Reply To: [Orthodoxy] Papal Authority

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Vic, you talk to me, quite rightly of prefigurations in the Old Testament, that are leading us to the New Testament. I agree with you, and Orthodox Christians believe that there is great prefiguring in the Old Testament indeed that the Old Testament cannot be adequately understood without the New Testament. You tell me that St. Peter, “being the strongest” was prefigured in Isaiah 22, “the keys of the house of David”. Well, we know that the keeper of the key of David, prefigured in Isaiah 22 is Christ Himself (Apocalypse 3:7). In Isaiah 22:22 it is a messianic reference to someone who may judge in God’s name and admit or exclude from the City of David. In fulfillment, this is a prophecy of Christ the Lord. The Lord is clearly referring to Himself as keeper of the key. It’s unfortunate that Roman Catholics feel that Orthodox in denying this, try to minimize St. Peter. St. Peter, together with St. Paul, is called PROTOCORYFAIOS in our Church, that is PRE-EMINENT. We laud and herald the blessed St. Peter. It’s funny that Roman Catholics think that just because we don’t believe all the extras that they have tacked on to the blessed saint, that we seek to minimize him.

You say God always worked through one man in the Old Testament. We see in the Old Testament books of His prophets, this doesn’t mean that God was necessarily working through one man. These are testimonies of His Prophets, which the Comforter spoke through. However, when the Son had incarnated, He certainly did not leave all His authorities on St. Peter, nor did He only call St. Peter. He called the Twelve, who the New Testament tells us are the foundations of the Heavenly City, the Heavenly Jerusalem (Apocalypse 21: 14). God consistenly likes going through one person when it comes to authority, you argue. How does God elevate that in the New Testament. By protecting against inflated egos and titles. He introduces collegiality. All the Apostles, all have the same authority. This is our Lord Who taught whoever wishes to be first, let him be last. What of the Apostles, do we think that they would have taken kindly to a claim that one of them was above the other? Did the ten not rebuke the sons of Zebedee when they asked the Lord to permit them to sit on their right or left? Did St. Paul not rebuke the Corinthians for beginning conversations of who was a better Apostle or greater, Paul, Apollo or Peter? Did not the laudable St. Paul say IS CHRIST DIVIDED? Who is our cornerstone? Always has been, and always will be Christ!

You say that God knows us too well, and He knows the power of using one over using the college of bishops. Really? That’s interesting, Vic, and you’ll pardon me for saying it, but Orthodox theology has not changed, and it has maintained collegiality from the very beginning. However, the Roman Catholic Church’s malleability, in theology, in “development”, in masses, in innovations, certainly is a strike against the one. Realistically, the argument of the RCC that “you need the Pope to anchor the faith” is horribly compromised when you look how staunch Orthodox belief has been and how constant, DESPITE COLLEGIALITY, while the Roman Catholic Church has seen things stated and revoked, restated, and changed, Pope ruling, then Councils as Supreme (esp. after the Split Papacy, and the Three Popes), back to papal supremacy and a denouncement of past decrees. There is literally so much overturn on what past popes have said that THAT ALONE HORRIBLY COMPRIMISES CLAIMS OF INFALLIBILITY. Because a statement that is INFALLIBLE, without error, is supposed to be IRREFORMABLE. If there is reforming, and changing, TO OPPOSITE VIEWS, who is this infallible and irreformable faith? It is rather, developed, contrived, and then arrived at, under the auspices of THE ONE. You’re right, God knows us too well. He that wishes to be first, let him be last. Let no one approach with triumphalism and think he’s running the show. Let no one be SELF SEEKING, but seeking the common good, the good of the Church, that it abide in Truth.

Vic, you mention the Council of Jerusalem was St. Peter settling the matter. You say “Why was it chosen that the Gentiles should hear it from St. Peter’s mouth” (v. 7). Because God called him to it. This does not mean that God called only him to it, as God clearly says of His Apostles that ALL are to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts. 1). You do make the mistake of arguing that verse 8 is where St. Peter starts talking about the others, when he refers to “them” and that he is calling himself “us”. The “them” in this passage is the Gentiles, whom God acknowledged the sincere faith in them (like the faith of Cornelius for instance) and gave them the Holy Spirit, and God purified the hearts of the Gentiles “them”, from defilement. V. 9 He made no distinctions between us (of the circumcision, the Apostles) and them (the Gentiles), and purified their hearts by faith [We know that God is not a respector of persons, and allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike]. Peter was talking of the Gentiles, not of the remaining in the group, Vic. And those Gentiles who are purified in heart will be saved in the same manner as those faithful Jews, the first Christians. After all, WHAT WAS THE COUNCIL ABOUT? Vic, I must admit, I was a bit alarmed how you cut off v.12, “Then all the multitude kept silent;AND LISTENED TO BARNABAS AND PAUL DECLARING HOW MANY MIRALCES AND WONDERS GOD HAD WORKED THROUGH THEM AMONG THE GENTILES”. Surely the Apostles listened to Peter, but in context, surely you did not think you could just chop the passage in half and attribute to St. Peter that silence that was caused by the testimonies of Ss. Barnabas and Silas amongst the Gentiles??. The silence was obviously to hear them, the Scriptures are clear on this.

Vic, why did you stop at v. 12? Why not v. 13, where St. James, who the Tradition of the Church tells us was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, speaks and all are silent. V.14 St. James sums up what has been spoken in the Council, what St. Peter has told the council, and St. James points out how what St. Peter has said is in agreement with what God said through the Prophets (v. 16-17). V.19 THEREFORE I JUDGE, says St. James? Who? The PRESIDING BISHOP, who speaks in the end of all the council. No, this is not St. James saying “I think” or “In my opinion”, but after hearing each other, St. James is summarizing the consensus that THE COUNCIL HAS REACHED. V.20 Even as president of the Council, St. James says WE should right to THEM (same words St. Peter used earlier). V.22 It pleased THE APOSTLES and ELDERS, with THE WHOLE CHURCH (certainly it pleased St. Peter also, but it was a decision that was arrived at with all of these early Fathers). The Decree that was sent, was not sent in the name of St. Peter the INFALLIBLE TEACHER, but THE APOSTLES, THE ELDERS and the BRETHREN (v.23) What does the DECREE SAY? “It seemed good to Peter? Or rather IT SEEMED GOOD TO US, BEING ASSEMBLED WITH ONE ACCORD (PETER CANNOT HAVE ACCORD SOLO, to be in ACCORD, he must be with his brothers) (v 25). FOR IT SEEMED GOOD TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, and to US[the APOSTLES, ELDERS, and BROTHERS].

This illustrates THE COLLEGIALITY OF THE CHURCH, something that ORTHODOXY has always maintained, and something that down the road, ROME replaced with PAPAL MONARCHY. St. Peter was part of this COLLEGIAL hierarchy, and maybe the Orthodox are right to see him as the honoured first [PROTOS] but not cause or source [ARCHE] of the others. There is no elevation in being the honorary first? Was Peter expecting His Lord to give him something that He would not give the others? Is a valedictorian not elevated amongst graduates of that same class year, although he is still just a spokesman of that same class, and still just one of many graduates? I’m sorry Vic, I really disagree with your logic here. Truly, St. Peter was elevated, but that honorary elevation doesn’t NEED to mean that St. Peter rules with an ironfist, and his successors do too, while everyone else obediently listens. St. Peter never made this claim when he was rebuked to the face by St. Paul.

“NO WORD speaks John here, NO WORD the other Apostles, but held their peace, for JAMES WAS INVESTED WITH THE CHIEF RULE, and I think it no hardship;Peter indeed SPOKE MORE STRONGLY, BUT JAMES HERE MORE MILDLY: for thus it behooves one in high authority, to leave what is unpleasant for others to say, while he himself appears in the milder part” ‚ÄìSt. John Chrysostom, Homily XXXIII on Acts

The error comes when PRIMACY OF HONOUR BECOMES SUPREMACY OVER THE WHOLE CHURCH. Roman Catholics who look back to the early Church always do so with the preconceived notion of PAPATUS. Before the Germanic Popes, the Gregorian Reform, it was PRIMATUS, first honorary of equal Sees. The Rome of the early Church was NOT the Rome of Gregory VII or Innocent III or Boniface VIII.

“It is not the case that there is one Church at Rome and another in all the world beside. Gaul and Britain, Africa and Persia, India and the East worship One Christ and observe one rule of truth. If you ask for authority, the world outweighs its capital. Wherever there is a bishop, whether it be AT ROME or at ENGUBIUM, whether it be CONSTANTINOPLE or at RHEGIUM, whether it be at ALEXANDRIA or at ZOAN, HIS DIGNITY [THE BISHOP’S] IS ONE AND HIS PRIESTHOOD IS ONE. Neither the command of wealth nor the lowliness of poverty MAKES HIM MORE A BISHOP OR LESS A BISHOP. ALL ALIKE ARE SUCCESSORS OF THE APOSTLES. ‚ÄìSt. Jerome, Letter CXLVI (146) to Evangelus

“The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and account him as their head and do nothing of consequence without his consent; BUT EACH MAY DO THOSE THINGS WHICH CONCERN HIS OWN PARISH AND THE COUNTRY PLACES WHICH BELONG TO IT. But neither let him who is the first do anything WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF ALL For so there will be ONENESS OF MIND and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit. ‚ÄìApostolic Canon XXXIV

We know from Eusebius HISTORY OF THE CHURCH, as he quotes Clement’s Book 6, that St. James the Brother of our Lord, by his virtue, was chosen to lead Jerusalem as bishop.

Matthew 16:18 the basis and the defense of the PAPACY. Such a sweeping opinion, that it was just St. Peter and St. Peter alone to rule, that should have been pretty straight-forward. Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical SATIS COGNITUM, says it is a venerable and constant belief held always and everywhere by all, that the Papal claims are DIVINE LAW, which means that the Bishop of Rome enjoyed INFALLIBILITY FROM THE BEGINNING. To be sure, Pope Leo XIII excludes even the modern theory of development, stating that “in the decree of the Vatican Council as to the nature and authority of the primacy of the Roman pontiff, no newly conceived opinion is set forth, but the venerable and constant belief OF EVERY AGE”. This statement of Pope Leo XIII doesn’t change the fact that most the early Church interpreted the rock as St. Peter’s confession, his confession of Christ.

“See what praises follow THIS FAITH. ‘Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build this Church’. What meaneth ‘Upon this rock I will build My church’? UPON THIS FAITH; upon this THAT HAS BEEN SAID, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. ‘Upon this rock’ saith He, ‘I will build My Church’. ‚ÄìSt. Augustine, Homily X on John V. 1-3)

” ‘And I say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church’, that is, ON THE FAITH OF HIS CONFESSION.” ‚ÄìSt. John Chrysostomos, Homily LIV on Matthew XIV. 13)

“Faith is the foundation of the Church, for it WAS NOT THE PERSON BUT OF THE FAITH OF ST. PETER that it was said that the gates of hell should not prevail against it, it is THE CONFESSION OF FAITH that has vanquished hell. Jesus Christ is the Rock. He did not deny the grace of His name when He called him Peter, because he BORROWED FROM THE ROCK THE CONSTANCY AND SOLIDITY OF HIS FAITH. Endeavor then, thyself to BE A ROCK THY ROCK IS THY FAITH, AND FAITH IS THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH. If thou art a rock, thou shalt be in the Church for the Church is built upon the rock. ‚ÄìSt. Ambrose, On The Incarnation

“Rock is THE UNITY OF FAITH, NOT THE PERSON OF PETER” ‚ÄìSt. Cyprian of Carthage, De Catholicae Ecclesiae Unitate, cap. 4-5

“Christ is the ROCk who granted to His Apostles that they should be called rock. God has founded His Church on this rock, and it is from this Rock [Christ] that Peter has been named” ‚ÄìSt. Jerome, 6th Book on Matthew

“I believe that by the rock you must understand THE UNSHAKEN FIATH OF THE APOSTLES”. ‚ÄìSt. Hilary of Poitiers, 2nd Book On The Trinity

“The word ‘rock’ has only a denominative value it signifies nothing but THE STEADFAST AND FIRM FAITH OF THE APOSTLES” ‚ÄìSt. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexnadria, Of The Trinity, 4th Book

“Peter and John WERE EQUAL IN DIGNITY AND HONOUR. CHRIST IS THE FOUNDATION OF ALL the unshakeable Rock upon which we are all built as a spiritual edifice” ‚ÄìSt. Cyril of Alexandria, Letter to Nestorius

” He HAD NOT THE PRIMACY OVER THE DISCIPLES BUT AMONG THE DISCIPLES. His primacy among the disciples was the same as that of Stephen among the deacons” ‚ÄìSt. Augustine, Sermon X on Peter and Paul

“As soon as Peter heard these words, ‘Whom say ye that I am’? remembering his place he exercised primacy, a PRIMACY OF CONFESSION, NOT OF HONOUR; A PRIMACY OF FAITH, NOT OF RANK”. ‚ÄìSt. Ambrose of Milan, De. In. Som. Sacr. 4:32)

“But observe how Peter does everything WITH THE COMMON CONSENT; NOTHING IMPERIOUSLY.” –St. John Chrysostom, Homily III on Acts 1:12

“To ALL THE APOSTLES AFTER HIS RESUURECTION HE GIVES EQUAL POWER [PAREM POTESTATEM] and says, “As the Father sent Me, so I send you’. ‚ÄìSt. Cyprian of Carthage, De Unitate, 4

“FOR NEITHER DID PETER, whom FIRST the Lord chose;when Paul disputed with him afterwards about the circumcision, CLAIM ANYTHING TO HIMSELF INSOLENTLY, NOR ARROGANTLY ASSUME ANYTHING, SO AS TO SAY THAT HE HELD A PRIMACY, AND THAT HE OUGHT TO BE OBEYED BY NOVICES AND THOSE LATELY COME”. ‚ÄìSt. Cyprian, Epistle LXX, concerning the baptism of heretics

“The Church is built upon THE ONE WHOM PETER CONFESSED when he said, ‘You are the Christ , the Son of the Living God’. That is how Peter came to be called the rock, and he REPRESENTED THE PERSON OF THE CHURCH WHO IS BUILT UPON THIS ROCK AND WHO HAS RECEIVED THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Indeed, Christ did NOT say to Peter, ‘You are rock (petra)” but ‘You are Peter (Petrus). For THE ROCK (PETRA) WAS CHRIST whom he CONFESSED, as does THE WHOLE CHURCH, and he Simon, received the name of Peter” ‚ÄìSt. Augustine, Retractationes I, XXI, 1)

“For whoever is united to Christ BECOMES PETER” Origen, Commentaria in Evengelium Secundum Matthaeum, PG 13, 997-1004

“So that the Church if founded UPON THE BISHOPS, and every act of the Church is controlled BY THESE SAME RULERS. Since this, then, is founded on divine law, I marvel that some, WITH DARING TEMERITY, HAVE CHOSEN TO WRITE TO ME AS IF THEY WROTE IN THE NAME OF THE CHURCH”. ‚ÄìSt. Cyprian of Carthage, To the Lapsed, Epistle XXVI (2).

“Would Peter have been ignorant of anything, he who was called the rock on whom the Church should be built? [THIS IS NORMALLY WHERE ROMAN CATHOLICS FINISH THE QUOTE, BUT TERTULLIAN CONTINUES]. Would something have been hidden from JOHN?” ‚ÄìTertullian , De Praescriptione 22, PL 2, 14 **What initially looks like St. Peter alone, is Tertullian defending the apostolic authority of all the Apostles, and not just Peter.

“Remember that the Lord left the keys to Peter, an through him to the Church, [AGAIN, MOST RC’S WOULD END HERE, BUT TERTULLIAN CONTINUES] keys which each one carries with him if, when asked, HE CONFESSES THE FAITH”. ‚ÄìTertullian, Scorpiace 10, PL2, 142)

“Whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called UNIVERSAL PRIEST, is in his elation THE PRECURSOR OF ANTICHRIST” ‚ÄìPope St. Gregory the Great, Epistle XXXIII to Mauricius Augustus

When do the more obtuse statements begin to come? When Rome already begins overstepping her bounds, and the West begins to claim altogether too much, more than is her due. We see this with Pope St. Victor, who you quoted, Vic. We see this with St. Peter Chrysologus, who was Bishop or Ravenna in the West. We see this with St. Fulgentius, Bishop of Ruspe.

Rome was always considered the city of Ss. Peter and Paul. In fact, Church historians attribute the finding of a Christian community in Rome, not to St. Peter, but to St. Paul. To be sure, both Eusebius and St. Irenaeus name St. Linus, one of the Seventy and a Disciple of St. Paul, as first bishop of Rome. However, as the claims became less based on the honorary primacy of the imperial city and site of the martyrdom of the two blessed Apostles, but on Matthew 16:18, the mention of St. Paul with Rome began to fade away.

As for the quote of Adversus Haereses 3.3.2, that Uncertain quoted, there is much debate over the translation of what St. Irenaeus wrote in the original Greek. Unfortunately, the only surviving copies were Latin translations. Uncertain posted a typical Roman Catholic translation. The passage in its Latin, says:

Ad hane ecclesiam propter potentiorum principalitatem necesse est omnen CONVENIRE ecclesiam hoc est, eos qui sun undique fideles, in qua semper ab his qui sunt undique, conservata est ea quae est ab apostolis traditio. Catholics often translate CONVENIRE as MUST AGREE. Other translations of the same passage state: “For it is necessary that every church COME TOGETHER with this Church on account of its great antiquity”.

To translate CONVENIRE as MUST AGREE is erroneous. Translations have often stated, ” to convene”, “to come together”, “to have recourse to” but this is in line with collegial belief always taught in the Church. The MUST is certainly NOT SANCTIONED, it illustrates a NEED, that is missing from the passage.

F. W. Miller, in his book “Primitive Saints and the See of Rome”, studies St. Jerome’s Vulgate, where the word CONVENIRE appears in 26 passages, and contextually always means TO HAVE RECOURSE TO, and NEVER ONCE APPEARS AS AN IMPERATIVE NEED. He writes: “It would perhaps be rash to lay down a universal negative and to say that CONVENIRE AD never means “agree with”, but as far as I’m aware of NO SUCH PASSAGE HAS EVER YET BEEN PRODUCED” (pg. 26).

So why should it be translated thus in Irenaeus? So that it can give Rome’s supremacy claims more weight. Realistically, St. Irenaeus is quite clear that recourse to the oldest churches is certain to heal rifts he is making a statement for apostolic authority (Adv. Haer. 3.4.1). To be sure, St. Irenaues says that accord with Rome, but also with other Ancient Apostolic Sees, keeps one in accord with the gospel faith (Adv. Haer. 3.3.1-2). IT IS NOT A SECRET THAT ST. IRENAEUS ACKNOWLEDGES OTHER APOSTOLIC SEES. Let’s not forget, there were 44 Apostolic Sees in the East, and 1 in the West. Rome. Why is it that Roman Catholics see Rome as the center of the Church? Because their roots lie in Rome, but the Early Church, as I have mentioned before, her theology, her language, the language of the Councils (Greek) was all Eastern. This is not a secret.

Was Pre-Nicene Rome’s Jurisdiction limited? YES IT WAS! St. Ignatius, in his letter to Roman Christians, writes: “to the Church that is in charge OF AFFAIRS IN ROMAN QUARTERS”. Surely, this is not the view of the Papacy today.

I think that’s more than enough for one night. I’m sorry, yet again for the long post. Oh, and Uncertaindrummer, the 6th Ecumenical Council condemned Honorius, Pope of Rome as a heretic. So yes, the history of the Church tells you, and me, and all of us, that Popes are not beyond heresy.

Everybody have a good night.
The least in Christ,