Monday, 13 June 2011

Was Peter Really was the First Pope of the Catholic Church?


Apostle Peter as depicted by the Catholic Church
 THE BIBLE is replete with testimonies proving the importance of the true Church established by Christ for man's salvation. Our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles underscored this in their teachings. A ware of this truth, many of the so called Christian churches today claim that theirs is the true one. Among the many claimants, one of the most ardent is the Catholic Church. It strongly asserts that it has in its possession the best proof of being the true Church. Says one of its authorities:

"The best proof that the Catholic Church is the true Church is that she is still ruled by the successors of St. Peter."(Commentary on the Official Catechism of the Philippines, p. 133)

The pope is allegedly the successor of Apostle Peter.

Catholics believe that Peter was the first vicar of Christ and was the first pope. A Catholic pamphlet asserts this, thus: "Yes, Peter was the first Vicar of Christ. . . Peter was the first Pope." (Why Millions call him ''Holy Father," p.6)

Surprisingly, however, this same pamphlet of the Catholic Church categorically states that "Christ Never Called Peter 'Pope' (Ibid. p. I). Yet, the Catholic Church complacently hinges its claim of being the true Church on Peter's alleged papacy. Such claim rests on the Catholic doctrine of apostolic succession which allegedly dates back from Peter and continues down to the present pope.

But can this doctrine stand the test of biblical and historical scrutiny? Is there truth to the allegation that Peter was pope or that he was once bishop of Rome? Church historian Renwick gives us this historical finding:

"We may note, however, that there was no foundation for the claim of the Roman Church that Peter was bishop of Rome for twenty-five years from 42 to 67 A.D." (The Story of the Church, pp. 14-15)

Saint Peter's Plaza in the Vatican City, Rome
There is no historical evidence much less biblical basis, for the claim that Peter was once bishop of Rome. It is based only on legends. Author Loraine Boettner says in the book, Roman Catholicism:

"There is in fact no New Testament evidence, nor any historical proof of any kind,  Peter ever was in Rome. All rests on legend." (p. 117)

It is sad to note that what the Catholic Church gives as the "best proof" in its claim of being the true church crumbles in the light of historical facts. At best, its claim concerning Peter is based only on legends. Any student of history worth his salt knows that testimonies based on traditions and legends are not reliable at all.

Authorities: Their Testimonies

Lest we be accused of being partial in presenting evidences belying the pronouncement of the Catholic Church concerning Peter upon which its claim of being the true Church hinges, let us take some of the testimonies of different authorities, including authorities of the Catholic Church itself. Did the early fathers of the Catholic Church support the idea that Peter once served as bishop in Rome and therefore, became the first pope of the Roman Church? Boettner gives this answer:

"All of this makes it quite certain that Peter never was in Rome at all. Not one of the early church fathers gives any support to the belief that Peter was a bishop in Rome until Jerome in the fifth century." (Roman Catholicism, p. 122)

The early fathers of the Catholic Church were not convinced that Peter had become bishop of Rome or that he ever had reached the place for that matter. Notably, they were not the only ones who dismissed this belief. Even Catholic scholars reject such claim.  Bishop Stephen Neill says:

"Most scholars reject as unhistorical the tradition that the Apostle Peter was, and was recognized as being, the first Bishop of Rome." (The Christian Society, p. 36)

Catholic scholars themselves who know and understand their church history belie the claim of the Catholic Church. Even archaeologists who had done exhaustive research on the matter could not find any conclusive evidence that Peter the apostle had once visited Rome and became its first bishop or pope. Let's take this revealing account:

"Exhaustive research by archaeologists has been made down through the centuries to find some inscription in the Catacombs and other ruins of ancient places in Rome that would indicate that Peter at least visited Rome. But the only things found which gave any promise at all were some bones of uncertain origin. L.H. Lehmann, who was educated for the priesthood at the University for the Propagation of the Faith, in Rome, tells us of a lecture by a noted Roman archaeologist, Professor Marucchi, given before his class, in which he said that no shred of evidence of Peter's having been in the Eternal City had ever been unearthed, and of another archaeologist, Di Rossi who declared that for forty years, his greatest ambition had been to unearth in Rome some inscription which would verify the papal claim that the apostle Peter was actually in Rome, but that he was forced to admit that he had given up hope of success in his search. He had the promise of handsome rewards by the church if he succeeded." (Roman Catholicism, pp. 118-119)

In spite of the concerted efforts, motivation, and promise of handsome reward from the Catholic Church, archaeologists have failed in finding decisive evidence to prove the claim that Peter was the first bishop of Rome or that, at least, he had reached this ancient city. And although there were some bones found in the diggings, these were of uncertain origin. The pope himself, who is supposed to be a firm believer as he is the alleged successor of Peter, was skeptical that these "bones... were really those of... Peter." In the magazine The Sunday Times, published on December 24, 1950, the Roman pontiff came out with an announcement:

"...the Pope announced officially the discovery of the tomb of Saint Peter beneath the great Basilica which bears his name. But the Pope said that it was not possible to prove with certainty that the human bones found in the tomb were really those of Saint Peter." (pp. 1,2)

The Catholic faithful should ponder on this bold but honest-to-goodness admission from no less than the supreme head of the Catholic Church. At any rate, nobody can blame the pope for doubting the authenticity of the findings. The matter of apostolic succession upon which the papacy bases its authority has been a long standing controversy in the Catholic Church. At the Vatican Council in 1870, the papacy's theory of apostolic succession came under fire from a high-ranking official of the Catholic Church, Bishop Strossmayer. He said in his speech before his fellow bishops.

"Now, having read the whole New Testament, I declare before God, with my hand raised to that great crucifix, that I have found no trace of the papacy as it exists at this moment." [Bishop Strossmayer's Speech (in the Vatican Council of 1870), p. 4]

Bishop Strossmayer testified that there is no trace of the papacy in the New Testament. He was that certain that he made his testimony with a solemn oath. This coming from no ordinary authority of the Catholic Church. Who was Bishop Strossmayer? Below are some data about him:

Bishop Joseph Georgre Strossmayer
"STROSSMAYER, JOSEPH GEORGE (1815-1905). Roman Catholic Bishop. Born of German parents in Croatia, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1838 and nine years later, became professor of canon law at Vienna. In 1850, he was elevated to the bishopric of Bosnien with its seat at Diakovar." ( The New Intemational Dictionary of the Christian Church)

Startling as the account may seem, this bishop delivered his speech before a great council of the Catholic Church where almost all its bishops in various parts of the world were represented. Going further into his speech, he said:

"Finding no trace of the papacy in the days of the apostles I said to myself, I shall find what I am in search of in the annals of the church. Well, I say it frankly I have sought for a pope in the first four centuries, and I have not found him." [Bishop Strossmayer's Speech (in the Vatican Council of 1870), p. 10]

Having found no trace of the papacy in the era of the apostles in the New Testament, the good bishop continued his search in the annals of church history but, alas, he found out that there was no trace of the papacy in the first four centuries after the death of the apostles either. His findings were a devastating blow on the allegation that Apostle Peter had reached Rome and served as its bishop. Said he:

"But it is said on all sides, Was not St. Peter at Rome? Was he not crucified with his head down? Are not the pulpits in which he taught, the altars at which he said the mass, in this eternal city?  St. Peter having been at Rome, my venerable brethren, rests only on tradition..." (Ibid, p. 9)

There is no evidence in both the New Testament and history books that Peter ever was in Rome. Thus, the papacy's claim of apostolic succession is plainly baseless. And, instead of coming out with positive evidence for the alleged authority and infallibility of the papacy, Strossmayer came out with this revealing conclusion:

"This century is unfortunate, as for nearly 150 years the popes have fallen from all the virtues of their predecessors, and have become apostates rather than apostles' ." (Ibid, p. 20)

His words said it all. The Catholic Church is not the true Church. It is the apostate Church.

Against Biblical Facts

The claim that Apostle Peter had once become a bishop of Rome is against the teachings of the Bible. Peter had a particular assignment where he performed his ministry. In Galatians 2:7-8, this is recorded:

"On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. "For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles." (New Intemational Version)

Rome was known to be a Gentile world. It was Apostle Paul, not Apostle Peter, who had jurisdiction over the Gentiles as he was particularly assigned as the apostle to the Gentiles. Peter was apostle to the Jews and he could not have left his post and gone to Rome to preach there. It is not surprising, therefore, that church historians and even Catholic authorities themselves could not find any trace or indication that Apostle Peter had ever been in Rome and assumed the office of Bishop in that ancient city.

Nothing But Assumptions

In its efforts to establish link with the apostles, particularly Apostle Peter, and secure the authority of the papacy, the Catholic Church was forced to introduce various assumptions which, unfortunately, are all unwarranted:

"Between assigning Peter a foremost part in founding the church at Jerusalem and ordaining him to a perpetual incarnation in a succession of bishops at Rome, there is an immeasurable gulf. To bridge over this gulf, and to establish its theory of the papacy, Romanism is obliged to introduce a whole mass of assumptions. (1) It assumes that a constitutional primacy, or a primacy of governing authority over the whole Church, was vested in Peter from the outset. But where is the evidence for such a primacy? Not a trace of it can be found in the New Testament; Not a solitary instance is on record in which Peter is represented as acting as supreme governor of the Church ... (2) Romanism assumes that this (imagined) constitutional authority of Peter was transmitted by him to a single successor. For this, too, there is no proper historical warrant: it is unproved assumption. (3) Romanism assumes that this successor to the constitutional primacy of Peter was the Bishop of Rome. But why the Bishop of Rome rather than the Bishop of Jerusalem or of Antioch? It is not to be taken as a matter of course that Peter would transmit his authority to the Bishop of Rome. "The New Testament does not so much as give us a single unmistakable intimation that Peter was ever in Rome; and, even if the reality of such a visit be allowed, his connection with the church at Rome remains before the eyes of history a dim and misty thing compared with his connection with the church at Jerusalem. There is nothing in the nature of the case to assure us that Peter would fix upon the Bishop of Rome The Roman theory runs here into the region of pure assumption, and impinges, moreover, upon a very considerable incongruity." (History of the Christian Church, v. 1, pp. 70-72)

The afore mentioned passage is clear and self-explanatory. The so called theory of apostolic succession upon which the Catholic Church hinges its claim of being the true Church is unfounded. To establish the papacy's succession to the apostles, particularly Peter, the Roman Catholic Church had to concoct various assumptions which could not be proven by historical facts, much less, by accounts in the New Testament. Moreover, in their vain attempt to strengthen the alleged authority of the papacy, the Catholics resorted to fraud and falsification. In the book, Mat's Behind the New World Order, page 8, this is stated:

"About the close of the eighth century, papists put forth the claim that in the first ages of the church the bishops of Rome had possessed the same spiritual power which they now assumed. To establish this claim, ancient writings were forged by monks. Decrees of councils before unheard of were discovered, establishing the universal supremacy of the pope from the earliest times."

The Catholic Church, apparently, wouldn't hesitate to resort to desperate means just to prove its claim. Its success in strengthening the papacy's position throughout the centuries is attributed to deceit and fraud as attested by historical records, thus:

"The papacy was also aided by the scheming efforts of men who, through deceit and fraud, succeeded in strengthening the pope's position and authority." (The Church in History, p. 77)

Examples of documents falsified by scheming men in the Catholic Church just to fortify the authority and position of the papacy were the "Isidorian Decretals" and the "Donation of Constantine" says church historian Kuiper:

"Then somewhere around the middle of the ninth century there appeared a second mysterious document. It was called the 'Isidorian Decretals', because these decretals, or decisions, were claimed to have been collected by Isidore of Seville. This document consisted of decisions of popes and councils from Clement of Rome in the first century to Gregory II in the eighth.

"... For hundreds of years these documents were accepted at face value and regarded as genuine. Nicholas de Cusa in 1433 was the first one to suggest that the decretals were a forgery. After that they came to be called the 'Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals'. [Pseudo means 'false' , or 'pretended'.] In 1440 Lorenzo Valla proved that the' Donation of Constantine' was a forgery. Today, Catholic scholars agree with Protestant scholars that both documents are spurious." (Ibid., pp. 78-79)

One thing is certain in all the cited historical facts - that there is no truth to the claim that the Catholic Church is the true Church. Its supposedly "best proof" has been proven to be unfounded having been based on nothing but speculation, tradition, falsehood, deceit, and fraud.

 (Published in GOD'S MESSAGE , April - June 1995, pp. 12-16)

1 comment:

  1. This is the only post na walang tumutol....HAHA!

    Natumbok mo Kapatid.Nice one.


Any accusation attacking an individual or an organization without adequate proofs and evidences, will be DELETED, be responsible in what you are saying at all times.


I think it’s about time to avoid confusion to anyone, that I will no longer allow anybody commenting in this blog posting as ANONYMOUS, regardless of his Religion and Affiliations. Any comments under the name of ANONYMOUS will be DELETED.

Any comments attacking a PERSON [Ad Hominem], instead of defending his Faith with honor and respect will be DELETED. Never accuse a person or an organization that we have no proper proofs or evidences to support our accusations. Hearsays and fabricated stories with a motive of hurting and dishonoring somebody [either an individual or an organization] will no longer be allowed and be tolerated in this Blog.

If anyone feels that what I have imposed is not fair? There is nobody stopping you in making your own Blog and rules that you so desire. I have all the rights to impose any rules for the sake of orderliness of this Blog as it is written in the Scriptures: “Everything must be done in a proper and orderly way.” [1 Cor 14:40, GNB].


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

NET 25 - Iglesia Ni Cristo Network