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Author Topic: Question on Quotes of Fathers  (Read 755 times) Average Rating: 0
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drewmeister2
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« on: February 12, 2005, 01:36:18 AM »

I made a post on a Catholic forum, asking how Catholics would refute these quotes from Fathers:

The word 'rock' has only a demonstrative value - it signifies nothing but the steadfast and firm faith of the apostles." - St. Cyril of Alexandria--"Of the Trinity",4th Book

"Peter and John were equal in dignity and honour. Chirst is the foundation of all - the unshakable Rock upon which we are all built as a spiritual edifice." St. Cyril of Alexandria, in his letter to Nestorius.

"He (referring to Peter) had not the primacy over the disciples, but among the disciples. His primacy among the disciples was the same as that of Stephen among the deacons." St. Augustine--Sermon 10 on Peter and Paul.

"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 honour, a primacy of faith, not of rank." St. Ambrose, "De In Som Sacr." 4:32

"But observe how Peter does everything with the common consent; nothing imperiously." St. John Chrysostom, Homily III on Acts 1:12

"To all the Apostles after His resurrection He gives equal power and says, 'As the Father sent me, so I send you'." St. Cyprian, "De Unitate"

"For neither did Peter, whom first the Lord chose....when Paul disputed with him afterwards about the circumcision, claim anything to himself insolently, nor arrogantly assume anything, so as to say that he held a primacy, and that he ought to be obeyed by novices and those lately come." St. Cypriam, Epistle 70 concerning the baptism of heretics.

Here was the response I got, from a Catholic:

Let's take this a quote at a time, assuming they are all accurate!!! Keep in mind that Scripture, as the Word of God, can never be exhausted and bears all sorts of layers of meaning. Saying that Peter is the Rock does not deny that the faith he confesses is also a rock, or that Christ Himself is the Rock on which the Church is founded. Also, we must see all these quotes from the Fathers in the context of their writings---what point in particular were they trying to prove in the lines quoted? Taking little snippets out is a great way of misrepresenting them. Further, we have to bear in mind the vast body of their writings where they (many of the same Fathers) testify to Peter as the Head of the Apostles.


QUOTE 
The word 'rock' has only a demonstrative value - it signifies nothing but the steadfast and firm faith of the apostles." - St. Cyril of Alexandria--"Of the Trinity",4th Book



The word 'rock' certainly does have a demonstrative value. It's pointing at something or someone. Can it signify the faith of the apostles? Certainly! But Cyril seems to say 'nothing else'. Perhaps he believed other texts ('Feed my sheep' etc) showed the role of Peter. He himself certainly believed in the Pope's authority, so he can't be denying that!


QUOTE 
"Peter and John were equal in dignity and honour. Chirst is the foundation of all - the unshakable Rock upon which we are all built as a spiritual edifice." St. Cyril of Alexandria, in his letter to Nestorius.



Here we go! Cyril says the Rock is 'nothing but... the faith of the Apostles' and here he says Christ is the Rock! The person who put these quotes together must think Cyril has a split personality!!!! Is this quote in agreement with the Catholic faith? Yes, Christ is the unshakeable Rock. If not for Christ, Peter would never have been His vicar. Aren't Peter and John both apostles, equal in dignity and honour? Yes. Peter is the Head of the Apostles, which is not about dignity or honour, but about service.


QUOTE 
"He (referring to Peter) had not the primacy over the disciples, but among the disciples. His primacy among the disciples was the same as that of Stephen among the deacons." St. Augustine--Sermon 10 on Peter and Paul.



This is reminiscent of Augustine's saying to his laity: 'For you I am a bishop, with you I am a Christian'. Peter's primacy is not over anyone, but it is for his fellow Christians. Being Pope doesn't make you a saint. Every Pope is first and foremost a Christian. His primacy is one of service among his fellow disciples.


QUOTE 
"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 honour, a primacy of faith, not of rank." St. Ambrose, "De In Som Sacr." 4:32



Here you get an example of the exercise of this primacy: to confess the faith. Contrary to what the Orthodox say, the Pope's primacy is not a primacy of honour----Christianity does not know any primacy of honour (as Ambrose says here), but it has a primacy of service, modelled on Our Lord who washed His disciples feet. Nor is this primacy one of rank----we have no rank as Christians. The ones who are called great among Christians are called so because of their faith (cf. Our Lady: 'Blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her from the Lord would be fulfilled').


QUOTE 
"But observe how Peter does everything with the common consent; nothing imperiously." St. John Chrysostom, Homily III on Acts 1:12



Absolutely! The primacy of service exercised by Peter gets common consent (see Acts of the Apostles), and Peter then acts as spekesman to confirm these decisions. No Pope can go against the Faith of the whole Church.


QUOTE 
"To all the Apostles after His resurrection He gives equal power and says, 'As the Father sent me, so I send you'." St. Cyprian, "De Unitate"



The equal power referred to is the commission to preach the Gospel to all nations. You could argue that every baptised Christian has this same power. This is not about the specific role of the Apostles. If they really wanted to, they could have quoted the bit where Jesus gives the power to bind and loose to all the Apostles and not just to Peter. None of this proves Peter himself didn't have a unique role.


QUOTE 
"For neither did Peter, whom first the Lord chose....when Paul disputed with him afterwards about the circumcision, claim anything to himself insolently, nor arrogantly assume anything, so as to say that he held a primacy, and that he ought to be obeyed by novices and those lately come." St. Cypriam, Epistle 70 concerning the baptism of heretics.



Cyprian just shows that Peter was a humble man, not that Peter denied having this role granted him by Jesus. Cyprian could not possibly have been denying the primacy of the bishop of Rome, because he makes such a fuss (in a good way) about it elsewhere.


As a final point, whoever assembled these quotes must pay closer attention to the Fathers, and not twist things out of context, or pretend these quotes are self-explanatory, or that the same Father is schizophrenic and contradicts himself in every second quote etc. What is needed is intellectual honesty and Christian integrity.

I would imagine he is taking it out of context.  Can someone help?  Thanks! 
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2005, 10:43:47 AM »

I think it is probably better if you did some serious reading about the role of Peter in the Church.  We can "prooftext", and they can refute, they can "prooftext", and we can refute.  If you depend only on patristic quotes, you'll get nowhere.  Read the NT and see the actual role Peter played.  Read the Fathers.  The Liturgy.  Church History.  Study what the Roman Catholic Church teaches about his role and the role of his successors in Rome, and learn their arguments.  It was doing this that lead me to realise why they are wrong.  Although a thorough study of this might take quite a while, I think, once you scratch the surface, it will be fairly obvious that they are wrong: it didn't take me as long as I thought it would, and I'm not particularly gifted.  Good luck!
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