Your members ordinarily first object to the Catholic Church of Christ’s self-understanding of what Jesus’ spoken words mean by arguing from the written words of a different language as written by that same Catholic Church—by divorcing the text from its creator or insisting that Jesus would build His Church on a subject He never once called rock; but apparently attempted to confuse future Greek interpreters by calling St. Peter rock, and then proclaiming to build His church upon that very subject. The language offers no wriggle room for Protestants to argue against the historical interpretation (and therefore, practice) of what could possibly be the simplest passage in all of the New Testament to understand: I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. And therefore, your communities, like much of the remainder of Protestantism, jettisons the clear pro-Catholic implication of the single verse and focuses attention on other verses that, presumably, present obstacles for the Catholic Church of Christ’s position.
(1) The Protestant Church of Christ argues that the rock Jesus built His Church upon was St. Peter’s “confession of faith”.
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). I ask you, for a moment, to think of where you adopted your terminology. For a community that adamantly denies that it is Protestant, it is mysterious that its theological language is adopted from the Protestant camp. You will not find any Scripture nor ancient Christian commentary that describes the rock as St. Peter’s “confession of faith” in such a simplistic way. True, you will find early Church fathers (= Catholic Church fathers) who would use many, many words to describe the rock as what could be interpreted and distilled as a tidy “confession of faith” (as assigned to the physical person of St. Peter), but there is no ancient usage of language from which your group has derived its modern term and meaning. True, the Protestant reformers (who did not reform the Church, but rather, re-defined “church” to suit their own theory of what Church ought to be), used many words to describe the rock as what could be interpreted and distilled as a simpler “confession of faith” (as assigned to any individual believer), but there is no usage of the term with such meaning in any early Protestant literature. True, the term can be found; not as a condensed exegesis of Matthew 16, but as a general term to replace the Catholic-esque use of the word “creed”.
The term developed and evolved within later Protestant commentary as a means to represent a new concept. The new concept is that a “confession of faith” is the ingredient that inducts a person into the believing body of Christ’s Church—that St. Peter’s “confession of faith” is not about St. Peter’s confession specifically, but about any person’s faith. In other words, Protestantism has effectively deleted part of the Scripture; essentially removing I tell you, you are Peterfrom the discourse. Your group is nearly incapable of providing an exegesis of Matthew 16 on its own, depends not on language found within antiquity, but on later Protestant terminology that was in vogue at the time of your group’s birth. The Protestant Church of Christ is immersed within the language it was born, like an American who thinks he is speaking American and not English, and its use of language reveals a thoroughly Protestant society that it ungratefully depends upon for its own birth and existence; your group cannot create, it can only imitate (Restorationist patternism = imitation, even of other Protestant traditions).
It is important to know that the Catholic Church of Christ, too, believes the rock Jesus built His Church upon is St. Peter’s faith. True, the Catholic Church of Christ is built on St. Peter, but it is built on St. Peter as predicated by his faith—his confession does not negate his physical, visible existence. St. Peter’s faith, manifest in his confession that Jesus is the Christ, was the ingredient that became foundational to Jesus calling St. Peter the foundation; and reveals the beauty of the unaltered text:
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever youloose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:16-19, emphasis added).
St. Peter is the subject of verse 18: You are Peter, and on this rock . . . . St. Peter’s faith is not the subject—his “confession of faith” is two sentences prior. The passage itself shows that Jesus called St. Peter rock, but never was St. Peter’s confession called “rock”. It is impossible for any person, unless enamored with anti-Catholic traditions, to entertain the theory that St. Peter was not the rock Jesus would build His Church upon; language does not allow it, nor does the Scripture’s context.
The passage’s unaltered beauty consists of three parts: St. Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus stating that He will build His Church on St. Peter, and then proof beyond any reasonable doubt that He was not speaking of a “confession of faith” as the Church’s foundation, but that the rock can only be a subject that will be vested with authority: and whatever you bind on earth . . . . For a “confession of faith” has no authority on earth, but the King’s prime minister certainly does! This clear truth is undeniable, and some of your members admit that the meaning of the keys to the kingdom can only make sense if St. Peter was given some sort of status beyond that of making a “confession of faith”, and choose to teach that the keys refer to St. Peter’s preaching as revealed in the second chapter of Acts.
The keys to the kingdom are much greater than only preaching, and is more than an alleged prophecy of St. Peter’s sermon (of which the Bible offers no indication that Acts 2 is some sort of prophetic fulfillment of Matthew 16); it is a term rich with authority and societal context—authority that the Protestant Church of Christ cannot acknowledge, and a society that understood what the term meant. Those facts will be demonstrated throughout the remainder of this book, but the topic at hand demands that members of your group admit to possessing an unexplainable and contradicting exegesis of the passage. For if the rock, as you say, is St. Peter’s “confession of faith”, then there is no need for you to create a rationale for equating the keys with St. Peter’s Pentecost sermon. Additionally, admitting that the keys do allude to a kind of authority demands that you seek what that authority actually entails, instead of desperately forcing its meaning into a limited and speculative future sermon account.
The living Catholic Church of Christ has a memory, and does not require the passage to be deciphered in ways to support modern theories. In addition to its memory, she possesses the remainder of Scripture (as well as ancient commentary your group stigmatizes) that culminate into an immovable mass of evidence that can only support her paradigm. Conversely, your group has no memory because it is modern and denies that the remainder of the Bible supports what can only be a proper (= Catholic) interpretation of the passage, as proved by perverting the structure of the very passage at hand, and an overarching sect-wide denial that the keys allude to an authoritative office of prime minister.
Reason alone proves the rock is more than a “confession of faith”, and that the keys represent authority over the worldwide Church because St. Matthew’s Gospel would not have received residence in the Bible if the nascent Church were not the Catholic Church—if she had not determined that she had the authority to determine the Christian canon; because only books recognized as inspired by the recipients (successors) of the keys (fourth century Catholic bishops) are bound within the covers of even the abridged Protestant Bible from which you argue. In other words, the fact that your group considers the passage to be inspired should also prove to you that the Catholic Church of Christ’s interpretation of the passage is correct, and of course, that the keys are with her.
As you have now noticed, any discussion of Jesus’ words, And I tell you, you are Peter, must acknowledge the context in which it is nested. Your group can only discuss portions of the passage, separate St. Peter from his “confession of faith”, or at best, insert unreasonable inferences into Jesus’ spoken word. The Protestant Church of Christ is built on an avoidance of rock; the real Church of Christ is built on rock.