Saturday, January 08, 2011

Upon this rock I will build my Church

13. ελθων δε ο ιησους εις τα μερη καισαρειας της φιλιππου ηρωτα
τους μαθητας αυτου λεγων τινα με λεγουσιν οι ανθρωποι ειναι τον υιον του ανθρωπου

Venit autem Jesus in partes Cæsareæ Philippi : et interrogabat discipulos suos, dicens : Quem dicunt homines esse Filium hominis ?

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14. οι δε ειπον οι μεν ιωαννην τον βαπτιστην αλλοι δε ηλιαν ετεροι δε ιερεμιαν η ενα των προφητων

At illi dixerunt : Alii Joannem Baptistam, alii autem Eliam, alii vero Jeremiam, aut unum ex prophetis.

And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15. λεγει αυτοις υμεις δε τινα με λεγετε ειναι

Dicit illis Jesus : Vos autem, quem me esse dicitis ?

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16. αποκριθεις δε σιμων πετρος ειπεν συ ει ο χριστος ο υιος του θεου
του ζωντος

Respondens Simon Petrus dixit : Tu es Christus, Filius Dei vivi.

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of
the living God.

17. και αποκριθεις ο ιησους ειπεν αυτω μακαριος ει σιμων βαρ ιωνα οτι σαρξ και αιμα ουκ απεκαλυψεν σοι αλλ ο πατηρ μου ο εν τοις

Respondens autem Jesus, dixit ei : Beatus es Simon Bar Jona : quia caro et sanguis non revelavit tibi, sed Pater meus, qui in cælis est.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon
Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18. καγω δε σοι λεγω οτι συ ει πετρος και επι ταυτη τη πετρα οικοδομησω μου την εκκλησιαν και πυλαι αδου ου κατισχυσουσιν

Et ego dico tibi, quia tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram ædificabo
Ecclesiam meam, et portæ inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19. και δωσω σοι τας κλεις της βασιλειας των ουρανων και ο εαν δησης
επι της γης εσται δεδεμενον εν τοις ουρανοις και ο εαν λυσης επι της γης εσται λελυμενον εν τοις ουρανοις

Et tibi dabo claves regni cælorum. Et quodcumque ligaveris super terram, erit ligatum et in cælis : et quodcumque solveris super terram, erit solutum et in cælis.

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20. τοτε διεστειλατο τοις μαθηταις αυτου ινα μηδενι ειπωσιν οτι αυτος εστιν ιησους ο χριστος

Tunc præcepit discipulis suis ut nemini dicerent quia ipse esset Jesus Christus.

Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

21. απο τοτε ηρξατο ο ιησους δεικνυειν τοις μαθηταις αυτου οτι δει
αυτον απελθειν εις ιεροσολυμα και πολλα παθειν απο των ρεσβυτερων και αρχιερεων και γραμματεων και αποκτανθηναι και τη τριτη ημερα εγερθηναι

Exinde cœpit Jesus ostendere discipulis suis, quia oporteret eum ire Jerosolymam, et multa pati a senioribus, et scribis, et principibus sacerdotum, et occidi, et tertia die resurgere.

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22. και προσλαβομενος αυτον ο πετρος ηρξατο επιτιμαν αυτω λεγων ιλεως σοι κυριε ου μη εσται σοι τουτο

Et assumens eum Petrus, cœpit increpare illum dicens : Absit a te, Domine : non erit tibi hoc.

Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23. ο δε στραφεις ειπεν τω πετρω υπαγε οπισω μου σατανα σκανδαλον μου ει οτι ου φρονεις τα του θεου αλλα τα των ανθρωπων

Qui conversus, dixit Petro : Vade post me Satana, scandalum es mihi : quia non sapis ea quæ Dei sunt, sed ea quæ hominum.

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

St Matthew xvi.13-23

I don't particularly want to go into the more obvious argument here about the character of the Petrine ministry. The question is: is the simple reading sufficient and thus giving sanction and development to the Papacy or is there a context which is alluded to which Peter and the audiences of St Matthew's gospel would have understood? Isaiah li.1 is often mentioned here in reference to the interpretation of this verse, but I believe that Deuteronomy xxxii and II Samuel xxii.32 are also rather influential in putting forward alternatives to the argument for the Papacy. I'll leave the arguments to the many better theologians than I, suffice it to say that I am still more convinced by the pro-Papal understanding.

On that I shall say no more and ask the charitable reader not to try and convert me to full Roman Catholicism (and until I am in communion with Rome, that is how I shall refer to it) or to dissuade me of Papal claims. I am an Anglican Papalist, and this necessarily means that I am in constant dialogue with people I know and trust and I study to address what I know to be deficiencies and confusions in my position - current events are indeed changing the character of the Anglican Papal position and require much careful thought. It isn't just the head that needs to be converted by reasons and rational argument, but the whole man, and my heart will also require a spark of inspiration through expressions of Christian charity and generosity. I would be grateful for any prayers.

What is interesting is the nature of the Church which the Lord intends to build on the rock whatever that rock might be. The Lord uses the word ekklesia - addressing those who are called out "of Darkness into His marvellous light" as the very same St Peter would say. The nature of Church is one of vocation and in order to respond to a call, one has to listen.

The very nature of this passage from St Matthew's gospel centres around the idea of listening carefully to what's being said, not just with the mind but with the heart, and not just with the heart but with the mind. Heart and mind have to work together. Of course, one usually gets ahead of the other, or one lags behind for a while. Do head and heart get inspired simultaneously.

St Peter who seems to be all heart in this situation. He reacts without thinking to the Lord's statements about His own future. St Peter may correctly respond to his hearing of the Holy Spirit about the nature of Christ, yet still he goes on, spurred by the beating of the same heart, to step over the line and incur a sharp rebuke by not accepting the consequences of being the Christ.

St Paul is of course the opposite here. His intellectual inspiration comes first and, confident of the consistency of his repository of knowledge (albeit incomplete), does what it takes to defend that repository. His heart has to catch up, which it does on the Damascus road, and this realignment of his heart effectively causes him to reflect and thus complete the gaps in his repository.

In order to be of the ekklesia, we have to pay attention to the call that we are receiving. In a noisy world in which there are many voices all claiming to possess the Truth whether without or within, it is very difficult to hear what one's true calling is. In this case, the calling is quite simple in its statement -Come and Follow Christ: its execution is a different matter. If the apostles were all still alive after 2000 years, it would seem more likely that there would be a unified Christianity. Yes, even those apostles would still be sinners, but there would be still a guaranteed link and memory to Christ's intentions in building this church, and I am sure the unity of Christian Doctrine would be maintained. There wouldn't be argument about what St Matthew xvi.18 actually means because the Truth would still be preserved by those who were there when He said it.

Is there Truth in the Church? Well, of course there is. The physical death of the apostles does not affect the transmission of the Gospel, because the apostles not only transmit their testimony, but also the same spirit - the Holy Spirit - to those who come after. The Lord says "The Gates of Hades (αδου, inferi) shall not prevail against it." I believe I'm right in saying that the Lord is referring rather more specifically to Death rather than our understanding of Hell, though really the two are substantially the same. Is the Lord not saying, "the Church shall transcend Death itself"?

It is important, then, to be as active as possible in our Christian faith to be listeners to what is being said by the World and by God and to reflect on them both, hearing the differences. Anything that comes from one's own self motivation or agenda is more than likely not from God. We have to deny ourselves to follow Christ. Whatever is motivated by one's love for Christ and for one's neighbour is more likely to be true than trying to save face in the light of many pressing arguments.

To convert to Roman Catholicism because that is where one sincerely believes that is where he will find Christ is clearly the right thing to do. To convert because he is running away from gay bishops is not. We need to listen to ourselves also and examine our true motives.

Perhaps I present this as a bit of an apology for my position. These are tough times and require perhaps more strength than any of us possess. I think, however, we should be assured that if we are encountering an uphill struggle, then we must necessarily be ascending unlike those engaged in plain (plane?) sailing.

1 comment:

poetreader said...

Even though we disagree on the Petrine implications of this passage, this is an excellent meditation and challenge. I'm afraid, however, that I'm doubtful of your assumption that continued presence of the Apostles would prevent schism. That was not the case while they were alive. There were constant developments of heresies of schisms, and of near schisms even in NT times. There were the Judaizers bringing division in Antioch, a division that dragged on for some centuries. There were various kinds of Gnosticism. In Coronth there were parties, apparently close to schism, of Peter, of Paul, of Apollos, and "of Christ" (apparently of no particular apostle, but distinct). In the NT itself and in the earliest postscriptural church there was a constant effort to draw fragmenting sectors back together, and there has been no time in the entire history of Christianity that all true Christians have been safely in a single visible structure. We humans are a very fractious bunch. Division is never right, but division is inevitable while humans have the sickness of sin. Workjing for real unity has always, from the beginning, been an imperative, difficult, ongoing project.