When Pope Francis came to America for the first time, I followed the media’s reports. While I disliked how the media covered the Pope’s visit because they twisted his words to suit their agendas, what saddened me most was how Protestants reacted. I left several Christian groups on FB because there were several anti-Catholic comments. His arrival seemed to embolden the anti-Catholics in the group, and it wasn’t just the members, it was the admins–the people in charge of the groups! To these people, the Catholic Church was a cult, akin to Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses. What’s most distressing is that in reality, the Catholic Church is the oldest denomination (in fact, it’s the FIRST). The Christian Church is like a giant tree. At the root of the tree is Jesus. The trunk of the tree is the Catholic Church, where all the teachings of the Fathers of the Church reside. The branches of the tree are the Protestant denominations. If the Protestant churches attempt to sever themselves from Catholicism, they will wither like branches cut from a tree. All Protestant churches owe their teachings to the Catholic Church, whether they realize it or not. Some Protestant churches have already started to drift away from Catholicism’s teachings. Believing that the Catholic Church is separate from Christianity is a path to disaster. When I started my Debunking Lies series, I was content to focus only on the lies atheists spread about Christianity. I did not wish to cover the lies spread within my own religion by those who refuse to learn the truth. And yet, here we are. I have decided to extend this series and instead of covering just atheist lies, I’m covering anti-Catholic lies as well. I’m starting with lies concerning the Biblical roots of the papacy.
People have said that Peter could not be the first Pope. They object to his leadership because they don’t see the papacy as Biblically-based. Here are my answers to common objections to these origins:
- Peter’s leadership is at least alluded by design. Whenever the apostles are listed, Peter is always listed first. Of the original twelve, Peter is the apostle who receives the most attention.
- Peter was too imperfect. Peter tried to be an obstacle to Jesus’s goals. Jesus even went so far as to rebuke him and flat out called him Satan. This did not mean Peter was evil. Jesus was merely telling him exactly what he said in the Gospels, that Peter was thinking as humans do. By attempting to stop Jesus from travelling to Jerusalem, Peter was in the way of Jesus’s goal of salvation. Peter denied Jesus when He was crucified. Peter often let his faith supersede his reasoning. But that ‘s the thing–God does not call the perfect; He perfects the called. Yes, Peter was fallible, but his faults do not negate the entire papacy.
- Peter is not the rock, Jesus is. Nowhere else in the Bible is anyone called rock, except when Jesus calls Simon by that name. From that point on, Simon is called Peter, which means “rock.” Jesus knew someone would be needed to lead the apostles in his absence. That someone was Christ-denying Peter.
- “Peter was never in Rome.” This is a common objection that relies on a literal interpretation of Scripture. Scripture is not really meant to be interpreted literally all the time, sometimes there is metaphor. When Peter addressed the church from Rome, he didn’t say Rome, he used a code word, Babylon. In many ways, the Roman empire was like Babylon of old, dabbling in debauchery. It was an appropriate metaphor and provided cover from his enemies.
- “Vicar of Christ”, the Pope’s title, supposedly represents the Mark of the Beast, 666. This is based on an erroneous understanding of the Pope’s title. In fact, in order for the Pope to be the anti-Christ, they have to use a similar-sounding title, Vicar of the Son of God, not Vicar of Christ. This is because “Vicar of Christ” does not ascribe to 666. (In Latin, Greek, and Aramaic languages, each letter is given a certain value. This is where the Mark comes from, the numerical value of the Anti-Christ’s name) But the original text of the Bible was not Latin, it was Greek. The anti-Christ was never meant to represent Catholicism. It was a real person–Nero Caesar, one of the most violent and arrogant rulers of the Roman Empire. The Greek form of his name is nrwn qsr. The letters add up in this fashion: n=50, r=200, w=6, q=100, and s=60. Add all the letters and you get 666. (50+200+6+50+100+6+200)
The Papacy is necessary as a hierarchy for Catholicism. It is the authority on the teachings of Catholicism. As I said, the Catholic Church holds the whole of Christianity together. Without the Catholic Church, Protestantism will wither and die. There are more myths about Catholicism, and I will cover them in future articles.