Dialogue on the Nature of
Development of Doctrine
(Particularly With Regard to the Papacy)

Dave Armstrong vs. Jason Engwer (jengwer@ntrmin.org)

TABLE OF CONTENTS (Hyper-linked)

I. Preliminaries

II. The Curious Development of Protestant Polemics Against Development

III.  Catholic Apostolic Development vs. Protestant Subjectivity and Circularity

IV. Protestant Logical Problems With Regard to Development of Doctrine

V. Development According to Protestant Polemicist William Webster

VI. The Historical Development of the Ante-Nicene Papacy

VII.  Does Catholicism Require a Unanimous Patristic Interpretation of Matthew 16?

VIII. St. Peter as the Rock and Foundation (Head, Pope) of the Church: Scholarly
          Commentary (Mostly Protestant)

IX. St. Peter as Possessor of the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: Scholarly
          Commentary (Mostly Protestant)

X. Papal Infallibility Established From the Bible Alone (David Palm)

   The following is a reply to Protestant apologist and polemicist Jason Engwer's paper, A Response to Roman Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong Regarding Development of Doctrine. His piece purports to be (I think ?) a
   critique of my paper, Refutation of William Webster's Fundamental Misunderstanding of Development of
 Doctrine, which was in turn a response to Mr. Webster's article, The Repudiation of the Doctrine of Development as it Relates to the Papacy by Vatican I and Pope Leo XIII. Mr. Engwer's words shall be in blue.

I. Preliminaries

I would like to begin on a positive note by commending Mr. Engwer for his irenic tone and for the
complete absence of any personal insults or ad hominem attacks in his paper (which was also
true of Mr. Webster's paper, I hasten to add). This is quite refreshing, and makes the task of
responding much more pleasant than it would otherwise be. His paper is a model of
Protestant-Catholic apologetic critique and debate: objective, not emotionally-hostile, not cliched,
and lacking unnecessary and gratuitous cheap shots, all the while retaining its vigor and passionate commitment to its own viewpoint. He has done very well in that regard, and I am happy to recognize and applaud this.

As for the argument itself, it is unclear whether Mr. Engwer intends for his paper to be a direct
defense of Mr. Webster's paper, which I critiqued. It is hardly even a response to mine, except in part, as it is devoted to development of doctrine in general and particularly with regard to the
papacy. Mr. Webster's article, on the other hand, set forth a thesis that Vatican I and Pope Leo XIII denied development of doctrine, at least insofar as it related to the papacy.

I believe that I thoroughly demolished that hypothesis, by proving that Vatican I cited the very
passage from St. Vincent of Lerins which is the classic exposition of development of doctrine in the Fathers, and identical in its essence to Cardinal Newman's "development of development" fourteen centuries later. Secondly, I showed how Leo XIII was quite fond of Newman, and that the great convert was the first person he appointed as Cardinal -- exceedingly strange if he didn't believe in development of doctrine himself.

So if Mr. Engwer's goal was to bolster Mr. Webster's thesis, he has not done so in the least -- not
having dealt at all with the facts of the matter, as I did (even seeming to concede some of them). Nor is it clear whether or not Mr. Engwer was asked by Mr. Webster to offer some sort of reply to my paper. Rather, Mr. Engwer has sought to cast doubt on the very notion of the papacy itself (whether one agrees or disagrees with it), by taking the view that it didn't develop as an historical institution, and that it was not present even in kernel form in the ante-Nicene Church.

This is an entirely different argument. Mr. Webster sought to reveal an alleged serious inner
contradiction in Catholic teaching: that in point of fact the papacy obviously developed historically, but that its development was officially denied by both Vatican I and Pope Leo XIII. Mr. Engwer takes a more radical view, and wishes to cast doubt on any development whatsoever of the papacy, and assert that it was never known at all in the first three centuries or so. At least that is his argument as far as I understand it. He is equally as mistaken and misinformed as Mr. Webster, and I will demonstrate this in due course.

Mr. Engwer's paper is also more than a little disappointing from a dialogical standpoint, in that it so often merely asserts, as opposed to arguing its points (which involves accompanying attempted proofs and evidence of various sorts). As such, it carries far less force than it might have. It may "sound good" to those willing to eagerly accept any alleged "refutation" of a Catholic apologist, but it holds little inherent logical compulsion against the Catholic position, rightly-understood (or my specific positions in my paper -- themselves Catholic ones).

I will not bother responding to all the general, unsupported assertions of Mr. Engwer's contra-Catholic presuppositions and axioms, as that accomplishes no constructive or educational purpose. I will concentrate my efforts on those contentions which attempt to make some sort of argument that can either be falsified or supported by relevant historical or biblical evidence. In any event, I will deal directly with far more of Mr. Engwer's paper than he did with regard to mine. This is my style and modus operandi: I like to directly tackle my opponent's position and reveal the weaknesses and deficiencies therein, or, on the other hand, admit that it cannot be rationally, biblically, or historically refuted, and thus modify my own position (as I did with regard to Newman himself, in 1990, prior to my conversion to the Catholic Church). This is the Socratic way of approaching truth and knowledge.

II. The Curious Development of Protestant Polemics Against

Mr. Engwer approvingly cites George Salmon twice in his paper. Salmon was a prominent 19th-century Anglican polemicist against Catholicism, who vainly imagined that he had refuted Newman's famous thesis of development of doctrine. But Salmon seemed to deny development of doctrine altogether (even Mr. Engwer didn't take it that far), as the following citation

     Romish advocates . . . are now content to exchange tradition, which their predecessors had
     made the basis of their system, for this new foundation of development . . . The theory of
     development is, in short, an attempt to enable men, beaten off the platform of history, to hang
     on to it by the eyelids . . . The old theory was that the teaching of the Church had never

(George Salmon, The Infallibility of the Church, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House (originally 1888), 31-33 [cf. also 35, 39] )

I dealt with the absurdity of this opinion in my paper contra Webster. Here it is sufficient to note that Salmon takes a far too radical view in opposition to development, and shows a complete
miscomprehension of both development itself, and how it synthesizes with Tradition, within the
Catholic system. His admirers include not only Mr. Engwer, but also Dr. James White, a leading
contra-Catholic polemicist of our own time. In a personal letter to me, dated 6 April 1995 (the entire exchange is now uploaded with Dr. White's permission: Is Catholicism Christian?: My Debate With Dr. James White), Professor White stated:

     . . . the papacy developed, changed, and grew over time.

In the same letter, he wrote:

     I would direct you especially to my discussion of the "development of doctrine" in the
     enclosed book, Answers to Catholic Claims [his own], pp. 63-73. I would also like to ask if
     you have read Salmon's refutation of Newman in his work, The Infallibility of the Church?

Obviously, then, Dr. White thinks Salmon disposed of Newman's thesis, and ostensibly accepts the
above quote from Salmon's book, which sums up an important aspect of his overall argument. But

Dr. White contradicts himself, for in one place he accepts development (as in the one-sentence
citation above and other comments below), whereas in another (like Salmon) he categorically
rejects it, as in his letter of 4 May  1995 (emphasis added):

     You said that usually the Protestant misunderstands the concept of development. Well,
     before Newman came up with it, I guess we had good reason, wouldn't you say? But, does
     that mean that those Roman Catholics I know who don't like Newman are actually
     Protestants, too? I'm kidding of course, but those who hang their case on Newman and the
     development hypothesis are liable for all sorts of problems . . . Might it actually be that the
     Protestant fully understands development but rightly rejects it? I addressed
     development and Newman in my book . . . . And as for Newman's statement, "to be deep in
     history is to cease to be a Protestant," I would say, "to be deep in Newman is to cease to
     be an historically consistent Roman Catholic." I can only shake my head as I look at
     Newman's collapse on papal infallibility and chuckle at his "deep in history" comment. He
     knew better.

As for Newman's "collapse" on papal infallibility, this is an absolute myth and falsehood, as I prove in my paper: Newman on Papal Infallibility. For instance:

     [From] Ian Ker's John Henry Newman: A Biography, probably the most comprehensive
     and scholarly recent biography of Newman (Oxford Univ. Press, 1988, 764 pages):

          Newman could not accept the validity of his [i.e., Dollinger's] arguments against the
          actual definition. Even if the supporting Scripture texts were not convincing (as
          Newman thought they were), this did not affect the truth of the actual decisions of a
          Council, which alone were guaranteed . . .

          He diagnosed Dollinger's crisis as fundamentally a failure of imagination . . . Newman
          could not understand how Dollinger could accept the Council of Ephesus, for example,
          which was notorious for intrigue and violence, and not the recent one . . .

          Newman also wrote to the Guardian sharply denying the allegation of J.M. Capes that
          he did not really believe in papal infallibility, and citing a number of passages in his
          writings, beginning with the Essay on Development, for more or less explicit avowals
          of the doctrine . . .

     (from chapter 17: "Papal Infallibility," 661, 671, 673)

Newman was simply what is called an "inopportunist." He opposed an ex cathedra (i.e., the very
highest level of infallibility) definition of the doctrine of papal infallibility prior to 1870, and it was his perfect right as a Catholic to do so. But -- emphatically -- this does not mean that he denied the doctrine itself. He did not, as he asserted in his letter to the Guardian, referenced above. Likewise, I oppose ex cathedra definition of Mary as Mediatrix at the present time, but I accept that doctrine, as it is firmly entrenched in Catholic Tradition. Pope John Paul II takes the same position. It is an exact analogy.

According to Dr. White's "reasoning" here, then, I must not now believe this Marian doctrine,
because I am against defining it dogmatically. And if I accept a dogmatic definition in the future (as I certainly would do), that would mean that this was a "collapse" on my part and that I "knew better" -- all of which is ludicrous, and an example of the common Protestant miscomprehension of the Catholic approach to dogma, Councils, development, and Tradition in general. It is Dr. White who should "know better," not Cardinal Newman. And he is one of the most astute and educated and scholarly contra-Catholic polemicists. Most others fare far worse than this when they deal with the complexities of Catholicism.

But of course, virulent critics of Catholicism like Charles Kingsley (whom Newman famously and successfully opposed in his spiritual autobiography Apologia pro vita Sua) and George Salmon felt no qualms about simply charging that the saintly Newman was a bald-faced liar, and that he equivocated and compromised his integrity with regard to the definition of 1870 -- that he was two-faced and hypocritical and intellectually dishonest. Dr. White repeats the same tired slander (and Mr. Engwer in effect does also, by obviously espousing Salmon's work -- a central aspect of which was opposition to Newman). It is a disgrace, and indicative of a serious ethical flaw in much of contra-Catholic polemics. There is no contradiction between development of doctrine, and proclamations of doctrines ex cathedra. And if contra-Catholic polemicists truly understood the nature of each concept, and how they are easily harmonized, they too, would understand this. They are free to disagree, of course, but it would be nice if they at least understood what they so vehemently oppose.

But getting back to Dr. White's internally-inconsistent notions of development of doctrine, we now turn to his book Answers to Catholic Claims (Southbridge, MA: Crowne [sic] Publications, 1990, 72-73), to which he referred above:

     . . . we see that when Roman apologists use the concept of "doctrinal development" as a
     defense for various of the false teachings of Rome, they are using a true principle wrongly.
     One cannot speak of doctrinal development when attempting to defend the cult of Mary or
     the concept of Papal infallibility. These concepts are not only missing from Scripture, but they
     are anti-Scriptural to the core. They are not developments based upon a further study of the

     Bible, but departures based on exterior sources of authority. As such, they should be rejected
     by the Christian people, and the Catholic
[a rare use of this title by Dr. White!] people should be

     warned of their imminent danger.

[Note: Dr. White uses almost exactly these same words, and interjects the entire section on development, with only minor changes here and there, into his book The Roman Catholic Controversy (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Pub., 1996, 80-85) ]

So Dr. White wants to ground all doctrine in Scripture? I have news for him: so do Catholics! We
just don't accept sola Scriptura -- a separate issue beyond our purview here (see numerous papers and dialogues on that topic on my Scripture and Tradition page). But we assert that all the doctrines we believe can be found in Scripture explicitly or implicitly, or directly deduced from doctrines in Scripture (the latter is true -- many Protestant polemicists argue -- even for the central Protestant pillar of sola Scriptura). Scripture is central for us just as it is for Protestants; but it is not isolated, or separated from, or pitted against Tradition and Church: which it often refers to itself. And the Bible must be authoritatively interpreted at some point.

The papacy is illustrative: in fact there is quite a lot of biblical evidence for it, so if one succeeds in proving that papal jurisdiction and supreme authority is a biblical teaching, then Dr. White's argument above collapses in a heap. I intend to do so below. The reader can judge for himself whether papal infallibility is "missing from Scripture," and "anti-Scriptural to the core."

It will be shown that this concept of true developments being -- in effect -- the Protestant (i.e.,
supposedly always so "biblical") doctrines, while the distinct Catholic ones are corruptions, is both circular and inconsistently and illogically applied, for the Protestant has no reason for accepting development of certain doctrines while denying the (legitimate) historical development of others, other than to baldly assert, "well, because we accept these doctrines!" This will become clearer as we proceed in our analysis.

   III.  Catholic Apostolic Development vs. Protestant Subjectivity and Circularity

Anybody who knows much about church history knows why Catholic apologists appeal so often to
development of doctrine.

We appeal to it because it is an undeniable historical fact, as even Dr. White admits above. If
Protestants accept development of trinitarianism or the canon of the New Testament, then it is not improper for us to accept development of the papacy, or Marian doctrines, etc. Dr. White locates the difference of principle in alleged lack vs. abundance of biblical support. We assert that we have biblical (as well as patristic) support for our views. The Protestant disagrees. But the criterion for the Protestant -- when their view is closely scrutinized -- reduces to mere subjectivism according to Protestant preconceived notions (depending on denominational tradition, of course), whereas for the Catholic it is historically-demonstrable unbroken apostolic Tradition, developed over 2000 years. In any event, the controversy cannot be settled by a disdain for the very concept of development (which seems implied above), as if it were improper to utilize it at all in the discussion of historical theology.

Concepts like the Immaculate Conception, private confession of all sins to a priest, and the existence of no less and no more than seven sacraments didn't arise until long after the apostles died. To make such doctrines appear credible, Catholic apologists have to argue that these post-apostolic developments are approved by God.

This is strikingly illustrative of Mr. Engwer's basic miscomprehension of development, just as his
comrade-in-arms Mr. Webster misunderstood it. Briefly, doctrines remain the same in essence,
while their complexities and nuances develop. Thus, in the above cases, the essence of the
Immaculate Conception is the common patristic notion of Mary as the New Eve, which implied
sinlessness (as the first Eve was originally sinless) -- backed up by the "full of grace" clause of Luke 1:28, and many indirect biblical indications, as outlined in the chapter on Mary in my first book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism.

The essence of private confession to a priest is the biblical teaching of confession per se ("confess to one another") combined with the explicit biblical teaching of the prerogative of priests to "bind and loose" and to forgive sins (Mt 16:19, 18:17-18, Jn 20:23). Likewise, sacramentalism is a thoroughly scriptural concept (see my paper, Sacramentalism); the settling on seven sacraments is the development of the prior essence. So the core and foundation of all these beliefs are not only not "post-apostolic;" they are demonstrably biblical. To acquire a basic understanding of the basis for development of doctrine, readers unacquainted with the notion are strongly urged to consult the many papers and links on my Development of Doctrine page.

They'll argue for the acceptance of the papacy on philosophical and speculative grounds, then they'll appeal to the authority of the papacy for the acceptance of other developments (the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption of Mary, etc.).

Hardly; the papacy is explicitly biblical as well, as I will show below. Mr Engwer doesn't even
trouble himself sufficiently to represent the Catholic apologetic fairly and accurately. Catholics
certainly do ground the papacy in Scripture itself. One may disagree with our conclusion, but they may not falsify the facts as to where and how we derive the doctrine.

I've made three arguments against the Roman Catholic appeal to development of doctrine:

1) The appeals are speculative. They're unverifiable.

That simply isn't true. We can trace all the doctrines through history. We can determine whether or not they were held as consensus or as increasingly consensus opinions throughout Church history -- particularly with regard to the Church Fathers. We can compare and contrast them to Holy Scripture (being harmonious with and being explicitly contained in Scripture are not identical concepts, nor is the former antithetical to the latter). Divergent Protestant opinions, on the other hand, are thoroughly unverifiable upon close scrutiny. They are only as good as the individual or denomination holding to them.

Dr. James White, e.g., believes in adult, believer's baptism. He calls himself "Reformed." Yet his
Presbyterian comrades -- people like R.C. Sproul (as well as John Calvin himself, and
Luther) -- believe in infant baptism (and Luther even holds rather strongly to baptismal regeneration). All appeal to Scripture Alone (as Tradition is rejected as any sort of norm or authority for doctrine). How does one choose? Well, it comes down to the atomistic individual in the end. Now, how "speculative" and "unveriable" is that?! Surely more than the Catholic apostolic and historical view, which takes seriously what the Holy Spirit has been saying through the centuries to believers en masse, and what He has taught the Church (what Catholics call
the "mind of the Church"). In Catholicism, it is not the individual who reigns supreme, but the
corporate Christianity and "accumulated wisdom" of the Church (itself grounded in Holy Scripture); Tradition passed down in its fullness through the centuries, just as St. Paul refers to in many places in his epistles.

2) The appeals to development contradict what the RCC has taught. For example, if the Council of
Trent teaches that transubstantiation has always been the view of the eucharist held by the Christian church, Catholic apologists can't rationally argue that transubstantiation is a later development of an earlier belief in a more vague "real presence". To make such an argument would be a contradiction of the teachings of the institution Catholic apologists claim to be defending.

This is a false analysis. It rests upon the fallacy of the Tridentine use of the word "substance" as equivalent to the entire structure of Aristotelian/Thomistic philosophical analysis of the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. Trent stated that the "substance" of the bread and wine "converted" to the Body and Blood of Christ at consecration (Decree on the Eucharist, chapter 4). It didn't (technically) say that transubstantiation -- conceived as a philosophical construct -- had always been held. But in developmental terms, the basis for the later view was clearly there in the notion of Real Presence, taught in Scripture and almost-unanimously held by the Fathers (while denied by virtually all Protestants).

The early Church believed that the Body and Blood of Christ were literally, truly present in the
consecrated bread and wine. Utilizing the word "substance" is simply one way of thinking about such complex issues, just as homoousios was used with reference to Christ's nature. It doesn't imply that Christians always spoke in those terms, even though they had always believed Jesus was simultaneously God and Man. So one could say that the Church "always" believed in the Two
Natures of Christ, while at the same time realizing that earlier Christians did not use the Chalcedonian terminology of 451. This was a development; so was transubstantiation, the Immaculate Conception, and other doctrines which Protestants detest.

3) What Catholic apologists call developments are sometimes contradictions instead. For example,
if the most straightforward readings of passages like Luke 1:47 and John 2:3-4 are that Mary was a sinner, and church fathers teach for centuries that she was a sinner, it's irrational to argue that a later belief in a sinless Mary is a development of the earlier belief. Such a change would be more accurately described as a contradiction, not a development.

So many errors; so much ink needed to refute them properly (and I don't have unlimited time) . . .
Mary did need a Savior, as much as the rest of us. The Immaculate Conception was a pure act of
grace on God's part, saving Mary by preventing her from entering the pit of sin as she surely would have, but for that special grace. John 2:3-4 in no way supports some supposed sin on Mary's part, except on prior Protestant presuppositions, making the argument circular (but I myself wouldn't have thought when I was a Protestant that this verse is an unambiguous example of a sin committed by Mary). Catholic apologist James Akin writes:

     The title "Woman" is not a sign of disrespect, it is the opposite -- a title of dignity. It is a
     formal mode of speech equivalent to the English titles, "Lady" or "Madam."

     The Protestant commentator William Barclay writes:

          The word Woman (gynai) is also misleading. It sounds to us very rough and abrupt.
          But it is the same word as Jesus used on the Cross to address Mary as he left her to
          the care of John (John 19:26). In Homer it is the title by which Odysseus addresses
          Penelope, his well-loved wife. It is the title by which Augustus, the Roman Emperor,
          addressed Cleopatara, the famous Egyptian queen. So far from being a rough and
          discourteous way of address, it was a title of respect. We have no way of speaking in
          English which exactly renders it; but it is better to translate it Lady which gives at least
          the courtesy in it.

(The Gospel of John, revised edition, vol. 1, 98)

     Similarly, the Protestant Expositor's Bible Commentary, published by Zondervan, states:

          Jesus' reply to Mary was not so abrupt as it seems. 'Woman' (gynai) was a polite form
          of address. Jesus used it when he spoke to his mother from the cross (19:26) and also
          when he spoke to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection (20:15).

(vol. 9, 42)

     Even the Fundamentalist Wycliffe Bible Commentary put out by Moody Press acknowledges
     in its comment on this verse, "In his reply, the use of 'Woman' does not involve disrespect (cf.

     (p. 1076).

     . . . Actually, the way Jesus is using the term -- at the two key junctures in John's Gospel
     where Mary appears -- is symbolic and emblematic of her role in redemptive history.
     Whereas Eve was the First Woman, Mary is the Second Woman, just as Adam was the First
     Man and Jesus was the Second Man (1 Cor. 15:47).

So Mr. Engwer's "straightforward" biblical interpretations of Mary's alleged sins in Scripture are not quite so clear to many prominent Protestant commentators -- no doubt much more learned in the arts of exegesis and hermeneutics and linguistics than he is, if I do say so.

As for the Fathers teaching "for centuries" that Mary was a sinner, this is absurdly simplistic. The consensus was that she was actually sinless. This was strongly implied by the New Eve motif, which goes back as far as St. Justin Martyr and St. Irenaeus. Other Fathers who believed Mary was sinless included Hippolytus, Epiphanius, Gregory Nazianz, Gregory Nyssa, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose, Augustine, Ephraim of Syria, and Cyril of Alexandria. The exceptions are few: Tertullian (later a Montanist heretic), Origen, Basil the Great, and John Chrysostom thought Mary committed actual sin. But Catholic teaching does not require literal unanimity of the Fathers; only significant agreement. Individual Fathers are not infallible. The Church Councils make the judgment as to orthodox doctrine. Catholics believe that even St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas got a few things wrong (just as Protestants believe that Calvin and Luther were not infallible).

  IV. Protestant Logical Problems With Regard to Development of Doctrine

In explaining the difference between acceptable and unacceptable forms of development of doctrine, I have compared a Trinitarian doctrine that can be said to have developed in
some way (the co-existence of the three Persons) with a Roman Catholic doctrine that's said to have developed (the Immaculate Conception). As I explained in that earlier post, the co-existence of the three Persons is a necessary and non-speculative conclusion drawn from Matthew 3:16-17 and other passages of scripture. The Immaculate Conception, on the other hand, is an unnecessary and speculative conclusion drawn from Luke 1:28 and other passages of scripture.

To argue that this Trinitarian doctrine and this Roman Catholic doctrine developed in the same way is fallacious. The Trinitarian doctrine is a necessary and non-speculative development, something that's already in scripture. The Roman Catholic doctrine (the Immaculate Conception), on the other hand, is an unnecessary and speculative attempt to give a scriptural foundation to a much later concept. In other words, there's a difference between a) developing an understanding of something already in scripture and b) trying to read a post-scriptural concept into scripture in ways that are unnecessary and speculative.

First of all, Mr. Engwer's judgment regarding what is overly "speculative" is itself ultimately
"speculative" and "unverifiable," precisely as he accuses Catholic developments of being. They rest -- in the final analysis -- upon himself and other Protestant scholars and commentators, not on Scripture itself, because the Bible never specifically informs us of which beliefs are "overly speculative." Why should I accept the word of these Protestants, where they contradict the Church Fathers, who were much closer in time to the apostles? It is no coincidence or shock that the Protestant finds "overly-speculative" all doctrines held by the Catholic Church which have been discarded by Protestantism! Again, this is circular reasoning, and obviously so. But let's accept this methodology (also espoused by Dr. James White) for a moment, for the sake of argument, and apply it as a reductio ad absurdum for the Protestant:

     1. True developments must be explicitly grounded in Scripture, or else they are arbitrary and
     "unbiblical" or "antibiblical" -- therefore false. Dr. James White (a la Confucius) says: "The
     text of Scripture provides the grounds, and most importantly, the limits for this development
     over time" (Roman Catholic Controversy, 83).

     2. The Trinity and the Resurrection of Christ and the Virgin Birth, e.g., are thoroughly
     grounded in Scripture, and are therefore proper (but Catholics also hold to these beliefs).

     3. The canon of the New Testament is (undeniably) not itself a "biblical doctrine." The New
     Testament never gives a "text" for the authoritative listing of its books.

     4. Therefore, the canon of the New Testament is not a legitimate development of doctrine
     (according to #1), and is, in fact, a corruption and a false teaching.

     5. Therefore, in light of #4, the New Testament (i.e., in the 27-book form which has been
     passed down through the Catholic centuries to Luther and the Protestants as a received
     Tradition) cannot be used as a measuring-rod to judge the orthodoxy of other doctrines.

     6. #5 being the case, the Engwer/White criterion for legitimate developments is radically
     self-defeating, and must be discarded (along with sola Scriptura itself).

This is an airtight argument, and there is no way out of it. It renders null and void Mr. Engwer's and Dr. White's arguments concerning development of doctrine. I don't think White and Engwer will be willing to give up both sola Scriptura and the New Testament in order to maintain a fallacious, utterly nonsensical opinion (given the above conclusions) of what constitutes a true development! :-) The only conceivable escape from the logical horns of the dilemma would be for Mr. Engwer to allow a tacit and altogether arbitrary exception for the canon of the NT, but then, of course, we immediately ask,

     "On what basis can you absolutely bow to (Catholic) Church authority in that one instance,
     while you deny its binding nature in all others, and fall back to Scripture Alone, the very
     canon of which was proclaimed authoritatively by the Catholic Church?"

This entire system of interpretation of the Bible and Church history is absurd, as is -- in the final analysis -- the formal principle of sola Scriptura upon which it is built. Scripture does not teach sola Scriptura and it does teach about an authoritative Tradition and Church. Therefore, even the premise on which the intellectually-suicidal White/Engwer criterion for true vs. false developments rests (sola Scriptura), is itself self-defeating. Christian Tradition simply cannot be dismissed, for to do so is to discard the Bible itself, and with it, the entire Protestant epistemological foundation and formal principle. It is only possible to have Bible + Church
+ Apostolic Tradition, or to have none of the three. No other position can be rationally taken,
whether the question is approached historically or biblically (as if Scripture can be totally divorced from history). It is a matter of inescapable logic.

Clearly, then, I don't object to all forms of development of doctrine. I object to the Roman Catholic version of development as it's used to defend the early absence of doctrines like the papacy and the Immaculate Conception. In other words, if Catholic apologists want to argue that people's understanding of the implications of a passage like Matthew 3:16-17 developed over time, I don't object to that. But if these same Catholic apologists want to argue that the Immaculate Conception is a development of what the earliest Christians believed about Mary, I do object to that use of the development argument. As far as I know, the Protestant apologists mentioned by Dave Armstrong (William Webster, James White, etc.) agree with me on this.

Then they are subject to the same extreme difficulty I just mentioned. And beyond that, if I can show that there is plenty of biblical evidence for the papacy (as I intend to do, and have done in my papers already), then the papacy is on the same epistemological ground as something like, say,
congregationalism or a symbolic Eucharist and baptism, which arguably rest on quite flimsy biblical grounds. The Protestants give their biblical arguments for doctrines; we give ours. Who is to say who is right? On what basis? We answer (just as the Fathers did) that this is determined by tracing back doctrines historically: what has the Church taught in the past? Can this particular doctrine x be traced back to the apostles, even if only in kernel or primitive form? The Protestant distinctives cannot be so traced. The Catholic distinctives certainly can, once development is rightly understood and consistently applied.

  V. Development According to Protestant Polemicist William Webster

In his article on development of doctrine and the papacy, William Webster makes some comments
that could be interpreted as opposition to all forms of development.

I didn't contend that he denied all forms of development (as Salmon seems to do). What I argued
was that -- by his reasoning in the paper -- Mr. Webster fundamentally misunderstood what Catholics believe development to be. As he was attempting to establish that our view was internally inconsistent, it was of the utmost importance that he get our views right, or else his thesis would hardly be forceful or compelling (indeed, it was not at all, in my opinion). That's what is called a straw man.

Or, the comments could be interpreted as William Webster saying that the RCC has condemned all
forms of development. But if you read William Webster's article, it becomes clear that he's
addressing some specific arguments for development, not all forms of the concept. Namely, he
specifically objects to Catholic apologists appealing to development on issues such as the primacy of Peter and the universal jurisdiction of the earliest Roman bishops. This doesn't mean that William Webster is objecting to every appeal to development, nor does it mean that he thinks the RCC has condemned every form of development.

I don't believe I stated otherwise. Again, I argued that Mr. Webster did not show that he understood how we view development, because he made some very foolish arguments. But his position is still subject to the severe internal logical difficulties outlined above.

I think Dave Armstrong's response to William Webster is off the mark, in that he reads too much
into what Webster has argued.

This is one of the many bald assertions in Mr. Engwer's paper, but note -- as is so often the case -- that he gives no proof of his belief. I seriously wonder whether Mr. Engwer even understood my argument, as evidenced by these remarks. If he did, he is not even arguing against it, let alone
disproving it. Instead, he is simply using my paper as a means to express his views once again. One
wonders, then, if calling his present writing a "response" to mine is an appropriate or accurate title.

There are some comments Webster makes that could be interpreted as a condemnation of all forms of development. But you'd have to ignore what Webster argues elsewhere, in the same article. And I don't think we should do that.

I didn't. And I think Mr. Engwer should not largely ignore my reasoning in a paper mentioning my
name and claiming to be a response to one of my works. But if he wants to make a weak and
insubstantial argument, I say, more power to him! :-)

James White, in his most popular book on Roman Catholicism, The Roman Catholic Controversy
(Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House, 1996), specifically advocates development of doctrine.
He also contrasts acceptable forms of development with unacceptable forms of development (pp.
80-85). White's book has been out for a few years now, so he can't be accused of just recently
coming up with this argument.

Yet -- curiously -- he accuses Cardinal Newman of "coming up with" his analysis of development,
which I have shown in several of my papers was taught in its basic form by St. Vincent of Lerins in the 5th century (!!!), and echoed by St. Augustine in the same period. This is no new concept, much as George Salmon carped on and on about this beguiling attempt by Newman and the "Romanists" to try to deny the facts of history (which of course upheld Anglicanism in his case) and hoodwink the ignorant, gullible masses.

Evangelicals are more specific in their arguments than Dave implies. William Webster in particular
has produced hundreds of pages of documentation of specifically what he means when he says that the First Vatican Council is a contradiction of modern Catholic appeals to development.

Then why hasn't he explained to all of us why Vatican I cited St. Vincent of Lerins?

Yes, the First Vatican Council believed in some forms of development of doctrine, as Dave argues in his article. But, at the same time, there are some specific cases, such as Vatican I's claims about Matthew 16, where development just isn't a valid argument.

Only wrongly interpreted, as I demonstrated, I think, in my paper contra Webster. Development of doctrine applies across the board in Catholic teaching. Once again, Mr. Engwer offers no actual proofs of his contentions (by citing my words); only assertions.

VI. The Historical Development of the Ante-Nicene Papacy

This is Dave's first argument, as I summarized it:

1) The papacy has existed since the time of Peter in at least a seed form, but it later developed into something more. The development isn't a contradiction. It's a progression. The seed we can see early on consists of concepts such as the universal jurisdiction of Peter. However, even this seed may not have been fully understood or universally recognized early on.

An accurate summary!

One of the problems with Dave's argument is that it's so speculative. Might the keys of Matthew 16 be a reference to papal authority? Yes. Might they also be something else, such as a reference to Peter's authority in preaching the gospel at Pentecost? Yes. As we'll see later, the evidence is against the papal interpretation. But even without knowing that, isn't it problematic when people like Dave want to build an institution like the papacy, with all of its major implications, on something as speculative as the papal interpretation of Matthew 16? How much is this sort of speculation worth?

Elsewhere at his web site, Dave explains that the Biblical evidence for the papacy, aside from
passages like Matthew 16 and Luke 22, consists of things like Jesus preaching from Peter's boat and Peter being the first apostle to enter Jesus' tomb after the resurrection. Again, do you see the role speculation is playing here? Does Peter say and do many things that are unique in one way or another? Yes. So do the other apostles. John is called "the beloved disciple", is referred to as living until Christ's return, and lived the longest among the apostles. Paul is called a "chosen vessel" who will bear Christ's name before the world, he repeatedly refers to his authority over all the churches, and he's the only apostle to publicly rebuke and correct another apostle (Peter).

Can you imagine what Catholic apologists would make of these things, if they had been said about
Peter rather than about another person? What if Peter had been uniquely called "the beloved
disciple"? What if Peter had uniquely been referred to as living until Christ's return? (Catholic
apologists would probably cite the passage as evidence that Peter was to have successors with
papal authority until Christ returns.) What if it had been Peter rather than Paul who had repeatedly referred to his authority over all churches, and had publicly rebuked and corrected another apostle? If Catholic apologists are going to see papal implications in Jesus preaching from Peter's boat or in Peter being given some keys, why don't they see papal implications in these other passages involving other people? The passages involving Paul, for example, such as his references to having authority over all churches, are closer to a papacy than anything said about Peter.

This is much ado about nothing, because it is primarily the dismantling of a straw man. Mr. Engler
picks a few examples and acts as if these are considered compelling in and of themselves. But the
salient fact concerning Petrine primacy is the cumulative power of the evidence. This I summarized in my paper: 50 NT Proofs for Petrine Primacy & the Papacy. Mr. Engwer is welcome to refute the 50 NT Proofs one-by-one. They are not insignificant. No Protestant has yet done so, and my website has been online for nearly five years now. We shall soon examine two crucial aspects of this Petrine data in some depth.

Notice something Dave Armstrong says about the alleged early evidence for a papacy:

     The primacy itself was given to him [Peter]; the duty and prerogatives of the papal office, and
     the keys of the kingdom, but none of that implies that a full understanding or application, or

     unanimous acknowledgement by others is therefore also present from the beginning.

It's important to notice what Dave seems to be arguing here. Apparently, he's saying that even the
seed form of the papacy wasn't necessarily understood or universally recognized early on.

Not fully understood, and not universally recognized. This is human reality; it is not unexpected,
and it is not a disproof of Catholic development or self-understanding.

But think of the logical implications of this. If there was no oak tree early on, and even the existence of an acorn is questionable, isn't that problematic for the claims of the RCC?

No, because the acorn was not "questionable." The Roman church was preeminent from the
beginning, and its bishops, the popes, exercised the primacy, albeit with much more confidence and self-understanding as time went on. As the Newman citation from my paper contra Webster
illustrated, this is not unusual, and the development of creeds, trinitarianism, and the canon of
Scripture likewise rapidly developed in the 4th century, after persecution had ceased. Likewise, the papacy, and things like Mariology. This was clearly primarily a cultural/historical phenomenon, rather than a "biblical" one.

If all Catholics have is a series of speculations about passages like Matthew 16 and John 21,
followed by a later development of a papal office with all that it involves today, aren't they basically admitting what Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, and others have been saying all along? As Peter de Rosa wrote in Vicars of Christ (New York, New York: Crown Publishing, 1988), "The gospels did not create the papacy; the papacy, once in being, leaned for support on the gospels" (p. 25).

But of course, again, this is a cardboard caricature of the biblical evidence for the papacy. Anyone reading this and not knowing anything further -- especially if they are predisposed to reject the papacy due to nearly 500 years of incessant Protestant propaganda and disinformation --, would accept the Protestant view as self-evident, and the Catholic as fundamentally silly. But that is what happens as a result of one-sided (and thoroughly slanted and biased) presentations.

I think it would be helpful at this point to repost a citation I've used before from a Roman Catholic historian:

     There appears at the present time to be increasing consensus among Catholic and
     non-Catholic exegetes regarding the Petrine office in the New Testament….The further
     question whether there was any notion of an enduring office beyond Peter’s lifetime, if posed
     in purely historical terms, should probably be answered in the negative. That is, if we ask
     whether the historical Jesus, in commissioning Peter, expected him to have successors, or
     whether the author of the Gospel of Matthew, writing after Peter’s death, was aware that
     Peter and his commission survived in the leaders of the Roman community who succeeded
     him, the answer in both cases is probably 'no.'…If we ask in addition whether the primitive
     Church was aware, after Peter’s death, that his authority had passed to the next bishop of
     Rome, or in other words that the head of the community at Rome was now the successor of
     Peter, the Church’s rock and hence the subject of the promise in Matthew 16:18-19, the
     question, put in those terms, must certainly be given a negative answer....Rome did not
     succeed in maintaining its position against the contrary opinion and praxis of a significant
     portion of the Church. The two most important controversies of this type were the disputes
     over the feast of Easter and heretical baptism. Each marks a stage in Rome’s sense of
     authority and at the same time reveals the initial resistance of other churches to the Roman

(Klaus Schatz, Papal Primacy [Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996], pp. 1-2, 11)

Notice that this Catholic historian:

1) Acknowledges that he's describing a consensus among Catholic and non-Catholic scholars.

2) Describes a consensus that contradicts what the RCC has taught at the First Vatican Council and elsewhere.

Schatz doesn't just say that the papacy developed over time. He specifically refers to concepts such as Peter having universal jurisdiction and being succeeded to in that role exclusively by Roman bishops. And he says that there's a consensus, even among Catholic scholars, that the earliest Christians had no such concepts. In other words, even the seed form of the papacy that people like Dave Armstrong try to defend didn't exist early on.

I've never heard of this guy, and therefore I don't know if he is an orthodox Catholic or not (one
can't assume that -- sadly -- these days). But I can offer counter-evidence. First, I will again cite
Cardinal Newman, concerning the early papacy:

     A partial fulfilment, or at least indications of what was to be, there certainly were in the
     first age. Faint one by one, at least they are various, and are found in writers of many times
     and countries, and thereby illustrative of each other, and forming a body of proof. Thus St.
     Clement, in the name of the Church of Rome, writes to the Corinthians, when they were
     without a bishop; St. Ignatius of Antioch addresses the Roman Church, out of the Churches to
     which he writes, as "the Church, which has in dignity the first seat, of the city of the
     Romans," and implies that it was too high for his directing as being the Church of St. Peter
     and St. Paul.

     St. Polycarp of Smyrna has recourse to the Bishop of Rome on the question of Easter; the
     heretic Marcion, excommunicated in Pontus, betakes himself to Rome; Soter, Bishop of
     Rome, sends alms, according to the custom of his Church, to the Churches throughout the
     empire, and, in the words of Eusebius, "affectionately exhorted those who came to Rome, as
     a father his children;" the Montanists from Phrygia come to Rome to gain the countenance of
     its Bishop; Praxeas, from Asia, attempts the like, and for a while is successful; St. Victor,
     Bishop of Rome, threatens to excommunicate the Asian Churches; St. Irenaeus speaks of
     Rome as "the greatest Church, the most ancient, the most conspicuous, and founded and
     established by Peter and Paul," appeals to its tradition, not in contrast indeed, but in
     preference to that of other Churches, and declares that "to this Church, every Church, that is,
     the faithful from every side must resort" or "must agree with it, propter potiorem

     "O Church, happy in its position," says Tertullian, "into which the Apostles poured out,
     together with their blood, their whole doctrine;" and elsewhere, though in indignation and
     bitter  mockery, he calls the Pope "the Pontifex Maximus, the Bishop of {158} Bishops." The
     presbyters of St. Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, complain of his doctrine to St. Dionysius
     of Rome; the latter expostulates with him, and he explains.

     The Emperor Aurelian leaves "to the Bishops of Italy and of Rome" the decision, whether or
     not Paul of Samosata shall be dispossessed of the see-house at Antioch; St. Cyprian speaks
     of Rome as "the See of Peter and the principal Church, whence the unity of the priesthood
     took its rise, whose faith has been commended by the Apostles, to whom faithlessness can
     have no access;" St. Stephen refuses to receive St. Cyprian's deputation, and separates
     himself from various Churches of the East; Fortunatus and Felix, deposed by St. Cyprian,
     have recourse to Rome; Basilides, deposed in Spain, betakes himself to Rome, and gains the
     ear of St. Stephen.

(Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 1878 ed., Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1989,  157-158; Part 1, Chapter 4, Section 3)

In a less technical and historically-dense fashion, I summarized in another paper some notable
instances of papal authority, up through the 6th century:

     There was no problem of authority in the early Church. Everyone knew how doctrinal
     controversies could be definitively resolved. Even as early as the 2nd century we observe the
     strong authority of Pope Victor (r. 189-98) with regard to the Quartodecimen controversy
     (over the dating of Easter). St. Clement of Rome exercised much authority in the late 1st
     century. In the 3rd c., Pope St. Stephen reverses the decision of St. Cyprian of Carthage and
     a council of African bishops regarding a question of baptism. St. Cyprian had appealed both
     to Popes Cornelius and Stephen to resolve this issue. Shortly thereafter, many appeals were
     made to popes for various reasons, which would lead one to believe that the pope had some
     special authority: at least primacy, if not supremacy:

          1. St. Athanasius (4th c.) appeals to Pope Julius I, from an unjust decision rendered
          against him by Oriental Bishops, and the pope reverses the sentence.

          2. St. Basil the Great (4th c.), Archbishop of Caesarea pleads for the protection of
          Pope Damasus.

          3. St. John Chysostom, in the early 5th c., appeals to Pope Innocent I, for a redress of
          grievances inflicted upon him by several Eastern Prelates, and by Empress Eudoxia of

          4. St. Cyril (5th c.) appeals to Pope Celestine against Nestorius; Nestorius also does
          so, but the Pope favors Cyril.

          5. Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus, is condemned by the Robber-Council of 449, and
          appealed to Pope Leo the Great, who declared the deposition invalid; Theodoret was
          restored to his See.

          6. John, Abbot of Constantinople (6th c.) appeals from the decision of the Patriarch of
          that city to Pope St. Gregory the Great, who reverses the sentence.

     This strikes me as a great deal of "authority." All these people were from the East -- many of
     the most revered figures, I might add. They knew where the authority resided; they knew how
     to settle conflicts authoritatively in favor of orthodoxy. Do Orthodox [and Protestants] want
     to say that they were all deluded in this regard? That if they had been in their shoes, they
     wouldn't have known where to go for redress against injustice or persecution? They wouldn't
     have known who spoke for the Universal Church; the Catholic Church; or for orthodoxy?

VII. Does Catholicism Require a Unanimous Patristic Interpretation of Matthew 16?

This is Dave's second argument, as I summarized it:

2) Even if some church fathers rejected the papal interpretation of a passage like Matthew 16 or
John 21, that doesn't change the fact that others accepted the papal interpretation. Or, they at least accepted a seed form of the papal interpretation, one that would later develop into the papal interpretation. And a church father could possibly believe in the doctrine of the papacy even if he didn't see a papacy where Catholics see it today (Matthew 16, Luke 22, John 21, etc.). Dave's argument is spurious. Here's what the First Vatican Council claimed in chapter 1 of session 4, concerning the papal interpretation of Matthew 16 (emphasis mine):

     To this absolutely manifest teaching of the sacred scriptures, as it has always been
     understood by the Catholic Church, are clearly opposed the distorted opinions of those who
     misrepresent the form of government which Christ the lord established in his church and deny
     that Peter, in preference to the rest of the apostles, taken singly or collectively, was
     endowed by Christ with a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction. The same may be said of
     those who assert that this primacy was not conferred immediately and directly on blessed
     Peter himself, but rather on the church, and that it was through the church that it was
     transmitted to him in his capacity as her minister. Therefore, if anyone says that blessed
     Peter the apostle was not appointed by Christ the lord as prince of all the apostles and visible
     head of the whole church militant; or that it was a primacy of honour only and not one of true
     and proper jurisdiction that he directly and immediately received from our Lord Jesus Christ
     himself: let him be anathema.

Notice, first of all, that Vatican I claims that the papal interpretation of Matthew 16 is clear, that only distorters would deny it, and that it's always been accepted by the Christian church. Catholics may appeal to development of doctrine on other issues, but these claims of Vatican I don't allow for any appeals to development with regard to the papal interpretation of Matthew 16.

Yet, what do we see when we examine the history of the interpretation of this passage of scripture? As William Webster documents in his books and at his web site
(http://www.christiantruth.com/mt16.html), the earliest interpretations of Matthew 16 are either
non-papal or anti-papal. Even among the later church fathers, there's widespread ignorance of, and even contradiction of, the papal interpretation. Even in some cases where a papal interpretation might be in view, the papal interpretation is at best a minority viewpoint. Augustine, writing as late as the fifth century, specifically denies that Peter is "this rock", and he gives no indication that he's thereby doing something revolutionary or something that would be perceived as "distorting", as Vatican I would put it.

What we see in the history of the interpretation of Matthew 16 is just what William Webster has
described. Catholic apologists are forced, by the facts of history, to argue for a gradual development of the papal understanding of Matthew 16. Yet, the First Vatican Council claimed that the papal interpretation had always been accepted by the Christian church. According to the First Vatican Council, the papacy is clear in Matthew 16, and only perverse distorters would deny that. But the papal interpretation of Matthew 16 is actually absent and contradicted early on. The facts of history fly directly in the face of what the RCC has taught.

Mr. Engwer makes the same logical mistake which Mr. Webster committed (one grows weary of
repeating the same points): he imagines that the bishops of the First Vatican Council believed that all Catholics at all times accepted the interpretations of the classic biblical papal proofs. But the Council does not speak specifically of Matthew 16 when it sums up the Catholic teaching. My translation of the Council (NY: 1912; reprinted by TAN, 1977), reads:

     At open variance with this clear doctrine of Holy Scripture, as it has ever been understood
     by the Catholic Church . . .

In other words, it is the teaching, the doctrine about the papacy and Petrine primacy which was
always understood (i.e., in its essence), not the interpretation of Matthew 16. It is indeed somewhat of a subtle distinction, but it is there, nonetheless. What was "clear" was Jesus' bestowal of the "jurisdiction of Chief Pastor and Ruler over all His fold" upon Peter, which the Council states right before Mr. Engwer's lengthy citation, followed by John 21:15,17. So one might argue that that passage is being referred to, rather than Matthew 16 -- if one insists on arguing that passages, rather than doctrines are the primary intended reference. The Catholic Church, however, is much more concerned with true doctrine, rather than required readings of biblical texts.

Furthermore, contending that a certain belief "has ever been understood by the Catholic Church" is not the same as believing that all the Fathers believed it. There will always be anomalies in the
Fathers. But the authority of the Catholic Church ultimately resides in Councils and popes.
Furthermore, if we, e.g., assume for a moment that St. Augustine disbelieved the papal interpretation of Matthew 16 (which is questionable), does it therefore follow that he rejected the papacy? Hardly. He assuredly did not. And that is what is being referred to at Vatican I, not particularistic knowledge of patristic interpretations of every "papal" passage. But Protestant polemicists often cannot see the forest for the trees. As we shall see below, there was, nevertheless, an extraordinary patristic testimony that Peter was the Rock and foundation of the Church.

Elsewhere, this same council refers to the papacy as described above as something "known to all
ages", something that "none can doubt". What are we to make of Dave Armstrong's argument, in
light of what the First Vatican Council taught?

We are to make of it that it is consistent, whereas Mr. Engwer's argument is not. We are to understand that these passages presuppose a certain development of all doctrines, but that that doesn't preclude referring to early adherence in terms of "known to all ages" any more than it would preclude the statement: "early Christians knew what books constituted the New Testament." Protestants such as Mr. Engwer do not deny that statement, despite a host of anomalies I could point out, where prominent Church Fathers thought books not now in the NT were biblical books, and where many others denied the canonicity of Revelation and James well into the 4th century. Likewise, one can find divergent interpretations of Matthew 16, but that does not establish that the papacy was therefore unknown and unacknowledged (Mr. Engwer writes near the end of his paper -- astoundingly -- "perhaps . . . there just wasn't a papacy at the time?"). One could "get some papal texts wrong" in the early centuries and still accept the primacy of Peter and papal supremacy, just as one could "get some biblical books wrong" and accept the inspiration of Holy Scripture (whatever it actually is).

VIII. St. Peter as the Rock and Foundation (Head, Pope) of the Church:
Scholarly Commentary (Mostly Protestant)

This is the third argument made by Dave Armstrong, as I summarized it earlier:

3) The prominence of the Roman church early on is evidence of a papacy. Even if there are other
explanations for the prominence of the Roman church, such as Peter and Paul having been martyred there and the city's prominence within the Empire, the papacy could also be a factor.

The problem with Dave's argument is that all of the earliest references to the Roman church's
prominence are non-papal. The apostle Paul, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and others give
non-papal reasons for commending the Roman church. They mention things like the Roman church's
faith, its love, its generosity, its location in the capital of the Empire, Paul and Peter having been there and having been martyred there, etc. Rather than the prominence of the early Roman church being an argument for the papacy existing at the time, it's an argument against it. When one source after another commends the Roman church, and all sorts of reasons are given for commending it, and those reasons never include a papacy, that speaks volumes.

If it were only true, it would indeed speak volumes, but I think the historical examples given above suggest otherwise. And in the 4th and 5th centuries, the patristic evidence gets very common and explicit, as the many papers and links on my Papacy page abundantly make clear.

It's a confirmation of what Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, and others have been saying for centuries. The Roman church rose in influence for various practical reasons. Once the bishop of Rome had attained a wide influence, that influence was increasingly attributed to Divine appointment. As Peter de Rosa said in my earlier citation, the gospels didn't create the papacy; the papacy, once in being, leaned for support on the gospels.

To admit that there were practical factors involved in the rise of the Roman church's influence, then suggest that a papacy may have been a factor as well, is just a begging of the question. The practical factors are specifically mentioned by the early writers (Paul mentions the Roman church's faith, Ignatius mentions its love and generosity, Irenaeus mentions that Paul and Peter were there, etc.). A Divinely appointed papacy, on the other hand, is not mentioned by the early writers. So it's just more question begging on the part of Catholic apologists for them to ask us to assume that the papacy was a factor at a time when it's never mentioned. Could documents like First Clement and Irenaeus' letter to Victor be interpreted in a papal way? Yes. Could they also be interpreted in non-papal and even anti-papal ways? Yes.

Alright; it's now time to delve deeply into Scripture itself, for historical testimony -- no matter how voluminous or widespread -- is never sufficient for the Protestant who has a built-in hostility against the papacy, episcopacy, the Catholic Church; indeed, oftentimes against the notion of any binding spiritual and ecclesiastical authority whatsoever (and also, far too often, to historical analysis per se). Holy Scripture gives us the common ground and the jointly-acknowledged authority which both parties wholeheartedly accept. Here we have a divinely-inspired Revelation and Word of God. Therefore, if we can show that in this Revelation the papacy is clearly ordained by Jesus (not simply a result of historical happenstance or pure chance), then we shall have gone a long way towards accomplishing our purpose.

At this point, I will produce commentary on the notion of Peter as the Rock, upon whom Lord  Jesus built His Church. This is -- it seems to me -- quite an extraordinary indication that Peter and his successors were to possess sublime authority over the Church Universal. In the section following this one we shall examine what it meant to be given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. These things mean something. They are not simply idle phrases of no particular import. This was a crucial and profound episode in the life of the disciples. Catholics believe that Matthew 16 describes the institutional beginning of the Christian (Catholic) Church.

In order to ascertain the precise meaning and ecclesiological application of these phrases we must take into account the culture of the time, cross-referencing of Holy Scripture (exegesis), principles of interpretation (hermeneutics), and the original languages. These methods are completely acceptable to Protestants. Therefore, if the results of such a study point clearly to Petrine primacy and a papacy, the honest student of the Bible must decide what he is to do with that information. Frankly, there aren't many choices!

Mr. Engwer, like his forebears Salmon and Webster, makes great play of the fact that the "papal"interpretation of Matthew 16 was supposedly not very widely held. But this is not the case. There were exceptions (as there always are), but there was also great consensus (just as, e.g., was true with regard to the NT canon). The following Fathers (and an Ecumenical Council) held that it was Peter, not his faith or confession, who was the Rock:

          Aphraates the Persian
          Ephraim the Syrian
          Hilary of Poitiers
          Zeno of Africa
          Gregory of Nazianzen
          Gregory of Nyssa
          Basil the Great
          Didymus the Blind
          John Chrysostom
          Cyril of Alexandria
          Peter Chrysologus
          Proclus of Constantinople
          Secundinus (disciple and assistant of St. Patrick)
          Council of Chalcedon

     (all of the above are prior to 451 A.D.)

          Maximus the Confessor (650 A.D.)
          John Damascene (d.c. 749 A.D.)
          Theodore the Studite (d. 826 A.D.)

[For 65 pages of documentation of these facts, see Jesus, Peter, and the Keys, by Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, and David Hess, Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Pub. Co., 1996, pp. 215-279. Call 800-647-9882 to purchase a copy]

Thus, it is beyond silly for Mr. Engwer to state: "But the papal interpretation of Matthew 16 is
actually absent and contradicted early on. The facts of history fly directly in the face of what the RCC has taught." He might, I suppose, emphasize the fact that most of the solid sources are from the 3rd or 4th century on, but of course that brings him right back into the insurmountable problem of the canon of the New Testament for the Protestant, and the similarly relatively late flowering of explicit trinitarianism and Christology and the doctrine of original sin as well. The Protestant distinctives of extrinsic justification and symblic baptism and Eucharist are virtually unknown among the Fathers, as we noted above (the same holds for sola Scriptura, though this is very difficult to prove to Protestants for various reasons).

Martin Luther, in his Commentary on the Psalms, wrote: "The Bible is its own interpreter." R.C.
Sproul, the well-known Presbyterian theologian, reiterates this principle of hermeneutics: "The chief rule of biblical interpretation is 'sacred Scripture is its own interpreter.' This principle means that the Bible is to be interpreted by the Bible" (Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 1992, 25). Very well, then, let the Protestant answer the following biblical evidences, as expounded primarily by Protestant scholars.

Now we shall examine (mostly Protestant) scholarly exegesis of Matthew 16:18 and 16:19:

     Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,
     and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. (RSV)

Catholics contend that the Rock is Peter himself, not his faith, or Jesus (although arguably his faith is assumed by Christ in naming Peter Rock in the first place). Many prominent Protestant scholars and exegetes have agreed that Peter is the Rock in Matthew 16:18, including Henry
Alford, (Anglican: The New Testament for English Readers, vol. 1, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1983, 119), John Broadus (Reformed Baptist: Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1886, 355-356), C. F. Keil, Gerhard Kittel (Lutheran: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. VI, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968, 98-99), Oscar Cullmann (Lutheran: Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr, 2nd rev. ed., 1962), William F. Albright, Robert McAfee Brown, and more recently, highly-respected evangelical commentators R.T. France, and D.A. Carson, who both surprisingly assert that only Protestant overreaction to Catholic Petrine and papal claims have brought about the denial that Peter himself is the Rock:

     Jesus now sums up Peter's significance in a name, Peter . . . It describes not so much Peter's
     character (he did not prove to be 'rock-like' in terms of stability or reliability), but his
     function, as the foundation-stone of Jesus' church. The feminine word for 'rock', 'petra', is
     necessarily changed to the masculine 'petros' (stone) to give a man's name, but the word-play
     is unmistakable (and in Aramaic would be even more so, as the same form 'kepha' would
     occur in both places). It is only Protestant overreaction to the Roman Catholic claim . . . that
     what is here said of Peter applies also to the later bishops of Rome, that has led some to claim
     that the 'rock' here is not Peter at all but the faith which he has just confessed. The
     word-play, and the whole structure of the passage, demands that this verse is every bit as
     much Jesus' declaration about Peter as v.16 was Peter's declaration about Jesus . . . It is to
     Peter, not to his confession, that the rock metaphor is applied . . . Peter is to be the
     foundation-stone of Jesus' new community . . . which will last forever.

(R.T. France (Anglican); in Morris, Leon, Gen. ed., Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press / Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1985, vol. 1: Matthew, 254, 256)

     On the basis of the distinction between 'petros' . . . and 'petra' . . . , many have attempted to
     avoid identifying Peter as the rock on which Jesus builds his church. Peter is a mere 'stone,'
     it is alleged; but Jesus himself is the 'rock' . . . Others adopt some other distinction . . . Yet if
     it were not for Protestant reactions against extremes of Roman Catholic interpretation, it is
     doubtful whether many would have taken 'rock' to be anything or anyone other than Peter . . .

     The Greek makes the distinction between 'petros' and 'petra' simply because it is trying to
     preserve the pun, and in Greek the feminine 'petra' could not very well serve as a masculine
     name . . .

     Had Matthew wanted to say no more than that Peter was a stone in contrast with Jesus the
     Rock, the more common word would have been 'lithos' ('stone' of almost any size). Then
     there would have been no pun - and that is just the point! . . .

     In this passage Jesus is the builder of the church and it would be a strange mixture of
     metaphors that also sees him within the same clauses as its foundation . . .

(D.A. Carson (Baptist); in Gaebelein, Frank E., Gen. ed., Expositor's Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984, vol. 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Matthew: D.A. Carson), 368}

Other Protestant scholars and works confirm the Catholic view that Peter is the Rock:

     . . . That the rock is Peter himself . . . is found almost as early as the other [interpretation], for
     Tertullian and the bishop, whether Roman or Carthaginian, against whom he thundered in De

     Pudicitia, assume this, though with different inferences. Its strength lies in the fact that Mt
     16:19 is in the singular, and must be addressed directly to Peter . . . Many Protestant
     interpreters, including notably Cullmann, take the latter view.

(New Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1962, 972)

     Though in the past some authorities have considered that the term rock refers to Jesus
     himself or to Peter's faith, the consensus of the great majority of scholars today is that the
     most obvious and traditional understanding should be construed, namely, that rock refers to
     the person of Peter.

(Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1985 edition, "Peter," Micropedia, vol. 9, 330-333. D. W. O'Connor, the author of the article, is himself Protestant and author of Peter in Rome: The Literary, Liturgical and Archaeological Evidence [1969] )

     Some interpreters have . . . referred to Jesus as the rock here, but the context is against this.
     Nor is it likely that Peter's faith or Peter's confession is meant. It is undoubtedly Peter
     himself who is to be the rock, but Peter confessing, faithful and obedient . . . The leading
     role which Peter played is shown throughout the early chapters of Acts.

(New Bible Commentary, Guthrie, D. & J.A. Motyer, eds., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 3rd ed., 1970 [Reprinted, 1987, as The Eerdmans Bible Commentary], 837)

     In view of the background of verse 19 . . . one must dismiss as confessional interpretation
     [i.e., biased by denominational views] any attempt to see this rock as meaning the faith, or the
     Messianic confession of Peter . . . The general sense of the passage is indisputable . . . Peter
     is the rock on which the new community will be built, and in that community, Peter's authority
     to 'bind' or 'release' will be a carrying out of decisions made in heaven. His teaching and
     disciplinary activities will be similarly guided by the Spirit to carry out Heaven's will.

(William F. Albright [Methodist] and C.S. Mann, Anchor Bible, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971, vol. 26, 195, 197-198)

     Protestants are learning that the crucial passage in Matthew 16 about the 'rock' on which the
     church will be built almost certainly refers to Peter himself rather than to his faith.

(Robert McAfee Brown, in McCord, Peter J., ed., A Pope For All Christians?, NY: Paulist Press, 1976, Introduction, 7. This book is an ecumenical project offering views on the papacy from many perspectives. Brown is a Presbyterian and very prominent ecumenist)

     Precisely because of the Aramaic identity of 'Kepha'/'kepha', there can be no doubt that the
     rock on which the church was to be built was Peter. Is this true also for Matthew in whose
     Greek there is the slight difference 'Petros'/'petra'? Probably the most common view would
     be that it is . . . It would be pointless to list all the commentaries holding this view, but it is
     found in [a] popular one-volume commentary . . . ; K. Stendahl in Peake's Commentary on the
     Bible (2nd rev. ed.; London: Nelson, 1962), p. 787.

(Peter in the New Testament, Brown, Raymond E., Karl P. Donfried and John Reumann, editors, Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House/NY: Paulist Press, 1973, 92-93. This is probably the most important ecumenical work on Peter, and is thus cited first in a long bibliography in the Encyclopedia Britannica. It is a common statement by a panel of eleven Catholic and Lutheran scholars)

The great Protestant Greek scholar Marvin Vincent was among those who took the traditional view:

     The word refers neither to Christ as a rock, distinguished from Simon, a stone, nor to
     Peter's confession, but to Peter himself, . . . The reference of petra to Christ is forced and
     unnatural. The obvious reference of the word is to Peter. The emphatic this naturally refers
     to the nearest antecedent; and besides, the metaphor is thus weakened, since Christ appears
     here, not as the foundation, but as the architect: "On this rock will I build." Again, Christ is
     the great foundation, the chief cornerstone, but the New Testament writers recognize no
     impropriety in applying to the members of Christ's church certain terms which are applied to
     him. For instance, Peter himself (1 Peter 2:4), calls Christ a living stone, and in ver. 5,
     addresses the church as living stones . . .

     Equally untenable is the explanation which refers petra to Simon's confession. Both the play
     upon the words and the natural reading of the passage are against it, and besides, it does not
     conform to the fact, since the church is built, not on confessions, but on confessors - living
     men . . . . . .

     The reference to Simon himself is confirmed by the actual relation of Peter to the early
     church . . . See Acts 1:15; 2:14,37; 3:2; 4:8; 5:15,29; 9:34,40; 10:25-6; Galatians 1:18.

(Word Studies in the New Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1946 [orig. 1887], 4 vols., vol. 1, 91-92; emphasis in original)

The Catholic scholar Stanley Jaki writes:

     In the Old Testament only God is called rock . . . Even if Peter's faith is taken for the rock,
     this still leaves one with much to consider about the fact that apart from the faith of Peter
     only God is called rock in the written word of God . . .

     Simon was now Rock, the rock foundation of his Master's church . . . The name obviously
     had a far deeper meaning than boanerges (sons of thunder), the name Jesus gave to James
     and John (Mk 3:17). While Yahweh thundered, he was never called thunder or thunderer.
     Only pagan gods could be thunderers (Jupiter was one of them), sources of fright; and never,
     like a rock, sources of safety . . . The name kepha could not help but evoke in pious Jews, as
     all the Twelve were, a sentiment of awe and reverence.

     Obviously, a name of such connotation could not be the vehicle of that disapproval which
     lurks behind Jesus' calling James and John boanerges (see the parallel passage (Lk 9:54),
     where James and John want to call down fire upon the inhospitable Samaritans). This name,
     not at all praiseworthy, was for a passing moment, whereas kepha was a name to last for the
     sake of everlasting praise.

(And on This Rock, Front Royal, VA: Christendom College Press, 39, 77-78)

St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), a leader of the Catholic Reformation, draws out the implications of this passage for the papacy:

     Our Lord then, who is comparing his Church to a building, when he says that he will build it
     on St. Peter, shows that St. Peter will be its foundation-stone . . . When he makes St. Peter
     its foundation, he makes him head and superior of this family.

     By these words Our Lord shows the perpetuity and immovableness of this foundation. The
     stone on which one raises the building is the first, the others rest on it. Other stones may be
     removed without overthrowing the edifice, but he who takes away the foundation, knocks
     down the house. If then the gates of hell can in no wise prevail against the Church, they can
     in no wise prevail against its foundation and head, which they cannot take away and overturn
     without entirely overturning the whole edifice . . .

     The supreme charge which St. Peter had . . . as chief and governor, is not beside the authority
     of his Master, but is only a participation in this, so that he is not the foundation of this
     hierarchy besides Our Lord but rather in Our Lord: as we call him most holy Father in Our
     Lord, outside whom he would be nothing . . St. Peter is foundation, not founder, of the whole
     Church; foundation but founded on another foundation, which is Our Lord . . . in fine,
     administrator and not lord, and in no way the foundation of our faith, hope and charity, nor
     of the efficacy of the Sacraments . . . So, although he is the Good Shepherd, he gives us
     shepherds (Ephesians 4:11) under himself, between whom and his Majesty there is so great a
     difference that he declares himself to be the only shepherd (John 10:11; Ezekiel 34:23).

(The Catholic Controversy, tr. Henry B. Mackey, Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1989 [orig. 1596],

Other Protestant and Orthodox scholars who believe the Rock in Matthew 16:18 is Peter himself,

2) Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople (d. c. 895): "On Peter repose the foundations of the faith" (Epist. 99 and Niceph., PG CII, 909 A, in Meyendorff, ibid., 72)

3) St. Gregory Palamas (Orthodox, d. 1359), called Peter the "foundation of the Church" (Triads, II, I, 38, in Meyendorff, ibid., 74). Meyendorff writes: "It is not difficult to present an abundance of such quotations. All Byzantine theologians, even after the conflict with Rome, speak of Peter in the same terms as Photius . . . without any attempt to attenuate the meaning of biblical texts . . . the Church . . . remains eternally founded on Peter." [Ibid., 74-75] It should be noted that many Orthodox (like Protestants cited in this section) would deny the papal succession, which is another distinct aspect of the papacy.

4) Gennadios Scholarios (Orthodox; Patriarch of Constantinople, d.c. 1472): "Christ
established the Church on Peter" (On the Procession of the Holy Spirit, I, in Meyendorff, ibid.,  87).

5) William Hendriksen (Reformed) (New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973, 647}

6) Gerhard Maier (Lutheran) [The IVP Bible Background Commentary, Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993, 90]

7) Craig L. Blomberg (Baptist) [The New American Commentary: Matthew, vol. 22, Nashville: Broadman, 1992, 251-252]

8) Albert Barnes (Presbyterian) [Notes on the New Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973, 170]

9) Herman Ridderbos (Reformed) [Bible Student's Commentary: Matthew, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987, 303]

10) David Hill (Presbyterian) [New Century Bible Commentary: Matthew, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972, 61]

IX. St. Peter as Possessor of the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: Scholarly
Commentary (Mostly Protestant)

     Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . . (RSV)

     Isaiah 22:20-22 In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, . . . and he
     shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will
     place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut;
     and he shall shut, and none shall open.

     Revelation 3:7 [Christ describing Himself]:. . . the holy one, the true one, who has the key
     of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens.

The power of the "keys," in the Hebrew mind, had to do with administrative authority and
ecclesiastical discipline, and, in a broad sense, might be thought to encompass the use of
excommunication, penitential decrees, a barring from the sacraments and lesser censures, and
legislative and executive functions. Like the name Rock, this privilege was bestowed only upon St.
Peter and no other disciple or Apostle. He was to become God's "vice-regent," so to speak. In the
Old Testament, a steward was a man over a house (Genesis 43:19, 44:4, 1 Kings 4:6, 16:9, 18:3, 2
Kings 10:5 15:5 18:18, Isaiah 22:15). The steward was also called a "governor" in the Old
Testament and has been described by commentators as a type of "prime minister."

In the New Testament, the two words often translated as "steward" are oikonomos (Luke 16:2-3, 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, Titus 1:7, 1 Peter 4:10), and epitropos (Matthew 20:8, Galatians 4:2). Several
Protestant commentaries and dictionaries take the position that Christ is clearly hearkening back to Isaiah 22:15-22 when He makes this pronouncement, and that it has something to do with delegated authority in the Church He is establishing (in the same context). He applies the same language to Himself in Revelation 3:7 (cf. Job 12:14), so that his commission to Peter may be interpreted as an assignment of powers to the recipient in His stead, as a sort of authoritative representative or ambassador.

The "opening" and "shutting" (in Isaiah 22:2) appear to refer to a jurisdictional power which no one but the king (in the ancient kingdom of Judah) could override. Literally, it refers to the prime minister's prerogative to deny or allow entry to the palace, and access to the king. In Isaiah's time, this office was over three hundred years old, and is thought to have been derived by Solomon from the Egyptian model of palace functionary, or the Pharaoh's "vizier," who was second in command after the Pharaoh. This was exactly the office granted to Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 41:40-44, 45:8).

One can confidently conclude, therefore, that when Old Testament usage and the culture of the
hearers is closely examined, the phrase keys of the kingdom of heaven must have great significance (for Peter and for the papacy) indeed, all the more so since Christ granted this honor only to St. Peter. The following commentary is all from Protestant scholars, with the exception of the final two selections:

     [The steward is] the king's friend, or principal officer of the court (1 Kings 4:5; 18:3; 1
     Chronicles 27:33, the king's counsellor) . . .

     Keys are carried sometimes in the East hanging from the kerchief on the shoulder. But the
     phrase is rather figurative for sustaining the government on one's shoulders. Eliakim, as his
     name implies, is here plainly a type of the God-man Christ, the son of "David," of whom Isaiah
     (ch. 9:6) uses the same language as the former clause of this verse [and the government will
     be upon his shoulder].

(Jamieson, Robert, Andrew R. Fausset & David Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1961 [orig. 1864; Fausset and Brown were Anglicans, Brown Presbyterian], 536 -- on Isaiah 22:15,22)

     In the . . . exercise of the power of the keys, in ecclesiastical discipline, the thought is of
     administrative authority (Is 22:22) with regard to the requirements of the household of faith.
     The use of censures, excommunication, and absolution is committed to the Church in every
     age, to be used under the guidance of the Spirit . . .

     So Peter, in T.W. Manson's words, is to be 'God's vicegerent . . . The authority of Peter is an
     authority to declare what is right and wrong for the Christian community. His decisions will
     be confirmed by God' (The Sayings of Jesus, 1954, p.205).

(New Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1962, 1018)

     In accordance with Matthew's understanding of the kingdom of heaven (i.e., of God) as
     anywhere God reigns, the keys here represent authority in the Church.

(Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, ed. Allen C. Myers, Grabd Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, rev. ed., 1975, 622)

     The phrase is almost certainly based on Is 22:22 where Shebna the steward is displaced by
     Eliakim and his authority is transferred to him. 'And I will place on his shoulder the key of
     the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.'
     (This is applied directly to Jesus in Rev 3:7).

(New Bible Commentary, Guthrie, D. & J.A. Motyer, eds., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 3rd ed., 1970 [Reprinted, 1987, as The Eerdmans Bible Commentary], 837}

     In the Old Testament a steward is a man who is 'over a house' (Gen 43:19, 44:4; Is 22:15,
     etc). In the New Testament there are two words translated steward: 'epitropos' (Mt 20:8; Gal
     4:2), i.e. one to whose care or honour one has been entrusted, a curator, a guardian; and
     'oikonomos' (Lk 16:2-3; 1 Cor 4:1-2; Titus 1:7; 1 Pet 4:10), i.e. a manager, a superintendent
     - from 'oikos' ('house') and 'nemo' ('to dispense' or 'to manage'). The word is used to
     describe the function of delegated responsibility.

(New Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1962, 1216)

For further references to the office of the steward in Old Testament times, see 1 Kings 4:6; 16:9; 18:3; 2 Kings 10:5; 15:5; 18:18, where the phrases used are "over the house," "steward," or
"governor." In Isaiah 22:15, in the same passage to which our Lord apparently refers in Matt 16:19, Shebna, the soon-to-be deposed steward, is described in various translations as:

          1) "Master of the palace" {Jerusalem Bible / New American Bible}
          2) "In charge of the palace" {New International Version}
          3) "Master of the household" {New Revised Standard Version}
          4) "In charge of the royal household" {New American Standard Bible}
          5) "Comptroller of the household" {Revised English Bible}
          6) "Governor of the palace" {Moffatt}

     As the robe and the baldric, mentioned in the preceding verse, were the ensigns of power and
     authority, so likewise was the key the mark of office, either sacred or civil. This mark of
     office was likewise among the Greeks, as here in Isaiah, borne on the shoulder. In allusion to
     the image of the key as the ensign of power, the unlimited extent of that power is expressed
     with great clearness as well as force by the sole and exclusive authority to open and shut.
     Our Saviour, therefore, has upon a similar occasion made use of a like manner of expression,
     Matt 16:19; and in Rev 3:7 has applied to himself the very words of the prophet.

(Adam Clarke, [Methodist], Commentary on the Bible, abridged ed., Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1967 [orig. 1832], 581)

     Eliakim stands in strong contrast to Shebna . . . Godward he is called 'my servant' (v.20; cf.
     'this steward', v.15); manward, he will be 'a father' to his community (v.21) . . .

     The opening words of v.22, with their echo of 9:6, emphasize the God-given responsibility
     that went with it [possession of the keys], to be used in the king's interests. The 'shutting'
     and 'opening' mean the power to make decisions which no one under the king could override.
     This is the background of the commission to Peter (cf. Mt 16:19) and to the church (cf. Mt

(New Bible Commentary, Guthrie, D. & J.A. Motyer, eds., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 3rd ed., 1970 [Reprinted, 1987, as The Eerdmans Bible Commentary], 603)

     Not only is Peter to have a leading role, but this role involves a daunting degree of authority
     (though not an authority which he alone carries, as may be seen from the repetition of the
     latter part of the verse in 18:18 with reference to the disciple group as a whole). The image
     of 'keys' (plural) perhaps suggests not so much the porter, who controls admission to the
     house, as the steward, who regulates its administration (cf. Is 22:22, in conjunction with
     22:15). The issue then is not that of admission to the church . . . , but an authority derived
     from a 'delegation' of God's sovereignty.

(R.T. France; in Morris, Leon, Gen. ed., Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press / Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1985, vol. 1: Matthew, 256)

     Just as in Isaiah 22:22 the Lord puts the keys of the house of David on the shoulders of his
     servant Eliakim, so does Jesus hand over to Peter the keys of the house of the kingdom of
     heaven and by the same stroke establishes him as his superintendent. There is a connection
     between the house of the Church, the construction of which has just been mentioned and of
     which Peter is the foundation, and the celestial house of which he receives the keys. The
     connection between these two images is the notion of God's people.

(Oscar Cullmann, Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr, Neuchatel: Delachaux & Niestle, 1952 French ed., 183-184)

     The prime minister, more literally 'major-domo,' was the man called in Hebrew 'the one who
     is over the house,' a term borrowed from the Egyptian designation of the chief palace
     functionary . . .

     The power of the key of the Davidic kingdom is the power to open and to shut, i.e., the prime
     minister's power to allow or refuse entrance to the palace, which involves access to the king .
     . . Peter might be portrayed as a type of prime minister in the kingdom that Jesus has come to
     proclaim . . . What else might this broader power of the keys include? It might include one or
     more of the following: baptismal discipline; post-baptismal or penitential discipline;
     excommunication; exclusion from the eucharist; the communication or refusal of knowledge;
     legislative powers; and the power of governing.

(Peter in the New Testament, Brown, Raymond E., Karl P. Donfried and John Reumann, editors, Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House/NY: Paulist Press, 1973, 96-97. Common statement by a panel of eleven Catholic and Lutheran scholars)

     In biblical and Judaic usage handing over the keys does not mean appointment as a porter but
     carries the thought of full authorization (cf. Mt. 13:52; Rev. 3:7) . . . The implication is that
     Jesus takes away this authority from the scribes and grants it to Peter.

(J. Jeremias, in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Gerhard Kittel, abridgement of Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985, 440)

     All these New Testament pictures and usages go back to a picture in Isaiah (Is 22:22) . . .
     Now the duty of Eliakim was to be the faithful steward of the house . . . So then what
     Jesus is saying to Peter is that in the days to come, he will be the steward of the Kingdom.

(William Barclay, Gospel of Matthew, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975, vol. 2,  144-145)

     Isa 22:15 ff. undoubtedly lies behind this saying . . . The keys are the symbol of authority . . .
     the same authority as that vested in the vizier, the master of the house, the chamberlain, of
     the royal household in ancient Israel. Eliakim is described as having the same authority in

(William F. Albright and C.S. Mann, Anchor Bible: Matthew, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971, 196)

     And what about the "keys of the kingdom"? . . . About 700 B.C. an oracle from God
     announced that this authority in the royal palace in Jerusalem was to be conferred on a man
     called Eliakim . . . (Isa. 22:22). So in the new community which Jesus was about to build,
     Peter would be, so to speak, chief steward.

(F.F. Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus, Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1983, 143-144)

     The symbol of the keys, in the East, always implied power and authority, and the giving of the
     keys the transfer of that authority. Even in our day when we wish to honor a visitor of
     prominence we give him the keys of the city . . .

     'The gift of the keys,' writes Lagrange, 'is, therefore, an investiture of power over all the
     house. The owner still keeps the sovereign power, but delegates its exercise to a major-domo
     . . . Christ has the keys of David (Rev 3:7); He gives St. Peter the keys. St. Peter's authority,
     therefore, is the authority of Jesus, which He ratifies in heaven' (Evangile selon S. Matthieu,

(Bertrand Conway, The Question Box, NY: Paulist Press, 1929, 146)

     By the time of Isaiah the office of the master of the palace was three centuries old and the
     highest of the royal administration which Solomon organized in full . . .

     Solomon set up the office in imitation of the office of the Pharaoh's vizier. Unlike in Assyria
     and Babylon, where the master of the palace was a mere administrator of the king's
     household affairs, in Egypt as well as in Judah and Israel the master of the palace was the
     second in command after the king. In Egypt he reported every morning to the Pharaoh,
     received his instructions, and by ceremoniously opening the gates to the palace he let the
     official day begin for the Pharaoh's highest administrative offices. He was privy to all the
     major transactions of the Pharaoh's kingdom, all important documents had to have his seal, all
     other officials were subordinate to him, and he governed the whole land in the Pharaoh's
     absence. It was precisely this function which was exercised by Joseph whom the Pharaoh put
     in charge of his house (Gen 41:40), made the keeper of the royal seal and the ruler over the
     entire land of Egypt. Similarly, the master of the palace of the king of Israel headed the list
     of royal officials (2 Ki 18:18) and he alone appears with the king (1 Ki 18:3). The importance
     of the title is particularly apparent when Yotham [or, Jotham] assumes it in his capacity of
     regent of the kingdom during the final illness of his father King Ozias [or, Uzziah, or
     Azariah] (2 Ki 15:5).

(Stanley Jaki, The Keys of the Kingdom, Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1986, 27-28)

X. Papal Infallibility Established From the Bible Alone (David Palm)

My friend David Palm, a Catholic apologist, has constructed an eloquent, concise argument for
papal infallibility from Scripture, which builds upon the previous two sections. His paper was a reply to a Protestant's assertion that papal infallibility was unknown up through the seventh century:

     The biblical foundation of the infallibility of the papacy rests primarily (no surprise here) on
     Matt 16:16ff. In a nutshell (and each point needs much expansion, of course) the argument
     runs like this:

     By conferring the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" to St. Peter, Jesus Christ devolved a
     primacy to him in the form of the office of "steward," or "the one who is over the house" or
     in more modern parlance, as prime minister. The background for the imagery of the keys is Isa
     22:15-25, and especially verse 22 which all Bible scholars agree lies behind Matt 16:19.

     Thus, by Christ's will St. Peter comes to hold the position of "second in command" in the
     restored Kingdom, with Jesus Himself on the throne. The passage is full of dynastic imagery.

     My understanding is that Orthodox Christians do not disagree that a primacy was conferred
     on St. Peter and his successors; rather, they object to what they perceive as a claim to
     supremacy. But it seems clear to me that the office of "steward" or "prime minister"
     necessarily involves some kind of overarching authority and even, if circumstances
     necessitate, the authority to act independently of other "officers" (i.e. the other bishops) of
     the Kingdom.

     St. Peter is also given the authority to "bind and loose": “whatever you bind on earth shall be
     bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” What does this

          In rabbinic usage the terms [bind and loose] mean ‘to forbid’ and ‘to permit’ with
          reference to interpretation of the law, and secondarily ‘to condemn’ or ‘place under the
          ban’ and ‘to acquit.’ Thus, Peter is given the authority to determine the rules for
          doctrine and life (by virtue of revelation and the subsequent leading of the Spirit; Jn
          16:13) and to demand obedience from the Church, reflecting the authority of the royal
          chamberlain or vizier in the Old Testament (cf. Is 22:22).

     (A. C. Myers, ed. Eerdmans Bible Dictionary [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987], 158)

     And non-Catholic scholar David Hill writes,

          Peter has authority to make pronouncements and these will be ratified by God in the
          Last Judgment.

     (The Gospel of Matthew [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972], 262)

     Of course the authority to bind and loose (but not the keys) is also given to the other Apostles
     in Matt 18:18. But the context of Matt 18:18 suggests that disciplinary matters are in view and
     thus (to bring it into modern parlance) the local authority of a bishop in his diocese. The lack
     of the keys is conspicuous. In Matt 16:19, however, the mention of the keys, with their
     dynastic and official connotations, suggests plenary authority to bind and loose.

     As the great Russian Orthodox theologian, Vladimir Solovyev, said,

          The symbol of the keys of the Kingdom . . . must necessarily represent a wider and
          more general authority than the symbol of binding and loosing. . . . Only problems of
          conscience and the direction of individual souls fall under the authority to bind and
          loose which was given to the other Apostles after Peter; whereas the power of the keys
          of the Kingdom conferred solely on Peter can only refer to the whole of the Church . . .
          and must denote a supreme social and political authority, the general administration of
          the Kingdom of God on earth.

     (Russia and the Universal Church, trans. Herbert Rees [London: Geoffrey Bles, 1948], 103-4)

     The biblical foundation of papal infallibility, then, boils down to this. An office of "steward"
     or prime minister was devolved upon St. Peter and his successors. The authority attached to
     this office is characterized by the authority to "bind and loose" that is, "to determine the
     rules for doctrine and life (by virtue of revelation and the subsequent leading of the Spirit;
     Jn 16:13) and to demand obedience from the Church, reflecting the authority of the royal
     chamberlain or vizier in the Old Testament." This is a plenary authority given separately to
     the "steward"  which suggests that it can be exercised independently of the other "ministers"
     of the Kingdom. Heaven itself will ratify these solemn decisions made by the steward of the
     King ("will be bound in heaven...will be loosed in heaven"). It follows, then, that the Lord
     would not allow a successor of St. Peter to make a solemn decision, binding on the entire
     people of God, that was in error, else the entire Church would be led into error, violating the
     promises of our Lord to protect His Church from error.

     Finally, we see that the definition of Vatican I was not just pulled out of a hat, but rather
     corresponds to this biblical foundation exactly. It is only in his official capacity, when he
     speaks ex cathedra which would correspond generally to when he "binds and looses," that
     the successor of St. Peter is preserved from error. Just as not every statement or
     correspondence of a king or president or legislator is binding law, but only those promulgated
     in an official capacity, so too not every statement made by the pope is infallible.

Jason has replied to this material and I have offered a counter-response in the following dialogue:

Reply to a Protestant Counter-Response on Development of Doctrine (Particularly
With Regard to the New Testament Canon and the Papacy)

Main Index & Search | The Papacy | Development of Doctrine

Uploaded on 26 February 2002; slightly-revised from the original 2000 paper, and re-typeset.