The Papacy: A Response to Roman Catholic, Scott Windsor

A Rebuttal of Roman Catholic, Scott Windsor, to William Webster's Rebuttal of Steve Ray's Misrepresentaions of the Teaching of Augustine


William Webster


Scott Windsor has offered a rebuttal to my first response to Stephen Ray entitled An Answer to the Refutation of the Misrepresentations of the Writings of William Webster and of the Church Fathers by Roman Catholic, Stephen Ray, in His Book Upon This Rock, by William Webster . He has, however, apparently failed to realize that I responded a second and third time to Stephen Ray’s response and that most of what he addresses in this ‘rebuttal’ has already been answered. In other words he is going over old ground. But in his rebuttal Scott has made some comments that need to be addressed. Surprisingly, he introduces his rebuttal with a repudiation of the Roman Catholic teaching of papal primacy. He suggests that I personally have misunderstood and have misrepresented the teaching of Roman Catholicism on this subject. But in reality it is he who does not understand what his own Church clearly and dogmatically teaches. He begins by quoting from my response to Steve Ray and then gives his own response. My original statements will be given in blue, Scott Windsor's response will be in red and my response to his comments will be in black:

Windsor:

In an IRC chat with someone, I was asked to read former Catholic, William Webster’s refutation of Catholic apologist, Stephen Ray. That website is: http://www.christiantruth.com/stephenray.html. I agreed to do this and told this person that I would get back to him/her on this.Mr. Ray also has posted his own response to Webster at: www.catholic-convert.com/webster/index.html

I am dividing my response into smaller sections than Mr. Webster’s original, this part will deal primarily with what is being said in regard to St. Augustine.

Webster’s Original Statements:

No father denies that Peter had a primacy or that there is a Petrine succession. The issue is how the Fathers interpreted those concepts. They simply did not hold to the Roman Catholic view of later centuries that primacy and succession were “exclusively” related to the bishops of Rome. They do not apply the special titles they attribute to Peter to the bishops of Rome and what is more they often attribute the same titles to the other apostles. The most explicit denial of a Petrine primacy in the Roman Catholic sense comes from Augustine which I have documented in the book where he states in exegeting the rock of Matthew 16:18 that Christ did not build his Church on a man but on Peter’s confession. He specifically separates Peter’s faith from Peter’s person and if the Church is not built upon the person of Peter there is no papal office. This is not to say that the Rome did not have authority in the eyes of the fathers. But Rome did not have exclusive authority. The ecclesiology of the early Church was one of conciliarity which was shared by all the major patriarchal sees. Rome was the only patriarchal see in the West and therefore held authority in the West, though in the beginning this was not universal but regional, as Rufinus’ translation of the Nicene Council makes clear.

Mr. Ray’s main argument rests on an argument from silence, the fact that the Fathers never denied the primacy of Peter or Petrine succession. Of course they didn’t. As I mentioned in my email they explicitly affirm it. However, in affirming it they do not interpret it in the same way Rome does today. That is the point. When Roman apologists use the term ‘primacy’ they mean universal juridisdiction to rule the Church universal. When they speak of Petrine succession they mean this in an exclusive sense as applied to the bishops of Rome. But when the Fathers speak of a Petrine primacy and succession and the primacy of Rome they mean something quite different. They are not silent on the issue. They never denied that Rome had a primacy, but it was interpreted as a primacy of honor since the Church was located in the capital of the Empire and was the site of the martrydom of Peter and Paul. It was not a primacy of universal jurisdiction. They never denied that the Church of Rome had a right to exercise authority. But that authority was limited in its jurisdiction. But when the meaning of primacy and rule is couched in the language of Vatican I we find a vigorous opposition to such claims by the Church Fathers. There is not silence. The Fathers do speak, and they make it clear what they mean by the terms they use. They also speak by repudiating the unlawful claims of Rome as they began to be expressed in the third century and in all the subsequent centuries of the Church.

Windsor:

Webster charges, “This is not to say that Rome did not have authority in the eyes of the (F)athers. But Rome did not have exclusive authority.” No, Rome did not have exclusive authority, and never had it, and never claimed to have it! Each bishop, in his own diocese, has the equivalent authority of the Pope over his jurisdiction. When the Pope acts in his capacity as Bishop of Rome, he is no different, other than a “first among equals,” than the rest of the bishops over their own jurisdictions. The Pope does also have another title, “Vicar of Christ” wherein he stands in Christ’s place here on earth, over Christ’s Church. This authority is clearly given to St. Peter when “The Good Shepherd” told Peter, “Feed My lambs...Tend My sheep...Feed My sheep” (John 21:16-17). In this sequence, Jesus is speaking directly to Peter, and not to any of the rest of the Apostles, all of whom are also present (minus Judas). So there is something special about Peter, and the see that he would occupy. This isn’t the position of a tyrant, a king, or a dictator, but a shepherd. Clearly Jesus left one of the Apostles “in charge” to “tend (His) sheep,” and that one Apostle is St. Peter. This is not an exclusive authority over the other Apostles - just an added responsibility for Peter and his successors. Having one Apostle to hold this position is the unifying factor for all true Christians.

Webster shows his misunderstanding of the Roman Catholic position and definition of “primacy.” One must speculate that if Mr. Webster had known the true teachings of the Catholic Church, he may never have left it. One has to hope that when he does come to this understanding, he will return home - where he will be welcomed as the Prodigal Son was. I also have the hope that Emanon, also a former Catholic, will also return home. To continue: Primacy is not a position of universal “authority” per se, but of universal responsibility to feed, tend and care for Jesus’ sheep - the Church.

It is encouraging to note that Mr. Webster does not deny that the Roman Pontiff does indeed have a primacy of honor, but Peter’s commission from Christ was more than honorary. Peter was to take Jesus’ place as the Shepherd, the one who watches over the sheep.

Webster:

Scott Windsor states: No, Rome did not have exclusive authority, and never had it, and never claimed to have it. Each bishop, in his own diocese, has the equivalent authority of the Pope over his jurisdiction. When the Pope acts in his capacity as Bishop of Rome, he is no different, other than a “first among equals,” than the rest of the bishops over their own jurisdictions...This is not an exclusive authority over the other Apostles - just an added responsibility for Peter and his successors.

I am sure that there will be many Roman Catholics who read these words who will be surprised to discover that their Church has never claimed the right of exclusive rule over the universal Church; that primacy merely means a primacy of honor; that the Roman bishop merely functions in the role of a shepherd as teacher and has no universal jurisdictional authority as ruler of the Church; and that he is no different from any other bishop who has responsibility over a specific see. With such statements one has to ask why Scott Windsor is Roman Catholic and not Orthodox. The Roman Catholic Church dogmatically teaches the very opposite of what Scott Windsor is expressing in these statements. The Roman Church has most certainly claimed an exclusive authority to RULE the Church universal. This is what a primacy of jurisdiction means and which was clearly expressed by Vatican I. Scott's opinion, the bishop of Rome is in fact a dictator. He may be a benign dictator, but he is a dictator nonetheless. According to that Council and the claims of Roman Pontiffs historically the primacy of Rome is not merely a primacy of honor and of shepherding but of jusridiction and rule. In fact, Vatican I anathematizes anyone who says that the primacy of the bishop of Rome is primarily one of honor and not of jurisdiction. And Vatican I states that this teaching has been the teaching of the Church from the very beginning. The following is what I wrote in response to Stehpen Ray, a response which Scott Windsor has apparently not read:

The problem is not whether there was development. The problem lies in the fact that Vatican I says there was no development. In other words there was no acorn. It was a full blown oak from the very beginning and was therefore the practice of the Church from the very beginnning. Vatican I reaffirmed the decree of the Council of Trent on the Unanimous Consent of the Fathers. As Steve rightly points out this has to do specifically with the interpretation of Scripture. It states that it is unlawful to interpret Scripture in any way contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers. Vatican I then proceeds to set forth its teachings on papal primacy and infallibility with the interpretation of Matthew 16:18, John 21:15-17 and Luke 22:32 as the basis for its teachings. And then it states that the interpretations that it gives and the conclusions it draws from these interpretations, in terms of the practice of the Church, has been that which has EVER been taught in the Church and practiced by it. Here is what Vatican I says:

Chapter I: Of the Institution of the Apostolic Primacy in blessed Peter.

We therefore teach and declare that, according to the testimony of the Gospel, the primacy of jurisdiction over the universal Church of God was immediately and directly promised and given to blessed Peter the Apostle by Christ the Lord. For it was to Simon alone, to whom he had already said: ‘Thou shalt be called Cephas,’ that the Lord after the confession made by him, saying: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ addressed these solemn words: ‘Blessed art thou, Simon Bar–Jona, because flesh and blood have not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.’ And it was upon Simon alone that Jesus after his resurrection
bestowed the jurisdiction of chief pastor and ruler over all his fold in the words: ‘Feed my lambs; feed my sheep.’ At open variance with this clear doctrine of Holy Scripture as it has been ever understood by the Catholic Church are the perverse opinions of those who, while they distort the form of government established by Christ the Lord in his Church, deny that Peter in his single person, preferably to all the other Apostles, whether taken separately or together, was endowed by Christ with a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction; or of those who assert that the same primacy was not bestowed immediately and directly upon blessed Peter himself, but upon the Church, and through the Church on Peter as her minister.

If any one, therefore, shall say that blessed Peter the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of all the Apostles and the visible Head of the whole Church militant; or that the same directly and immediately received from the same our Lord Jesus Christ a primacy of honor only, and not of true and proper jurisdiction: let him be anathema.

Chapter II: On the Perpetuity of the Primacy of blessed Peter in the Roman Pontiffs.

That which the Prince of Shepherds and great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ our Lord, established in the person of the blessed Apostle Peter to secure the perpetual welfare and lasting good of the Church, must, by the same institution, necessarily remain unceasingly in the Church; which, being founded upon the Rock, will stand firm to the end of the world. For none can doubt, and it is known to all ages, that the holy and blessed Peter, the Prince and Chief of the Apostles, the pillar of the faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of mankind, and lives, presides, and judges, to this day and always, in his successors the Bishops of the Holy See of Rome, which was founded by him and consecrated by his blood. Whence, whosoever succeeds to Peter in this See, does by the institution of Christ himself
obtain the Primacy of Peter over the whole Church. The disposition made by Incarnate Truth therefore remains, and blessed Peter, abiding through the strength of the Rock in the power that he received, has not abandoned the direction of the Church. Wherefore it has at all times been necessary that every particular Church—that is to say, the faithful throughout the world—should agree with the Roman Church, on account of the greater authority of the princedom which this has received; that all being associated in the unity of that See whence the rights of communion spread to all, might grow together as members of one Head in the compact unity of the body.

If, then, any should deny that it is by institution of Christ the Lord, or by divine right, that blessed Peter should have a perpetual line of successors in the Primacy over the universal Church, or that the Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy: let him be anathema.

Hence we teach and declare that by the appointment of our Lord the Roman Church possesses a
superiority of ordinary power over all other churches, and that this power of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate; to which all, of whatever right and dignity, both pastors and faithful, both individually and collectively, are bound, by their duty of hierarchial subordination and true obedience, to submit not only in matters which belong to faith and morals, but also in those which appertain to the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world, so that the Church of Christ may be one flock under one supreme pastor through the preservation of unity both of communion and of profession of the same faith with the Roman Pontiff. This is the teaching of Catholic truth, from which no one can deviate without loss of faith and salvation (Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (New York: Harper, 1877), Dogmatic Decrees of the Vatican Council , Chapters I,II, III).

Vatican I states that from the very beginning Christ entrusted to Peter and his successors in rthe bishops of Rome a primacy of jurisdiction which was subsequently passed down to his successors in the bisops of Rome. It further states that this teaching is part of the content of saving faith. To deviate from this teaching is to incur the loss of salvation. This is an explicit affirmation that outside the Church of Rome there is no salvation.

We are dealing here with Roman Catholic apologists who are seemingly ignorant of the teachings of their own Church and who charge Protestants with misrepresentation, but it is they themselves who are the guilty party. Stephen Ray did this with the teaching of Vatican I and its denial of the Doctrine of Development and now Scott Windsor has done so with the whole concept of primacy. Both of them contradict the plain teaching of that Council. Perhaps it would behoove these gentlemen befor they engage in apologetics to become more familiar with the teachings of their own communion.

Augustine

Windsor:

Next, Mr. Webster turns his attention toward St. Augustine, but it is clear to see that Webster contradicts himself with his main tennant, that “(a)ccording to Augustine the Apostles are equal in all respects. Each receives the authority of the keys, not Peter alone.”

But, Mr. Webster, it is not the keys that are in question here! Though, it can be argued that some of the Early Fathers do indeed say the keys are given only to Peter, let us deal with St. Augustine for now. The authority of the keys, (which is to bind and loose, retain and/or forgive sins - another very Catholic position given that men are able to forgive sins), is given first to St. Peter (Matthew 16:18) and later to the rest of the Apostles (Matthew 18:18). We concur that this authority is truly given to all the Apostles, I am not so sure that we concur that this authority is passed on to their successors, which in Catholic belief, it surely is - but many Protestants believe this “power” ended with the end of the Apostolic Age. (We can take that up in a future debate, if Mr. Webster so chooses to engage me). The point that Webster, and it would seem most other Protestant apologists miss, is that Catholics do not base the primacy solely on Matthew 16:18! The primacy of responsibility is clearly shown in John 21:15-17. And, the point that Mr. Webster is attempting to make here is that St. Peter is not given anything different than any of the rest of the Apostles were given. Hmmm, how about a new name? How about being the only one commanded to “Feed My sheep...?”

Webster:

Scott, according to Augustine, the commission of Christ to Peter to feed His sheep was not a commission given to Peter exclusively but applied to all the apostles and to all shepherds universally in the Church for all time. This is because in Augustine's view Peter is representative of the Church universal and what was said to him was said to all. So your assertion that the commission of Peter applies to Peter alone is incorrect as far as Augustine is concerned. For example, he states:

So let us love him, let there be nothing dearer to us than he. So do you imagine that the Lord is not questioning us? Was Peter the only one who qualified to be questioned, and didn’t we? When that reading is read, every single Christian is being questioned in his heart. So when you hear the Lord saying ‘Peter, do you love me?’ think of it as a mirror, and observe yourself there. I mean, what else was Peter doing but standing for the Church? So when the Lord was questioning Peter, he was questioning us, he was questioning the Church. I mean, to show you that Peter stood for the Church, call to mind that place in the gospel, ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the underworld shall not conquer her; to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt 16:18-19). One man receives them; you see, he explained himself what the keys of the kingdom mean: ‘What you all bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what you all loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ (Mt 18:18). If it was said to Peter alone, Peter alone did this; he passed away, and went away; so who binds, who looses? I make bold to say, we too have these keys. And what am I to say? That it is only we who bind, only we who loose? No, you also bind, you also loose. Anybody who’s bound, you see, is barred from your society; and when he’s barred from your society, he’s bound by you; and when he’s reconciled he’s loosed by you, because you too plead with God for him.
We all love Christ, you see, we are his members; and when he entrusts the sheep to the shepherds, the whole number of shepherds is reduced to the body of one shepherd. Just to show you that the whole number of shepherds is reduced to the one body of the one shepherd, certainly Peter’s a shepherd, undoubtedly a pastor; Paul’s a shepherd, yes, clearly a pastor; John’s a shepherd, James a shepherd, Andrew a shepherd, and the other apostles are shepherds. All holy bishops are shepherds, pastors, yes, clearly so. And how can this be true: And there will be one flock and one shepherd (Jn 10:16)? Then if there will be one flock and one shepherd is true, the innumerable number of shepherds or pastors must be reduced to the body of the one shepherd or pastor
(John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City, 1993), Sermons, Volume III/6, Sermon 229N.1-3, pp. 320-321).

Windsor:

Mr. Webster includes several quotes from St. Augustine, which I will also leave in place:

Augustine: This same Peter therefore who had been by the Rock pronounced ‘blessed,’ bearing the figure of the Church, holding the chief place in the Apostleship (Sermon 26).

Windsor:

Hmmm, St. Peter is holding the “chief place in the Apostleship.” This is supportive of the Catholic definition throughout the ages, including the present!

Webster:

Scott Windsor asks, If Peter is referred to as chief how could he be the same as the rest of the apostles? If Scott had taken the time to read all of responses to Steve Ray he would have seen that I have already dealt with that issue. I pointed out in the section on Chrysostom that the term chief was not used exclusively of Peter, but was also used in reference to Paul and the other apostles as well. The Greek term is coryphaeus.

Augustine: The blessed Peter, the first of the apostles (Sermon 295).

Windsor:

Hmmm, the “blessed Peter, the first of the apostles.” Again, supportive of St. Peter’s “lead” role among the Apostles.

Webster:

Again, if Scott had read my full rersponse to Steve Ray he would have found an explanation of what Augustine means when he refers to Peter as ‘first’ of the Apostles. The following are my comments on this issue:

Here is how Augustine defines what he means when he says that Peter is the first of the Apostles:

As you know, all of you who know the holy scriptures, among the disciples whom the Lord chose while present in the flesh, Peter was the first to be chosen. Paul on the other hand was not chosen among them, nor with them, but a long time afterward, though not for all that unequal to them. So Peter is the first of the apostles, Paul the last; while God, whose servants these two are, whose heralds, whose preachers these two are, is the first and the last (Rv 22:13). Peter first among the apostles, Paul last among the apostles; God both first and last, before whom nothing and after whom nothing. So God who has presented himself as eternally the first and the last, himself joined together the first and the last apostles in martyrdom
(John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Sermons III/8 (Hyde Park: New City, 1994), Sermon 299.2, p. 229).

The blessed apostles Peter and Paul were called at different times, and crowned on the same day. The Lord called Peter before all the others, Paul after all the others; Peter the first of the apostles, Paul the last; they were led to martydom on one and the same day by the First and the Last
(John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Sermons III/8 (Hyde Park: New City, 1994), Sermon 299C.1, p. 250).

Note here that Augustine states that Peter is the first and Paul is the last. This has to do with the priority of time, not with official position. He also states that Paul and Peter are equals. The Abbe Guettee, a convert to Orthodoxy from Roman Catholicism, in commenting on Augustine’s view of Peter and his primacy states:

He (Augustine)calls Peter the first (primus) as he calls Paul the last, (novissimus,) which conveys only an idea of time. And that this was indeed St. Augustine’s idea, appears from the fact that in this same text, so much abused by Romanists, because in it Augustine grants Peter the primacy, he distinctly asserts that Peter and Paul, the first and the last, were equal in the honour of the apostleship. Therefore, according to St. Augustine, Peter received only the high favour of being called first to the Apostleship. This distinction with which the Lord honoured him, is his glory, but gave him no authority (Abbe Guettee, The Papacy (Blanco: New Sarov, 1866), p. 176).

Augustine: Before his passion the Lord Jesus, as you know, chose those disciples of his, whom he called apostles. Among these it was only Peter who almost everywhere was given the privilege of representing the whole Church. It was in the person of the whole Church, which he alone represented, that he was privileged to hear, ‘To you will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt 16:19). After all, it isn’t just one man that received these keys, but the Church in its unity. So this is the reason for Peter’s acknowledged preeminence, that he stood for the Church’s universality and unity, when he was told, ‘To you I am entrusting,’ what has in fact been entrusted to all (Sermon 295).

Windsor:

Here we see Peter, again, being given preeminence, but a similar authority given to the rest of the Apostles. Again, completely in line with current and past Catholic beliefs on the Pope and the college of bishops.

Augustine: Previously, of course, he was called Simon; this name of Peter was bestowed on him by the Lord, and that with the symbolic intention of his representing the Church. Because Christ, you see, is the petra or rock; Peter, or Rocky, is the Christian people (Sermon 76).

Windsor:

Well, first off I cannot let this interpretation of “Peter” to mean “Rocky” go unchallenged. This too seems to be a novel interpretation that is not reflected by the Early Fathers, nor even other apologists before this recent time.

Webster:

This is the translation given by the Roman Catholic translator and publisher of the work, Scott. The translator is a world renowned Augustinian scholar. Are you in the same category, Scott, to offer such criticisms?

Windsor:

Second, we find again St. Augustine acknowledging that St. Peter IS the representative for the Universal (Catholic) Church.

Augustine: So then, this self–same Peter, blessed by being surnamed Rocky from the rock, representing the person of the Church, holding chief place in the apostolic ranks (Sermon 76).

Windsor:

Again, St. Peter is shown to be “holding chief place in the apostolic ranks.” If he is “chief” how could he be “the same” as the rest of the Apostles?

Webster:

Again, Scott, to repeat the statements from above, the fathers did not apply these titles exclusively to Peter. As I indicated in Chrysostom’s use of the same title as employed here by Augustine, he also attributes it to the apostle Paul.

Augustine: For as some things are said which seem peculiarly to apply to the Apostle Peter, and yet are not clear in their meaning, unless when referred to the Church, whom he is acknowledged to have figuratively represented, on account of the primacy which he bore among the Disciples; as it is written, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ and other passages of like purport: so Judas doth represent those Jews who were enemies of Christ (Exposition on the Book of Psalms, Psalm 119).

Windsor:

Again, St. Peter is being held out as the one to represent the Church because of “the primacy which he bore among the Disciples.”

Webster:

Augustine himself defines what he means by the primacy given to Peter and he does not interpret this in terms of a primacy of jurisdiction. He states: ‘After all, it isn’t just one man that received these keys, but the Church in its unity. So this is the reason for Peter’s acknowledged preeminence, that he stood for the Church’s universality and unity, when he was told, ‘To you I am entrusting,’ what has in fact been entrusted to all’ (Sermon 295).

Augustine: You will remember that the apostle Peter, the first of all the apostles, was thrown completely of balance during the Lord’s passion (Sermon 147).

Windsor:

Even though St. Peter stumbled (an example that even the popes that would follow him would stumble) he was still regarded as “first of all the apostles.”

Webster:

Augustine speaks of Peter as being a representative of the Church so that what was spoken to Peter and granted to Peter was not spoken and granted to him alone, but to him as the representative of the universal Church:

Before his passion the Lord Jesus, as you know, chose those disciples of his, whom he called apostles. Among these it was only Peter who almost everywhere was given the privilege of representing the whole Church. It was in the person of the whole Church, which he alone represented, that he was privileged to hear, ‘To you will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt 16:19). After all, it isn’t just one man that received these keys, but the Church in its unity. So this is the reason for Peter’s acknowledged pre–eminence, that he stood for the Church’s universality and unity, when he was told, ‘To you I am entrusting,’ what has in fact been entrusted to all. I mean, to show you that it is the Church which has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, listen to what the Lord says in another place to all his apostles: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit;’ and straightway, ‘Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven them; whose sins you retain, they will be retained’ (Jn 20:22-23). This refers to the keys, about which it is said, ‘whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven’ (Mt 16:19). But that was said to Peter. To show you that Peter at that time stood for the universal Church, listen to what is said to him, what is said to all the faithful, the saints: ‘If your brother sins against you, correct him between you and himself alone. If he does not listen to you, bring with you one or two; for it is written, By the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every matter be settled. If he does not even listen to them, refer him to the Church; if he does not even listen to her, let him be to you as a heathen and a tax collector. Amen amen I tell you, that whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ (Mt 16:18). It is the dove that binds, the dove that looses, the building built upon the rock that binds and looses (Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VI, St. Augustin, Sermon 26.1-4, pp. 340-341).

In this passage Augustine states that the pre-eminence or primacy of Peter is due to the fact that he represents the Church universal. When Christ bequethed the power of binding and loosing to Peter he was bequeathing this power to the entire Church. Augustine then ties together Matthew 16 and Matthew 18 exegetically to demonstrate that what had been entrusted to Peter had in fact been entrusted to all. There are no distinctions between the Apostles in the mind of Augustine. They are all on an equal footing.

In Augustine’s view Peter is a symbolic representative of the Church. While he holds a primacy it is not a primacy of jurisdiction but of honor. As W.H.C. Frend states in referring to Augustine’s view of Peter:

His (Peter’s) primacy was simply a matter of personal privilege and not an office (The Early Church (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982), p. 222).

The following quotations demonstrate how often the theme of Peter’s being a symbolic representative of the Church universal recurs in the writings of Augustine:

Its clear, you see, from many places in scripture that Peter can stand for, or represent, the Church; above all from that place where it says, To you will I hand over the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall also be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Mt. 16:19). Did Peter receive these keys, and Paul not receive them? Did Peter receive them, and John and James and the other apostles not receive them? Or are the keys not to be found in the Church, where sins are being forgiven every day? But because Peter symbolically stood for the Church, what was given to him alone was given to the whole Church. So Peter represented the Church; the Church is the body of Christ (John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City, 1992), Sermons, III/5, Sermon 149.6-7, p. 21).

And this Church, symbolized in its generality, was personified in the Apostle Peter, on account of the primacy of his apostleship. For, as regards his proper personality, he was by nature one man, by grace one Christian, by still more abounding grace one, and yet also, the first apostle; but when it was said to him, ‘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.
For, as regards his proper personality, he was by nature one man, by grace one Christian, by still more abounding grace one, and yet also, the first apostle; but when it was said to him, ‘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,’ he represented the universal Church, which in this world is shaken by divers temptations, that come upon it like torrents of rain, floods and tempests, and falleth not, because it is founded upon a rock (petra), from which Peter received his name. For petra (rock) is not derived from Peter, but Peter from petra; just as Christ is not called so from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. For on this very account the Lord said, ‘On this rock will I build my Church,’ because Peter had said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ On this rock, therefore, He said, which thou hast confessed, I will build my Church. For the Rock (Petra) was Christ; and on this foundation was Peter himself built. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus. The Church, therefore, which is founded in Christ received from Him the keys of the kingdom of heaven in the person of Peter, that is to say, the power of binding and loosing sins. For what the Church is essentially in Christ, such representatively is Peter in the rock (petra); and in this representation Christ is to be understood as the Rock, Peter as the Church
(Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VII, St. Augustin, On the Gospel of John, Tractate 124.5).

For not without cause among all the Apostles doth Peter sustain the person of this Church Catholic; for unto this Church were the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven given, when they were given unto Peter: and when it is said unto him, it is said unto all, Lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep
(A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1847), Seventeen Short Treatises of S. Augustine, De Agone Christiano (The Christian Conflict) 32, p. 184).

One wicked man represents the whole body of the wicked; in the same way as Peter, the whole body of the good, yea, the body of the Church, but in respect to the good. For if in Peter’s case there were no sacramental symbol of the Church, the Lord would not have said to him, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.’ If this was said only to Peter, it gives no ground of action to the Church. But if such is the case also in the Church, that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven—for when the Church excommunicates, the excommunicated person is bound in heaven; when one is reconciled by the Church, the person so reconciled is loosed in heaven—if such, then, is the case in the Church, Peter, in receiving the keys, represented the holy Church
(Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VII, St. Augustine, On The Gospel of St. John, Tractate 50.12, p. 282).

Peter was the only one that answered, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;’ and to whom it was said, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ as if he alone received the power of binding and loosing: seeing, then, that one spake in behalf of all, and received the latter along with all, as if personifying the unity itself; therefore one stands for all, because there is unity in all
(Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VII, St. Augustin, Homilies on the Gospel of St. John, Tractate 118.4, p. 431).

The theme of symbolic representation is applied by Augustine to Christ’s commission to Peter to feed his sheep in John 21. Augustine interprets this commission to Peter as representative of a commission to all shepherds and pastors in the Church. It is not a commission given to Peter alone. When Christ speaks to Peter he is speaking to the universal Church. Peter is viewed as symbolically representing the Church and its shepherds:

So let us love him, let there be nothing dearer to us than he. So do you imagine that the Lord is not questioning us? Was Peter the only one who qualified to be questioned, and didn’t we? When that reading is read, every single Christian is being questioned in his heart. So when you hear the Lord saying ‘Peter, do you love me?’ think of it as a mirror, and observe yourself there. I mean, what else was Peter doing but standing for the Church? So when the Lord was questioning Peter, he was questioning us, he was questioning the Church. I mean, to show you that Peter stood for the Church, call to mind that place in the gospel, ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the underworld shall not conquer her; to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt 16:18-19). One man receives them; you see, he explained himself what the keys of the kingdom mean: ‘What you all bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what you all loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ (Mt 18:18). If it was said to Peter alone, Peter alone did this; he passed away, and went away; so who binds, who looses? I make bold to say, we too have these keys. And what am I to say? That it is only we who bind, only we who loose? No, you also bind, you also loose. Anybody who’s bound, you see, is barred from your society; and when he’s barred from your society, he’s bound by you; and when he’s reconciled he’s loosed by you, because you too plead with God for him.
We all love Christ, you see, we are his members; and when he entrusts the sheep to the shepherds, the whole number of shepherds is reduced to the body of one shepherd. Just to show you that the whole number of shepherds is reduced to the one body of the one shepherd, certainly Peter’s a shepherd, undoubtedly a pastor; Paul’s a shepherd, yes, clearly a pastor; John’s a shepherd, James a shepherd, Andrew a shepherd, and the other apostles are shepherds. All holy bishops are shepherds, pastors, yes, clearly so. And how can this be true: And there will be one flock and one shepherd (Jn 10:16)? Then if there will be one flock and one shepherd is true, the innumerable number of shepherds or pastors must be reduced to the body of the one shepherd or pastor
(John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City, 1993), Sermons, Volume III/6, Sermon 229N.1-3, pp. 320-321).

What now on this occasion? The Lord questions him, as you heard when the gospel was read, and says to him, Simon son ofJohn, do you love me more than these? He answered and said, Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. And again the Lord asked this question, and a third time he asked this question. And every time in reply he affirmed his love, he entrusted him with the care of his flock. Every time, you see, that Peter said I love you, the Lord Jesus said to him, Feed my lambs, feed my sheep (Jn. 21:15-17). the one man Peter represents the unity of all the shepherds or pastors of the Church—but of the good ones, who know how to feed Christ’s flock for Christ, not for themselves
(John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Sermons III/4 (Hyde Park: New City, 1994), Sermon 147.2, p. 448).

So he is a pastor, a shepherd, to whom you entrusted your sheep, with the task of feeding them. You yourself appointed him, he’s a shepherd. Let’s see now if he’s a good one. We find out in this very exchange of question and answer. You inquired whether he loved you, he answered, I do. You saw into his heart, that he answered truthfully. So isn’t he good, seeing that he loves so great a good? ...So he was both a shepherd and a good shepherd; nothing to compare, of course, with the authority and goodness of the shepherd of shepherds, the pastor of pastors; but all the same he too was both a pastor and a good one, and the others like him were good pastors.
So why is it that you draw the attention of good shepherds to the idea of one shepherd? For what other reason could it be, but that in the one shepherd you are teaching the lesson of unity? And the Lord explains the matter more clearly through my ministry, as he reminds your graces from the gospel and says, “Listen to what I have drawn attention to: I am the good shepherd, I said; because all the others, all the good shepherds are my members, parts of me; one head, one body, one Christ. So both the shepherd of the shepherds, and the shepherds of the shepherd, and the sheep with the shepherds under the shepherd, are one. All this is only what the apostle says: Just as the body is one and has many parts, but all the parts of the body, though they are many, form one body, so too is Christ (1 Cor 12:12). If, then, so too is Christ, it was quite right for Christ, who contains all the good shepherds in himself, to draw attention to one by saying, I am the good shepherd. I am, I am one person, with me all in the unity are one. Anyone who feeds the sheep outside me feeds them against me. Anyone who does not gather with me scatters
(Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VII, St. Augustin, Homilies on the Gospel of John, Tractate 123.5, pp. 445-446).

Quite rightly too did the Lord after his resurrection entrust his sheep to Peter to be fed. It’s not, you see, that he alone among the disciples was fit to feed the Lord’s sheep; but when Christ speaks to one man, unity is being commended to us. And he first speaks to Peter, because Peter is the first among the apostles
(John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1994), Sermons, Volume III/8, Sermon 295.4, p. 199).

So the Lord entrusted his sheep to us bishops, because he entrusted them to Peter; if, that is, we are worthy with any part of us, even with the tips of our toes, to tread the dust of Peter’s footsteps, the Lord entrusted his sheep to us. You are his sheep, we are sheep along with you, because we are Christians. I have already said, we are fed and we feed
(John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1994), Sermons, Volume III/8, Sermon 296.13, p. 211).

But when he declared his love once, and again, and a third time, the Lord entrusted him with his sheep. Do you love me? He said. Lord, you know that I love you. Feed my lambs. This once, and again, and a third time, as though the only way Peter could show his love for Christ would be by being a faithful shepherd and pastor under the prince of all pastors...
(John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (Brooklyn: New City Press, 1992), Sermons, Volume III/4, Sermon 147A.1-2, pp. 451-452).

According to Augustine, when Christ entrusted the sheep to Peter he was not making him the supreme ruler of the Church. He and all the shepherds of the Church are under Christ, the chief shepherd. There is only one head, Christ, and all the Apostles are of equal status under Christ as the chief shepherd. In addition, when Christ entrusted his sheep to Peter he was not entrusting the other Apostles to him, but the converts who would be the fruit of his preaching. The Apostles are equally shepherds with Peter.

Therefore, the logic of Augustine and of the fathers as a whole is as follows:

1) Peter holds a primacy, but it is not a primacy of jurisdiction.
2) Peter is not the rock but his confession of Christ or Christ himself and therefore the Church is not built on Peter personally but on his confession of faith which points to Christ.
3 All the Apostles are equal.
4) Peter is a symbolic representative of the Church as a whole. What was spoken to Peter and granted to him by Christ was spoken and granted to all the Apostles equally and through them to the Church universal.
5) All the bishops are successors of Peter because they are the successors of the Apostles, all of whom were equal.
6) All the bishops sit on the chair of Peter.
7) Therefore, the exalted titles applied to Peter do not apply to the bishops of Rome because the fathers never make that application in their writings.

Augustine: Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on Peter’s confession. What is Peter’s confession? ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ There’s the rock for you, there’s the foundation, there’s where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer. (Sermon 229).

Windsor:

This is a figurative passage. The Church was not physically built upon “the man” of St. Peter, for he would be crushed in the literal sense. Jesus foundationally lays the groundwork for the Church on Simon’s confession, but there’s more to this chapter! Simon Bar Jona is renamed Peter here! When God renames someone, there is great significance! (Noting: Abraham, Israel, etc.) None of the other Apostles were so honored or held up as Simon Bar Jona!

Webster:

Yes, Peter’s name was changed. But it is quite clear that Augustine does not interpret the change of the name in the same way you do becuase he says in that context that Christ did not build his Church on a man, i.e. on Peter, but on Peter’s confession of faith in Christ. Augustine himself explains the sinificance of the change of Peter’s name, Scott, and it is not consistent with your position. He states:

‘Previously, of course, he was called Simon; this name of Peter was bestowed on him by the Lord, and that with the symbolic intention of his representing the Church. Because Christ, you see, is the petra or rock; Peter, or Rocky, is the Christian people (Sermon 76).

Augustine: And this Church, symbolized in its generality, was personified in the Apostle Peter, on account of the primacy of his apostleship. For, as regards his proper personality, he was by nature one man, by grace one Christian, by still more abounding grace one, and yet also, the first apostle; but when it was said to him, 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,’ he represented the universal Church, which in this world is shaken by divers temptations, that come upon it like torrents of rain, floods and tempests, and falleth not, because it is founded upon a rock (petra), from which Peter received his name. For petra (rock) is not derived from Peter, but Peter from petra; just as Christ is not called so from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. For on this very account the Lord said, ‘On this rock will I build my Church,’ because Peter had said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ On this rock, therefore, He said, which thou hast confessed, I will build my Church. For the Rock (Petra) was Christ; and on this foundation was Peter himself built. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus. The Church, therefore, which is founded in Christ received from Him the keys of the kingdom of heaven in the person of Peter, that is to say, the power of binding and loosing sins. For what the Church is essentially in Christ, such representatively is Peter in the rock (petra); and in this representation Christ is to be understood as the Rock, Peter as the Church (Commentary on the Gospel of John, Tractate 124.5).

Windsor:

Again we are shown that St. Peter is given primacy and is the single Apostle shown to represent the Church. Where were the other Apostles at this time? The were right there with St. Peter! Why then does the Lord single out Simon and give him the name of Peter? If this were merely an act of symbolism, then why, from this time forward, is Simon refered to as “Peter?”

Webster:

Augustine states that Peter is the first and head of the apostles and that he holds a primacy. However he does not interpret that primacy in a Roman Catholic sense. He believes that Peter’s primacy is figurative in that he represents the universal Church. Again, he explicitly states that Christ did not build his Church upon a man but on Peter’s confession of faith. Peter is built on Christ the rock and as a figurative representative of the Church he shows how each believer is built on Christ. In Augustine’s view, Peter holds a primacy or preeminence, but none of this applies to him in a jurisdictional sense, because he says that ‘Christ did not build his Church upon a man.’ We can not get a clearer illustration that the fathers did indeed separate Peter’s confession of faith from Peter’s person.

Windsor:

This would be a logical argument, IF not for the fact that at the begining of Matthew 16 this Apostle is known as “Simon” and after verse 18 he is known as “Peter.” Mr. Webster is attempting to put a 16th century spin on an ancient text - but wait, that’s what he accuses Catholic apologists of doing!

Webster:

Scott, if you are going to deal with Augustine you have to deal with what he personally has to say. He does not draw the conclusions you draw from his words. Again, Augustine does not place the significance on the change of name that you do. As we have seen, Augustine is aware that Peter’s name has been changed but that did not bring him to the conclusion that Peter was established as the universal ruler of the Church or as the rock upon which the Church would be built. If you want to call this a spin, fine, but it is a spin that is found in Augustine in the early 5th century, thereby preceeding the 16th century by a significant amount of time! I am putting an Augustinian, 5th century “spin” on the text, a spin that can be further applied to other fathers in the 3rd (Origen and Cyprian) and 4th (Chrysostom) centuries.So I am putting a patristic spin (interpretation) on the text. As Oscar Cullmann points out, the view of the Reformers was not a novel interpretation invented by them but hearkened back to the patristic tradition:

‘We thus see that the exegesis that the Reformers gave...was not first invented for their struggle against the papacy; it rests upon an older patristic tradition (Oscar Cullmann, Peter:Disciple–Apostle–Martyr (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1953), p. 162).

Your appeal to Augustine, Scott, to support a Roman papal primacy cannot be supported from the facts. It is not enough to simply cite quotations. You must be able to give a proper interpretation of what the fathers mean by the words they use. They, themselves, provide us with such an interpretation if we give the full context of their teaching.

Windsor:

Webster also states: “We can not get a clearer illustration that the fathers did indeed separate Peter’s confession of faith from Peter’s person.”

Let’s take a look at what a few of the other Early Fathers said:

St. Cyprian of Carthage, The Unity of the Catholic Church:

The Lord says to Peter: “I say to you,” He says, “that you are Peter, and upon this rock will I build My Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound in also in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed in heaven.” [Cyprian’s first edition:]

And again He says to him after His resurrection: “Feed my sheep.” On him He builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep; although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles, yet He founded a single chair, and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was; but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed all by the Apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church? The episcopate is one, of which each bishop holds his part within the undivided structure. The Church also is one, however widely she has spread among the multitude through her fruitful increase ... The Church is bathed in the light of the Lord, and pours her rays over the whole world; but it is one light that is spread everywhere, and the unity of her structure is undivided. [Jurgens 555-556]

Now, does this sound a bit like Protestantism?! Where is the unity in Protestantism? Today, who would St. Cyprian say is sitting in the “one chair” of the Church?

Webster:

When Cyprian came into conflict with Stephen, Scott, he and Firmilian stated that Stephen had lost his chair and had cut himself off from the unity of the Church. Preciselty what the Protestant and Orthodox Churches say about Rome today.

Windsor:

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter without heading, of Cyprian to the Lapsed. A.D, 250:

Our Lord, whose commands we ought to fear and observe, says in the Gospel, by way of assigning the episcopal dignity and settling the plan of His Church: “I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever things you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they will be loosed in heaven.”

From that time the ordination of bishops and the plan of the Church flows on through the changes of times and successions; for the Church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the Church is controlled by the same rulers. Since this has indeed been established by Divine Law, I marvel at the rash boldness of certain persons who have desired to write me as if they were writing letters in the name of the Church, “since the Church is established upon the bishop and upon the clergy and upon all who stand firm in the faith.” [Jurgens 571]

St. Cyprian again asserts that the Church is founded upon St. Peter, and that the plan of the Church, “through the changes of times and successions.” Please note that he specifically mentions successions clearly indicating this “ability” was handed down from the Apostles to the current time.

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter of Cyprian to Quintus, Bishop in Mauretania. A.D. 254/255:

...For Peter, whom the Lord chose first and upon whom He built His Church, when Paul later disagreed with him about circumcision, did not claim anything for himself insolently nor assume anthing arrogantly, so as to say that he held the primacy and that he ought rather to be obeyed by novices and those more recently arrived. [Jurgens 592a]

Here we find St. Cyprian again asserting that the Church is indeed built upon Peter.

Webster:

I dealt with the whole issue of Cyprian and his view of Peter in a detailed response to Steve Ray demonstrating from the writings of Roman Catholic historians that Cyprian did not embrace the view of papal primacy. When he states that the Church is built upon Peter he means this in the same way as expressed by Augustine—Peter is a figurative representative of the Church. The bishop of Rome does not possess a position of authority over any see but his own. In Cyprian’s view, all bishops are on an equal footing with one another. The following statements by Roman Catholic patristics scholar, Johannes Quasten, affirms these conclusions:

To defend ecclesiastical unity, when it was threatened by schisms, Cyprian wrote De unitate ecclesiae and many of his letters, founding it, so far as the members of the Church are concerned, on adherence to the bishop. ‘You should understand that the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishop and that whoever is not with the bishop is not in the Church’ (Epist. 66.8). Thus the ordinary is the visible authority around which the congregation is centered.

The solidarity of the universal Church rests in turn on that of the bishops, who act as a sort of senate. They are the successors of the apostles and the apostles were the bishops of old. ‘The Lord chose the apostles, that is, the bishops and rulers’ (Epist. 3.3). The Church is built upon them. Thus Cyprian interprets the Tu es Petrus (You are Peter) as follows:

"Our Lord, whose precepts and admonitions we ought to observe, describing the honour of a bishop and the order of His Church, speaks in the Gospel, and says to Peter: 'I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not preval against it. 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 shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' Thence, through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the Church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers. Since then this order has been established by divine decree, I am amazed that some individuals have had the bold effrontery to write me and send letters in the name of the Church, seeing that the Church is composed of the bishop and the clergy and all who are steadfast’ (Cyprian, Epistle XXXIII, 1).

Thus he understands Matth. 16:18 of the whole episcopate, the various members of which, attached to one another by the laws of charity and concord (Epist. 54.1; 68.5), thus render the Church universal a single body. ‘The Church, which is catholic and one, is not split asunder nor divided but is truly bound and joined together by the cement of its priests, who hold fast one to another’ (Epist. 66.8).

The Primacy of Rome

Cyprian is convinced that the bishop answers to God alone. ‘So long as the bond of friendship is maintained and the sacred unity of the Catholic Church is preserved, each bishop is master of his own conduct, conscious that he must one day render an account of himself to the Lord’ (Epist. 55.21). In his controversy with Pope Stephen on the rebaptism of heretics he voices as the president of the African synod of September 256 his opinion as follows:

“No one among us sets himself up as a bishop of bishops, or by tyranny and terror forces his colleagues to compulsory obedience, seeing that every bishop in the freedom of his liberty and power possesses the right to his own mind and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another. We must all await the judgment of our Lord Jesus Chirst, who singly and alone has power both to appoint us to the government of his Church and to judge our acts therein’ (CSEL 3, 1, 436).

From these words it is evident that Cyprian does not recognize a primacy of jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome over his colleagues. Nor does he think Peter was given power over the other apostles because he states: hoc erant et ceteri apostoli quod fuit Petrus, pari consortio praediti et honoris et potestatis (De unit. 4). No more did Peter claim it: 'Even Peter, whom the Lord first chose and upon whom He built His Church, when Paul later disputed with him over circumcision, did not claim insolently any prerogative for himself, nor make any arrogant assumptions nor say that he had the primacy and ought to be obeyed' (Epist. 71, 3)."

On the other hand, it is the same Cyprian who gives the highest praise to the church of Rome on account of its importance for ecclesiastical unity and faith, when he complains of heretics ‘who dare to set sail and carry letters from schismatic and blasphemous persons to the see of Peter and the leading church, whence the unity of the priesthood took its rise, not realizing that the Romans, whose faith was proclaimed and praised by the apostle, are men into whose company no perversion of faith can enter’ (Epist. 59, 14). Thus the cathedra Petri is to him the ecclesia principalis and the point of origin of the unitas sacerdotalis. However, even in this letter he makes it quite clear that he does not concede to Rome any higher right to legislate for other sees because he expects her not to interfere in his own diocese ‘since to each separate shepherd has been assigned one portion of the flock to direct and govern and render hereafter an account of his ministry to the Lord’ (Epist- 59, 14)...If he refuses to the bishop of Rome any higher power to maintain by legislation the solidarity of which he is the centre, it must be because he regards the primacy as one of honor and the bishop of Rome as primus inter pares (Johannes Quasten, Patrology (Westminster: Christian Classics, 1983), Volume II, pp. 374-378).

These comments by Quasten are significant. They demonstrate the importance of what I stated about Augustine where I mentioned that it is not enough to simply cite quotations. One must seek to understand what the fathers meant by the words and terms they used, to understand their historical context. Cyprian states that Peter is the rock of the Church. The Roman Catholic, as Scott Windsor has demonstrated, immediately jumps to the conclusion that Cyprian must mean what present day Roman Catholics mean by those words. Is that the case? According to a world renowned Roman Catholic patristics scholar, it certainly is not the case. Quasten gives us the historical context and interpretation of Cyprian's words which are not supportive of a Roman, papal ecclesiology. Thus, to appeal to Cyprian in support of such a concept is to misinterpret and distort the facts. It is to read into his words a theology he personally did not embrace.