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 his final chapter on Petrine primacy and papal authority, using Acts 15:7-11 as his proof-text:
7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” – Acts 15:7-11
Protestant response #22: “The Jerusalem council just confirmed revelation already given to Paul.”
Broussard writes, “(Norman) Geisler and (Ralph) MacKenzie offer another comeback: ‘The Jerusalem conference was only confirmatory of the revelation Paul had previously received directly from God. There was no new infallible declaration from God…the conference recognized the supernatural confirmation of God on the message of Paul (Acts 15:12), which was the divinely appointed sign that he spoke by revelation from God (2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3-4).'”
Writes Broussard, “There are two problems here. First, it was Peter who received the revelation to receive the Gentiles into the Church before anybody else, even before Paul. Peter was the first!…Second, the Catholic argument for Peter’s authority in Acts 15 doesn’t base itself on the claim that Peter gives new revelation. The claim is that Peter authoritatively confirms for the Church the revelation that the Gentiles can be saved. Even though the revelation had already been given to Peter and Paul, the Church needed to know the truth of the matter. That was the whole point of the gathering…Though the answer had been revealed, not everyone agreed on this issue. This disagreement among the brethren gave rise to the need for a council. The issue had to be settled. There needed to be an authoritative interpretation of the revelation given. And it was Peter who provided it” (pp.78-79).
Broussard argues that Peter was the first apostle given a revelation to receive the Gentiles into the church. Although he doesn’t cite it, I imagine Broussard is referring to Acts 10:1-48; 11:1-18, involving the interaction between Peter and Cornelius, the Roman centurion. But God had revealed that Paul would deliver the Gospel to the Gentiles earlier in Acts 9:15:
“But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.”
Even previous to that, Jesus had charged all of the apostles with delivering the Gospel to the entire world in Acts 1:8:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
So, although Peter was given specific instructions regarding Cornelius, the claim that he was “the first apostle given a revelation to receive the Gentiles into the church” is contradicted by Acts 9:15 and Acts 1:8.
Even if Peter had been the first apostle to receive revelation regarding the Gentiles, that would still not make him pope. At the end of his response, Broussard claims that Peter provided an authoritative interpretation of the Gentile revelation, which settled the dispute for which the Jerusalem council was called. That claim is fallacious as we shall see next week.
Next week: Protestant response #23: “James was the leader of the council, not Peter.”