The American media is rolling out the red carpet in a BIG way for Jorge “pope Francis” Bergoglio in anticipation of his visit to the U.S. next week. One can’t turn on the television or pass a newsstand without being bombarded by images of Jesuit Bergoglio.
Catholics claim Bergoglio is the “Vicar (acting in the person) of Christ,” the apostolic successor to Peter the apostle, the alleged first pope. Catholics claim Jesus built His church upon Peter and that an unbroken chain of apostolic succession links Bergoglio to Peter and distinguishes their church as the “one true church.”
But when I read God’s Word I read about a Peter quite different from the Peter of Catholic tradition:
- Catholics refer to Matthew 16:18 to support their claim that Jesus would build His church upon Peter while Evangelicals interpret the verse to mean Jesus would build His church upon Peter’s profession in verse 16 that He was the Christ. If Jesus had already established Peter’s primacy in Matthew 16:18, as Catholics allege, then why did the sons of Zebedee attempt to stake their own claims to apostolic primacy in Matthew 20? In Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus condemns the very kind of autocratic primacy and rule adopted by the papacy for centuries.
- In Acts 10, Cornelius fell at Peter’s feet in reverence. In response, Peter told him to, “Stand up. I am only a man myself.” Throughout the history of the papacy, popes have demanded and received reverence and honor higher than that accorded to princes and potentates with followers dutifully bowing before them and kissing their feet and ring in subservience. How do Catholics reconcile the pompous arrogance of the historical papacy with humble Peter?
- In Galatians 2 Paul writes that Peter cowardly disassociated himself from Gentile Christians whenever Jewish Christians came around, perpetuating the heresy that circumcision and adherence to the Mosaic Law were part of the Gospel. Catholics claim every pope is infallible when it comes to matters of faith and morals but Peter’s hypocrisy and lack of leadership on this extremely important faith issue is an example of fallibility if there ever was one (and there are several in the history of the papacy). Paul confronted Peter’s error publicly and forthrightly.
- Paul wrote thirteen letters that are included in the Bible but he didn’t acknowledge Peter as pope, supreme leader of the church, or primary apostle in a single one of them. Just the opposite, he wrote in 2 Corinthians 11 that he was equal in authority to all of the other twelve apostles. In addition to the Pauline letters, there are nine other letters in the New Testament and NOT ONE of them ascribes to Peter ANY of the claims made by Rome regarding the “Petrine Primacy.”
- After Peter preached the Gospel in Jerusalem, 3000 souls accepted Christ and were saved that very day (see Acts 2). In contrast, Bergoglio and his bishops put candidates through a year-long RCIA course with instructions on the ins-and-outs of the Catholic legal laundry list on how to merit salvation before they will baptize them.
By God’s grace I shook off the chains of Catholic ritualism and legalism and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. I no longer reverence men who claim to be the channel of God’s salvation. I worship and reverence God alone.