Wresting the Scriptures at Envoy Magazine
(2 Peter 3:16)


Envoy 4.6 cover

Envoy Magazine, a Catholic publication edited by Patrick Madrid, features an article in volume 4.6 that is truly from the twilight zone of apologetics. Prominently featured on the cover, The Apologetics Zone by Caroline Schermerhorn maintains that the development of doctrine, and the authority of oral Tradition, can be demonstrated from the writings of the apostle Paul. The passage cited is from first Corinthians:

From the Catholic Douay Rheims translation:

1 Corinthians 11:23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread.
24 And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me.
25 In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.
26 For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.
27 Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.

Now the following is an excerpt from The Apologetics Zone article regarding the above passage from the apostle Paul:

... “Well, he says here that he received this account of the Last Supper from the Lord. Gram, he wasn’t present at the Last Supper. He never even knew Jesus before the Resurrection! This information was given him by a third party. And yet, he equates that with having received it from our Lord. So it would seem that even as early as the New Testament, there is evidence of an apostolic succession of Tradition, a handing on of ideas and development of doctrine.”

...

“... Protestants claim there is no biblical basis for the oral Tradition of the Church. Yet here St. Paul is saying that what he received by way of spoken tradition, he thought of as revelation from God. Then he goes on to develop an idea on top of that tradition. See, look what it says here in verse 29: “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” This isn’t a piece of doctrine from Jesus or the twelve apostles. It’s a theological development from the oral tradition St. Paul had received. Who could argue with that?” ...

Excerpt from The Apologetics Zone online, by Caroline Schermerhorn.

Who could argue with that? First of all, it is necessary, apparently, to define what the title apostle means in scripture and how it different from a disciple. An apostle is one who received the gospel message directly from Christ Himself, and not from any intermediary. There had to be direct face-to-face instruction from Jesus Christ to qualify one as an apostle:

Luke 6:13 And when day was come, he [Jesus] called unto him his disciples: and he chose twelve of them (whom also he named apostles):

A disciple of Christ, on the other hand, is a follower of Christ's teachings, but need not have ever met Him. Anyone can be a disciple of Christ, but unless you have met and been chosen, taught and sent by Christ personally, you are not, strictly speaking, an apostle. So the original 12 disciples, called by Jesus Christ, taught by Him for 3 1/2 years, and sent out to the world with the gospel message, are apostles. But what of Paul? He converted to Christianity some 4 years or so after the crucifixion, and previously was a zealous persecutor of Christians. Just how is Paul an apostle?

Paul, an Apostle of Christ

The Apologetics Zone article would have you believe that Paul was taught through oral Tradition from a third party (not Christ Himself) about the Last Supper, and that Paul then builds on this oral Tradition to develop additional doctrine on his own, which is also to be considered authoritative. Can it be true? Are the authority of Catholic oral Tradition and doctrinal development proved by the example of the apostle Paul? Wait - the APOSTLE Paul? How is Paul an apostle? As most any student of the Bible will tell you, Paul (known then at Saul) was converted as a result of an encounter with the risen Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus:

Acts 9:3 (KJV) And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Acts 22:6 (KJV) And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.

Acts 26:14 (KJV) And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

Following his conversion, and upon his arrival at Damascus, what did the apostle Paul do?

Acts 9:20 (KJV) And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

This is why Paul is called an apostle, he did meet face-to-face with Jesus, and he was taught by Jesus directly. However, this seems to be a fact that Paul was constantly and repeatedly having to affirm to his audiences and readers, given his previous infamous history of zealous persecution:

Rom 1:1 (KJV) Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

1 Cor 1:1 (KJV) Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

2 Cor 1:1 (KJV) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

Gal 1:1 (KJV) Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

Eph 1:1 (KJV) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Col 1:1 (KJV) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

1 Tim 1:1 (KJV) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;

2 Tim 1:1 (KJV) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,

Titus 1:1 (KJV) Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

Of these affirmations of his apostolic calling from Jesus, I would like now to call attention to the first chapter of Galatians, which we will look at in some detail.

The remaining quotes of scripture are from the Catholic's own Douay Rheims translation:

Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead,

Paul makes the point here that he was not called or taught by men, but by Christ Himself. He is a genuine apostle of Christ, just as much as the other twelve.

Galatians 1:2 And all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia.
3 Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present wicked world, according to the will of God and our Father:
5 To whom is glory for ever and ever. Amen.
6 I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel.
7 Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.
9 As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.

Paul has given a very strong warning that anyone who does not preach the same gospel as himself is anathema, which the King James equates to being cursed by God. So now remember, the question is where did Paul get his knowledge of the gospel? Was it from a third party, and not Christ? Paul continues:

Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
11 For I give you to understand, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
12 For neither did I receive it of man, nor did I learn it; but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Paul is quite firm that he was taught only by Jesus, and not by other men.

Galatians 1:13 For you have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion: how that, beyond measure, I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it.
14 And I made progress in the Jews' religion above many of my equals in my own nation, being more abundantly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased him, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles, immediately I condescended not to flesh and blood.
17 Neither went I to Jerusalem, to the apostles who were before me: but I went into Arabia, and again I returned to Damascus.
18 Then, after three years, I went to Jerusalem, to see Peter, and I tarried with him fifteen days.
19 But other of the apostles I saw none, saving James the brother of the Lord.
20 Now the things which I write to you, behold, before God, I lie not.

Could anything be more clear? Having previously been a zealot for the Tradition of men, Paul now categorically rejects the notion that he was taught the gospel by men, not even by the other apostles. He makes the point that it was fully three years after his conversion before he even met with an another apostle, that being Peter, and only for a short 15 days.

Galatians 1:21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea, which were in Christ:
23 But they had heard only: He, who persecuted us in times past, doth now preach the faith which once he impugned:
24 And they glorified God in me.
Galatians 2:1 Then, after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me.

If Paul is using his conversion on the road to Damascus as the reference point, he is saying that in fourteen years of ministry, he spent a mere 15 days with Peter in Jerusalem, and that only after having preached for 3 years, beginning in the synagogues of Damascus (Acts 9:20). Paul was simply not taught by men, but only by the Lord Jesus Christ. With this truth firmly in mind let's return to the first verse of the passage of scripture cited by the article in Envoy Magazine:

1 Corinthians 11:23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread.

Who did Paul say he received his knowledge of the Last Supper from? The Lord - not a third party, not from another apostle, or another disciple, or any other person, but from Jesus Christ Himself, and that is precisely what Paul meant. This, Envoy Magazine promotes as a validation of oral Tradition from a third party? The apostle Paul is, without doubt, the absolute worst possible candidate in scripture from which to attempt to validate Catholic oral Tradition and doctrinal development, given his very clear assertion that he was not taught by men, but directly by Christ. The view being promoted by Envoy Magazine, is in fact, the direct opposite of Paul's very clear repeated teaching in scripture.

This has to raise the question, just how did this article get into Envoy Magazine in the first place, particularly since it has top billing on the cover? Are Patrick Madrid and Caroline Schermerhorn completely ignorant of Paul's conversion in Acts, or his testimony in the first chapter of Galatians? It would seem so. And who will the article The Apologetics Zone convince regarding Catholic oral Tradition? Surely only those equally unfamiliar with scripture and the apostle Paul. Let's again recall the very strong warning the apostle Paul gives in his epistle to the Galatians:

The Apostle Paul's Warning

Galatians 1:6 I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel.
7 Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.
9 As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.

The Apostle Peter on Twisting the Scriptures of Paul

2 Peter 3:14 Wherefore, dearly beloved, waiting for these things, be diligent that you may be found before him unspotted and blameless in peace.
15 And account the longsuffering of our Lord, salvation: as also our most dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, hath written to you:
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.



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