Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 2, 1954
NUMBER 30, PAGE 8-9a

Quoting Another Catholic Scholar -- (Part 2)

Luther W. Martin. Rolla. Missouri

We herewith copy from the writings of Rene-Francois Guettee, who was a Roman Catholic scholar, priest and historian of the 19th century. M. Guettee had the courage of his convictions, because he left the Roman Church as a result of his historical studies.

One of the foremost faults in Roman Catholicism, in the estimation of Guettee, was the rise of the Papal power. In his book, "The Papacy," he deals at length with some of the false reasoning and forged history of the Roman sect. We now copy his exegesis of Matthew 16:18-19.

" `Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.'

"If we believe with the Popes, this text proves that St. Peter and the bishops of Rome, his successors, have been established by Jesus Christ as the corner-stone of the Church, and that Error, figured by the gates of hell, shall never prevail against this stone or rock. Hence, they draw this result, that they are the sovereign heads of the Church.

"If this reasoning be true, it follows that St. Peter, to the exclusion of the other apostles, was established as corner-stone of the Church, and that it was not merely a personal privilege to him, but that it has passed to the bishops of Rome.

"It is not thus.

"First of all, Peter was not called the rock of the Church to the exclusion of the other apostles. He was not made the head of it. We see a proof of this in the text of St. Paul (Eph. 2:20-22), in which the apostle distinctly affirms that the foundation-stones of the Church are the prophets and apostles, joined together by the corner-stone, which is Jesus Christ.

"The title of `rock of the Church' cannot be given to St. Peter without forcing the sense of Holy Scripture, without destroying the economy of the Church, nor without abandoning Catholic tradition. Jesus Christ has declared that he was himself that stone designated by the prophets, Matt. 21:42; Luke 20:17-18) St. Paul says that Christ was that Rock, (1 Cor. 10:4) St. Peter teaches the same truth. (1 Peter 2:7-8.)

"The greater number of the Fathers of the Church have not admitted the play upon words that our Ultramontanes (Papal supporters, LWM) attribute to Jesus Christ in applying to St. Peter these words, `And upon this rock I will build my Church.' (Note: Launoy, Doctor of the Sorbonne, known for a great number of works on theology and whose vast erudition no one will dispute, has shown the Catholic tradition upon that question. He has demonstrated by clear and authentic texts, that but a small number of Fathers or Doctors of the Church have applied to St. Peter the title of rock, upon which the Church should be built; while the most of them do not apply this to him at all, but understand these words of Christ in quite a different manner. His collection of Letters may be consulted, which are the treatises of a savant of the first order.) In order to be convinced that their interpretation is most just, it is only necessary to recall the circumstances under which Jesus Christ addressed to St. Peter the words so much abused by the Roman theologians.

"He had asked of his disciples, `Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?' The disciples replied, `Some say John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.' `But. whom,' replied Jesus, `say ye that I am?' Simon Peter, answering him said, `Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered him and said, `Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,' etc.

"These words mean nothing but this: `I say unto thee, whom I have surnamed Peter because of the firmness of thy faith, I say to thee that this truth that thou hast professed is the foundation-stone of the Church, and that Error shall never prevail against it.'

"As St. Augustine remarks, it was not said to Simon, Thou art the rock, (la pierre,) but thou art Peter, Pierre.) The words of St. Augustine deserve to fix the attention. 'It is not,' said he, 'upon thee as Peter, but upon that rock which thou hast confessed." 'Ce n'est pas, dit it sur toi qui es pierre, mais sur la pierre que tu as confessee . . . . tu es pierre, et sur cette pierre que tu as confessee, sur cette pierre que tu as reconnue en disant, Thou art Christ, etc., sur cette pierre je batirai mon eglise,' I will build thee upon myself, I will not be built upon thee. Those who wished to be built upon men said, `I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas, that is to say, of Peter;' but those who did not wish to be built upon Peter, but upon the Rock, they said, `I am of Christ.' In the French language the name given to the man having the same designation as that of the thing, there is an amphibology which is not found either in Greek or Latin. In these languages the name of the man has a masculine termination, while the name of the thing has a feminine, rendering it more easy to perceive the distinction that Christ had in view; moreover, it is easy in these two languages to remark, by the aid of the pronoun and the feminine article that precedes the word la pierre, (the stone,) that these words do not relate to the masculine substantive which designates the man, but to another object. Besides, the Greek word hoti has not been sufficiently remarked, which in Latin is exactly rendered by the word quia, which means because, (parce que.) In translating thus in French, the amphibology is avoided, upon which is founded all the reasoning of the popes and their partisans.

"In Holy Scripture, the Rock is frequently spoken of in a figurative sense. This word always signifies Christ, and never, directly or indirectly, St. Peter. The best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture itself. It is then with good reason that the immense majority of the Fathers and Doctors have given to the passage in question the interpretation that we claim for it — always referring either to Jesus Christ, or to faith in his divinity the word rock, which the Saviour used. This interpretation has the threefold advantage of being more conformed to the text, of better according with other passages of Holy Scripture, and of not attributing to Christ a play upon words little worthy of his majesty.

"Among the Fathers who have given this interpretation to the famous passage, 'Tu est Petrus,' we will name:

(1) St. Hilary of Poitiers, The Trinity, sixth book;

(2) St. Gregory of Nyssa, Advent of our Lord;

(3) St. Ambrose, book 6, on chapter ix. of St. Luke and on 2nd chapter of Epistle to the Ephesians;

(4) St. Jerome upon the 18th verse of the 16th chapter of St. Matthew;

(5) St. John Chrysostrom, homilies 55 and 83 upon St. Matthew, and 1st chapter Epistle to the Galatians;

(6) St. Augustine, Tracts 7 and 123 upon St. John, lath sermon upon the words of the Lord, taken from St. Matthew, 1st book of the Retractations;

(7) Acacius, homily pronounced at the Council of Ephesus;

(8) St. Cyril of Alexandria, 4th book upon Isaiah, 4th book of the Trinity;

(9) St. Leo I., Sermons 2nd and 3rd, upon his elevation to the episcopate, sermon upon the transfiguration of our Lord, sermon 2nd upon the nativity of the apostles Peter and Paul;

(10) St. Gregory the Great, 3rd book, 33rd epistle;

(11) St. John Damascene upon the Transfiguration.

"This interpretation of the Fathers was preserved in the West until the era when Ultramontanism was erected into a system by the Jesuits in the 16th century. It will suffice to prove this to cite Jonas of Orleans, 3rd book on the worship of images; Hincmar of Rheims, 33rd essay; Pope Nicholas I., 6th letter to Photius; Odo of Cluny, sermon upon the see of St. Peter; Rupert, 3rd book upon St. Matthew and 12th book upon the Apocalypse; Thomas Acquinas, supplement Q. 25, art. 1; Anselm, upon the 16th chapter of St. Matthew; Eckius, 2nd book of the primacy of St. Peter; Cardinal deCusa, Catholic Concordance, 2nd book, chapters 13 and 18.

"As for the few old writers who admitted this play upon words, it must be remembered that none of them interpreted the text in a manner favorable to the Papal sovereignty, nor drew from it the exaggerated consequences of this system. These consequences are diametrically opposed to the whole of their doctrine.

"It is true that Christ addressed himself directly to Peter; but it is only necessary to read the context to see that he did not thereby give him a title to the exclusion of the other apostles. In fact, after having pronounced the words we have quoted, Jesus Christ, still addressing himself to Peter, added:

"'I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.' In the two parts of this text, Christ simply made two promises to Peter; the first, that the Church should be so firmly established in the faith in his personal divinity, that error should never prevail against the truth; the second, that he would give to Peter an important ministry in the Church.

"It is not possible to sustain the doctrine that the power of the keys was granted exclusively to Peter, for Jesus Christ gave it to all of them at the same time, employing the same terms that he had used in promising it to St. Peter, (Matt. 18:18;) moreover, he promised to all the apostles collectively, and not only to Peter, to be with them to the end of the world.

"It must be remarked, that nowhere in the Gospel is it seen in respect to Peter alone, that any such promise made to him has been realized. Peter received this power only with the other apostles." (Pages 36-40, The Papacy, by Guettee.)