“Miracles” of the Prophet

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In 2012, a news broke out in the Nigerian media: “Woman gives birth to Baby holding a Quran!” It was a dawah score point on social media.

Pictures later showed that this Quran was bigger than the baby’s arm. Muslims explained that the book miraculously became bigger than the baby’s fists shortly after birth. Months later, another baby was born with an Islamic rosary hung around his neck.

Though few institutions investigate such stories and claims in Nigeria, many people are smart enough to spot tall tales.

But as it’s often the case with staged “miracles”, what comes out as fake to reasoning people is just the opium a Muslim needs to make it through another week.

In 2013, there was another news about apparitions of three dead Muslim clerics on a mosque wall.

Thousands thronged there with “women wailing, men bowing in reverential worship and some pressing bottles of water at the apparition hoping to siphon some blessing,” as reported. Thankfully, not many Muslims bought this one. It was too spurious to cuddle up to.

The images purported to have appeared were Algerian, Senegalese and Nigerian sheikhs who lived in the 18th, 19th and 20th century respectively.

It takes a Muslim (“one who has submitted”) to see faces of dead unknown dudes on a capillary action of a mosque’s wall!

A similar case occurred in Russia in 2009 when a tattoo of Quranic verses “suddenly appeared” on a Muslim baby. Muslim clergymen promptly debunked this “miracle” as tattoos were against Islamic teachings.

Indeed, these stories are meant to lend a supernatural voice to Islam in a Christian-dominated environment where miracles abound.

However, in the absence of real miracles, Muslims resort to tricks, voodoo and wild claims. Such stories would be useful to them as a prop to support their beliefs (or lack of it).

I logged on to an Islamic miracle website sometime ago, and laughter blew me out of my socks. They had pictures of a rock bowing in worship, a tree in prayer position, mosques surviving a Tsunami and bees forming the name “Allah.”

That’s not all. Allah’s name has also been seen on clouds, plants, boiled meat, water melon, an oscar fish, a lamb, the ocean and the moon. These are the islamic miracles – seeing “signs” on bugs, birds and trees.

I saw a picture of a cow on which Muhammad’s name in Arabic appeared. They said the cow doesn’t moo like other cows, it sounds “omuu…omuu.” Let me complete it “Muuhaaaamaaad!”

Notice also the racist undertones. These names always appear in Arabic as if that is the only language on earth.

If these are the best Muslims can offer at the religious marketplace, then they need to upgrade their package.

A miracle, according to Islam, is a supernatural intervention in the life of human beings. Miracles should impact humans in real, verifiable ways – the blind seeing, the lame walking, the leprous being cleansed, the sick being healed. When these start to happen in Islam, then we can take the discussion higher.

This is even based on the premise that miracles were experienced by Muhammad himself and were promised to continue in our day. But such notions find no support from Islamic sources.

When Muhammad told the Jews and Christians that he was a prophet of God and foretold in the Torah and Gospel (Q7:157), they demanded signs/miracles or prophecies as proof of his prophethood.

Some of Muhammad’s responses to them are in the Quran:

They say ‘why has a sign not been sent down upon him from his Lord? Say ‘the unseen belongs only to God. Then watch and wait; I shall be with you watching and waiting.” (10:20)

The unbelievers say ‘Why has a sign not been sent down upon him from his Lord? Thou art only a warner and a guide to every people.” (13:7)

And they say, why are not signs, miracles sent down to him from his Lord? Say: O Muhammad, the signs are only with Allah and I am only a plain warner.” (29:50)

The Jews knew what they were asking for. In the Hebrew Scriptures, God laid down criteria by which they could identify a true prophet – he must have a sign/miracle (Ex. 4:1) and give accurate prophecies (Dt. 18:22).

Since Muhammad had no supernatural proof, he changed his narratives:

And they that know not say why does God not speak to us? Why does a sign not come to us? So spoke those before them as these men say: their hearts are much alike. Yet We have made clear signs unto a people who are sure.” (2:118)

They also say why has no sign been sent down upon him from his Lord? Say ‘surely God is able to send down a sign but most of them know not.” (6:37)

By repeatedly making references to “clear signs,” Muhammad was employing a psychological weapon by which people would tend to accept that there were indeed “clear signs” even though they weren’t seeing anything.

So, rather than proving himself, he conveniently blamed his critics for being ignorant and “blind” to his “clear signs.”

In the absence of miracles, Muhammad claimed his recitations was his “miracle.” This is significant, because the Hadiths (compiled 250 years later) present Muhammad doing all sorts of miracles he admitted he couldn’t do in the Quran.

While this contradiction constitutes a problem to Muslims (who have to choose which to cling to) they are quite understandable.

The hadithic miracles were made up to redeem Muhammad’s inferior image in contrast with the Jewish prophets and the Lord Jesus. Muslims tried to re-make him into a superhuman or a deity in human clothes.

Islamic scholar, Ali Dashti, commenting on Muslims fed with these legends said:

“But if they were to read the Qor’an, they would be surprised to find no report of a miracle in it at all. They would learn from twenty or more Qor’anic passages that whenever the Prophet Mohammad was asked by doubters to perform a miracle, he either stayed silent or said that he would not do so because he was a human being like any other, with no function except to communicate, to be a ‘bringer of good news and a warner” (23 Years: A Prophetic Career of Mohammed, 1985, p. 38).

While the Quran seems to give us the earlier views about Muhammad, the Hadiths present to us, the legends concocted later by Muslims who, in discussing with Jews, Christians and pagans, realized that their own emperor had no clothes on.

Let’s examine some of these miracles (All quotes are from the Bukhari hadith).

(a) Splitting the Moon

When the Meccans asked Muhammad to do a miracle to prove his prophethood, he simply splitted the moon in half saying “bear witness [to this]” (4:830).

The illiterate who forged this story thought the moon was like the size of a football which could be sliced (probably with a sword). He also didn’t know that the same moon seen in Arabia is also seen all over the earth.

If there was ever a splitted moon at any time in history, the rest of the world wouldn’t be oblivious of it. At least the annals of nations like the Chinese, Persians, Aztecs etc (who were experts at Astronomy) would make mention of it.

Today, we know the idea of splitting the moon is stupid. How can someone on earth split another planet? If such a phenomenon takes place, the two pieces of the moon will hit the earth and all life may disappear on this planet for at least a 1000 years.

Now, why didn’t the Meccans believe in Muhammad after witnessing this “miracle” if it was true? Why did he have to force them into Islam? Wasn’t a splitted moon enough to convince a 7th century doubter?

(b) Finger spring

On one occasion when the Muslims needed water for ablution and couldn’t find any, Muhammad called for a pot and made water flow out of his fingernails into the pot until they all had the water they needed (1:170).

If Muhammad had been a farmer he wouldn’t have spent a dime on sprinklers.

How many people used this water? A place says 70 people (4:774). Another says it’s 80 (4:775). Another says 300 (4:772), then others say 1,500 (4:776).

The more this “miracle” was narrated, the bigger the numbers got.

(c) Multiplying bread

Muhammad had little bread for hungry people so he recited some words into it and the bread multiplied. The people came around until about 80 people ate to their fill (4:778).

It makes one wonder why Muhammad resorted to looting merchant caravans in Medina if he had this power. This miracle was copied from Jesus Christ.

(d) Multiplying dates

A Muslim said his father died with debts unpaid and the creditors were arounds, o Muhammad reportedly multiplied several heaps of dates for him to cover the debt (4:780).

This miracle was poorly copied from prophet Elisha’s in the Bible (2Kgs. 4).

(e) The crying Palm tree

When Muhammad used a pulpit to preach instead of standing beneath a palm tree, the tree began to cry like a baby. Muhammad then left his pulpit and went to embrace the trunk of the tree until it stopped crying (4:784).

Hush little baby do not cry…

(f) Wind prophecy

Using the number of fruits in a woman’s garden, Muhammad was said to predict that a strong wind was going to blow and warned people to prepare for it. One man didn’t heed his warning and was blown away to a mountain called Taiy (2:559).

(g) Healing spit

A man with eye trouble was cured when Muhammad spat in his eyes (4:192). Another miracle poorly copied from Jesus Christ.

(h) The Miraj

Muhammad went on an astral night journey to Jerusalem riding on a flying camel. He also went through 7 heavens where he talked with Adam, Moses, Enoch, Jesus and Abraham (5:147; 1:213).

He finally got to Allah and was told to pray 50 times daily, but he sought a way to reduce it to 5 times (that’s why Muslims pray 5 times daily). So much for Islamic submission to Allah’s dictates.

This was probably borrowed from a Zoroastrian legend of Arta Namak who was taken by an angel to heaven to see fantastic sights and returned to earth.

i) Shouting foods

It was said “we heard the meal glorifying Allah when it was eaten [by Allah’s apostle]” (4:779).

I’m trying to picture a man sitting down calmly and eating a slice of bread with sultry lips saying: “Yah Allah, he’s eating me!”

(j) Tying Satan up

One day, Satan came and stood before Muhammad to interrupt his prayer, but he overpowered him, choked him and even thought of tying him to one of the pillars of the mosque till morning for people to see, but he changed his mind and let Satan go (2:22:301).

This is just as silly as stoning a spirit with pebbles during the hajj.

k) The Drought maker

When the tribes of Mudar refused to accept Muhammad as Allah’s prophet, he cursed them in prayer that drought and famine would destroy them for 7 years. Within a year the people were reduced to eating carcasses and rotten dead animals (2:120).

Come to think of it, if Muhammad could really lock up the sky, he wouldn’t have launched any jihad. All he needed to do to silence the Jews, Christians and pagans asking for a sign was to display this.

l) Miracle spittle

Muhammad spat into a dry well and it filled with enough water to satisfy 1,400 men and their camels (4:777).

m) Healing spells

He allegedly healed snake bites, scorpion stings and different illnesses by waving his hand over the wound, reciting the Quran or applying his spit to the wound (7:637-638).

This were pagan practices prevalent in his time. If he had these powers, how come he died from the effect of a poisoned meat?

One account said this poisoned meat spoke out and asked not to be eaten, but the old prophet had “a longer throat” as we called it in Nigeria. By attributing Arab pagan abilities to Muhammad, the hadiths ended up with a chimeric Muhammad – mixture of a prophet, apostle and a pagan shaman.

Islamic scholar, Alfred Guillaume explains:

“There are good reasons for believing that deliberate imitation was resorted to for the reasons already given, and because the ashabu-l-hadith did not stop at ascribing the works of Christ to their prophet. His words and those of his apostles are freely drawn on and put into the mouth of Muhammad” (The Traditions of Islam, London: 1924, 138).

Some Muslims still attempt to fabricate “prophecies” for their guru from the Quran. For example:

I. The preservation of Pharaoh’s body

“What, Now! When previously you [Pharaoh] rebelled and were one of the corrupters? Today we will preserve your body so you can be a sign for people who come after you. Surely many people are heedless of Our signs.” (Sura 10:91-92)

Modern Muslims claim this “prophecy” is fulfilled because a Pharaoh’s body is preserved in the Egyptian museum in Cairo. But Quranic commentators say:

“Some of the children of Israel doubted the death of Firawn [Pharaoh] so Allah commanded the sea to throw his body – whole without a soul – with his known armour plate. The body was thrown to a high place on the kind so that the children of Israel could confirm his death and destruction” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir 10:90-93).

Thus, this “sign” was only for the doubting Jews, not for future generations.

Aside this, the breastplate is supposed to be an identification mark, but does the pharaoh mummy in Cairo have this identity? Has it been identified as the same pharaoh who drowned at sea?

Muslims don’t seem to realize that the title “pharaoh” is a general one just like the title “king.” This is not a miracle, it’s propaganda mush.

II. The “prophecy” of Space exploration

“O assembly of jinn and men! If you are able to pass beyond the zones of heavens and the earth, then pass beyond (there)! But you will never be able to pass them except with authority (from Allah) (Sura 55:33).

Muslims claim this was fulfilled when man explored and visited the space in 1969. But this verse actually refers to the day of judgement not space exploration.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir explains it: “You will never be able to escape Allah’s orders and decrees, because it encompasses you. You will never be able to avoid or avert His rule and judgement over you.”

Maududi gives the same explanation of Tafthim 55:33, so the Muslim trope is simply a house of cards.

Islamic miracles are based on frauds since its foundations are based on myths.

“Present your case’, says the LORD, ‘Set forth your arguments’ …Bring in your idols to tell us what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were so that we may consider them…” (Isa. 41:21-22).

This is God’s challenge to false gods and false prophets. Muhammad, his deity and the religion he left behind, flunked this test.

A Call for Discernment


We are living in an age of rapid technological changes, scientific advancement – an Information Age. We have access to more Bible study tools, historical records and critical works, yet ignorance and deception seem to be more entrenched.

Recently, I saw a video from the Liberation City church in Lagos, Nigeria in which the congregation listened with rapt attention to a lady as she reeled out “confessions” in melodramatic tones:

I am an agent from the 3rd heavens! … We penetrate through the earth [and] bring you to the devil through [the] Internet. Have you not seen us before? Don’t you hear people like Beyonce, Rihanna, Jay Z, all of them … they are worshipping us … I am Baphomet, yes! The god of the Illuminati, that is what I am … Jay Z is our king.”

What particularly amused me was the pastor’s response:

We command the spirit of Illuminati, perish! in the name of Jesus! We break all the Illuminati network in Nigeria!” The congregation replied with a loud “Amen!”

Unfortunately in some church circles today, once you claim to be an ex-Baphomet, a reincarnated Michael Jackson, or an alien from the 7th heaven, the congregation will loll out their tongues at whatever you say. You can even crank out a DVD and earn a fortune. We are just as prone to falsehood as those in the 16th century, and this is not restricted to Africa.

In the spring of 2005, hundreds of people rushed to pray to an “image of Mary” that supposedly appeared on a bridge pillar in Chicago. They didn’t even stop to consider that the “image” was actually a salt stain on the concrete.

Truly, there are natural limits to everything except human stupidity. Something in our fallen nature always wants us to think we have found a truth that others have never found, and makes us feel “superior” for discovering it. It worked in Eden and it still works today.

In this age of deception, we really need discernment to spot truth from falsehood.

The word “discernment” is from two Greek words, anakrino, meaning to examine or judge closely, and diakrino, to separate out, investigate and to examine.

Hebrews 5:14 says: “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thess. 5:16-17)

While we are not to instantly dismiss revelations or truth clams, we are not to blindly accept them either. We have to first critically examine and investigate them because:

(a) Satan always works through deception. He uses false teachings, false miracles, false holiness and false supernatural experiences to lead Christians astray.

He masquerades as an angel of light and he knows the human race too well. We are only gullible at our own peril. As R. A. Torrey said, “The ancient serpent is more dangerous than the roaring lion.”

(b) There is deception even in the church. The Lord Jesus warned: “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Mt 24:4). The term “Take heed” can be likened to walking through a street full of crooks while you have many diamonds on you.

The bible says “there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them” (2 Pet. 2:1).

(c) Heresies gain strength by number and fame. Someone with large followership can go to a website or book authored by a heretic, glean its contents uncritically and dish it to others as a “revelation” and the cycle continues.

This is why we must “prove all things, hold on to the good” and not become slaves of men by blindly swallowing everything we hear or read (1Thess. 5:21).

Exercising discernment is distinct from the gift of discerning of spirits – which is a supernatural insight into the spirit realm by the Holy Spirit. If you have this gift, for example, and you walk into a house that is demonically infested, you might sense (or see) it in your spirit.

The discernment I’m speaking of is not a gift, but a duty of every believer to examine and judge what is being presented to him/her.

I will cite just 3 case studies of why this is important.

#1. “[God] said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him – for we can prevent Him if we choose – He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we can not now imagine” (Beyond Personality, 1945, 48)

The above quote (teaching deification of man) is from a man acclaimed to be a great Christian apologist, Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963).

It was through this man’s pen that one of the most pagan-laden fiction stories in the 20th century fell into the hands of thousands of children – The Chronicles of Narnia.

“In all praise of Lewis’s superlative value as a Christian apologist” writes Loren Wilkinson “not much is said about his cautious defense of paganism. The old pagan world is implicit in nearly all of his fiction – from the thinly disguised (but wonderfully baptized) Norse and Celtic world of Narnia, to the ancient myth of Cupid and Psyche in Till We Have Faces, to the Greek-god-like oyarsu in the Space Triology.”

His sympathetic views of paganism is hinted at in Surprised by Joy where he wrote:

“Sometimes I can almost think I was sent back to the false gods there to acquire some capacity for worship against the day when the true God should reveal to me Himself” (Christianity Today, Nov. 15, 1999, 54).

But this is condemned by Scripture(Dt. 12:30).

C. S. Lewis also believed “there are people in other religions who being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it” (Mere Christianity, 1952, p. 176)

This is a form of universalism. According to his biography, Lewis went regularly for confession; believed in purgatory; prayed for the dead and received the last rites in 1963 – which was given only to Catholics at the time (A Biography, 54, 198, 301).

Interestingly, Clive Lewis is hailed today as a “patron saint” of evangelical orthodoxy and many quote him without mentioning his poisonous heresies.

#2. “What God really is, is God manifest himself – herself – itself through your breath, through your conscience and through your intuition. As long as you have that, you have the presence of God and you also have the power…”

This quote is from Oprah Winfrey, the famous TV talk show host, whom the USA Today called “America’s pastor” and “today’s Billy Graham.”

One striking thing about this woman is her ability to make the most deadly occult/New Age beliefs sound “Christian” to her audience who hang on her every word. On her final TV show, she made a reference to God saying:

“I’m talking about the same one you are talking about. I’m talking about Alpha and Omega, the Omniscient, the Omnipresent, the Ultimate Consciousness, the Source, the Force, the All of everything there is, the One and Only G-O-D” (The Atlantic, May 2011).

Don’t let the Biblical terms she used sidetrack you, her “God” is the pantheist god of the New Age – the Force.

She was raised a Baptist but in her 20s, she heard the pastor say that God is a jealous God. “I asked ‘Why? Come on-let’s get over it!” she said “That’s when I started exploring taking God out of the box, out of the pew.” She now declares “I believe in the FORCE – I call it God” (The Gospel According to Oprah, July, 1998).

She was quoted saying “one of the biggest mistake humans make is to believe that there is only one way. Actually, there are many diverse paths leading to what you call God.” Sorry ma’am that’s one of the biggest lie from the pit (Jn. 14:6).

When someone in her audience identified her as a New Ager, she was upset:

“I am not new age anything and I resent being called that. I am just trying to open a door so that people can see themselves more clearly and perhaps be the light to get them to God, whatever they may call that. I don’t see spirits in the trees and I don’t sit in the room with crystals.”

Though she brushes off the New Age label, her philosophy evinces it. In her visit to Standford University Memorial church in April 2015, she led over 1,000 members in an occult meditation:

“Close your eyes for a moment, will you please breathe with me … put your thumb to your middle finger and gather your other fingers around, and let’s feel the vibration and pulse of your personal energy as you take three deep breathe with me” (Charisma News, 29/04).

Most of the guests on her show were New Agers/pagans/shamans and the books she promotes are New Age to the core. She promoted Deepak Chopra’s The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success (“In reality, we are divinity in disguise, and the gods and goddesses in embryo that are contained within us seek to be fully materialized” p. 3).

She promoted John Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus. Gray was a secretary to Hindu guru, Maharishi Yogi and earned degrees in an occult university.

She promoted Esther Hick’s The Law of Attraction (who also channeled her “spiritual teachers” on her show) and Rhonda Byrne’s New age work, The Secret (“You are a God in a physical body” p. 164).

Sadly many Christians are embracing the concepts in these books.

# 3. “Heaven is so Real is our Lord Jesus’ end time book. He only used my body to write this book … He is letting people know what it takes to enter His kingdom, through this book.”

This quote is from Heaven is So Real by Choo Thomas (1934-2013). The book was about her visions of Jesus, heaven and other end-time themes. The problem with the above quote is this: there is only one end-time Book that tells us what it takes to enter God’s kingdom and that is the Bible.

By claiming her book serves this purpose and that Jesus “used her body” to write it, she is trying to elevate it to the level of inspired Scripture. This is a heresy.

The YouTube version shows Choo rocking back and forth as she speaks in a trance-like language, describing her visions. She said the Holy Spirit makes her stomach hurt as if she is going to explode, so she has to rock back and forth to ease the pain.

There was also a chant-like New Age music playing in the background, which the screen caption indicated “Holy Songs Sung by Choo Thomas.” (She also performs holy dances, to “release the presence of the Spirit”).

Describing Jesus’ visits she said:

Just before He visits each time, my earthly body quivers and quakes for at least twenty minutes … my body shakes and my stomach tightens. Deep groans emerge from my spirit, and I perspire profusely.”

During the night … my body shook more violently than it ever had. I was almost hurled from the bed because it was so forceful. I tried to grab the sheet to steady myself, but I couldn’t because I had no control over my body… and I grew afraid.” (p 17).

He stood before me with His hands stretched out in the form of a cross. As before, my body responded by stretching out, and it took the shape of a cross. The power was so heavy that I felt I would die” (p. 164).

I can’t find anyone in Scripture being so treated by Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

Her visions followed a fixed routine: shaking, falling into trance and walking with “Jesus” on a beach. He said to her:

“You have a special heart and that is why I answer your prayers … your heart is pure” (p. 16).

“[You are] the most fortunate individual who had ever existed” (p. 65).

“I will make you famous” (p. 70). To be sure, her Jesus placed a “beautiful crown” on her head. (p 21 ).

She said: “He took me to His throne and directed me to sit on a chair next to Him” and they ate fruits and drank from a pond (p. 61). Such ego trip.

On pg. 126, she says her Jesus “seemed light-hearted than usual and very talkative.” She speaks of a purgatory-like “barren lifeless place” near hell where disobedient Christians will stay forever (p. 46); an ocean of “Jesus’ filthy blood” mixed with our sins (p. 29) and even saw the faces of demons flying behind the head of her “Jesus!” (p. 158).

While her book did say some positive things, it teaches a false Christ and a false spirit. She also somersaulted Bible verses to cement her demonic deception.

Many Christians are not discerning because:

1. The influence of modern “positive” Christianity has conditioned them to focus only on “gospel goodies” and leave out doctrine. Whereas the Bible commands us to “Contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

This is because certain false teachers have slipped into the Christian fold (Jude 3-4).

2. They don’t feed on a solid spiritual meat of the Word, which is necessary for spiritual discernment. We must not wait for others to spoonfeed us the Bible. We are to feed on it ourselves, study it and learn how to rightly divide it (2 Tim. 2:15)

3. They have been taught to think it’s wrong to hurt other people’s feelings by exposing heresies.

They cite Matthew 7:1 saying “do not judge.” In context, Matt. 7:1-5, says we are not to judge others for what we are guilty of. In vs. 6, Jesus judges certain people as “dogs and pigs.”

He also says we are to judge lives and teachings: “Beware of false prophets … by their fruits [lives] ye shall know them” (Mt. 7:15-16).

4. Many are sidetracked by outward appearances or spiritual gifts (Jn. 7:24). A person is not doctrinally right just because he quotes Scripture, appears to be good or has miracles in his ministry. Many false teachers fool people with charisma and smooth cliches. Look at the fruits, not the gifts.

Papal Primacy or Papal Mania?

The pope is so ingrained in the Catholic mind that they can’t imagine their religion without him. I call it pope mania. It is a presuppositional view that makes Catholics see their pope everywhere – in Scripture and history – even though he is absent. It’s like the saying, “Once you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Nowadays, Roman Catholicism has replaced the term “papal” or “papacy” with “Peter’s successor” or “the Petrine ministry” so as to closely identify the pope with apostle Peter.

The snag is that the actual teachings and lifestyle of Peter in Acts and the Epistles feature very little in the Catholic doctrinal system. This is like erecting a huge structure in Peter’s name and dumping his teachings into a nearby pit.

The idea that the pope got from Peter a “full, supreme and universal power over the whole church” – papal primacy – though thrown around, is challengeable on several levels:

i) The idea of a centralized, pyramidal authority is foreign to the New Testament. Jesus said “For one is your master; and all you are brethren” (Matt. 23:8). If Peter was the pope, and his church alone had Christ’s validation, Jesus would have denounced the non-apostles proclaiming His name, but He didn’t (Mk. 9:38).

ii) When the church in Samaria started “the apostles in Jerusalem…sent Peter and John” to them (Acts 8:14). If Peter was a pope, he would have been the Supreme Pontiff of Jerusalem, sending the apostles not being sent by them.

iii) The antagonistic Jews identified apostle Paul as “the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law” (Acts 21:28). If Peter was the “Prince of the Apostles,” the enemies of Christ would have majored their attacks at him or make a reference to him.

iv) In the Corinthian church dispute, Paul brings himself, Apollos and Peter on the same footing (1Cor. 1:12). If Peter was exercising supreme authority over the church, Paul would have made this clear. Rather, he said “I consider myself not inferior to the most eminent apostles” (1Cor. 11:5). There was simply no Petrine primacy.

v) Speaking of Peter’s position in the early church, Paul wrote that he was among those “reputed to be pillars” (Gal. 2:9). Notice the plurality (pillars) used. There was not a single pillar in the church, and Peter was reputed so. Why did Paul use this term if everyone believed Christ had given Peter primacy?

vi) When Paul was converted, Christ didn’t send him to Peter to be instructed or have his apostleship legitimised. If Peter was the “Chief Apostle” why did Christ bypass him and instead sent Paul to Ananias? Paul didn’t even consult with any apostle before his missionary journey (Gal. 2:6). Barnabas – not Peter – was the one who confirmed his conversion to the church.

vii) The gathering of the apostles in Jerusalem shows that the NT leadership was a power-sharing, collective one. Both the elders and apostles were present at the council (Acts 15:6, 23). Peter, Paul, Barnabas gave their speeches; James gave the final sentence and the whole church was involved in choosing the delegates (v 25-27). No Petrine primacy there.

viii) The Epistles (Eph. 4:11-12 and 1Cor. 12:28-29, 1, 2 Timothy and Titus) mentioned church offices and ministries, without a single reference to a “Petrine ministry” or “papacy.” This is a strange omission if the papacy was the highest office attainable.

ix) The book of Hebrews talks extensively about authority and the priesthood, yet says nothing about a Petrine ministry. A Catholic scholar says this letter was addressed to a first century congregation in Rome (Raymond Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, 1997, 697). The letter was addressed to the Hebrew Christians – not to a pope or bishop in Rome.

x) It seems Paul had more primacy than Peter. He was the only apostle who publicly rebuked and corrected another apostle (Gal. 2:11); was the first apostle taken to heaven to receive a revelation (2Cor. 12:1-4) and whose teachings had deeper insights that even Peter admitted they were “hard to understand” (2Pet. 3:15).

Early Church History

In his debate with Dave Hunt, Catholic apologist, Karl Keating, tried to prove papal primacy from patristic writings saying:

Clement, writing in the year 96 is exercising that primacy. Here is what happened … The Corinthians in 96 appealed to the bishop of Rome, Clement, to resolve some dispute. He sent them a letter. We still have it.”

Clement was a Roman bishop who sent a letter to the Corinthian church. Catholic scholar, Joseph Kelly, notes that this “was a letter of remonstrance addressed c. 96 to the church at Corinth (where fierce dissensions had broken out and some presbyters had been deposed) which Clement probably drafted as the leading presbyter.”

He never wrote as a pope. His letter was not a papal letter, but a letter from the church at Rome.

Keating claims Clement was “exercising his primacy” but Joseph Kelly points out that: “While Clement’s position as a leading presbyter and spokesman of the Christian community is assured, his letter suggests that the monarchial episcopate had not yet emerged there, and it is therefore impossible to form any precise conception of his constitutional role” (The Concise Dictionary of Early Christianity, 1992, 8).

Clement’s letter showed that a plurality of elders – not a monarchial episcopate – existed in Rome. Throughout his letter he used the plural “we” not “I.”

Keating said: “Now why didn’t they [the Corinthian church] appeal instead to the apostle John who was still alive and living on Patmos, living much close to them – the last apostle alive? Why not to him to settle? Because already they knew the successor of Peter as the primacy in the Church.”

This meretricious argument can only sway the audience of an oral debate. It was a common trend in the early church for letters to be sent e.g Ignatius’ letter to Polycarp, Polycarp’s letter to the Philippian church etc.

There is no jurisdictional or papal authority implied by the sending of Clement’s letter. In fact, the letter was sent in the name of the church of Rome, not the bishop of Rome.

The fact that apostle John didn’t submit to the allegedly higher authority of Roman bishops (Linus, Anacletus, Clement) at that time blows the theory of an early papal primacy into pieces. The earliest church records clearly shows that no one looked up to a pope in Rome to settle their disputes – and why would they, when they had a plurality of leaders? Even in the Shepherd of Hermas (c.150 AD), we read:

“But you yourself will read [my book] to this city [Rome], along with the elders [Gr: presbuteroi] who preside over the church.” (Vis 2.4)

Ignatius (and others) discussed matters of church government and offices in his letters and even wrote a letter to the Roman church, yet he said nothing about a papacy. The martyrdom and persecution accounts of the early church made several references to Christian bishops being killed, but none about the papacy.

The early Christians never mentioned anything suggesting a pope of Rome in their letters to one another. Not a single opponent of the Christian faith noted anything suggesting a papacy. Now, why would early Christians document much about the ideas and customs prevalent in the Roman Empire and yet omit the papacy if it was existing?

Keating: “Irenaeus, in his book Against Heresies [3:3:2] said: ‘With that church, the church of Rome, because of its superior origin all the churches must agree; that is all faithful in the whole world. It is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained their apostolic tradition.”

His quote doesn’t support papal primacy, unless it is read into the text. Irenaeus believed in Roman primacy, but not papal primacy. Catholic scholar, William La Due, admits that although some people try to find Roman primacy in Ireneaus’ words, “there is so much ambiguity here that one has to be careful of over-reading the evidence.”

He adds: “For him [Irenaeus], it is those churches of apostolic foundation that have the greater claim to authentic teaching and doctrine. Among those, Rome, with its two apostolic founders, certainly holds an important place. However, all of the apostolic churches enjoy what he terms ‘preeminent authority’ in doctrinal matters” (The Chair of St. Peter, 1999, 28).

The Roman primacy Irenaeus believed in was not because of a pope in Rome, but because of the Roman church’s alleged historical link with two apostles, its location in the capital of the Empire and its familiarity with other churches.

Catholic historian, Eamon Duffy, dispels much of the smoke: “Neither Peter nor Paul founded the Church at Rome, for there were Christians in the city before either of the Apostles set foot there. Nor can we assume, as Irenaeus did, that the Apostles established there a succession of bishops…for all the indications are that there was no single bishop at Rome for almost a century after the death of the Apostles” (Saints and Sinners, p. 2)

In his book, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, Keating quotes Cyprian saying:

Would heretics dare to come to the very seat of Peter whence apostolic faith is derived and whither no errors can come” (p. 217)

When Cyprian spoke of the seat of Peter (cathedra Petri), he wasn’t referring to what Catholicism today define it as. Back then, the people believed the “chair of Peter” refers to all the bishops in the world. Cyprian didn’t believe the bishop of Rome had any universal jurisdiction.

Catholic scholar, Robert Eno admits: “it is clear that he [Cyprian] did not see the bishop of Rome as his superior, except by way of honor… in Cyprian’s mind, one theological conclusion he does not draw is that the bishop of Rome has authority which is superior to that of the African bishops” (The Rise of the Papacy, 1990, 59-60).

Cyprian, quoting Mt. 16:18 wrote: “Thence, through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the church is founded upon the bishops and evey act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers” (Epistle, XXVI). Notice his reference to a plurality of bishops leading the church.

When Stephen (254-557) attempted to exert supreme authority as Peter’s successor, Cyprian wrote to him opposing his stance. “In his controversy with Bishop Stephen,” says a Professor of church history, “Cyprian expressed the view that any bishop, whether in Rome or elsewhere, was included in Jesus’ message to Peter. Like Tertullian, Cyprian is unwilling to accept the claim of exclusive authority for the bishop of Rome on the basis of Mt. 16:18-19” (John Meyendorff, The Primacy of Peter, 1992, 63).

Keating says in his book: “Augustine of Hippo summed up the ancient attitude when he remarked, ‘Rome has spoken; the case is closed” (p. 217).

It’s doubtful if Mr Keating actually read what he quoted. He cited Sermon, 131, but the text says: “…for already on this matter two councils have sent to the Apostolic See, whence also rescripts [reports] have come. The cause is finished, would that the error may terminate likewise.”

Here, Augustine was battling a heresy known as Pelagianism in North Africa, and his sermon was refuting it. Two councils had concluded on the issue and the bishop of Rome had agreed. He wasn’t talking about the authority of the bishop of Rome or hinting that he was infallible.

“Of the eighty or so heresies in the first six centuries,” wrote a Catholic historian, “not one refers to the authority of the Bishop of Rome, not one is settled by the Bishop of Rome… No one attacks the [supreme] authority of the Roman pontiff, because no one has heard of it” (J. H. Ignaz von Dollinger, The Pope and the Council, 1898, 308)

Darwinian Excuses

Countering the myths pop Catholic apologists love to throw around, Jesuit scholar, Klaus Schatz said: “It is clear that Roman Primacy was not given from the outset; it underwent a long process of development whose initial phases extended well into the fifth century” (Papal Primacy, 1996, 36).

This “long process of development” is an euphemism Rome uses for novelties invented later and made to appear ancient. For the first 1000 years, Roman bishops took their decisions together with their synod once or twice yearly. Whenever there was a matter concerning the universal church, it was decided by an ecumenical council – not a pope.

Even when bishop Leo I used Matthew, 16:18 to affirm his primacy over other bishops, he was still subservient to the Council. When he wrote his letter to Flavian in 449, he acknowledged that his treatise could not become a rule of faith till it was confirmed by the bishops.

Popes like Vigilius, Honorius etc were condemned and excommunicated by Councils. Emperors also had the power to depose popes. It was when the popes succeeded the Roman emperors that they began to wield universal authority over the church.

Rome was the only See in the West, while the East had Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Constantinople Apostolic Sees. The primacy of the Roman bishop was as a result of the primacy of the Roman church in the Western See. When the bishop of Rome tried to exercise supremacy over the whole church, it resulted in the Great schism between the West (Roman Catholicism) and the East (Eastern Orthodoxy). This is why the latter reject the papacy till date.

Having lost the historical argument behind papal primacy, some scholars of Rome are trying to shift the goalpost. Karl Rahner admits “it is not basically and absolutely necessary that we would have to trace back to an explicit saying of Jesus the more concrete structures of the constitution of the (Catholic) church which the church now declares are always obligatory…we grant her merely the possibility of free and accidental changes depending on the concrete situation in which she finds herself…” (Foundations of the Christian Faith, 332).

“Free and accidental changes”? That sounds like Darwinian superstition, in which a fish evolves to a frog, then becomes a snake and a snake eventually becomes man. This is pure fiction, consequently, the papacy is based on myths and lies.