Sunday, May 20, 2007

St. Cyprian, Novatian and the Divided Church

Over the last few weeks, I`ve been thinking about St. Cyprian and about the way forward in maintaining unity in an already broken and divided church. I am, of course, thinking of the current state of the Anglican Communion and the coming General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, at least in part; but not completely. The general state of Christianity remains that of deep and unresolved divisions: between Eastern Orthodoxy and the Western churches, between Roman Catholicism and Protestants, between the multiple Protestant groups. This has rightly been characterized as a scandal because how can we talk of Jesus' Good News to the world when we are unable to agree on what that news is? Non-Christian friends have asked me which church is the one true Church and I have no other answer than "none of them, potentially", because we have failed to maintain those bonds of love and unity which characterized the early Christian communities. And "all of them, potentially" because we are all, nevertheless, the Body of Christ. That is, of course, paradoxical, but it is as close as I can get to affirming the unity that Christ has called us to here and now.

This lost unity is, of course, why I turn back to St. Cyprian and to a time before the major church divisions we take so much for granted were even considered. Cyprian lived way back in the 250s AD and was just appointed Bishop of Carthage, one of the larger Western dioceses, a year before the outbreak of the Decian persecutions. These persecutions were rather different from those persecutions which had proceeded them. The earlier persecutions tended to be localized and short-lived. The Emperor Decius instituted the first empire-wide persecution by demanding that everyone in the Empire had to sacrifice to the Emperor cult or face the state's wrath. Not surprisingly, large numbers of Christians, facing not only financial/social ruin, but even martyrdom, chose to sacrifice or pretended to sacrifice. The result was total chaos in the Church as large numbers of Christians lapsed and large numbers were martyred or suffered for their faith. No one had expected the empire-wide demand to sacrifice and no one had had to deal with the aftermath of the widespread lapsing of even mature Christians. By the time the persecution died down in 251 AD, the church was in chaos and this chaos was only going to get worse when the surviving bishops and clergy began to grapple with the problem of the lapsed.

To say that there was disagreement is an understatement. Rigorists insisted that the lapsed were simply damned for deserting Christ and there was no way for them to make sufficient penance to allow them to return to the church. They were out. Less rigorous leaders felt that there must be a way for the lapsed to make penance and find forgiveness. There didn't seem to be much room for compromise.

In many ways, the rigorists were represented by the Roman presbyter, Novatian, who was, by all accounts, a brilliant and orthodox leader in the fragmented Roman church, who had even been a candidate for the Bishop of Rome in 251 AD. He lost, and almost immediately, he led his followers in schism from the rightfully elected (and orthodox) Pope Cornelius. In doing so, he began a schism which would last for several decades and which was particularly troublesome because accusations of heresy were hard to make stick since Novatian had impeccable orthodox credentials.

The other side can be represented by some of the confessors of Cyprian's own church, who took it upon themselves, in Cyprian's absence, to forgive the lapsed without any real inquiry into the circumstances of their lapse. They felt their authority greater than their bishop, who, after all, had fled the persecution, while they stayed and suffered through it. They were trading on their spiritual status as confessors and were willing to make exceptions among the lapsed almost immediately on the end of the persecutions and without much or any investigation of the circumstances of their lapse.

Cyprian, in many ways, was probably more sympathetic to Novatian than to his own confessors. He did think that the those who lapsed during the persecutions had committed a grave sin and could only be reconciled with the Church with great difficulty. Yet he shied away from Novatian because of his high view of the episcopacy (like most Church Fathers) which caused him to back the legal ordination of Cornelius and because of his view that it was impossible to go into schism without falling into heresy. He never really goes so far as to define the heresy, but I think he sees Novatian's decision to split the Roman church as betraying a heretical understanding of ecclesiology. This is intriguing, but I suspect tangential to what I'm trying to say here. Perhaps I'll pick that point up in a separate entry.

In Christianity today (and in my own church), we have very many Novatians and very many confessors, who are perfectly willing to drive their agendas to the point of schism. Yet I offer Cyprian's solution to the problem for us all to consider. While sympathetic to rigorism, he didn't rely only his own opinion. He called a council of African bishops. He consulted with his fellow bishops, especially with the Bishop of Rome. He adopted a solution which recognized the importance of the lapses, but also recognized the power of true repentance.

We need Cyprians today in the churches; people who take seriously what the Bible and tradition have taught them, but are willing to reflect carefully over the new situations each generation presents and to try to maintain unity by finding common solutions to shared problems. Cyprian has his rough edges, of course, and he was fiercely aware of his own prerogatives as bishop, but his example in the matter of the lapsed presents us with an approach to disunity which we modern Christians would do well to imitate.

Peace,
Phil

25 comments:

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

If there is such a thing as "one true Church" ... well there's only one application out there for the job.

Nice post.

Phil S. said...

I figured either you or Danny would comment along that line. The thing is that no church can really convincingly claim exclusive rights as the one true Church because each of the churches contributed to the current state of disunion. No church is immune from mistakes or failures to react to internal criticisms. That is really what I'm driving at here.

Danny Garland Jr. said...

since I was mentioned ;-), I might as well add.....only one Church, through all its highs and low, is still around and has been around from the beginning. It really all comes down to taking Jesus at His word when He promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church and that He would remain with the Church for all time. I'd say that's pretty convincing if you believe Christ's words to be true.

Phil S. said...

Hmm, mention his name and I conjure him up. Hi Danny!

I have no problem in saying that there is one Church. Where my problem is assigning it to one particular denomination, i.e the Roman Catholic Church. That is, at the very least, the Eastern Orthodox have as good a claim to this status as far as antiquity and purity of teaching goes. In fact, seen from an Orthodox perspective, the Roman Catholic Church was the first divergence from the one, true Church and Protestantism merely the logical consequence of this division. Now, I wouldn't go so far necessarily because the division of Christianity in around 1054 (this is more a date of convenience than of historical importance) was a mutual one and, in that sense, both Orthodoxy and Catholicism share the blame.

What I'm saying is that you are right that there is one Church, that the gates of Hell won't prevail against it and that Jesus would remain with the Church for all time. Yet, our sin as a Christian people has divided it and it takes work to restore it. Jesus, I submit, lives with all faithful Christians and, in that sense, wherever and however they worship, they are the true and visible Church. It just so happens, as Augustine has pointed out, we live in a mixed church in which sinners and saints rub up against each other. Given our sin, is it a surprise we are divided?

Peace,
Phil

Danny Garland Jr. said...

We must keep in mind though that the Orthodox Church does not fulfill all four marks of the Church. The Orthodox may be Holy and Apostolic, but they are certainly not One nor are they Catholic(Universal). A Southern Baptist would have an awfully hard time converting to the Greek Orthodox Church!
Plus we know the true Church because as the Fathers talked about it is the one that is in communion with the See of Peter. The Orthodox don't even bother to claim that. Only the Catholic Church can. It really does all come down to authority. Christ gave His authority to One Church. You would have a hard time reconciling with what Christ has taught, what the Apostles taught, and what the Fathers taught with the idea that groups that broke away from the One Church in communion with the See of Peter are still part of the One Church. "One" does not mean 55,000 different denominations. Christ didn't mean "One" that way and neither did Paul or Ignatius.

Augustine spoke of a mixed Church of saints and sinners, yes. But he meant it in reference to the One Catholic Church. I hardly doubt Augustine would include the Donatists, Pelagians, or the Gnostics who broke from the Catholic Church in that catagory as "a mixed Church of saints and sinners." Neither I can guess would you. It just doesn't work. If you leave the Church that Christ established, reason tells you that you are no longer a part of that Church. The Nestorians left, the Monophysites left, the Orthodox left, the Protestants left, the Anglicans left.

Phil S. said...

Danny;

The thing is that I`ve never run into a definition from the Fathers themselves which made communion with Rome a criteria for being part of the Church. I've run into plenty of comments about the importance of the Roman church and its bishop, the fact that it was better to consult with Rome in important theological issue and the like, but I've never seen a patristic definition laid out that makes this a sine qua non of orthodoxy or even catholicity. Perhaps you can point me to such a definition, if I have indeed missed it.

The problem we're having here is the identification of the Roman Catholic Church as the one church. This is, of course, the classic issue between Catholics and Protestants, but I see no reason why the united Church of the patristic era and much of the Middle Ages needs to reside in Rome alone. There is no doubt that Rome was an important part of that united Church, but the simple fact is that Rome also failed to deal with what were, initially, legitimate concerns on the part of the Reformers about the need for reform in the Church. Many of those proved to be addressed at Trent, but too late to avoid the division. If Rome had been quicker to deal with the abuses around indulgences and other practical matters, it would not have been necessary for Luther et al to formulate a theology of a separated church. I'm not blaming a victim here, but I'm calling on Roman Catholics to admit that they dropped the ball in the early 16th century on some important issues and that they bear responsibility for the division of the Western Church. My point in asking that is to point out that Rome is not without error at times, so really can't be co-terminous with the One, True Church which Jesus established. Nor is it outside of it.

I don't expect to convince you, of course, Danny, but that is just further explanation why I simply can't go where you're arguing.

Peace,
Phil

Danny Garland Jr. said...

Phil,
The Catholic Church is both human and divine. The human side of the Church has made some errors no doubt. Yet these errors have not been in matters of the doctrines of the Faith. Never in the history of the Church, even when there have been scandalous popes, has the Church taught error. They may have acted in one way, but the teaching has always been Truth. But the divine side guarantees that it will always teach the Truth in matters of faith and morals.

As I've mentioned to you before, the same situation applies as when Christ said of the Pharisees that the Jews had to obey what they said, but not do as they do because they sat on the Seat of Moses and thus had a level of infallibility concerning the teaching of the Faith.

A slow reaction is no justification for splitting the Body of Christ. If Luther believed Christ when He said that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church into all truth he would never have left. Instead he did, and he taught false doctrine.
The Council of Trent fixed Luther's complaints. After Trent there is absolutely no excuse for leaving the Catholic Church (and there was none before either). There is never an excuse for leaving the Church Christ established!

Phil, I'm not trying to convert you, I'm just trying to clear up the erroneous claims you are making about the Church.

As for "a definition from the Fathers themselves which made communion with Rome a criteria for being part of the Church":

"Where Peter is, there is the Church."
-St. Ambrose

"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (Against Heresies 3:3:2 [A.D. 189]).

-Irenaeus

"The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]). ... On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).

-Cyprian of Carthage

Also from Cyprian:
"Cyprian to [Pope] Cornelius, his brother. Greeting. . . . We decided to send and are sending a letter to you from all throughout the province [where I am] so that all our colleagues might give their decided approval and support to you and to your communion, that is, to both the unity and the charity of the Catholic Church" (Letters 48:1, 3 [A.D. 253]).

"Cyprian to Antonian, his brother. Greeting ... You wrote ... that I should forward a copy of the same letter to our colleague [Pope] Cornelius, so that, laying aside all anxiety, he might at once know that you held communion with him, that is, with the Catholic Church" (ibid., 55[52]:1).

"In the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head—that is why he is also called Cephas [‘Rock’]—of all the apostles, the one chair in which unity is maintained by all. Neither do the apostles proceed individually on their own, and anyone who would [presume to] set up another chair in opposition to that single chair would, by that very fact, be a schismatic and a sinner. . . . Recall, then, the origins of your chair, those of you who wish to claim for yourselves the title of holy Church" (The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]).

-Optatus of Milevus

"I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark of Noah will perish when the flood prevails" (Letters 15:2 [A.D. 396]).

"The church here is split into three parts, each eager to seize me for its own. . . . Meanwhile I keep crying, ‘He that is joined to the chair of Peter is accepted by me!’ . . . Therefore, I implore your blessedness [Pope Damasus I] . . . tell me by letter with whom it is that I should communicate in Syria" (ibid., 16:2).

-Jerome

"There are many other things which rightly keep me in the bosom of the Catholic Church. The consent of the people and nations keeps me, her authority keeps me, inaugurated by miracles, nourished in hope, enlarged by love, and established by age. The succession of priests keep me, from the very seat of the apostle Peter (to whom the Lord after his resurrection gave charge to feed his sheep) down to the present episcopate [of Pope Siricius]" (Against the Letter of Mani Called "The Foundation" 5 [A.D. 397]).

-Augustine

"For though you think that heaven is still shut up, remember that the Lord left the keys of it to Peter here, and through him to the Church, which keys everyone will carry with him if he has been questioned and made a confession [of faith]" (Antidote Against the Scorpion 10 [A.D. 211]).

-Tertullian


There are more, but I think this will suffice.

Phil S. said...

Danny;

Actually, I'm not claiming that Luther was justified in splitting, but rather that the fault for the split rests both with Luther and his followers and with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church which was slow to respond to the legitimate issues raised by Luther and his followers. I'm implying that sin was operative on both sides of the Reformation which explains that split.

Thank you for the catena. I don't really have the time to go quote by quote, but perhaps some observations might be helpful.

1. There is no doubt that Peter was established as the leader of the apostles on the death of Jesus. I have to note that Peter was not necessarily always right. Indeed, he is called to account by Paul for his treatment of Gentiles and, it appears Paul won his point. Yes, Peter had leadership, but it was not hierarchical, but rather it was rather a primus inter pares type of authority, at least as far as we can see Biblically.

2. I completely concede Peter is associated with Rome. As I've already noted, Rome did have considerable authority in the Church, but it was not an infallable authority, even in the West. You rightly cite Cyprian as examples of respect for Rome, yet Cyprian also developed later in life an arguement that Rome didn't have the right to interfer in the African Church. He never broke communion, but he wasn't accepting the papal position on whether heretics needed to be rebaptized.

3. I've never argued and never would argue that Rome had no authority or claim to apostolic status. Even today, despite being a Prot, I believe that the Pope is an extremely valuable person to listen to on issues of faith and morals. I respect both the office and the person of the Pope, but I also don't believe that his pronouncements are the end of the discussion. He is, like Peter, I would argue, a primus inter pares, but that is not the papal position on papal authority. This is a mediaeval accretion which has only post facto been justified by a re-reading of patristic authors. I don't deny the Pope authority. I just don't accept it to the degree claimed.

I hope that clarifies my position.

Peace,
Phil

Danny Garland Jr. said...

The papacy is a "mediaeval accretion which has only post facto been justified by a re-reading of patristic authors"!?

Come on Phil, I expect more from you. I didn't think you would stoop to the anti-Catholic/Jack Chick nonesense to say that the papacy is a medieval accretion. You really do have to ignore quite a bit of history and quite a bit about how the early Popes thought of their own office.

You said that you don't believe that the popes pronouncements are the end of the discussion. Well St. Augustine certainly did. That's why he said:
"Rome has spoken; the case is closed"

You say Cyprian later disagreed with the pope because Cyprian, although never breaking communion, held heretical beliefs on rebaptism. This doesn't prove anything. Cyprian was wrong on the point the Pope was right. Many of the others I quoted never held heretical views and also supported the primacy of the pope and taught that the True Church is that which is in union with the Pope and the See of Peter in Rome. As I said before, you have to ignore a lot of history to argue otherwise!

Also to say that Peter's leadership
" was not hierarchical, but rather it was rather a primus inter pares type of authority, at least as far as we can see Biblically " is to not ignore all of the biblical evidence! As far as we can see biblically Peter was the head and leader appointed by Christ. No one else was given the keys to the Kingdom. In fact when Christ gives Peter the keys he quotes from Isaiah 22 in which the PRIME MINISTER is removed from office and a new one takes his place and receives the keys to the Kingdom. The Prime Minister was second in the Davidic Kingdom only to the King himself. The same applies in the fulfillment of the Davidic Kingdom established by Christ: the Church.

Christ also only prays for Peter that his faith may not fail so that when he turns back he may strengthen his brethren, after Satan demands to sift all the apostles.
As well, Christ doesn't tell anyone else to "feed his sheep" after the resurrection.

In Acts 15 at the Council of Jerusalem when the argument over circumcision is raging, Peter speaks "And all the assembly kept silence"! When Peter speaks, the case is closed.

You bring up Galatians as if that is proof of anything. Infallibility doesn't mean that Peter was perfect or that he didn't make mistakes. The pope has many advisors. He is not above Council. He is a mere man. Yet he is protected by the Holy SPirit to teach the Truth in matters of Faith and Morals. Paul correcting Peter does not disprove that. Nor does it prove that Peter wasn't the head. Paul went to Peter to have his teachings confirmed by him (Gal 1:18). In Galatians 2:1-2, Paul links himself to Peter's authority. Peter was the foremost of those of repute in Jerusalem.

Be honest with the history Phil and be honest with yourself.

Phil S. said...

Danny;

Before you accuse me of anti-Catholicism, perhaps you could make sure you weren't mis-reading me. I'm not claiming the Papacy per se was a mediaeval accretion, but rather that its claim to infallability was. Now, I may grant that was needless provocative and there is some truth in your point that there is line of development from the patristic age. Certainly, the Bishops of Rome from Clement onwards did insist that they had a right to intervene in theological issues outside their jurisdiction and that this claim was, often, accepted by much of the Church. I note that the other Patriarchates and even the Bishops of Carthage on occasion, questioned how far that right went. That too is part of the patristic record.

What I am questioning is how far does papal authority go. The evidence, as I see it, points to a primus inter pares model, not the current infallable model. That is what I'm suggesting is an accretion; doubtless starting on the basis of patristic authority (that is, the importance of the Bishop of Rome in guarding the apostolic testimony), but, frankly, going beyond it. I recognize you agree with me, but do me the favour of not accusing me of reflexive anti-Catholicism.

Nor, in fact, have I ever denied that Peter was given the leadership of the apostles after Jesus' death. I note that we cannot infer that he had effectively could overrule the rest of the apostles which was rather my point in my comments.

Danny, there is enough confusion over the Protestant/Catholic divide without mis-reading each other. I understand that happens sometimes, but I hope you do recognize that I'm not interested in Roman Catholic bashing nor distorting history. We simply disagree on the degree of authority of the Pope. Perhaps we should leave it at that.

Peace,
Phil

Danny Garland Jr. said...

Phil,
I never intended to call you anti-Catholic. I know that is not the case. I was merely saying that I was surprised that you were using an argument from a jack Chick track and that I figured you would come up with arguments of more substance than that.

Blessings,
Danny

Danny Garland Jr. said...

And truly history does not justify a first among equals idea on infallibility. No other See EVER in history has claimed infallibility. The Dogma of Infallibility proclaimed at the first Vatican Council is not a medieval accretion, but the fruit of authentic development of doctrine.

Blessings,
Danny

Phil S. said...

Danny;

Historical argument aside, has it struck you that you and I managed to prove the point of my original post by falling into Catholic-Protestant apologetics? That is the scandal of division of God's Church leads very naturally to a failure to maintain the bonds of love and unity which Christian believers owe each other? We can sit here and assess historical blame or the strength of historical arguments for the Papacy all we like, but that central point remains: the scandal of a divided Christianity in practical terms gets in the way of the Christian message. Whether or not we want to say those outside our respective Church are heretics and don't count, we still have to, as Christians, face up to the dammage done and the cost of division. That was what I was driving at in my post.

Peace,
Phil

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi there

I've been lurking somewhat. I'm asking myself whether it's helpful to put in two more cents' worth or not. But on my first cent, I have to say that just because no other see has claimed infallibility doesn't mean that Rome has it, just for having claimed it. (Here I'd mention Rome's treatment of the "unified nature of the Incarnate Word" of the Copts and also ask you to seriously consider the Eastern Orthodox take on filioque as heresy. I believe if either of these two groups actually believed Rome to be infallible rather than in error they would be in fellowship with her; likewise all the honest Protestants which is the vast majority.) And on my second cent, the Orthodox also view Rome's authority in ancient times as first among equals, so I think you're dismissing that a bit quickly.

Perhaps you're too used to responding to Jack Chick tracts? It would sensitize anyone.

Hope I haven't disturbed too much by adding two cents at this late date.

Take care & God bless
WF

Danny Garland Jr. said...

Phil,
It's not about apologetics, it's about Truth. There can be only one Truth. You say in your post that potentially no church is the true church and potentially all churches are the true church. There can be only ONE Church. That fact rules out the potentiality of none of the churches being the true church. All the churches have different teachings, and Truth does not contradict itself, which rules out the potentiality of all of the churches being the true one.

And you can't just disregard history. Let history speak for itself. Look at the Living Tradition and you will see that the Catholic Church was established by Christ with Peter as its head and others broke from the Catholic Church and from communion with the See of Peter. It's not apologetics, its fact. History justifies the Catholic Church.

Christianity is divided, yes. Because of sin, egos, because people don't want have someone as an authority over them. That's what it all comes down to: authority. We see so called Christians now these days who don't even want Christ as an authority over them. No wonder they won't accept someone Christ has appointed! The Truth can be abrasive at times. It can hurt to admit it. But we are still called to acknowledge and accept the Truth. And there is only One Truth, Jesus Christ. Christ established the Catholic Church. Christ wanted only ONE Church. If you brake from the Church established by Christ, you are no longer in the One True Church. It really is not that complicated.

I wasn't even going to comment on the post, because I thought of your sentiments of non-commitance of a True Church as typically Anglican/Episcopalian and leave it at that. But since you "figured" that I would comment that the Catholic Church was the One True Church, I "figured" I would. Just because a Church has made mistakes doesn't mean its not the One True Church. You have to bear in mind both the human and divine element of the Church.

WF,
No one claims it, because no one was given it besides Peter (Rome) and his successors (cf. Mt 16:16-19).

The Orthodox only viewed Rome as first among equals AFTER they split. They split because they didn't want to accept the authority given to Rome by Christ (back to the sin, ego, and authority issue).

I'd ask you to research the filioque clause and see how it is not heresy and that it is biblically supported.

Peace and Blessings to you both,
Danny

Phil S. said...

Danny;

I had to smile at your most recent post. I honestly hadn't expected as 'Yes, I've seen the light' nor am I particular offended at the Anglican crack (I know my position is sitting-on-the-fence Anglican as Protestant wanting to catholic stance). Yet, I should note a couple things.

First, I wonder if you would go so far as to claim that those of us outside of the Roman Catholic Church aren't really Christians. I know, I know, we're heretics or schismatics or both, but how far are you willing to go with that in practical, day-to-day terms?

Second, I hope you won't be offended if I note that the repository of Truth is not, indeed, the Roman Catholic Church, her Pope or her bishops or people, but rather in the triune God. I'm sure you recognize this, but, before you imply that non-RCs are trying to fudge on the truth, let's remember where the Truth really resides.

Third, as far as disregarding history, who said I was doing that? I was trying to twist the conversation away from Catholic-Protestant polemics to my main point in my post. In point of fact, I recognize your very Catholic historical reading has some force to it, but it isn't the only way to interpret the events we've been discussing. In fact, I would aruge your discussion has been influenced by a very anachronistic concept of papal authority in the patristic and mediaeval ages. Yes, the concept of infallability promulgated at Vatican 1 was in a line of development from the patristic age forwards, but you can't impose that council's decisions on the texts in questions and, frankly, that is what you tend to do. You quotes the catena below and expect that it proves your point about papal authority, but it only establishes that the Church at Rome had considerable influence over the patristic Church. Fine, I agree, but that doesn't mean that infallability can be read in here. If you are going to take me to task on ignoring history, perhaps you had better make sure that your texts are proving what you say they are.

I think that is about it for now.

Peace,
Phil

Danny Garland Jr. said...

Phil,
You said that you had "never run into a definition from the Fathers themselves which made communion with Rome a criteria for being part of the Church."

That is what I provided for you in the cantena. It wasn't about infallibility. As you said, "The problem we're having here is the identification of the Roman Catholic Church as the one church."
That being so, I provided you with proof from the Fathers.

You changed the subject to infallibility after that.

Blessings,
Danny

Danny Garland Jr. said...

As for the Truth issue...St. Paul said that the Church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth. There was only one Church in existence when he said it....the Catholic Church......which is protected by the Holy Spirit to teach all truth and established by the second person of the Trinity who is Truth itself.

Phil S. said...

Danny;

You have a point about the catena and the shift to infallability. I would note that the two are not unrelated, but point taken.

One of the problems here is that we don't seem to agree on what happened as a result of the big schism, 1054 and the Reformation. That is, you seem to suggest that what happened was Protestants split off, leaving the part of the Christian world which continued to follow Rome as the only part of Christianity which retained the Truth.

I'm arguing that the results of both schisms fractured the unity of the One Church on earth in such a way that neither party of the schism can claim to be the One True Church. The One True Church remains as represented in the lives of the faithful, but cannot be said to exist in an institutional sense. This is not to say that there is not one True Church, but rather no denomination can claim to be solely that church nor can it claim that any of its rivals is solely out of the church.

These are, of course, both theological positions, but they are both colouring our views of what we think has happened historically and what the current situation in Christendity is.

Does that seem an accurate summary of our positions?

Peace,
Phil

Danny Garland Jr. said...

Yes, that is accurate, with the exception that I would say that even though the Orthodox and Protestants left the true Church doesn't mean they don't have any truth. They just don't have the fullness of the Truth which is contained in the One True Church that Christ established, i.e. the Catholic Church. I would argue that having the Fullness of the Truth is of the utmost importance since Christ only meant for there to be One Church. Hence, the need for the Orthodox and Protestants to come back into the One true Church which is the Catholic Church, the Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God. This was what I was saying in the very beginning.

I realize we are not going to agree on this, but like I said...you mentioned my name and I didn't want to disappoint. ;-)

Know that I have no hard feelings at all towards you and I have alot of respect for you and the work you do on this blog.

Blessings,
Danny

Phil S. said...

Danny;

Okay, I had figured that was your position. Don't worry about hurt feelings. While I think we both got a little vehement, I don't doubt the good will on both of our parts. It was merely a (predictable) disagreement among friends.

Peace,
Phil

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Whoa looks like I opened up a can of worms. I didnt say that the hiring had already taken place, just that if they ever start hiring for the position there's only one application to look at.

That I know of, there are only a few churches that even claim to be the 'one true church' exclusively. Examples would be - Catholic, Mormon - Jehovah's Witnesses. I can rule out two of them can you guess which two? I think in order for a church to be 'the one true Church' (if there is such a thing) it would at least have to be aware of its status.

Anyway, didn't mean to start a debate! Keep up the great work Phil.

Weekend Fisher said...

You know, the high-octane rhetoric doesn't actually make the case any more solid, it just makes the prospects of carrying on a conversation seem ... well, doubtful.

Seems like discussions on the subject of Rome somehow turn into mosh pits ...

Take care & God bless
WF

praxis obnoxia said...

I have been studying theologies for a while now. Both Eastern and Western. I collected a large mass of knowledge in sacramental, moral, and dogmatic theology. I have a wide collection of books, so I feel I can handle most objections when asked, though I am no card carrying apologist with a Pontifical Catechis certificate.

You hear various arguments, on grace and efficacy of works: faith alone or baptism and faith. Well baptism is a good work, produced by Jesus Christ. So I believe in Faith as a work, and effected by an external rite called baptism -- which is the sacrament of faith.

Yet, I find it very interesting and even obnoxious that the New Church of Vatican II (which claims to be the Church of Christ that subsists in the Catholic Church) has established a foreign rite to suppress the traditionl Latin Tridentine Catholic praxis (from the Council of Trent) to the point of invalidating the grace of baptism in this Novus Ordo rite. I'm not sure what is the mainstream Protestant stance on this new baptism?

In fact, I recently read this new scholarly book on the topic entitled "Praxis Obnoxia: A Moral-Theological Conclusion On The New Modernist Rite of Baptism."

http://www.lulu.com/content/3824207

I am very impressed with it, and I cannot refute its arguments, scholarship -- tons of quotes from theologians, doctors, councils, and Popes. Basically, the book proves the new rite of baptism is null and void--that means there is no valid baptism in the Vatican II church, and thus no valid sacraments and no salvation in that sect. It seems "very weird", I admit at first, but the facts are the facts, and I had to read the book a few times to really grasp the significance of what has happened since 1960s. Once you get the book you cannot put it down, it is so intense in scholastic volume.

I even spent some days of hours in the Gordon-Conwell College libraries to talk to some doctors, and even had a debate with a Greek Orthodox Professor from Harvard on this topic of conditional rebaptism or economia (oikonomia).

Not sure what's your stance? It seems Saint Cyprian would of rebaptized people coming from the New Church to the traditional Orthodox Catholic Church of the Romans.

Any opinions on this? A book review perhaps? Are you familar with "Praxis Obnoxia"? I must say this is a "Hot Topic" with Traditionalists and Conservatives.

Anonymous said...

trying to evaluate evidence for the existence of a 'pope' in the early church any evidence- may be slightly off the topsic but wotever.. found this comment by cyprian (to stephen bishop at Rome concerning the baptism of heretics) which seems to dispell the fact "none of us sets himself up as a bishop of Bishops." and "Terrors of a tyrant in order to bring his colleagues to compulsory obedience."