One of the regulars on this blog posted a comment concerning Matthew 16:18. That verse reads,
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
Matthew 16:18 is commonly believed to mean that the man, Peter, was thereby commissioned to be the “rock” or cornerstone on which the church of Christ is built. That belief lies at the foundation for the Catholic Church.
Maybe so, but I think Matthew 16:18 is commonly misread and misunderstood.
I believe that the “rock” mentioned in Matthew 16:18 is not the man Peter, but instead the principle described just three verses earlier in Matthew 16:15 which reads,
“Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
That’s the “rock” on which the church of Christ is built—the fundamental principle that the being we now (incorrectly) call “Jesus” is the Christ (chosen one) and Son of the living God.
The Christ’s status as “Son of the living God” is the essence of Christianity. If the Christ is not the Son of the living God, Christianity is a useless myth.
On the other hand, who gives a damn if Peter were the “rock” on which Christ’s church is built? Are we to believe that the Christian faith is based on Peter? Peter died. Did the church of Christ die with him?
If the church of Christ was built on the “rock” called “Peter,” why don’t we call our faith the Peterist Faith, or the Church of Peter? Are we to believe that the true church of Christ is based on a mere mortal man? If that church were based only on a mortal man, the resulting faith would have little or no spiritual foundation and would be merely a philosophy somewhat similar to the moral principles advanced by Gandhi.
If the Christ really meant in Matthew 16:18 to appoint Peter to be the “rock” on which His church would be built, what did the Christ mean just five verses later in Matthew 16:23 where,
“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'”
Does it make sense that the Christ would appoint Peter to be the “rock” on which the Christ’s church would be built—and then—just five verses later—compare Peter to Satan and declare that Peter is a “stumbling block to me” (the Christ, Himself)? Would the Christ appoint a man who does “not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” to be “rock” on which He would build His church? Is it unreasonable to suppose that if the Christ wanted to build His church on the “rock” of some mere mortal, He would at least choose an appointee who did not resemble “Satan”?
In Matthew 16:23, the Christ didn’t say Peter was sometimes a “stumbling block” or sometimes without the “concerns of God”. The Christ didn’t offer Peter any advice on how to escape his condition of “stumbling block” and lack of “concerns of God”. The Christ at least implied that those characteristics were inherent in Peter and unlikely to change. The Christ pretty much implied that Peter was incapable of fully adopting the “concerns of God” and fully abandoning his “human concerns”. As such, the Christ seemed to view Peter as trouble and someone who was likely to remain trouble.
Why would the Christ build His church on the “rock” of a mortal man known to be “trouble”?
Does anyone believe that the Christ would both 1) base His church on Peter; and 2) compare Peter to Satan? Does it make sense that the Christ would trust the construction of His church to a mortal man who was more devoted to the “concerns of humans” than to the “concerns of God”?
No. That makes no sense, whatsoever.
Instead, it’s apparent that the “rock” on which the Christ’s church must be built is the unshakable principle that the Christ is the “Son of the living God“. Not the agent of God, not the prophet of God, not even a “person” of God. The “rock” of the Christ’s church must be the principle that the Christ is the Son of the living God.
In retrospect, it’s not impossible that the Christ was not simply talking about Peter, the man, in Matthew 16:23. Instead, the Christ might’ve been giving prophecy about the church ultimately built on the mortal man Peter—rather than being built on the “rock” that the Christ is the “Son of the living God”.
Is the Catholic Church a “stumbling block” for the Christ, Himself? Is the Catholic Church more devoted to “human concerns” than to the “concerns of God”? You tell me.
I look at Matthew 16:18 and wonder how anyone could so dumb as to believe that the church of Christ was built on the “rock” of a mortal man (who the Christ, Himself, compared to “Satan“) rather than on an eternal principle that the Christ is the Son of the living God.
What other “rock” can it be? Is Peter more important than that principle? Is anything in the Christian faith more important than that principle? Without that principle, there is no valid Christian faith.
If the Christ is not the Son of the Living God, what is the remaining foundational value of Christianity?
What fools these mortals be, hmm?