This is an addendum to my earlier blog entry: What Was Augustine "Retracting" on Peter, The Rock, and Mathew 16? That entry exegetes Augustine's likely final statement on his interpretation of Matthew 16:18-19. His later view was that Peter was not the "Rock" the church was founded upon (he admits in his earlier writings he did put forth the opposite view that Peter was the "Rock" the church was founded upon). Augustine's later view is contrary to the modern view espoused by Rome's defenders, for instance, this apologist says, "Only Simon, among all the other personages of the New Testament, received a name change (cf. Matt. 16:18-19). This signified his status as the "rock" upon which Christ would build his Church." Who's correct, Augustine or modern Roman Catholic apologists?
In response to Protestants bringing up Augustine's later view., some of Rome's defenders have located a number of times Augustine referred to Peter as the "Rock," This webpage states, "Far from repudiating the Catholic understanding of Matt 16:18, I will provide testimony from Augustine to show he interpreted Matt 16:18 in various ways during his life and not exclusively equating "this rock” with Christ Himself." What I've noticed in the quotes they've mined out is the distinction Augustine himself makes between his earlier and later writings on Peter and the "Rock" is blurred or non-existent.
This blog entry will go through their basic list and demonstrate the quotes that most clearly show Augustine referring to Peter as the "Rock" the church was built upon represent his discarded earlier view. The quotes from later in his life do not clearly demonstrate adherence to the earlier view. Certainly Augustine was a great theologian, but he was not an infallible theologian. I would not be at all surprised if he erred in consistency, went through a transition period, or if extant manuscripts contain errors making his comments fuzzy. When I did go through the basic texts being brought forth, it was clear Augustine shifted his view on Peter and the "Rock."
This is the basic list that will be scrutinized below. There are number of variations on this list as the quotes have journeyed through cyber-space over the years. It appears the cumulative case method of citing various statements from Augustine throughout his life is put forth to downplay Augustine's clear later view. I contend Rome's defenders therefore are spoof-texting Augustine's writings, hiding the very distinction he refers to in the Retractationes. Let's work through each quote.
1. “Number the bishops from the see of Peter itself. And in that order of Fathers see who succeeded whom, That is the rock against which the gates of hell do not prevail.”Psalmus contra partem Donati, 18 (A.D. 393),GCC 51
2. “Let us not listen to those who deny that the Church of God is able to forgive all sins. They are wretched indeed, because they do not recognize in Peter the rock and they refuse to believe that the keys of heaven, lost from their own hands, have been given to the Church.” Christian Combat, 31:33(A.D. 397), in JUR,3:51
(33) Let us not heed those who deny that the Church of God can remit all sins. Failing to recognize in Peter the ‘rock,’ these unhappy souls have accordingly lost possession of the keys; they are unwilling to believe that the keys of the kingdom of heaven have been given to the Church. These are the people who condemn as adulteresses widows who marry, and who boast that theirs is a purity superior to the teaching of the Apostles. If they would only acknowledge their own names, they would call themselves ‘wordly’ [mundanos] rather than ‘pure’ [mundos]. For, by their unwillingness to be corrected when they have sinned, they have simply chosen to be condemned with this world [mundo].
These heretics do not preserve the spiritual health of those to whom they deny forgiveness of sins. They take away medicine from the infirm, forcing their widows to be consumed by the heat of passion, when they will not permit them to marry. Certainly these heretics are not to be accounted wiser than the Apostle Paul, who preferred that widows should marry, rather than be so consumed by passion.
3. “For if the lineal succession of bishops is to be taken into account, with how much more certainty and benefit to the Church do we reckon back till we reach Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: ‘Upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it !’ The successor of Peter was Linus, and his successors in unbroken continuity were these: — Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zephirinus, Calixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Antherus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephanus, Xystus, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychianus, Gaius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Marcus, Julius, Liberius, Damasus, and Siricius, whose successor is the present Bishop Anastasius. In this order of succession no Donatist bishop is found. But, reversing the natural course of things, the Donatists sent to Rome from Africa an ordained bishop, who, putting himself at the head of a few Africans in the great metropolis, gave some notoriety to the name of ‘mountain men,’ or Cutzupits, by which they were known.”
To Generosus, Epistle 53:2(A.D. 400), in NPNF1,I:298
If thou be without God, thou wilt be less; if thou be with God, God will not be greater. Not from thee will He be greater, but thou without Him wilt be less. Grow, therefore, in Him; do not withdraw thyself, that He may, as it were, diminish. Thou wilt be renewed if thou come to Him, wilt suffer loss if thou depart from Him. He remains entire when thou comest to Him, remains entire even when thou fallest away. When, therefore, He had said to His disciples, “Will ye also go away?” Peter, that Rock, answered with the voice of all, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Pleasantly savored the Lord’s flesh in his mouth. The Lord, however, expounded to them, and said, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth.”
5. “And the Lord, to him to whom a little before He had said, ‘Blessed thou art, and upon this Rock I will build my Church,’ saith, ‘Go back behind, Satan, an offence thou art to Me.’ Why therefore ‘Satan’ is he, that a little before was ‘blessed,’ and a ‘Rock’ ?” In Psalms, 56:14[PL 36, 656] (A.D. 418),in NPNF1,VIII:223
The Lord to His disciples was speaking of His Passion that was to be. Peter shuddered, and saith, “Far be it, O Lord;” he that a little before had said, “Thou art the Christ, Son of the living God,” having confessed God, feared for Him to die, as if but a man. But the Lord who so came that He might suffer (for we could not otherwise be saved unless with His blood we were redeemed), a little before had praised the confession of Peter.…But immediately when the Lord beginneth to speak of His Passion, he feared lest He should perish by death, whereas we ourselves should perish unless He died; and he saith, “Far be it, O Lord, this thing shall not be done.” And the Lord, to him to whom a little before He had said, “Blessed thou art, and upon this Rock I will build my Church,” saith, “Go back behind, Satan, an offence thou art to Me.” Why therefore “Satan” is he, that a little before was “blessed,” and a “Rock”? “For thou savourest not the things which are of God,” He saith, “but those things which are of man.” A little before he savoured the things which are of God: because “not flesh and blood hath revealed to thee, but My Father which is in the Heavens.” When in God he was praising his discourse, not Satan but Peter, from petra: but when of himself and out of human infirmity, carnal love of man, which would be for an impediment to his own salvation, and that of the rest, Satan he is called. Why? Because to go before the Lord he willed, and earthly counsel to give to the heavenly Leader. “Far be it, O Lord, this thing shall not be done.” Thou sayest, “Far be it,” and thou sayest, “O Lord:” surely if Lord He is, in power He doeth: if Master He is, He knoweth what He doeth, He knoweth what He teacheth. But thou willest to lead thy Leader, teach thy Master, command thy Lord, choose for God: much thou goest before, go back behind. Did not this too profit these enemies? “Turned be Mine enemies backward;” but let them not remain backward. For this reason let them be turned backward, lest they go before; but so that they follow, not so that they remain.
6. “Peter, who had confessed Him as the Son of God, and in that confession had been called the rock upon which the Church should be built.” In Psalms, 69:4[PL 36, 869] (A.D. 418), in Butler, 251
Nam quod optatum est modo persecutoribus cogitantibus mala, dixit hoc ipse Dominus Petro. Praecedere quippe quodam loco Petrus voluit Dominum. Loquebatur enim Salvator de passione sua, quam si non suscepisset, nos salvi non essemus; et Petrus qui paulo ante eum confessus erat Filium Dei, et in illa confessione appellatus erat Petra, supra quam fabricaretur Ecclesia, paulo post Domino dicente de futura passione sua, ait: Absit, Domine; propitius esto tibi, non fiet istud. Paulo ante, Beatus es, Simon Bar Iona, quia non tibi revelavit caro et sanguis, sed Pater meus qui in coelis est: modo repente, Redi post me, satana. Quid est, Redi post me? Sequere me. Praecedere me vis, consilium mihi dare vis; melius est ut consilium meum sequaris: hoc est, Redi retro, redi post me. Antecedentem compescit, ut retro redeat; et appellat satanam, quia vult praecedere Dominum. Paulo ante, Beatus: modo, Satanas. Unde paulo ante, Beatus? Quia non tibi, inquit, revelavit caro et sanguis, sed Pater meus qui in coelis est. Unde modo, Satanas? Quia non sapis, inquit, quae Dei sunt, sed quae sunt hominum.It's interesting to note that NPNF, First series, vol. VIII does not include the sentence being cited by Rome's defenders. Why? I have no idea as to why the text was edited, and no footnote documents the deletion. It does make sense though why Rome's defenders would only cite the Latin text and Butler'a book. NPNF reads:
For that which had been desired but now for persecutors thinking evil things, the same the Lord Himself said to Peter. Now in a certain place Peter willed to go before the Lord.…A little before, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father which is in Heaven:” now in a moment, “Go back behind Me, Satan.” What is, “Go back behind Me”? Follow Me. Thou willest to go before Me, thou willest to give Me counsel, it is better that thou follow My counsel: this is, “go back,” go back behind Me. He is silencing one outstripping, in order that he may go backward; and He is calling him Satan, because he willeth to go before the Lord. A little before, “blessed;” now, “Satan.” Whence a little before, “blessed”? Because, “to thee,” He saith, “flesh and blood hath not revealed it, but My Father which is in Heaven.” Whence now, “Satan”? Because “thou savourest not,” He saith, “the things which are of God, but the things which are of men.”
What he needs is to believe in Christ, and follow him; for what the psalm requests for those who harbor evil intentions is what the Lord himself ordered Peter. There was an occasion when Peter wanted to get ahead of the Lord. Our Savior had been speaking about his passion; if he had not accepted it, we should not have been saved. Just before this Peter had confessed him to be the Son of God, and for that confession he was called the Rock, on which the Church was to be built. But immediately afterward, when the Lord was speaking about his forthcoming passion, Peter protested: Far be it from you, Lord, have some pity for yourself. This will not happen. Only a moment ago Peter had been told, Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for it is not flesh and blood that revealed this to you, but my Father, who is in heaven; but now, suddenly, he is commanded, Get behind me, Satan (Mt 16:22. 1 7.23). What does get behind me mean? Follow me. You want to rush ahead of me, you want to give me advice. It would be much better for you to follow my advice. This is what "Go back, get behind me" implies. He curbs the man who rushes in front,and makes him take his place in the rear; he calls him Satan because he wants to go one better than the Lord. A minute ago Christ called him blessed; now he addresses him as Satan. Why did he deserve to be called blessed? Because it is notf lesh and blood that revealed this to you, but my Father, who is in heaven, said Jesus. Then why does he now deserve the name Satan? Because you have no taste for the things of God, but only for human things.
15. But think not that those “fowls of heaven” follow their own authority; see what the Psalm saith: “From the midst of the rocks they shall give their voice.” Now, if I shall say to you, Believe, for this said Cicero, this said Plato, this said Pythagoras: which of you will not laugh at me? For I shall be a bird that shall send forth my voice not from the rock. What ought each one of you to say to me? what ought he who is thus instructed to say? “If anyone shall have preached unto you a gospel other than that ye have received, let him be anathema.” What dost thou tell me of Plato, and of Cicero, and of Virgil? Thou hast before thee the rocks of the mountains, from the midst of the rocks give me thy voice. Let them be heard, who hear from the rock: let them be heard, because also in those many rocks the One Rock is heard: for “the Rock was Christ.” Let them therefore be willingly heard, giving their voice from the midst of the rocks. Nothing is sweeter than such a voice of birds. They sound, and the rocks resound: they sound; spiritual men discuss: the rocks resound, testimonies of Scripture give answer. Lo! thence the fowls give their voice from the midst of the rocks, for they dwell on the mountains.
16. “Watering the mountains from the higher places” (ver. 13). Now if a Gentile uncircumcised man comes to us, about to believe in Christ, we give him baptism, and do not call him back to those works of the Law. And if a Jew asks us why we do that, we sound from the rock, we say, This Peter did, this Paul did: from the midst of the rocks we give our voice. But that rock, Peter himself, that great mountain, when he prayed and saw that vision, was watered from above.…