I learned so much about the Bible by studying it with Evangelicals for nine years. Evangelicals love God, and the Word of God, with unending zeal and awe. My recent discovery of the Biblical and historical beauty of Catholicism was made possible only by virtue of the fact that God put me through a nine-year Biblical boot camp in Evangelicalism.
Types And Shadows
To wit, if you are Evangelical, think of the many lessons you have learned about Old Testament types and shadows. Nimrod was a type of Antichrist. Joseph was a type of Christ. The list goes on. Types and shadows are Old Testament templates, identifiers, and examples of people who would come much later. But have you ever heard of the Old Testament type of Peter and his keys? I learned this just recently from Scott Hahn. Here is the New Testament verse to which I refer.
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. ~ Matthew 16:19
In that verse, Jesus hands Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. He makes Peter the first pope. Here is the verse’s Old Testament shadow.
I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. ~ Isaiah 22:22
Read those verses again and let the striking similarities sink in.
- I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David… ~ Isaiah 22:22
- I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven… ~ Matthew 16:19
- whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven… ~ Matthew 16:19
- what he shuts no one can open. ~ Isaiah 22:22
- whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. ~ Matthew 16:19
- what he opens no one can shut… ~ Isaiah 22:22
You Learn Something New Every Day
I don’t ever recall a thorough study of Matthew 16:19 during my years in Evangelicalism. And I certainly don’t ever recall Matthew 16:19 being taught as a fulfillment of the type and shadow of Isaiah 22:22. Peter and the papal office were prefigured in the Old Testament. Wow!
Keys To An Eternal Kingdom
Remarkably, Peter’s keys have been passed on from pope to pope for 2,000 years. Think of Europe’s many devastating wars and plagues, yet the Catholic Church still stands in Rome. Christ’s kingdom will never be wiped out, although many have tried. The great and Godly irony is that the Roman Empire is the very empire that crucified Christ, yet it is now gone, and its former capital is now the capital of the kingdom established by its most prominent victim.
The Early Church
It is my opinion that the writings of the early Church reveal the early Church to be Catholic, not Evangelical. I believe that if a modern Catholic and a modern Evangelical took a time machine back to the Church launched by Jesus and the Apostles, the Catholic would feel right at home, and the Evangelical would not. Here is a drop in the bucket of those writings:
The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of [Pope] Linus the office of the episcopate [Linus was the 2nd pope, having been handed the keys by Peter]. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus [the 3rd pope]; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement [the 4th pope] was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. ~ Iraneus, Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 3, Paragraph 3, 189 A.D.
The papacy is one of the precious traditions passed on by the Apostles.
Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word (oral teaching) or our epistle (Scripture). ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:15
Much of American Christianity believes in Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), which erases “by word” and leaves us with only “our epistle.” Sola Scriptura, the principle of relying on the Bible alone, is (in my opinion) nowhere in the Bible.
A Three-Legged Stool
Much of American Christianity, in my experience and opinion, balances precariously and unreliably on a one-legged stool. That one leg is Sola Scriptura.
But the Catholic Church sits firmly and securely on a stool with three legs.
- Sacred Scripture
- Sacred Tradition
- Magesterial Authority
Each of those three legs is necessary and infallible. The Holy Spirit infallibly guides the Magesterial Authority to teach us which Scripture is infallible, and which Tradition is infallible. If you don’t believe the Sacred Tradition of the papacy, then why do you accept the Sacred Scripture? Any of hundreds (maybe thousands) of books could have been chosen for your New Testament, yet the Magesterial Authority of the Catholic Church chose those specific 27 books. Why do you accept those 27 books, but reject the papacy?
The papacy was prefigured in the Old Testament, established in the New Testament, and testified to by people who learned directly from the Apostles. So why do you reject it?
The Bible is always proven true.