The Pope’s Claim to Authority – W. Wallace Layton

W. Wallace Layton

The Catholic religion is peculiar in that it is the only form of paganism which has perniciously continued in all its original elements. Instead of modifying and softening its heathenism, the Catholic religion has become more desperate and rigid in its long fight against Christianity. There is no priesthood in the world which claims such blasphemous authority. There has never been a system of idolatry as thoroughly persistent and powerful as is the idolatry of Rome. The magic which Romish theologians have worked into the fiber of their seven sacraments is the most daring and sacrilegious of all heathen magic. Catholic superstitions are so defended and dignified by solemn doctors of the law that the faithful Catholic member hugs them to his breast with blind and deathless tenacity.

Papal Authority, Keystone to Catholicism

The keystone to the continuity of the Catholic dogma is the pope’s claim to infallible authority as the vicar of God. Such a claim will naturally make every edict and bull of the Catholic popes throughout the ages past irrefutable. For a modern pope to renounce any or all of the atrocious deeds of the dark ages popes would necessarily destroy the pope’s claim to authority. With that claim proven to be false, the entire superstructure of Roman Catholicism falls. Incidentally, Romanism today is doing a good job of toning down the historic deeds of crime committed by Catholic popes in the past. They have even gone so far as to say that the inquisition was an order of persecution by heathens against Catholics! This, of course, is an exact reversal of the truth; but it is merely an illustration of how unprincipled, unethical, and immoral is the beast of perverted ingenuity.

The Douay catechism, in answer to the question, “What are the essential parts of the church?” teaches, “A pope, or supreme head, bishops, pastors, laity.” (p. 20).

Here then are presented the “essential” elements of the Catholic church. Since the head is always the most essential part of any organization, should we remove the head from the Catholic Church, she would lose her identity. The pope’s claim to authority as head of the church is revealed in the following:

The duty of all churches to be united to the church of Rome as branches to the trunk, and to conform their faith to the teaching of the church in Rome, that is, of her (Rome’s) bishop, would be inconceivable unless we admit that it was from the first the universal conviction that the bishop of Rome was endowed by Christ with infallibility (Catholic Belief, p. 52).

Catholicism avers that the church in Rome is the universal seat of divine government, and the Roman pontiff is the universal head of the church by divine prerogative; that Christ appointed Peter as the first pope, and all succeeding popes are his successors. But read it from their own dogma: “Catholics recognize, generation after generation, the bishops of Rome as successors of St. Peter in that See the regular line of 258 Roman Pontiffs (as of 1884) who have at all times claimed to succeed to the chair of Peter…” (Catholic Belief, p. 267). In this same book we read, “If St. Peter was not the first pontiff of Rome, they (enemies of this claim) ought to be able to explain how the supremacy over the whole church was ever claimed, and is still claimed by the Roman See…” (p. 268).

Here is surely enough documentary evidence to establish the true nature of the pope’s claim to authority. He bases his claim (1) upon the act of Christ in divinely ordaining a visible head of the church on earth; (2) the belief that this power was first given to Peter; and (3) that Peter divinely selected Rome, or the church in Rome, to be the trunk of which all congregations on earth are branches.

Was Peter Ever Pope?

The two arguments of the Catholic Church in regard to Peter are: (1) that he was the first pope, and (2) that as such he was vested with supreme authority. We now proceed to take from the Catholic the whole basis of these claims, showing them to be absolutely false.

The first argument is based on Christ’s statement, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church. . . . and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shalt be bound in heaven…” (Matt. 16:18-19). But this very same statement was made to all the apostles in Matthew 18:18. Again Jesus said to all the twelve apostles that they would “sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes” (Matt. 19:28). Thus apostolic authority was equally distributed to all the apostles. This passage proves the very opposite of authoritative succession. The apostles are seated, judging. They judge through what they wrote. Their writings are presented as full and complete, and men are admonished to abide in them, and not go beyond them.

In addition to the above, here are six observations, originally tabulated by C.C. Crawford, that completely refute the monstrous claim that Peter was pope and therefore supreme:

(1) When there was a vacancy in the apostleship, occasioned by the apostasy of Judas Iscariot, Peter did not appoint a successor. The whole assembly agreed in the choice.

(2) The same method was employed in the selection of the seven servants of the church (Acts 6:2-6).

(3) James, not Peter, presided over the council at Jerusalem in A.D. 48. The whole church consented in matters brought forward. (Note: This is a far cry from the anathemas and the damnings breathed out by Catholic popes).

(4) Peter and John received a commission to go to Samaria (Acts 8:14). Peter was taken to task in reference to his conduct. Paul rebuked him to his face because he stood condemned (Gal 2:11). This does not sound as if Peter were “supreme” does it?

(5) When Paul referred to the “pillars” at Jerusalem, he named Peter, James, and John as co-equals (Gal 2:9); and he mentions James first, indicating his own esteem of the men.

(6) Paul argued that he was equal to the other apostles, and claimed the same authority as they, also that his knowledge came from the same source as theirs; that he depended upon them for nothing (Gal 2:6). He ended up by speaking of the apostles as “they that are reputed to be somewhat (it maketh no difference to me, God accepteth no man’s person).” This is one inspired man’s attitude toward all other inspired apostles. This is a far cry from the bowing, kissing, fawning, and scraping that the popes have habitually demanded from their contemporaries. It is enough to prove that Peter was never regarded in any sense as supreme, let alone as a creature of supremacy.

(7) Peter at no time claimed superiority over the rest, but counted himself as a “fellow” (1 Pet. 5:1).

(8) Peter refused to accept the adoration offered him by Cornelius; (Acts 10) a homage that not only is accepted by modern popes, but is demanded by them.

   Send article as PDF   

Author: Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *