Arminian Today

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Arminius on Peter and the Roman Pontiff

After declaring biblically what the Church is and who is the head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-20), Arminius then goes into whether the Roman Catholics are correct in saying that Peter was the first pontiff.  His answer is thus:

This name therefore, “the Head of the Church,” cannot be adapted, according to any consideration, either to the apostle Peter or to the Roman pontiff. The papists, themselves, grant that it cannot be according to internal communication; and we prove that it cannot be according to external administration, in the following manner:

(1.) St. Peter was himself constituted an apostle by Christ, after the same constitution as that by which Christ is said to have appointed apostles. (Ephes. iv, 7, 11; 1 Pet. i, 1.) Therefore, the rest of the apostles were not constituted by St. Peter, which appointment St. Paul expressly denies respecting himself, when he says that he obtained his apostleship “neither of men nor by man;” (Gal. i, 1.)

(2.) St. Peter is a fellow-elder. Therefore, he is not the chief of the elders. (1 Pet. v, 1.)

(3.) To St. Peter “was committed the gospel of the circumcision,” as that of the uncircumcision was by equal right and authority committed to St. Paul. Therefore “they gave to each other the right hand of fellowship.” (Gal. ii, 7-9.)

(4.) St. Peter was reprehended by St. Paul, “because he did not walk uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel;” Therefore, he was not a suitable person to receive in charge the administration of the whole church.

(5.) St. James, Cephas and John, are all placed by the apostle Paul as equal in degree; nay, as being accounted columns by the churches, with no difference among them.

(6.) On the twelve foundations of the new Jerusalem are inscribed “the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb,” each name on each foundation without the pre-eminence of any single one apart.

(7.) St. Paul says that “in nothing was he behind the very chief apostles.” (2 Cor. xii, 11.) Therefore, he was not inferior to St. Peter, who was one of them.

(8.) St. Paul says that he “laboured more abundantly than all the rest.” (1 Cor. xv, 10.) But he could not have spoken this with truth, if the care of managing the whole church lay upon St. Peter, and if he administered its concerns through St. Paul and other persons. The objections which the papists urge in favour of the primacy or pre-eminence of St. Peter, will be examined in the disputation itself.

XX. Hence it follows that neither does this title of “the Head of the church” belong to the Roman pontiff. For whatever portion of right and dignity belongs to him, the papists say, it is derived from St. Peter, because he has succeeded to the chair and to the functions of that apostle. But let it be allowed for the sake of argument, though by no means conceded, that the primacy of administration over the whole church was granted to Peter; yet it does not follow from this that the same right has devolved on the Roman pontiff; for, before this inference can be deduced from such a supposition, the following propositions must be previously proved:

(1.) That this right was not personal but successive.

(2.) That this succession was inseparably connected with a certain chair; that he who succeeded to it enjoyed this right; and that he had in fact, by some means or other, irrefragibly gained possession of this chair.

(3.) That St. Peter was bishop of Rome, and that he died in Rome while discharging the duties of that bishopric.

(4.) That, from the period of St. Peter’s death in the discharge of his episcopal functions at Rome, this primacy has been inseparably connected with the papal chair. All these things, therefore, they must prove by undoubted arguments, since they teach it to be of the necessity of salvation that every man be subject to the Roman pontiff.

To that God in whom, by whom, and for whom all things subsist, be praise and glory forever and ever!

And all Arminians would agree.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/15/2012 at 9:49 AM

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