Monday, February 25, 2013

Thompson, Revisited

Mr. Thompson said this in response:
 After reading through it I must say I don't think your friend understood my points, read my whole paper, or else he is deliberately distorting it. For example in the third paragraph he suggests my interpretation is novel when I quoted fathers and academics affirming it before I was born. In the fourth paragraph he accuses me of creating a tension between the key of David and Christ and proceeds to argue it is connected to Christ since Christ is connected to David (of course); when in my article I clearly say Christ has that key according to Rev. 3:7 and never once created such a tension between it and Christ. Thanks anyway though."
Within that essay, he quoted Anglican scholar George Salmon to this effect:
“You see, then, that the fact that Christ is called the rock, and that on Him the Church is built, is no hindrance to Peter’s also being, in a different sense, called rock, and being said to be the foundation of the Church . . . If there be no such fear, the context inclines us to look on our Lord’s words as conferring on Peter a special reward for his confession. For that confession was really the birth of the Christian Church. . . . Jesus fulfilled His promise to him by honouring him with the foremost place in each of the successive steps by which the Church was developed. It was through St. Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost that the first addition was made to the numbers of the disciples whom our Lord Himself has collected, when on one day there was added to the Church 3000 souls; and it was Peter’s mission to Cornelius that the first step was made to the admission of Gentiles to the Church; thus causing it to overlap the narrow barrier of Judaism and to embrace all the families of the earth. Thus the words of our Lord were fulfilled in that Peter was honoured by being the foremost among the human agents by which the Church was founded.”

Is this not perfectly consistent with the Catholic position? Here's D.A. Carson, whom he cites in support for his position against the papacy: “Peter, on confessing Jesus as Messiah, is told that he has received this confession by the Father’s revelation and will be given the keys of the kingdom: i.e., by proclaiming “the good news of the kingdom” (4:23), which, by revelation he is increasingly understanding, he will open the kingdom to many and shut it against many. Fulfillments of this in Acts are not found in passages like 15:10 but in those like 2:14-39; 3:11-26, so that by this means the Lord added to the church those who were being saved (2:45), or, otherwise put, Jesus was building his church (Matt. 16:18)"

How can I say this? I AGREE COMPLETELY, and so does the Catholic Church. You're right, I did accuse you of false dichotomies, and this is the proof: your scholars bolster the Catholic position. There is no dichotomy between people and doctrine, between jurisdiction, and the message Peter preaches, if indeed he had received it.

As I was trying to say before, no Catholic worth his salt would even try to deny any of this. I maintain that you do not understand the nature of the Catholic position if you believe these quotations to refute it.

No good Catholic will ever try to "prove" Catholic dogma from Scripture; we might say that the Scripture has more teaching in it than an alternate theology will allow. We inquire of Scripture to know the depths of God's love in Christ, and the faith once delivered.

The questions are these: Why does the early Church find Peter's primacy so easy and natural if it is so obviously wrong? Why would God even allow that to happen, given the promise He has just made to the Church in this verse? How could we read of Peter's prominence all over the New Testament, and somehow conclude that the early Church misunderstood Him? What in Scripture even remotely indicates Jesus' meaning to be, "He's the leader, but not like that"? Are you sure you haven't made a false dichotomy?

I don't blame you for thinking I have misread you, but I don't think I have. I acknowledge the possibility that I don't understand some points of your essay. As for me perceiving you trying to create a distance between Christ and David, I read that here:

The proof the sets of keys are not the same is this: In Isaiah 22:22 Eliakim is given the “key” (singular) of the house of David. Peter on the other hand is given "keys" (plural) of the kingdom of heaven. The key of the house of David which was given to Eliakim in Isaiah 22:22 is not given to Peter much less the bishops of Rome. In fact this singular key of the house of David remained with Jesus Christ himself and is messianic in nature. Revelation 3:7 affirms that Christ holds the key of the house of David:

“. . . The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens” (Revelation 3:7).

This was written long after the events of Matthew 16 demonstrating Jesus has the key (singular) of Isaiah 22:22 right now, not Peter’s alleged Roman successors. There are three vital differences between the key of the house of David in Isaiah 22:22 and Peter’s keys of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 16:19: 1.) the plural and singular forms, 2.) the titles (key of David vs. keys of the kingdom of heaven), and 3.) the handler of the keys (Jesus has the key of the house of David and Peter had the keys of the kingdom of heaven)."
Again, this is why I went back to the Incarnation: You have allowed the fervor of your position to drive a wedge between the texts in Isaiah and Matthew. Eliakim was the viceroy of David. Draw the parallel. It doesn't matter if Rome's position is correct or not; if you rest your "refutation" of the Catholic position on singulars and plurals in the text, you're inadvertently challenging Jesus' position as the king over David's house. In other words, none of these texts proves succession or any other Catholic claim. But every Christian had better make the connection between the texts, because Christ's authority in a real sense derives from the promises to David; that is, He is the fulfillment of those promises. Even if you do not wish to provide "papists" with biblical support for their claims to authority, you must acknowledge the link between the texts!
Pardon me in this one way: this blog has long been a rumination of comparative ecclesiology. I do not know you; perhaps you do not know in detail the fine points of those competing paradigms. If my challenge to your own authority sounded like a dismissal, it was not intended as such. But questions of authority and continuity come first here.
I do maintain that the keys of the Kingdom and the key to the house of David are the same. Ultimately held by the same King, which is Christ. If you wish to argue that it would be presumptuous to draw a straight line from this biblical reality to the jurisdictional authority of the successor of Peter, once again, I agree enthusiastically. All biblical passages, and any other information are simply pieces to a puzzle. It is only when all things are considered does the Catholic Church's claim on all of us become clear.

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