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(January 2008)

The Foundation of the Church: Orthodox vs. Papal Dogma

By Raphael Masterjohn, from “The Light of Orthodoxy,” Vol. 1, No. 2.


From the OH Editor: We once again welcome with great joy the fiery words of an Orthodox layman as he takes the time, in his own way, to assert the Truth of Holy Orthodoxy and dispel the myths spread by Her enemies. May our Lord reward him for his continuing courageous stand and may all of us heed to this layman’s humble words of truth.

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Papal dogma asserts that the Papacy is built upon Peter, establishing this upon the following words of the Holy Bible: When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Mt 16:13-18).

According to Papal propaganda, spread broadly during the second millennium, Christ built His Church upon Simon who was renamed Peter (rock), and the Pope of Rome, being Peter’s successor, remains the “head of the Church,” thus having total authority over Her. Popes through the last 1,000 years claim that this authority came directly from Christ who chose Peter above the other Disciples, as the chief cornerstone on which He builds His Church.

The idea that Peter is the foundational rock for the Church of Jesus Christ is papal mythology, which St. Peter, in his first epistle, denies emphatically, thus remaining in total agreement with Orthodox doctrine: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. (1Pet 2:3-8).

St. Paul, in the same spirit, refutes the Papacy’s position and establishes Orthodoxy’s authenticity, saying: For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1Cor 3:11).

Reviewing the above passages, it becomes very clear that both St. Peter and St. Paul establish beyond all doubt, the true foundation stone of the Church. They tear apart and assign to Hades all the lies and slander of the Papacy, and give support to all those who wage war against Christ’s enemies, including those who dwell in Rome, living like kings. St. Peter’s confession, revealed to him by the Father, You are the Christ, Son of the Living God, is further confirmed when he proclaims Ye also, as lively stones all who, like Peter, confess Jesus Christ as the Son of the Living God, are allowed to enter the Church, be baptized and receive the grace of the Holy Spirit.

St. Paul, the Apostle of the Nations, did not declare that Christ had laid a foundation, as the Papists assert, but that He alone is the foundation of the Church. He alone is the Truth that came down from Heaven. The fiery words of St. Paul set ablaze the Papal inventions, and Papacy will perish as wax before the His Divine Truth.

Orthodoxy is not one of many churches, but She is the one and only Church, against Which the gates of Hades have not prevailed, being the Body of Christ and the revealed Truth which came down from Heaven. This descent of Divine Truth and the preaching of the true Christian faith began on the day of Pentecost, and continue to our days. Every person who confesses You are the Christ, Son of the Living God becomes a living stone in the edifice of the Church. Peter firmly supports the Orthodox truths, overthrowing the fictional foundation of the Papacy. If it be so that you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, to whom coming as a living stone, disallowed indeed of men but chosen of God and precious, you also as living stones are built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ Wherefore also it is contained in Scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he that believes on Him shall not be confounded. (1Pet 2:3-6) The most perfect foundation that could be laid is the one who the Father has chosen and it cannot be Peter, for it says clearly he that believes in him shall not be confounded.

It is not faith in Peter that saves man, but faith in and confession of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Lover of man. St. Peter, a faithful and zealous follower of Jesus Christ, eventually became a vessel of Divine Grace. He became Christ-like, but he never became Pope-like, desiring earthly power and dominion. Peter’s fiery zeal for Christ motivated his offensive actions, always seeking to protect Christ and the many truths of our Faith.

Previously, his zeal caused him setbacks such as his denial. But after Pentecost, Peter and the other Apostles, empowered by the Holy Spirit, preached the Gospel and strengthened the infantile Church. Fearlessly, all the Apostles went about proclaiming the wonderful tidings of mankind’s salvation. Simon Peter did not seek dominion over all the other Apostles, nor did he distort the meaning of Christ’s words, by claiming he was given primacy or supreme authority. It is crystal clear, that St. Peter never conceived himself as having supremacy, lordship or infallibility, as the apostate, heretical and pseudo-Christian Popes have done. He accepted the opposition and correction of Paul when Paul sharply rebuked him for not walking according to the truth of the Gospel: But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? (Gal 2:11-14). Where is the primacy? Where is the dominion? Where is the infallibility?

Whoever adores the Pope-king as the vicar of Christ commits a double error. The first is believing that Christ needs a vicar, Which He never mentioned or would mention because of His solemn promise is Lo, I am with you even to the close of the age. The second error is death to our souls, for if we adore the enemy of Christ we forfeit the true Christ and our own salvation. Christ said: Upon this rock I will build my church. There can never be two churches just as there can never be two Christs. There is but one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; there is only one Baptism for the remission of sins. False Christianity is bellicose toward Orthodoxy, and there are fishermen in both the Papacy and in Orthodoxy, where we sing: Blessed are you O Christ our God, who made the fishermen become all-wise, by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them you drew the whole world into your net, Lover of man, glory to you! (Pentecost troparion).

Papacy seeks to catch men in order to dupe them into worshiping a man in place of the Godman. Orthodoxy seeks to bring men into the saving Orthodox Ark of salvation, wherein dwells the Trinitarian God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, who alone lives in immortality and grants eternal life to those who love Him.

The false papal claims to Peter’s supposed authority are not to be found in Holy Scripture as the Papacy propagandizes. The first epistle of Peter begins: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia… (1Pet 1:1). The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ… (1Pet 5:1). Peter’s second Epistle begins the same way, without superiority or consciousness that he is the head of the Church. He ranks himself as one of many: Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord… (2Pet 1:1). He continues: This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour. (2Pet 3:1-2). The phrases: “an apostle,” “I also am an elder,” “us apostles,” “who am also an elder,” clearly show that Peter was not claiming superior authority over others, but an equality in agreement with Christ’s commands.

Let us then surmise some apparent obvious antitheses between the word of St. Peter and those of the Latin Popes:

St. Peter: “I am an apostle.” The Latin Popes: “I alone am the chief and first apostle.”

St. Peter: “I am an elder.” The Latin Popes: “ I am the chief elder and Holy Father.”

St. Peter: “… us apostles.” “The Latin Popes: “… are above all apostles.”

The Lord commanded that we become like Him, saying: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Mt 11:29). Arrogance and haughtiness, pomp, self-aggrandizement and superiority do not belong to the followers of Jesus Christ. The claim of infallibility could only be derived from these defects, for God alone is infallible. He is our only Head and Lord and Master, and needs no vicar to replace Him, for: Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Mat 28:20 ), and These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (Jn 14:25-26).

His Church has survived the centuries just as he promised, not in the Papacy, not in Protestantism, but in the original Church which has changed nothing yet preserved everything.

This is Holy Orthodoxy, the Faith founded upon His Truth, as Her Founder Who came down from Heaven, guided into our human knowledge through the Holy Spirit and for the salvation of our souls. Hold firmly to this saving and true Orthodox Faith, for it is Paradise and earth and within her you will find that she is the dwelling place of the Trinity, Father, on and Holy Spirit, to whom be all glory and dominion forever.