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Archive for the ‘Episcopalianism’ Category

Perhaps its the internet or more specifically the blogs that I read weekly, but over the past 3 years or so there seems to be a concerted effort in some quarters to reclaim(from their viewpoint) the term “Catholic”.  As a Catholic myself I have some problems with them doing so; their claim is that one can be “Catholic” without formally being a member of that communion. Indeed, they are members of the Catholic Church, but only informally as the Catholic church proclaims based on their membership in the body of Christ. Some individuals however have taken an additional step and chosen to alter IMO the meaning of the term, so that they may in fact reject some or a number of doctrinal and/or dogma definitions and would claim the title to Catholic and that those of us in communion with Rome are historically wrong in these positions, which in any-ones church language is referred to as heresy. Nothing wrong with that, it’s good for dialog for all parties to take a stand on what they believe is true. While it creates conflict, if the parties are concerned about the truth, then there is no inherent problem in having conflicting positions. Of course, traditionally Catholics have define these individuals as heretics or schismatics themselves. Which brings us to the issue – What does “Catholic” mean from the historical aspect in the Christian era?

I’m not a scholar, but experts will agree that the Greek word “katholikos”means universal, generally from kata (by) + holos(whole). The primary sources are pretty easy to gather together for the first 200 years since the pool of material is very limited. But after that it grows substantially. In selecting my material I attempted to draw from the first three periods of the church (Apostolic Father, the pre-Nicene, & Nicene fathers) as well as the first 5 centuries from the three primary geographic regions of the Christianity(Africa, the west & the east) as it existed back then and from both Latin and Greek fathers.

Please consider everything after 200 A.D. as a sample of available texts, hopefully it’s  a representative one, but I admit that I have my biases as well. I welcome any-ones input for primary sources that they feel would add to that which is already here. I was deliberate in trying to avoid texts that historically been use to justify papal claims. To some extent it was unavoidable to do so, since there is a linkage between both issues, but the papacy is secondary to this broader topic.

I will list the primary sources first, then reference back to them with my analysis after, so the reader will get a chance to absorb the material without to much bias input on my part other then the selection of text and the bolding and underlining as to it’s importance to my position. Anyone who has read even a limited amount of the church fathers will recognize these passages a  glance, so there isn’t any obscure quote that can’t be found on a number of internet sites for broader context.

The first preserved written use in the Christian tradition of the term “Catholic” about 105 A.D by St. Ignatius of Antioch(Greek):

ignatius.jpg1)See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. .It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid. St Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrneans

TheMartyrdom of St. Polycarp around 155A.D. (Greek)

polycarp.jpg

2)The Church of God which sojourns at Smyrna, to the Church of God sojourning in Philomelium and to all the congregations of the Holy and Catholic Church in every place: Mercy, peace, and love from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied.

Polycarp was one, having in our own times been an apostolic and prophetic teacher, and bishop of the Catholic Church which is in Smyrna Chapter XVI

For, having through patience overcome the unjust governor, and thus acquired the crown of immortality, he now, with the apostles and all the righteous [in heaven], rejoicingly glorifies God, even the Father, and blesses our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of our souls, the Governor of our bodies, and the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world Chapter XIX

We move now to St. Irenaeus of Lyon (Greek) – Against Heresies, book 3 (180 A.D.) For this discussion we can ignore what St. Irenaeus means by authority.

200px-saint_irenaeus.jpg3) For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church{that is the church of Rome}, on account of its pre- eminent authority,that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolic tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. Chapter III paragraph 2.

The truth is to be found nowhere else but in the Catholic Church, the sole depository of  apostolical doctrine. Heresies are of recent formation, and cannot trace their origin up to the apostles. Chapter IV

Note: St. Irenaeus famous passage has been used unmercifully by Catholic apologists to bludgeon our fellow Anglicans and Orthodox alike on the topic of papal primacy. That is not the focus of this issue.

Tertullian(African/Latin) (from his Catholic period 200 A.D.)  

4)Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago,—in the reign of Antoninus for the most part, and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled. Prescription against Heretics – Chapter 30

St. Cyprian(African/Latin) to Antonianus – 252 A.D.

150px-stcyprian.jpg5)Cyprian to Antonianus his brother, greeting. I received your first letters, dearest brother, firmly maintaining the concord of the priestly college, and adhering to the Catholic Church, in which you intimated that you did not hold communion with Novatian, but followed my advice, and held one common agreement with Cornelius our co-bishop. You wrote, moreover, for me to transmit a copy of those same letters to Cornelius our colleague, so that he might lay aside all anxiety, and know at once that you held communion with him, that is, with the Catholic Church. Epistle 51

First Ecumenical Council in 325 A.D – (only 5 western/latin bishops represented of the 318 total)

180px-nicaea_icon.jpg6) We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion–all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them. Nicene Creed

St. Cyril of Jerusalem Catechism – 347 A.D. (Greek)

st-cyril-of-jerusalem.jpg7) 22. The Faithwhich we rehearse contains in order the following, And in one Baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; and in one Holy Catholic Church; and in the resurrection of the flesh; and in eternal life.” Now of Baptism and repentance I have spoken in the earliest Lectures; and my present remarks concerning the resurrection of the dead have been made with reference to the Article “In the resurrection of the flesh.” Now then let me finish what still remains to be said for the Article, “In one Holy Catholic Church,” on which, though one might say many things, we will speak but briefly

23. It is called Catholic then because it span extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men’s knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly and because it brings into subjection to godliness the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts.

26…since one might properly and truly say that there is a Church of evil doers, I mean the meetings of the heretics, the Marcionists and Manichees, and the rest, for this cause the Faith has securely delivered to thee now the Article, “And in one Holy Catholic Church;” that thou mayest avoid their wretched meetings, and ever abide with the Holy Church Catholic in which thou wast regenerated. And if ever thou art sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord’s House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God St. Cyril of Jerusalem – Lecture XVIII

Optatus of Milevis, Against the Donatists 366 A.D. (African/Latin)

(8)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(for which reason he was called Cephas), that, in this one Cathedra, unity should be preserved by all, 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. Against the Donatists-book 2, chapter 2

II. He proves from the Cathedra Petri that the Cathedra which is the first endowment of the Church belongs to Catholics, not to Donatists.

So we have proved that the Catholic Church is the Church which is spread throughout the world. We must now mention its Adornments and see where are its five Endowments (which you have said to be six, amongst which the CATHEDRA is the first; and, since the second Endowment, which is the ‘Angelus,’ cannot be added unless a Bishop has sat on Cathedra, we must see who was the first to sit on the Cathedra, and where he sat. If you do not know this, learn. If you do know, blush. Ignorance cannot be attributed to you—-it follows that you know. For one who knows, to err is sin. Those who do not know may sometimes be pardoned.

ST. PACIAN, BISHOP OF BARCELONA,EPISTLES TO SYMPRONIAN- 375 A.D. (Spaniard/latin)

9)7. And shall the Fathers rather follow our authority, and the antiquity of Saints give way to be emended by us, and times now putrifying through their sins, pluck out the grey hairs of Apostolic age? And yet, my brother, be not troubled; Christian is my name, but Catholic my surname. The former gives me a name, the latter distinguishes me. By the one I am approved; by the other I am but marked.

8.   And if at last we must give an account of the word Catholic, and draw it out from the Greek by a Latin interpretation, “Catholic” is ‘every where one,’ or, as learned men “obedience in all,” i. e. all the commands of God. Whence the Apostle, Whether ye be obedient in all things;and again,For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. Therefore he who is a Catholic, the same man is obedient. He who is obedient, the same is a Christian, and thus the Catholic is a Christian. Wherefore our people when named Catholic are separated by this appellation from the heretical name. OF THE CATHOLIC NAME

Jointly from three emperors written in 380 A.D. for all the empire. Note: this is one year prior to the 1st synod of Constantinople (later known as the 2nd Ecumenical council):

10) C. Th.XVI.i.2: We desire that all the people under the rule of our clemency should live by that religion which divine Peter the apostle is said to have given to the Romans, and whichit is evident that Pope Damasusand Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic sanctity, followed; that is that we should believe in the one deity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with equal majesty and in the Holy Trinity according to the apostolic teaching and the authority of the gospel. Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius Augusti. Codex Theodosianus.

Nicene Constantinopolitan creed 381 A.D. (150 Greek bishops -no latins)

314px-gregor-chora.jpg11)We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages, (God of God) Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten, not made, of one essence(one in being) with the Father, by Whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man;And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;And ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father;And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke by the Prophets;

And we believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.We look for the Resurrection of the dead, And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

Pope St. Damasus I – 382 A.D.

damasus.jpg

12) 1.After all these [writings of] the prophets and the evangelical and apostolic scriptures which we discussed above, on which the catholic church is founded by the grace of God, we also have thought necessary to say what, although the universal catholic church diffused throughout the world is the single bride of Christ, however the holy Roman church is given first place by the rest of the churches without[the need for] a synodical decision, but from the voice of the Lord our saviour in the gospel obtained primacy: ‘You are Peter,’ he said, ‘and upon this rock I shall build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to you I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall bind upon Earth shall be bound also in heaven and whatever you release upon Earth shall also be released in heaven’.

2. In addition there is also the presence of the blessed apostle Paul, ‘the chosen vessel’, who not in opposition, as the heresies jabber, but on the same date and the same day was crowned in glorious death with Peter in the city of Rome suffering under Nero Caesar; and equally they made the above-mentioned holy Roman church special in Christ the Lord and gave preference in their presence and veneration-worthy triumph before all other cities in the whole world.

3. Therefore first is the seat at the Roman church of the apostle Peter ‘having no spot or wrinkle or any other [defect]’. However the second place was given in the name of blessed Peter to Mark his disciple and gospel-writer at Alexandria, and who himself wrote down the word of truth directed by Peter the apostle in Egypt and gloriously consummated [his life] in martyrdom. Indeed the third place is held at Antioch of the most blessed and honourable apostle Peter, who lived there before he came to Roma and where first the name of the new race of the Christians was heard. Section 3

Next is St. Augustine of Hippo who wrote Against the Epislte of Manichaeus in 397 A.D. (African/Latin)

saint_augustine_oldest_image_sm.jpg13) 5. For in the Catholic Church, not to speak of the purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual men attain in this life, so as to know it, in the scantiest measure, indeed, because they are but men, still without any uncertainty (since the rest of the multitude derive their entire security not from acuteness of intellect, but from simplicity of faith,)—not to speak of this wisdom, which you do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church, as it is right they should, though from the slowness of our understanding, or the small attainment of our life, the truth may not yet fully disclose itself. But with you, where there is none of these things to attract or keep me, the promise of truth is the only thing that comes into play. Now if the truth is so clearly proved as to leave no possibility of doubt, it must be set before all the things that keep me in the Catholic Church; but if there is only a promise without any fulfillment, no one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion.

6.For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church. So when those on whose authority I have consented to believe in the gospel tell me not to believe in Manichæus, how can I but consent? Take your choice. If you say, Believe the Catholics: their advice to me is to put no faith in you; so that, believing them, I am precluded from believing you;—If you say, Do not believe the Catholics: you cannot fairly use the gospel in bringing me to faith in Manichæus; for it was at the command of the Catholics that I believed the gospel;—Again, if you say, You were right in believing the Catholics when they praised the gospel, but wrong in believing their vituperation of Manichæus: do you think me such a fool as to believe or not to believe as you like or dislike, without any reason? It is therefore fairer and safer by far for me, having in one instance put faith in the Catholics, not to go over to you, till, instead of bidding me believe, you make me understand something in the clearest and most open manner. To convince me, then, you must put aside the gospel. If you keep to the gospel, I will keep to those who commanded me to believe the gospel; and, in obedience to them, I will not believe you at all. But if haply you should succeed in finding in the gospel an incontrovertible testimony to the apostleship of Manichæus, you will weaken my regard for the authority of the Catholics who bid me not to believe you; and the effect of that will be, that I shall no longer be able to believe the gospel either, for it was through the Catholics that I got my faith in it; and so, whatever you bring from the gospel will no longer have any weight with me. Wherefore, if no clear proof of the apostleship of Manichæus is found in the gospel, I will believe the Catholics rather than you.But if you read thence some passage clearly in favor of Manichæus, I will believe neither them nor you: not them, for they lied to me about you; nor you, for you quote to me that Scripture which I had believed on the authority of those liars. But far be it that I should not believe the gospel; for believing it, I find no way of believing you too. For the names of the apostles, as there recorded do not include the name of Manichæus. And who the successor of Christ’s betrayer was we read in the Acts of the Apostles; Acts 1:26 which book I must needs believe if I believe the gospel, since both writings alike Catholic authority commends to me. Chapter 4 & 5.

St. Augustine  – Letter to Vincentius – 408 A.D. 

14) 23. You think that you make a very acute remark when you affirm the name Catholic to mean universal, not in respect to the communion as embracing the whole world, but in respect to the observance of all Divine precepts and of all the sacraments, as if we (even accepting the position that the Church is called Catholic because it honestly holds the whole truth, of which fragments here and there are found in some heresies) rested upon the testimony of this word’s signification, and not upon the promises of God, and so many indisputable testimonies of the truth itself, our demonstration of the existence of the Church of God in all nations. In fact, however, this is the whole which you attempt to make us believe, that the Rogatists alone remain worthy of the name Catholics, on the ground of their observing all the Divine precepts and all the sacraments; and that you are the only persons in whom the Son of man when He comes shall find faith. Letter 93, Chapter 7, para.23

Next is Sozomen a Greek church historian 425 A.D. as background on the previous law issue by the Emperors quote above (#7)

15)Finally we as Gaul was about this period infested by the incursions of the Alemanni, Gratian returned to his paternal dominions, which he had reserved for himself and his brother, when he bestowed the government of Illyria and of the Eastern provinces upon Theodosius. He effected his purpose with regard to the barbarians; and Theodosius was equally successful against the tribes from the banks of the Ister; he defeated them, compelled them to sue for peace, and, after accepting hostages from them, proceeded to Thessalonica. He fell ill while in this city, and after receiving instruction from Ascholius, the bishop, he was initiated, and was soon after restored to health. The parents of Theodosius were Christians, and were attached to the Nicene doctrines; he was pleased with Ascholius, who maintained the same doctrines, and was, in a word, endowed with every virtue of the priesthood. He also rejoiced at finding that the Arian heresy had not been participated in by Illyria. He inquired concerning the religious sentiments which were prevalent in the other provinces, and ascertained that, as far as Macedonia,all the churches were like minded, and all held that equal homage ought to be rendered to God the Word, and to the Holy Ghost, as to God the Father; but that towards the East, and particularly at Constantinople, the people were divided into many different heresies. Reflecting that it would be better to propound his own religious views to his subjects, so as not to appear to be using force by commanding the unwilling subject to worship contrary to his judgment, Theodosius enacted a law at Thessalonica, which he caused to be published at Constantinople, well knowing that the rescript would speedily become public to all the other cities, if issued from that city, which is as a citadel of the whole empire. He made known by this law his intention of leading all his subjects to the reception of that faith which Peter, the chief of the apostles, had, from the beginning, preached to the Romans, and which was professed by Damasus, bishop of Rome, and by Peter, bishop of Alexandria. He enacted that the title of Catholic Church should be exclusively confined to those who rendered equal homage to the Three Persons of the Trinity, and that those individuals who entertained opposite opinions should be treated as heretics, regarded with contempt, and delivered over to punishment. Ecclesiastical History (Book VII)

Drawing from St. Vincent of Lerins 434 A.DCommonitory chapters 2 & 3 otherwise known as the Vincentian Canon which is used by our Orthodox and Anglican friends to bludgeon my fellow Catholics;>)

16) [6.] Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense Catholic; which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.

Analysis. Still here? Well I hope this will be worthy of your time & effort.

  • From #1(St. Ignatius) we find that a “bishop is need” in the Catholic Church and that Christians “follow” him as “Jesus does the Father”. IOWs “obedience” &instituted” by God
  • From #2 (St. Polycarp) we see his use of the term “church of God” with various locations, but regardless they are all congregations of the Holy Catholic Church. IOWs “unity”.Jesus Christ is the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world.
  • From #3 (St. Irenaeus of Lyon) dealing with Gnostics who’s claim is hidden knowledge, not known to the general public; his solution is that every church should agree with the church of Rome, based on some undefined authority, and a unity with all other Apostolic church in the world.
  • Secondly, of more importance is that the Truth is found nowhere else but in the Catholic church & is the sole depository of apostolic doctrine. IOWs preservers of the “deposit of faith”.
  • Next is #4 (Tertullian) our have our first latin and first African. Prior to this we heard only from Greeks in the east. Tertullian deals with internal descent of believers who are misleading/”infecting” other believers. The solution is to “excommunicate” those formally within the church.
  • And #5 (St. Cyprian) deals with schism over the issue of liberal or rigorist application of christian principles. The Novatian issue. He solution is to send a letter to the bishop of Rome(Cornelius) stating that he was in communion with him and therefore with the Catholic Church. IOWs “unity with the bishop of Rome” is somehow connected to “communion with the Catholic Church”.

That closes out the Apostolic Father and pre-Nicene era.

B) The next section, I have separated because of the course altering change of the imperial gov’t of Rome saw the light of truth. It is critical to understand the period between 350 A.D. & 451 A.D. for a proper take on Christiology & church authority. There are just about as many creeds as there were local churches in the 4th century.

  • The Nicene Creed(#6) we see not just the affirmation of faith, but the penalty for those who profess something other then the Trinity. Namely the Arians and also Monarchianists. The term Apostolic is added as a requirement to be Catholic.
  • St. Cyril of Jerusalem (#7) attended the 2nd Ecumenical Council. In his catechism he adds the space to the requirement as well as teaching a unified comprehensive doctrine from one end of the earth to the other. One is to avoid membership in churches which teach heresy, it is not enough to be called the church of God.
  • Optatus of Milevius (#8) adds that the chair of St. Peter is required for unity. This is in reaction to the Donatist. IF one reads about the history of this sect there is IMO a striking similarity between it and modern day schismatics. The Catholic church was considered to “liberal” the Donatist after all had in fact remained true to the faith under persecution and dead by the pagan emperors. They refused to turn over the Sacred Scriptures and liturgical & Church father writings. They referred to the Catholics who were permitted back into the church after the persecutions as  traditor. This will come up again when dealing with St. Vincent’s canon.
  • St. Pacian (#9) adds the word obedience as the quality of a Catholic.
  • The 3 emperors (#10) place into Imperial law not the Creed of the 318 which was the rallyin cry throughout the turbulent times of this century, but the faith delivered by St. Peter the Apostle to the Romans (not the empire, but the local church in Rome, headed by it’s bishop) and St. Peter II bishop of Alexandria, who lived in exile in Rome, prior to being restored. Confirmed in (#15). It is now civil law that all who would be Catholic were required to profess a Trinitarian belief.
  • The Nicene-constantinopolitian Creed (#11 -Greek-easterners) is the most used in liturgies for all parties involved in this topic. These truths are to be held by everyone who is called by the name Catholic. It dealt with the Macedonian heresy( the three great Cappadocians fathers fought against this) , however the church in Antioch was in schism at the time and St. Meletius of Antioch (who was president of this council) was not in communion with the west or Alexandria (being suspect of Semi-Arian leanings). It’s creed was not used in the liturgy for centuries after the fact in the west and it was not until the Ecumenical council of Chalcedon(451 A.D.) that the creed was considered an Ecumenical council by Pope Leo the Great. The numerical number of “one” is included as a requirement of the Catholic church. There is no other.
  • St. Damasus I (#12) delivers his tome possibly accepted by the council of constantinople in 382, adds what has become to be known as papal supremacy as a condition of being Catholic. It establishes the gov’t structure as being of divine origin and the two other Petrine sees(Alexandria & Antioch) share in this authority bases on St. Peter.
  • St. Augustine (#13 &14) is simply dialog which I think explains what is not Catholic as much as what is.
  • St. Vincent (#16)  as stated above is IMO the primary quote used by those who desire to make a claim on the term Catholic, while not being in obedience, unity or communion to the bishop of rome, successor to St. Peter’s chair. He  uses examples to clarify what he meant by his theory, which can be found in the same book and link under #16  Chapters 4, 5, & 6
  • He draws on the example of the Donatists who as mentioned were schismatics, then the Arians who were heretics, then Martrys as witnesses to the Catholic faith, then one would think strange statement from Pope Stephen ” Let there be no innovation—nothing but what has been handed down.” This example point to communion with the bishop of Rome in the historical record. One would think then that this canon appeals in communion with Rome and required to be in global unity, doctrine, obedience with(not necessarily under) the chair of St. Peter in Rome.

As one can see from the primary sources the western church dealt with a lot of internal schism, from rigiorist mostly in Africa, heretics from the east and west, whereas the east deal more with theological speculation, which created heresy. It is my opinion that Christ select St. Peter as an integral part of the church and due to historical circumstances St. Peter chose Rome as his permanent chair. One of the theme’s that the fathers speak about is Catholic is from one end of the earth to the other. The ancients thought that they had achieved that goal; however today we know they were off a bit. That doesn’t change their claim however and I believe it is achieve by the Catholic church. A map of the Dioceses in the World

My conclusion is that Catholic is universal in geographic scope, unity in doctrine, unity with the bishop of Rome, obedience to scripture and the deposit of faith.

IOW’s your Catholic if your in communion with his guy:

pope-b16.jpg

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Church history is an amazing field of endeavor. I wish I had taken that up in my college years, but I doubt you can make a living out of it or at least I doubt that I could do so. Anyway division within Christianity [by that I mean those who accept at a minimum two points: 1) God is three Persons & One God; 2) Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Human]. All Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic communions accept this as truth.

Many people will then proceed with the what happens to me issue of Sorteriology(the study of salvation). It’s a natural inclination, however the difficulty with this position is in the selection of the authority by which one determines the process of salvation. All three groups will again agree that the Bible is the word of God. The problem is first that the church existed prior to the canon of the Bible. If one wanted to claim that the Bible is only the books in the Old testament, then one could support the view that the Bible existed prior to the church; however we already have such a group- we refer to them as Jews.

The next step then is in the area of Eccelesiology. The study of church gov’t is foundational to most of the issues that divide Christianity IMO. It has the same issue of Sorteriology, but one can use church history to see how the church understood just what they received from Christ and the Apostles and those who followed behind them. Knowing when these variations in church gov’t started, by whom and on what basis provides a working basis on which to discuss this topic. It would be les difficult to simply select the canon of scripture first (as many will) and develop their Sorteriology first then their Eccelesiology.

Sadly I would venture that the overwhelming majority of Christians accept their form of church gov’t, based more on good preaching, good choir/music, how that local church’s beliefs line up with their own personal beliefs and a good support community. IOW most individuals will accept very different forms of eccelesiology based on other factors I would deemed as subjective matters.

I have taken the matter in reverse historical order of when these ideas gained acceptance by (IMO significant portions of Christians). Being Catholic I am biased in that I list the Catholic Church last, since I believe it to be the oldest and the one established by Christ to perform His mission on earth.

It is very difficult to pick a given denomination as being representative of the whole when it comes to our first gov’t system in Christianity which is called -Congregationalism. Most scholars would made a case for
John Smyth [yes I broke down and got lazy and used Wikipedia as an autoritive secondary source -God forgive me] established this style of church gov’t. Since the Baptist are the largest representative of this doctrinal position today, I select their definition of The Church

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3. [Underlining by myself]

and a warning from a Baptist pastor in temptation by the SBC to centralize local church authority[well intentioned as I understand it-eliminate deviation in doctrinal matters- what Catholics would term heretical] which I though may be helpful as well under Congregationalism.

Note that the local church is called autonomous, guided by Christ through a democratic process and the individual is accountable to Christ (infered here is that the individual is not accountable to the local church, although one would assume that the two would be linked in theory since both are guided and accountable to Christ). It also acknowledges that all believers in every age is part of the body of Christ. The difficulty in defending this position is that it didn’t exist prior to 1600 A.D. Hence most defenders will jump back to the 40 to 60 A.D. time frame, claiming that they have restored what was lost in the past 1550 years. The only way to restrict the arguement is to limit the authority to the Bible alone, because the position does not exist in the historical record.

Next is Presbyterianism which was a bit easier to nail down simply because, they like those that follow in this discussion adhere to a more structure system of the church.

The scripture doth hold out a presbytery in a church.[44]

A presbytery consisteth of ministers of the word, and such other public officers as are agreeable to and warranted by the word of God to be church-governors, to join with the ministers in the government of the church.[45]The scripture doth hold forth, that many particular congregations may be under one presbyterial government.

This proposition is proved by instances:

I. First, Of the church of Jerusalem, which consisted of more congregations than one, and all these congregations were under one presbyterial government.

This appeareth thus:

First, The church of Jerusalem consisted of more congregations than one, as is manifest:

1st, By the multitude of believers mentioned, in divers [places], both before the dispersion of the believers there, by means of the persecution,[46] and also after the dispersion. [47]2dly, By the many apostles and other preachers in the church of Jerusalem. And if there were but one congregation there, then each apostle preached but seldom;[48] which will not consist with Acts vi. 2. 3dly, The diversity of languages among the believers, mentioned both in the second and sixth chapters of the Acts, doth argue more congregations than one in that church.

Secondly, All those congregations were under one presbyterial government; because,1st, They were one church.[49]2dly, The elders of the church are mentioned. [50] 3dly, The apostles did the ordinary acts of presbyters, as presbyters in that kirk; which proveth a presbyterial church before the dispersion, Acts vi. 4thly, The several congregations in Jerusalem being one church, the elders of that church are mentioned as meeting together for acts of government;[51] which proves that those several congregations were under one presbyterial government.And whether these congregations were fixed or not fixed, in regard of officers or members, it is all one as to the truth of the proposition. Nor doth there appear any material difference betwixt the several congregations in Jerusalem, and the many congregations now in the ordinary condition of the church, as to the point of fixedness required of officers or members.Thirdly, Therefore the scripture doth hold forth, that many congregations may be under one presbyterial government.

II. Secondly, By the instance of the church of Ephesus; for,

First, That there were more congregations than one in the church of Ephesus, appears by Acts xx. 31,[52] where is mention of Paul’s continuance at Ephesus in preaching for the space of three years; and Acts xix. 18,19,20, where the special effect of the word is mentioned;[53] and ver. 10. and 17. of the same chapter, where is a distinction of Jews and Greeks;[54] and 1 Cor. xvi. 8,9, where is a reason of Paul’s stay at Ephesus until Pentecost;[55] and ver. 19, where is mention of a particular church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, then at Ephesus,[56] as appears, Acts xviii. 19,24,26.[57] All which laid together, doth prove that the multitude of believers did make more congregations than one in the church of Ephesus.Secondly, That there were many elders over these many congregations, as one flock, appeareth.[58]Thirdly, That these many congregations were one church, and that they were under one presbyterial government, appeareth.[59] The scripture doth hold out another sort of assemblies for the government of the church, beside classical and congregational, all which we call Synodical.[60]Pastors and teachers, and other church-governors, (as also other fit persons, when it shall be deemed expedient,) are members of those assemblies which we call Synodical, where they have a lawful calling thereunto.Synodical assemblies may lawfully be of several sorts, as provincial, national, and oecumenical.It is lawful, and agreeable to the word of God, that there be a subordination of congregational, classical, provincial, and national assemblies, for the government of the church.

The difference btwn Presbyterianism and Congregationalism is that it believes that while scripture does indicate local churches, there is a structure of pastoral authority which the collective local churches and the individuals are required to submit too. It’s major jump off point btwn it and the Episcopal system is because scripture does show bishops(overseer) in functions of that of a presbyter. In fact scripture shows Apostles doing the same as well. Hermeneutics (interpretation) of scripture therefore becomes important.

The next system of government is Episcopal. Depending on whom one speaks to there are 3 versions or practioners of this system. The first Anglicanism has historically been defined by the 39 articles.

XIX. Of the Church.

The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.

XX. Of the Authority of the Church.

The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.

XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils.

[The Twenty-first of the former Articles is omitted; because it is partly of a local and civil nature, and is provided for, as to the remaining parts of it, in other Articles.]

The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article, omitted in the version of 1801, reads as follows:

“General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.”

I think most Anglicans would agree that the first break with Rome was not valid (King Henry VIII); however most would disagree with what they would term the second with Queen Elizabeth I. Their position would be that it was a political move by the papacy, rather then a theological break with Rome as the Catholic church claims.

Next is Orthodox like Catholicism both claim to be the True Church established by Jesus Christ. Both groups believe that Christ willed One church, episcopal in nature, sacramental, perserved in apostolic succession with the Bible as God’s word with the church as it’s guardian in interpretation, which it views through the greater body of work refered to as Tradition.

The two major differences btwn the two groups are the issue of the role of the bishop of rome in the church and the filioque (procession of the Holy Spirit) as contained with the symbol of the Catholic creed, but not in the former. [A lenghty discussion in itself].

That’s it in a nut shell. I’ll make an update and refer back to this in another article. If those of you from other communions believe they have a better primary source for their communion, I’d be interested in it.

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1. An Anglican is fully Catholic by the standards of the Scriptures and the Patristic period.

This is pretty non-specific and therefore difficult to address. Since Fr. Hart has refered to the Vincentian Canon in the past which was written in the 5th century, what are the odds that the Catholic church St. Vincent refers to is one other then the bishop & church of Rome? And the standard of Scripture is if anything a canon, which was developed over time by a given church. So while one can discuss which church (Rome or Canterbury) is closer to “the church” , one can certainly say that Pope ST. Leo the Great was closer still to said church and I don’t think there’s much argument as to who is closer in standards to St. Leo.

2. Our orders have been preserved without defect, with all of the charisms and power Christ has granted through his apostles to his Church.

I am out of my depth on this one. I defer to the bishop of Rome, but I recognize that his judgement in this is jurisdictional not doctrinal, so there’s hope that perhaps some evidence in the historical record will come to light that perhaps will change that ruling.

3. Our doctrine is better and more pure than that of Rome.

The standard for schism & or heresy more so then the Vincentian Canon is the Formula of Hormisdas, I doubt that Fr. Hart’s doctrine is as pure(as in compliance with) as the following Formula

And consequently I hope that I shall be in one communion with you, the communion which the apostolic see preaches, in which is the whole and perfect solidarity of the Christian religion, promising for the future that at the celebration of the holy mysteries there shall be no mention made of the names of those who have been separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who are not in agreement with the apostolic see.

Points 4 & 5- given that he is a Saint of the church aren’t deemed to give a response on the issue of his Character. I never cared for his concept of development either, but that’s not a cause to speak ill of the dead.

6. The Pope is not infallible.

Pope Agatho letter to the 6th Ecumenical council builds on Pope Hormisdas Formula and maintains the Apostolic see has never err and remains unsoiled, that with a pope condemned of failing to correct heresy. In fact Vat.I uses the Formula in it’s definitions.

7. The Pope does not have Universal Jurisdiction.

Only if your of the school of Orthodoxy which rejects the doctrine of a universal church. If the Catholic church is only visible as a local entity, joined with other Catholic churches aka. insofar as a local church possesses Christ entirely, every Eucharistic community is the Church and all other forms of synodal, national or universal bodies which are external to the nature of the church. If that could be demonstrated I think he would have a point.

8. The Pope is the bishop of Peter’s See, but so is the Patriarch of Antioch.

In the first three centuries Rome, Alexandria and Antioch were the Peterine sees. There was however, only one Chair of St. Peter and it went with him to Rome. IMO one would have to bring forth evidence that the church in Antioch celebrated the feast of the Chair of St. Peter to claim that they actually believed that venerable see still held some or joint authority of the Apostle. Info on the Cathedra Petri

9. The service of Holy Communion is a perfectly valid Mass or Eucharist.

Like point #2 I’ll have to defer on this one.
10. Our Anglican fathers were not Calvinists or Lutherans. –Agreed
11. “Protestant” is not the opposite of “Catholic.”-The meaning has changed over time and the revelance today certainly isn’t as strong as it once was, but isn’t that because the Protestants are finding more in common today with Catholicism then in the past?

12. Some Catholics are Protestant Catholics.

I haven’t read that much of Fr. Hart to know what he means by that. Since the term “Catholic” is IMO attempted to be co-oped I don’t know if he is referring to Anglo-catholics protesting, Catholic-Protesting [in which case they either are in heresy or schism on doctrinal matters already determined or they are at liberty to hold positions not yet finalized, in which case they aren’t protestant, but simply Catholic.

13. We do not need doctrines like “the merits of the saints” or a concept of Purgatory as “temporal punishment.”

If I agreed that his points 1, 3, 6 to 8 were correct; but I don’t. The need is easier to accept when one holds to point #1 as expressed by the Catholic church.

14. When the Articles say that “The Romish doctrine of Purgatory is a fond thing,” this does not mean that we are supposed to be fond of it.

Naturally, but perhaps if Article VI had not removed the two books of Maccabees from Bible as in point #1, then a continuing practice of prays for the dead would allow for a better understanding of Purgatory.

15. At the end of the day, if it is not in the Bible, it REALLY cannot be necessary for salvation.

Again standing on Article VI, I would expect from an Anglican. I can as my church understands it agree with it, but certainly not as those in 1563. But I’m much to much a fan of St. Ambrose, Eusebius of Vercelli & Lucifer of Cagliari to allow the state to determine articles of faith.

I think the Anglican communion has much tradition to bring to the Catholic communion. It should be welcomed back and allowed to keep it’s rites. The church would greatly benefit from it just as it does it’s other rites within the faith. And I’d much rather have a Fr. hart in the fold then a Bishop Thomas Gumbleton.

The last two points seem more of an appeal to Anglicans so I’ll leave those alone.

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gene-robinson-gay-bishop.jpg

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

I picked this up from americanpapist
about an article from Reuters on Episcopal Church faces possible major defection.

As painful as it was to go through the child/sex abuse scandals of my church; the scandal of the auto-destruction of the Episcopal church in the USA and the Anglican communion is just as painful. I can’t imagine what they are going through. My prayers go out to them whether they make a stand against and try to perserve what’s left or go Anglo-Catholic, Catholic or Orthodox.

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