I’m pleased to report that Mr. Matthew Bellisario has agreed to come on the Dividing Line program on Thursday and discuss the papacy. Specifically, he states that he plans to discuss Matthew 16:18-19 and “other passages” that refer to Simon Peter and his “special place amongst the apostles” as well as to discuss the papacy in the early church fathers, several of whom (according to Bellisario) interpreted the passage as showing a “special primacy of St. Peter and the chair of Rome or the chair of St. Peter as being the unified chair of the Church.” (quotations taken from Mr. Bellisario’s podcast)
I want Mr. Bellisario to be as prepared as possible for his discussion, and so I’ve taken the time to highlight some of the articles found at the Alpha & Omega Ministries website on this topic. Dr. White hasn’t asked me to do this, but I’m sure Dr. White would be as interested as I am in seeing Mr. Bellisario fully prepared for the discussion:
- “Whitewashing the History of the Church“: This article deals with the issue of the alleged Primacy of Peter and attempted use of Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, and Augustine in support of the Roman Catholic position. Reading this article may help Mr. Bellisario to be informed about the positions that Dr. White has and has not taken with respect to these fathers on this particular topic.
- “The Church Fathers’ Interpretation of the Rock of Matthew 16:18“: This article is by William Webster, and it discusses what one would expect based on the title. Although this is not by Dr. White, it provides some valuable insight into the kinds of ready answers that we in the Reformed camp have when someone tries to misrepresent the early church fathers as teaching the doctrines of Rome with respect to the papacy.
- “The Peter Syndrome“: This article’s sub-title, “Roman Catholic Writers See Papal Supremacy Behind Every Bush, or In Every Early Father” sums up the article’s discussion well. The article shows that just because Peter is mentioned by a church father doesn’t mean that papal supremacy is under discussion or even being tangentially referenced. It exposes one of the unhelpful filters often applied by Roman Catholic writers in this discussion. It is primarily focused on responding to a book by Scott Butler et al. but it has a broader application to those who use similar arguments.
- “Robert Sungenis and ἐπὶ ταύτῃ”: This article gets into the exegesis of the actual Greek words used in the text of Matthew and demonstrates problems with some of the Roman Catholic attempts to get around this text.
In addition to articles, there are also some relevant blog posts that Mr. Bellisario should check out.
- Mark Bonocore and Isaiah 22:20-22, Part I, Part II, Part III: Deals with one Roman Catholic attempt to respond to Dr. White’s challenge: where do we find the ancient church speaking as modern Rome on the matter of Isaiah 22:20-22 and Matthew 16:18-20?
- Still No Bible Verses Establishing the Papacy: This is my own article responding to Steve Ray’s attempts to use Scriptures and the church fathers to establish the papacy. While, of course, this does not necessarily represent Dr. White’s position, it illustrates some additional arguments from the Reformed perspective that Mr. Bellisario should be ready for, if Mr. Bellisario uses arguments similar to those of Mr. Ray.
Additionally, it would smart of Mr. Bellisario to check out the following debates:
- How Biblical and Ancient is the Papacy? : Taped on Long Island in April of 1998, James White debates Roman Catholic Priest Mitchell Pacwa S.J. on the Biblical and Historical merits of the Papacy (2hrs 20 minutes)
- The Boston College Papacy Debate: James White teams up with Rob Zins to debate Robert Sungenis & Scott Butler (4 Hours 19 Minutes)
- The Papacy (Part 1)(Part 2) This is a set of two debates between Dr. White and Gerry Matatics held in Denver, Colorado during the Papal visit in 1993. Does the New Testament allow for an office of Pope? Was there a Papacy in the Early Church? Was Peter the first Pope? Does Peter have a line of successors? Is the Pope truly the Head of the Church, the Vicar of Christ on Earth, and the leader of all Christians? These are crucial questions that must be answered. (5 hrs, 14 minutes)
For additional reading, Mr. Bellisario should check out:
- The Matthew 16 Controversy by William Webster
- Upon this Slippery Rock by Eric D. Svendsen
- The Roman Catholic Controversy by James R. White
Hopefully these materials will help Mr. Bellisario to be as prepared as possible, so that he will be able to get right to the crux of the issue and meet the challenges that previous would-be champions of Catholicism have failed.