Examining the Infallibility of the First Pope

Below is a portion of Matthew chapter sixteen.  The first segment of this passage is the one typically used by the Roman Catholic church to promote their belief that Jesus established Peter as the cornerstone and earthly head of the church (the first Pope).  I thought that perhaps a quick look at this whole idea might be beneficial, especially if we read it in context.  First, please read through verses 13-20:

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. 

The Protestant view of this passage is that the “rock” to be used as cornerstone is the fact that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God.  The title Christ meaning He is the Messiah, the Savior of His people.  It is through faith in His work on the Cross that we are justified (made in right-standing in God’s Holy and Just court).  The understanding of who Christ is and what He has accomplished is not something our sinful minds can accomplish, but is instead a gift from God, as we see above.  Christ, His deity, and His work on the Cross saving us through faith, that is the “rock”.

The Roman Catholic view of this passage is that the office of the Pope is established here.  The man Peter is the “rock” and he is the cornerstone, meaning he is the physical and visible head of the Church instead of Jesus the Christ.  It is furthermore the belief of the Roman Catholic church that the Pope is infallible whenever he is speaking forth on matters of God’s kingdom, doctrine and the church.  I can’t help but wonder how many professing Catholics have stopped to think about the passage that immediately follows this establishment of their “infallible pope”.  Please read the next three verses:

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

The very first thing Peter does in his new office is to rebuke the Son of the Living God, make a false prophecy, and become a mouthpiece for Satan.  Ouch!  I am sure that Roman Catholic apologists have a “rescue device” for this, that is some sort of explanation to obscure what seems to be a fairly clear event, but I have little interest in hearing it.  To be honest, what I see in their interpretation is very similar to what I see in Peter’s fall.  Their doctrine, just like Peter’s rebuke, is focused on the things of man.  The Catholic church takes a verses about the deity and work of Christ (a Christ-centered passage) and instead turn it into a passage that is focused on man and the office of men (becoming a man-centered passage).  This is always one of the first signs of satanic influence.  Today’s common seeker-friendly sermons are about man’s ambitions and rights of authority, the historic message of most cults are along these lines, and the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Pope, his authority, and his infallibility are of the same flavor.  They all take away the focus on Christ and shift the focus to man.  They all try to push Christ off His sovereign throne and replace Him with a visible earthly authority, whether it be cult leader, self or pope.  This is robbing Christ of His glory, His office and His church.  For those who twist Scripture about Christ into something that enables them to have power and authority, judgment day will be horrific, and it will be just. 

Infallible men?  I think not!  We are all, every one of us, full of sin and in need a rescue before approaching the just court of God.  If you are looking to your religious leaders and practices to somehow make you right with God, you are deceived.  Repent, open your eyes, and call out for forgiveness to the one who was crucified.  He would not have stated “It is finished” if the work of redemption was still incomplete and was awaiting your good works.  Repent, believe, and follow Him as your Rescuer, your Lord, and your Master.

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