I will admit for the first time on this blog that I am currently a member of a Protestant Church (but I won’t tell you which one 🙂 ). Of course the Protestant church had their origin in the 16th century when Luther challenged the existing church authorities. Lutherans like to think of this encounter the same as when Jesus remanded the existing Jewish church authority. For me I’m not sure that is a valid comparison. After studying this period I have come to the conclusion that things got totally out of hand during this encounter. Both sides were screaming at each other and doing little or no listening. But, coming to Luther’s defense the Catholic church at the time was pretty far astray. Luther had not originally intended to cause the giant schism that he eventually did but things just got out of hand. It ended up with Luther almost calling the Pope an anti-Christ. Unfortunately some of that strong anti-Catholic feeling is still prevalent today in some Protestant sects.
Protestants generally believe in Sola Scriptura. That is that the Bible is totally inerrant and is all that is needed for Christian faith. So, when they come across some verses in the Bible seem to contradict one of their contentions with Rome they have to show where the verses don’t say what they “appear” to say. One of those instances which I have always had trouble reconciling is Matthew 16:15-20.
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
We Protestants have been taught that the words on this rock I will build my church mean that on the belief that Jesus is Lord is what he was talking about. In other words he changed the subject from the verses previous to this and even after this. If I took that one sentence out from the rest I might be able to absolutely agree with that premise. But Putting it in the context of the surrounding words makes that very difficult for me. In Aramaic Peter means rock. Why did Jesus rename Simon to Peter here if he was actually talking about himself? The verse following the “rock” verse about the keys is very clear to me that Jesus is talking about a person to take charge when he is gone and not a concept. Keys in today’s world means something very different than in Jesus’ time. Each one of us probably carries around several keys at any time. But in Jesus’ time keys were usually given to only a very trusted person to keep. That is because they only locked up the most valuable things in those days. Getting back to the verses at hand, the words whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven are very powerful words indeed. Catholics argue that this is the power that Jesus gave to the first Pope Peter and the succeeding Popes. That is, what they say is valid on both earth and in heaven.
I hope that this doubt does not get me in any trouble with my local church. Some of the members browse this blog from time to time 🙂 . Looking back at what Christian churches have done in the past with the inquisitions and burning of heretics, (how is that for showing God’s love) I wonder if I had made this belief known then I may have been invited to a barbeque! I think we are more civil now or at least I hope so.
But, like I said in the previous post maybe even thinking of this stuff is just a distraction from the “real” Christian message of God’s love for us. Maybe we shouldn’t be hung up on this peripheral stuff. So I will say it one final time. maybe ignorance is bliss.