Saturday, February 03, 2007

Steve Ray and the Primacy of Peter

Just got back from hearing a lecture from Catholic apologist Steve Ray on the biblical evidence for the primacy of Peter. It was excellent. The night before, he spoke on his conversion (as a former Baptist) but I didnt attend.

He made several good points that I had never heard before so it was worth going to. One that I particularly liked was his explanation of Paul's confrontation with Peter in Galatians 2:11-13 in response to an audience member's question about the "Protestant apostle Paul" versus the "Catholic apostle Peter".

First when Moses came down from Sinai, he carried with him the Law (at least the 10 written and the rest to be written). But 'scripture alone' of course, was not sufficient. He sat to judge the people of Israel and as an authority, interpret the Law.

The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.
Jesus refers back to this when He said:
"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach."
And the same principle could be applied to the controversy between Peter & Paul. No, their controversy does not disprove the authority of the Pope or even his God given ability to speak ex cathedra.

Jesus told the Jews of His day to obey the ruling authority of Israel but not to follow their actions. Their traditions and God given authority was in effect, carrying out the authority of Moses to interpret the sacred Scriptures. Since the birth of the holy Catholic Church, we have a new Israel. The magsterium now fulfills that role.

So as Jesus said to the Jews, Paul is saying to the early converts of Christianity, 'do as he says and not as he does'. Paul affirms Peter's teaching in this discourse but confronts him personally on his action. In our day, I hope a bishop would have the moral fortitude to confront a pope who said one thing and did another.

That wasn't the only time Paul spoke of Peter:
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.
And of this encounter Saint John Chrysostom writes:
for Paul was induced to visit Peter by the same feeling from which many of our brethren sojourn with holy men: or rather by a humbler feeling for they do so for their own benefit, but this blessed man, not for his own instruction or correction, but merely for the sake of beholding and honoring Peter by his presence. He says, “to visit Peter;” he does not say to see, (δεῖν,) but to visit and survey, (στορῆσαι,) a word which those, who seek to become acquainted with great and splendid cities, apply to themselves. Worthy of such trouble did he consider the very sight of Peter; and this appears from the Acts of the Apostles also.
I owe all of the above to Steve Ray.

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