Responding to “Meeting the Protestant Response,” #5: “The central theme of the passage is the identity of Jesus.”

Thanks for joining us today as we continue to examine and respond to Catholic apologist, Karlo Broussard’s book, “Meeting the Protestant Response” (2022). This week, Broussard continues with his arguments that Matthew 16:18 is a proof-text for Petrine primacy, the papacy, and the authority of the Roman Catholic church.

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13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter (petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16:13-19


Protestant response #5: “The central theme of the passage is the identity of Jesus.”

Broussard quotes evangelical apologist, James R. White, to expound upon Protestant response #5: “The confession that Peter gives of the messiahship of Jesus is the central thought of the entire passage. It is the reason for the trip to Caesarea Philippi. Jesus indicates that Peter has just been the recipient of divine revelation. God, in his grace, has given to Peter an insight that does not find its origin in the will of man, but in God the Father himself. The content of that confession is, in fact, divine revelation, immediately impressed upon the soul of Peter. This is the immediate context of verse 18, and to divorce verse 18 from what came before leads to the errant shift in attention from the identity of Christ to the identity of Peter that is found in Roman Catholic exegesis. Certainly we cannot accept the idea, presented in Roman theology, that immediately upon pronouncing the benediction upon Peter’s confession of faith, the focus shifts away from that confession and what it reveals to Peter himself and some office with successors based upon him!” – James R. White, quoted from a debate with Catholic apologist, Robert Sungenis, May 30, 2008.

Broussard’s rebuttal

Broussard answers that there is a shift in focus from Jesus Christ to Peter beginning in verse 17. The pronoun “you” is used in reference to Peter twice in v. 17, twice in v.18, and thrice in v. 19. Given the context of the entire passage, argues Broussard, it’s only reasonable to assume that Jesus is referring to Peter as the rock upon which He will build His church in v. 18.

My rebuttal

James. R. White presented an excellent argument above regarding the focus of vv. 13-17 in context with v. 18, wherein Jesus declared He would build His church upon the truth divinely revealed to Peter, that He was the Messiah/Christ. White is undeniably correct in asserting that Catholics almost completely ignore the context presented in vv. 13-17 in making their case via v. 18 for Petrine primacy. There is certainly a shift in focus beginning in v. 19 where Jesus declares He will give to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven (important note: Jesus granted these spiritual keys of locking and unlocking, binding and loosing, to ALL of His disciples in Matthew 18:18). Broussard and Catholics self-servingly argue the shift in focus from Jesus to Peter begins in v. 17, while Gospel Christians argue the shift begins with v. 19. Who is right? Last week, we presented conclusive evidence (see here) that Jesus would build His church upon Himself as Christ/Messiah, Son of God, and Savior, NOT upon weak Peter and the corrupt despots in the Vatican who claimed to be Peter’s successors.

Next week: Protestant response #6: “All the apostles are the foundation, not just Peter.”

26 thoughts on “Responding to “Meeting the Protestant Response,” #5: “The central theme of the passage is the identity of Jesus.”

  1. Thanks for a reminder of this very important truth Tom. I absolutely agree that Jesus is talking about Himself here until v19. I previously wrote a blog then distributed a tract from this… “Upon this Rock I will build my church.” In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul is speaking of Moses and his ancestors… “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (V4). Man-made religion seeks to exalt man above God. How can the “Rock of our salvation” be mortal man? “For who is God save the Lord? Or who is a rock save our God?” (Psalm 18v31) “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” (1Corinthians 3v11)

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. In our installment two weeks ago (#3), I cited these verses/passages and 19 others that identify Jesus (or God in the OT) as the Rock. Most of the passages were from the OT. No Jewish convert to Christianity knowing their Scripture would have accepted the blasphemy of Peter being the Rock. Last week (#4), I presented incontrovertible evidence that the Catholic interpretation is a self-serving misinterpretation.

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    1. RE: I feel that everything proposed by the R.C. church appears to want to exalt man over God

      That’s right, Elizabeth. It’s the religion of Cain.

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  2. By the way Tom… yes indeed I see now you mentioned all those verses a couple of weeks ago! So thanks…I was away at the time and didn’t get seeing any blogs. It’s so good to know that our salvation rests upon the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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    1. Thanks for taking a look back at the previous post. Yes, it is a joy to know our Rock is Jesus Christ rather than a corrupt institution.

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  3. I think your observation is what it boils down to: “Jesus granted these spiritual keys of locking and unlocking, binding and loosing, to ALL of His disciples in Matthew 18:18” There is the gift of Apostleship but not papal power and certainly not the papal officer as we see today with all its extrabiblical abuses

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    1. Thanks, brother. Broussard is going to continue his arguments for Petrine primacy for the next 17 weeks of this 77-week series. This is an indicator of how the RCC is man-centered rather than Christ-centered.

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      1. Yup, the first 22 “Protestant comebacks” (30%) that Broussard addresses have to do with Petrine primacy, which is a crystal clear example of how the RCC’s focus is on their hierarchical institution rather than on Jesus Christ.

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      2. Well, as much as I said I wasn’t going to buy this book when I saw you were doing a rebuttal series, because Kreeft, well, that was just so wow yeah, terrible, awful, no good, very bad writing and thinking, but I have decided to join you in reading Broussard!

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      3. Thank you for following along on the Broussard #2 series! As I mentioned previously, out of the gate he dawdles on the Petrine primacy issue like Chinese water torture.

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  4. Everybody hates James White. Total tangent for a moment but I am hoping you will include JD Hall and Protestia on your latest roundup.

    So, after skimming this rebuttal in the book, I have to say his gray box section on kindle p 23 talks about the Greek language. The whole plural you of the question of who do you plural say I am is that Peter is the spokesperson for the group. I have no issue with Peter being a leader of the group but Paul says but James and Peter were pillars of the faith in Galatians 2. That Peter was a leader is of no doubt, that is historical fact as you have stated numerous times now. It is absolutely ridiculous that Broussard is against divine revelation. I also think that Broussard takes France’s commentary out of context because having read France before he would not put Peter over Jesus even though he sees a “word-play.” What doesn’t fit the context is Broussard. Jesus is the foundation, the cornerstone and peter and every other person in Christ will be built upon that. It will be interesting to see how Broussard deals with this next week!

    I agree with your point about all Christ followers being given spiritual keys.

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    1. Thanks for the good comments, Mandy! Yup, Peter obviously was one of the apostolic leaders of the early church, but we see in Scripture nothing resembling the pope. Instead, we see several passages that forbid an authoritarian figure like the pope. RC-ism’s misinterpretation of and extrapolations from Matthew 16:18 are jar-droppingly self-serving when the verse is seen in context with the rest of the New Testament. I’m currently drafting #7 in which Broussard examines Galatians 2:9 and the pillars.

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      1. I like staying ahead 1.5-2 weeks on blog posts for some quirky reason. Responding to Broussard’s arguments is definitely more work than Kreeft’s.

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      1. Absolutely! I wonder if protestia will turn down the rhetoric now that Hall is no longer associated with it?! I am not celebrating this like Roys and her crew/followers but I cannot help but see the irony. Discernment ministries are good and necessary but when they lose focus on the Gospel and elevate social or political causes it will fall and a persons character will be revealed through it all. Is it a scorched earth day in ROC today? We’ve had some really strange weather patterns this summer.

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      2. I’ve observed several discernment ministries that peddled only hatred and nastiness. There’s a temptation to become arrogant, sarcastic, and rude when defending the Gospel. I caught your comment on James R. White and he often does take an arrogant tone in his approach. I wonder if his many debates resulted in his skin becoming too thick? I do credit him for his faithfulness in counterism RC-ism. Just about all popular apologists that I know about have caved to ecumenism with Rome.
        We had a high of only 78F in ROC today. Very nice. I rented a power washer and cleaned the patio, took most of the day, which is why I’m late in responding. Yeah, temps have been up and down like a yo-yo.

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      3. Oh I love the power washer!!!! James White can have an arrogant tone for sure and that has irritated me more than once! But, the more I listen to him the more I have the same conclusion as you that after fighting for so long tone comes with the territory. I am more inclined to extend grace to White and his arrogance than JMac and Phil Johnson to be totally honest. JD Hall to me was the most arrogant and nasty of them all. Reformation Charlotte now Disntr also can take a tone that is less than helpful.

        The state of the Church is an absolute mess for sure. I have really been wondering how far do I take secondary separation?! I think it comes down to personal conviction. You track the RC way more than me, I spend more time than I should watching how the Church looks like the New Age and NAR. At the end of the day, I know you listen to Lloyd-Jones and I wonder who else is left to listen to?!

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      4. I used to favorably cite JMac and review his books. His arrogant tone was obvious, but I appreciated his outspoken non-accommodation of RC-ism. However, I could not abide his “there is no pandemic” crusade beginning in Aug. ’20. He subsequently came down with C-19 in Dec. ’20, but deceitfully hid that fact from his congregation until Aug. ’21.

        I’m not interested in reading or listening to any evangelical pastor, theologian, or para-church leader who embraces RC-ism with its false Gospel as a Christian entity. To be wrong about such an important issue disqualifies them as a teacher of truth in my mind. I realize the majority of evangelicals would not agree with me on that point, but I view that as a consequence of how widespread acceptance of Rome with its false gospel has become.

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