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Author Topic: The Church and the Gates of Hell  (Read 1861 times) Average Rating: 0
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Alveus Lacuna
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« on: May 01, 2009, 10:20:39 PM »

I am having quite an issue with the Orthodox interpretation of Matthew 16:18 -

Quote
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Now, of course the Orthodox agree with Protestants that it was Peter's confession of faith that was the rock.  But the Protestants go on to say that the Church itself is not a tangible institution, that it is mystical and based off of the confession of faith.

The Orthodox here say, "Now, wait a minute!  Christ was talking about the Church literally, but not literally about Peter himself being the rock!"  So it seems like a convenient and inconsistent interpretation.  We are all supposed to be Peter, but we are also meant to understand the Church in a physical sense?  In the context of the verse it seems to clearly be a play on words about Peter's name itself, and obviously referring to him as a person, as well as his confession.

Also, when I attend services and listen to the hymnography surrounding certain Popes, it's all about them being the rock of the faith, the star shining to the West, et cetera.  I really think that the position about Peter being tied to Rome as the rock of orthodoxy in the Church was taught faithfully by the East, but if the West fell into heresy, if the gates of hell triumphed against Rome itself, then how can the Orthodox church use this verse in reference to itself all of the time?  It just seems inconsistent, like some nebulous position between Catholic and Protestant interpretation.  Of course, maybe that's the "Middle Way"... (any Buddhists in the house? Wink ).
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 10:22:51 PM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2009, 10:39:15 PM »

I am having quite an issue with the Orthodox interpretation of Matthew 16:18 -

Quote
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Now, of course the Orthodox agree with Protestants that it was Peter's confession of faith that was the rock.  But the Protestants go on to say that the Church itself is not a tangible institution, that it is mystical and based off of the confession of faith.

The Orthodox here say, "Now, wait a minute!  Christ was talking about the Church literally, but not literally about Peter himself being the rock!"  So it seems like a convenient and inconsistent interpretation.  We are all supposed to be Peter, but we are also meant to understand the Church in a physical sense?  In the context of the verse it seems to clearly be a play on words about Peter's name itself, and obviously referring to him as a person, as well as his confession.

Also, when I attend services and listen to the hymnography surrounding certain Popes, it's all about them being the rock of the faith, the star shining to the West, et cetera.  I really think that the position about Peter being tied to Rome as the rock of orthodoxy in the Church was taught faithfully by the East, but if the West fell into heresy, if the gates of hell triumphed against Rome itself, then how can the Orthodox church use this verse in reference to itself all of the time?  It just seems inconsistent, like some nebulous position between Catholic and Protestant interpretation.  Of course, maybe that's the "Middle Way"... (any Buddhists in the house? Wink ).
You're assuming that the See of Rome is the only successor to St. Peter's apostolic ministry?
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Alveus Lacuna
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2009, 10:49:19 PM »

You're assuming that the See of Rome is the only successor to St. Peter's apostolic ministry?

Yeah, Antioch, I already know about that.  Hey, I'm just going off of what the liturgical texts have taught me, and they sure as heck weren't referring to any bishops of Antioch as the Rock of the Faith.  I think that Rome has probably taken things a bit too far with their current understanding, but in many ways it seems as though the Orthodox are denying their past out of convenience.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 10:49:48 PM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2009, 07:58:52 AM »

You're assuming that the See of Rome is the only successor to St. Peter's apostolic ministry?

Yeah, Antioch, I already know about that.  Hey, I'm just going off of what the liturgical texts have taught me, and they sure as heck weren't referring to any bishops of Antioch as the Rock of the Faith.  I think that Rome has probably taken things a bit too far with their current understanding, but in many ways it seems as though the Orthodox are denying their past out of convenience.

I think an Orthodox understanding is that Christ does not desert the Church, and speaks authoritatively through ALL the bishops as successors of the apostles.  But then I am not Orthodox.

My own thoughts on this are probably irrelevant, and since I am something of an intruder here, I will quietly sneak out of the thread....
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Irish Hermit
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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2009, 07:58:55 AM »

Also, when I attend services and listen to the hymnography surrounding certain Popes, it's all about them being the rock of the faith, the star shining to the West, et cetera. 

The liturgical texts and the Church Fathers use the same language about all of the Apostles, and not just Saint Peter.

Here are some quotes from St. John Chrysostom which we could present to show that Saint John is the prince of all the Apostles.

We could deduce the following about Saint John:

1. the pillar of all the Churches

2. the holder of the Keys

3. the earthly mouthpiece of the Almighty

4. infallible !!

5. the Rock

6. supreme pastor, not subject to anyone


“For the son of thunder, the beloved of Christ, the pillar of the Churches throughout the world, who holds the keys of heaven, who drank the cup of Christ, and was baptized with His baptism, who lay upon his Master's bosom with much confidence, this man comes forward to us now…. By this Apostle stand the powers from above, marveling at the beauty of his soul, and his understanding, and the bloom of that virtue by which he drew unto him Christ Himself, and obtained the grace of the Spirit. For he hath made ready his soul, as some well-fashioned and jeweled lyre with strings of gold, and yielded it for the utterance of something great and sublime to the Spirit” (St. John Chrysostom, First Homily on the Gospel of St. John).

“Were John about to converse with us, and to say to us words of his own, we needs must describe his family, his country, and his education. But since it is not he, but God by him, that speaks to mankind, it seems to me superfluous and distracting to enquire into these matters. And yet even thus it is not superfluous, but even very necessary. For when you have learned who he was, and from whence, who his parents, and what his character, and then hear his voice and all his heavenly wisdom, then you shall know right well that these (doctrines) belong not to him, but to the Divine power stirring his soul…. Not so this fisherman; for all he saith is infallible; and standing as it were upon a rock, he never shifts his ground. For since he has been thought worthy to be in the most secret places, and has the Lord of all speaking within him, he is subject to nothing that is human” (St. John Chrysostom, Second Homily on the Gospel of St. John).

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Irish Hermit
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2009, 07:58:57 AM »

I am having quite an issue with the Orthodox interpretation of Matthew 16:18 -

Quote
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


Archbishop Kenrick, who was one of America's
extraordinary bishops, was opposed to the doctrine of
papal infallibilty and at the First Vatican Council
in 1869 he voted against it. He wanted to deliver
a speech against the proposed doctrine at the Council
but instead he ceased to attend the Council meetings.
He published his speech in Naples the following year.

It is important because he lists the five different
patristic interpretations of Matthew 16:18.


Let's look at how the Church Fathers line up over this verse:


1...."That St. Peter is the Rock" is taught
by seventeen (17) Fathers


2....That the whole Apostolic College is the Rock,
represented by Peter as its chief,
is taught by eight (8.) Church Fathers


3....That St. Peter's faith is the Rock,
is taught by forty-four (44) Church Fathers


4....That Christ is the Rock,
is taught by sixteen Fathers (16)


5....That the rock is the whole body of the faithful.
Archbp. Kendrick gives no figure.


Archbishop Kendrick summarises

"If we are bound to follow the greater number
of Fathers in this matter, then we must hold
for certain that the word "Petra" means not Peter
professing the Faith, but the faith professed by Peter."

This is an important point by Kendrick since one of the
RC Councils (I need to check which one) laid down the
regulation that a preponderance of patristic consensus
is needed for the promulgation of any dogma.)

You can look this up and check that I have it
accurately in Friedrich, Docum ad illust. Conc. Vat. 1, pp. 185-246

As to who Archbishop Kenrick was.
Please see the Catholic Encyclopedia
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08618a.htm "
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Irish Hermit
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« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2009, 07:58:58 AM »

You're assuming that the See of Rome is the only successor to St. Peter's apostolic ministry?

Yeah, Antioch, I already know about that.  Hey, I'm just going off of what the liturgical texts have taught me, and they sure as heck weren't referring to any bishops of Antioch as the Rock of the Faith.  I think that Rome has probably taken things a bit too far with their current understanding, but in many ways it seems as though the Orthodox are denying their past out of convenience.

Dear Alveus,

Here is a text from the great Pope Saint Gregory.   He teaches that the three original Patriarchates - Rome, Alexandria and Antioch-  founded by Peter, were equal in power and and all three of them hold the keys of Peter.  Needless to say, this is a text which I have never encountered on any Roman Catholic site.   Grin


Note well:


1. The parts where the Pope speaks of Alexandria and Antioch sharing
the keys with Rome


2. The parts where the Pope speaks of the equality of Rome and
Alexandria and Antioch


3. The parts where the Pope says that all three of these Sees form one
See over which the three bishops preside.


-oOo-


St Gregory I, Pope of Rome, Epistle XL, writing to Eulogius
Patriarch of Alexandria.


"Your most sweet Holiness [Eulogius] 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.


"And indeed I acknowledge myself to be unworthy, not only in the
dignity of such as preside, but even in the number of such as stand.
But I gladly accepted all that has been said, in that he has spoken to
me about Peter's chair who occupies Peter's chair. …And to him it is
said by the voice of the Truth, To thee I will give the keys of the
kingdom of heaven (Matth. 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 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 [Peter] 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.”


 (Book VII, Epistle XL)

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf212.iii.v.vii.xxvi.html


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Alveus Lacuna
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2009, 03:15:11 PM »

Thanks for the helpful responses, Irish Hermit.
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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2009, 12:05:25 AM »

I must say, this thread should be a sticky.  People will come back with the same questions, and I think Fr. Ambrose's answers are extremely helpful here.

Thank you Father.  Pray for me.
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Vain existence can never exist, for \\\"unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.\\\" (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.
PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2009, 03:35:07 AM »

I must say, this thread should be a sticky.
I'll take this into consideration after I return home from my Sunday activities.  Thanks for the suggestion. Smiley
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Dan-Romania
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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2009, 07:06:46 AM »

The rock is Christ , the rock is Chefa(Peter) , and the rock is his confession , his faith . All tree . Peter in romanian is translated Petru , the name Petru is near to the word stone(rock) wich is "piatra" . "Upon this rock I will build my Church , and and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.(Church) The gates of hell represents the wisest of hell , the heresies and lies , represents the counsel of hell . Hell will not prevail the Church , the true Church wich is build on that faith and on Jesus Christ will not be defeated by the Counsel of Hell . Petru had the right faith , he was one of the most faithfull between the apostles . At the begining there was only one Church . Not Catholic and not Orthodox . There was only one faith true faith . The Church of true faith will not be defeated of the counsel of hell . Just my opinion ...
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« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2011, 03:01:50 AM »

I got some lessons here.. thank you.. I just keep on reading for the rest of the post.
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« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2013, 02:01:14 AM »

The gates of hades are a symbol for four things:

1) Earthly tribulation or trials or persecutions
2) Corporate sin and fallen activity
3) Personal sin and fallen activity
4) Heresy and schism

These can be found concretely in ideas, armies, or individuals. It is the Church, founded on faith and grace, that withstands these attacks. The foundation cannot be St. Peter, for even he succumbed to error and mistakes (e.g. in Gal. 2), as all men are fallible. But the faith can never be in error or fallen, regardless of how many times a gate of hades comes against it, and thus we have the protection of the Church: for while we are attacked by gates, and indeed create our own gates at times, nonetheless the Church, founded on faith and grace, weathers the storm for us and brings us out on the other side.

"In Thy saints, who in every age have been well pleasing to Thee, is truly Thy faith; for Thou hast founded the world on Thy faith, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." - St. Athanasius
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« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2013, 06:54:28 AM »

I suppose the interpretation would lie in what one defines Peter and Church as today.  At the time of the primitive church Peter was a leading Apostle; holy tradition has him being martyred in Rome but so was another great Apostle, St. Paul.  Roman claims of primacy are not considered unorthodox if we can view the see at Rome as a seat of honor, first among equals.  But I think it is reasonable to say that the bishop of Rome has his spiritual jurisdiction precisely there where he is bishop, otherwise he would have had to have another title encompassing a universal jurisdiction in the broader Church, East and West.  This is confirmed by the patristic writings. 

I also think it reasonable that the Church would be defined as the Church militant, on the earth, with its priests, pastors, elders and the laity, instituted by Christ for the salvation of the people of God through holy instruction and participation in the divine Mysteries.  This Church in my estimation is dynamic in history.  I don't see the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church today consisting exclusively of the national churches of the Greek and Slavic peoples, unless of course God is Byzantine Greek or Slavic and not the God of the nations.  The Church remains truly catholic as Christianity has expressed itself in various forms and national traditions according to many factors in history, even if there has not been unanimous consensus on doctrine.  The Church had struggled to find consensus even when the Church was one, for a thousand years in East and West; but the orthodox essentials have always been shared in the Creeds and Ecumenical Councils.

The Church on the earth consists of all which confess the trinitarian Creed and who preach the Word of Christ and administer the holy Sacraments to the salvation of their flock by a faith which worketh by love.  I would have to concur with the charitable opinion of my Lutheran brethren in their Confession regarding the proper definition of the Christian Church:

'Thus also the Church is defined by the article in the Creed which teaches us to believe that there is a holy Catholic Church. 8] The wicked indeed are not a holy Church. And that which follows, namely, the communion of saints, seems to be added in order to explain what the Church signifies, namely, the congregation of saints, who have with each other the fellowship of the same Gospel or doctrine [who confess one Gospel, have the same knowledge of Christ] and of the same Holy Ghost, who renews, sanctifies, and governs their hearts... And it says Church Catholic, in order that we may not understand the Church to be an outward government of certain nations [that the Church is like any other external polity, bound to this or that land, kingdom, or nation, as the Pope of Rome will say], but rather men scattered throughout the whole world [here and there in the world, from the rising to the setting of the sun], who agree concerning the Gospel, and have the same Christ, the same Holy Ghost, and the same Sacraments, whether they have the same 11] or different human traditions.' Defense - Articles VII and VIII, of the Church.
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