Of Popes, Protestants, and Patriarchy

Daniel makes a comparison:screenshot-2016-09-13-at-16-37-12

Now, off the bat I was not entirely sure what Daniel’s point was. I saw four possible options:

–There is no point, just a random observation.
–The point is that Protestants should submit to the Pope,* just as wives should submit to their husbands.
–The point is that wives should not submit to their husbands, just as Protestants should not submit to the Pope.
–Some other point which I have not thought of.

So I asked Daniel, and he answered:

screenshot-2016-09-14-at-19-56-42

Daniel does well to note that a similarity does not constitute an argument.

For the idea that “Protestants must submit to the Pope, just as wives must submit to their husbands” to become a weighty argument, one must establish how and why wives and Protestants are like things, and how and why the Pope and husbands are like things.

I might just as well say “Bakers must submit to Car Salesmen, just as wives must to submit to husbands” or “Dogs must submit to zebras, just as wives must submit to husbands.”

 

Naturally, either of those are nonsensical, as is the first if we do not establish somehow that Protestants are like wives and the Pope is like husbands.

Now, I am no expert on Popes and Protestants, but I don’t see a way in which they are like things to husbands and wives that is accepted by both Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Maybe I’m just missing it.

Some time in Daniel’s conversion from a “Bible church ” to Roman Catholicism, he became convinced that the Pope was a God-ordained position of authority. Thus, when he reads of how wives must submit to the God-ordained authority of their husbands, it reminds him of his submission to the Pope (and bishops, etc.)

But an argument only has value if the one to whom you are making it accepts its priors.

Thus, an argument that Protestants must submit to the Pope ought to be aimed at convincing Protestants–and its priors must therefore be those accepted by Protestants.

The Protestant will say that the Bible commands wives to submit to husbands, and does not command Protestants to submit to the Pope. Therefore, he will not accept the prior that Protestants are like wives and the Pope is like husbands.

For a Roman Catholic to convince a Protestant, he must use the arguments that are convincing to Protestants, not those that are convincing to Roman Catholics.

Likewise, for a Protestant to convince a Roman Catholic, he must use the arguments that are convincing to Roman Catholics, not those that are convincing to Protestants.

And for either to do this, he must understand the other’s theology


*Roman, not Coptic or Chalcedonian

17 thoughts on “Of Popes, Protestants, and Patriarchy

  1. For a Roman Catholic to convince a Protestant, he must use the arguments that are convincing to Protestants, not those that are convincing to Roman Catholics.

    And the converse. That is wise and Aquinas point. You must defeat the enemy on their home turf.

    But then it implies to convince women, men must use arguments convincing to women. This is a pickle since most women are at best rhetorical.

    As to the Pope, either “upon this Peter I will build my church” is believed or not. Beyond that John 6 where our Lord says if we do not gnaw on his flesh and drink his blood we have no life in us.

    The rift, first in 1054 with the Orthodox, then the chasm of the reformation occurred over “bad”, that is sinful Popes. But we are all sinful. Nor does a sinful officeholder affect the legitimacy of the office. There is a parallel. There is no demand the husband be perfect for the wife to obey all but the most obviously sinful commands. Yet if there is an Isaiah 22 prime minister, there ought not be a similar requirement for the church or its head.

  2. I am pretty sure that I’ve never convinced anyone of anything in an argument or debate, least of all one online. So I’m quite confident that I’m not going to be able to convince a blogger who made me think “This guy is so protestant it hurts” to submit to Papal authority and be reconciled to the Catholic Church.

    But keep in mind that in the same way that a wife’s interpretation of scripture may cause her to reject the God-ordained authority of her husband, so too may a layman’s interpretation of scripture cause him to reject the God-ordained authority of the clergy.

    As zippy likes to say: “any sufficiently interesting text admits of multiple mutually incompatible interpretations which are all consistent with the text”

  3. On a semi-related note.

    Why is it always Prots and Catholics? Why not Orthodox and Catholics?

    I’ve never seen any Catholic argue with Orthodox about that schism (or vice versa). Only Protestants are the “bad guys” so to speak.

  4. @MNM

    Now, I am no expert on Popes and Protestants, but I don’t see a way in which they are like things to husbands and wives that is accepted by both Roman Catholics and Protestants.

    It’s very simple: The Pope is not our father. The bishops of Rome should never have presumed to take the title.

    @Daniel Zapata

    But keep in mind that in the same way that a wife’s interpretation of scripture may cause her to reject the God-ordained authority of her husband, so too may a layman’s interpretation of scripture cause him to reject the God-ordained authority of the clergy.

    The office of Pope is not God-ordained. He’s not even St. Peter. Your argument is poor and void.

    @Deep Strength

    I’ve never seen any Catholic argue with Orthodox about that schism (or vice versa). Only Protestants are the “bad guys” so to speak.

    Because America’s Christians were overwhelmingly Protestant, and both Catholics and Orthodox were minorities together.

  5. “Because America’s Christians were overwhelmingly Protestant”
    That, and none of us on this blog seem to be Orthodox. Also Orthodox and Catholic differ on many fewer issues than Protestant. There is a rift there, but not a large one. The only difference the bulk of the laity in either Orthodox or Catholic would be able to cite is submission to the Pope.

    @cane
    the quote you refuted did not contain the word “Pope.” Surely Christians of any denomination will assent to the authority of the leaders of their church?

    Though I am sure that my argument is poor, as I said, I’m not very convincing.

  6. @Zapata

    the quote you refuted did not contain the word “Pope.”

    Yet I know where Roman Catholics always go and brought the hidden ends front and center.

    In fact many Protestants are under the authority of clergy, and you know this. So I perceive that when you said clergy, what you want to get at is Pope.

    The only difference the bulk of the laity in either Orthodox or Catholic would be able to cite is submission to the Pope.

    That is a huge and grave difference, Zapata.

  7. As to the Pope, either “upon this Peter I will build my church” is believed or not. Beyond that John 6 where our Lord says if we do not gnaw on his flesh and drink his blood we have no life in us.

    More Papist nonsense. Feel free to open your Bible. Don’t be afraid of that cracking sound. Books opened for the first time make that noise.

    Matt 16:18 is about the confession not Peter. The Greek is clear. Petros (m) is Peter, petra (f) is rock, pebble.

  8. But keep in mind that in the same way that a wife’s interpretation of scripture may cause her to reject the God-ordained authority of her husband, so too may a layman’s interpretation of scripture cause him to reject the God-ordained authority of the clergy.

    The question is whether I, and others, have been placed under the God-ordained authority of the Pope.

    Presumably, a wife made a commitment to a husband to follow him at some point in time.

    When I reconsider my path to faith, I read the Gospels and believed; I read the Gospels because of my father’s faith. My father came to faith through non-Catholic gospel tracts he read in his youth.

    It was not Catholic evangelism that brought us to faith; where then did we come unknowingly under its umbrella?

    I heard Jesus’ command, “Follow me”, I have not heard any command to “Follow Peter”. Speaking of likeness, I find this to resemble a situation described by Paul:

    “For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?”

  9. @cane, sean, and sirhamster

    You make good questions and points, mostly. However I don’t think I’m the guy to answer them. John C Wright over on scifiwright.com seems to love answering questions of this sort, if they are asked in good faith. If you’re actually interested in sparring with a competent Catholic, I suggest you head there.


    I realize that on the internet, you don’t have much to go on, so you have to make assumptions, but the assumption about me that I don’t understand common Protestant/Evangelical theology, or that I don’t read the Bible or that I’m the stereotypical Catholic is false. I grew up and have spent nearly my entire life steeped in devout non-denominational Protestant Christianity. In Sunday school, I was the kid who knew all the stories and answered all the questions. My dad is an elder at his church. Pretty much every argument or question you have made, or will make, I’ve already heard from my father or others when I was in RCIA (the process of converting).

  10. @ TZ, CoRP, DS, Daniel

    TZ: The Petrine argument makes no sense to me, or to most Protestants. If Peter was placed in charge of the Church by Christ, why is it documented that he deferred to the leadership of James?

    CoRP: I don’t fully know the answer to your question. I would ask, does his pastor/priest/bishop guard his soul? (Heb 13:17)

    DS: Geography. Orthodoxy is not enough of a threat in the US to be a major target. This is not true, in say, Ukraine.

    Daniel: I know as a fact that there are Orthodox Christians who read and sometimes comment on this blog. In the early days of this blog, they were actually over-represented.

  11. @ CC

    @MNM

    Now, I am no expert on Popes and Protestants, but I don’t see a way in which they are like things to husbands and wives that is accepted by both Roman Catholics and Protestants.
    It’s very simple: The Pope is not our father. The bishops of Rome should never have presumed to take the title.

    I’m not sure what your point to me is.

  12. @MNM

    My bad. The thought is truncated there. And I certainly wasn’t attacking you.

    1) It is true that a child’s rebellion against a parent is like a wife’s rebellion against her husband. They are similar species of events.

    2) It’s an RC attack on Protestants to say, essentially, that Protestant men deserve rebellion from their wives, or Protestant parents deserve rebellion from their children, or Protestant leaders deserve rebellion from their subjects; that it is justice for Protestant rebellion from Father. That is what the title Pope means: Father.

    3a) It’s a false dichotomy. According to the Council of Trent we are anathema and outside them. How can we be outside our father’s house?

    3b) Even if we weren’t: According to Matt 23:9 the bishop of Rome shouldn’t be called Pope; especially by other bishops. No bishop should.

    We don’t have to be experts on popes to disregard such traps.

  13. @MN

    Indeed, the Petrine argument has other issues that can be assessed indirectly like….

    Paul wrote all these epistles to churches he planted. Why did he never say “Listen, what I say is all well and good but Peter is actually the Man. Why don’t you just send him a letter and he’ll just tell you what to do?”

    If the Peter is the head of Christ’s Church and id the authority for EVERYONE, why does Paul have to rebuke Peter in Galatians?

    There are others but… As far as covering, even Calvinist Baptist churches have gone from that. A pastor in my city preached that it was a cultural thing but that modesty was what was meant.

    @Daniel

    Agree with Cane on your graciousness. Well done. Incidentally, my crack about opening your Bible was for tz.

  14. @ Sean

    As far as covering, even Calvinist Baptist churches have gone from that. A pastor in my city preached that it was a cultural thing but that modesty was what was meant.

    That pastor presumes to know more than St. Paul, who said that women should be covered “because of the angels” who are unmoved by the winds of human culture.

  15. It’s an RC attack on Protestants to say, essentially, that Protestant men deserve rebellion from their wives, or Protestant parents deserve rebellion from their children, or Protestant leaders deserve rebellion from their subjects; that it is justice for Protestant rebellion from Father.

    It’s a silly attack, that I hope no one actually makes. Legitimate authority never deserves rebellion. Catholics shouldn’t believe in the right of rebellion, and therefore should not believe that Protestant men deserve rebellion in their own homes.

    How can we be outside our father’s house?

    By going outside of your own free will. The prodigal son actually did leave his father’s house. That is why it was a joyous occasion when he returned.

    why does Paul have to rebuke Peter in Galatians?

    Because Peter was wrong. As long as leaders are human, leaders will make mistakes and be wrong. That does not imply that there should be no leader.

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