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Author Topic: The Church Fathers on the Papacy  (Read 5565 times) Average Rating: 0
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thomascothran
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« on: November 26, 2004, 01:50:20 AM »

I have been considering Orthodoxy for a few months now, and was pretty convinced of the truth of it. I read Timothy Ware's "The Orthodox Church," Clark Carlton's books, and some other books along with online articles. From a Protestant perspective I was convinved that there was a visible church and the Orthodox Church was it. But when I started to read Roman Catholic resources, it appears that there is much evidence to support the Papal claims from the Church fathers.

In the "Acts of the Extracts" of the Council of Chalcedon it says "Peter has spoken thus through Leo," and that through Leo was Peter who is the "who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church." It also says that Leo is the "Archbishop of all the churches," and" the ruler of the whole church." The Seventh Ecumenical Council says the Pope is "in the place and in the see of the holy and superlaudable Apostle Peter."

I have read many articles criticizing the Papacy from Orthodox sources, the most convincing from Seraphim Rose, and it does appear to me that the Roman Church has abandoned many Church tradition and does not have as deep a philosophy as the Orthodox do. But unless I see a convincing explanation of the Councils statements regarding the Pope that is compatible with Orthodoxy, I cannot convert.

I do have very limited experience reading the Church Fathers and the Councils, so I might have just seen a limited example from their writings without context. In any case, I would appreciate any information anyone could give me in support of Orthodoxy, particularly the writings of the fathers on the subject.
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« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2004, 01:58:18 AM »

Here is a link to where you can read a book on the ORthodox view of the papacy, by Abb+¬ Guett+¬e.

http://www.odox.net/Orthodox-Practice.htm

You can download the whole book off that website, but you should know that it is in .pdf format, so you will need to dl a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.

I have a copy of this book myself that I purchased online and I would recommend that you read it. While there are some things that the author kind of flies off the handle about, there are many quotes by the Holy Fathers against the papacy and there are many points about it that to this have have not been answered by the Roman Catholic Church.

It's free, so dl and give it a look over!

In Christ,
Aaron

BTW- Welcome to the forum!!  Cheesy
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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2004, 04:29:28 AM »

I recently read the book "CHURCH, PAPACY AND SCHISM : A Theological Enquiry" by Philip Sherrard, and highly recommend it. It clearly presents Orthodox theology, christology, ecclesiology and soteriology, all of which are tightly interrelated (ie. if you distort something in one it affects all the others), and demonstrates how there is no place for the papacy within it.

If you wish to buy it, I recommend you search a bit on the internet as prices vary a lot (Amazon being the most expensive, but they only had the hardback edition)

I'd like to second Aaron's welcome Smiley

John.
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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2004, 11:48:29 PM »

Thomas,

I too was once troubled by what I saw as proof texts for the papacy showing up in the fathers.  I don't want to write a treatise because it's already been done far better than I could do it... download Abbe Guettee's work above.  But here are a few things I can throw at you, that you might be interested in knowing.

1) "Peter has spoken through Leo!" was the acclamation of the 4th Ecumenical Council, convened in Chalcedon.  What were they saying?  Well you probably know that St. Leo had written a tome (known as the Tome of Leo) which properly expounded what St. Cyril had said decades ago, concerning the one person of Christ who exists in two natures.  What you may not know is, this was done after a very long deliberation (you can find copies of the acts of the council of chalcedon that discusses what went on during their meetings), comparing St. Leo's writing to the previously approved (at the 3rd Ecumenical Council in Ephesus) 12 Chapters of St. Cyril.  Also important to understand is what precisely is meant by this acclamation, "Peter has spoken through Leo!"  Aside from the fact that the pope was the first among equals and the successor of the apostle Peter (as is the Patriarch of Antioch), this statement is even more intriguing.  If you read the life of St. Leo, you will find in it the story of his prayerful entreaty to the apostle Peter.  St. Leo wished to defend the Orthodox faith of the unity of Christ and the duality of his natures without lapsing into either monophysitism or nestorianism, so he writes his Tome, and places it upon the tomb of the holy apostle, and prays and fasts for 30 days, asking Peter to correct any mistakes it might have in it (so wait a minute, why didn't he just speak ex cathedra and be infallible?? hahaha).  At the end of the 30 days, Peter appears to Leo, telling him that he had in fact corrected the errors and so it could be sent along with the papal legates to Chalcedon.  That, in short, is why the fathers of Chalcedon could indeed exclaim, "Peter has spoken through Leo!"

2) The Pope of Rome did in fact occupy a very important place in the governance of the Church.  As first among equals he had the privilege of hearing disputes and recommending courses of action to be taken.  What he did not have, however, was universal jurisdiction in the Church.  We find Pope St. Gregory the Great fighting vehemently against anyone receiving the title "universal bishop."  He even goes so far as to say that anyone who takes that title is the "forerunner of antichrist"!!!  The papacy of Rome was revered for its Orthodoxy, especially during the 7 century battle of the Church to defend Orthodox christology.  But were they somehow looked upon as infallible heads of the Church militant?  God forbid.  On the contrary, the whole idea of a council precludes the notion that somehow the pope could teach and act infallibly.  There were a couple heretical popes that were anathematized at ecumenical councils, specifically Pope Honorius, who subscribed to the crypto-monophysite doctrine of monothelitism-- he was anathematized at the 6th ecumenical council.

3) Primacy of honor was not something inherent to Rome itself, simply because it was the See of Peter.  St. Cyprian of Carthage and many others confirm that the "chair of Peter" is given to all Bishops, who all have the power of binding and loosing, and who all are charged with preserving the apostolic faith.  Rome was a focal point of unity, being in reality the place of the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul, and a relatively safe place in the backwaters of the Empire from theological innovation.  This changed, sadly.  But this primacy was accorded to the bishop of Rome by his brother bishops.  It was the ecumenical councils who affirmed the primacy of honor of the "apostolic See" and ironically it was also a later ecumenical council that afforded "equal privileges" to the apostolic See of Constaninople (see the canons of the 5th Ecumenical Council).  Rome was first place by the universal consent of the Orthodox Catholic Church.

I encourage you to google "Joseph Suaiden" and look up his apologetics webpage-- his replies to James Likoudis are very well written and more than prove the truth of the Orthodox faith.

Hope this helps.
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2004, 08:09:15 PM »

I just felt that I should comment on this because I too struggled and was even brought to tears several times trying to understand all these proof texts. I thought, "Lord I know that faith is not easy and we must struggle to accept what may at first seem repugnent to our nature, but how can this be? I pray to You, Your Apostles, Your all Holy Mother, and all Your saints who are in You praised and glorified, yet I cannot believe that this is Your Will." I thought many times that I had been wrong. That I should go into the Roman church. Yet I found it impossible as I read more, as I asked myself what I believe. Do I believe my Lord is King of kings, Lord of lords? My faith is in Christ. He is the chief cornerstone! The church is Christ's Body! Even the Romans teach this. Is it St.Peter in whom we pray or God our Lord Jesus Christ?
Furthermore how did the Council of Chalcedon mean rock? St.Leo was like St.Peter, he was the voice of the consensus of bishops in the matter of greater importance, the two natures of Christ. Upon the faith which St.Peter proclaimed, "Thou art the Son of the Living God." so to upon the faith which St.Leo proclaimed in his Tome do we believe our Church is founded.
It amazes me how easily this is distorted. People really need to remember that the Roman church is not even what it was before Vatican I let alone Vatican II! The pope is practically Christ himself for them.
My advice is: Really read Guettee's book. Don't go to the Roman reviews, which often resort to ad hominem attachs and show a lack of reading comprehension, or they didn't read past the first chapter! Guettee has never been conclusively refuted, as these reviewers say, nor are 'his ideas' outdated which is an odd statement on their part considering his heavily quoting pre-schism saints. These reviewers even go so far as to quote protestant scholars on the Petrine Primacy issue!
I know Orthodoxy is the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, and all the prophets, and all the saints. I continually see it more and more as I attend services. Jesus Christ is High Priest of high priests! not the pope.
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2004, 11:11:58 PM »

Thomas- bless you as a seeker of Truth. Try to ignore the obvious polemics, from Rome or Orthodoxy, and read widely from both camps; it is usually easy to factor in the prejudices of the polemicists and find the truth.
Do note that Rome alone was free from the Christological and other heresies that plagued the early Church. Later controversies must be seen in this light..
peace and good, Daniel
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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2004, 11:19:26 PM »

Thomas- bless you as a seeker of Truth. Try to ignore the obvious polemics, from Rome or Orthodoxy, and read widely from both camps; it is usually easy to factor in the prejudices of the polemicists and find the truth.
Do note that Rome alone was free from the Christological and other heresies that plagued the early Church. Later controversies must be seen in this light..
peace and good, Daniel

In a sense what you say is true relatively speaking but on the other hand, Sabellianism was a common heresy in Rome, and Rome has a long history of anti-Popes.  In addition to that, Pope Honorious was a monothelite, regardless of whether that negates papal infallibility from a Roman Catholic perspective.  

Anastasios
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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2004, 08:38:43 AM »


Do note that Rome alone was free from the Christological and other heresies that plagued the early Church. Later controversies must be seen in this light..

Also note that while the other sees recovered from heresy, once Rome fell into heresy itself, it has yet to recover.

John.
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« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2004, 11:05:41 AM »

Concerning another heretical pope of Rome,

I must also mention Pope Nicholas who was condemned, defrocked, deposed and anathematized for two things:

1) For filioquism-- adding to the Creed this crypto-Sabellian teaching

2) For attempting to assert power over Bishops not under his jurisdiction.  See canon 34 of the Apostolic Canons.

The Eighth Ecumenical Council (yes, it has ecumenical status), convened in Constantinople under St. Photios the Great issued the proclamation against the vile heresy of the filioquists and anathematized Nicholas of Rome.  This was signed by his predecessor, Pope John VIII.

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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2005, 04:01:23 AM »

Please remember that in Matthew 16:18, Jesus is the rock that the faith is built upon, not Peter.

"You are Petros (small stone) and on this Petra (large bolder) I will build my Church."

Notice the contrast in the Greek words.
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2005, 10:12:18 AM »

Please remember that in Matthew 16:18, Jesus is the rock that the faith is built upon, not Peter.

"You are Petros (small stone) and on this Petra (large bolder) I will build my Church."

Notice the contrast in the Greek words.

The Catholic defense of this, however, is valid:

1) Petros is merely the masculine version of petra...to call Peter just "Petra" would have been an insult.  The comparison of rock=rock was clear to the original hearers because

2) The word for rock in Aramaic -- kefa -- is the same regardless.  It would have originally sounded like, "You are kefa, and on this kefa I will build my Church."

I think it's much more important to look at the fact that there's no clear patristic consensus one way or the other regarding whether it was EITHER Peter himself OR Peter's confession that was the rock; the Fathers make statements in favor of both.

To quote a musician named Rich Mullins (whom I greatly admire), "People have long tried to distinguish between Peter and this confession, but (not that we can settle that debate here) who can sever a man from his beliefs without destroying both?  What is conviction if it is disembodied?  What remains of a man when he is left without his thoughts?  Apart from each other, both are nothing.  In their union there is something that never was before--something unique, dynamic and alive.  And in this union, the stuff of which the Church is made and the thing that--if she does well--she will grow into, is set.  Here at Peter's confession, the truth of Heaven connects with human experience and the Church is conceived."
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2005, 04:19:47 PM »



The Catholic defense of this, however, is valid:

1) Petros is merely the masculine version of petra...to call Peter just "Petra" would have been an insult. The comparison of rock=rock was clear to the original hearers because

2) The word for rock in Aramaic -- kefa -- is the same regardless. It would have originally sounded like, "You are kefa, and on this kefa I will build my Church."


Regardless of what may have been in the original Aramaic, there is a clear distinction made in the Greek words Petros and Petra.
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2005, 06:40:49 PM »



Regardless of what may have been in the original Aramaic, there is a clear distinction made in the Greek words Petros and Petra.

Rather than saying it like this, I'd probably say that we have no indication that Christ spoke in Aramaic here.  While it is most probably Aramaic that He did speak, it was not in Aramaic that the Gospels were written, but Greek.  You could argue that it's just translation into another language, with its conventions...or it could be divine providence.  In the end, all we have is the text.   
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2005, 06:42:27 PM »

Of course, if we are all agreed on using the Peshitto, then maybe the Catholics have a point.   Wink
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2005, 07:12:09 PM »

In the end, all we have is the text.  

And the text shows a clear distinction between Petros and Petra.
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