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Will Peter Refuse to Eat with the Gentiles Again?

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Will Peter Refuse to Eat with the Gentiles Again?

by Michael Lofton

The Church is currently awaiting the 'official' decision of Pope Francis on the Kasper Proposal (a proposal allowing obstinate adulterers to receive Holy Communion). In anticipation of his decision, there is a point from the Book of Galatians that I believe should be considered.

In the Book of Galatians, we read about the Apostle Paul who rebuked the Apostle Peter for his hypocrisy, saying:

“When Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?” (Galatians 2:11-14)

Peter originally had no problem eating with gentiles, but once the Judaizers convinced him that it was necessary for gentiles to become Jews first (i.e. to be circumcised) and to obey the Mosaic dietary laws in order to be saved, Peter withdrew from eating with the Gentiles. Though Peter did not explicitly affirm the Judaizer heresy, his actions nonetheless did. For this reason, Paul rebuked Peter to his face for his hypocrisy, as he was, in practice, denying that salvation is apart from the “works of the law” (i.e. the Mosaic Law, see Romans 3:28).

Paul realized that doctrine and practice are intimately connected, and that to affirm something in practice is the same as affirming it in doctrine and to deny something in practice is to deny something in doctrine (clearly, Paul didn’t believe Kasperism, which divorces practice from doctrine).

Once again, in the person of Pope Francis, Peter is going to be tested. If Pope Francis embraces (or allows for) the view that Holy Communion should be given to unrepentant adulterers then he will be no different than when Peter denied the Gospel with his actions.

If this happens (and it seems extremely likely this will happen), will there be any Pauls in the hierarchy who will “oppose him to his face?” May God send us a Paul if he won’t convert our Peter.


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