Discernment

Get Behind Me… Pope???

Just four verses after Jesus officially changes Simon’s name to Peter (which means “rock”), and promises to build his church upon that rock, and promises to give him the keys to the kingdom of heaven, Jesus calls Peter “Satan.”

And I [Jesus] 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.” Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

~ Matthew 16:18-23

The next time you see a newspaper headline announcing that the pope supports a political cause that you despise, and with which you associate evil, you may be absolutely correct, and absolutely Biblical. Popes are fallen, sinful, fallible human beings subject to the same errors as the rest of us. Nothing attests to this fact more forcefully than Jesus calling Peter “Satan” right after promising to give him the keys of the kingdom!

Honor Thy Father

Peter was the first pope. Pope is from the Latin “papa,” meaning “father.” In the New Testament, Paul calls his spiritual students his “sons.” Peter calls his spiritual student (Mark) his “son.” Stephen calls Israel’s theological teachers “fathers.” Spiritual father/son relationships are Biblical. The Catholic practice of calling one’s spiritual leader “father” is rooted firmly in the Bible.  

Painting With A Broad Brush

Before studying Catholicism, I had heard of papal infallibility, but I never knew the details. I painted the pope with a very broad brush of infallibility, when in reality I should have used the head of a pin. As an anti-Catholic, I was wrong about Papal infallibility, and almost everything else I thought I knew about the Catholic Church. I believe this to be the case with almost all anti-Catholics. I believe anti-Catholic sentiment is based on nothing more than uninformed and unverified rumor. It reminds me of a brilliant quote from Fulton Sheen.

“There are not more than 100 people… who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church.” ~ Bishop Fulton Sheen

Fulton Sheen - Time Mag Cover - Copy 1

Bishop Fulton Sheen, Time Magazine cover, April 14, 1952. While flipping through the channels over the years, you may have seen the late Fulton Sheen teaching at his blackboard (even on Protestant Christian TV!). He was a brilliant and very conservative American Bishop who stood boldly against Communism.

Papal Infallibility Defined

Papal infallibility means that the Holy Spirit will never allow a pope to teach error in a solemn and official Church teaching on faith and morals. That’s it, and that’s all. It’s a very precise “negative charism,” which prevents a fallen and fallible human being from officially teaching heresy in the papal office. 

…Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I [Jesus] have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. ~ Luke 22:31-32 [Of the twelve Apostles, Satan concentrates on Simon, who would become Peter, the first pope, and who would pass on the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to Linus (the 2nd pope), who would pass on the keys to Anacletus (the 3rd pope), who would pass on the keys to Clement I (the 4th pope), and on and on through the 2,000 years of the Christian age to today’s pope, Francis (the 266th pope). Trust me, I don’t like some of Francis’ politics and opinions any more than you do, but he is prevented by the Holy Spirit from over-pouring those influences into the chemistry of the Church’s solemn and official teaching. This is a function of the Holy Spirit, not a function of Francis or any other pope.]

…Jesus said to Simon Peter… “Feed my lambs” [Christians]. … “Take care of my sheep” [Christians].” … “Feed my sheep” [Christians]. ~ John 21:15-17

…whatever you [Peter, by virtue of the papal office] bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” ~ Jesus Christ, Matthew 16:19

That last passage is astounding. There is essentially a data cable going from the Vatican right up to heaven. Whatever the pope solemnly and officially declares here on earth regarding faith and morals, by the authority of his office, is transmitted to heaven, where it is enforced.  The Holy Spirit has never allowed, and will never allow, any pope (all of whom are fallen, sinful, and fallible human beings) to solemnly and officially establish as Church dogma an unBiblical rule on faith and morals that must be enforced by God. 

The Bible is always proven true.


Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians are my brethren in the Lord Jesus Christ. I have learned much from all three groups. I have had family members in all three groups. And I have been greatly blessed by all three groups. I view each group as a sibling in the same family. We all call on the name of the same Lord Jesus Christ.

…whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. ~ Acts 2:21

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