And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

Could it be that when Christ says about His Church that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” He does so because there will be many times that it seems like the gates of hell are prevailing, or nearly so? Perhaps we should see the history of Christ’s Church to be somewhat like the history of Israel, with many ups and downs, and often more difficult times than others, and most often the problems will be with lack of faith and pursuing false gods than from outside attacks. If this is so, and it seems at least likely, then what should our response be to “the church” when we see or experience the downturns? It may do us well to consider the prophets in Israel, how they spoke the word of God, and how they chastised and often wept, but also how they did not abandon Israel because they loved Israel and they could not go against God’s chosen people even if the people had turned from God. And some even paid for their commitment to Israel with their lives.

If this is true, then it may shine a light into what we call the Protestant Reformation. There have been many reformations, and many reformers throughout the entire history of the Church. Reformation is an ongoing aspect of Christian sanctification, both personally and corporately. It seems that Christians are always falling away and coming back, in a kind of constant flux—and it seems that’s God’s design, something we should expect. If this is true, then perhaps we should see the Protestant Reformation as a kind of necessary prophetic judgement on the Church—something difficult but welcome to those who have eyes to see. But then what do we do with the fact that soon the reformers turned away from the Church entirely, calling her the whore of Babylon and the pope the Antichrist? Strong language is the purview of prophets, but abandoning the beloved is not.

And what should those of us do who have grown up within this abandonment; accepting the mantle of prophets when, in fact, we may not have been called to be prophets in that way or to that degree; living into the “protestation” when we should be submissive; and even elevating disunity as a sign of faith? Perhaps the next step for us “Protestants”, if we are to be truly reformed, is to take up the second step and come back to the Church. That may be what will finally make the Protestant Reformation truly a reformation.

it seems we’ve been

memorializing the dead for months

transcending the world of blood

like birds above the sea

some ascended in the illness of age

some in the pagan flames

of grief and treachery

and we spoke softly

weeping

our palms held flat

predicting nothing

presenting nothing

holding the vanity of our existence

like candles waiting to be lit

at the banquet feast



it seems we’ve been

crossing the river for years

like flung stones skipping

believing in stopping

just above the surface

shadows forever below

topsides forever dry

forgetting the far bank

(that beckons like doves returning with branches)

mere stones gleaming like diamonds

our eyes turned inward

our thoughts

fortresses



it seems we’ve been saying

these things since the beginning

like statues on Pacific islands

like Indus valley ruins

like snakes winding on garden trees

“Erect for yourself monuments,

for there is nobility in darkness!”

and so we cover ourselves in silk

fearing love is an enemy

singing songs to the walls

of Jericho

(April 1999)

The following is a great explanation on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist by Fr. Robert Barron:

Fr. Barron refers to the favorite scriptural passage that Catholics (and anyone who believes in the Real Presence) use to argue for the Real Presence in the Eucharist—The Gospel of St. John, chapter 6, verses 22 through 70 (NKJV):

On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone—however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks—when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?”

Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”

When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.

A common Catholic criticism of Protestantism and its legacy is that ever since the reformers opened the flood gates of their “rebellion” there has been an unstoppable and uncontrollable multiplication of claims to the truth, followed by ever increasing splits and disunity. The Protestant counter-criticism says Catholics cannot think for themselves and merely follow the Roman Church and its Pope like dumb sheep. The late Richard John Neuhaus, in his book Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth, says this about the reason to trust Christ and the Church he founded:

We obey because we trust the words of Christ to his apostles and to their successors who are the bishops in union with the bishop of Rome. We obey because the ministry of the Magisterium is the ministry of unity, and unity is part of the truth that Christ wills for his Church. The alternative to obedience is to turn the conversation into a cacophony of Christians making it up as they go along. Obedience does not come easily for there is in all of us the rebellious spirit of John Milton’s Satan, who would rather rule in hell than obey in heaven. If we will not have obedience, if we will not abide the self-discipline that is involved in sentire cum ecclesia,† then we would be well advised to make our acquaintance with the innumerable denominations and sects, or start one of our own.

Increasingly, I find Neuhaus’ argument compelling. What for so long seemed to me like the spirit of integrity appears now more and more like the spirit of rebellion. But it is so ingrained, so deeply loved, so much a part of the water we drink and air we breathe, that this rebellious spirit looks not only normative, but even honorable. I find that frightening, but not surprising. Perhaps I am mistaken. Perhaps I am merely projecting my own issues—I know some of that must be true—but I have been thinking about these things for more than twenty-seven years (since my days on the college group ministry team at a large Baptist church) that I don’t believe I am being reactionary.

I was trained to have a strong allergic reaction to words like “successors”, “bishops” and “Rome.” I was not trained to react against “Magisterium” because I’d never heard that word until recent years. Implied in all this, and what I now see more clearly, is the strong Protestant allergy to the word “obedience.” Protestantism is founded on disobedience (and so is the American spirit). Protestants will say, however, that they have merely changed their obedience from the church to the Bible, from man to God, from blindness to truth. I wish that were true, but I believe it is the popular myth animating Protestantism. I fear, and what perhaps seems clear to me now, is that Protestantism is the tangible, historical expression of “John Milton’s Satan, who would rather rule in hell than obey in heaven.” This is a very provocative thing to say, and of course any Protestant would disagree with that charge (I would have not long ago). But the disunity produced and maintained by Protestantism is a grave testimony of a turning away from Christ—at least in some significant and undeniable way. But Protestantism also provides a handy method of denial: just point your finger at everyone else, everyone not part of your denomination, or even your little local band of “believers,” and say it is they who have turned from Christ, not us.

In one way or another we all “think with the church,” or “a” church anyway, and none of us are as independent as we want to believe. We cannot help but think with a given set of ideas. I am not a Catholic, not yet anyway, but I have lived most of my life as a Protestant, and I know that Protestants are as bound and confined by traditions, presuppositions, confessions, hermeneutical methodologies, and mythologies, as anyone else. Can it be that the issue is not whether one “thinks with the church” but rather which church? If so, then which church?

Can it be that Protestantism, even in light of much that can be said to be good, and even in light of the many good Christians that populate its commonwealth, is essentially the wholesale embracing of the first century Corinthian church and its worldview—a worldview promoting factions and disunity? Remember, Paul is not calling the Corinthians apostate and declaring them non-Christian (though he comes close), rather Paul says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul loves the Corinthians, and therefore he calls them back to unity. Is it time for Protestants to be called back to unity? to obey in heaven?

But I wonder, when Paul asked the Corinthians, “Has Christ been divided?” How many said, “It’s not my fault,” and blamed the others?


† to think with the Church

The following post I originally published in 2007 on another blog. I think it is worth posting again.

I entered the University or Oregon’s film studies department (Dept. of Telecommunication and Film) in 1984. During that period I took classes from Prof. William Cadbury who, in my opinion, was a GREAT teacher and one of my favorite professors of all time. In one of his classes he handed out a booklist that I have kept with me all these years. I have re-typed it below (any misspellings are my own). There was also a classical music list, but I have not included it.

The list was created by Prof. Cadbury and his wife, the poet Maxine Scates, for her niece Tracy (hence Tracy’s Booklist), who was entering UCLA as a freshman. The list first appeared in 1980 and was then updated. This is the 2nd edition. I suppose you could say this is a book list for anyone who want’s to combine being well read and culturally intelligent. It’s not a “classical” reading list, but has a healthy dose of modern and relatively modern books.

The premise of the list is as follows:

“People are rarely told an opinion of the actual bibliography of fictions (mostly novels, a few stories), of which a cultured person in modern America is master. The following is an opinion of that bibliography. It suggests: don’t waste your time reading lesser books when you read; always have at least one book that you’re in the middle of, and usually have it be one of these. The list is divided into translations and English language originals; it is presented in full awareness of the presumption in doing so, and in the hope that the utility will override the presumption.” [from Prof. Cadbury’s introduction]

Naturally, this is a very personal list. The non-fiction section is also skewed towards the arts, which is okay by me (a critical topic for our contemporary, visually-based culture). And for myself this list represents the considered opinion of an older and wiser person who, after engaging for many years both intellectually and emotionally with college students, felt the neccessity to impart some idea of what it means to be a cultured person—not in totality, but at least a slice of that ideal.

Tracy’s Booklist: 2nd Edition

BOOKS ORIGINALLY NOT IN ENGLISH

Balzac, Honoré de: Eugénie Grandet; Old Goriot; Lost Illusions
Borges, Jorge Luis: Labyrinths
Borowski, Tadeusz: This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
Camus, Albert: The Stranger; The Plague
Cervantes, Miguel: Don Quixote
Chekhov, Anton: The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories
Colette: My Mother’s House; Sido
Condé, Maryse: Segu
Cortazar, Julio: Blow-Up
Döblin, Alfred: Berlin Alexanderplatz
Dostoyevsky, F.: The Brothers Karamozov; Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; Notes from Underground
Eco, Umberto: The Name of the Rose
Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary
Garcia Marquez, G.: 100 Years of Solitude
Kafka, Franz: The Trial; The Castle; “Metamorphosis”; “In the Penal Colony”
Levi, Primo: If Not Now, When?; The Periodic Table
Lustig, Arnost: Night and Hope; The Unloved
Mahfouz, Naguib: The Thief and the Dogs; Miramar
Malraux, André: Man’s Fate
Mann, Thomas: Death in Venice; The Magic Mountain; Joseph and His Brothers
Murasaki, Lady: The Tale of Genji
Nabakov, Vladimir: Pale Fire
Narayan, R. K.: The Financial Expert; The Man-Eater of Malgudi
Pavese, Cesare: The Moon and the Bonfire
Proust, Marcel: Remembrance of Things Past
Rulfo, Juan: Pedro Paramo
Schwartz-Bart, André: The Last of the Just
Sembene, Ousmane: God’s Bits of Wood
Stendhal: The Red and the Black; The Charterhouse of Parma
Tolstoy, Leo: War and Peace; Anna Karenina

ENGLISH LANGUAGE:

Achebe, Chinua: Things Fall Apart
Amis, Kingsley: Lucky Jim
Arnow, Harriet: The Dollmaker
Austen, Jane: Mansfield Park; Emma; Pride and Prejudice; Persuasion
Baldwin, James: Go Tell It On the Mountain; Another Country; Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone
Brontë, Charlotte: Jane Eyre
Brontë, Emily: Wuthering Heights
Brooks, Gwendolyn: Maud Martha
Carroll, Lewis: Alice in Wonderland
Cather, Willa: My Anatonia; A Lost Lady
Chandler, Raymond: The Big Sleep; The Long Goodbye
Cherryh, C. J.: “The Chanyr Saga”; the “Cyteen” books
Chopin, Kate: “The Storm” and other stories
Cisneros, Sandra: The House on Mango Street
Conrad, Joseph: Lord Jim; Heart of Darkness; Nostromo
Daley, Grace: Enormous Changes at the Last Moment
Darganyemba, Tsiti: Nervous Conditions
Dickens, Charles: Bleak House; Great Expectations; Hard Times
Eliot, George: Middlemarch
Ellison, Ralph: The Invisible Man
Emecheta, Buchi: In the Ditch
Erdrich, Louise: Love Medicine
Faulkner, William: The Sound and the Fury; Absalom, Absalom
Fielding, Joseph: Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Great Gatsby
Ford, Ford Madox: Parade’s End
Forster, E. M.: A Passage to India; Howards End
Fowles, John: The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Glasgow, Ellen: Barren Earth
Golding, William: Lord of the Flies
Gordimer, Nadin: Burgher’s Daughter; Occasion for Loving; July’s People
Green, Graham: The Heart of the Matter; Brighton Rock
Hagedorn, Jessica: Dogeaters
Hammett, Dashiel: The Thin Man
Hardy, Thomas: Tess of the D’Urbervilles; Jude the Obscure
Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter
Head, Bessie: When Rain Clouds Gather
Heller, Joseph: Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest: The Sun Also Rises
Hogan, Linda: Mean Spirit
Hurston, Zora Neale: Their Eyes Were Watching God
James, Henry: The Ambassadors; The Golden Bowl
Jen, Gish: Typical American
Jones, Gayl: Corregidora
Joyce, James: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Ulysses; Dubliners
Karbo, Karen: The Diamond Lane
Karmel, Ilona: An Estate of Memory
Kincaid, Jamaica: Annie John
Kingston, Maxine Hong: China Men
Kogawa, Joy: Obasan
Lawrence, D. H.: Sons and Lovers; Women in Love
Lessing, Doris: The Marriage Between Zone 3, 4, and 5; The Golden Notebook; Shikasta
Lesueur, Meridel: Ripening
Loge, David: Small World
Mansfield, Katharine: Collected Stories
Marshall, Paule: Brown Girl, Brown Stones; Praise Song for the Widow
McCuller, Carson: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Melville, Herman: Moby Dick
Meredith, George: The Egoist
Milne, A. A.: Winnie-the-Pooh; The House at Pooh Corner
Momada, N. Scott: House Made of Dawn
Morrison, Toni: Beloved; Sula
O’Brien, Tim: The Things They Carried
O’Connor, Flannery: Wise Blood; The Violent Bear It Away
Olson, Tillie: Tell Me A Riddle
Orwell, George: 1984
Paton, Alan: Cry the Beloved Country
Petry, Ann: The Street
Porter, Katharine Anne: Collected Stories; Ship of Fools
Pratchett, Terry: Moving Pictures
Pynchon, Thomas: Gravity’s Rainbow; V
Rhys, Jean: After Leaving Mr. MacKenzie
Roth, Phillip: Portnoy’s Complaint
Saki (H. H. Munro): The Short Stories of Saki
Salinger, J. D.: The Catcher in the Rye; Nine Stories
Schwartz, Lynne Sharon: Disturbances in the Field; Leaving Brooklyn
Scott, Sir Walter: Rob Roy; The Heart of Midlothian
Silko, Leslie Marmon: Ceremony
Singer, Isaac Bashevis: The Family Moskat; The Magic of Lublin
Stein, Gertrude: The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas; The Lives
Swift, Jonathan: Gullivers Travels
Tan, Amy: Joy Luck Club
Thackeray, William M.: Vanity Fair
Thomas, D. M.: The White Hotel
Tolkien, J. R. R.: Lord of the Rings
Toomer, Jean: Cane
Trollope, Anthony: Barchester Towers; Phineas Finn
Tutuola, Amos: The Palm-Wine Drinkard
Twain, Mark: Huckleberry Finn
Updike, John: Rabbit Run
Wachtel, Chuck: Joe the Engineer
Walker, Alice: The Color Purple; Meridian; The Short Life of Grange Copeland
Waugh, Evelyn: Vile Bodies; Brideshead Revisited
Welty, Eudora: Collected Stories
West, Nathaneal: The Day of the Locust; Miss Lonelyhearts
White, T. H.: The Sword in the Stone
Wodehouse, P. G.: Blandings Castle
Wolfe, Thomas: Look Homeward Angel
Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway; To the Lighthouse; The Waves; Orlando
Wright, Richard: Native Son
Wharton, Edith: The House of Mirth; The Age of Innocence

NON-FICTION:

Baritz, Loren: Backfire
Baxandall, Michael: Painting and Experience in 15th Century Italy
Beardsley, Monroe: Aesthetics
Berger, John: The Success and Failure of Picasso
Bernstein, Leonard: The Unanswered Question
Campbell, Joseph: The Mythic Image
Chomsky, Noam: Language and Mind; Turning the Tide
Des Pres, Terrence: The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps; Writing Into the World
Eriksen, Erik H.: Childhood and Society
Freire, Paulo: Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Frye, Northrop: Anatomy of Criticism
Gombrich, E. H.: Art and Illusion
Hacker, Andrew: Two Nations: Black and White, Separate and Unequal
Harding, Vincent: There is a River
Hauser, Arnold: The Social History of Art
Herbert,, Robert L.: Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society
Hollander, Anne: Seeing Through Clothes
Hyde, Lewis: The Gift
Jencks, Charles: Postmodernism
Johnson, Paul: The Birth of the Modern
Kegan, John: The Face of Battle; The Price of Admiralty
Kozol, Jonathan: Illiterate America; Savage Inequalities; Rachel and Her Children
Levi, Primo: Survival at Auschwitz
Monod, Jacques: Chance and Necessity
Neisser, Ulrich: Cognition and Reality
Robert, J. M.: The Pelican History of the World
Schama, Simon: Citizens
Schell, Jonathan: The Fate of the Earth
Sheehan, Neal: A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
Spiegelman, Art: Maus; Maus II
Weismann, Donald L.: The Visual Arts as Human Experience
Williams, Juan: Eyes on the Prize
Zinn, Howard: People’s History of the United States

I’ve been thinking of adding to this list myself. There are at least a few books I would consider. Suggestions are welcome.

Saint Thomas before a Crucifix

Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus,
while before Your face I humbly kneel and,
with burning soul,
pray and beseech You
to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments
of faith, hope and charity;
true contrition for my sins,
and a firm purpose of amendment.
While I contemplate,
with great love and tender pity,
Your five most precious wounds,
pondering over them within me
and calling to mind the words which David,
Your prophet, said of You, my Jesus:
“They have pierced My hands and My feet,
they have numbered all My bones.”
Amen.

[Traditional Catholic prayer.]

[This article first appeared on the Classical Conversations blog.]

If there is a question that just begs for both a “yes” and a “no” answer it is this question: Will a classical education get your child a job?”

We homeschooling parents worry about the future of our children. We want them to be successful and get married and make a difference. We imagine them with flourishing lives buoyed by a Christ-centered, classically formed educational foundation. And then we stare into the high school years and think maybe now is a good time to switch back to something more predictable, more familiar, more status quo. We want to make sure they get into a good college so they get a good job. Right? Regardless of the increasingly exorbitant cost of college and the increasingly dubious value of a college degree we still see that treadmill as the ticket to the golden fleece. But college or no college, what value does a classical education offer for the young man or woman looking for employment?

We have all heard that a classical education will help our children think better. We know that thinking well is a good thing. But truth be told, we may not fully trust that sentiment enough. Perhaps it is because we are Americans, and therefore place a high value on doing over thinking, and perhaps because we tend to believe thinking is cheap. Compared to the so-called practicality of our society’s belief in a causal relationship between education and job-getting, the seven liberal arts seem fanciful. Describing the first three (or trivium) of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric, leave most people nonplussed. The last four (or quadrivium) of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy seem a bit more practical, at least two of them do━arithmetic and geometry. But is that all? Isn’t that rather narrow? We look at that list and don’t see computer science, economics, architecture, marketing, chemistry, biology, English lit, international relations, or even basket weaving. So we get nervous.

But let’s be honest in what questions we are asking, and honest in our answers. If we are truly asking whether a classical education will get our children jobs, then the answer is no. So let’s ask another question: Will a non-classical education get our children jobs? Again, the answer is no. No education automatically guarantees anyone a job. Getting a job is a much more complex process based on what one knows, what skills one can demonstrate, how readily one can adapt to changing situations, and who one knows━plus God’s providence. (Truly, it’s all God’s providence.) We often assume, as a given, that the typical method of education (non-classical, secular, state-run) is designed to guarantee the graduate a job. We have this belief that one specializes in a particularly narrow field of study that corresponds to a specific job, and we believe that job is just sitting there waiting for the student to graduate. By implication, we think a classical education must, therefore, be a risk. This is a false assumption. Reality (and a little sanity) tells us otherwise.

Perhaps you can relate to my experience. When I finished my formal schooling I worked several entry-level jobs at very low pay that were somewhat related to my area of study. And yet, from the moment I first walked through the door of each of my employers I discovered I really didn’t know much and had to be trained from the ground up. After a few years I found I no longer worked in anything I could call “my field” or area of study. My formal education did little in terms of preparing me for the specific tasks required in the many jobs I’ve had since graduation, and eventually my education ceased to be specifically relevant at all. This is a common experience. But is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. In fact, I would argue that a good liberal arts education (of which I got a little), and ideally a classical education, is the best foundation one can have for “getting a job” and, more importantly, forging a career.

What is a job? Let’s assume that everyone might say a job is a way to earn money so one can pay bills and buy basic necessities. And let’s assume that some will say that a job is a way to fulfill one’s desires or gifts or talents. And let’s assume that even some might say a job is a way to stay out of trouble. But let’s cut to the chase and declare that a job is first (and finally) a means of serving and worshiping God. If this sounds somewhat vague it is, but only because to serve and worship God can include a lot of activities. A short list of those activities would include, but not limited to, the following:

  • Providing for the needs of self, family, and others
  • Meeting obligations, such as paying bills and keeping promises
  • Benefiting others by serving them, improving their lives, and helping them flourish
  • Creating community by living consistently according to patterns of right action
  • Communicating truth by acting in accordance with Christ’s example
  • Loving others by doing all the above (while knowing that any job is contingent on God’s providence and subject to taking up our cross every day)

We must never think of “work” as a thing by itself, but as a part of living and thus being human. Education is not for merely getting a job. Education is for glorifying God, and so is work. At this point it should be stated what we desire for our children, and why we choose a Christian, classical education, is not that they will grow up and get a job, but that they will grow up into adults who love God, and live into that love through responsible and irrepressibly good actions that show God’s love for the world. Much of the time this love will take the form of work or labor. For a Christian, then, a “mere” job is not the goal. Rather, we should seek to train up our children for their vocation.

What is a vocation? The word comes from the Latin vocātiō, which has several interesting, intertwining meanings. It can mean a summons, an invitation, a bidding, and a calling. All of these can imply the idea of following the voice that calls to us, drawing us down a path towards a journey. Perhaps that voice is God’s. We are used to attaching these kinds of meanings to religious vocations like pastoring or mission work. But a vocation can be running a landscaping business, or creating computer programs, or teaching children, or building houses, or being a nurse. A vocation can be just about anything, but a vocation is deeper than a job. On the surface the two might look similar for a while. However, beneath the surface we discover a key difference: One “gets” a job, but one “gets got” by a vocation. A vocation enters one’s soul and changes a person. Our labors, in the end, are not about what we get, rather they are about what we become. A Christian, classical education prepares the student to hear the call of vocation and be ready for where it may lead.

So what about a classical education? Will it “pay off?” The answer is yes. The two most valuable skills that a person can have in pursuing a vocation is the willingness to work hard and the ability to think well. One cannot become classically educated without hard work. Good thinking is the result of pursuing virtue, of training the mind in the pursuit of the truth. The person who can think well knows how to learn, how to educate himself, how to figure out the world around him. The good thinker also understands what it means to be human and can see the image of God in others. Specific job-related skills are important, but jobs constantly change, demands shift, technology gets updated or replaced. One must be able to grasp new ideas, take hold of new demands, and fashion workable solutions. One of the ironies of a classical education is that the student studies the past in order to be better prepared for the future. A Christian classical education prepares the student for the present as well, for it is in the present that we love our neighbor.

Finally, what about specialization? What about the child who wants to grow up and become a doctor or lawyer or software engineer? The same principles apply for these vocations as well. The doctor, lawyer, and engineer must be able to think well, be able to self-educate, and serve God by loving others. The proper path to these professions includes the preparation for specialization. The student needs a solid foundation on which to then focus within their field. Much of that focusing will come later at the required training or post-graduate college level. What will carry the student through those years will be the years previously spent learning to work hard and learning to think well. A Christian, classical education is the best kind of preparation for any vocation.

The Apostle Peter is a fascinating man in the New Testament. In the Protestant world it is common for pastors to say they love Peter because he was such a  goof-up. Peter gives us all kinds of hope that any of us can be saved. But anyone who has grown up in, or spent a lot of time in, the Protestant world and worldview knows it is Paul who is Apostle number one. There are at least two good reasons for this. One is that Paul wrote those books of the Bible that are most central for Protestants: Romans, Galatians, 1 Corinthians, etc. Second is that Protestants are wary of Peter because Catholics say the true Church founded by Christ was founded upon Peter (the rock) as the first of the apostles, as the first “pope”. Get too close to Peter and one might be tempted to think Catholics are on to something.

But Peter is a big deal. To my count Peter is mentioned in the New Testament something like 155 times, whereas the rest of the apostles combined are only mentioned around 130 times. Of course mere numbers don’t necessarily add up to importance. It’s how Peter is mentioned, what he does, what he says, what others say about him, and especially what Christ says to Peter that show Peter is the central Apostle, the key figure of the New Testament Church. As we look at the Biblical references to Peter the picture begins to fill out.

An aside: I have heard many Protestant teachings on the famous Matthew 16:18 passage where Jesus says “upon this rock I will build My church.” That passage in isolation can be taken any number of ways. But after looking at a more complete picture of Peter as the New Testament writers saw him, I must say the Roman Catholic understanding of Peter as the Rock upon which Christ will build His Church makes the most sense. In fact, even without this particular passage, the other passages below add up to the same idea. Rather than seeing the Catholic position as some kind of crazy overlay to this passage, it now seems clear to me that it is the Protestants who must come up with a better argument. So far I have not heard anything better. Of course, this makes me, an old Protestant, very curious.

Below are the New Testament references I was able to find regarding Peter. I have tried to group them a bit, and added a few of my thoughts. I have not ranked them in any particular order. I’m sure I’ve made some mistakes. All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.

Peter listed/mentioned first with the apostles

Peter being mentioned or listed first among the apostles:

Matt. 10:2  Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
Mark 1:36  Simon and his companions searched for Him;
Mark 3:16  And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter),
Luke 6:14-16  Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew;  and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Acts 2:37  Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
Acts 5:29  But Peter and the apostles answered, “ We must obey God rather than men.

Peter is first when entering upper room after our Lord’s ascension:

Acts 1:13  When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.

Peter leads the fishing and his net does not break. According to Catholics, the boat (the “barque of Peter”) is seen as a metaphor for the Church:

John 21:2-3  Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.
John 21:11  Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

Though Peter and John are both very important figures in the early church, Peter is always mentioned before John:

Luke 8:51  When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl’s father and mother.
Luke 9:28  Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
Luke 22:8  And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it.”
Acts 1:13  When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.
Acts 3:1-4  Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!”
Acts 3:3  When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms.
Acts 3:11  While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement.
Acts 4:13  Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
Acts 4:19  But Peter and John answered and said to them, “ Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge;
Acts 8:14  Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John,

Peter is mentioned first as going to mountain of transfiguration. He is also the only disciple to speak at the transfiguration:

Luke 9:28  Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
Luke 9:33  And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “ Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— not realizing what he was saying.

Peter is the first of the apostles to confess the divinity of Christ:

Matt. 16:16  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Mark 8:29  And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”
John 6:69  We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Peter ranked(?) higher than John

John arrived at the tomb first but stopped and waited for Peter. Peter then arrived and entered the tomb first:

Luke 24:12  But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.
John 20:4-6  The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there,

It is Peter that is named as the eye witness even though both Peter and John had seen the risen Jesus the previous hour:

Luke 24:34  saying, “ The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.”

Peter seen as the Leader of the Apostles

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks Peter, and no one else, why he was asleep. It would seem Peter is held accountable, on behalf of the apostles, for their actions:

Mark 14:37  And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?

Peter is designated (called out) by an angel as unique among the apostles:

Mark 16:7  But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘ He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’”

Peter receiving Special Instruction and Revelation

Peter alone is told he has received special, divine revelation from God the Father:

Matt. 16:17  And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Jesus instructs the disciples by specifically instructing Peter to let down their nets for a catch. Peter specifically is told he will be a “fisher of men”:

Luke 5:4,10  When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch… and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “ Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”

Peter speaking/Asking on Behalf of the Disciples

Peter asks Jesus about the rule of forgiveness. Peter frequently takes a leadership role among the apostles in seeking understanding of Jesus’ teachings:

Matt. 18:21  Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Peter speaks on behalf of the apostles by telling Jesus that they have left everything to follow Him:

Matt. 19:27  Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”

Peter speaks for the disciples on their following Jesus:

Mark 10:28  Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”

Peter speaks for the disciples about their witnessing Jesus’ curse on the fig tree:

Mark 11:21  Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “ Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.”

Peter functions as the spokesman or representative (or vicar, to use popular a Catholic term) for Jesus:

Matt. 17:24-25  When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” He *said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?”

When Jesus asked who touched His garment, it is Peter who answers:

Luke 8:45  And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.”

It is Peter who seeks clarification of a parable on behalf on the disciples:

Luke 12:41  Peter said, “Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?”

After many of the disciples leave Jesus, it is Peter who speaks on behalf of the remaining disciples and confesses their belief in Christ after the Eucharistic discourse:

John 6:68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.

Peter as Christ’s Representative on Earth

Protestants debate this, but it would seems that Jesus builds the Church primarily (only?) on Peter, the rock:

Matt. 16:18  I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

Only Peter receives the keys of the kingdom of heaven:

Matt. 16:19  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

Peter, by paying the tax for both Jesus and himself, is acting Christ’s “representative” on earth:

Matt. 17:26-27  When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”

Peter given charge/care of the other disciples

Jesus prays specifically for Peter, that his faith may not fail, and charges him to strengthen the rest of the apostles:

Luke 22:31-32  “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

In front of the apostles, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus “more than these,” which likely refers to the other apostles. Peter has a special role regarding the apostles:

John 21:15  So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”

Jesus charges Peter to “feed my lambs,” “tend my sheep,” “feed my sheep.” Sheep appears to mean all people (or all believers), including the apostles:

John 21:15-17  So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “ Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “ Tend My sheep.

Peter Leading the Early Church

Peter initiates the selection of a successor to Judas immediately after Jesus ascended into heaven. Note: This passage also supports (or establishes) the concept of apostolic succession:

Acts 1:15  At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said,

Peter is the first apostle to preach the Gospel:

Acts 2:14  But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words.

Peter is the first to preach on repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ:

Acts 2:38  Peter said to them, “ Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Peter performs the first healing miracle of the apostles:

Acts 3:6-7  But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.

Peter is the first to teach that there is no salvation other than through Christ:

Acts 3:12-26  But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Moses said, ‘ The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘ And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

Acts 4:8-12  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Peter resolves the first doctrinal issue on circumcision at the Church’s first council at Jerusalem, and no one questions him. After Peter the Papa spoke, all were kept silent:

Acts 15:7-12  After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

Only after Peter finishes speaking do Paul and Barnabas speak in support of Peter’s definitive teaching:

Acts 15:12  All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

The church prayed for Peter while he was in prison:

Acts 12:5  So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.

Peter acts as the chief elder (or bishop?) by exhorting all the other elders of the Church:

1 Peter 5:1  Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,

Peter brings the Gospel to the Gentiles

Peter is first Apostle to teach that salvation is for all, both Jews and Gentiles:

Acts 10:34-48 Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)— you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “ Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.

Acts 11:1-18  Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, saying, “ You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence, saying, “ I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me, and when I had fixed my gaze on it and was observing it I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the crawling creatures and the birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘ What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’ This happened three times, and everything was drawn back up into the sky. And behold, at that moment three men appeared at the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from Caesarea. The Spirit told me to go with them [m] without misgivings. These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man’s house. And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘ John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

Peter binds and looses

Peter exercises his binding authority by declaring the first anathema of Ananias and Sapphira (which is ratified by God):

Acts 5:3  But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?

Peter again exercises his binding and loosing authority by casting judgment on Simon’s quest for gaining authority through the laying on of hands:

Acts 8:20-23  But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”

Peter heals others

Peter’s own shadow has healing power:

Acts 5:15  to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them.

Peter is mentioned first among the apostles and works the healing of Aeneas:

Acts 9:32-34  Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed.” Immediately he got up.

Peter is mentioned first among the apostles and raises Tabitha from the dead:

Acts 9:38-40  Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Do not delay in coming to us.” So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “ Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

Angels are active in Peter’s life and ministry

Cornelius is told by an angel to call upon Peter. Peter was granted this divine vision:

Acts 10:5  Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter;

Peter is freed from jail by an angel. He is the first Apostle to receive direct divine intervention:

Acts 12:6-11  On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

Other Apostles Testify to Peter’s Teaching and Leadership

James speaks to acknowledge Peter’s definitive teaching. “Simeon” is a reference to Peter:

Acts 15:13-14  After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.

Paul says he doesn’t want to build on “another man’s foundation” which may refer to Peter and the church Peter may have built in Rome:

Rom. 15:20  And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation;

Paul distinguishes Peter from the rest of the apostles and brethren:

1 Cor. 9:5  Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?

Paul distinguishes Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to Peter from those of the other apostles:

1 Cor. 15:4-8  and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

Paul spends fifteen days with Peter privately before beginning his ministry. This comes even after Christ’s revelation to Paul. Paul needed Peter’s acceptance and blessing:

Gal. 1:18  Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.

Interesting

Peter is the only man to walk on water other than Christ:

Matt. 14:28-29  Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Jesus teaches from Peter’s boat. The boat may be a metaphor for the Church, the so-called “barque of Peter”:

Luke 5:3  And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.

Peter speaks out to the Lord in front of the apostles concerning the washing of feet:

John 13:6-9  So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “ If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.”

Only Peter got out of the boat and ran to the shore to meet Jesus:

John 21:7  Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea.

Jesus predicts Peter’s death:

John 13:36  Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “ Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.”
John 21:18  Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.”

Peter is mentioned first in conferring the sacrament of confirmation:

Acts 8:14  Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John,

Peter was most likely in Rome. “Babylon” was often used as a code word for Rome:

1 Peter 5:13  She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.

Peter writes about Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s death:

2 Peter 1:14  knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.

Peter makes a judgement of Paul’s letters:

2 Peter 3:16  as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Peter was the first among the Apostles, perhaps struggled with that position at times, but proved to be the servant of all:

Matt. 23:11  But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
Mark 9:35  Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “ If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
Mark 10:44  and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.

The following verses are from the King James Bible.

Numbers 23:22
God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.

Numbers 24:8
God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.

Deuteronomy 33:17
His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.

Job 39:9
Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?

Job 39:10
Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?

Psalm 22:21
Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

Psalm 29:6
He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

Psalm 92:10
But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.

Isaiah 34:7
And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.

The following verses are from the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition.

Psalm 21:22
Save me from the lion’s mouth; and my lowness from the horns of the unicorns.

Psalm 28:6
And shall reduce them to pieces, as a calf of Libanus, and as the beloved son of unicorns.

Psalm 77:69
And he built his sanctuary as of unicorns, in the land which he founded for ever.

Psalm 91:11
But my horn shall be exalted like that of the unicorn: and my old age in plentiful mercy.

Isaiah 34:7
And the unicorns shall go down with them, and the bulls with the mighty: their land shall be soaked with blood, and their ground with the fat of fat ones.

Maybe…

…unicorns refer to a real but mysterious animal in existence? The Hebrew word re’em was translated as monokeros (Greek Septuagint) which was translated as unicornis (Latin Vulgate) which was translated as unicorn in English. Unicorn is “one horn.” Then consider the Latin rhinoceros, from Ancient Greek ῥινόκερως (rhinokerōs), composed of ῥίς (rhis, “nose”) + κέρας (kéras, “horn”). Maybe monokeros and rhinokeros are really referring to the same beast. Interesting.

Unicorns do exist!

Men need to believe that glory is possible. Belief (in the depths of their souls) that true glory is not possible, that glory was always a myth in which they can no longer legitimately believe, produces much of the malaise of modern man. This man—expressing that malaise in sloppy dress, banal rituals, perpetual adolescence, and constantly sought after distractions—has lost the compass of his nature. But man is made for glory, both temporal and eternal. He loses all hope if genuine glory is merely the ghost of ancient fantasies. Recovering the truth of glory is a critical principle of educating boys.