Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How About Peter?

From St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 16:

I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, 2 that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house.
Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who labored much for us. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
8 Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.
12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Ne^rmeus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you.
And not Peter?

From I Corinthians 3

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? 
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos? And who is Peter, that we should say, "I am of Peter"??

From the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 10:

24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man."

So why do people bow down and kiss the shoe or hand of St. Peter's alleged successors?


Chris Jones said...

To be fair, one might just as well ask why we kiss the hand of the priest and ask his blessing, or why we sing a hymn to the bishop, calling him "master." None of these acts of reverence are truly adoration, and neither are the similar acts of reverence towards the Pope.

Nor is there really any doubt that the New Testament shows us that Peter was, in some sense, the chief of the Apostles; and the Orthodox Church has always recognized the primacy of the Church of Rome (so long as she remained Orthodox). The question, of course, is in what sense Peter was the chief, and what is the meaning of the primacy accorded to Rome. The fact of the primacy is not really in any serious dispute; all the controversy is over its meaning. Is it the sort of primacy envisioned by Apostolic Canon 34? or does it go beyond that to imply supremacy, universal jurisdiction, and infallibility?

That is the substantive question (a question which, I am sure, you and I would answer in the same way). Next to that, the specifics of how RCs show reverence to their Patriarch aren't really very important.

Anam Cara said...

In fairness to the scriptures quoted, consider the recipient of the letters.

In Romans, you might as well ask why he didn't name Thomas, Andrew, or other apostles. He lists names of individual people to be greeted in Rome. He then says, essentially "Everyone here say, "Hi.'" He doesn't list any individuals.

When Paul is speaking to the Corinthians, perhaps Peter wasn't mentioned because he had taken no part in the church there. Paul is speaking to the people about the problems they were having. If no one is saying, "I am of Peter," there is no reason to bring that up.

But as for Acts, you've got a really good point. Also, it is an interesting question in light of the fact that the head of the First Council (related to us in the book of Acts) was James, not Peter. So he certainly couldn't have been considered the "first" head of the church. I'm sure Chris is right on target with the idea of a controversy over the meaning of primacy. I think Peter was considered primate in the sense that he is "first among equals"

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Chris, not to disagree with anything you've said here, but my point was a different one. Namely, why not greet Peter? Wasn't he supposed to be the first Bishop of Rome? Would St. Paul fail to mention his name among those he was greeting- a fellow apostle?

Or DID he infact greet the bishop, that person being one of the named individuals?
Or what?

Anam, yes, he was greeting people in Rome, but thats the very point. Where was St. Peter, if he was the first Bishop of Rome???

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Anam Cara, my point re the Corinthians verse is the principle of the thing.

We are not supposed to say, "I am of So-and-So." We are all suppoosed to be of Christ.

Chris, the one who prostrated himself to St. Peter was Cornelius, already a believer. But if Peter didn't want that kind of obsequiousness, why do his alleged successors?

We do bow, not only to patriarch, but to one another and to icons and before the Cross and, well, we bow all over the place. But the meaning of that is never submission.

Anam Cara said...

I completely misunderstood the Romans passage! I t hadn't occurred to me that Peter might already be in Rome. I thought you were wondering why he didn't mention Peter as SENDING greetings.

But I stand by my reason for not mentioning Peter to the Corinthians. Of course we aren't to say we are of so-and-so, but if Peter wasn't part of the problem in Corinth, there was no reason to bring his name into it. I don't think anyone today would say "I am from Peter."

Unless they belong to a church named St. Peter. ; )

margaret said...

It used to be customary to genuflect to every bishop to acknowledge the image of Christ in him both as brother and pastor and to kiss his ring to recognise his authority which isn't the same as submission. I don't know when this stopped, I'm guessing mid-60s, and now a lot of Catholics don't even genuflect for the consecrated elements which would have once been unthinkable. I don't think they ever were as sacramentally aware as we are in terms of bowing, kissing, etc, but they were a lot better than they have become. Mind you, I might just like the whole submission thing - I've noticed lately it's so hard to kiss a priest's hand if I don't just about adore him!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Right, there was no reason to mention Peter to the Corinthians. All I'm trying to point out is what we both agree on, nobody should say, "I am of Peter."

Today, however, millions of people say that. With one small variant: "I am of Peter's successor, the pope."