THE dogma of papal infallibility is, that the pope is “infallible,” not by any promise to him himself either as an individual or as an official, but “by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter.”
Therefore, in the study of this subject, it is proper enough to inquire, How do they find this thing promised to Peter? and, Was there in fact ever any such thing promised to Peter, or to the pope “in blessed Peter,” or in anybody else?”
The claim being that this thing is promised to him only “in blessed Peter,” it is essential, as we have seen, to make some sort of a connection between the pope and Peter. And, as we have also seen, this essential connection is made when the pope speaks “ex cathedra, that is, ‘from turn out that no such thing as infallibility was ever promised to Peter at all, then it would follow that even the chair of St. Peter cannot supply to the pope the much desired infallibility.
The truth is, that this promise of infallibility to Peter, and, consequently, to the pope, “in blessed Peter,” springs from the same law that we have already found to be the source of the “infallibility” of the pope, namely: the law that, like produces totally unlike, and out of nothing something comes. It is in fact created by two enormous assumptions—first, that the Church of Christ “must have a visible head,” and secondly, that Peter is that head. The first of these assumptions is thus stated by Cardinal Gibbons:—
Unity of government is not less essential to the Church of Christ than unity of doctrine. Our divine Saviour never speaks of his churches, but of his Church. He does not say: “Upon this rock I will build my churches,” but “Upon this rock I will build my Church,” from which words we must conclude that it never was his intention to establish or to sanction various conflicting denominations, but one corporate body, with all its members united under one visible head; for as the church is a visible body, it must have a visible head.—Faith of Our Fathers, pp. 24, 25.
Upon this leap in logic; upon this jumped-at conclusion; upon this sheer assumption, that the Church of Christ “must have a visible head,“—upon this is built the whole papacy with its claim of infallibility and everything else that it claims to have and to be. But nothing could be more false than the idea that the Church of Christ has or “must have a visible head.” Jesus Christ himself is head of the Church; for it is written: “I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ.” And, “Ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.” And He “is the head of the body, the Church.” The Lord Jesus lived in this world a whole lifetime as man, subject to all the weaknesses and infirmities of a man; for he said of himself, “Of mine own self I can do nothing.” And as he said likewise to all men, “Without me ye can do nothing,” and likewise of himself, “Of mine own self I can do nothing,” it is perfectly plain that in this world he put himself in the place where man is; yet he was led of the Father all the way, for he said, “The Father that dwelleth in me he doeth the works.” Thus he did not assert himself, and take of himself, his own way, but he trusted the Father, and was led of him, and was taught of him, as all of us must be who shall be saved by him. He did not of himself follow his own way, but only as he was guided by the Father; that is to say, that the Father was his head all the time that he was in this world as man; and the Father, as that head, was all this time invisible. And this is to show and does show plainly that in showing to man the way that he must take, Jesus Christ lived the Christian life in this world without a visible head. For the Lord Jesus to have asked in this world for a visible head to be his guide, would have been to deny the Father. And for any professed believer in Jesus to ask for a visible head to be his guide, is to deny Jesus Christ. The Christian is to see Him who is invisible. Hebrews 11:27. The Christian is to look at the things that are not seen. 2 Corinthians 4:18. And the invisible things of God are clearly seen. Romans 1:20. So that nothing could more plainly expose the essential earthliness and carnality of all the papal  concaptions than does this demand that there shall be “a visible head” to the Church of Christ. Any church that has a visible head is not, and cannot be, the Church of Christ. And such is the Roman Catholic Church.
Against says the cardinal:—
His Church is compared to a human body. In one body there are many members all inseparably connected with the head. The head commands and the foot instantly moves, the hand is raised and the lips open. Even so our Lord ordained that the Church, composed of many members, should be all united to one espoused visible head, whom they are bound to obey.—Id., p. 92.
The Church of Christ is the body of Christ, it is true. And Christ himself is the head of this “his body, which is the Church.” And to take away Christ, the true head of this body, and put another—a man—in his place, is only to take away all life from the church and so leave it only a lifeless thing so far as the Lord or spirituality is concerned. To take away the true head of any body and put another head in the place of the true one, is to destroy the life of that body. Even though the substitute head be really fastened on in some way, all that there can be of the thing is but a dead form. And such is the Catholic Church, according to every idea of it that is set forth by the papacy itself.
Again we quote from the same authority:—
The church, in fine, is called in Scripture by the beautiful title of bride or spouse of Christ, and the Christian law admits of only one wife.—Ib.
True enough this is, in itself. And that same Christian law admits of only one husband. Now, in this scriptural symbol, Christ occupies the place of husband to the wife. And as the Christian law admits only of one husband, it follows as plainly as can be, that for another person to put himself in the place of husband to this wife—the church—is positively to violate the Christian law. And for any wife—any church—claiming to be the bride or spouse of Christ, to allow another person to take the place of Christ, the true husband, to her, is positively to violate the Christian law, and so to proclaim herself an adulteress and a harlot. And such is the Catholic Church, according to her own authoritative statement.
To claim that Peter was the first to occupy this illegitimate place toward the “spouse of Christ,” or that this “spouse” accepted Peter as the first substitute for her true and living husband—this does not in the least alter the essential immorality of the thing, nor does it relieve it of the just charge that it is a positive violation of the Christian law which admits only of one husband. “For the woman that hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth…. So, then, if while her husband liveth she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another even to Him that is raised from the dead.” Romans 7:2-4. Thus, according to the Scripture, the Christian, and in this the Christian Church, is married to Christ—“to him that is raised from the dead”—as long as he liveth. Therefore, for any Christian church to be joined to another husband while Jesus Christ liveth, is to be called by the Scriptures of truth “an adulteress.”
Now, so the Catholic Church claims to be “the spouse of Christ,” and yet claims “another man” as her visible husband, her “visible head,” to “speak to her his sentiments in faith and morals;” as this is her own showing, and she pretends to make no other, she is therefore obliged to claim that Jesus Christ is dead, or else confess that she is an adulteress. And in either case it is perfectly plain that she is not the bride or spouse of Christ; for if she will claim that he is dead and that therefore she has right to be joined to this other one, then she is not his spouse but the spouse of the other man; while if she will not allow that Christ is dead, “then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress,” and in this she is just as certainly not his spouse. So from her own showing and upon her own claims it is certain that the Catholic Church is not in any sense a Christian church.
It is therefore perfectly clear that in the first of her assumptions, namely, that “the church must have a visible head,” the papacy is all at sea. How, then, is it with her other assumption, that Peter was appointed that visible head, and so the pope by succession from him, and therefore “by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter,” “is infallible” “when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, ‘from the chair’ of St. Peter?” Here are the cardinal’s words on that:—
Let us now briefly consider the grounds of the doctrine [of the infallibility of the pope] itself. The following passages of the gospel, spoken at different times, were addressed exclusively to Peter. “Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” “I, the Supreme Architect of the universe,” says our Saviour, “will establish a church which is to last till the end of time. I will lay the foundation of this church so strong and deep on the rock of truth that the winds and storms of error shall never prevail against it. Thou, O Peter, shall be the foundation of this church, it shall never fall, because thou shalt never be shaken; and thou shalt never be shaken because thou shalt rest on Me, the rock of truth.” The church, of which Peter is the foundation, is declared to be impregnable, that is, proof against error. How can you suppose an immovable edifice built on a tottering foundation? for it is not the building that sustains the foundation, but the foundation which support the building.—Id., pp. 150, 151.
On this same passage of scripture the author of “Catholic Belief” comments as follows:—
As the Church of Christ was to last beyond the life-time of St. Peter, even to the end of the world, and as the church is not a lifeless, material building, but a living body of man requiring a living head to rule them and to be a foundation to that great society, this promise of Christ, of making Peter a rock, was meant not only for Peter, but also for his successors. There must be proportion between the building and its foundation. The building, namely, the visible church, being a living, successive body of men, the foundation also, that is, the visible ruling power which sustains the whole superstructure, must be living and successive. Therefore the successors of St. Peter, as the supreme visible rulers of the church, are such, like St. Peter, the rock or the visible foundation of it.—Catholic Belief, pp. 94, 95.
Now on their very face these statements plainly show that the conception which they define is utterly incongruous and fails at every turn, as applied to Peter or any other man or succession of men. And all that is needed to annihilate the whole theory, is but to read two or three passages of scripture which speak directly on this subject. Even admitting that the word Peter means a stone or rock, and that therefore Peter was a rock, allowing the scripture to explain its own statements it is seen that this is far from proving that Peter was the rock upon which the Church of Christ was to be built.
For it is written: “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11. And again: “Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. In whom [in Jesus Christ himself, not in Peter] all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord. In whom also ye are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:20-22. Please note particularly that this scripture does not say that Ye are built upon the foundation which is the apostles and prophets; neither does it say, Ye are built upon the foundation, the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; but it does say, “Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” that is, Ye are built upon the foundation upon which the apostles and prophets are built.
Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. And who is the foundation of the apostles? and prophets? Answer: “Jesus Christ himself,” and “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ.” Therefore, as “the foundation of the apostles and prophets” is “Jesus Christ himself,” and as Christians are “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” it is settled by the Scriptures of truth, that whoever is not built upon “Jesus Christ himself” as the only foundation that is laid, or that can be laid, is not a Christian; and any church that is not built upon “Jesus Christ himself” as the only foundation that is laid, or that can be laid, is not in any sense a Christian church.
And such, by her own exclusive claim, is the Catholic Church. She does not claim to be “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” which is “Jesus Christ himself,” as the only foundation. She claims to be built upon one of the apostles himself as the foundation. The Church of Christ is not built on any such “foundation.” The Church of Christ is not built on a foundation of dust, nor even on a rock that is made out of dust. It is built upon the eternal, self-existent, Rock, which is “Jesus Christ himself.”
Next week we will examine the inspired testimony of Peter himself upon this question.