The Pope Is Satan

Well, not really. But if you follow the logic of the Roman Catholic argument, that’s kind of what you’re left with. This video explains why:

And yes, there are a couple of technical glitches. Chalk it up to new baby brain.

About these ads

About Fr. Jonathan

Your average traditional crunchy Christ follower with a penchant for pop culture, politics, and puns.
This entry was posted in Ask an Anglican, Videos and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

184 Responses to The Pope Is Satan

  1. Pax says:

    ???
    The faith – all faith – is under concerted attack from the outside, casting aspersions on faith-based conflict to great propaganda effect and so on, and you give them an Old Calvinist standby like ‘The Pope is Satan” to work with?

    If you are following pop culture, please consider why Hitchens shouldn’t get the Orwell prize (and share it with your friends):

    KNOW YOUR MEME, SAY WHAT YOU WANT
    “GOOD GUY LUCIFER”
    Propaganda got well understood in the last century, as Orwell and others tried to show how people could be led to believe contrarian things.

    With “New Atheism”, much the same thing happens: (a) start with some underlying hatred, say of religious people, for whatever reason; (b) find some point of controversy; (c) then embed half-truths, lies, distortions and appeals to emotion, prejudice, and so forth into the meme. Use methods to make it go viral – call it “humor” or whatever.

    Before we look at this meme, consider this. Decent people know that the all major religions and ethical teachings use myths, concepts, precepts to explain how we come to know the difference between good and evil. There is some parallel with science, which can show how our propensities for hate, jealousy, selfishness, holding a grudge and so on can led to a certain result, for ourselves and for others that we can judge to be bad. One can go on to use metaphorical terms to describe them.

    The goal of a disinformation meme is to deliberately misunderstand the intended or proper metaphorical use, in order to propose or support its opposite: war is peace, love is hate, compassion is weakness, etc.

    The impact is not “critical thinking” or valuable, _scientific_ skepticism. The impact is inversion, just as the holy books say it will be. Soon enough, people are so caught up in making their point, they ignore simple counterfactuals, for the “big picture”, i.e. there are no good Jews, no good Christians, no good Muslims or it doesn’t matter if there are. Last, additionally convinced, they are willing to do wrong (or evil), even if it starts out small, as petty lies and distortions and deliberately harm-filled words issued “just because” (like blasphemy?).

    Anyway, here it is, couched in humor and trying to set up an alternative to the great stories of worth by picking (emotive issues), twisting (context), distorting (intention):

    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/good-guy-lucifer#fn3

    The first image macro was featured on the LOL God blog on October 23rd, 2011. It was subsequently featured on the podcast series An American Atheist and media aggregators like Buzzfeed and Ranker that week. The series gained popularity on both the r/atheism and /r/adviceanimals subreddits, as well as the microblogging site Tumblr. A Quickmeme page has 181 submissions as of November 1st, 2011.

  2. Pax says:

    I don’t mean to sound confrontational, if it came off that way. I’m just frustrated, I guess, by my perception that good people of faith are not adapting to the rapidly changing circumstances around them.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Hi Pax,

      I’m not sure if you took a look at the video or not, but the title is kind of a joke, related to the way in which the Roman Catechism argues for the supremacy of the pope. I was not trying to bring back an old Calvinist trope, nor do I actually think that the pope is Satan, the antichrist, etc.

      • Pax says:

        I understand, of course!

        But there is a context in which “look at the video” is not an option. It’s one in which people do not have time to. It’s one in which there are angry (even evil people) who’d take this and make just an image out of it, show it to some kid, as young as seven, who has no grounding, no worldly experience of religious life beyond a small frame, and say, “‘Ask an Anglican: The Pope is Satan.’ See, honey, I told you, all religion is intolerant. Be an atheist.”

        For your reference:

        http://ramanan50.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/atheismislam-and-reddit-juvenile/#comments

        This is where Christianity’s encounter with the world is going on, right now. The “epiphanies” are going on with kids in chat rooms and social networking media. The language is strong and the pressure is great.

        What is going on is not a “debate”, so going to look for understanding and bringing knowledge is already a hard track, because what is really going on in some of the leader’s minds is a propaganda war – no thing should stop it. To date, I’ve seen only a limited ability to self-monitor, self-censor and control.

        So, I cannot recommend to you to go engage, as I have, but I highly recommend that you remain completely informed and think of ways to have these epiphanies occur in a context free of lies, distortions, and half-truths about the faith, brought against all of us. It may involve using some of the same approaches, i.e. something very new to the good news.

      • Pax says:

        Also, please feel free to ask me any questions or e-mail me, if that is better. As I say, I don’t want to put you on the defensive. I’m trying to help.

        I do not intend this for publication, just to keep this comment for yourself.

        Did you know that it is somewhat common what happened to you in the last thread on The Oatmeal? I’ve seen it AND experienced it.

        After you (or I) have made a calm and reasoned statement to something provocative, someone else comes along and lies, to put it bluntly. In your case, someone said, “most of us just want to be left alone.” In my cases, I’ve been told stuff like, “what are you worried about, atheism is mostly just going on down at the pub.”

        They tried to change the subject on me, to put me on the defensive. In your case it was parenting.

        In other words, you were scripted to be “demotivated”, to ignore them, and go back to whatever you were doing. This is deliberate. I almost fell for it myself.

        Anyway, I have to tell what I am seeing. You, of course, are not obligated in any way by it.

  3. Pete says:

    I have to start off by saying, I did actually laugh when I saw this video. I’m not sure what Pax’s alarm is for, or if I’m misunderstanding him/her, but the video was great. What would happen, though, for the Archbishop of Canterbury (hypothetically speaking of course, since there’s probably no chance of this ever happening) and his relationship to the worldwide Anglican Communion if the Pope repented and took up the one title he has legitimate claim to, the Patriarch of the West?

    By the way, I’m still waiting on one of these nifty videos to be made on what the relationship and role of the See of Canterbury is to the worldwide Church ;)

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Hi Pete,

      I think that if there was communion again with Rome and the pope was to take up his place as Patriarch of the West, it would make sense for the Archbishop of Canterbury to continue in his current role as Primate of All England and as spiritual father to Anglican churches, but with deference to the patriarch where such deference is due. I don’t think it would actually be all that complicated from our end since the archbishop’s role is already pastoral rather than authoritarian. But I suppose there would be a lot to be worked out in such an arrangement, not least being how the Orthodox churches would respond to such a change.

      I’m sorry, did you send me a question about the See of Canterbury? I seem to have lost it if you did. I’m getting a little overwhelmed with questions, which is wonderful, but it puts me dreadfully behind. Perhaps at some point I’ll get some help from some of my fellow clergy (Fr. Thorpus?).

      • Whit says:

        I actually disagree with Fr. Johnathan slightly here. I would say that in a reunited Church (oh Lord, haste the day) the Pope would rightly take over for the whole Church the duties which the Archbishop of Canterbury currently performs for the Anglican Communion. That is to say, chairing regular conferences of bishops, and councils of bishops when necessary, issuing pastoral letters, and (attempting to) resolve disputes between churches that refuse to talk to one another directly. This would allow the Archbishop of Canterbury to focus on his proper role as head only of the Church of England.

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        We don’t really disagree. I think you’re right that the pope would do that in a reunified Church. I just think that it would still be possible for the Archbishop of Canterbury to do some of that on the inter-Anglican level, while acknowledging that this is derivative of the ministry of the pope in some way.

      • MichaelA says:

        “But I suppose there would be a lot to be worked out in such an arrangement, not least being how the Orthodox churches would respond to such a change.”
        I have read Eastern Orthodox comments in the past that they would be happy to accept the Pope as an ecumenical Patriarch, just not as a Supreme Pontiff. But I don’t know if those comments were authoritative within Eastern Orthodoxy. Like Anglicans, the EOs consist of a number of conciliar churches.

        If it did occur, then Rome and the EO would have to consider what they do about the Oriental Orthodox – that was the first Great Schism and it has been in effect for 1500 years. They have never been able to solve it, even though most theologians on both sides agree it was never really necessary.

  4. Whit says:

    This video was very helpful to me because I am trying to get over a brief bout of “Roman Fever”. Thank you, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I wonder if you have answers to two other arguments often used by Roman Catholic apologists against Anglicans.

    The first argument is that the Roman Catholic Church is truly universal, containing people in every nation and color, and containing an actual majority of churchgoing Christians in the world over and a plurality of churchgoing Christians in traditionally Protestant Great Britain and the United States. As Rocco Palmo put it, there are roughly 1,100,000 more African American RCs in the US then there are Episcopalians total – and most American Catholics aren’t black! Thus, these guys argue, if Anglicanism is true Catholicism and we have erred, why would God let us grow so much bigger then you and spread us throughout the world.

    The second argument is that the RCC has had many very brilliant converts from Anglicanism, including Newman, Chesterton, and Waugh, and by contrast after the first generation of Anglican Reformers the only truly brilliant man who swam the Tiber in the other direction is John Donne, proving that the Catholic Church draws the truly brilliant from Anglicanism while Anglicanism draws the mediocre and rebellious from Roman Catholicism. Is there any real comeback to this?

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Hi Witt,

      Always glad to provide a cure for Roman fever! (Or any other kind of ecclesiastical malady, for that matter.)

      In terms of the arguments that you mention, is there a place online where an RC apologist has fleshed that out? Both arguments seem rather superficially bad. In terms of the first, the relative size of the Church in no way determines the truth of its doctrine. There was a time in the early Church when a majority of Christians and even a majority of bishops were Arians. Arianism was vast and held people all over the world. Would that have made it more Catholic? One of the fastest growing churches around the world today is the Mormon Church. It is also in almost every nation on the planet. Is it Catholic? I would agree that to be Catholic, a church has to be in some way tangibly connected to the larger Church, hence the episcopacy, and if Anglicanism is truly Catholic than it must be possible to be Anglican anywhere, at any time, not just in one place or time or culture. But on that score, Anglicanism has a pretty good track record, given that it has spread all over the world, even without that having been the original intention of the Anglican Reformers.

      As far as the flood of converts goes, there have been plenty of folks who converted to Anglicanism from Roman Catholicism. I don’t imagine that I’m anywhere close to a John Donne, but I am myself a convert. There have also been many great saints and holy men and women who have lived and died and fought for the Anglican Church without ever a hint of a desire to make a sojourn across the Tiber. Moreover, I don’t know that Rome has always gotten the best of this deal. Newman seems to me to have been a much more interesting writer as an Anglican than after his conversion. But really, that is immaterial to whether or not Anglicanism is true. We should expect just what we find in the history of Anglicanism, holy figures and not so holy figures, saints and sinners, just as we find in the history of the Church of Rome. These sorts of side arguments about numbers of converts or church size really just seem like evasions from dealing with the real issues of what is or is not true, what is or is not the ancient Catholic faith.

      • Whit says:

        I’m afraid that I’m crowd-sourcing my arguments here, and in so doing I’m afraid that I may have reduced them to the lowest common denominator. These arguments are more things that have been bubbling in the back of my mind since before I jumped from United Methodism to Anglicanism in search of the Catholic faith which I learned about at my UM seminary and which was practiced by the original Methodists, but which I did not find in the very Protestant UMC of today. IIRC both points were made on the old blog of Fr. Alvin Kimel, a former Episcopal priest turned ultramontane RC. He has now become Eastern Orthodox, apparently, but he has also stopped blogging. I also recall the argument about the quality of converts being made on the old beliefnet forums, though the poster who made that point, “radicalfeministpoet”, was actually playing devils advocate against a triumphalist liberal Episcopalian.

        http://web.archive.org/web/20060106142110/http://catholica.pontifications.net/?page_id=956 Here is Kimal’s explanation of why he became RC, back when he was one. And here are his prognostications about “the future of Anglicansm”- in these he makes the numbers argument: http://web.archive.org/web/20050504120142/http://pontifications.classicalanglican.net/?page_id=852

        The argument about numbers was actually brought to my mind recently by a post of Rocco Palmo’s on the recent conference of African-American Roman Catholics: http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2012/07/what-we-have-seen-and-heard.html. He was not actually making the point about numbers to criticize TEC, he was criticizing the secular media for the circus that accompanied General Convention, and the relative lack of attention paid to the subsequent conference of a larger organization in the same city. I was actually mistaken to read it as a critique of TEC, he was simply asking the media to give equal attention to Catholic affairs.

    • MichaelA says:

      “Thus, these guys argue, if Anglicanism is true Catholicism and we have erred, why would God let us grow so much bigger then you and spread us throughout the world.”
      This is pretty much the argument used by some Pentecostals – “Why would God work such wonders through us if we weren’t the true Church?”.

      I would also be careful of arguments based on numbers – Islam has more than either of us. and nowadays, the idea of Muslims someday outnumbering Christians in the West is not as fanciful as it once seemed. When or if that occurs, will your RC friends be making a date with the local Imam?

      “The second argument is that the RCC has had many very brilliant converts from Anglicanism, including Newman, Chesterton, and Waugh, and by contrast after the first generation of Anglican Reformers the only truly brilliant man who swam the Tiber in the other direction is John Donne, …”

      If you define Newman as “brilliant” then you have already lost that argument. He tried to convince himself that the 39 Articles were consistent with Catholicism, wrote a long treatise about it, and then completely changed his mind. Brilliance…?

      Far more people have left the Roman Catholic church for protestantism than the other way around. I expect there were plenty of brilliant people among them, but I have never bothered to enquire, because I am secure in my own faith and it doesn’t really matter to me. Perhaps someone else can help with examples.

      • MichaelA says:

        Oops, sorry, i posted this before I saw Fr. Jonathan’s reply which says it much better than I did!

      • MichaelA says:

        Sorry, I just also want to add that my comment about Newman above sounded like a real put-down of JHN, which wasn’t what I intended to write at all. I just meant that everyone has a different definition of what “brilliance” means in a particular context. My apologies for any trouble caused.

    • Felix Alexander says:

      Be careful about counting Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism as though they’re equals. Actually, in practice, they’re not. Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are equals, and there’s very many different denominations of Roman Catholicism with divergent practices and teachings—even within your ordinary Latin-rite diocese (that is, I’m not speaking of the particular churches, but within particular churches there’s a large range of variation allowed).

      Of course, the variation is less than the variation within Roman Catholicism is different than the variation within Protestantism, but if you ask an Ultramontane Roman if our host here is on the road to hell, you’ll get a different answer than if you asked a Spirit of Vatican II Roman—and they’ll both have reasonable interpretations of biblical and concilliar sources to back themselves up (even if you think one or the other party is wrong, given the sources).

      The biggest difference between the state of the Protestant groups and the Roman ones is that Protestants count our relationship in the church via Christ alone, whereas Romans count it via the (self-proclaimed) Successor of St Peter. And given our respective communion practices, I think protestant groups usually have a more visible inter-communion than some Roman groups, like the local liberal parish and the SSPX (who, as far I understand it, are merely heading towards schism, rather then being actually schismatic).

      (If you’ve ever seen that figure of 50 000 denominations verses 1 Catholic Church, it’s wrong. IIRC it’s something like 25 000 Christian denominations in 1975 extrapolated to 30 000 in 1980, extrapolated out to today: but of those 25 000 Christian denominations, around 5000 were Eastern/Oriental/etc, 10 000 were Protestant, and 10 000 were Roman Catholic. I can’t remember the exact source, but I’m also giving more of one than those Roman apologists, because you have more numbers to google for.)

      Now, there’s still a lot more Roman Catholics than Protestants. But if you’re happy to just be in communion with the See of St Peter and let everything else work itself out after, why not be happy to just be loyal to Christ and let everything else work itself out after? If you find that you never disagree with Rome, maybe you should join them. But the argument that there’s one Roman church, or a bigger Roman Church, versus any other group, it really doesn’t work once you’ve understood the different terminology.

      • Felix Alexander says:

        Eeek, remind me to proofread next time:

        “Of course, the variation is less than the variation within Roman Catholicism is different than the variation within Protestantism”

        reads more coherently as

        “Of course, the variation within Roman Catholicisim is different (or less) that the variation within Protestantism”.

        My apologies to those who’s brains exploded the first time they came across that sentence.

      • Whit says:

        Rome is in full communion with itself, protestantism isnt. I really can’t go with you in saying that we should compare the RCC with Protestantism as a whole, not with the Anglican Communion. For one thing I think that Anglicans have a lot more in common with Roman Catholics then we do with Pentecostals. I’m willing to count the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran World Federation as sharing a common Reformed Catholic faith, not least because in North America and Europe there is full communion between the local expressions of these forms of the Christian faith, but that’s as far as I can go.

      • MichaelA says:

        But Whit, Rome is not in full communion with anyone else. Not with the Eastern Orthodox, nor the Oriental Orthodox, nor the Old Catholics, or anyone else.

        By contrast, most protestants are in full communion with each other. There are many strong baptist, congregational, pentecostal and presbyterian churches near my home (in Sydney, Australia). I can go into any of them and take Holy Communion, on the basis that I am a communicant member of my own church. That is true sacramental unity, which Rome doesn’t have.

      • Whit says:

        Well, that’s not “full communion” it’s “open communion”. Full Communion means not just letting people take communion, it also means allowing joint services, dual church affiliation, and letting ministers of one denomination take calls to the others churches. But I do take your point.

  5. I am curious as to why Virtueonline is not recognized or listed as an Anglican News and Information source, as we are the largest orthodox Anglican Online News Service in the Anglican Communion.

    David W. Virtue DD
    VIRTUEONLINE
    http://www.virtueonline.org

    • Whit says:

      Because Fr. Johnathan is committed to remaining in ECUSA and pro ordination of women? In the past you have been notably nasty to conservatives who hold both positions, as I recall.

      Incidentally, thank you Fr. Johnathan, for a site where those of us who come from the liberal side of ECUSA can engage with classical Anglicanism without feeling attacked. Frankly, Fr. Johnathan presents the traditional doctrine of marriage in a way which does not imply that LGBT people are less then human. That is not something that you, Mr. Virtue, have ever done! While I remain only half-convinced, I have, thanks to Fr. Johnathan, gone from a vocal advocate of ‘marriage equity’ to being silent and agnostic on the subject. That is not a change that you, Mr. Virtue, could ever have worked in me. Reading your blog confirmed all my progressive stereotypes about traditional Anglicans.

      PS. Fr. Johnathan, keep the viking look. It’s perfect for you.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Hi David, I certainly was not excluding you to slight you. The other sites listed there as news and information are mostly straight news sources which either have no commentary or keep their commentary very carefully separated from what they report as news. I realize that you do a good bit of reporting, but my impression has always been that your site is much more of an opinion site than a news site. I would be happy to add a link in the Conversation Partners section if you like. Many blessings to you.

  6. Stephen STephen says:

    So, the best ‘protest’ you can come up with against the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility is a couple of sentences uttered by a ‘Protestant’ a couple centuries ago.
    Forgive me if I remain underwhelmed…….
    (BTW, lose the pony tail. It’s not working.)

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Hi Stephen,

      I’m afraid that you may have severely missed the point of the video. If you watch it more closely, you’ll notice that I use Rome’s own argument, as enshrined in the current Roman Catechism, to show why the claims for papal authority are unworkable. I also make reference to the Fathers and the universal understanding of the early Church. So this is hardly just an argument by some random Protestant. What Bishop Cosin offers is consistent with the witness of the Catholic Church going back to the earliest centuries.

      Incidentally, I do not know what your hair looks like but I’m sure it’s not half as awesome as mine.

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        I don’t think I missed the point at all.
        Your point is : Roman Catholics have it wrong and you guys are the one’s who have it right.
        Deference to the Bishop of Rome goes back HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of years before
        you lot decided to part company with Rome over a Royal divorce.
        Since your departure, the ECUSA has drifted now to the point where your branch of Anglicanism has a ‘whatever’ attitude towards many points which have been considered Orthodox Christianity since the very beginnings of the Faith.

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        ‘You cannot then deny that you do know that upon Peter first in the City of Rome was bestowed the Episcopal Cathedra, on which sat Peter, the Head of all the Apostles … that, in this one Cathedra, UNITY SHOULD BE PRESERVED BY ALL (emphasis mine) ,
        [in qua unica Cathedra unitas ab omnibus servaretur],
        lest the other Apostles might claim each for himself separate Cathedras, so that he who should set up a second Cathedra against the unique Cathedra would already be a schismatic and a sinner. Well then, on the one Cathedra, which is the first of the Endowments, Peter was the first to sit.’
        Optatus , around 360 AD.

        The question, then, to ask is this:
        Who has set up this ‘second Cathedra’ that Optatus speaks of?
        Rome or The CofE?

      • MichaelA says:

        Stephen, why are you quoting Optatus, a Numidian bishop in the 4th century? He was not Christ nor was he an Apostle. Without apostolic authority, his writings are prone to error and are not binding upon anyone.

      • MichaelA says:

        Stephen,

        Firstly, “deference to the bishop of Rome” is not the point – Rome demands supremacy (literally, when you examine the dogmatic documents). No other church will give that to her – not the Orthodox, not the Anglicans, anyone. Nor should they.

        Secondly, you need to do better than saying that deference goes back “hundreds and hundreds of years” – if it wasn’t ordained by the Apostles, it is meaningless.

        Thirdly, we did not “part company with Rome over a Royal divorce”. Rome parted company with us, when it decided at Trent to plough a different path to the mainstream of medieval Christianity. In other words, we didn’t leave Rome – Rome left us.

        “Since your departure, the ECUSA has drifted now to the point where your branch of Anglicanism has a ‘whatever’ attitude towards many points which have been considered Orthodox Christianity since the very beginnings of the Faith.”

        Ahem – there are 80 million Anglicans in the world (at last count – the pace of evangelism in Africa, Asia and South America is such that the true number may be larger now). The vast majority of them are thoroughly orthodox. Just because a small number of bad apples have worked their way into high positions in the North American and English churches does not mean that the whole bunch is bad. Those churches are only a small part of Anglicanism, and there are still many faithful Christians within them.

        The Roman Catholic churches include a wide variety of belief also. I know a number of sedevacantists who believe the current and last Popes are not true popes, and one even believes JP II was an anti-Christ. Let’s not pretend that our RC brethren are united on all issues!

  7. Ross says:

    Fr. Jonathen – thanks for the helpful video. I also am a convert from RC to Anglicanism. I would like to hear more of your journey from the RCC to the Anglican Church. Is that somewhere on your website? Thanks.

  8. Stephen Stephen says:

    Michael asks:
    ‘Stephen, why are you quoting Optatus, a Numidian bishop in the 4th century? He was not Christ nor was he an Apostle. Without apostolic authority, his writings are prone to error and are not binding upon anyone.’

    Recognizing the importance of Apostolic authority and succession is vitally important.
    Would it then follow that if I posted comments from Bishops in the Apostolic lineage who recognized the Chair of Peter as first among equals that you would then do the same?

    • Stephen Stephen says:

      s/b : would it not then follow.
      Sorry.

    • MichaelA says:

      Stephen wrote:

      “Recognizing the importance of Apostolic authority and succession is vitally important.”

      Indeed it is. But there was no “succession” of Apostolic authority (although Apostolic Succession in other senses is possible). Nobody could be an Apostle unless they were (a) eye-witnesses to Christ’s resurrection, and (b) directly called by God to that office. The Apostles were never given the power to pass on their special authority to those who came after.

      On those men (and only on them) was conferred the same authority as on the Old Testament prophets, to speak and write with God’s voice to his people. Hence we are told that the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” [Ephesians 2:20].

      This is also why the Apostle Peter tells us that Scripture is written either by Prophets (in the Old Testament) or by Apostles (in the New Testament): “I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles.” [2 Peter 3:2]

      “Would it [not] then follow that if I posted comments from Bishops in the Apostolic lineage who recognized the Chair of Peter as first among equals that you would then do the same?”

      I am not sure what you mean by this. But the issue with the writings of any non-apostolic church leader is always: “Are their views consistent with the teaching of Christ and his Apostles as recorded in Scripture”. If they are consistent, then I will accept them; if they are not, then I won’t.

      I should add that the vast majority of teaching in the Church Fathers is thoroughly consistent with Scripture, because that is what the Church Fathers themselves strove to achieve.

  9. Fr. Jonathan says:

    Hi Stephen,

    Your quote from Optatus is interesting and I would like to know more about its context. I suspect that it is related to his efforts at combating against the Donatist schism, in which case the Cathedra of Peter is being compared with the false Cathedra of the Donatist rigorists. Nonetheless, there is commonly found in the writings of the Fathers a great admiration for the See of Peter and for the Church of Rome, both of which are not necessarily co-terminus.

    ‘A fuller look at the Fathers reveals, however, that the deference given to the Roman Church was an honor that had more to do with Rome’s place as an imperial center than with any idea of an ongoing Petrine ministry. Moreover, the Fathers believed that all bishops are successors of Peter since all of them hold the unified faith. More than a century before Optatius, Saint Cyprian of Carthage wrote, “This Throne of Peter is held by the whole episcopate, so that every bishop is Peter’s successor.” Likewise, Saint John Chrysostom explained, “Upon this rock. He did not say upon Peter for it is not upon the man, but upon his own faith that the church is built. And what is this faith? You are the Christ, the Son of the living God/” And Saint Ambrose wrote, “As soon as Peter heard these words, ‘Whom say ye that I am?’ remembering his place, he exercised this primacy, a primacy of confession, not of honor; a primacy of faith, not of rank.”

    It’s all well and good to say that the primacy of the bishop of Rome is a longstanding tradition in the Church. But the Fathers cannot be made to say that the pope is able to act today as the vicar of Christ. There us no warrant for that either in the Scriptures or in the Fathers.

    • You are missing the point. The Bishop of Rome is like the captain in the basketball team that holds the team together. It does not make him a super-Bishop, just one with a certain role.

      When Bishops fell into heresy, faithful Eastern saints always asked the Bishop of Rome to intervene. They obviously believed he had authority to solve disputes that arose and protect the Orthodoxy and unity of the church. This is why Papal authority exists.

      To illustrate how Popes regarded their authority, consider the witness of Pope St. Gregory the Great (c. A.D. 590). Corresponding with the Byzantine bishop of Syracuse in Sicily (Sicily was a Byzantine province at the time), he discusses a new candidate for patriarch of Constantinople, and Pope Gregory writes …

      \”As to what he says, that he is subject to the Apostolic See (Rome), I know of no bishop who is not subject to it, if there be any fault found in bishops.\” (Pope Gregory I Ep. Ad. Joan.)

      In other words, Pope St. Gregory is saying that a bishop is only subject to the authority of Rome if and when that bishop departs from orthodoxy, and thus must be corrected or condemned by Rome.

      Pope St. Gregory did not believe (nor did any of his predecessors or successors) that the Pope of Rome should mico-manage the other churches. Rather, the other bishops should merely recognize Rome\’s authority when disputes arose –disputes which threatened to disturb the universal unity and orthodox Faith of the entire Catholic Church.

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        I’m afraid that your vision of the papacy does not correspond with the teaching found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I referenced in the video, or in the actions of the first and second Vatican Councils. The authority of the pope is not solely to intervene in disputes but to govern the whole Church, over which he has immediate jurisdiction. Gregory the Great, who understood himself to be “servant of the servants,” would be appalled by that.

      • Yes, the Bishop of Rome governs the Western church. The Eastern churches in union with Rome, have their own patriarchs, so they are not directly under the Bishop of Rome, when it comes to governance. Their canons are also different from the Western church.

        As Stephen pointed out you are reading your own views into these documents, rather than what it actually intends to say.

      • MichaelA says:

        Actually, Fr Jonathan isn’t! Rather, he is reading precisely what these documents intend to say. From the Catchism of the Roman Catholic Church:

        “882 …For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.

        883 The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head. As such, this college has supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.”

      • How exactly is this different from the captain of the basketball team analogy that I used to keep the team together?

        The church has a captain who exists to protect the Orthodoxy and unity of the church.

        The Magisterium consists of 12 people, like the 12 Apostles, with Peter being it’s head.

        When a Bishop promotes heresy in the church, the Bishop of Rome has the right to step in and condemn it.

      • MichaelA says:

        “The Magisterium consists of 12 people, like the 12 Apostles, with Peter being it’s head.”
        12 people? Last time I looked, the magisterium was vested in all the bishops of the RC Church. But I think you may have missed my point – the Catechism states plainly that the Pope has “full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered”. How is that in any way similar to the captain of a basketball team?
        Also, I am sure you are aware by now that most non-Roman Catholic christians do not consider that there is any indication in scripture that Peter was head of the Apostles, but that is another issue!
        “When a Bishop promotes heresy in the church, the Bishop of Rome has the right to step in and condemn it.”
        Of course. And not only the right, but the duty, as do the leaders of every Christian church. But lets not try to pretend that the Pope is only able to exercise his powers in restricted circumstances such as urgent dealing with heresy – the RC Catechism claims that the Bishop of Rome has the authority to do anything he likes on any issue, not just for correcting heresy.

      • The Pope has this authority only over doctrinal and theological issues. Not everything said and done.

        If you read the whole version of the Catechism it goes on to explain just what exactly this means.

        http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P74.HTM

      • MichaelA says:

        HI LTTG, we are getting a bit squashed so I will shift my reply back to here. You appear to be shifting the goal-posts: no-one has suggested that the Pope has a right to tell the parish priest down the road what coloured shoes to wear.

        You have put the position that the Pope’s powers are limited to correcting heresy, and that he has to work with the rest of the bishops. I am pointing out that his powers (in doctrine, if you require the clarification) are unlimited, and he may act entirely on his own initiative and power, without any requirement to consult the bishops.

      • But, The Pope does consult Bishops . It just so happens that if a Bishop falls to heresy or has views that are not compatible with sound theology, as this has happened before, the Pope does have the authority to act on this, without consulting Apostate Bishops.

      • MichaelA says:

        You are inserting qualifications of your own which are not there in the Catechism, not even hinted at. The Pope has the power to act without consulting ANY bishop, not just the apostate ones. And he can do this regardless of whether a bishop has “fallen to heresy” or not. The wording is plain.

      • You are ignoring the link I gave you on what the magisterium does. “The Roman Pontiff,” Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another.” (Catechism 880).

        This magisterium is the glue of the Church. It is what keeps us all going in the same direction theologically. It is where we turn to find out what the Church really believes about something.

      • I will also add, that if you do not hold to Apostolic succession, then you do not have to worry about who Bishops listen to, because you have no Bishops.

      • MichaelA says:

        “You are ignoring the link I gave you on what the magisterium does.”

        No, I am not. Rather, you are ignoring the plain statement in the catechism and the later councils, that the Pope is empowered to act with full independence from the bishops. Of course the Pope chooses from time to time to act in accordance with his bishops. But he is under no obligation to do so.

        “This magisterium is the glue of the Church. It is what keeps us all going in the same direction theologically. It is where we turn to find out what the Church really believes about something.”

        That is your option. We turn to Apostolic teaching.

        “I will also add, that if you do not hold to Apostolic succession, then you do not have to worry about who Bishops listen to, because you have no Bishops.”

        Who are you to suggest that anyone does not have bishops? You are not Anglican, and you make basic mistakes about Anglican teaching, so what would you know?

        For we Anglicans, “who bishops listen to” is of the ultimate importance. Not who ordained them, but whose teaching do they follow. We do not need to obey a bishop who rejects apostolic teaching, regardless of who ordained him.

      • Nobody said, you had to listen to a heretical Bishop, but Apostolic teaching only supports a valid Eucharist, celebrated by the successors of the Apostles

        Ignatius of Antioch

        Follow your bishop, every one of you, as obediently as Jesus Christ followed the Father. Obey your clergy too as you would the apostles; give your deacons the same reverence that you would to a command of God. Make sure that no step affecting the Church is ever taken by anyone without the bishop’s sanction. The sole Eucharist you should consider valid is one that is celebrated by the bishop himself, or by some person authorized by him. Where the bishop is to be seen, there let all his people be; just as, wherever Jesus Christ is present, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).

        In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him (Letter to the Trallians 3:1-2 [A. D. 110])

        Cyprian

        The spouse of Christ cannot be defiled; she is uncorrupted and chaste. She knows one home . . . Does anyone believe that this unity which comes from divine strength, which is closely connected with the divine sacraments, can be broken asunder in the Church and be separated by the divisions of colliding wills?

        He who does not hold this unity, does not hold the law of God, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation (On the Unity of the Catholic Church 6 [A.D. 251]).

        Peter speaks there, on whom the Church was to be built, teaching and showing in the name of the Church, that although a rebellious and arrogant multitude of those who will not hear or obey may depart, yet the Church does not depart from Christ; and they are the Church who are a people united to the priest, and the flock which adheres to its pastor. Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if any one be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church, and that those flatter themselves in vain who creep in, not having peace with God’s priests, and think that they communicate secretly with some; while the Church which is Catholic and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of priests who cohere with one another (Letters 66 [A.D. 253]).

      • Yes, the Pope can act independently.

        If there was someone to hold the Archbishop of Canterbury accountable, would there be so much confusion?

      • MichaelA says:

        What confusion? Be sure you understand the situation.

      • I have a question. Anglicans have the “three-legged stool.” Scripture, tradition, and human reason.

        Whose reason and whose tradition?

    • Stephen Stephen says:

      Fr. Jonathan posted:
      “This Throne of Peter is held by the whole episcopate, so that every bishop is Peter’s successor.”

      Which is precisely why the Bishop of Rome is called ‘first among equals’.

      Like it or not, Jesus built ONE Church, not 20 some thousand.
      Just as there must be uniformity in the manner in which Bishops are Ordained and Consecrated and in their manner of dedication, there must be uniformity in voice and declaration by the Church.
      Else-wise, to which ‘voice’ does one listen?

      I suggest that you don’t have a complete grasp on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
      It is either that, or you are purposefully being manipulative.

      • MichaelA says:

        Stephen, see my cite from paragraphs 882 and 883 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church above.

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        I have no problem with anything you’ve said in this comment, save for the last paragraph where you call me either ignorant or manipulative.

  10. Stephen Stephen says:

    It is difficult to discuss a topic such as this with someone who doesn’t accept an Apostolic succession or that the Apostles handed on their authority to others who came after them.
    Before we move into a broader discussion on the authority of the Pope, how that authority was recognized by the early Church Fathers and how it is recognized today, perhaps it would benefit us both to first discuss our Faiths and how they might differ in some areas and be similar in others.
    Would you agree to that?

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Anglicans do accept Apostolic Succession. There is an apostolic office that was handed on in the form of the episcopate. The difference between us is not in the belief in an ongoing apostolic office but in the way in which that office works. For Anglicans, the work of the bishops is to teach, preach, and guard the faith once delivered to the saints. There is no ongoing or new revelation to contend with. And the interpretive function, which for Roman Catholics is exercised by the Magisterium under the unmitigated authority of the pope, is shared by all the bishops who are bound to follow what they have received from the early Church.

    • MichaelA says:

      Stephen,
      I agree with Father Jonathan, although the terminology we use might be different in some places, coming as we do from different streams within Anglicanism. But the effect is essentially the same.

      If you want to discuss with Anglicans, then you are just going to have to get used to dealing with people who don’t accept that “the Apostles handed on their authority to others who came after them”, bearing in mind that we are talking about a particular type of authority here, i.e. the apostolic authority to reveal God’s word and will directly to His people.

      There are a few Anglicans who would believe as you do (although many of them are probably already on their way to the RCC via the Ordinariate). But I think it would be fair to say that the vast majority of the 80 million Anglicans in the world do not believe that the Apostolic authority to directly reveal God’s will (and, correspondingly, to write Holy Scripture) was or could be passed on.

      I hope that doesn’t stop the discussion. But obviously if we are going to discuss with Roman Catholics we have to be prepared to accept that they believe certain things, even if we don’t agree with them. The same applies if members of the Catholic Church (or any other Church for that matter) want to discuss with us. You don’t have to agree with us, and you are welcome to attempt to persuade us otherwise, but you have to accept where we stand to start with!

      • If you do not think the Apostles did this, by laying hands on people to ordain them into the priesthood, then why do you subscribe to Apostolic succession

        Priests and Bishops are ordained just to dress up?

      • MichaelA says:

        “If you do not think the Apostles did this, by laying hands on people to ordain them into the priesthood…”
        Where have I or anyone else said that?

        We appear to be somewhat at cross-purposes – what do you see the apostles teaching in Scripture about priests and bishops?

      • We agree that there is no new revelation or Gospel. Bishops and priests do not bring a new revelation.

        “what do you see the apostles teaching in Scripture about priests and bishops?”

        This would depend on whether you take a Catholic or Protestant approach to the priesthood. The latter not having any priests.

        At the last supper Jesus served bread and wine (the first Mass) just as Melchizedek had done with Abraham (Gen 14:18). He said to the disciples “this is the New Covenant in my blood” (Lk 22:20), signifying, among other things, God’s transfer of Priestly duties from the Levites to Jesus who was the “true priest with the others [disciples] being only his ministers” (Aquinas, Hebr. 8.4).

      • MichaelA says:

        Very good point and there is much here we would agree on. Some comments:
        (i) Melchizedek as a priest of God was greater than any levitical (Aaronic) priest, as his order was greater than theirs [Heb 7:4-10].
        (ii) We are specifically told that Christ did not become a priest of the Levitical/Aaronic order, but a priest of the older and greater order of Melchizedek [Heb 7:11].
        (iii) However, there is one aspect of the Levitical order that Christ did take on, not the priestly office but the High Priest’s office [Hebrews 8:3,4]
        (iv) The High Priest was the only Levitical priest who could offer sacrifice for the sins of the whole people, once per year when he entered the Most Holy Place with the blood of sacrificial bulls and goats on Yom Kippur. Christ as the heavenly High Priest entered the true Most Holy Place in heaven bearing his own blood and made atonement for the sins of the whole people. [Hebrews 9:11-12, 24-26]
        I don’t think anywhere in the New Testament is Christ referred to as a Levitical priest, except when he is called the High Priest, i.e. the only one that could make atonement for the sins of the whole people of God.

        “This would depend on whether you take a Catholic or Protestant approach to the priesthood. The latter not having any priests.”
        We have lots of priests – the word is an Old English shortening of the Greek word “presbyteros” (latin Presbyter) which means elder. This is the word that the New Testament always uses to describe Christian priests. Although the word “hieros” (Lat. sacerdos, meaning sacrificing priest) does appear several times in the New Testament, it is never used to describe a Christian priest. So, we have plenty of presbyteri, but no sacerdotes, just like the apostolic church.

      • Your views would be Protestant and not Catholic. Not all Anglicans hold this view. Anglo-Catholics do hold that they have a sacrificial priesthood. In the early church Presbyteros and Sacerdots were used interchangeably.

        The Didache

        Assemble on the Lord’s Day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist: but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice [Matt. 5:23—24]. For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, “Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations” [Mal. 1:11, 14] (Didache 14 [A.D. 70]).

        Clement of Rome

        Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its sacrifices. Blessed are those presbyters who have already finished their course, and who have obtained a fruitful and perfect release (Letter to the Corinthians 44:4-5 [A.D. 95]).

        Ignatius of Antioch

        Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his blood, and one single altar of sacrifice —even as there is also but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow servitors, the deacons. This will ensure that all your doings are in full accord with the will of God (Letter to the Philadelphians 4 [A.D. 110]).

        Justin Martyr

        God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [minor prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: “I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord, and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering, for my name is great among the Gentiles” [Mal. 1:10-11]. He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us [Christians] who in every place offer sacrifices to him, that is, the bread of the Eucharist and also the cup of the Eucharist (Dialogue with Trypho 41 [A.D. 155]).

      • There is no priest who does not offer sacrifice. You cannot have a priesthood and not link it to sacrifice.

        “Do this in remembrance of me” (Touto poieite tan eman anamnasin; Luke 22:19, 1 Cor. 11:24–25) which is better translated “Offer this as my memorial offering.”

        Thus, Protestant early Church historian J. N. D. Kelly writes that in the early Church “the Eucharist was regarded as the distinctively Christian sacrifice. . . . Malachi’s prediction (1:10–11) that the Lord would reject Jewish sacrifices and instead would have “a pure offering” made to him by the Gentiles in every place was seized upon by Christians as a prophecy of the Eucharist.

        “It was natural for early Christians to think of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. The fulfillment of prophecy demanded a solemn Christian offering, and the rite itself was wrapped in the sacrificial atmosphere with which our Lord invested the Last Supper. The words of institution, ‘Do this’ (touto poieite), must have been charged with sacrificial overtones for second-century ears; Justin at any rate understood them to mean, ‘Offer this.’ . . . The bread and wine, moreover, are offered ‘for a memorial (eis anamnasin) of the passion,’ a phrase which in view of his identification of them with the Lord’s body and blood implies much more than an act of purely spiritual recollection” (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines [Full Reference], 196–7).

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        learningtotrustgod, The discussion of Eucharistic sacrifice, while interesting, is a bit off topic. We’ve recently had a discussion about how Anglicans and Roman Catholics differ their understanding of Eucharistic sacrifice which you can find here; http://conciliaranglican.com/2012/06/14/on-the-eucharist-the-mass-is-a-sacrifice-its-just-not-a-mass/

      • Thanks for this link.

  11. Stephen Stephen says:

    Michael posted:
    “If you want to discuss with Anglicans, then you are just going to have to get used to dealing with people who don’t accept that “the Apostles handed on their authority to others who came after them”

    Micheal,
    I have no problem ‘accepting’ that there are people who do not accept Apostolic succession.
    People are free to believe whatever they wish, my friend.
    That being said, it does not then follow that YOUR position is an accurate description of the Anglican Church.
    Ask Father Jonathan if the Anglican Church declares that their Ordinations are Apostolic and therefore ‘valid’ or not.

    This much I know for sure. The Anglican Chruch DOES claim validity as far as Apostolic succession is concerned.
    And, that term deals more with Bishops than it does the matter of a ‘priesthood of all believers’.
    (Yes, I believe in that as well.)
    Anglicans believe it is so much, in fact, that they insist that their Ordinations are Apostolic (and therefore genuine) even after they broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and they have issued dozens of Apologetic writings to that end.
    Even after Cranmer changed the Ordinal.

    So, if your assertion is that Anglicans do not believe in an Apostolic Lineage for their Ordinations, you are simply wrong.

    Father Jonathan can answer for that, if he wishes to, I feel certain.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      I could be wrong, but I don’t think that MichaelA was challenging the notion of Apostolic Succession or suggesting that Anglicans don’t believe in and value the fact that our orders have been handed down to us, through the laying on of hands and the gift of the Holy Spirit, in an unbroken succession that goes back to Christ Himself. Where I think we would differ is in the understanding of what that apostolic office is for. There is an interpretive function that is carried out by the bishops, but it is a carrying on of what has always been the Catholic and Evangelical faith of the Church. We reject the idea of a development of doctrine, guided by an inspired magisterium. To the extent that we have a magisterium, it is the tradition that has been handed down to us through our formularies, particularly the Book of Common Prayer, which gives us the faith of the early Church as it was handed down in Scripture. We are bound by Scripture, not over it.

      • Development of doctrine, is not the creation of a new doctrine, but a better understanding of what already exists. Newman discusses this in his essays.

        Christians believed Jesus was God, but this was made dogma at Nicea.

        The Bible is a complex document, best interpreted by the right authorities. A parallel would be the US constitution. We know it’s authoritative, but still rely on the Supreme Court to interpret it.

        Scripture is part of received tradition given to the church. The church existed before there was a single book of the NT and gave us the Bible.

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        It was Newman’s claim that development of doctrine simply clarified what came from the past, creating trees where there was once only a seed. This is antithetical to how Anglicans understand the faith of the Early Church and indeed to how the Fathers understood themselves.

        That the Church existed before the New Testament is not really in question. Nor does classical Anglicanism deny that the Church is called upon to interpret the Scripture and that there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. But I think it is a bit strange to say that the Scripture is merely the tool of the Church and not also the rule of faith. Yes, the Church is the means by which the Scriptures were written, and yes the Bible exists for the Church and not the other way around, but the Church did not give us the Bible. God gave us the Bible. And for that matter, He also gave us the Church.

      • Are you seriously saying that Anglicans have not grown into a deeper understanding of any theology?

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        No. No I’m not.

      • Development of doctrine is growing into a deeper understanding of a particular doctrine.

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        No, development of doctrine is the assumption that history is progressive and that the Church in one era can actually better understand the faith than the Church of the Apostles and the Fathers. Bishops and saints who were celebrated in their own era would be considered heretics today for not believing in things like Mary’s immaculate conception or the infallibility of the pope when speaking ex cathedra.

      • But, the church did hold to these things. This is where we disagree.

        http://www.staycatholic.com/ecf_immaculate_conception.htm

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        Even if I were to grant to you the notion that someone–anyone–believed in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in the early Church, it does not change the essence of my point, that prior to Vatican I you could be a perfectly good Catholic and not believe it. That is the problem with the doctrine of development.

      • You are right, but prior to this it was not formalized. The doctrines that were formalized at ecumenical councils already existed, but took a lot of study to make them official and binding on the church.

        ” For, as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her” (Dei Verbum 8).

      • MichaelA says:

        LTTG, see my comment below

    • MichaelA says:

      LTTG wrote:
      “Are you seriously saying that Anglicans have not grown into a deeper understanding of any theology?”

      That is a different thing to what Father Jonathan wrote, and it is a different thing to what you and others have previously written.

      Of course we “grow into a deeper understanding of theology” – each of us does this as individuals, and churches can do it as well. [Note that we and our churches can also *regress* in our understanding of theology]

      But that doesn’t change the fact that the theology was always there. It is our understanding and application that changes, but the theology itself does not change one iota.

      Furthermore, our understanding of the *application* of theology changes. The fathers assembled at Nicaea in 325 AD composed a creed to summarise those teachings of Scripture that were necessary to deal with Arianism. They mentioned nothing about sexuality. By contrast, the Anglican leaders who assembled at Jerusalem in 2008 included this in their statement:
      “8. We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.”

      Those Anglican leaders assembled in Jerusalem in 2008 AD had EXACTLY the same theological basis as the imperial bishops assembled at Nicaea in 325 AD, but their pronouncements were different because the needs of the times were different.

    • MichaelA says:

      LTTG wrote:
      “Scripture is part of received tradition given to the church. The church existed before there was a single book of the NT and gave us the Bible.”

      The church did not give us the Bible. The Apostles gave us the Bible. The church preserved the Bible and witnessed to its truth and provenance (and still does), but that is a different thing.

      Furthermore, the statement that the church existed “before there was a single book of the NT” is highly misleading in this context. Books of the NT are authoritative only because they were written by or under direct authority of an Apostle. It is the fact that they contain Apostolic teaching that makes them authoritative, and from the very beginning of its existence the supreme authority for the church was always Apostolic teaching.

      • Yes, but the church came into existence on Pentecost, and put together the books of the Bible, deciding on their canon. We would not know what books should have been in the Bible. Hence the church did give us what they received from the Apostles.

        The Bible is a complex document best interpreted by the right authorities.

      • MichaelA says:

        I agree with your first point, noting that at the first moment the church came into existence, it was under Apostolic rule.

        I also agree that the church “gave” us the scriptures in the sense you describe: it ensured the books of Apostolic authorship were identified and preserved even after the Apostles passed on, and it handed those books down to those who came after. However, the church did not “decide” on the Canon in the sense of making a selection on its own authority: the issue was whether a book had been written by or under the direct authority of an Apostle. If it was, it was acknowledged to be scripture and the church had no authority to decide otherwise.

        “The Bible is a complex document best interpreted by the right authorities.”

        We seem to be off on another tangent here, and I am not sure what it has to do with the thread. Are the scriptures complex? Certainly. Are they also very simple? Definitely. Can an uneducated person find salvation and nurture in them? Medieval divines from Aquinas to Occam to Calvin all so taught, and I agree with them.

        And relying on “right authorities”? By all means, but remember the clear warning that Christ himself gave us: His strongest castigations are reserved for the “right authorities” of his day who misinterpret Scripture, see e.g. Mark 7:9-13, or or Matthew 23:16-24. Over and over again he warns his listeners that relying on wrong teaching by a “right authority” is no excuse for failing to obey the plain teaching of Scripture.

    • MichaelA says:

      “That being said, it does not then follow that YOUR position is an accurate description of the Anglican Church. Ask Father Jonathan if the Anglican Church declares that their Ordinations are Apostolic and therefore ‘valid’ or not.”

      He has answered you, and I agree with him.

      A note about terminology: my original post referred to the Apostolic authority to declare God’s word to the church. You responded by referring to “apostolic succession” which can mean a number of different things.

      Whilst you will find Anglicans who believe all sorts of things (just as you will find the same of Roman Catholics), the vast majority of Anglicans do not believe that the Apostolic authority to declare God’s will directly to the church was, or could be, passed on.

      “This much I know for sure. The Anglican Chruch DOES claim validity as far as Apostolic succession is concerned. Anglicans believe it is so much, in fact, that they insist that their Ordinations are Apostolic (and therefore genuine) even after they broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and they have issued dozens of Apologetic writings to that end.”

      Some Anglicans have issued such writings, but the majority don’t give a fig what Rome thinks or does, because its approval has absolutely nothing to do with what is “apostolic”. (we would be happy to enter into ecumencial relations with Rome, but that is another matter). for any person and any church, the fundamental challenge remains: If you want to be truly Apostolic, then live as the Apostles lived and teach as they taught.

      And no, we did not break away from Rome, rather Rome broke away from us!

  12. Stephen Stephen says:

    Father Johnathan,
    For you to claim an Apostolic Succession that goes back to Christ Himself, you must therefore also claim a link with the Catholic Apostolic lineage that goes back to Christ Himself.
    AND, if that be the case, then you must also recognize that it was the Church of England who arbitrarily broke that lineage under Henry VIII.
    An interpretative function of Bishops is part of the Office of a Bishop, but Christ did not leave us a static Church in a static world.
    An example of how an Apostolic Authority was passed down from the Apostles to those who followed them is something I’m certain you studied in order to become an Episcopal minister.
    (I would say Priest, but I’m not sure the term means the same thing to you as it does me.)
    Any notion that the Apostles did not also leave a teaching authority to others who followed instead of the Bible alone is dispelled by the Bible Itself!
    Read 2nd Timothy, 2 – 12 : “What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also”.
    In this passage, Paul refers to the first four generations of apostolic succession. His own generation, Timothy’s generation. The generation Timothy will teach, and the generation they in turn will teach.

    So, how was this as well as other commands to pass on the words and traditions that we see in the Bible understood by those who followed? Well, let’s look and see.

    Eusebius 150 AD :
    “At that time there flourished in the Church Hegesippus, whom we know from what has gone before, and Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, and another bishop, Pinytus of Crete, and besides these, Philip, and Apollinarius, and Melito, and Musanus, and Modestus, and, finally, Irenaeus. From them has come down to us in writing, the sound and orthodox faith received from tradition” .

    Irenaeus 180 AD :
    That is why it is surely necessary to avoid them [heretics], while cherishing with the utmost diligence the things pertaining to the Church, and to lay hold of the tradition of truth. . . . What if the apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the churches?”

    Here, we see Irenaeus saying that EVEN IF the Apostles had not left us writings, it would still be necessary to follow Tradition which had been handed down.

    Christ did not leave us a Static Church. He left us a LIVE CHURCH that needs to be overseen by the Holy Spirit acting through men who have been entrusted and Ordained through Faithful means.

    • To be fair, the C of E did have Apostolic Succession until Edward V1, who Protestanized it. Schism does not break succession, heresy does.

      • MichaelA says:

        The apostles never taught that apostolic succession (in the sense of passing on an office) was important. If you believe they did, I would welcome a reference.

        However, the Apostles did teach that FOLLOWING their teaching was of ultimate importance.

      • Clement of Rome

        Our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned, and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry (Letter to the Corinthians 44:1 [A.D. 95]).

        Irenaeus
        It is necessary to obey those who are the presbyters in the Church, those who, as we have shown, have succession from the Apostles; those who have received, with the succession of the episcopate, the sure charism of truth according to the good pleasure of the Father. But the rest, who have no part in the primitive succession and assemble wheresoever they will, must be held in suspicion (ibid 4:26:2).

        Clement of Alexandria

        After the death of the tyrant, the [Apostle John] came back again to Ephesus from the Island of Patmos; and, upon being invited, he went even to the neighbouring cities of the pagans, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, and there to ordain to the clerical estate such as were designated by the Spirit (Who is the Rich Man that is Saved? 42:2 [A.D. 200]).

      • MichaelA says:

        LTTG, I made a comment about what the Apostles taught (or rather did not teach), and you responded with three quotes, none of which are apostolic! I am just pointing out how difficult it is when we get non-responsive replies!

        As Clement (a secondary source) correctly points out, the Apostles commanded succession. It has always been of great importance and so it remains for us today. But my point remains: the Apostles never taught that the mere fact of such succession by itself counted, if a bishop or elder taught differently from the Apostolic teaching. That teaching was always the primary issue.

      • The point is that those in the right Succession would not teach heresy, and if they did they would be deposed.

      • MichaelA says:

        That is something we can agree on. I expect you may understand why this is a very important issue for Anglicans today, particularly in western countries.

      • Yes, teaching is primary, but this does not mean that Succession itself does not exist.

    • MichaelA says:

      “For you to claim an Apostolic Succession that goes back to Christ Himself, you must therefore also claim a link with the Catholic Apostolic lineage that goes back to Christ Himself.”

      Which is precisely what we do – we are 100% in the true Catholic and Apostolic lineage. Those who do not follow the Apostles’ teaching are not in that lineage, in any sense that matters.

      “AND, if that be the case, then you must also recognize that it was the Church of England who arbitrarily broke that lineage under Henry VIII.”

      Why must he recognise this, when it is obviously not true? You are confusing the Church of Rome with the Apostles. We are linked with them – whether you are, depends on whether you remain true to their teaching.

      “An interpretative function of Bishops is part of the Office of a Bishop, but Christ did not leave us a static Church in a static world.”

      Since no Anglican has ever suggested as much, why bother to write this?

      “Any notion that the Apostles did not also leave a teaching authority to others who followed instead of the Bible alone is dispelled by the Bible Itself! Read 2nd Timothy, 2 – 12 : “What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also”. In this passage, Paul refers to the first four generations of apostolic succession.”

      No, Paul doesn’t. You have to read what is actually written in scripture, not what you would like to be written there! Paul says *nothing* in this passage about granting authority to any other person to teach with apostolic authority. Quite the opposite – he tells Timothy to ensure that those who come after teach ONLY what Paul taught.

      “Eusebius: …From them has come down to us in writing, the sound and orthodox faith received from tradition”.

      Precisely – Protestants follow Eusebius: The “tradition” (which in this context means “teaching”, not “oral tradition”) that we have is a *written* one which comes from the Apostles.

      “Here, we see Irenaeus saying that EVEN IF the Apostles had not left us writings, it would still be necessary to follow Tradition which had been handed down.”

      Even if this were a precisely accurate summary of Irenaeus’ point in this passage, you still acknowledge the truth that Irenaeus did not dare claim any authority as equal to written Scripture (nor did he have any authority to do so).

      “Christ did not leave us a Static Church. He left us a LIVE CHURCH that needs to be overseen by the Holy Spirit acting through men who have been entrusted and Ordained through Faithful means.”

      Which is precisely what Anglicans believe and practice. Note these important points:

      (i) Any church that is not faithful to the teachings of the Apostles is to that extent not being overseen by the Holy Spirit;

      (ii) Any church that is not faithful to the teachings of the Apostles is to that extent not properly entrusting and ordaining its leaders.

      You appear to be suggesting the reverse: That if a church follows some “proper” ordination process and can show a link back to the early church, that it doesn’t matter what that church or its leaders teach. We Anglicans have seen the terrible damage that can be done to a church when such a doctrine is followed – you will not convince us to turn back to such teachings.

  13. I am out of my league with you fellows, I admit. One of the things I notice, however, is that quickly the discussion becomes about who is in charge, who is right etc. I believe that Apostolic Succession is important as well, however, I do recognize it’s fragility. For example, in Canada where I live, recently an RC bishop plead guilty to having a large amount of child abuse images on his laptop computer. It had also been discovered that he had taken vacations to such places as Bangkok, Thailand which are known to be “sex tourism” destinations. I know we are not called to judge others, but I sincerely feel that his evil deeds would surely sever his connection with the Apostles and with Christ. Does that make sense? It seems as likely to me that God would choose to discard such a priest because of his actions if he is willing to discard all the priests and the bishops of the Church of England because they broke communion with the Bishop of Rome. So that would therefore mean that all the priests the bishop ordained, and other bishops he consecrated are not actually valid priests and bishops, even if they are holy and loving people? I am a layman, and I don’t understand all the ins and outs of this ecclesiology, forgive me. But, honestly these sorts of discussions tend to confuse and also upset people. I’m not saying that I haven’t found this discussion interesting and informative, indeed I have learned many interesting things. But we should wash one another’s feet more.

    • Thanks for your comments. A Bishop or priest in a state of mortal sin, would be committing sacrilege, but his Mass and sacraments would still be valid. What he was ordained to do would still be valid. Like when a sick doctor gives you a medication it would still be valid. This is based on the objective nature of the sacraments themselves.

      A Bishop who goes into schism would still carry Apostolic succession. Heresy is a different issue.

      The Bishops in the C of E did carry it when Henry V111 broke away. It was during the reign of Edward V1 that Apostolic succession was denied, and ordination rites changed.

      • I’m afraid that I don’t really know what changed during the reign of Edward VI that was heretical. Could you explain the difference between mortal sin and heresy, also? Sorry. Thanks!

      • This article will help you understand the changes that took place during Edward V1 and Elizabeth 1 rule.

        http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01498a.htm

        “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same”

        ” For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

        If your question is whether a validly ordained priest can lose his salvation due to mortal sin and a heretic priest can go to heaven. The answer is yes.

        This still does not change the nature of sacrament of Holy Orders.

      • Thanks for the link, it was an interesting read. I still wonder at the relationship between heresy and mortal sin, however. Is it not to deny the truth of humans made in the image of God by abusing them? Or how is someone receiving Jesus Christ by raping a child? I’m think here of Jesus saying who ever receives a child receives me. (sorry I don’t have the chapter and verse in memory right now). Isn’t there grounds upon which one could make a claim that these horrible actions are also a kind of heresy? To my mind they could be as weighty as denial of the Sacrifice of the Mass.
        This leads me to believe that the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist comes to us not necessarily by an unbroken chain of bishops and priests, but by the Grace of God. Somehow, I can accept both the importance of Apostolic Succession and it’s fragility (if I can put it that way). I feel strongly that the Christian Church needs people dedicated to serving God and the Church in a priestly way, but I also feel that sometimes, somehow we can value too much things of man and not of God.
        Again, I am not well educated on matters of theology and ecclesiology and I appreciate this conversation!

      • Yes, the effectiveness of a sacrament is dependent on how receptive the person receiving it is, so a person in mortal sin would be guilty of sacrilege and blasphemy. This is a serious offence . This is why people in a state of grace are not to receive the Eucharist.

        The difference is that the Mass is not just offered for one person, for everybody present. So rejecting it totally along with the sacraments, would not just affect one person, but the WHOLE church, because others would be deprived of it.

        The sacraments are the same for everyone. So you adapt to them, they do not adapt to suit you.

        This does cause division that in the long run would be harder to fix.

      • MichaelA says:

        Prayinganglicanman is correct in his theology. I am glad to see that you agree with him on that point at least.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      I agree with your last statement wholeheartedly.

  14. Stephen Stephen says:

    Edward the 6th wasn’t more than a child when the change in the Rites took place. He was just 13 when Cranmer caused that to happen.
    We blame him because he was the King at the time, but it was actually men like Cranmer and Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector who did the deed.

    And to be honest, that seed was planted during Henry VIII’s reign with Protestant sympathizers.

    It was Arch Bishop Cranmer of the CofE who changed the Rites of presbytery and episcopal ordination in 1550 and thereby made the break in apostolic succession a reality.
    Cranmer was the Arch Bishop during both Henry VIII’s reign and Edwards reign.
    It was Cranmer who promulgated new Doctrines, not Edward.

    There is an excellent book titled : Edward VI, the lost king of England, by Chris Skidmore that goes into great detail of the power behind the throne, so to speak.

  15. Fr. Jonathan says:

    The Roman perspective is that Anglican orders are invalid. Or, I should say, the Roman perspective since 1896. Only took the pope three and a half centuries to get around to deciding that. For what it’s worth, the Anglican perspective was defended magnificently by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York at the time in their response to the papal bull entitled Saepius Officio. It shows rather aptly that if you follow Pope Leo’s logic on why Anglican orders are supposedly invalid, than Roman orders would also have to be considered invalid. You can find it here: http://anglicanhistory.org/orders/saepius.pdf

    Personally, I prefer the apocryphal story that when the archbishops first received Pope Leo’s document, they simply sighed, corrected the mistakes in his Latin, and then sent it back to him. That’s not what happened, of course, but the story was popular for awhile and I am rather fond of it. In my opinion, Anglicans have wasted far too much time in the last hundred years worrying about whether or not Rome thinks our orders are “valid,” a category unknown to the early Church. What makes orders valid is not the branding of the pope but being united with the Catholic Church through faith and practice. Anglicans have strong and important differences with Rome, but we have never seen fit to de-church her.

    • Stephen Stephen says:

      The reason that Anglican Orders were pronounced invalid isn’t difficult to grasp.
      It comes down to 2 basic reasons. Form and intent.
      Since there was no intent to carry on the sacrificial priesthood in Thomas Cranmer’s new Ordinal, it’s without question that the Anglican church deliberately broke with Apostolic Succession.
      Your attempt to somehow fault Leo for stating the obvious is a strawman.
      In fact, when Leo declared the ordinations “absolutely null and utterly void” in 1897, a great many Anglicans of that time agreed with him!
      So it was Cranmer’s actions that brought about invalid Orders as far as Rome was concerned, not Leo’s.

      • The argument often is that only God knows people’s hearts and that nobody can judge intentions. This is true, however in this case, it was made externally manifest with Parliament approving of this, despite protests by Anglican Bishops.

        The perils of letting Parliament run the church.

      • MichaelA says:

        Stephen, who cares what Leo did or did not do? The important point is that Cranmer, Bucer, Ridley, Jewel, Edward VI and many others all played their part in bringing the rights and teachings of the Church of England back into conformity with true catholic and apostolic teaching.

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        History ‘cares’, Michael. You act as is it has no place in the life of the Church.
        Your position seems to be to count the actions of those with whom you agree, but then dismiss the actions of those with whom you don’t.
        That is the HEIGHT of making up the rules as you go along.

      • MichaelA says:

        Stephen, that is actually an excellent description of yourself!

    • Let me solve a misconception. Anglican orders are not invalid because of the Pope. They are invalid because Anglicans reject the sacramental nature of the priesthood, and the sacrifice of the Mass and transubstantiation.

      The Orthodox are not in union with the Pope, but still accept these things.

  16. Fr. Jonathan says:

    My dear Roman Catholic friends, the great difficulty I am having in continuing to have this conversation with you is that you don’t seem to want to accept anything that I have to say as coming from a valid place. Obviously there is much that we disagree about, but given that this is a blog about and for Anglicans and those seeking to engage positively with Anglicanism, a particularly Anglican perspective is going to shine through. I appreciate your zeal for your own tradition and your desire to defend it. Nonetheless, I am really not sure what we can accomplish if your response to everything I say is either to insult me or my Church. I assume that the things you are saying come from a place of honesty and a desire to serve Christ. I expect that same courtesy to be shown to me in return.

    • Fr. Jonathan,

      We are not the ones who started a post called “The Pope is Satan”.

      Simply pointing out historical facts, that took place, that did have an affect on theology, is not an insult, because the C of E is the established church in England, where Parliament still appoints Bishops.

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        I will admit to choosing a provocative title, but I think that anyone who watches the video figures out rather quickly that I don’t actually think that the pope is Satan.

        I am not terribly well versed in the appointment process in England, so if we have any C of E readers who can shed some light, feel free, but my understanding is that Parliament has little to do with the appointment of bishops, save for the Prime Minister’s role as a part of the committee that appoints the Archbishop of Canterbury. The crown appoints bishops through a rather complicated process. Of course, here in America, our bishops are elected by their dioceses and those elections are confirmed by the other dioceses within the wider church. That’s neither here nor there, really. There are a thousand different ways to choose bishops, some involving overlap with the state, as during the reign of Constantine right up through medieval Europe, some involving only the Church and only the Holy Spirit, as when Mathias was chosen to succeed Judas by the casting of lots. And of course, some are chosen by a college of Cardinals, when the white smoke ascends. All fairly innocuous. But the idea that Parliament runs the Church of England, let alone the entire Anglican Communion, is absurd in the same way that the charge that Roman Catholics aren’t real Christians or that they worship Mary is absurd. And it is a grand example of exactly what I am talking about. We cannot have a substantive conversation or even a substantive disagreement if we are constantly being drawn off into the wilderness of cheap shots and one-upsmanship.

      • Fair enough, but we simply cannot deny that the C of E rejected certain theology, based on pressure from the Monarchy. Anglican orders would not be invalid otherwise.

        Yes, there are lots of Emperors and state officials to tried to run the Catholic church, but never succeeded because of the Papacy.

      • Felix Alexander says:

        The prince of the Papal States would’ve been pretty successful at running the Roman church then, if your standard of protection is the Papacy.

        (And to Stephen Stephen, 10,000 of those “twenty some thousand churches” are still Roman Catholic ones. Not that any of them are the One Church.)

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        I don’t know how many Protestant denominations there are. I tossed out the number 20,000 because I thought I recalled reading that number of Protestant / Baptist / Fundamental / insert what you like / Churches either started / ended / or currently operating since the Protestant movement began.

        The point (which you may have missed) was that Jesus began ONE CHURCH, not multiple Churches. He is NOT the author of confusion and all of the breakaway churches that have been man made were over politics as much as theological reasoning.

        God is not the author of confusion. Man has done that for himself.

      • MichaelA says:

        “all of the breakaway churches that have been man made were over politics as much as theological reasoning.”
        Yes, including the Roman Catholic church!

        “The point (which you may have missed) was that Jesus began ONE CHURCH, not multiple Churches.”
        Precisely. Anyone who points to a particular institutional church and says “Look, there it is, the one church that Jesus established”, does not understand Jesus’ words.

      • The rejection of a visible church is not found in the Catholic tradition. It is a Protestant invention.

        Jerome

        Heretics bring sentence upon themselves since they by their own choice withdraw from the Church, a withdrawal which, since they are aware of it, constitutes damnation. Between heresy and schism there is this difference: that heresy involves perverse doctrine, while schism separates one from the Church on account of disagreement with the bishop. Nevertheless, there is no schism which does not trump up a heresy to justify its departure from the Church (Commentary on Titus 3:10-11 [A.D. 386]).

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        I would actually agree with that, and classical Anglicanism takes pains to accentuate the visible nature of the Church. It is a strange aspect of Protestantism, particularly some of the more radical strands, that claims that the Church is somehow invisible and only tangentially related to the visible Body of Christ. I think it’s a consequence of the loss of the Sacraments, separating the actions of the “ordinances” from the grace that is imparted by them.

      • MichaelA says:

        Fr Jonathan, my last was directed to LTTG. But I hope you are not mistaking my position as saying Christ did not teach that the church was visible as well as invisible… :o)

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        I fully agree, Father J, except I don’t necessarily think you have to go to the ‘radical strands’ of Protestantism to find that type of thought.
        Many Baptists, (which here in the US is a huge protestant branch) would be quick to tell you that there are no Sacraments, there is only the necessity of believing and being ‘born again’.

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        From our perspective, Baptists are part of the radical Reformation.

      • MichaelA says:

        Who rejected a visible church? Certainly not me. Please respond to what I actually wrote.

      • What I meant by running is on doctrinal issues.

      • MichaelA says:

        LTTG, you can keep telling yourselves that Anglicans only believe what they believe because of Henry VIII, but you will simply be deluding yourself. We believe because it is right, catholic and apostolic. We live by that belief, and we die by it. If you want to live by another belief, that is your problem, not ours!

    • Stephen Stephen says:

      I can appreciate your position, Father J. And while I do defend my position with ‘zeal’, you must understand that a video entitled ‘The Pope is Satan’ is hardly a productive way to begin engaging in a conversation about the Papacy.
      Courtesy is a two way street, after all.
      You must understand that denigration of the Papacy is not new to Catholics.
      We’ve had a lifetime of hearing from Protestants how the Bishop of Rome is satanic, evil,
      a work of the devil, etc.
      Wise crack or not, it rubs my fur the wrong way.

      • MichaelA says:

        Stephen,

        That is no excuse for failing to listen to Fr Jonathan’s video before rushing in. As he emphasised, he does not believe the Pope is Satan, rather he pointed out the incongruity and illogicality in Roman Catholic teaching that turns back some of their comments about other churches on themselves. I would have thought that Roman Catholics are just as capable of understanding satire as anyone else, but perhaps you are proving me wrong. …

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        Of course I watched the video, Michael.
        What are you on about?

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        My apologies if the title of the video offends you, Stephen. As I said, I do think the video puts that comment in its proper context, but I can understand how frustrating it can be to have people regularly saying things like “the pope is Satan” and actually meaning it. For what it’s worth, despite all that we’ve said here, I still think that our churches have much more in common with each other than separates us.

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        Thank you, Father J.
        I wish to participate on this blog as a fellow Christian and a gentleman.
        I hope that I can offer opinions from my perspective in a manner that will help to heal, not hinder.

  17. I am also glad that you are committed to Orthodoxy, Fr. Jonathan, at a time when many across churches are not. Those of us of have figured out the source of these conflicts, are going to keep our mouths shut, while the rest of you discern where God is leading to you.

  18. Cadog says:

    First, thanks again to Fr. Jonathan for hosting this discussion and the website that makes it possible. I am once again late to the discussion, having just returned from a computer- and internet-free retreat.

    It is unfortunate that his original post — captioned in a satirical manner (which regular visitors to this site know is not unusual) — has become the a platform for diatribe and mean-spiritedness for those who reject Anglicanism.

    Of course, as much as you argue from history, history itself argues against you. Fully half of worldwide Christianity is not Roman Catholic (see http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2011/02/christian-number-crunching and not to worry … it should satisfy your insistence on RC sources, Richard John Neuhaus was the founder of this journal and site), and Anglicanism is in good company in rejecting the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome.

    The Orthodox churchES took such a stand in 1054, against a larger backdrop of cultural and polity distinctives that caused the RC church to diss them, not a lot different than the RC church and some contributors to this thread diss the Anglican Communion. And just as RCs confuse and reject Eastern Orthodoxy as not co-equal to the Church of Rome, due to stubborn resistence in holding their own “doctrinally developed” positions and ignoring that very important cultural and polity backdrop — so those who have darn near trolled this site also confuse and reject Anglicanism as just one more wayward and barely-enough-to-get-you-into-heaven expression of Christian faith.

    With a further nod to Orthodoxy (and I say this as an Anglican), if being “first” is so important, then the Armenian Church and thereby the eastern churchES have a stronger claim to historic and traditional authority than the RC church, since they were first to embrace our Lord as a people. They have been sufferering for it ever since.

    But being first– or biggest — or loudest — or most complicated — is not what describes and undergirds Christ’s Church. His is not Roman … or Anglican … or Orthodox. It is His and His alone.

    • Stephen Stephen says:

      ‘But being first– or biggest — or loudest — or most complicated — is not what describes and undergirds Christ’s Church’

      I fully agree.
      That being said, I might also mention that Christ prayed ‘That they all be One, even as you and I (His Father) are One.
      Likewise, Jesus built ONE Church. Not a fractured Church.
      That is man’s doing.

      • MichaelA says:

        Christ NEVER prayed that we be in one earthly institution. Not once.

        Those who mistake true unity for institutional unity have left the path of wisdom. It is man’s doing to label a single institution “the church”.

      • “one” in that it is a unified organization, “holy” in that it is an organization divinely established, “catholic” in that it is to embrace all of mankind, and “apostolic” in that a line of succession .

      • MichaelA says:

        LTTG, where does Christ ever say (or even hint) that when he says “one” he means a unified “organisation”? (And please note, contrary to your misunderstanding of my position above, I am not suggesting that there is no visible church!)

      • Michael,

        What is your definition of church?

      • MichaelA says:

        Let’s look at what Christ himself says:
        “‘I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. … For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. … Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” [John 17: 6, 8, 11]
        Christ’s prayer that all may be one was directed to all believers, and that they may be “one” as Christ and his Father are “one”.

      • This is a non-response. It says nothing about church.

      • MichaelA says:

        Now, now, don’t accuse our Lord of being non-responsive! Don’t you think that might be a clue that you weren’t asking the right question to start with?

        I am glad you and I agree that when Christ prayed that we “may all be one”, he was not talking about church.

      • Yes, this is because Christ is ONE. Would not the body of Christ also be ONE. Unless Christ has multiple bodies?

      • The Patristic fathers themselves hold to a church, which has certain features. If Jesus did not establish one, why do they constantly speak of one?

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        Michael,
        I’m sorry, but I must disagree.
        Either Christ built one Church or He didn’t.
        That was His term. Church. Not mine or yours.

      • MichaelA says:

        Don’t be sorry. :o) And I am glad you acknowledge that it is what *Christ* meant by “church” that matters, not what you or I think he meant. There is no reason to think that he meant one organisation. I appreciate you feel differently – I hope you can respect the fact that others disagree with you.

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        Of course it matter what Christ said and meant.
        And if we look at what he said and how the Early Church Fathers took what He said to mean, it is clear enough that you are incorrect on the matter of ONE meaning ONE Faith and ONE Church.
        The Body of Christ here on earth is more fractured everyday.
        It would take a blind man not to see that.

      • MichaelA says:

        No, Stephen, I am not incorrect at all. Let’s look at what Christ himself says:

        “‘I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. … For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. … Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” [John 17: 6, 8, 11]

        Our Lord says nothing about a visible church or an institution. Rather, he prays that all believers may be “one” as Christ and his Father are “one”.

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        Michael,
        I could offer you dozens of statements by the early Church Fathers that would differ with your opinion on the Church being ‘One’.
        Here is one example.
        Origen:
        “Look at [Peter], the great foundation of the Church, that most solid of rocks, upon whom Christ built THE (singular) Church. 220 AD.

        So, that leaves me with a choice to make…….
        1. Go with what those who followed the Apostles through the laying on of hands believed and taught, or,
        2. Go with your opinion.

        Hmmmm…… I think I’ll go with choice #1.

      • MichaelA says:

        There is nothing special about Origen using the expression “the (singular) church” – it is used frequently throughout the New Testament. The real issue is whether Origen when he wrote “the church” meant one single institution.

        Until you have investigated that (or even considered it), all you have done is taken a passage from one of the Church Fathers out of context to support a preconceived idea.

    • I think you have history a bit confused. Patriarch Celaurius was excommunicated in 1054, because he tried to impose the Byzantine rite on Latins, and ordered the desecration of Latin Eucharist and churches.

      Eastern Emperors played into this, because the franks who were vessels of the Roman empire were gaining a foothold, and what better way to get rid of them than to brand them as heretics.

      The excommunication was directed towards one person, not the whole church.

      Also there were many Eastern Emperors who called themselves head of the church and Christ on earth, leading churches into formal heresy. A lot of Bishops did fall into heresy by accepting Arianism, Nestorianism etc.

      Rome refused to co-operate and faithful Eastern saints always asked the Bishop of Rome to intervene in these cases.

      This is an aspect of history that the EO like to deny, despite evidence.

      And from the RC perspective, the Orthodox are in schism, but they are not in heterodox. They can receive communion in Latin churches. The opposite is not true, because they see us as both in schism and in heresy.

      So, in this way we are more like the Anglicans, who the Orthodox keep calling back to full communion with the one church.

      • I have had the privilege of spending time with a L’Arche community near where I live in London Ontario. L’Arche is an international group of communities built around people with disabilities. They are faith based, ecumenical and also in some cases interfaith. It has been a blessing to be there. I have read a number of books by Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche. Jean Vanier is a Roman Catholic Canadian living in France, where the original L’Arche community is located. However, the first community in Canada was started by Anglicans in Richmond Hill Ontario. Why am I going on about this? Because Jean Vanier, as a devout Roman Catholic wanted to promote unity amongst L’Arche communities, but without violating rules around intercommunion. The way was found through washing the feet of others. For some reason there is no prohibition on washing the feet of other denominations of Christians. I thank God for this. He points out that in the Gospel according to St. John there is no Last Supper story, but there is the Washing of the Feet. Let us pray that all our bishops in their respective dioceses, who claim succession from the Apostles can gather together, setting aside these political and theological differences, pray “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner” and wash the feet of the poorest people in their dioceses and then one another’s feet. This is, after reading all this back and forth discussion, the only way I can see to ever reaching any sort of unity as the Body of Christ.

      • This is beautiful and I couldn’t agree more. There’s too much lack of charity on all sides.

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        I second that. On with the footwashing! I wonder how much better we’d all be at being charitable if we had to face each other in that context instead of through a computer screen.

  19. Cadog says:

    Amen.

  20. You seem to subscribe to Sola Scriptura, which itself has led to diverse individual interpretations of scripture.

    • MichaelA says:

      No, it hasn’t led to anything of the kind.

      Also, make sure you understand what Sola Scriptura actually means before you post on it. I have found time and again that Roman Catholic apologists do not understand the name, the doctrine or its history (of course that doesn’t mean that you don’t, but it will be interesting to see).

      Sola Scriptura was taught by medieval divines such as Aquinas and Grosseteste in the 12th century, but the concept goes back to the early church fathers. It is pretty fundamental patristic teaching that Scripture is the primary authority and all other authorities are subject to it.

      • MichaelA says:

        Apologies for the error above: 13th century for Aquinas and 12th – 13th century for Grosseteste!

      • Show me where a Church Father says that Scripture is the sole infallible regula fidei!?

        Sola Scriptura is not even found in scripture.

      • MichaelA says:

        Why should I spend my time going through the 1,000 documents in the church fathers for proof of something that I know perfectly well to be true? Sorry, but my time is too limited to respond to sweeping generalisations and open-ended questions.

      • You make a claim, you have to back it up with evidence.

      • MichaelA says:

        Apologies, I hit the send button too soon.
        What I meant to add was (i) you still don’t seem to understand what sola scriptura means, which makes any response difficult let alone to an open-ended question; and (ii) there are a number of church fathers you can start with if you want to do your own reading (which I suggest is a good idea, rather than just throwing out challenges). In that respect you should start with Irenaeus in Against Heresies Book III, but read ALL of it. I have too often run into Roman Catholics who point to 3.3 and say “See Irenaeus based his faith on tradition and the existence of the church”. No, he didn’t – Irenaeus presented the history of the church as a proof to pagans who refused to accept the authority of scripture. But he made it clear that his own faith was based on written scripture:

        “We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith” [Irenaeus Adv. Haer. 3.1.1]

      • Michael,

        I am not saying scripture is not authority. Just that it is not the final authority.

        When Irenaeus was instructing the Christians in tradition, he was not addressing the pagans.

        First, in Book III, Chapter 3, No. 1, Irenaeus says:

        1. It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to the perfect apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity.

        So Irenaeus irrefutibly teaches Apostolic Succession as the way to determine the authentic Apostolic Tradition.

        . And note what Irenaeus is using this to disprove: the notion of a “secret Tradition.” His point is that we know exactly what the Church teaches, because we can see the visible Church. And then he goes on, in No. 2 to establish the primacy of the Roman See, arguing that “it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority.”

        2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

        3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.

        You don’t get more Roman You can argue that Irenaeus and the other Church Fathers were wrong, but you can’t very well argue that Irenaeus didn’t believe what he goes to such lengths to spell out.

      • MichaelA says:

        LTTG,

        You have imposed a plethora of your own assumptions on this passage. I will have to take them one at a time. But firstly a correction. You wrote:

        “When Irenaeus was instructing the Christians in tradition, he was not addressing the pagans.”

        I agree. Instead of “pagans”, I should have written “heretics who are outside the church”. Because that is the point of this Book 3 – Irenaeus instructs Christians on how to argue with a particular type of heretic, those that deny the authority of Scripture. Have a look at the chapter before your quote (chapter 2 of Book III):

        “1. When, however, they [the heretics] are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and assert that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition.” [Adv. Haer. III.2.1]

        Note Irenaeus counts as heretics those who say that scripture cannot be interpreted apart from tradition.

        A little further along, Irenaeus explains why he is about to make the statement which you (voluminously) quoted:

        “3. Such are the adversaries with whom we have to deal, my very dear friend, endeavouring like slippery serpents to escape at all points. Wherefore they must be opposed at all points, if perchance, by cutting off their retreat, we may succeed in turning them back to the truth.” [Adv. Haer. III.2.3]

        Thus the argument based on historical evidence which Origen presents in III.3.1-3 (your quote) is a polemical argument to be used against those who deny the authority of scripture. But it doesn’t change the fact that Origen has already stated what the basis for his own belief is, being the opening words of Book 3:

        “1. We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith”. [III.1.1]

      • MichaelA says:

        Apologies, “Origen” above should read “Irenaeus”.

      • You need to read the next paragraph. He was referring to people who reject both scripture and tradition.

        But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, and which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For they maintain that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; . . . It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.
        [St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus Haereses, III, 2, 1-2]

        Scripture does not stand on it’s own. If it did there would be no debates over scripture. Since everybody approaches scripture through the tradition of their respective churches.

      • MichaelA says:

        Yes, this is all part of Irenaeus’ polemical argument. In effect he says: “We refer these heretics to scripture, but they reject that (III.2.1). So then we refer them to the teaching by our presbyters which is exactly the same as when the apostles first taught it, but they reject that also (III.2.2). So, now I will show you another argument to use against them, that of history (III.2.3, and III.3)”
        Note that the word “tradition” simply means “teaching”, in any one of a number of senses. It doesn’t have the specialised meaning you attribute to it, unless the context so indicates.

        Where I disagree with you is that Irenaeus at no point suggests:
        (i) that the tradition is in any way different to written scripture, or
        (ii) that the tradition is necessary in addition to scripture, or
        (iii) that scripture must be interpreted in light of the tradition.

      • It’s clearly states it’s the teachings of the presbyters in the church handed down from the Apostles. You are reading more than what has been written.

        Maybe you should just point out where does scripture explicitly mandate Sola Scripture?

      • MichaelA says:

        I need to add, its not just that Irenaeus never says that Scripture must be interpreted in light of tradition. He goes further: His definition of heretics includes those who “assert that [the Scriptures] are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition” [Adv. Haer. III.2.1]

      • MichaelA says:

        “So Irenaeus irrefutibly teaches Apostolic Succession as the way to determine the authentic Apostolic Tradition.”

        No, he doesn’t teach it as “the way”, rather he teaches it as *a* way which is useful against heretics of the sort that he described in the preceding chapter, i.e. those who refuse point blank to accept the authority of Scripture.

        Note also, that at no point does Irenaeus indicate (or even hint) that the content of that apostolic tradition (i.e. teaching) is one word different from written scripture.

        “His point is that we know exactly what the Church teaches, because we can see the visible Church.”

        No, that isn’t his point. He has already stated that what the church teaches is set forth in scripture [see III.1.1]. Now he is making the point that the historical succession of bishops all teaching the same things is a proof that those things are true, even to those who a priori reject the authority of scripture and say that it is unreliable unless interpreted in the light of oral tradition [see III.2.1]

        “And then he goes on, in No. 2 to establish the primacy of the Roman See, arguing that “it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority.””

        Yes he does, but that doesn’t help your argument at all:

        (1) he acknowledges that there are other churches besides Rome;

        (2) he never suggests that other churches have to become part of Rome or even under her authority, rather he says that their teaching should agree with hers

        (3) the reason he gives for this is that Rome’s teaching in his day is correct, which necessarily means by the standards he has already laid down.

        Irenaeus was not an apostle – his writings have no apostolic authority. Nevertheless, Anglicans would entirely agree with his point: Insofar as the Church of Rome remains true to Apostolic Teaching, it should be honoured and we should agree with it.

      • You can keep reading you pre-conceived ideas, into the fathers writings, and playing sola scriptura interpretation games with them.

      • MichaelA says:

        Beware of such accusations – you might find you are looking in a mirror!

      • I just pointed out your dishonest reading of Ireaneus with the previous subject.

      • MichaelA says:

        If you are referring to my statement that Irenaeus was setting out arguments to use against “pagans” (which he is not) rathert than against heretics (which he is), that was an honest mistake, for which I apologised and accepted your correction.

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        Regarding ‘Sola Scriptura’, it is precisely this thought that has brought about literally hundreds of Denominations with hundreds of differing Doctrines.

        Of course it has been Church teaching and the Church speaking through Councils that has brought about some of the most basic tenets of the Christian Faith.
        It was Church teaching through Council that codified the interpretation of Scripture regarding Jesus and His relationship with God the Father.
        The New Testament often refers to Jesus as ‘the Son of God’ but the precise meaning of Jesus’s Sonship is not explicitly spelled out in the Bible.
        In fact, some early Christians interpreted ‘Son of God’ to infer the adoption of Jesus by God the Father or in some metaphorical way.
        It took the Church Council at Nicea in 325 to Codify and clarify the relationship of Jesus to God the Father as being ‘on in substance’ and that Jesus shares the same Divine nature AS God the Father.

        To deny that and other Doctrinal statements made by the teaching arm of the Church is tantamount to wearing blinders and refusing to see the truth of the matter.

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        s/b ‘ONE in substance. Sorry.

      • MichaelA says:

        “Regarding ‘Sola Scriptura’, it is precisely this thought that has brought about literally hundreds of Denominations with hundreds of differing Doctrines.”
        Thank you for yet another totally unsupported assertion … sorry, but you are coming out with a lot of them! Sola Scriptura is a term used by Thomas Aquinas and Robert Grosseteste in the 12th-13th centuries to describe a teaching found throughout the Church Fathers and found in scripture itself. So it hasn ‘t caused anything that you describe. Argumentative humans on the other hand…
        “Of course it has been Church teaching and the Church speaking through Councils that has brought about some of the most basic tenets of the Christian Faith.”
        The church has never (legitimately) taught any “basic tenet” of the Christian Faith that was not already taught by Christ and his Apostles and Prophets. The church has taught about how such tenets may be applied in particular situations, and it has provided guidance to Christians on lesser matters (rites and ceremonies etc), but that is a different thing. The church has always been subject to the Apostles’ teaching.
        “It was Church teaching through Council that codified the interpretation of Scripture regarding Jesus and His relationship with God the Father.”
        No it didn’t do anything of the sort. The Fathers at Nicaea and later councils made it clear that they did not purport to go beyond Scripture, and that their teachings were summaries of the teaching already contained in Scripture, which they applied to particular situations of their day (in the case of Nicaea, the Arrian heresy).
        “It took the Church Council at Nicea in 325 to Codify and clarify the relationship of Jesus to God the Father as being ‘on in substance’ and that Jesus shares the same Divine nature AS God the Father.”
        I think you mean “one in substance”. And the council at Nicaea did no more than clarify the biblical response to the Arrian heresy. It did not create any new doctrine, nor did it codify anything in the sense that its creed (which is not the one used by any church today, incidentally) was greater than the scripture which it summarises.
        “To deny that and other Doctrinal statements made by the teaching arm of the Church is tantamount to wearing blinders and refusing to see the truth of the matter.”
        Please don’t equate your own ideas with the teaching at Nicaea, Stephen. I agree with them, but I don’t agree with you.

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        You, Micheal, are a nit picker.
        Either become civil, or don’t bother responding to my posts at all.
        I will return the favor, naturally.

      • MichaelA says:

        Stephen, I would have thought there are some pretty major differences between us, so I am sorry you see it as mere nit-picking (which implies that these differences are trivial). But I will think about what you have written.

      • Stephen Stephen says:

        Yes, there are major differences between us. That’s fine. I have no problem with that.
        I do, however, have a problem with making a statement and then you twisting it into some form which you feel more comfortable engaging.
        The entire reason of my using the Council of Nicaea was to show that it was the Teaching authority of the Church that Codified one of the most important Tenets of the Christian Faith, that being the relationship between God the Father and Jesus, His Son.
        The purpose of calling the Council together was to combat the heresy of Arianism and it was expanded upon by another Council at the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in AD 381 to balance its coverage of the Trinity by including the Holy Spirit.
        Each individual Church under It’s own Bishop did not have the authority to decide the question for Itself.
        In fact, that Council also issued 20 Canons which were to be held by all Bishops as well.
        ………………………………………………………………………..

        You wrote : ” And the council at Nicaea did no more than clarify the biblical response to the Arrian (sic) heresy.”

        That was the reason for the Council, Michael……..
        In fact, there was no ‘Bible’ as we know it today yet……….
        The Council, something like 320 Bishops, Codified what was to be believed as genuine and true regarding the relationship between God the Father and Jesus, His Son.
        Arius was first excommunicated by his Bishop and then the matter was taken up by Bishops from all around the world to answer the question definitively.
        …………………………………………………………………………..

        You wrote: “I think you mean “one in substance”

        This is the example of your nit picking. You know what I meant. In fact, I even posted directly under my post a s/b ONE in substance. Sorry.
        So, don’t play coy.

      • MichaelA says:

        Stephen, can we please keep the ad hominem attacks out of it? I am not being “coy” nor am I “nit-picking” and I apologise if I have misunderstood your position at any point. Ad hominem attacks simply give the impression that you do not have confidence in the force of your arguments to stand by themselves.

      • MichaelA says:

        Re the substance of your post, some of your points I agree with.

        I disagree with your use of the word “codified” as the Council at Nicaea did not purport to do anything more than summarise the relevant parts of Scripture that refuted the Arrian heresy. In other words, they did not purport to add anything to Christian faith that was not already there. They produced a symbolum, not scriptura.

        I also disagree that the First Council of Constantinople merely “expanded” the Creed of Nicaea by “including the Holy Spirit”. There are at least 15 significant points of difference between the versions of the creed produced at Nicaea and that which we use today, and they include omissions as well as additions. Also, no direct record of a Creed decided at First Constantinople exists, nor was that council truly ecumenical (it comprised 150 bishops drawn from only three provinces of the eastern empire). The Creed we use today was decided upon at the council of Chalcedon in 451 (which was only attended by one bishop from the West) and its use spread gradually. Creeds are not scripture – we believe them because they are true to scripture.

        “In fact, there was no ‘Bible’ as we know it today yet……….”

        I disagree. The New Testament existed at least by the time the last Apostle left this earth. What you seem to be referring to is the confusion caused in the church by heretical attacks from the 2nd century on, which asserted either that certain apostolic books were not scripture (e.g. the Marcionites) or falsely claimed apostolic authority for other books (e.g. the Gnostics). That doesn’t change the facts recorded by church fathers such as Tertullian, Irenaeus and Augustine that the identity of the Apostolic books were known to the early church.

        “Arius was first excommunicated by his Bishop and then the matter was taken up by Bishops from all around the world to answer the question definitively.”

        Its not as simple as that. Within a generation the Arrians were in control of large sections of the church. Many bishops were deposed because of their faithfulness to scriptural truth, including St Athanasius, the pope of Alexandria. He said he would stand for what was right even if every other bishop was against him. Many Christians fled to the desert and practiced their religion there, rather than submit to the church authorities. Eventually the truth won out, but it took a long time.

  21. I will respond to certain views here. Yes the Pope can act independently, but rarely does. The Immaculate conception was held by ordinary Catholics and the feast celebrated before it was formalized.

    On February 2, 1849, the pope sent an Encyclical Letter asking the various bishops of the world: (a) what the local piety and devotion of their faithful was in regard to the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, and (b) what the bishops themselves thought about defining this doctrine and what their wishes were in regard to making known with all possible solemnity our supreme judgment.

    Overwhelmingly, the bishops responded by asking the pope to solemnly define and declare the dogma, which, after consultation with theologians and with a special congregation, he did, on December 8, 1854.

  22. Fr. Jonathan says:

    Friends, at this point I think that we’re beating a dead horse. I appreciate the conversation and I’m sure there will be more opportunities in the future, but for now I’m going to turn off comments on this discussion so that we’re able to move on. Many thanks for your interest in the video and the site.

  23. Pingback: Ask An Anglican: Roman Fever | The Conciliar Anglican

Comments are closed.