There is something I’ve been meaning to share with you. This came to me a while back while driving on one of Southern California’s busiest freeway (the 5 freeway). Come to think of it, this is actually where I have some of my deepest thoughts. I completely block out the noisy world around me and dwell in my thoughts.
The question that popped into my head was: Is it unusual for God to give a single man authority over the whole of His people? Or is it more common to see that authority is equally dispersed within a group of men?
These questions are important to me because God did many things to shape the way or prepare His people for what was to come; such as circumcision for baptism, bread from the desert to bread of life (The Eucharist), and stopping Abraham from sacrificing his son so God can sacrifice His Son (Christ). There are several examples of this that I’m sure you will see and agree with. This parallel also exists with Peter, being the strongest, one that I’m sure you’re aware of; the keys in relation to the keeper of the palace in the Old Testament. (Isaias 22, in which “the key of the house of David”.)
But you can take this even further and look at several examples where God gives authority to one man over His people. This last statement doesn’t prove the supremacy of authority given to Peter, but it sure shows God functioning in such a way. Most all major doctrines that we both believe in, Ted, have some sort of parallel in the OT. But it appears that the Orthodox Church seems to either minimize or misunderstand the parallels with Peter. The misunderstanding is much easier to deal with because an honest conversation with plenty of clarification may help the Orthodox see the office of Peter in the OT. But when assuming an Orthodox said, “Well I can see how God gave authority to Moses, for example, but that doesn’t mean Peter had such authority.” This is difficult for me to grasp because with every doctrine we both believe in God elevates what was (mana in the desert, circumcision, Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice, etc.) to what is (bread of life [Eucharist], baptism, Christ’s sacrifice, etc.) We do not see Him minimizing practices like circumcision, but rather He elevates them to a supernatural state. He makes them even more special, from a physical circumcision to a circumcision of the heart, for example. Either God decided to not give Peter authority over the whole of His people like He did in the OT (Moses, Abraham, etc)…OR He does address it by giving Peter supremacy of honor with equal authority shared with the rest of the bishops, as you say this is the case. Which means He did not elevate it like He did everything else. He simply mimicked the OT, with no change, no elevation. Why would He not do it with Peter but do it with everything else like what I noted above?
Only the Catholic position seems to satisfy God’s way of doing things in the OT. Did God ever give more than one person authority? Of course He did, but my only point is that God consistently appears to like going through one person and uses him as final authority on matters that deal with His people. As an example we can look at the OT in Exodus 4:14. Here we begin to see God’s method of hierarchically positioning men. He tells Moses “You will be as God.” Positioning him directly above Aaron and all the people. We see God doing things like this all through out the OT with different men. Did He drop the ball in the NT and decide “I’m going to make all equal”. It seems to me like God knows us too well. He understands the power behind using one person vs. using the college of bishops alone. Not that the college of bishops can’t produce an infallible proclamation for the body of believers. For history shows they have done this. But history also shows the college of bishops disagreeing right down the middle. 50% say one thing and 50% say another (the numbers are not accurate.) My point is that they couldn’t come to a conclusion, just like they couldn’t in the council of Jerusalem in Acts. Peter spoke and everybody stayed silent and he settled the matter. If you’re honest about it, Ted, you’ll at least conclude that God did use one person often in the OT. So my questions to you are: Why do you think God would stop using the Moses’ of the OT in the NT? If God just intended for Peter to be honored, where is the elevation in that, just like He did all the other doctrines in the NT? Maybe Peter was just the exception, or maybe Catholics are right to view him as they do.