to James White's Review of
One-Minute Apologist, by Dave Armstrong
Here's a link to the reply. (Dr. White has provided his own response, here.) There are several parts to Mr. Armstrong's reply, and doing justice in response requires separating the issues into those parts, and replying to each seriatim. Part 1, relating to the Roman Catholic departure from the Scriptural identity between Bishop and Elder is provided above (link). The present post relates to the donation of the keys.
2. Keys to Peter alone?
A. Original Argument by Dave Armstrong
Dave Armstrong had written: "Peter alone is given the 'keys of the kingdom of heaven'--a symbol of stewardship and supervisory capacity over the house of God, or the Church," with a footnote pointing to Matthew 16:19.
Matthew 16:19 states: "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
B. Dr. White's response
Dr. White had pointed out that Armstrong's reliance on Matthew 16:19 as indicating a donation of the keys to Peter alone is fatally flawed, because Matthew 16:19 is future tense: it is not recording the donation of the keys, but pointing forward to it.
Dr. White also pointed out the fulfilment of the promise in Matthew 18:18, but notes that there the recipient is clearly not Peter alone, but all the apostles.
Matthew 18:18 states: "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Finally, Dr. White asked: "So I would ask Armstrong: where in Scripture do we see the giving of the keys to Peter alone, as he claims? We all know this is the Roman claim. Outside of the self-serving interpretations of the bishops of Rome, upon what basis are we to accept this claim? "
C. Dave Armstrong's response
DA begins by quoting a comment by Paul Hoffer (who had commented on DA's blog), who wrote:
[A]t Matt. 16:18, Jesus says to Peter that He "will" give Peter the keys of the kingdom. Is he trying to say that Jesus is not a person that keeps His word because the Scriptures don't record the actual conveyance of keys later? If one reduces Mr. White's argument to its logical conclusion, it would suggest that Jesus is not "the Man of His Word (pun intended).
(reproduced as presented on DA's blog)
DA then adds his own two cents:
Yes, I thought this was rather bizarre and striking also. What does it matter what tense the statement was? Obviously Peter was singled out for an extraordinary position and we can assume from common sense that Jesus intended for this to be during his earthly lifetime.So who cares whether it was a reference to the future? The fact remains that only Peter was promised the "keys of the kingdom." What God says will happen inevitably does happen. Another fallacy of White is to assume that "binding and loosing" represents the sum total of the responsibilities and prerogatives of the "keyholder." This is untrue. It involves much more than that.
In addition to this, DA spends a significant amount of time and space seeking to establish that the "power of the keys" (note that this is not the Biblical description) is that of a steward or vizier. DA relies on various authors in support of his keys-steward connection, including some Protestants. In addition, DA links to a pair of his own previous posts, in which he had generally addressed the topic of the keys and Peter, and which appear to be the source material that DA has reposted in this post.
D. Response / Surcritique
i. Missed the point
Mr. Armstrong seems to miss the point of Dr. White's argument. Whether he misses it or not, Mr. Armostrong fails to interact in any substantive way with the argument. Mr. Armstong's one argument that comes close to interacting with Dr. White's argument is the argument he adopts from Mr. Hoffer. Unfortunately, Mr. Hoffer also missed Dr. White's point. Let's explicate.
Mr. Hoffer (and DA by adoption of Mr. Hoffer's argument) seems to think that Dr. White is saying that Jesus promised to give Peter the keys, but then never did. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dr. White clearly indicated that Peter was given the keys, two chapters later.
ii. The main points remains unaddressed by DA
As noted in my parallel discussion with Mr. Hoffer (PH, TF, PH, TF, PH, TF), the main points are this:
a. Matthew 16:19 is not the time when Peter received the keys.
b. Matthew 18:18 (in Dr. White's view) is the time when Peter received the keys.
c. When Peter received the keys in Matthew 18:18, he did not receive them alone, but with all the apostles (note the "ye" in Matthew 18:18 above).
d. The explanation for Jesus using third person singular in Matthew 16:19 is that Jesus was speaking directly to Peter.
e. The word "alone" or any equivalent thereof is not found Matthew 16:19.
Thus, Matthew 16:19 does not teach or suggest that Peter alone received the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and Matthew 18:18 indicates that at least the other apostles also received what Peter was promised in Matthew 16:19.
iii. There is a Roman Catholic viewpoint that DA could try to defend
As noted by Mr. Hoffer in the parallel dialogue linked above, Vatican I claimed that the keys were given to Peter in the famous "Feed my sheep" dialogue. Mr. Armstrong could try to present explanation as to why that passage is a more valid fulfillment of the promise to Peter in Matthew 16:19 than is the fulfillment that Dr. White identified in Matthew 18:18.
Mr. Armstrong, however, completely omits any such apology.
iv. Even if Vatican I were correct about the (apparently ad hoc) connection between "keys" and "Feed my sheep" again there is no indication that the feeding of the sheep was entrusted to Peter alone.
Indeed, the Apostle Peter himself does not claim a unique role in that regard, but writes:
1 Peter 5:1-4
1The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
The duties and responsibilities of feeding the sheep are something that Peter does not claim for himself, that he explicitly denies is monarchical ("neither as being lords" "neque ut dominantes" "μηδε ως κατακυριευοντες"), but rather exemplary ("but being ensamples" "sed formae facti" "αλλα τυποι γινομενοι"). Additionally, he points to Christ as the head Shepherd ("the chief Shepherd" "princeps pastorum" "του αρχιποιμενος") and refers to himself only as a co-elder with the other elders ("who am also an elder" "consenior" "ο συμπρεσβυτερος").
v. Furthermore, Vatican I's interpretation (to the extent that it asserts that the keys were given to Peter alone) is inconsistent with Trent's interpretation
Trent relates the power of the keys to the confessional, to all the priests and bishops, and to the Church:
From the institution of the sacrament of Penance as already explained, the universal Church has always understood, that the entire confession of sins was also instituted by the Lord, and is of divine right necessary for all who have fallen after baptism; because that our Lord Jesus Christ, when about to ascend from earth to heaven, left priests His own vicars, as presidents and judges, unto whom all the mortal crimes, into which the faithful of Christ may have fallen, should be carried, in order that, in accordance with the power of the keys, they may pronounce the sentence of forgiveness or retention of sins.
(Session 14th, Chapter V, On Confession)
But, as regards the minister of this sacrament, the holy Synod declares all these doctrines to be false, and utterly alien from the truth of the Gospel, which perniciously extend the ministry of the keys to any others soever besides bishops and priests; imagining, contrary to the institution of this sacrament, that those words of our Lord, Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth shall be loosed also in heaven, and, Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained,were in such wise addressed to all the faithful of Christ indifferently and indiscriminately, as that every one has the power of forgiving sins,-public sins to wit by rebuke, provided he that is rebuked shall acquiesce, and secret sins by a voluntary confession made to any individual whatsoever.
(Session 14th, Chapter VI, On the ministry of this Sacrament, and Absolution)
For the ancient Fathers likewise both believe and teach, that the keys of the priests were given, not to loose only, but also to bind.
(Session 14th, Chapter VIII, On the necessity and on the fruit of Satisfaction)
CANON XV.--If any one saith, that the keys are given to the Church, only to loose, not also to bind; and that, therefore, priests act contrary to the purpose of the keys, and contrary to the institution of Christ, when they impose punishments on those who confess; and that it is a fiction, that, after the eternal punishment, has, by virtue of the keys, been removed, there remains for the most part a temporal punishment to be discharged; let him be anathema.
(On the most Holy Sacrament of Penance)
As has been shown above, Mr. Armstrong's response on the keys is entirely without merit. He fails to address the argument presented, he fails to defend the modern Roman Catholic view, and the modern Roman Catholic view itself is inconsistent with the historic Roman Catholic view expressed by the council of Trent. Consequently, even the testimony of the RCC is set against itself, and cannot stand. Thus, Mr. Armstrong's position is both Scripturally and historically untenable and should be rejected by all the faithful.
P.S. Note that there were other issues raised in Dr. White's review. These were not directly related to Mr. Armstrong's book, and I'm not sure that additional discussion on them is needed. Accordingly, at the present time, I'm not inclined to follow up with a more detailed response. The first part of the response and the present response jointly and fully establish the flaws of Mr. Armstrong's presentation.