My 3rd Response to John Fisher (Part 1)

My responses will be in blue. This will be my 3rd response to John Fisher’s debate on Papal Infallibility vs. Anglican father James. (see posts below)

Response # 1

Response # 2.

This is in response to the 2nd Response from Roman Catholic John Fisher:

Because of time and space, I decided to break up John Fisher’s 2nd response into more bite size parts.  This will be part 1 of my 3rd response. 

Ken has come out with a response to my first response, which itself was a response to his original critique of my debate. Surprisingly, he’s come out with further criticisms from history that go beyond the text of scripture. 

We go to history, beyond just the text of Matthew 16, because you dismiss subsequent texts in Matthew 18:15-20 as the fulfillment of it, and Acts 2 and 10-11 and 15 (Peter was the leader and first to preach the gospel after the resurrection) as being the subsequent meaning of Peter as the rock. And also because your whole premise is based on 1870 Vatican 1 and reading it back into Matthew 16. You skip over all that Biblical stuff and jump to 1870 RC interpretation of Matthew 16.   Peter is the rock because his “rockiness” is dependent on his confession of faith, the doctrinal content. Which depends on Jesus being the rock behind Peter, supporting him. (1 Cor. 10:4; 1 Cor. 3:11; Ephesians 2:19-20) And because your claim, and your church’s claim is a historical claim and using a document from 1870 to read back into Scripture (Matthew 16:13-19).

It is your beginning assumption that is an anachronistic assumption and controls the way you read and interpret Matthew 16:13-19.

But I’ll be happy to address those criticisms as well.

The first point that Ken brings is he doesn’t deny that Peter gave a revelation to the rest of the apostles. However, he seems to water the significance of the event down, he says,

No Protestant would disagree with that; although the disciples seemed to have grasped the truth earlier, back in Matthew 14:33 — They worshipped Jesus. They called Him the Son of God. They had some sense of who He was.

While the Apostles did worship him after a sign, they were moved purely by his miraculous sign (Matthew 16:4), not faith. 

It is obvious that the realization of who Jesus is in the disciple’s heart and mind is a process of deepening conviction.  Andrew said it first, “we have found the Messiah” in John 1:41 and in fact, said it to his brother Peter; at the beginning of the 3 and 1/2 years of Jesus’ ministry, when John the Baptist introduces Jesus.  I don’t think heart worship is not from faith in who Jesus is in Matthew 14:33.  Otherwise, it is not true worship.  You seem to imply that it (the even in Matthew 14) is just some kind of emotional reaction based on seeing the miraculous sign of Jesus doing the miracle.  I don’t think you can legitimately say that it was “not faith” at all.  Faith grows in our lives.  It becomes a more clear conviction in Matthew 16.  But we only know all of this today because it came to us through written Scripture, not by some secret tradition that popped up centuries later.  (which is what all the extra Biblical dogmas (Purgatory, Indulgences, priesthood, Marian dogmas and piety, Pope, Transubstantiation, Trent’s condemnation of Sola Fide) of Rome are – the ones that Protestants disagree with – reading their traditions and unBiblical dogmas back into the verses about “tradition” (especially 2 Thessalonians 2:15)   

Furthermore, they did not acknowledge him as both Christ (the messiah), and the Son of the living God. Only the latter. 

See above; about the content of John 1 – “we have found the Messiah”, Andrew told Peter. Matthew 16:18 is basic gospel truth all over the NT.  We don’t deny Peter said it in Matthew 16, and we don’t deny God the Father revealed this to Peter’s heart and mind.  It is apostolic truth and Biblical Truth; the same truth is all through the New Testament.  One of the main verses for this is: John 20:30-31.  The Gospel according to John tells us the purpose of the writing of his gospel:

30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 

31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

John 20:30-31

So, your point that Matthew 14:33 left out that Jesus is Messiah is irrelevant.  Truth is infallible; but we only know infallible truth from the Scriptures.  The events and details of Matthew 16:13-19 we know because they were written down and we can read them today. This is also Sola Scriptura in principle.

It was Peter, who provided the confession of faith, unmoved by a sign, but only by the revelation the Father had given him, professing simultaneously the Christhood, and divinity of our Lord.

Not a problem to Protestant faith. In fact, this (flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven) is very much closer to Reformed / Calvinistic faith, that God has to internally reveal Himself to a person for them to believe in Christ.  As in Acts 16:14 – “The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to respond to the things that Paul was preaching.”

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

Regarding the infallible and binding nature of the statement, Ken does not deny this. However, he raises two points.

– That is true, and no believing Protestant disagrees with that; but the only we we know about this historical event is because it was eventually written down. (by Matthew, around 50–60 AD) The same event in less words is in Mark and Luke.

– This reality has nothing to do with a future bishop of Rome, centuries later, or millennia later (1870 is almost 2 millennia later!) having the ability to speak or write a “living word” (oral tradition) (in the course of church history) and for the RC Church to take 200 or 300 or whatever years to later proclaim that some statement a Pope makes, that it is “ex cathedra”. ( “from the chair”, ie, “spoken from the chair of Peter”)

The issue with the first point is, while it is true we know of Peter’s proclamation via scripture, its nature remains infallible and binding regardless. 

So? We still know the truth of it because it is all over the NT; it is basic gospel knowledge.  John 20:30-31 tells us the same thing as to the purpose for John writing his gospel – “these signs are written down in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing, have life in His name”.

If I found out that the Pope issued an infallible decree, but it was only posted through the Vatican website, the decree would still be binding on Catholics. Even if I would have only known about it through the Vatican website, the point remains it would not be the website that would make it infallible.

Irrelevant to my points; and it obfuscates the issues that issues that divide believing Protestants (not liberals; they don’t count) from the RC Church, and how the historical events of the Reformation gave rise to getting back to the Scriptures and the truth of the gospel and the nature of saving grace.  By skipping over, lessening the impact of the written texts in Matthew 18, Acts 2, 10-11 and 15 and Peter’s role there, you obfuscate the issue.  He is the rock in that sense that he was the strength of the establishment of the first century church.  Those events had nothing to do with a bishop centuries later or a Pope even more centuries later, in the city of Rome.

As to the second point, it is merely an assertion.

Which is what the Papal claims are; mere assertion that grew slowly over the centuries in history.  Then anachronistically applied from 1870 back into the text of Matthew 16.

 If such a statement did not exist in scripture, a protestant would be well within their right to ask for a place in the Bible where Peter would have exercised anything close to an infallible and binding statement. 

Again, Peter speaking this truth has nothing to do with a bishop of Rome in the 3rd century making claims for himself (Stephen) or the centuries later claims of Popes, like Boniface VIII in 1302 (“Every living creature must submit to the Roman Pontiff in order to be saved.”) – one of the most arrogant and unbiblical statements ever uttered, and yet, it’s content and manner seems to be clearly an ex cathedra type of statement.  It is a high form of heresy and falsehood. Peter’s faith and statement has nothing to do with the 1870 claim of Vatican 1, which you are assuming from the outset. 

The scripture seems to raise the weight of the claim in light of our expectations.

No way; Scripture, with all the subsequent working out of what Peter as the rock meant (see above) lessens the weight of the claim of 1870.

In response to the point that Peter is selected to provide this revelation, not the apostles, not the people, Ken writes,

Ok, but this is also not a problem for the Protestant position, since the issue is “who is Jesus?” and the answer that “Jesus is the Messiah (fulfillment of all the OT prophesies about the coming Messiah) and the Son of the Living God (and by implication all the issues of the Deity of Christ, eternal Sonship with the Father, implications for the doctrine of God and the Trinity, etc.) All the apostles and the true believers in Christ eventually come to believe in that truth

Yes, they are bound to believe in that truth, just like all the other truths, but that doesn’t change the fact Peter was given that revelation first, to which all others were subsequently bound. As to why it is a problem for the protestant position, it’s because it doesn’t privilege one person from any other in receiving a revelation from God the Father. There is no expectation why Peter rather than the apostles as a whole, or the people,

In fact, if Peter said, “but among those who are correct are the ones who say you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. For they have been given it from the Father”. It would emphasize both the proclamation of faith and all who have received it are the basis of the faith, not Peter.

Subsequent historical narrative (the rest of the gospel narratives and the book of Acts) and revelation of the Scriptures – from Matthew (written around 50-60 AD) to Paul’s writings (49-67 AD) to Hebrews (68 AD) to all the Johannine writings (80-96 AD) demonstrate otherwise.  Cyprian was right, a beginning was from Peter, and he was the first to preach the gospel in Acts 2, opening the doors to the Kingdom of heaven / God, and the first to formally reach out to the Gentiles in Acts 10-11, and this was confirmed by James in Acts 15:14.  

that confession of faith, and that is the true foundation of the Church — who is Jesus? Yes, Jesus is making a word play on Cephas (Rock) (petros, with Petra, etc.) but the point is behind Peter is the doctrine of who Jesus is — Jesus is the rock, the foundation; and behind Jesus as the Son, is God the Father — God is my rock — all through the OT. Matthew is showing how firm the foundation is for the church build on Who Jesus is, not primarily who Peter is. Peter is the dominant and leader of the disciples, but we don’t see any kind of Papal thing in Acts or 1–2 Peter. Nor in the early centuries of church history.

Here Ken seems to ignore the relevant semantics of the passage and go on to assert it has nothing to do with Peter. 

Wrong!  I did not say it had nothing to do with Peter; rather I do assert that is has nothing to do with a bishop of Rome in 180 AD or 250-257 or 325 AD or 451 AD or 600 AD, or 1054 or 1302 or 1521 or 1870!

Yes, the doctrine is true and important, but the question is whose position makes better sense of how it was revealed. Peter was the one who revealed it through the Father. It was not revealed through the people, through the apostles, but Peter.

Again, not a problem for the Protestant position.

While it is true that God is called the rock in the OT — 2 Samuel 22:2, being one of many — , as well as called the foundation in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 3:11), it does not follow that a metaphor or image may apply once.

That is not what the Protestant position is.  There is no doubt Jesus is making a word play on Peter’s name, Cephas – but the church is build upon Peter in connection with the doctrine that he spoke, not some kind of special office of the Papacy, which did not exist until centuries later, or on the bishop of Rome to him exclusively over all other bishops.  The reason why Peter is a rock, is because Jesus as Messiah and Son of God is the even more stable rock and foundation behind Peter, holding him up, as Messiah and Son of the Living God, and God the Father as the solid rock behind the Son, making a really solid foundation for the church throughout the centuries.  It is the object of our faith that is the issue, not our own faith.  That is why faith is described as a mustard seed – the issue is the object of our faith – Christ as the Messiah and Son, and God the Father.

In response to my point regarding Luke 22:32 as Christ promising that Peter would not fall from his office, Ken writes,

How so? In the context of Matthew 16, Peter immediately starts spouting error and false doctrine and Jesus says to him, “Get thee behind Me Satan!” (Matthew 16:21–23)

When Jesus says “Get thee behind Me Satan!”, it is in response to Peter’s actions, not any teaching or doctrine. It’s not an exercise of his office.

Not so. Jesus said that his actions come from thinking in his mind.  His thinking affected his belief which affected his actions. “You are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” – that is doctrine and belief which is behind his actions.  There is no mention of an “office” in the passage.  Again, you are reading an office of Pope anachronistically 1870 years later back into the text of the NT.  

It would seem if the faith failed at that point, then Peter’s faith would cease or be omitted, even for the interim. After all, one either fails or they don’t, even if they eventually rectify the situation.

No, because the text says, “when once you have turned again” (turned back in repentance) ἐπιστρέψας – from επιστεφω = to turn, repent

The emphasis is on Jesus’ power to bring His true sheep back to Himself.

Regarding my response to the citation of Matthew 18 extending jurisdiction to the other apostles, Ken claims,

Yes it does! (diminish the claim) Not only the probably of the claim, but the claim itself! Yes it does diminish Vatican I’s claim, because the Vatican I’s claim is that Peter has exclusive authority, jurisdiction into all other areas and bishoprics (local churches in different areas) over the whole world

This is a straw man of Pastor Aeternus, the Ist Vatican Council reminds us,

This power of the Supreme Pontiff by no means detracts from that ordinary and immediate power of episcopal jurisdiction, by which bishops, who have succeeded to the place of the apostles by appointment of the Holy Spirit, tend and govern individually the particular flocks which have been assigned to them. On the contrary, this power of theirs is asserted, supported and defended by the Supreme and Universal Pastor; for St. Gregory the Great says: “My honor is the honor of the whole Church. My honor is the steadfast strength of my brethren. Then do I receive true honor, when it is denied to none of those to whom honor is due.” [3]

Yes it does because the 1870 claim is that the bishop of Rome is over the other bishops in their jurisdictions.  (areas, churches)  It is not a strawman, because of the exclusive claims of power and authority over all other areas and bishops.

There is nothing in the text about the city of Rome, exclusive authority over other church leaders, infallibility, or Peter’s successors

But this is because he had yet to set up an office in Rome. By all accounts in the Early Church, Rome was set up by the Apostle Peter. In 1 Peter 5:13, we read,

She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark

Babylon was used as a code for Rome and is most likely about the city. As the Anglican Biblical scholar, Charles John Ellicott explains, . . . 

The long quote by Charles John Ellicott does not mention the possibility that “Babylon” can also mean a code name for Jerusalem, apostate Jerusalem of the first century. (see below)

You are still assuming there is some kind of exclusive jurisdictional Papal office in Rome, in Peter’s lifetime.  “Babylon” may be a code name for Rome in 1 Peter 5:13; but that does not prove anything.  Protestants have no problem with understanding that Peter went there as an apostle and missionary for a time (but to interpret that as a Mono-episcopate bishop in the city of Rome, is anachronistic); and (we agree that, as far as we know from history and tradition), that he was executed there around 67 AD by Nero, the Emperor.  But even that says nothing about some kind of Papal office being set up there.  “Babylon” in Revelation may be a code name for Rome or it may be a code name for Jerusalem.  “The great city” is Jerusalem in Revelation 11:8

“And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” Revelation 11:8

“where their Lord was crucified” is obviously talking about Jerusalem (and the context from verse 1 is about the temple, which is apparently still standing, so that is weight towards a Pre-70 AD date for the book of Revelation.  Jerusalem is symbolically called Sodom and Egypt (and Babylon) because she has committed adultery against her God by rejection of Jesus as Messiah and the persecution of the apostles, believers/ saints, and prophets. Jerusalem has become the enemy of God, because she rejected her Messiah and God, Jesus; just as Egypt, and Babylon were enemies of Israel in the OT and Sodom was an enemy of God in Genesis 19. God called Jerusalem “Sodom” in Isaiah 1 because of her idolatry and sin.   The adulterous woman / harlot of Revelation 17-18, who rides the beast of Rome (Rev. 13) seems to be apostate Jerusalem who rejected the Messiah and persecuted the saints, apostles, and prophets.   The woman rides the beast points to the first century apostate Israel who manipulated Pilate (Rome) to crucify the Messiah Jesus and also to persecute the disciples, apostles, believers later up until 70 AD.  

Jerusalem and Caesarea Philippi were not where Jesus founded his Church, it was on a person.

This is false – Jerusalem is where Jesus founded His Church, as the book of Acts tells us. 

Acts chapters 2-5 – 5:11, 8:2 “the church in Jerusalem”; 11:22 – “the church in Jerusalem”, Acts chapter 15, etc. 

Jerusalem itself would have lost this significants. As even the evangelical scholar Earle E. Cairns notes,

After 135, with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, the bishop of Jerusalem ceased to count as a rival of the Bishop of Rome [5]

This is true, as far as it goes for significance for a while, but by doing this method of yours, you are skipping over Peter’s importance as the rock in Acts 1-15, etc.  Again, Matthew 18, Acts 2, and 10-11 and 15 are the foundational aspects of Peter’s ministry and his exercising / application of being the rock for the beginning of the church and the application of the keys given in Matthew 16.

I will stop here because of time and space, and seek to respond to the rest later.  So I will call this “part 1”

Thanks John for responding and helping me think more about these issues.


About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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