Bible Q-n-A 3/25/13: The Catholic Letter (pt. 1)

On this episode of Bible Q-n-A I begin to look at what I’m calling “The Catholic Letter.” This letter was distributed at the 2012 Jersey County Fair. It made its way back to me and I am responding to it here on Bible Q-n-A. I will take these episodes dealing with “The Catholic Letter” and put them on DVD to distribute at the 2013 Jersey County Fair. I hope to have the opportunity to talk to the writer face to face, as I don’t know who it was.

Here is a link to “The Catholic Letter”

Here is a link to some show notes.


  1. John Smith says:

    Dear Mr. Fields,

    This is an excellent video. But there’s just one problem.

    A Roman Catholic apologist would have a field day with your contention that Peter could not have been a pope because he was married.

    In earlier centuries, there were a number of popes who were married men. The rule about “clerical celibacy” was not established until about the 11th century (it is also acknowledged, even by Roman Catholic sources, that at least one pope in the 10th century, Sergius I believe, was the out of wedlock son of a previous pope!).

    Even today, certain Eastern “rites” (Byzantine, Maronite, etc.) which are in communion with Rome allow (at least, in some parts of the world–generally not in the U.S.) married men to be priests (if they’re married PRIOR to their “ordination”–but if their wife dies, they may not remarry).

    Also, in the Roman “rite” (most of the Roman Catholic priests you’d come across in the U.S.) there are a handful of married priests (mostly Lutheran or Anglican clergymen who converted to Rome–again who’d married prior to “ordination”).

    Rome deals with all of this by maintaining a distinction between “doctrine” (which, they claim, never changes–although, in reality, they have made PLENTY of changes in their teachings over the years) and “discipline” (e.g. the above mentioned “celibacy rule”, not eating meat on certain “holy days”, etc.–which, they claim, may been altered by the religious authorities, from time to time and from place to place).

    So while there are plenty of reasons to reject the papacy and Roman Catholicism, the “Peter was married” argument is, with all due respect, really not the best.

    Also, the Roman claims of an “unbroken succession” line for the papacy really are historical nonsense.

    If you look in any encyclopedia and look up the “list of popes” (a list which, by the way, is put out by the Vatican), you will find numerous footnotes at the bottom of the page saying, in effect, “We’re really not sure when/if this guy was pope”.

    There were many instances of rival claims to the papal throne (at one time, THREE at once!), what were called “antipopes”, etc..

    Have a look at the present list and try to find “John XX”. He’s not there! Where’d he go? But he was on previous lists (this is just one example–there have been many such changes)!

    It is also believed that about 40 popes (many of whom came from wealthy, powerful families) basically BOUGHT their jobs (which, even according to Roman teaching itself, would have made the entire thing INVALID–so much for the “unbroken succession” line!).

    Anyway, I am looking forward to your upcoming videos. I hope that perhaps some of the above shared info will be useful to you.

    Thank you!

    • PreacherNorm says:


      I really appreciate your input and your good comments. It is right that clerical celibacy was a latter development in Catholic doctrine. The date I have puts the first attempt, which was rejected by the majority, at around 325. It came up again in 385 and was accepted, with strict enforcement not coming until around 1079 (as you indicated). What’s also interesting is that the early attempts at clerical celibacy seem to be based on the supposed virginity of the apostle John, not Peter. So, they claim Peter as the first Pope but base clerical celibacy on John, which I find a little bit peculiar to say the least. As you said, history shows that the Popes themselves, and certainly a goodly part of the Catholic priesthood in general, didn’t hold to it though.

      If the Catholic apologist attempted to take his “field day” with that point it would be a very good opportunity to point out the changing doctrines of Catholicism, and inconsistent application of the so-called “disciplines,” through the years. My first response to such an attempt would be to say, “If it wasn’t practiced by the apostles and so-called early Popes, by what authority was clerical celibacy instituted?” Since he would have already admitted that it didn’t arise from Scripture this point would force him into the discussion of Church Authority vs. Biblical Authority, which will be the thrust of the next installment to “The Catholic Letter” series. So, I guess, the marital status of Peter is a bit of a bait. Every time you can get them to admit that something they do did not arise from Scripture, but from Ecclesiastical Council, it is a good thing for the public to see.

      Again, you are correct that Papal history is one of the greatest tales of espionage, intrigue, deceitful machinations, and corruption ever told. This is certainly something else about Catholicism in general that should be put in the public eye as much as possible. The Catholic church certainly can trace its history back to the New Testament church but it is the history of apostasy that one will find in such examination, not the history of the true church of Christ (1 Tim. 4:1-5; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Thess. 2:1-9).

      Thanks again for your kind words and your interaction in the Bible Q-n-A program. I look forward to your further input. And, please, just call me Norm.

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