declared that in the Syriac "Kepha," meaning rock, is feminine. This is agreed to by all. But the word used by our Lord to designate a man's name, either in Syriac or Greek, would undoubtedly be masculine. We find our Lord doing this when He first named the Apostle, saying in Syriac, "Thou shalt be called Cephas." He thus most probably, in the language He used, made the distinction in gender.
But be this as it may, Greek is the language in which God's later revelation is given to us, and we have no right to go outside of it If Romans can do so Protestants can do the same. If Romans may assume what were the words our Lord spoke in Syriac, of which we have no record, Protestants may assume His accompanying explanatory actions. If the one may assume that He used the same gender in both clauses of the sentence, the other may suppose that by laying His hand on Himself, when He said, "On this rock I will build my Church," He explained His meaning. We must leave all such suppositions and receive the text as preserved in God's Word. If our Lord did speak in Syriac or Aramaic, we must nevertheless accept S. Matthew's language as divinely inspired for the express purpose of marking a difference which the Syriac failed to accentuate or suggest. Romans therefore fail in their attempt to prove that "this rock" refers to Peter.
If the Roman interpretation is thus seen to be an impossible one because ungrammatical, it is also un-scriptural. It is an admitted rule in interpretation that we must construe Scripture by Scripture. Now in the Holy Scripture the word rock is used as a synonym of God. It occurs some thirty-five times in the Old Testament. We will quote a few instances. "The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me." "The Lord is my rock, and who is a rock save our God." "There is none holy as the Lord: neither is there any rock like our God." "Is there a God beside me? yea, no Rock, I know not any." "The Lord Jehovah is the Rock of ages." Seeing that rock was a familiar title for God, and the confession made being that Christ was the Son of God, upon our Lord's saying, "Upon this rock I will build my Church," the Apostles would naturally have understood the word rock as referring to Himself. Christ takes that title to Himself when He counsels the wise man to build his house upon the rock that the winds and waves cannot overcome. He claims to be the Son of God, the Rock of ages. The Roman exegesis again fails as being an unscriptural one.
Again, the words "Peter" and "rock" have different significations, and therefore cannot mean the same thing, and so we have another proof that Peter is not to be identified with the rock on which the Church is founded. The difference is seen in the titles given to our Lord. As the Son of God He is the rock; as Son of Man He is the stone. He was the divine rock that followed Israel, and "that Rock was Christ." He was as the Son of Man the Virgin born, "the Stone cut out without hands." His divinity was a rock of offence, His humanity a stone of stumbling. Now Cephas is, we read, by interpretation, stone. It is, if we look at the Revised Version, not necessarily a stone. The word signifies a kind or quality of material. Applied to the person of Peter it was to mark his spiritual transformation. By nature he was Simon, unstable and weak, by union with the Living Rock he became rocklike or petrified. Thus in contrast with the term "rock" in Scripture the word "stone" marks a difference not only of size but of quality of material. The "rock" denotes something or some one who is divine; "Peter" or "stone," something of like nature with the rock, but belonging to humanity. Consequently "Peter" and "this rock" are two different things, and the Church is not said to be founded on Peter, a man, but on Christ, the Son of God.
Besides this, there are convincing theological reasons why Peter cannot be the rock. The Catholic faith is that the Church is built on the foundation of all the Apostles. The Roman view is, that eleven of these having passed, i. e., crumbled away, the Church now rests upon the successor of one. The heavenly city is thus more like an inverted pyramid, resting on its apex, than rising four square on its twelve foundations. This is contrary to the whole teaching of Holy Scripture, as set forth in type, prophecy, and revelation. There were the twelve patriarchs, the twelve tribes, the twelve stones on the high priest's breastplate, the twelve Apostles, the twelve sides and corner-stones and twelve gates of the celestial city. The Church is not an inverted pyramid, but has twelve living foundations at its base.
Another objection is this: Christ said, Upon this rock will I build my Church and the gates of hell, i. e., hades, shall not prevail against it. The rock signified must therefore be one that the gates of hell cannot overcome. Now "hades" means the powers of sin, Satan, and death. But it is obvious sin and Satan did prevail over Peter, and led him, though afterwards he recovered, to deny Christ. And in due course he passed under the power of death. And if the temporal power is as claimed essential to the papacy, then the gates of hell have prevailed against it. Against Christ, however, sin and Satan had no power, and death had no dominion over Him. He rose triumphantly with the keys of hell and of death in His hands. The interpretation that makes Peter the rock is thus seen to be untheological. Because only one who is in Himself the resurrection and life can be the foundation of a church against which death cannot prevail. Again, it has been argued by Romans that as a rock is something permanent, and the rock on which the Church is built must be as enduring as the Church itself, therefore this promise which they claim was made to Peter is also a promise that he would have successors. But as the Church is to last for all eternity and the papacy cannot possibly last beyond the end of the world, it follows that the rock cannot be Peter and his successors.
The limitations of this book do not allow of citation from the fathers as to the meaning of this text. But a great deal of needless search will be saved if the legal rule is remembered that counts of little or no value "obiter dicta" We should confine our investigations to what the fathers said when they were engaged in writing an explanation of the text. All these have been tabulated. The result is that the preponderance of authorities hold the view that Christ, or the confession of Peter of His divinity, is the rock. And while there are some who state that here an authority or office was given to Peter, there are none who hold it was one which was to be transmitted to a successor. The writers of Janus, who were Roman theologians, wrote, as the result of their long and learned investigation: "Of all the fathers who interpret these passages in the Gospels, not a single one applies them to the Roman bishops as Peter's successors." "Not one has dropped the faintest hint that the primacy of Rome is the consequence of the commission and promise to Peter. Not one has explained the rock on which Christ would build His Church as the office given to Peter to be transmitted to his successors. But they understood by it, either Christ Himself, or Peter's confession of faith in Christ, or else that Peter was the foundation equally with the others."
Launoy, a Roman divine, made an exhaustive collection from the fathers, church writers, and councils showing their various interpretations of the text we have been considering. Out of about eighty-five citations sixty authorities take the rock to be Christ or the confession of His divinity; only seventeen see in the rock any reference to S. Peter "and these say nothing in this connection of his successor."
Concerning the papal infallibility a Roman authority says, "It would, of course, be a monstrous anachronism were we to attribute a belief in papal infallibility to ante-Nicene fathers;" and as concerning the papal claim to a supremacy of jurisdiction, the Roman Bossuet, the great French theologian, declared that the "very late invention that bishops receive their jurisdiction from the pope, and are, as it were his vicars, ought to be banished from Christian schools, as unheard of for twelve centuries."
As Catholics, therefore, directed by our Anglican authorities to interpret Holy Scripture according to the fathers, and as the Romans also are directed by Trent so to receive the Holy Scriptures, we cannot allow that the present claim of Rome is part of the Christian religion, or an accredited dogma of the Catholic faith.