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Byzantino
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« on: August 09, 2003, 05:32:57 AM »

This is my first post here so i'd like to start off by saying hello to all my bros and sis in Christ.

I'm a Byzantine Catholic who's experiencing some major doubts concerning some of the tenets of my faith, namely the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. As such, I'm considering Orthodoxy. Historically I believe the Orthodox Church makes an excellent case, but some opposing arguments presented by Roman Catholic apologists also carry alot of weight.

This article in particular makes the case for the Roman position quite well. I'd very much like for anyone to provide an Orthodox response to each point.


Quote
Pope Gregory the Great and the Universal Papacy.

Protestants (and Eastern Orthodox) somehow manage to simultaneously claim that Pope St. Gregory the Great was 1) the first pope, but nevertheless 2) a denier of papal supremacy (see below). Neither is true. I therefore ask Protestants (particularly anti-Catholics): who, then, was the first pope, if Gregory the Great was not one in any Catholic sense of the word? Or is the argument more subtle than that?

The commonly-heard polemic of Gregory the Great allegedly eschewing the universal jurisdiction of the papacy is easily disposed of. One must examine context and the rest of the author's works and actions, if possible (just as with biblical exegesis). When that is done in this particular instance, Gregory's meaning becomes quite clear, and alas, it is not what the anti-Catholic endeavor would have hoped.

Gregory the Great condemned the title universal bishop in the sense of meaning that all other bishops are not really bishops, but mere agents of the one Bishop, a concept that is blatantly contrary to Catholic teaching, which holds that all bishops are by divine institution true successors of the Apostles. For he states:

For if one, as he supposes, is universal bishop, it remains that you are not bishops.
{Epistle LXVIII}

Elsewhere, in the very same correspondence in which he condemns this term in the sense above, Gregory clearly upholds the universal authority and supremacy of the Roman bishop:
Now eight years ago, in the time of my predecessor of holy memory Pelagius, our brother and fellow-bishop John in the city of Constantinople, . . . held a synod in which he attempted to call himself Universal Bishop. Which as soon as my said predecessor knew, he dispatched letters annulling by the authority of the holy apostle Peter the acts of the said synod; of which letters I have taken care to send copies to your Holiness.
{Epistle XLIII, emphasis added}

To all who know the Gospel it is clear that by the words of our Lord the care of the whole Church was committed to Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles . . . Behold, he received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power to bind and loose was given to him, and the care and principality of the entire church was committed to him . . . Yet he was not the universal Apostle. But . . . John would be called universal Bishop . . . [Popes had never assumed this title, though it had been given them], lest all the Bishops be deprived of their due meed of honor whilst some special honor be conceded to one.

{Epistles, 5, 37; to Emperor Maurice, emphasis added}

In writing to John, Bishop of Constantinople, who had usurped "this new, proud and profane title," Gregory wonders,
how one, who had professed himself unworthy to be called a Bishop at all, should now despise his brethren, and aspire to be called the sole Bishop.
{Epistles, 5,44}

The title Universal Bishop may also be used in the sense of Bishop of Bishops, and in this sense it was applied by Eastern Christians (i.e., Catholics - this is before the Schism) to Popes Hormisdas (514-523), Boniface II (530-532) and Agapetus (535-36), although the popes never used it themselves (ostensibly wishing to avoid the above interpretation) until the time of Leo IX (1049-54).
Pope St. Gregory the Great, like St. John Chrysostom two centuries earlier, and Pope St. Leo the Great 150 years earlier (arguably with even more force and vigor), states the Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy in many passages of his letters. He calls the Roman See "the head of the faith," and the "head of all the churches," because "it holds the place of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles." "All Bishops," including Constantinople, "are subject to the Apostolic See."

{Taken from: The Question Box, Bertrand Conway, NY: Paulist Press, 1929 ed., 158-159}

Likewise, Lutheran historian Jaroslav Pelikan writes:

The churches of the Greek East, too, owed a special allegiance to Rome . . . One see after another had capitulated in this or that controversy with heresy. Constantinople had given rise to several heretics during the fourth and fifth centuries, notably Nestorius and Macedonius, and the other sees has also been known to stray from the true faith occasionally. but Rome had a special position. The bishop of Rome had the right by his own authority to annul the acts of a synod. In fact, when there was talk of a council to settle controversies, Gregory asserted the principle that "without the authority and the consent of the apostolic see, none of the matters transacted [by a council] have any binding force."
{The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), Univ. of Chicago Press, 1971, 354; cites Gregory's Epistle 9.156}


Source:
http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ152.HTM
Quote


Many thanks to all and I hope to meet some great people here.

In Christ,

Byzantino
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Anastasios
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2003, 02:57:37 PM »

Hello!

Did we know each other from byzcath.org?

Have you seen our article, "The Vatican Dogma" by Bulgakov?

It's available on OC.net at http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/texts/index.html

anastasios
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Disclaimer: Past posts reflect stages of my life before my baptism may not be accurate expositions of Orthodox teaching.

I served as an Orthodox priest from June 2008 to April 2013, before resigning for personal reasons
Byzantino
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2003, 06:14:50 PM »

Hey Anastasios!

Thanks for the reply and the link, I'm looking forward to reading it right after Divine Liturgy (it's already Sunday here). I have been posting on the byzcath.org board recently and I remember reading your posts. Good to make your acquaintance! Please keep me in your prayers as I re-examine my Catholic faith.

Regards,

Byzantino
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2003, 11:05:24 PM »

Here's my REALLY abbreviated argument against papal supremacy.

1.  It never occurs in Scripture that St. Peter is given authority by Christ, who in turns gives authority to the other Apostles.  All the Apostles were given authority directly by Christ.  Therefore the authority of the Apostles does NOT depend upon Petrine authority.

2.  It was never the case that the Apostolic College was dependent upon St. Peter, nor was St. Peter independent of the remainder of the Apostolic College.  If St. Peter did not have a monarchical authority over other Apostles, then certainly it must be the case the no bishop has a monarchical authority over other bishops.

Again, this is the extra-compressed Reader's Digest version.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2003, 11:06:17 PM by NDHoosier » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2003, 01:24:10 PM »

I avoid information on Dave Armstrong's site, I suggest you do the same. Normally you'll get nothing more than cut-and-paste theology there. "Cut-and-paste" theology is the amateurish tendency to start with a belief, and then go around collecting and compiling quotes on a subject that supports your view (which is very easy to do on the internet, and is often done by internet apologists, hence the name cut-and-paste theology). What you get is not a true representation of the normally subtle and intricate thought of the Fathers on a subject, but a an apologetic that all too often distorts the words of the Fathers, or at the very least leaves the reader with a grave misunderstanding of the truth. For instance, the article says:

Quote
Pope St. Gregory the Great, like St. John Chrysostom two centuries earlier, and Pope St. Leo the Great 150 years earlier (arguably with even more force and vigor), states the Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy in many passages of his letters. He calls the Roman See "the head of the faith," and the "head of all the churches," because "it holds the place of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles." "All Bishops," including Constantinople, "are subject to the Apostolic See." - Emphasis Mine

This is, at the very least, extremely misleading. Saints Leo the Great and Gregory the Great both said things that might have been something of a beginning of Papal Supremacy: I do not deny that this is possible--even Saints make mistakes. In fact, this is not a concept that only corrupted Western (Roman) hierarchs. In the 9th century east, for example, Saint Methodius of Constantinople made a similar error, which the hierarchs following him in the 9th century (including Saint Photius the Great) had to correct. Interestingly, this seems to be about the first time that the east tried to combat the rising papal speculations as to it's own authority--whereas before it had merely dismissed them as mostly-harmless exaggerations (the emperors in the east had made similar exaggerations about their own authority, after all, so the east was more worried about state-Church relations than they were about the west making claims that did not seem to have any effect on the eastern local churches). We can see a similar pattern in the 4th century as Constantinople was rising to power and Alexandria was fighting tooth and nail to make some claim to leader and head of the east.

Anyway, back to the ninth century, When, however, the papalesque beliefs did start corrupting the east, the Saints of Orthodoxy stood up and took notice, and fought against them (again, before this the Orthodox were sort of "covering their brothers sin"... the exaggerations that even saints had gone into... since it was a minor sin and was not disrupting Church life, at least as far as the East knew).  Anyway, back to the point! Saint Gregory and Leo may have said something that turned into Papal supremacy, but they were not expounding this doctrine outright, and it is wholly anachronistic (not to mention inconsistent) for Catholic theologians and net apologists to say that they were. The mention St. John Chrysostom, for example, as though he had the same doctrine as later Popes of Rome, but in fact he did not.

I also would not accept the testimony of Jaroslav Pelikan--from that book at least--into such a debate as a "neutral witness". When I read that book that the quote came from I was, quite honestly, astounded. Jaroslav Pelikan converted to Orthodoxy a while back, so I expected to find in that book when I read it (it being on the Eastern Church) either a neutral view of the papacy (since Pelikan was still Lutheran at the time), or a slightly Orthodox view. What I found was neither, but what I can only describe as a position that is as close as you could get to being Roman Catholic without the author actually being Catholic. The position certainly does not reflect what Orthodoxy believes, and I do not believe that it even reflects what most neutral Protestant Scholars believe. How exactly Pelikan has gotten such a high reputation among Orthodox I still haven't figured out (after reading 3 of his books I still don't get it); I suppose it must be because he's converted and people just now automatically (wrongly) assume that "he's one of us, we can recommend his books". This is simply my own probably worthless advice, but I'd suggest treating the above book (Vol. 2 of his set on the Christian Tradition) as a biased source, and to be read with caution.

PS. My bad, I just noticed that the quote was from Vol. 1 and not Vol. 2, though the same advice still stands as far as his view regarding Rome. Jaroslav, for some reason, seems to have been persuaded by Catholic arguments at least when he was writing his 5 volume set on history, and this comes out in the text. I would wonder if he would write the same things today that he wrote back then-- I certainly hope he wouldn't.  (This is also not to say that Pelikan should be avoided.. he just needs to be read with a bit more caution than normal-- I would say that it's normal to read all authors we are unfamiliar with cautiously)
« Last Edit: August 10, 2003, 01:55:17 PM by Paradosis » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2003, 09:21:47 PM »

Paradosis,
You mentioned that SS Leo and Gregory I said stuff that "turned into Papal Supremacy," and I assume that you're trying to bring up development of doctrine, to show how Orthodoxy stayed pure, while Rome, even at an early date, was starting to innovate, etc etc.
Yet, ecclesiology in the East certainly did develop over time, and was not all "pure." Politics, both civil and ecclesiastical played their role in the East.
My take on Pelikan is the exact opposite of yours. I think his ancestors were from the area that the heretic Hus was from, hence he
probably by default has an anti-Roman bias that would lead him to view Orthodoxy as the correct altenative. Also, it seems like he had more enthusiasm writing his 2nd volume on the East than his 3rd volume on Medieval Theology. Anyways, despite his own biases, he wasn't explicitly writing his 5 volume series from a confessional perspective, trying to favor one view over another-besides, this was 25+ years before he coverted to Orthodoxy, so I would doubt that his views would be the same.

Boswell
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Byzantino
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2003, 03:33:28 AM »

Greetings paradosis,

Can't agree with you more about Dave Armstrong's webpage. Catholic Answers are another lot I've lost all respect for due to some of the things I've heard them say about Orthodoxy.

Here's one quote I never saw on a Catholic Apologetics webpage:

Pope St. Gregory the Great:


"To Eulogius, Bishop of Alexandria: Your most sweet
Holiness has spoken much in your letter to me about
the chair of Saint Peter, Prince of the apostles,
saying that he himself now sits on it in the persons
of his successors...He has spoken to me about Peter's
chair who occupies Peter's chair...I greatly rejoiced
because you, most holy ones, have given to yourselves
what you have bestowed upon me. For who can be
ignorant that holy Church has been made firm in the
solidity of the Prince of the apostles, who derived
his name from the firmness of his mind, so as to be
called Petrus from petra. And to him it is said by the
voice of Truth, To thee I will give the keys of the
kingdom of heaven (Matt. xvi.19). And again it is
said to him, And when thou art converted, strengthen
thy brethren (xxii.32). And once more, Simon, son of
Jonas, lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep (Joh. xxi.17).
Wherefore though there are many apostles, yet
with regard to the principality itself of THE SEE OF
THE PRINCE OF THE APOSTLES ALONE HAS GROWN STRONG IN
AUTHORITY, WHICH IN THREE PLACES IS THE SEE OF ONE.
For he himself exalted the See in which he deigned
even to rest and end the present life [Rome]. He
himself adorned the See to which he sent his disciple
as evangelist [Alexandria]. He himself established the
See in which, though he was to leave it, he sat for
seven years [Antioch]. Since then it is the See of
one, and one See, over which by divine authority three
bishops now preside, whatever good I hear of you, this
I impute to myself...We are one in Him...'(Philip
Schaff and Henry Wace, The Nicene and Post-Nicene
Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume XII,
Epistles of Gregory the Great, Book VII, Epistle 40,
pp. 228-22)."


How is this passage viewed in the Orthodox context of the Patristic writings?

Thanks for your input guys.

Regards,

Byzantino
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2003, 03:52:07 AM »

Dear Boswell,
ecclesiology and dogma are not the same thing so that is hardly a fair comparison.

Just a couple of things I would like to add to what Paradosis posted.

First, when reading the early fathers we must keep in mind that the terms and language used in the beginning was a lot freer. They were writing to people who had received the same Apostolic tradition and would not misunderstand the terms they used. After the outbreak of different heresies in the church, however, the language and terms used become much more guarded and precise so that they could not be misinterpreted.

Secondly, most of the patristic texts we have in English have not been translated from the original Greek, but from the Latin translations so you can imagine the possibilities for error. I am beginning to despair of finding any faithful translations in English and am coming to understand that I really need to study Greek seriously. This goes for the bible as well.

If I may give an example of how deeply these errors can go, take the prayer that our Lord Jesus gave us, probably the best known prayer in the world, "Our Father", "Pater noster", "+áß+¦-ä+¦-ü ß+í++ß+¦++", from Matthew 6:9-13. and Luke 11:2-4 (the abbreviated version)
In Luke 11:3 the greek says "-äß++++ ß+ä-ü-ä++++ ß+í++ß+¦++ -äß++++ ß+É-Ç+¦++ß++-â+¦++++ +¦ß+++¦++-à  ÃƒÆ’Ÿ+í++ß+û++ -äß++ +¦+¦++’ ß+í++ß+¦-ü+¦++" The word in bold is translated in the Latin Vulgate as cotidianum (daily) whereas in Matthew 6:11 "+ñß++++ ß+ä-ü-ä++++ ß+í++ß+¦++ -äß++++ ß+É-Ç+¦++ß++-â+¦++++ +¦ß++-é ß+í++ß+û++ -âß+¦+++¦-ü+++++ç", the exact same word is translated correctly as supersubstantialem (necessary to support life, essential) and is probably a reference to Jesus' own body and blood, the bread of life which we receive at divine liturgy. Unfortunately, almost every English translation of the bible (Darby's is the exception) translates according to the Latin mistranslation in Luke 11:3, so the vast majority of English speakers know this verse as "Give us this day our daily bread", and so miss out on the deeper theological significance expressed therein. Given that one of the best known verses in the bible is not translated correctly, what can we hope for the rest of the bible or the church Fathers?

unworthy John, the frustrated.
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2003, 07:56:42 AM »

Byzantino,

I just checked your profile and discovered that you are a fellow Aussie. G'day mate! How's winter in Melbourne this year?

John.
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2003, 08:27:20 AM »

Hey John,

Nice to meet you mate! :-)
I haven't really taken much notice of the winter, i've been making use of some time off work lately and spending my time indoors learning about Orthodoxy. But they tell me it's cold outside! :-)
I went to visit the Orthodox Monastery in Geelong (50 mins from Melb) and met a great bunch of nuns. Do you know the one i'm talking about?
I spent a large sum of cash on icons and books...and they haven't seen the last of me yet.
Where in Aus are you?

Regards,

Sant
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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2003, 10:36:15 AM »

Boswell,

All I can say is, when I first read Pelikan's 2nd volume I was totally geared up for it. I was still a catechumen at the time (or maybe newly chrismated). Though I hadn't been particularly impressed with the first volume, I still held t the general belief which everyone and their brother had told me: Pelikan is the historical source to turn to. I knew he had converted to Orthodoxy. I figured I was going to get a genuinely even-handed discussion of the papacy, if not something a bit Orthodox. I was literally dumbfounded when I got the opposite. I was reading Whelton's overly-polemical anti-papal Two Paths at the same time, and to me they were exactly opposites of each other: saying exactly the opposite but both going into extreme territory to do so. I think there is a lot of value in Pelikan if you're looking for it... his sections on the Christian use of Pagan literature (Vol. 1), and on the development of the concept of needing to quote Church Fathers from before you (Vol. 2), were especially helpful. Regarding Rome, though, I think we'd just have to agree to disagree Wink


Byzantino,

Don't forget to read Church Fathers documents other than the ones that are being pointed out to you. You'll find all sorts of stuff in there that won't normally come out in a Catholic/Orthodox discussion, but which might be relevant. Gregory the Theologian, for instance, praises Basil the Great in such a way that, had he been talking about a Pope of Rome and not the Bishop of Caesarea, Catholics would have most certainly taken it as evidence of the Pope's supremacy. There's also the power of Emperors in post-Constantinian Christianity. Not only did they depose bishops, call ecumenical councils, and make legal decrees on who and who was not heretics (ie. who had what legal rights), but they even summoned Popes of Rome from time to time, held them under house arrest, and so forth. Was all this good? No, certainly not. However, it just goes to show you that pointing out that something happened or that some power was claimed does not mean that it was a legit power of theirs, or that everyone necessarily recognized it as a good and holy power. Neither does the absence of a whole genre of literature contradicting the power necessarily mean that everyone accepted it.

And it is true that the east constantly petitioned Rome for help when many in the east fell into heresy or error, though the east usually kept their disputes in the east and didn't petition Rome until they needed an "outside" judge who wouldn't be biased.  It also works the opposite way as well. When Rome rejected the canons of the 2nd Ecumenical council, the east basically ignored Rome's rejection and went about it's business fully accepting these canons (one of which had to do with the power of the patriarchate of Constantinople). Later, at the fourth ecumenical council, we find that Constantinople was placed on nearly the same level as Rome, and Constantinople (at one of the councils--possibly the fourth) became the official place in the east where you would send petitions if  there was a dispute. There are many other such historical drops of clearness (making things clearer) and ponds of muck (making Rome's claims harder to see as being legit) in the Church Fathers. The reason I'm Orthodox is because I went to CCEL and started reading.

Justin

PS. I don't drop by here nearly as much as I used to, so if you ask me something and I don't see it, please forgive me! Smiley
« Last Edit: August 11, 2003, 10:41:36 AM by Paradosis » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2003, 10:36:36 AM »

Heh! I haven't been in Oz for 10 years. I am currently a resident of Thessaloniki, Greece. I do know the monastry though I have never been. Alas I only found the church after leaving Australia.

Prior to coming here I was based in Sydney, though I have since gotten to know a few Orthodox in Melbourne.

John
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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2003, 11:29:46 AM »

Paradosis,

Thanks for the CCEL link, though it will be a long chore to read all of it.

james
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2003, 02:02:49 AM »

James,

I've downloaded all of the Early Christian Fathers from CCEL, plus all of Schaff's History of the church (as viewed through a reformation shaped lense) and I can easily burn a CD for you to view at your leisure (they are public domain, so its all above board). Let me know if you are interested.

John.
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« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2003, 10:21:34 PM »

Hello all,
I am not into going over  Papal history at the moment. I would only say this. Both the Latin and Orthodox churches make up the One Holy Catholic Church. I believe it is more important to build up our relationship at this time in history. Eventually the Papal contraversy must be resolved and reunification of the CHurch must be achieved. Pope JPII has said thta the Papacy would have to make accomodations to the Orthodox so this reunification can take place.

 Byzantino I believe it is important that you be where you feel most at home. Your relationship with Christ is the most important thing. Being Orthodox or Catholic should be secondary to that.
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