It is of note that when modern Protestants go about belittling the Holy Father they will often overestimate the constraints that Peter operates his ministry under. Now, Catholics are bound to adhere to the teachings and disciplines spoken of by the Pope because Christ reminds us that “He who hears you hears me” and that “whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven.” Peter was given the same offices that Christ had taken on including his role as chief Shepard, the steward (vicar) of the house of David and to be a strengthener of his brethren once converted (among many others). These examples are sufficient to show a primacy, and the guarantee that the gates of hell shall not prevail, and that Christ would be with this same group until the end of the age give perspective to the perpetual nature of the Church without interruption.
Enter Martin Luther, the self-styled, self-proclaimed, and self-determined monk from Germany. In order to belittle the Pope of his own day it became necessary to introduce novelties into the Church’s tradition to justify his new religion.
One of the most stunning novelties is his insistence that all the apostles were given the Keys for loosing and binding:
“…But not to fight them with mere words, we will quote the Scriptures. St. Paul says in I Corinthians 14:30: "If to anyone something better is revealed, though he be sitting and listening to another in God's Word, then the first, who is speaking, shall hold his peace and give place." What would be the use of this commandment, if we were only to believe him who does the talking or who has the highest seat? Christ also says in John 6:45 that all Christians shall be taught of God. Thus it may well happen that the pope and his followers are wicked men, and no true Christians, not taught of God, not having true understanding. On the other hand, an ordinary man may have true understanding; why then should we not follow him? Has not the pope erred many times? Who would help Christendom when the pope errs, if we were not to believe another, who had the Scriptures on his side, more than the pope?
Therefore it is a wickedly invented fable and they cannot produce a letter in defense of it, that the interpretation of Scripture or the confirmation of its interpretation belongs to the pope alone. They have themselves usurped this power; and although they allege that this power was given to Peter when the keys were given to him, it is plain enough that the keys were not given to Peter alone, but to the whole community. Moreover, the keys were not ordained for doctrine or government, but only for the binding and loosing of they arrogate to themselves is mere invention But Christ's word to Peter, Luke 22:32 "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fall not," cannot be applied to the pope, since the majority of the popes have been without faith, as they must themselves confess. Besides, it is not only for Peter that Christ prayed, but also for all Apostles and Christians, as he says in John 17:9, 20: "Father, I pray for those whom Thou hast given Me, and not for these only, but for all who believe on Me through their word." Is not this clear enough? …”
Again, so as not to take the fellow out of context the whole quote is given above. A line by line critique is necessary to draw out just how full of it Mr. Luther was.
“Christ also says in John 6:45 that all Christians shall be taught of God.”
Sure they will be taught of God, but that supposes a teacher. Now the Lutheran might say that God speaks to the heart and man knows its God speaking to him. After all Christ also says that “"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” But one has to ask if this is true why would God also say that when your brother offends the, take it first to him privately, then to another with him, and finally if that fails to tell it to the Church (a tangible, identifiable authority). Luther did not think the God spoke to Calvin, but Calvin was convinced of it. What is the Lutheran to say to the devout Mormon when they say they get a warm feeling in their bosom when they read the Mormon texts; therefore they are inspired because that’s how God speaks to them. All Christian’s will be taught of God indeed, but a student requires a teaching which they submit their minds to, identifiable and necessarily infallible teachers because God can neither deceive nor be deceived.
“Thus it may well happen that the pope and his followers are wicked men, and no true Christians, not taught of God, not having true understanding.”
Even if the Pope was the most evil fellow on the faith of the planet it would not follow that his authority to teach had been stripped. To make such a claim is to overestimate the papal office, and would lack a basic understanding of authority which even Christ recognized the corrupt Pharisees exorcising in his day, telling the Jew’s to do what they said, but not what they did. So to even by Luther’s standards Christians are wicked and cannot not sin, so these too could never have true understanding being wicked themselves even if they had the Gospel set before them because they would twist the words as the Devil would if we go according to Luther’s thinking.
On the other hand, an ordinary man may have true understanding; why then should we not follow him?
This is not well thought out by Mr. Luther. It opens the door to denominationalism, which he strictly opposed. There is no objective rule to be applied in coming to how this would be applied in real life. Who is to say that Joseph Smith was wrong, or Calvin? Why not follow them if they display charismatic gifts? What is being appealed to in saying that person A has a right to speak for God? Was Luther a prophet? If so let him stand in judgment as to his prophecies as the Old Testament puts forth. But he can’t, and no signs and wonders to attest to his authority could be found so he along with the other revolutionaries of his age made it clear that miracles no longer took place (never mind the Tilma was given at this very time).
“Therefore it is a wickedly invented fable, and they cannot produce a letter in defense of it, that the interpretation of Scripture or the confirmation of its interpretation belongs to the pope alone.”
It is clear alone from the Old Testament that in the Davidic Kingdom there was only One King who when he was not present physically in his kingdom gave his one key to his one steward who had the ability to not just speak for the King but to open and close the Kingdom to all things that might enter and leave. The fable is that there is no letter of defense. This is pure rhetoric without any basis in why it was spoken. In all of the scriptures (which the protestants got from us) it only says that Jesus gave Peter the Keys, he never speaks again of the keys, only of the power to loose and bind which though part of the keys is not the whole of it as stated before.
“…it is plain enough that the keys were not given to Peter alone, but to the whole community.”
It’s not plain at all to see such. You would have to insert your own thinking as to what loosing and binding means in relation to the keys then impose this thinking on others to get them to arrive at such thinking which presupposes that you had the God given authority to begin with to arrive at that interpretation, of which you can show no, not one shred of evidence to objectively arrive at this conclusion.
“Moreover, the keys were not ordained for doctrine or government, but only for the binding and loosing”
Again what objective authority can he point to make this statement? He can say “look at the bible” because that presupposes that the Bible is authoritative. Of course we must then ask why is the bible and the books therein authoritative to begin with in an objective way? How do you know book X belongs in there and not book Z? The scriptures did not fall out of the sky, but were compiled and recognized by the Church as scripture. Peter can say Paul’s writings are scripture but how do you objectively know Peter himself wrote that scripture outside of a granting authority that says it is indeed scripture that Peter wrote that affirmed Paul.
But Christ's word to Peter, Luke 22:32 "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fall not," cannot be applied to the pope, since the majority of the popes have been without faith, as they must themselves confess.
How can he say that the majority of the Popes have been without faith? Who is he to stand in judgment of anyone? The protestant understanding of faith is a trusting in what God has done for them. The Catholic, on the other hand, understands faith as follows:
“Faith is a grace
153 When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood,” but from “my Father who is in heaven.”24 Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.’”25 (552, 1814, 1996, 2606)
Faith is a human act
154 Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act. Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed are contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason. Even in human relations it is not contrary to our dignity to believe what other persons tell us about themselves and their intentions or to trust their promises (for example, when a man and a woman marry) to share a communion of life with one another. If this is so, still less is it contrary to our dignity to “yield by faith the full submission of... intellect and will to God who reveals,”26 and to share in an interior communion with him. (1749, 2126)
155 In faith, the human intellect and will cooperate with divine grace: “Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace.”27
The protestant religion posits that man cannot cooperate with God because he ultimately has no free will, thus all works are useless, even teaching others about the faith to bring them to Christ. The difference is that even if a Pope failed to live up to the faith he possessed he was not unable to change his ways and affect real change. The office of the Pope is not dependent on the person therein, but the perpetual promise of Christ to Peter until the ending of the age to loose and bind over the heavens and the earth (the heavens part also not given to the others). Plus who are the bad Popes that bound objectively bad doctrine on the Church? Pray tell? And by what authority have you come to the conclusion that the teaching is wrong to begin with?
“Besides, it is not only for Peter that Christ prayed, but also for all Apostles and Christians, as he says in John 17:9, 20: "Father, I pray for those whom Thou hast given Me, and not for these only, but for all who believe on Me through their word."
Of course Our Lord prayed to the Father for all Christians, he is our one mediator. This, however, says nothing about why Christ would pray specifically for Peter (solely) that when he was specifically converted he would strengthen his brethren. This makes no sense if you consider that St. John never left Christ and so would not have to be converted, but could immediately strengthen the brethren. Christ makes the whole apostolic college wait upon Peter for his strengthening. Why because Peter acts for Christ (not against him). Consider that when Christ was confronted because he had yet to pay the tax he did not abstain from payment but had Peter act for him (act in his place, even while he was on Earth).
Now, having related all that take a look at this quote from Mr. Luther:
“I shall not have it judged by any man, not even by any angel. For since I am certain of it, I shall be your judge and even the angels’ judge through this teaching (as St. Paul says [1 Cor. 6:3]) so that whoever does not accept my teaching may not be saved - for it is God’s teaching and not mine.”
And people say papal infallibility is impossibility, yet the Pope is constrained. Luther however speaks on God’s behalf? What objective authority has he to point to for this?