Kallistos Ware: Orthodox & Catholic Union

Jun 30th, 2011 | By | Category: Blog Posts

Yesterday, June 29, was the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. In recent years it has become a custom for the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople to exchange official delegations on the patronal feasts of their respective sees. In this year likewise, the Orthodox sent a delegation to Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Pope Benedict, in his address to the Orthodox delegation, said, “the incomplete communion that already unites us must grow until it attains full visible unity.”

Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I, Nov. 30, 2006

What is the state of the Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical dialogue? One window into the state of that dialogue can be seen in a recent address by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of the Diocese of Diokleia. On April 3, 2011, in Atlanta, Georgia, Metropolitan Ware gave the keynote address to an ecumenical gathering of Catholics and Orthodox. In this address he first discusses the implications of the Ravenna Statement, by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, held October 8-14, 2007, in Ravenna, Italy. In this statement the Orthodox representatives recognized a universal primacy of the bishop of Rome. Metropolitan Ware then discusses the Orthodox conception of the exercise of that primacy, drawing from Apostolic Canon 34 (canon 35 here). Watch the keynote address in the two-part video below:

Kallistos Ware: Orthodox & Catholic Union Part 1

Kallistos Ware: Orthodox & Catholic Union Part 2

Or watch them on Youtube: Part 1, and Part 2.

H/T: Orthocath

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  1. “In this statement the Orthodox representatives recognized a universal primacy of the bishop of Rome. Metropolitan Ware then discusses the Orthodox conception of the exercise of that primacy”

    I wonder how far, given this recognition of a “universal primacy”, Rome can accommodate the “Orthodox conception of the exercise of that primacy”, without running foul of Catholic dogma? IOW, I wonder how much flexibility exists regarding the “mode/manner” of the pope’s leadership of the universal Church both juridically and doctrinally? I suspect a great deal of flexability is possible with regard to the former, while I suspect the later still presents a substantial obstacle to reunion given Vatican I.

    Pax Christi,

    Ray

  2. Ray,

    I agree. Metropolitan Ware recognizes that sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum (pastoral care of all the Churches) belongs to the pope by divine right. (See here.) But, it seems to me that in order to exercise sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum as a role established by Christ in the Petrine office, there must be some kind of divinely established jurisdictional authority over all the Churches, established in that Petrine office. If the divinely appointed leader “keeps watch over” those who have been divinely entrusted to him, and will give an account to the Lord for his pastoral stewardship of those divinely placed under his care (Heb 13:17), then he must have divinely established authority over those divinely placed under his care. Otherwise, everyone has equal “care of all the Churches,” and such phrases as “presiding in love” or “care for all the Churches” or “servant of the servants of God” are merely semantics without substance. And otherwise this would undermine the jurisdictional authority of the local ordinary, since the laypeople could simultaneously affirm his “care for all the flock of his region” while denying his jurisdictional authority over the flock of his region. I agree, of course with the inappropriateness of “riding roughshod” over fellow bishops, and the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, and the conciliarity expressed in Lumen Gentium. But, nevertheless, abuse does not nullify proper use. If Christ established Petrine primacy, and gave to it the responsibility of “care for all the Churches” then He also gave some sort of universal authority over all the Churches (i.e. the keys of the whole Kingdom, not merely part of the Kingdom). The universal authority divinely established in the Petrine office must be exercised in a Christlike way, prudentially and justly, of course. But a divinely established universal stewardship without a divinely established universal authority, makes no sense, and necessarily reduces to a mere figurehead, to mere semantics.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  3. @ Ray Stamper

    In both Vatican I and Vatican II, the documents do not adequately lay out a definition of how individual bishops participate in the infallibility of the Church. There are two primary positions out there Papal/Monarchical Theory (each bishop receives his pastoral powers from the Pope) and Episcopal Theory (each bishop receives his pastoral powers directly from Christ). The Papal Theory is Western and dominant prior to Vatican II while the Episcopal Theory (which is Eastern) was taken up in the language of Vatican II itself and thus became dominant.

    Thus to answer your question, Rome has a great deal of flexibility and has in fact been most flexible as She has moved away from a more purely Western monarchical conceptualization of the Primacy of the Papacy to something that is more universal and not trying to impose a Western framework upon the entire Church (the tendency of Rome to impose such is of deepest concern to the East).

    I think it is important to remember that all the particular Churches that make up the Catholic Church are sui juris as this has real implications to the exercise of Papal juridical authority. The Patriarchs are not the servants of the Pope but are shepherds of the flock of Christ in their own right and have autonomous juridical authority even as the Pope exercises a universal authority. It is a complex both/and situation.

  4. Indeed, Brian. That is the heart of the matter. But centuries of pride and resentment stand in the way of recognizing that.

    Best,
    Mike

  5. “In this address [ Metropolitan Ware] first discusses the implications of the Ravenna Statement, by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, held October 8-14, 2007, in Ravenna, Italy. In this statement the Orthodox representatives recognized a universal primacy of the bishop of Rome.

    One thing that seemed obvious to me, is that Metropolitan Ware would not affirm the Protestant doctrine of primacy, namely the novel doctrine of the primacy of the individual conscience. A doctrine of the primacy of the individual conscience would would turn Orthodox bishops into impotent figureheads within their own churches with regard to their own authority when teaching about matters of doctrine and discipline. That is, a doctrine of the primacy of the individual conscience would necessarily mean that the bishops have primacy of honor within their local particular churches, but the bishops are first among equals with respect to the laity in matters of jurisdictional and doctrinal authority.

    Metropolitan Ware rightly states the importance of the dogmas promulgated in Ecumenical Councils within Orthodoxy, without explaining how the charism of infallibility is exercised by bishops at an Ecumenical Council, and even more importantly, the question of how the laity know that the charism of infallibility has been exercised by the bishops at an Ecumenical Council.

    The question that I would like to see discussed at the JIT concerns the last question, namely what, exactly, are the criteria that determine the validity of an Ecumenical Council? Since the Orthodox would necessarily reject the Protestant dogma of the primacy of the individual conscience and all that that novel doctrine implies, any more hopelessly vague talk from the Orthodox about the “whole church” determines the validity of dogmas promulgated by the bishops at an Ecumenical Council would cease, and the role of the universal primacy of the bishop of Rome would come into focus by forthrightly addressing this question.

    Actually, I was more than annoyed that Metropolitan Ware would make light of the fact that any movement in coming to any understanding of the nature of the Primacy of Peter by the Orthodox would not likely move at pace that would indicate that this issue is of any urgency from a pastoral perspective. For the Catholic Church, the nature of Petrine primacy is crucial in understanding how Joe Christian determines that an Ecumenical Council is valid. The Protestant that is struggling with whether he should swim the Tiber or the Bosporus , can’t wait another thousand years for the Orthodox to give a straightforward answer to a crucial question, namely the criteria for determining the validity of an Ecumenical Council. If the Orthodox bishops can’t answer that question, the Protestant is left twisting in the wind, since a clear answer to that question, determines the answer to what the Protestant is likely to be struggling with, namely … How do I know with certainty what is orthodox doctrine and what is heresy?

  6. Greetings all,
    Regarding feeling let down by Met. Kallistos not going into what Primacy really means to the Orthodox, please bear in mind that Met. Kallistos is doing his utmost to let the Commission make these sorts of decisions. It is not his place to say “If I could make unity happen through definition X of primacy, it would look THIS way.” He is sketching out the movements of ecumenical dialogue, which have been slow since Ravenna, but if we pray for them and hope for growth in unity, we may have an answer that does not come from one man, but comes from the Holy Spirit guiding them. That this is a movement with the blessing of the leaders of the Catholic Church and all canonical Orthodox Churches is really quite amazing, and that they have come to the point of acknowledging a universal primacy of any sorts is more amazing. It would be tantamount to bridging the gap and making full communion almost inevitable if the definition of primacy were to be agreeable to the primates involved, respecting the traditions which have grown throughout history.
    In XC,
    J. Andrew Deane

  7. @Mateo

    The question that I would like to see discussed at the JIT concerns the last question, namely what, exactly, are the criteria that determine the validity of an Ecumenical Council? Since the Orthodox would necessarily reject the Protestant dogma of the primacy of the individual conscience and all that that novel doctrine implies, any more hopelessly vague talk from the Orthodox about the “whole church” determines the validity of dogmas promulgated by the bishops at an Ecumenical Council would cease, and the role of the universal primacy of the bishop of Rome would come into focus by forthrightly addressing this question.

    What is “a straightforward answer” for a Western mind is often seen by an Eastern mind as needlessly specific and trying to formulate the unformulatable. The Western mind doesn’t like “vague” things while the Eastern mind prefers the mystery over “formal definitions”.

    In general, what one of my Orthodox teachers taught was that the Council is valid because it teaches the Orthodox Faith of the Fathers (which is taken as the apostolic and living Faith of the Church and not strictly conformity to the teachings of the early Church Fathers, though of course this necessarily includes such conformity).

    Let me use Timothy Ware’s The Orthodox Church: New Edition 1997 pages 251-254 to show how the primacy of the bishop of Rome does not come into focus in Metropolitan Ware’s thought and what he presents as modern Orthodox theology.

    The Pope [Pius IX] is greatly mistaken in supposing that we consider the ecclesiastical hierarchy to be the guardian of dogma. The case is quite different. The unvarying constancy and the unerring truth of Christian dogma does not depend upon any hierarchical order; it is guarded by the totality, by the whole people of the Church, which is the Body of Christ. — Khomiakov

    But councils of bishops can err and be deceived. How then can one be certain that a particular gathering is truly an Ecumenical Council and therefore that its decrees are infallible?……

    Metropolitan Ware answers his question by the following points

    1. A council cannot be considered ecumenical unless its decrees are accepted by the whole Church.

    2. The bishops, because they are the sole teachers of the faith, define and proclaim the truth in council.

    3. These definitions must be acclaimed by the whole people of God, including the laity, because it is the people of God, as a whole, that constitutes the guardian of Tradition.

    4. The act of acceptance must not be understood in a juridical sense.

    5. In summary: At a true Ecumenical Council the bishops recognize what the truth is and proclaim it; this proclamation is then verified by the assent of the whole Christian people, an assent which is not, as a rule, expressed formally and explicitly , but lived

    6. The ecumenicity of a council cannot be decided by outward criteria alone, matching the letter of Scripture as Protestants do, or in the person of the Pope as Catholics do. For the Orthodox it is the mystery of God who lives in the Church which determines the truth and validity of the council.

  8. One thing that seemed obvious to me, is that Metropolitan Ware would not affirm the Protestant doctrine of primacy, namely the novel doctrine of the primacy of the individual conscience.

    Mateo,

    Where did you get the idea that this is what The Reformed believe? I could be wrong about this, but I think you and I have already talked about this issue. Anyway, I don’t believe in the primacy of the individual conscience. Am I outside of the Reformed confessions? If so, let me know where. I’ll let you pick whatever Reformed confession you like.

  9. Andrew,

    Where did you get the idea that this is what The Reformed believe?

    It is very simple to test whether Mateo is right or wrong in this claim. Simply name the person or persons on earth who have interpretive authority over your conscience regarding what is the authentic interpretation of Scripture. If you cannot think of anyone on earth who has interpretive authority over your conscience, then de facto your conscience has the primacy regarding what you believe, and Mateo is right.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  10. Bryan,

    I have exactly the same interpretive authority that any other Christian on earth and that is the elders/bishops God has placed over me which is exactly who the Scriptures say ought to rule over us. Of course they are not their own interpretive authorities and do not act as such.

    So do you agree that the Scriptures say that the elders/bishops ought to rule over us? And if so, who else is defined in Scriptures to rule over us?

    And perhaps you would like to answer the same question I put to Mateo – what Reformed confession makes the individual conscience primary?

    There are lots of Catholics I know who have made their conscience primary. But I know few Reformed who have done the same, both theoretically or practically.

    Andrew

  11. Nathan,

    At a true Ecumenical Council the bishops recognize what the truth is and proclaim it; this proclamation is then verified by the assent of the whole Christian people, an assent which is not, as a rule, expressed formally and explicitly , but lived

    Something that confuses me about this statement is the either/or premise. And, in fact, the premise assumes exactly what it denies. The “assent which is not expressed formally and explicitly” is as a rule “lived”. I’m not trying to merely point out a truism, but I see no problem affirming both orthopraxy and that assent can be expressed formally and explicitly. This is the beauty of East and West-right and left lung of the Church.

    Pope St. Agatho, pray for us!

  12. Andrew, (re: #10)

    You wrote:

    I have exactly the same interpretive authority that any other Christian on earth and that is the elders/bishops God has placed over me

    Jehovah’s Witnesses say the same thing to me. You have chosen to place yourself ‘under’ only those persons who generally agree with your interpretation of Scripture, because of their general agreement with your interpretation of Scripture, just as St. Paul described when he said that in the last days people would “accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” (2 Tim 4:3) But that is no submission at all, because if I submit to a person on the basis of his agreement with me, in actuality the one to whom I am submitting is me. Just because you agree with someone’s interpretation of Scripture, and you voluntarily join his group, this does not mean that he has any divine authority over you whatsoever; it is just a way of hiding from oneself that one has taken the highest interpretive authority to oneself, by setting up for oneself humanly appointed ‘elders/bishops,’ and feigning submission to God by ‘submitting’ to them. Otherwise, if joining a group on the basis of one’s agreement with that group’s interpretation of Scripture entailed that the leaders of that group had divine authority, then it would be rebellion against God to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses, even if you had come to believe by your own study of Scripture that their interpretation of Scripture is false.

    The persons you have accumulated to yourself as ‘teachers’ are not the elders/bishops God has placed over you. The Catholic bishop of your diocese is Cardinal DiNardo. He is the divinely-established shepherd to whom you rightfully owe obedience, not just any person who happens to hold your interpretation of Scripture, and is able to raise enough money to build a building with a sign out front that says ‘church.’

    Moreover, you don’t really believe that the leader of the Protestant congregation you presently attend has the authority to bind your conscience regarding the interpretation of Scripture, because if you did believe that, you would have undermined the ‘right’ of Protestants (such as Luther and Calvin) to follow their own conscience regarding the interpretation of Scripture and to rebel against the Catholic bishops of the sixteenth century under whose authority they had been divinely placed at their baptism. That’s why Mateo is right, because you can’t acknowledge there to be any human person who has the divine authority to bind your conscience regarding the interpretation of Scripture, without thereby undermining the whole existence of Protestantism and thus your current religious position as a Protestant. As soon as you acknowledge that some human person other than yourself has the authority to bind your conscience regarding the interpretation of Scripture, you’ve just sawed off the branch on which Protestantism sits. That’s why Mateo is right, and your answer helps show exactly why Mateo is right.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  13. Andrew (#10):

    And perhaps you would like to answer the same question I put to Mateo – what Reformed confession makes the individual conscience primary?

    I suppose that the answer to that is that it depends upon who is interpreting the confessions, doesn’t it?

    In the PCA (the one with which I am most familiar), isn’t primacy of individual conscience the entire point of the right to take exceptions to various elements of what the Westminster standards teach? And that’s just for officers, right? I am not familiar with any subscription requirement in the PCA for mere church membership. But without that, primacy of individual conscience reigns, doesn’t it?

    I am vaguely familiar with a few very tiny Reformed groups that (as I recall) might require subscription for membership, but that of course raises other questions I guess (like: who’s ecclesiology is right, and how do we know?)

    Perhaps most important is what Bryan said: if you deny primacy of the individual conscience, then you have just kneecapped the Reformers, and we’ll expect you in RCIA soon :-)

  14. @Andrew McCallum – and @Fred in reply:

    In the PCA (the one with which I am most familiar), isn’t primacy of individual conscience the entire point of the right to take exceptions to various elements of what the Westminster standards teach? And that’s just for officers, right? I am not familiar with any subscription requirement in the PCA for mere church membership. But without that, primacy of individual conscience reigns, doesn’t it?

    I well remember the day I submitted – in Andrew’s sense, and as, I believe, rightly interpreted by Bryan Cross, to the elders of the North Shore Reformed Church, Auckland, in 1984. That Church follows the Heidelberg Catechism and Westminster Confession.

    One of the things that our pre-Communion comminatory form said – this is from the Psalter Hymnal (1976) published by the Board of Publications of the Christian Reformed Church, Inc, Grand Rapids, Michigan – the form admonishes “all who know themselves to be defiled with the following gross sins to abstain from the table of the Lord, and declare to them that they have no part in the kingdom of Christ: such as, all idolaters; all who invoke deceased saints, angels, or other creatures; all who show honor to images…” – followed by a number of Scriptural categories of person who, according to the form, ‘have no part in the kingdom of Christ.’

    I objected that, first, these categories might be inferrable from Scripture, but that they were certainly not named in Scripture – and that I was not certain that such – which was obviously aimed at Catholics – had ‘no part in the kingdom of Christ.’ I was shown a part of the form for deacons and elders that said – unfortunately, I do not have that in front of me to quote from – but which said that no one could be held accountable for anything that he did not find in Scripture.

    I laughed, and said that was a loophole you could drive a truck through. I submitted to the elders, but I suggest, Andrew, that at least in the Reformed Churches that hold such a doctrine – every one that I have ever had anything to do with – primacy of my personal interpretation of Scripture is what I am submitting to – which sounds to me pretty much as though I were submitting to myself.

    But then I am a Catholic now – so go figure :-)

    jj

  15. @Brent #11

    The Orthodox don’t really have a monarchical structure to their Churches. As a result “juridical formal explicit expression” is not fundamentally necessary to know if a Council is in fact ecumenical. If I might make a comparison, what Metropolitan Ware is putting forth is a stronger understanding of the sensus fidelium that what you normally see in the West in terms of infallibility. The whole idea that it is not the juridical expression of truth which guarantees its infallibility but rather that it is lived is key to infallibility is the position that Metropolitan Ware put forth in his book. This is sort of important because the Orthodox problems concerning the Western Church tend to revolved around 1.) you don’t have a right to issue those juridical statements and to impose them as juridical statements upon the whole Church 2.) you are not actually living out the infallible faith (For example the lack of fasting within the modern Western Church and the fact that the liturgy has been a mess since Vatican II).

    The problem that exists with expressing the assent formally and explicitly as a rule is that for the Orthodox, this assent is by the whole Church, not just the Episcopate. If it is as a rule then the Orthodox would see that a limiting the Church to just the Episcopate as the laity have no capability to be formal and explicit about anything as they are not the teachers of the Faith. Thus the Church can assent to something as true without the need for the Episcopate to formally and explicitly and juridicaly express that Truth. This is why reunion with the Orthodox won’t come via a top down declaration (and is why previous attempts during the Middle Ages have not been wholly successful). Reunion will come as a result of a lived expression of the whole Orthodox Church — not just because the Orthodox Episcopate declares it to be so.

    Of course a disclaimer — Metropolitan Ware in his book says that he is putting forth “modern Orthodox theology” stemming from, I believe, Khomiakov’s school and that not all Orthodox theologians are in agreement with the position that he (and I for him) details out.

    I think what helps Western Catholics understand the Orthodox more is to read the writings of Eastern Catholics on the primacy of rome. This is worth a read http://kalamation.com/HolyLand/ZoghbyUnity.html

  16. @ Andrew McCallum #10

    And perhaps you would like to answer the same question I put to Mateo – what Reformed confession makes the individual conscience primary?

    The WCF CHAPTER XX.Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience

    II. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his Word, or beside it in matters of faith or worship. So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commandments out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.

    That means that the Reformed ecclesiastical authorities cannot with absolutely conscience binding authority proclaim to an individual a doctrine that they must hold or a commandment that they must follow that is drawn from the authority’s interpretation of scripture. Thus an individual’s conscience is all that the individual has to tell him what doctrines and commandments actually come from scripture as absolutely conscience binding things. Because God alone is the Lord of conscience, a Reformed individual may reject the teaching of his authorities if his conscience tells him that he must. The assumption is that the Lord is always directing the consciences of the elect so that the elect authorities and the elect congregants are always on the same page. This actually creates a huge psychological pressure to “submit to your elders” as it is taken as a sign that if you do not submit then you must not be one of the elect and are in fact a disobedient reprobate sinner.

  17. Nathan B: Metropolitan Ware answers his question by the following points
    1. A council cannot be considered ecumenical unless its decrees are accepted by the whole Church.

    I have heard this many times before from the Orthodox, but I have never met anyone in the Orthodox Church that can explain to me what this is supposed to mean. How, exactly, does the “whole church” accept a dogma promulgated by the bishops that voted at an Ecumenical Council? Please explain to me how the women of the whole church would exercise their authority to reject what their bishops have solemnly promulgated as conscience binding dogma at an Ecumenical Council! Certainly, I wouldn’t think that the toddlers and infants of the whole church get a say in overruling their bishops, but what is the age that a girl or a boy must reach before they can overrule their bishops? Furthermore, the “whole church” is comprised of not just one generation, but of all generations until the end of time. If the current generation wants to reject dogma that a previous generations have accepted because the current generation thinks that they are more enlightened than the previous generations, can they exercise their authority as part of the whole church to nullify whatever the previous generations have mistakenly accepted? Does acceptance by the whole church mean unanimous acceptance by every member? If just one person doesn’t accept, does that negate the acceptance of the rest of the church? That seems silly and too unreasonable to believe, but what about the dissenters? Is acceptance a simple majority rules thing, or is there a super-majority that must accept, such as a two-thirds majority? Is acceptance determined by polling or voting? If voting, how are the votes of the whole church counted anyway, and when and where is the voting done?

    You can see where I am going with this, and I am not trying to be flippant because this is a serious matter of the utmost importance. If the Orthodox believe that the whole church must accept a dogma promulgated at an Ecumenical Council before the dogma is verified as valid, but the Orthodox cannot give the explicit criteria for how the whole church accepts or rejects the dogmas promulgated at an Ecumenical cCouncil, then the Orthodox are no better off than the Protestants. The Orthodox are no better off than Protestants because the Orthodox don’t really know if any Ecumenical Council was ever accepted by the whole church, since they cannot give the criteria that establishes acceptance.

    2. The bishops, because they are the sole teachers of the faith, define and proclaim the truth in council.

    Right. The bishops, and the bishops alone, get to define dogma at an Ecumenical Council. The Catholic Church teaches this too. But what is the criteria that determines how the rest of the church has either accepted a dogma defined by the bishops at an Ecumenical Council or rejected said dogma? Can you give any historical evidence that shows how the millions of uneducated and illiterate serfs in Russia were educated so that they could intelligently debate the the dogma of the Procession of the Holy Spirit as that dogma was promulgated by the Council of Florence?

    3. These definitions must be acclaimed by the whole people of God, including the laity, because it is the people of God, as a whole, that constitutes the guardian of Tradition.

    So if the women of the church don’t agree with their bishops, then it isn’t dogma, right? After all, the women are in the majority. Can you show me any evidence whatsoever that women have always possesed the authority to overrule what their bishops have promulgated as dogma at an Ecumenical Council?

    4. The act of acceptance must not be understood in a juridical sense.

    What is that supposed to mean? How would the the women and the serfs exercise their non-jurisdictional authority to reject the dogma promulgated at an Ecumenical Council?

    For the Orthodox it is the mystery of God who lives in the Church which determines the truth and validity of the council.

    Tell me how the Orthodox know that God has accepted the dogma promulgated by bishops at an Ecumenical Council! Is there a special charism of the Holy Spirit that the laity exercise that gives them certain knowledge that their bishops have gotten out of line?

  18. mateo: One thing that seemed obvious to me, is that Metropolitan Ware would not affirm the Protestant doctrine of primacy, namely the novel doctrine of the primacy of the individual conscience.

    Andrew McCallum: Where did you get the idea that this is what The Reformed believe? I could be wrong about this, but I think you and I have already talked about this issue.

    We have talked about this before in the CTC comboxes. Andrew, you said that if you ever came to believe that your current church (PCA) began teaching what was, in your opinion, false doctrine, that you had the right to leave your current church and go join a different church. In other words, you have the right and the duty to determine whether or not a church is teaching orthodoxy or heresy, and the ultimate temporal authority that you must listen to in these matters is your own conscience (and I take it as a given that your conscience is informed by your understanding of scriptures). In this, you are no different than any other sola scriptura confessing Protestant. At least that is what I got out of the conversation.

  19. Mateo, (re: #17)

    I pointed out a similar problem in Keith Mathison’s position in #841 of the Solo Scriptura thread. And Fr. Harrison makes a similar argument concerning Orthodoxy in “Why I Didn’t Convert to Eastern Orthodoxy.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  20. Nathan #15,

    Thanks for your comments and link. I agree that the West getting our liturgy right is paramount toward reunification. I pray for it constantly.

    I can almost understand how the Orthodox position works with regards to matters of faith (although I have the same reservations as Mateo), and apophasis has its place in theology, but what I don’t see is how it works with regards to morals. The Bishops and people of the Church seemed to affirm the licitness of contraception, but the Holy Father’s promulgation of Humanae Vitae dogmatically laid that to rest. I see this as a problem in the Orthodox Church, as I have a friend I went to college with who is now an Orthodox priest and who suffers pastorally from the lack of dogmatically clarity on the issue. Vagueness is okay when the times permit it, but in perilous times as we live, a lack of clarity portends a great many errors. I’m not saying most Catholics live it right, but at least we can have a rightly formed conscious. The precision of Nicaea wasn’t simply to promote right living, but clear thinking regarding Christology as well (both/and).

    Your brother in Christ,

    Brent

  21. @Mateo #17

    Good points. I would add that the matter is even more problematic when it comes to dogmatic issues surrounding ecclesiology, because in that case the question just is; who constitutes the “whole Church” and what exactly makes an ecumenical council – well – “ecumenical”? There is an apparent circular logic in asserting that the “whole Church” must be involved in affirming dogmas which define the nature of “the whole Church”. Unless the nature/delimiters of the “whole Church” is already known, how can such an entity – the whole Church – engage in an act of affirming a dogma about the parameters of the whole Church? Who – exactly – “counts” in establishing that a given gathering of bishops represents a dogmatically binding, “ecumenical” council, whose decrees must be submitted to by the “whole Church”? This I take to be the central problem in Orthodox ecclesiology – what/who exactly is the “Orthodox” Church and what makes an ecumenical council ecumenical. Fr. Harrison’s article, mentioned by Bryan above, was invaluable – for me – in bringing out this central difficulty.

    Pax Christi,

    Ray

  22. It seems worth mentioning that, historically speaking, there is no precedent for a consensus of the “whole church” even in the first seven ecumenical councils.

    1. Not all bishops attended the councils.
    2. The decisions were made by vote, often with a considerable number in disagreement.
    3. The decisions always condemned certain contemporary beliefs as heresy.
    4. Groups and individuals so condemned often continued in their beliefs after the council.

  23. Gents:

    While agreeing with most of the objections registered here against Orthodox ecclesiology, I’d like to note that, to the Orthodox mind, most of them are beside the point. Indeed, Ware’s criteria of conciliar ecumenicity make perfect sense in terms of Eastern culture and sociology. The “Church,” the “we” whose consent is necessary and sufficient are the Byzantines, the remnants of their empire, and its heirs; among the last, the Russians now count for the most. People outside that magic but fuzzy circle just don’t count for doctrinal purposes; people within it are identifiable as those who accept the seven “ecumenical” councils that outlasted their competitors within the Empire before the schism.

    That circle, though physically looser than in ages past, now bears the Byzantine “phronema” that one either “gets” or doesn’t get. “The Church” consists simply in the people who “get” that je ne sais quoi and live it. You can recognize them even when you can’t define them. For those who “get it,” Ware’s account suffices, even though his criteria cannot be given clear juridical form. In short, Orthodoxy is held together by a common spirit that can’t really be put into words, but which largely explains why they take the “seven” pre-schism councils as ecumenical.

    Of course, the other part of the explanation is the ratification of such councils by the bishops of Rome. They still seem to think that such ratification is necessary, just not sufficient. But they don’t like to talk about that, for reasons that should be obvious by now.

    Best,
    Mike

  24. @Mateo #17

    It is important to note that Orthodox ecclesiology is not wrong but rather it is more so “incomplete”. Also don’t expect Eastern theology to explain things to the level that a Western mind expects them to be explained. Eastern theology is intentionally what the Western mind would consider to be “imprecise”.

    Your examples concerning the problems of Orthodox theology don’t work. The Church “as a whole” cannot be broken down into individuals or groups of individuals. It is the whole collective, not part of it or parts of it that constitutes the “whole”. The “whole Church” is not the sum of its parts. This is true in Catholic theology as well — the whole Church subsists in the particular Churches not that the Church is a collective or federation created from uniting its particulars.

    Again, no particular (all women, the individual man, toddlers, or even bishops) have the ability to “overrule” that which has been taught and handed down from God via Sacred Tradition. Basically the authority of the infallibility of the sensus fidelium is much stronger in the Orthodox Church than in the Western Catholic Theology.

    How, exactly, does the “whole church” accept a dogma promulgated by the bishops that voted at an Ecumenical Council?

    Technically speaking, and this is true in Catholic theology as well, all dogma is contained in the Apostolic Tradition at least implicitly, so the affirmation is not an affirmation of something that is new to be held but rather a reaffirmation of a truth that is already held now presented in clearer and more precise language. Thus how exactly does the whole Church accept a dogma taught at an Ecumenical Council: by expressing anew that which has already been held in the very life of the Church.

    Metropolitan Ware expresses it thusly: The affirmation of the council by the whole Church is not by external criterion but rather by the manifestation of the internal reality of truth itself present and because it bears witness to the faith fo the Ecumenical Church, so that from historical experience it clearly appears that the voice of a given council has truly been the voice of the Church or that it has not: that is all.

    The Orthodox way of understanding things really isn’t that far off from the Catholic way of understanding things. Western Catholics have just placed a huge emphasis on the infallibility of the Pope, which has diminished the infallibility of the bishops, as well as the infallibility of the Church within Western theology. Western Catholics tend to get the idea that something is true only if the Pope has declared it to be true. Well, no. The Pope is not the ruler of the Faith, he is the rule of Faith — big difference.

    Does acceptance by the whole church mean unanimous acceptance by every member? If just one person doesn’t accept, does that negate the acceptance of the rest of the church?

    No because the whole Church is not constituted from its parts. Even if parts of the Church do not accept that doesn’t mean that the Church hasn’t unanimously accepted because there is only one voice (the Spirit) in the Church and not a plurality of voices.

    The Orthodox are no better of than Protestants because the Orthodox don’t really know if any Ecumenical Council was ever accepted by the whole church, since they cannot give the criteria that establishes acceptance.

    That is a bit flippant because the Orthodox do know. What you are telling me is that you consider something to be true because you have an external criterion that is logical and systematic that you can match situations and statements to in order for you to determine what they are. You have to be a bit careful there because that is just logical positivism and really no different than an atheist saying bread is brown, made of grain, and has a certain taste to it thus the Eucharist is only bread. You would disagree and say that you know that the Eucharist is not bread by looking at its internal reality through faith. This is the same thing that the Orthodox are saying…you know that the Ecumenical Councils are true not by looking at external criterion but by looking at their internal reality — do they express the Ecumenical Faith, are they affirmed by the life of the Church?

    Can you give any historical evidence that shows how the millions of uneducated and illiterate serfs in Russia were educated so that they could intelligently debate the the dogma of the Procession of the Holy Spirit as that dogma was promulgated by the Council of Florence?

    The Faith is not a syllogism nor can it be reduced to such. We do not believe by understanding rather we believe in order that we might understand. The historical example is that the millions of uneducated and illiterate serfs lived and believed in the Procession of the Holy Spirit, without being able to express that in a precise intellectual formula.

  25. I pointed out a similar problem in Keith Mathison’s position in #841 of the Solo Scriptura thread. And Fr. Harrison makes a similar argument concerning Orthodoxy in “Why I Didn’t Convert to Eastern Orthodoxy.”

    Bryan, thanks for the link to Fr. Harrison’s article. It seems to me that Father Harrison and you are making a great point – that before we can even talk about how the “whole church” approves the dogmas promulgated by bishops at an Ecumenical Council, we must first have a way of knowing who belongs to the “whole church”.

    I try to visualize who was in the church that “approved”, let us say, the Seventh Ecumenical Council that met in AD 787. On any given day, some people in the church are going to die, and some people who were never part of the church are going to join the church. So the whole church is always in a constant state of flux – some people leaving the church and some people joining the church. The “whole church” that approved the Seventh Ecumenical Council cannot be “the whole church”- it must be only a part of the whole church, i.e. the people that were in the church during some arbitrary time frame – say, for the sake of argument, the members of the church that lived between the years 787 and 887. If there is no firm cutoff date, then the whole church can never be said to have approved a dogma, since we could still be waiting for the members of the whole church to be born , that, in the end, will have the final say about whether to accept or reject the dogmas promulgated at the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

    There is also the greater problem that you and raise in your combox post #841, the problem of “the Arians, Nestorians and Monophysites”. Some of these people received the Sacraments of Initiation that made them members of the whole church, but their approval or rejection of dogma “doesn’t count”. Johnathan Brumley made that point in an indirect way when he wrote, “The decisions [of Ecumencial Councils] always condemned certain contemporary beliefs as heresy” and “Groups and individuals so condemned often continued in their beliefs after the council.” All of which exposes the tautological nature of the Orthodox position, which Fr. Harrison formulated in his Proposition 4 :

    “Christians can come to know with certainty what is true doctrine by recognizing the solemn doctrinal decisions of those councils which are not only papally confirmed as ecumenical, but which are also subsequently accepted as such by the whole community of those Christians who adhere to true doctrine.”

    Fr. Harrison further sums up his Proposition 4 with these words – ”To discover what is true Christian doctrine, you must pay heed the teaching of those who adhere to true Christian doctrine” – which is a statement that any Protestant sect could make. And since in world of sola scriptura confessing Protestants, the church that Christ founded is invisible, it makes it rather difficult to locate the true Christians that teach true Christian doctrine!

    Ray Stamper: Who – exactly – “counts” in establishing that a given gathering of bishops represents a dogmatically binding, “ecumenical” council, whose decrees must be submitted to by the “whole Church”?

    Even if we could determine “who counts”, think about what the Orthodox are saying. If only bishops can write the dogma that is promulgated at an Ecumenical Council, and that dogma “doesn’t count” until it is approved by the members of the church that did not vote in the Ecumenical Council, then it is with those members of the church – the ones that don’t vote in Ecumenical Councils – that have the true primacy, since they ultimately decide the validity of dogmas promulgated at an Ecumenical Councils. Since the laity comprise, by far, the largest component of the whole church that don’t vote in Ecumenical Councils, I think that it is makes sense to characterize the Orthodox as advancing a doctrine of the primacy of the laity , because it sure isn’t the bishops that have primacy, because what bishops teach at Ecumenical Councils doesn’t count until the laity approves what they teach.

  26. Nathan B #7,

    I want to also affirm what Mateo said in #17 and others have echoed. Without intending to sound offensive, in some ways Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology is similar to Sola-Scriptura (Protestantism), though more ‘formalized’ based on living a certain way for so long. And on that same note, just as Protestants see the danger of “every man for himself Christianity,” the EO end up affirming in practice what are “Catholic principles” which they deny on paper.

    The fundamental necessity is a hierarchy that cannot be overturned by anyone down the ‘chain’ of command – anything else is either ecclesial Anarchy or Utopia. In practice and decree, it is clear that in Orthodoxy the bishops trump laymen, and Patriarchs trump or at least have superior sway to non-Patriarchs – otherwise the power-struggle in the early church wouldn’t have happened.

    You said:

    What is “a straightforward answer” for a Western mind is often seen by an Eastern mind as needlessly specific and trying to formulate the unformulatable. The Western mind doesn’t like “vague” things while the Eastern mind prefers the mystery over “formal definitions”.

    I find such reasoning misses the point of “Western systematics” – the point isn’t to extinguish Mystery, but rather set up concrete parameters – particularly to prevent Heretics from squirming around them. The early Ecumenical Councils laid down numerous single-sentence Canons with anathemas attached – that is the epitome of “formal definitions” and the only way to expose and root out heresy.

    One thing that hurts every time I talk with EO is that when I see Eastern Orthodox deny a plain truth simply because they see granting any credibility whatsoever to a Catholic claim as out of the question – for Rome to be right on anything or to make a good argument on anything is something they cannot grant, and the absurdities they would rather resort to hurts ecumenical Catholic hearts even more.

    While Metropolitan Ware’s bulletpoints are par for the course, they immediately break down once a few test cases are introduced. For example, as others have said, not only is the phraseology “accepted by the whole Church” nebulous and thus unhelpful, in practice there has never been 100% uniformity – which is precisely why Councils had to anathematize dissenting Bishops!

    As for a gathering of Bishops, there are examples such as the Robber Council that the EO must accept as valid since it was a legitimate gathering of Bishops – but since they’ve rejected the Robber Council and other similar ones, this shows it’s more than just a legit gathering.

    In Comment #15 you said:

    This is why reunion with the Orthodox won’t come via a top down declaration (and is why previous attempts during the Middle Ages have not been wholly successful). Reunion will come as a result of a lived expression of the whole Orthodox Church — not just because the Orthodox Episcopate declares it to be so.

    The two points that would be raised here are:

    (1) Where does Orthodoxy officially teach this (or can they even teach something so formalized)?

    (2) Do you not see how such a vision is impractical given the fact there are Bishops on both sides that are too caught up in their own aspirations to ever allow “the whole Church” to come together as one this side of Heaven? The EO cannot even agree if Catholics are Christian, need rebaptism, or even have valid Holy-Orders. How can Catholics do their part when the EO cannot even tell us our official status in their eyes?
    Given that tradition teaches there will always be schisms and “weeds” in the Church, we should never expect universal conformity, nor have that depend on whether something can be officially ‘validated’.

  27. And one final point, the notion that Peter is recognized as having Primacy (however defined) by Divine Right, yet Peter has been ‘outside’ the Orthodox Church for 1,000 years is a major red-flag. Such a picture cannot ever be made to look correct or as if nothing is seriously wrong with the body. The only logical solution is to go against plain history and say Peter is a nobody, which EO have done – since the alternative makes a total mockery of John 17 and a scandal to the eyes of the heathen (“so that the world might know I sent you”).

  28. @Brent #20

    Yes the Liturgy is the key. The post Vatican II liturgical shenanigans are just not appealing to the Orthodox for obvious reasons. What is also important is ensuring that the Western Church respects the Eastern Liturgies and doesn’t mess with them.

    When it comes to the Orthodox position, how far off is it from Eastern Catholic ecclesiology? Not very.

    In regards to morals: In practice many (most?) Catholic Bishops and most Catholics in first world countries seemed to affirm the licitness of contraception. Catholics and Orthodox are thus in the same boat, we just have Humanae Vitae which is a good document but documents don’t change people’s lives, preaching does. But, as I mentioned earlier the Church is not the sum of its parts, thus no part of the Church, no matter how large, determines what orthodoxy and orthopraxy are.

    Consider for a moment that HV was never written. How would you as a Catholic know whether or not contraception is licit or illicit with a degree of confidence that you could bet your eternal salvation on it? Is this not the same method that the Orthodox have now?

    For your priest friend who suffers from a lack of clarity on this issue, my suggestion is the following: Tell him not to go by the ambiguity that is taught now but to go by what was taught by the Orthodox Fathers. The present is in flux, but if we turn around we can see where we have come from. That contraception is a sin can be clearly seen in the arguments of those that argue for it for they seek to distance themselves or undermine the Orthodox faith as it has been handed down instead of embracing it.

    The Orthodox no longer have the “rule of Faith” that the Pope brings to the table, but this does not mean that they are lost and unable to determine truth from error other than the dictates of their own personal consciences. They are true Churches after all.

    Blessings

  29. @ Nick #26

    The difference between the Protestant “sola scriptura” and the Orthodox position on ecclesiology is that in fact Orthodox are true Churches. Thus whatever you or anyone might think about the Orthodox position, it is the position of the Catholic Church that what they believe and how they put that into practice is what it takes to be a true Church (although one in schism). The Protestant position of “sola scriptura” in fact prevents any Protestant community from ever being a true Church.

    I find such reasoning misses the point of “Western systematics” – the point isn’t to extinguish Mystery, but rather set up concrete parameters – particularly to prevent Heretics from squirming around them. The early Ecumenical Councils laid down numerous single-sentence Canons with anathemas attached – that is the epitome of “formal definitions” and the only way to expose and root out heresy.

    There are plenty of concrete parameters within Orthodoxy. The point that I am making is that the Western mind wants to do things like determine the exact point in the Mass where the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. The Eastern mind sees this as attempting to formulate the unformulateable. If you ask an Orthodox or an Eastern Catholic a question, don’t expect him to return a Western answer. Just because his answer doesn’t fit the paradigm of a Western answer, that doesn’t make the Eastern answer incorrect or inferior.

    One thing that hurts every time I talk with EO is that when I see Eastern Orthodox deny a plain truth simply because they see granting any credibility whatsoever to a Catholic claim as out of the question

    If it is a “plain truth” then use an EO source. Also seek to point out things in their theology that you agree with. The point of dialogue with Eastern Orthodox is not for them to accept Western Theology but rather enter into and accept the fullness of their Eastern theology.

    While Metropolitan Ware’s bulletpoints are par for the course, they immediately break down once a few test cases are introduced. For example, as others have said, not only is the phraseology “accepted by the whole Church” nebulous and thus unhelpful, in practice there has never been 100% uniformity – which is precisely why Councils had to anathematize dissenting Bishops!

    To be sure Metropolitan Ware is not saying that a Council or teaching has not authority unless it is accepted by the laity nor is he saying that it is the acceptance by the whole Church which gives a Council or teaching authority.

    What part of the “accepted by the whole Church” do you find confusing? Is it the accepted part or the whole Church part? That will help me to pull clearer explanations from Metropolitan Ware’s book and other sources. In short, the accepted is not juridical acceptance (say voting) but rather the manifestation of the teaching in the lived life of the Church and the “whole Church” is not the sum of its parts but rather its sacramental, pneumenological, and hierarchical unity in Christ.

    Metropolitan Ware addresses your Robber Council point where he states that a council is not ecumenical because it is a” legit gathering”, but it is rather ecumenical because of what it has taught, specifically it is the presence of Christ in the Council leading the bishops to truth and then this truth is accepted by manifesting itself in His Body the “whole Church”. Metropolitan Ware does acknowledge that the understanding of how one “knows” is developing theologically; he is simply putting forth

    Metropolitan Ware does have a point that the Western understanding of what makes a Ecumenical Council valid relies a bit too much on external forms and does not adequately take into consideration the pneumentalogical mystery that occurs. I find though that the actual teachings concerning this things are less external than he puts forth and do contain the pneumatological element of the mystery, though this of course could be stressed to a great extent (in my humble opinion).

    (1) Where does Orthodoxy officially teach this (or can they even teach something so formalized)?

    I am putting this forward as a matter of practicality — the laity, priests, and religious of many of the Orthodox Churches simply wont accept a top down reunion — it didn’t work, it wont work. Reunion must be a bottom up movement. After all schism with the Orthodox is not primarily that there was a top down excommunication — the excommunications of the 11th century were just the Bishops formalizing the reality that the lived experiences of the west and east were no longer in communion with each other but rather existed as an informal schism for a few centuries.

    Put it this way. We all believe in infused justification not imputed justification. The schism between East and West cannot be ended by simply having a top down declaration that the schism is over anymore than one can be saved by a decree of God imputing to one justification. Rather just as God had to make us just before he could declare us just, the schism must be “made over” before it can be declared to be over.

    Your final point — Very true, but the Catholic Church has to also be better in recognizing the “Peterness” of the other Patriarchates for their own particular Churches.

  30. When one examines the decrees of Constantinople 1 and Chalcedon then it should be easy to see the Ecclesiology of Orthodox Christianity. Some of you guys are making it seem as if our view fell from the sky yesterday or something. Our view is not brand new and to associate us with protestantism is to essentially associate the Ecclesiology of Constantinople 1, and Chalcedon with protestantism. I think one should keep this in mind when critiquing our view for when you critique us you are in essence critiquing the inspired judgement of certain Ecumenical councils. We are not protestants and the Christians at those councils weren’t either! Deal with the Ecclesiology of 4th and 5th century Christianity!

    Also, how we understand Papal Primacy is different than how 19th, 20th, and 21st century Rome understands it. You guys interpret it as being “Papal Supremacy”. Papal Supremacy is a totally different idea than Papal Primacy. The two views are not one and the same.

  31. Bryan said (in #12) :Jehovah’s Witnesses say the same thing to me.

    And there are thousands of Christian groups who is essence say the same thing that you say to me. That is that their (your) group of Christians have the correct understanding of the tradition of the Christian faith. Of course your answer is that you can trace the modern RCC to the Apostles. Now I don’t think you really can do this, but just for sake of argument, let’s say you can. You still have not addressed the question as to whether this lineage sort of argument (“we have Peter as our Father”) guarantees anything. The only similar sort of argument we find in Scriptures is the argument that the Pharisees made (“we have Abraham as our Father”).

    So the rest of your post is a description of RCC orthodoxy, but as in the previous thread, you tell me what Roman Catholics believe but you don’t answer my questions from #8. I’m not sure what the point is of ignoring my points and then telling me what Catholics believe.

  32. @Nathan B.

    I have to say that I have difficulty with this whole narrative about how the West is into definition/formalism and the East has taken the high-road, or at least the equally respectible road, of refusing to hem the faith in by overly formal definitions and precisions which have (or may) militate against a sense of mystery (maybe you are not saying exactly this, so feel free to object if I am misrepresenting you; but that is what I am getting from the general direction of your recent comments, and that is definitely the position I have encountered many, many times from my Orthodox friends).

    I agree 100% that the faith is not reducible to propositions or dogmatics – far from it. The faith is fundamentally sacramental and experiential, and ultimately all dogmatic decrees, propositions, etc. are simply propositional accounts of the Church’s encounter with Christ in the Holy Spirit. What is expressed in formal dogmatic theology is only a very small (though true) propositional picture of a vastly (infinitely) larger Reality. I have never met an Orthodox christian or a knowledgable Catholic who would deny this truth upon consideration. So far so good.

    However, the very notion of doctrinal development – of the Church’s increasing knowlwdge of her Lord through space and time – entails that she will be enabled (when the need arises) to propositionally clarify more and more of her living experience in a way which protects the faithful from spiritual harm. That is exactly what she did during the first 1000 years of her presence on earth. Can anyone look carefully into the linguistic/propositional structure of the seven ecumenical councils that the Orthodox revere and not recognize the extraordinary attempt to achieve theological precision by way of utilization of Greek philosophical terminology and catagories – all aimed at preventing any possibility of misrepresentation or wiggle room on the part of heretics? What is essentially different in the attempt at precise theological precision between the careful propositional formulas against Arianism and later Latin councils which utilize Aristotelian philosophic categories to achieve similar precision relating to other aspects of the deposit of faith which had fallen under attack? I see none. Yet, I have never encountered an Orthodox brother bemoaning the needless theological formalism that plauged Nicea, and which served to suffocate the sense of mystery in the early Church. No, the theological precisions of the first 1000 years are lauded as great theological achievements which “solidified” the faith against error. It is precisely an embrace of these propositions on which Orthodox christians pride themselves on being – well – “orthodox”.

    Yet after the division between Orthodox and Catholic, the Catholic Church has gone on doing what the Church did in the first 1000 years (namely promulgating precise propositional accounts of various aspects of the deposit of faith which faced attack), while the Orthodox, for many of the reasons sited in the comboxes above have been unwilling (or unable given their ecclesiology) to do the same. One way to deal with this unwillingness or inability and attempt to justify the disparity in theological development between Catholicism and Orthodoxy for the last 1000 years is to begin suggesting that attempts at propositional, theological precision are somehow less than spiritual or desirable. But that’s just wrong. Its not an either/or choice since any and all attempts at theological clarification of the living encounter with Christ, will never capture more than a very small subsection of the infinitely larger living Reality. The living Christ is big enough not to be threatened by man’s increasing propositional knowlwdge of things Divine – indeed, He desires it. The Orthodox, ISTM, see no problem a both/and approach when it comes to the first 1000 years of christianity. But for some reason, they now seem to promote an either/or paradigm (dogmatic precision OR a healthy sense of mystery). It is hard to resist the feeling that the current (Rome is too caught up in theological precision) motiff has come about for little else that polemical purposes, since no such argument is ever enjoined regarding the seven ecumenical councils – which gathered precisely to achieve theological precision.

    Add to all that the fact that the Catholic Church has been forced to go to the matt with the most severe intellectual opponents of the last 500 years (enlightenment philosophy, modernism, post-modernism, scientism, etc., etc.) in a way that the Orthodox have largely escaped (until recently), and the “your too much into dogma” critique begins to look (to me at least) like someone who has not had much field experience in the intellectual wars with modernity criticizing a worn, wearied, bloody, muddy veteran or war for getting his hands too dirty.

    I know that there is a place for the constant reminder that our faith is fundamentally sacramental and experiential/existential, and that doctrinal definitions are only propositional snap-shots of a Reality that is not fully comprehensible (at least not in this life); but I often fear that the Orthodox narrative frankly establishes an either/or dichotomy in this regard that is undermined by their acceptance of the very ecumencial councils they so revere as defining “the Orthodox faith” – for those councils most certainly employ the both/and approach still championed by Catholic theology.

    Pax Christi,

    Ray

  33. Nathan, (re :16) That means that the Reformed ecclesiastical authorities cannot with absolutely conscience binding authority proclaim to an individual a doctrine that they must hold or a commandment that they must follow that is drawn from the authority’s interpretation of scripture. Thus an individual’s conscience is all that the individual has to tell him what doctrines and commandments actually come from scripture as absolutely conscience binding things.

    Nathan,

    Your second sentence does not logically follow from your first. The only thing that the confession is saying here is that the Scriptures are what God uses to change the heart. The Scriptures say that they are a two edged sword, judging the thoughts, intents of the heart, etc. The words of man do not do this since it in the prerogative of God’s words alone to accomplish such tasks. This does not at all mean that the Scriptures are not ministered by the ecclesiastical authorities that God has established. The councils, judgments of ecclesiastical authorities, etc are still standards by which of the people of God are guided. By no means is it up to the individual to determine for himself what the Scriptures say. This is just not the way that the Reformed congregations operate and never has been.

    The RCC did evolve a concept of the infallibility of the certain conciliar and later papal statements and these infallible statements do bind the conscience of faithful Catholics. But the lack of such infallible human statements do not leave matters of ecclesiastical judgments up to the individual.

  34. @ Ray Stamper,

    I get the sense that the objection in Orthodox theology (which has plenty of “formal definitions”) to the Catholic utilization of “formal definitions” has to do with how medieval Catholic theology bases its formal definitions on scholastic logic which replaced the Patristic typological way of developing definitions. A lot of Orthodox objections revolve around the process being unsound and thus producing bad theology.

    The East has taken basically an equally respectable road and that can be seen in our Eastern Catholic Churches who have taken the same road but not in a schismatic sense.

    What is essentially different in the attempt at precise theological precision between the careful propositional formulas against Arianism and later Latin councils which utilize Aristotelian philosophic categories to achieve similar precision relating to other aspects of the deposit of faith which had fallen under attack? I see none.

    It is in the utilization of Aristotelian philosophic categories rather than testimony of the Church Fathers. Take a look at the 16th century Catholic declarations against the Reformers and compare those to the 16th century Orthodox declarations against the Reformers (particularly the writings of Patriarch Jeremiah II against the Lutherans) to see differences in how the West and East arrive at theological precision.

    Add to all that the fact that the Catholic Church has been forced to go to the matt with the most severe intellectual opponents of the last 500 years (enlightenment philosophy, modernism, post-modernism, scientism, etc., etc.)

    An Orthodox here could rejoined with: What does it say though that the most severe intellectual opponents appeared in the West and not the East?

    Besides just because the East didn’t go through the Enlightenment doesn’t mean that the Orthodox were not dealing with theological issues. Just look at what the Russian Orthodox have had to go through in the last 500 years, and not just with communism.

    This is from 2008 but it is good for understanding how the Orthodox narrative and the Catholic narrative as to how the Church functions need to find a way where they can both accept each other as being true, while holding true to their own narratives and being strengthened by the others. http://www.zenit.org/article-21815?l=english . It is not just about the Orthodox accepting Petrine Primacy (which they do already in a sense) but also Catholic accepting synodality (which we do already in a sense.) Petrine primacy must become a lived reality for the Orthodox and synodolity must become a lived reality for Catholics, especially western Catholics.

    Blessings and peace

  35. Nathan B,

    There are a many issues relating to Metropolitan Ware’s definition. Let’s go through them one at a time:

    > 1. A council cannot be considered ecumenical unless its decrees are accepted by the whole Church.

    What is “the whole Church”. If this is a criteria than an Arian/Nestoria/…/Protestant faction within the Church can invalidate any Council.

    The Orthodox today aren’t even in complete communion with themselves. There are jurisdictions (e.g. the OCA) which are recognized by some but not all jurisdictions. There are jurisdictions that fell out of communion with each other but are in communion with the rest of the Church. There are jurisdictions where recognition is one direction. Some juristictions recognize some later councils while others reject them.

    In particular, how could you choose if the Oriental Orthodox or Catholic/Orthodox side of the 3rd/4th Councils? Is the whole council invalid since there was no such agreement or is one side right?

    > 2. The bishops, because they are the sole teachers of the faith, define and proclaim the truth in council.

    Which Bishops? There are groups of heretical bishops in every council. Is it just “an us versus them decision and we’re right because we’re not them”?

    > 3. These definitions must be acclaimed by the whole people of God, including the laity.

    Pew surveys have indicated that a high percentage of Orthodox believe God is “a force” (akin to Eastern Religions and Deism) and not a person. Could these laity invalidate the Council? Many Catholic laity think Vatican II invalidated all sorts of doctrine. Are those doctrines now gone because “it didn’t stick with the laity”.Or is there some arbitrary time limit on “a council sticking”?

    > 4. The act of acceptance must not be understood in a juridical sense.

    This throws out much of canon law in East and West or the definition of sin changes with every council.

    > 5. In summary: At a true Ecumenical Council the bishops recognize what the truth is and proclaim it; this proclamation is then verified by the assent of the whole Christian people, an assent which is not, as a rule, expressed formally and explicitly , but lived

    See 1-4.

    > 6. … For the Orthodox it is the mystery of God who lives in the Church which determines the truth and validity of the council.

    All well and good but Hinduism can claim the same thing, and claim that Jesus is a part of the mystery that is Krisha and the various Gnostic heresies that regularly pop up support that religious synchronism has legs despite the suppression of millennia.

    For me, point (1) is the key one. As a typical lay person or priest, how could I decide between the Orientals and Catholic/Orthodox? The definitions involved are non-trivial and the arguments on both sides are compelling and practically, the effects on daily life are virtually non-existent, and if the Arian controversy taught us anything, the majority can be wrong. If it was simply a matter of breaking communion, I might be able to accept that both sides were stubborn and an non-dogmatic mistakes was made. But both sides dogmatically declared the other side to be heretical. If councils have any validity, one of the dogmas must be true and the other false on this issue.

    How can I know? What visible sign can anyone give me to decide other than scholarship well beyond the reach of 99% of Christians.

    What objective criteria can an outsider have to know where the true faith lies? This is not an academic issue. I was born Catholic but never taught more than strict deism as a child (i.e. Jesus was just a man), and lived as a “Platonist Confucian Deist” for 30 years, and search through all other religions, and various Protestant denominations and Anglicanism and the Orthodox before arriving at Catholicism.

    Catholics have a simple answer. It might be wrong, but as St. Peter once wrote, where else shall we go (John 6:68)?

  36. @Andrew McCallum #33

    The second sentence does logically follow because WCF XX.II anything that is contrary or besides that which is found in scripture cannot bind the conscience of a man. This is not saying that anything which is untrue cannot bind the conscience of a man, but it is rather more expansive than that because the “besides” includes those things which are true but are not located in scripture. For example, a Reformed minister cannot bind the consciences of his congregation as to who the author of the book of Hebrews is or whether or not contraception is moral because both of these things are not located in scripture. Further we can stress this to an extent to point out that any exegesis of any passage of scripture is always “besides” because it uses language and thoughts that are not contained in scripture in order to make the meaning of the scripture clear to the current audience. Because an explicit interpretation of say randomly John 8:1-10 cannot be located in the Scriptures any such interpretation produced by the Reformed presbyterate cannot bind the consciences of the faithful. Reformed congregants remain Reformed only in so far as the dictates of their consciences agree with the positions put forth by their specific presbyterate.

    The Reformed creeds and confessions do not exist as anything which bind the consciences of the congregants. They exist as “standards” but not in the sense of having divine authority. They guide the people but their guidance is not to be taken as anything other than human guidance. The whole Reformed framework doesn’t actually rest on anything. If God through Scripture alone is only that which binds the conscience of people, then the Reformed standards and even John Calvin being an ecclesiastical authority are things that are “besides” scripture as these points are not explicit in scripture and cannot in anyway shape or form actually bind the conscience of the congregants.

    As there is no intermediatary, or even no verification check, between the individual’s conscience and God’s “spiritual and invisible” action on the conscience, the individual’s conscience is primary in determining whether or not God is acting upon His conscience to lead Him to accept as true this or that Reformed interpretation of scripture.

    The RCC did evolve a concept of the infallibility of the certain conciliar and later papal statements and these infallible statements do bind the conscience of faithful Catholics. But the lack of such infallible human statements do not leave matters of ecclesiastical judgments up to the individual.

    It does though in the Reformed world because you reject not only the infallibility of the papacy but also the infallibility of the bishopric and the infallibility of the “whole Church”. Because you have no visible means for determining legitimacy of your ecclesiastical judgment, all is left to the dictates of the individual’s conscience.

    For example, how do you know that John Calvin was actually an ecclesiastical authority and not just some guy claiming to have authority? Sure he quote scripture and talks about scripture and here and there agrees with the writings of this or that historical Christian but that makes him no more actual authority than all sheep having wool means that the llam that is across from my house is a sheep. When I was a Lutheran and a Methodist, Calvin was no authority for he clearly taught against the plain meaning of scripture. You believe his is teaching the plain teaching of scripture. Both positions are/were us just exercising the primacy of our conscience as to what and who actually was in conformity with scripture. Nothing external exists, nor can exist in the Reformed conception, to guarantee that Calvin is a real authority. All that is left is the internal authority of one’s conscience.

    Tying this back into the thread: Reformed people are not in the same epistemological boat as the Orthodox. The Orthodox, though they don’t have the Petrine Primacy, but that doesn’t mean that they are at the whims of their individual consciences for the Orthodox still do have the infallibility of the bishopric and the infallibility of the “whole Church”.

    Blessings and peace.

  37. @Anil Wang #35

    Matropolitan Ware’s definition is not with out criticism, which even he acknowledges in his book.

    I have covered several of your points above but as a recap..

    It is important to understand the “whole Church” as the “whole Church” and not as an assembly of its parts. For example, at the Eucharist the whole Christ is present even though there are many hosts. The whole Christ not present from the assembling of the many hosts and each host (even each part of each host) is the whole Christ. Likewise when speaking about the “whole Church” we need to refrain from breaking it down into parts.

    I think that the problems that you are pointing out in terms of incomplete communion between the Orthodox Churches is not necessarily a problem with Orthodox theology as it is a problem with the particulars manifesting the faith of the whole Church. It is not as if the parts of the Catholic Church don’t have problems with communion either as there is in many places material if not formal schism. Example: How many bishops are in full communion with Summorum Pontificum? But this should likewise be chalked up to the particulars not manifesting the faith of the whole Church.

    How does one choose between the Oriental Orthodox or Catholic/Orthodox? Metropolitian ansered that by stating from historical experience it clearly appears that the voice of a given council has truly been the voice of the Church or that it has not: that is all.

    Which bishops? The bishops that are in union with the Orthodox Faith. A Catholic might say the bishops who are in union with the Pope. Both the “Orthodox Faith” and the “Pope” are visible things for the Pope is a man and the Orthodox Faith is manifest in the visible life of the whole Church. These positions do not exclude each other for the Pope needs to be in union with the orthodox Faith and the Orthodox Faith is measured by the Pope who is its rule (but not ruler). Now the Orthodox allow for a particular Pope to become heretical because a part of the whole Church is not the whole Church. Catholics too allow for a Pope to be heretical, just never when speaking ex cathedra.

    > 4. The act of acceptance must not be understood in a juridical sense.
    This throws out much of canon law in East and West or the definition of sin changes with every council.

    This just means that the acceptance by the whole Church is not done by voting or by declaring it to have been accepted. Rather what has been taught by the bishops is accepted in faith by the whole Church and manifested by works — the lived experience of the whole Church.

    For me, point (1) is the key one. As a typical lay person or priest, how could I decide between the Orientals and Catholic/Orthodox?

    You cannot if it is you who are deciding, for if it is you who decides then you are simply following the primacy of your own conscience. The Oriental and Catholic/Orthodox problem is resolved by accepting what the Church teaches regarding this manner and what the Church teaches regarding this manner is manifest from historical experience in the same way we know that the Romans conquered Gaul and not the Aztecs.

    Yes Catholics have a simple answer, but this answer can be stated in both a Western form or an Eastern Form. The Orthodox position has schismatic elements to it but it is not persay heretical.

    PAX CHRISTI TIBI

  38. @jnorm888 #30

    Exactly. Western Catholics need to remember that the Monarchical view of the Papacy is the “new” view and is thus the view that belongs in the dock. (though to be sure the modern Orthodox view is also a development from the model in the Early Church, just not as major of a development). (My personal view is that the Monarchical view is correct only in so far as it doesn’t trample on the rights and prerogatives of the Patriarchates as established in the early Church. I prefer the Episcopal view.)

    Would you mind detailing briefly what you consider “Papal Primacy” to be and what you consider “Papal Supremacy” to be?

    Beyond the whole papal questions, how do you consider your ecclesiology to be the same/different from Eastern Catholic ecclesiology?

  39. Anil Wang,

    The OCA is recognized by everyone in World Orthodoxy. What isn’t recognized by everyone is it’s Autocephaly. It might be difficult for Roman Catholics to understand the concept of Autocephaly sense in the Christian West their was only one Autocephalous Church. In the Christian East you always had multiple Autocephaluos Churches.

    If everyone in Canonical Orthodoxy accepted the OCA’s Autocephaly then all their parishes in North America would have to come under the Jurisdiction of the OCA.

  40. So,

    In the Orthodox paradigm, what is the source of religious truths? Where would Orthodox get their beliefs about the universal primacy of the Bishop of Rome (e.g. Scripture, Tradition, or some other source)?

    Do Catholic and Orthodox just disagree about our overall approaches, or do we disagree about how to interpret the same sources?

    Mark

  41. This article may give another perspective on the Orthodox reception of Ecumenical Councils . . .

    http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/against-khomiakov/

  42. @ David P.

    Interesting article, but as the author stated, it doesn’t put forth a fleshed out alternative view to the “Khomiakov” position (nor in the comboxes). What it puts forth is a pentarchial ratification theory, which is especially problematic as the Orthodox are no longer in communion with Rome and thus have no ability to determine truth at the level of a council. Also this theory has never been accepted by Rome — that the governance of the whole Church is invested in a certain number of patriarchal sees. I personally don’t like this theory because it amounts to taking the Petrine Primacy, duplicating it amongst the Patriarchates, and then making them govern the Church as an oligarchy. It violates the principle of the Church being a unity in plurality (the pentarchial ratification theory makes the Church the sum of its parts) and it makes a part of the Church able to dictate the beliefs of the whole Church.

    You know, in reading over various appologistic materials on this, I think that people are not understanding the “Khomiakov” position. At least as far as Metropolitian Ware is presenting it, the acceptance is not by “the whole faithful” but rather “the whole Church”. There is a difference here.

    A good question to ask an Orthodox individual to help flesh out their ideas on how ecumenical councils are authorative is to ask the Orthodox “How do you determine if the Pope is Orthodox or not?”

  43. Nathan B,

    1.) Called to Communion has alot to say about Sola/Solo Scriptura and the right of private judgement and how no Bishop, Church, or Council/Synod has the right/authority to bind the conscience of the Sola Scriptura individual. Well, Papal Supremacy is similar. The difference is, instead of every Protestant having that right, it is the Bishop of Rome alone who has that right. In this sense Roman Catholicism(Latin, Frankish, and Germanic Catholicism) was the prototype of what would later become Protestantism. This is why some in the 16th century foresaw that with Protestantism every man has become his own Pope. With Papal Primacy the crack of independence is missing for all Bishops are bound by the decisions of an Ecumenical Council.

    2.) I can’t really comment on all forms of Eastern Catholicism, but for some Eastern Catholic bodies my guess would be the reading of the diptychs. We would commemorate different Hierarchs. Other than that I really can’t say for I really don’t know. Someone more knowledgeable in that area will have to answer that question for you. I’m sorry if I wasn’t of much help.

  44. Mark,

    For Orthodoxy the source of Religious Truth is the Holy Trinity (Thus our constant stress on the Holy Trinity). That would be the starting point. Any other authority would be an outflow from that.

  45. Nathan,

    The circularity problem discussed above isn’t solved by identifying the “whole Church” as “the whole Church.” The problem, again, is this: if a council must be accepted by “the whole Church” in order to be an ecumenical council, then what counts as “the whole Church” cannot be defined as “those who accept the ecumenical councils.” Such an answer is circular because it defines ecumenical councils in terms of acceptance by “the whole Church,” and then defines “the whole Church” in terms of acceptance of the ecumenical councils. To try to justify such circularity by attributing it to “the Eastern mind” would be to insult all Easterners, as though they don’t know basic logic.

    Take the Council of Ephesus as an example. The Nestorians did not accept the Council of Ephesus. But unless one already knows that the Council of Ephesus was ecumenical, one does not know whether Nestorianism is heretical (otherwise there would be no point in having ecumenical councils). And unless one already knows that Nestorianism is a heresy, one does not know that the Nestorians do not count as part of the whole Church. And unless one already knows that the Nestorians do not count as part of the whole Church, one cannot say that the Council of Ephesus was accepted by “the whole Church,” because the Nestorians rejected it. Likewise, the same can be said of the councils of Nicea and Chalcedon, because the Arians rejected the former, and the monophysites rejected the latter. For this reason, defining ecumenical councils in terms of acceptance by “the whole Church,” and then defining “the whole Church” in terms of acceptance of ecumenical councils, is essentially to have said nothing at all, while prima facie seeming to have said something substantive.

    If, however, “the whole Church” is not defined by acceptance of the ecumenical councils, but by sharing one’s phronema, this definition is very much like that of those Protestants who define “the whole Church” as those who share their general interpretation of Scripture (see my response to Mathison in the first link in comment #19), and is subject to the same problems. It doesn’t matter that, for example, Reformed Christians can recognize each other as fellow Reformed Christians, and Pentecostal Christians can recognize each other as fellow Pentecostal Christians, as though that solves the problem, because we would fully expect that those in a heresy or schism, upon hearing someone else in that same heresy or schism, would recognize him or her to be in their own [heretical or schismatic] sect. This shows that as a method, picking out others on the basis of a shared phronema is not a principled, non-question-begging way to distinguish what is the Church from what is not the Church. It merely pushes back the question to which φρόνημα is the divinely authorized one, and how do we know.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  46. Re #38

    Is 22:19-23
    I dismiss you from office,
    I remove you from your post,
    and the same day I call on my servant
    Eliakim son of Hilkiah.
    I invest him with your robe,
    gird him with your sash,
    entrust him with your authority;
    and he shall be a father
    to the inhabitants of Jerusalem
    and to the House of Judah.
    I place the key of the House of David
    on his shoulder;
    should he open, no one shall close,
    should he close, no one shall open.
    I drive him like a peg
    into a firm place;
    he will become a throne of glory
    for his father’s house.

    Mt 16:15-19
    “But you,” He said, “who do you say I am?” Then Simon Peter spoke up, “You are the Christ,” he said, “the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but My Father in Heaven. So now I say to you: You are Peter and on this Rock I will build My Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in Heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in Heaven.”

    Both readings are from the Jerusalem Bible.

    The position being given to Eliakim and Peter are that of chamberlain or major domo, the holder of the keys and therefore of access to the King.

    Introducing the new covenant finds Jesus, “the King of the Jews” according to his death warrant, establishing a new Kingdom with a much wider purview than was given to David with Israel and Judah.

    Both kingdoms had some things in common, such as a King, His staff including the chamberlain, and visibility. After Jesus death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven, you could see His Church. The
    Acts of the Apostles describes that Church in action through Its apostles, its deacons, and even its laity (see Ananias of Damascus, Acts 9).

    Peter is given the revelation that even the Gentiles can be saved and justifies that position (Acts 10 and 11).

    Paul begins his ministry to the Gentiles and runs into the Judaizers, which he finally passes to the Church in Jerusalem for a decision (Acts 21:25) which is published. The new believers are not required to know Moses, but rather given instructions for avoiding parts of their previous religions which might draw them back from the Truth.

    A reading of the letters to Corinth see efforts being made early and often to split the Church, eg, I am for Apollos, I am for Cephas, I am for Christ, etc. The visible Church, this time through Paul, calls the disputants back from that precipice and for a return to the unity our Lord prays for in John 17.

    When I was leaving Evangelicalism, it was because I saw a visible Church with the authority to govern, to make binding decisions. I was seeing myself as a subject of that Kingdom, not its authority or decision maker, with all the chaos that being a solo authority and decision maker entailed. God was judging me, and I was no longer judging God or His scripture.

    I dismiss you from office is the beginning of the quotation from Isaiah, and while a specific individual is named before the quotation, that name could as easily have been Donald. Once I had been given my dismissal as the authority and decision maker, it was evident to me that the right Person was in charge and it was (and is) wonderful, actually it is glorious!

    Cordially,
    dt

  47. @Nathan B

    It is important to understand the “whole Church” as the “whole Church” and not as an assembly of its parts. For example, at the Eucharist the whole Christ is present even though there are many hosts. The whole Christ not present from the assembling of the many hosts and each host (even each part of each host) is the whole Christ. Likewise when speaking about the “whole Church” we need to refrain from breaking it down into parts.

    The probelm here is that the options are not EITHER a tangible, verifiable means of identification of the “whole Church” (i.e. such that one can know tangibly/juridically what are the “parts” or temporal limits of the Church militant as she exists in time and geography) OR the recognition that the “whole Church” transcends both time and geography (and ecclesiology). Both truths must be held. Consider your analogy. The “whole Christ” is truly present in each host (and each part of each host as you rightly point out) because Christ, whose body the Church is, transcends time and geography. However, notice that there are tangible, verifiable means for determining the limits of the “whole Christ” with respect to His manifestation within the Church militant under the species of bread and wine. Only physical bread and wine (not pizza or beer) which has been consecrated by a priest bearing an ontological high-priestly conformity to Christ via the tangible, verifiable, historical act of ordination (not just “prayed-over” by anybody) is in fact the “whole” Eucharistic Christ. Bread and wine at a dinner table, or even within the sancturary prior to consecration, are NOT the “whole Christ”; and this we can know by clear, verifiable (one might say juridical) specifications presumbaly established by Christ himself (the Eucharistic rite and the rite of Holy Orders). Yes, we have a mystery which transcends both space and time; yet it remains verifiably identifiable/distinguishable (by the Savior’s design) within the confines of human history so that men of every age know where to locate the most profound manifestation of His presence – namely, in the consecrated elements.

    The same BOTH/AND applies to the Church. The Orthodox position is quite right to point out that the Church transcends space and time, and accordingly exists in an undivided fashion on one level; however, this hardly suffices to capture the whole reality, which also includes a quite verifiable, tangible delimitation and identification in human history. That unbounded transcendance and bounded immanence hold together is the great mystery of the Incarnation. It is manifest in the earthly and risen Christ (Divinity possessing a tangibly identifiable body), the Eucharistic Christ (Divinity subsuming the tangibly identifiable elements of bread and wine), and the body of Christ – the Church – (Humanity joined to Christ in the Holy Spirit accross both space and time, and yet with a tangible, juridcal and identifiable struture in each historical age).

    Which is why the following seems to miss the mark by failing to account for the tangible, identifiable dimension of Christ in all His manifestations:

    Which bishops? The bishops that are in union with the Orthodox Faith. A Catholic might say the bishops who are in union with the Pope. Both the “Orthodox Faith” and the “Pope” are visible things for the Pope is a man and the Orthodox Faith is manifest in the visible life of the whole Church.

    Anil asked you which bishops define and proclaim the truth in council? Which is just another way of asking which bishops define and proclaim the orthodox faith in council. And your answer (apparently on behalf of Orthodoxy) is “[t]he bishops that are in union with the Orthodox Faith”. Help me understand how this avoids circularity? You say both the pope and the “Orthodox Faith” are “visible things”. The pope is a flesh and blood man as you say, and as such can serve as a tangible, identifiable center of unity or communion by which to assess the juridical limits of “the Church” in her here-and-now historical existence. But I have no idea how the phrase “the Orthodox Faith is manifest in the visible life of the whole Church” shows the “Orthodox Faith” to be a visible thing on any ontological par with the identifiable man known to the world as the pope. What constititues the “visible life” of the Church? Who defines what counts as the “visible life” of the Church. Is the “visible life’ of the Church identical with the “Orthodox Faith” or is it a larger category of belief and/or praxis in which (or through which) the “Orthodox Faith” is “manifest”? What is the Orthodox Faith (doctrine? praxis? both? something other or more?), and how exactly does it “manifest” itself in something called the “visible life” of the Church. And above all this stands the crucially unanswered question as to who constitutes the “whole Church”. It will not do in this context, where the question concerns our ability to identification of which bishops/councils give us authoritative orthodox doctrine in space and time to simply note one aspect of the truth – that the Church is a mystical whole which transcends space and time. The question and the given answer are of two different orders and therefore fail to correspond.

    To claim that the “Orthodox Faith” is a visble thing on a par with the pope such that it can serve as a means of establishing which bishops are in communion with it (the “Orthodox Faith”), and then say that in order to “see” this apparently “visible thing”, one must look at something called the “visible life” of something called the “whole Church”; it seems incumbant upon one to provide some tangible, identifiable means by which one can “see” or assess both terms of the proposition: “visible life” and ‘whole Church”. If one cannot do so, then one can in no way equate ecclesial communion with the “Orthodox Faith” as remotely comparative to ecclesial communion with the pope as a “visible” means for identifying which bishops “define and proclaim the truth in council”. And without the ability to determine “which bishops” count with regard to the definition and proclamation of truth (i.e orthodox faith”), one does not even have access to something called the “Orthodox Faith” to begin with (re-emergent circularity).

    Notice that according to the Catholic position where the “visible” pope, and communion with him, serves as the basis for determining which bishops define and proclaim truth in council (i.e. doctrinal orthodoxy); all one need do is ask who held/holds the Petrine office and which bishops professed/profess communion with him. The unitive role of a visible man yields direct resolution to the crucial problem of determining orthodox faith.

    On the other hand, if one claims that the “Orthodox Faith” is “visible” and communion with this thing called the “Orthodox Faith” determines which bishops define and proclaim truth in council, one imediately comes upon a laundry list of questions (as I have given above), each of which beg further questions, and all of which seem hopelesly pointed towards an answer destined to end in some kind of circularity – despite all the naunced qualifiers along the way.

    When it comes to the administrative exercise of Papal primacy within the Church, I support the Catholic Church in entertaining any number of administrative models from monarchical, to episcopal, or anything in between (maybe even something different altogether); hence I acknowledge your point about the pope being the rule and not the ruler. Fine. The Church has a temporal organization and I see nothing within the deposit of faith which demands that the Petrine office be excercised adminisrtatively in an identical way in each age. But the real brass-tacks issue which I and others keep driving at concerns not so much the administrative manifestation of the Petrine office; but the unique role of the bishop of Rome with regard to determining doctrinal orthodoxy. That’s where the fundamental division lay, and so far as I can tell, when push comes to shove, the Orthodox position still reduces to: “one knows what the Orthodox Faith is by remaining in communion with/listening to those who hold to the “Orthodox Faith”, whether the “those” in question are the bishops present at any given council or the “whole Church” – where the “whole Church” is itself comprised of those who hold the “Orthodox Faith”.

    Pax Christi,

    Ray

  48. Nathan,

    > “How does one choose between the Oriental Orthodox or Catholic/Orthodox? Metropolitian answered that
    > by stating from historical experience it clearly appears that the voice of a given council has truly been the
    > voice of the Church or that it has not: that is all.”

    But that is the key question, which Church? Oriental Catholics can claim exactly the same thing. They have a long history of persecution and have kept their faith alive. They can point to the Church Fathers they recognize to prove they have kept the faith, and except for the issue dividing the Orthodox/Catholics and Orientals, namely Saint Cyril’s formulation verses Saint Athanasius’s formulation and the broader Biblical canon and married Bishops, they are indistinguishable from Orthodox/Catholics. Even now, if you reject the Papacy as a necessary mark of the Church, how would a non-Orthodox know whether they should become Orthodox or Oriental? Is it just convenience (i.e. If I’m in India, there are many Oriental Churches and few Orthodox Churches, so should become Oriental, but if I’m in Russia, I should become Orthodox) and hope that God will forgive me if I make the wrong doctrinal choices because I tried my hardest to discern what he wants me to do?

    > “You cannot if it is you who are deciding, for if it is you who decides then you are simply following the
    > primacy of your own conscience. The Oriental and Catholic/Orthodox problem is resolved by accepting
    > what the Church teaches regarding this manner and what the Church teaches regarding this manner is
    > manifest from historical experience in the same way we know that the Romans conquered Gaul and not the
    > Aztecs.”

    Not really. There are two definitions of conscious:
    (1) The Protestant definition, namely do what I think is right. IMO, this is the first sin of Adam and Eve and the repeated sin of the Book of Judges “doing what is right in their own eyes”.
    (2) The Catholic/Orthodox definition, namely submitting to God to the best of our understanding and the best of our spiritual discernment.

    I go by the second definition. When a schism occurs and you’re caught in the middle without the benefit of history, you have to decide who you will follow. There is no getting around it. To not to decide is to decide to be in schism with both. I’m sure more than a few Protestants (or former Protestants) here know the story too well since Church splittings are common and passionate in Protestant denominations.

    One thing Catholics and Orthodox and Orientals agree is that schism is a sin, so schism should not be taken lightly. It should never because of definition (1) (namely, “those people” do something you find offensive) — this is a human criteria not a Holy one (being separate to be in submission to God and salt of the earth that does not lose its saltiness). You do not undertake schism unless there is a clear and persistent betrayal of the faith handed down. It was a long time before Montanus was declared a heretic, and many attempts were made to bring him into the fold and spiritually discern if his message was consistent with the faith (after all prophesy and miracles are not inconsistent with the faith). The Trinitarian controversies of another example. At the time of the Council, a third of the Church was Arian, a third take the Orthodox/Catholic position, and a third were semi-Arian. Each sect thought they were protecting what was handed down (NB: The councils happened before the Biblical canon was settled, and the Shepherd of Hermes, which was highly aclaimed by many Fathers, almost made it into the canon. It supported the Adoptionist view of Christ). It took two very divisive and bloody councils and a lot of spiritual discernment to come to the Orthodox/Catholic position. So yes history does play a part, but not in the way that we know historical facts like Romans conquered Gaul and not the Aztecs.

    Getting back to the point, without the benefit of history, how would I know whether the Orthodox/Catholics were right or the Orientals were right? I want to be faithful to God. I want to follow his Church. Both claim to be protecting the faith. The point of disagreement doesn’t seem to be a big thing (remember, I don’t have the benefit of history and modern scholarship to explain the importance of the difference) but both sides claim that the other side has betrayed the faith, so I can’t avoid choosing. Both appear to be living the faith and practicing the faith.

    How can I know? Should I just throw up my hands and just pick the Church that covers my geography and trust that God will sort doctrinal issues in the end, as many Protestants currently do when they see so many denominations and so many faithful outside their denomination?

  49. Nick, Mateo, Ray, et al,

    Cn you list all the necessary and sufficient conditions on Ctholic principles for a council to be ecumenical?

    Can you then tell me how one can know that their conditions have been filfilled?

    Can you then indicate how they were fulfilled in say the Fifth Ecumenical Council?

  50. It seems the Eastern Orthodox are in a similar bind as Reformed Protestants regarding Assurance: both can only look for signs down the road to validate a past experience, since the visible manifestation of that past experience is purely subjective.

    For example, a Reformed Protestant can have a ‘conversion experience’ one day after hearing the Gospel and putting faith in Christ and getting Baptized, but the only way to ‘validate’ that salvation really occurred is if good works begin to flow (at some unspecified, purely subject rate). If good works begin to flow, then they point to the fruit and think their conversion was genuine, but if works don’t flow automatically or they stop or slow down, then they have to question the genuineness of the conversion.

    What Nathan appears to be describing (which doesn’t even seem to be historically normative, e.g. his rejection of Pentarchy) is similar in that nobody can know if an Ecumenical Council was valid unless down the road the “whole Church” ‘automatically’ implements it’s teachings in a “lived-out” manner. But the dilemma is the same, since evaluating the time gap between automatic implementation and the end of the council as well as who is “living out” the decrees and just how they’re doing so is subjective. By that logic, it could take Nathan up to a century after a Council before he saw enough “fruit” to judge whether a given council was valid.

  51. Perry,

    1.) The sole minimal condition, both necessary and sufficient, to establish a council as “ecumenical” is the ratification of part or the whole of its proceedings by the successor of St. Peter.

    2.) This condition can be know to have been fulfilled:

    Antecedently: when a council is convened for the express purpose of carrying out a pre-determined papal decsion, or when papal legates give their consent to counciliar proceedings based on a public instruction from the pope, or when papal legates act on personal instructions from the pope with regard to one or more questions before the council. The operative factor, in all cases being the personal papal origin of the ratification (say as opposed to legates voting or acting without an express papal instruction).

    Simultaneously: as when the pope personally presides over the proceedings of a council without the intermediacy of legates or other representatives. The outcome of proceedings over which the pope personally presided are presumed to carry his ratification.

    Consequently: When part or all of the proceedings of a council; regardless of how or why it was convened, regardlesss of its presider(s), or even the behavior of papal legates, is nevertheless expressly ratified by the successor to St. Peter.

    3.) Pope St. Vigilius ratified the Fifth Ecumenical Council consequently.

    Pax Christi,

    Ray

  52. Ray,

    Where is there a formal and ultimately normative statement by the ordinary and extra ordinary magisterium that says that the sole necessary and sufficient condition for a council to be ecumenical is ratification by the pope?

    As for Vigilius, was the council’s act of excommunicating him at the council authoritative or no? Where has the magisterium defined and/or ruled on that question?

  53. Ray,

    Addendum-when, how and where did Vigilius ratify the Fifth council?

  54. @Anil Wang #48

    Getting back to the point, without the benefit of history, how would I know whether the Orthodox/Catholics were right or the Orientals were right?

    Without the benefit of history?? But that is precisely what you cannot do. Christianity is a historical religion — that is to say that is is manifest in history by history and is the point of history. As soon as you don’t go by history, you have turned Christianity into a philosophy or a mythology.

    We are only responsible for that which we know, have access to, and have a reasonable expectation for finding out. If for one reason or another you have a truncated knowledge of the events of history, then that is what you have to go by.

    But to be sure history isn’t the only thing one as to go by but it is something that one has to go by.

  55. @ jnorm #43

    Thanks! I agree that the “Papal Supremacy” theory aka papal/monarchical theory is problematic. It is easy to see how it was developed — when the Western Empire collapsed the Church absorbed a lot of the political structures needed to keep society together into the episcopate. It didn’t occur in the East because the Eastern Church existed along side of the monarchy of Byzantium.

    Thanks for giving the info of what you could give.

  56. Perry,

    As for Vigilius, was the council’s act of excommunicating him at the council authoritative or no?

    Ray already answered at least this part of question in his statement on:

    Consequently: When part or all of the proceedings of a council; regardless of how or why it was convened, regardlesss of its presider(s), or even the behavior of papal legates, is nevertheless expressly ratified by the successor to St. Peter.

    So my question to you would be: Did Vigilius expressly ratify his own excommunication?

  57. Nathan (re: 36)

    The second sentence does logically follow because WCF XX.II anything that is contrary or besides that which is found in scripture cannot bind the conscience of a man. This is not saying that anything which is untrue cannot bind the conscience of a man, but it is rather more expansive than that because the “besides” includes those things which are true but are not located in scripture.

    Right here you are switching topics from what I originally answered Mateo on. He was speaking of the primacy of individual conscience rendering the bishops unable to speak on “matters of doctrine and discipline. “ But you are speaking to issues which are not explicitly laid down in Scripture, rather than all matters of doctrine.

    On the issue you now raise of teaching on matters which are not explicitly in Scripture, we are told in the Reformed confessions that God’s Word is that which is explicitly laid down in Scripture and that which by good and necessary purposes can be derived from Scripture. So there is definitely something to say on contraception from Scripture (obviously not identical to what the RCC says based on RCC tradition). On the authorship of the book of Hebrews this is a matter which historically undetermined. The ECF’s generally came to believe in Pauline authorship, but textual criticism was not in existence as a discipline at that point in time and much more exacting research has been done since. Anyway, it hardly matters to our understanding of the text whether it was or was not Paul who wrote it. Nothing changes if all of a sudden we were able to determine that it was definitely someone else.

    On exegetical tools that are outside of Scripture, the rules of interpretation are part of the good and necessary means that not only govern the interpretation of Scripture, but the interpretation of any text (at least in the Western tradition). No text is completely self-referential and self-contained not could it be.

    Reformed only in so far as the dictates of their consciences agree with the positions put forth by their specific presbyterate.

    And Catholics agree with the positions of their priests only so far as they agree with the interpretations that the priest has of the tradition of the RCC. And as I have pointed out numerous times, there are an innumerable different interpretations of the tradition of the Church within the RCC from the extremely liberal to the ultra conservative.

    It is my observation that there are lots more Catholics in our local diocese here who use their conscience to decide what RCC dogma to believe than there is in the local Reformed congregations doing something analogous. One of the big concerns that Reformed converting to Catholic folks will face is the lack of unity of doctrinal and practical belief within the RCC. The conservatives of the type which seem to be at CTC are generally rare birds within the RCC. You could take the approach of saying that you guys are the orthodox ones and all the other Catholics are the bad ones, but of course the other Catholics say the same thing.

    The Reformed creeds and confessions do not exist as anything which bind the consciences of the congregants. They exist as “standards” but not in the sense of having divine authority. They guide the people but their guidance is not to be taken as anything other than human guidance. The whole Reformed framework doesn’t actually rest on anything.

    If that were true then everything that the RCC teaches which is not taught with a de fide degree of certainty would also not rest on anything.

    On this point, one final note is that I think that you need to define “binding the conscience.” You write as if it is a general principle that that which cannot bind the conscience cannot be considered authoritative and provide real guidance. When the Reformed speak of the of binding the conscience we are saying that it is only the Word of God which changes the mind and heart. But it seems that you are using this phrase outside of the context of how the WCF uses it.

    … you reject not only the infallibility of the papacy but also the infallibility of the bishopric and the infallibility of the “whole Church”. Because you have no visible means for determining legitimacy of your ecclesiastical judgment, all is left to the dictates of the individual’s conscience.

    Again, the Catholics have not solved the problems because Catholics like Protestants have to make the same sorts of judgments on the legitimacy of their leadership. Where we disagree is whether your interpretation of the tradition of the Church is the correct one.

    For example, how do you know that John Calvin was actually an ecclesiastical authority and not just some guy claiming to have authority?

    And would you agree that exactly the same question also needs to be asked of the RCC leaders at the time of the Reformation? If your interpretation of proper ecclesiastical authority is incorrect then the RCC leaders of the Reformation had no proper authority, correct?

    Sure he quote scripture and talks about scripture and here and there agrees with the writings of this or that historical Christian but that makes him no more actual authority than all sheep having wool means that the llam that is across from my house is a sheep.

    Right, so what does make an officer valid? Is it just the “we have Peter as our Father” claim of the RCC hierarchy today? If so, why should we accept that this succession kind of argument guarantees the fidelity of modern RCC teaching?

  58. Tap,

    I don’t think that answers the question. Here is why. It is a disputed quesiton among Catholic theologians (and for a long time) whether a council can excommuicate a sitting pope.

    But if you wish to concede that the Fifth Council did with ultimate authority excommunicate a sitting pope, I’ll accept that concession.

    As for your question, does Vigilius accept or reject the correction of the council? Where would you suggest we look for his ratification? In what document?

  59. Excuse me jumping into this conversation. I understand that the authority of the Councils rests on both a form factor, that is it is decided by bishops that at least to the time of the Council were recognised as formally bishops of the Church, as defined by the set of churches holding the Council, even if there is a dispute between the bishops causing the council and anathemas being thrown around between them. Then its authority rests in the conformation of the Holy Spirit; it stands authoritative due to this synergy. How do we know that the Holy Spirit has confirmed a Council? There are a number of indicators such as durability, consistency in Scripture, theology, history and tradition and the opinion of those who know the Spirit such as Elders. However, in the end it comes down to a choice of faith. After each council there are some who will accept it and some who will reject it and we have to decide to which group we will belong and accept the group’s faith regarding the authority a particular council or councils. The Orthodox churches are those that have accepted the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the Oriental churches only the first three Ecumenical Councils and others that they may have communally decided later. The Church of the East only the first two Councils, the Roman Catholic Church the Vatican Councils as well as other preceding Councils. The Old Catholics the same as the Roman Catholic but not the two Vatican Councils. There is no magic neon sign pointing to the right group; we must ultimately make a conscience choice in faith. If the Orthodox churches that are recognised as being in communion with each other hold another Council then undoubtedly there will be some who accept it and some who do not and one will need to pick a camp to unite with and scholars will apply new names to each respective of its position regarding the Council. Some councils do not have a continuing group of adherents, so one will be on their own in agreeing with such a council, like the Robber Council. The lack of churches continuing in support of a council tend to be a good sign that it is not of the Holy Spirit, because continuance is one mark of a true Council, but not a sufficient mark. Ecumenicity of a Council is another matter and hinges on the role of the Emperor, who only had the authority to command the bishops across the globe to come to Council, as Bishops only had authority to command the Bishops in there jurisdiction to council.

    This comes to my main problem with the Ravenna statement with its finding of three layers, as described by Metropolitan Kallistos. There are three layers of the Episcopate, see the Canons of the Council of 861 as a clear witness to this, and each layer consists of primacy in synod: the first layer is the local Church with bishop in synod with the presbytery, the next is regional with the Metropolitan in synod with diocesan Bishops and the third is Patriarchal with the Patriarch in synod with the Metropolitans. There is no higher level of synod seen in the canons nor historically. The third layer suggested by Ravenna would require a synod of Patriarchs with the Pope, and there is no evidence such a synod ever existed. Only in such a synod could the Pope have authority to call an Ecumenical Council and because there is no such synod then the Pope is powerless to call an Ecumenical Council only the Emperor had, at least symbolically, such an authority. That said, the Pope, shared as one with the Patriarch of Constantinople has a Universal role with a real jurisdiction as a last point of appeal and in sending pastoral letters to any church in any Patriarchate. Appeal to the Pope/Ecumenical Patriarch was not done after an appeal to another Patriarch but in lieu of such an appeal. After a Metropolitan Council one had the right to appeal to the local Patriarch or to the Pope/Ecumenical Patriarch instead; thus they have a universal role but not above the other Patriarchs in another layer. The Pope and Ecumenical share the same honour and rank both are the same one bishop at the head of the others, yet manifested in two places. New Rome was second in relation to Old Rome but in relation to the others it is equally first one and the same as Old Rome. The Orthodox Church has never lost the primacy of Rome, it has always continued in the See of New Rome, exercising its traditional authority in the churches.

  60. Perry,

    Short on time, so here are some quick responses:

    As to the ordinary or extraordinary magisterium speaking to the issue of the necessary and sufficient conditions for recognition of a council as “ecumenical”:

    From Vatican Council I:

    To satisfy this pastoral office, our predecessors strove unwearyingly that the saving teaching of Christ should be spread among all the peoples of the world; and with equal care they made sure that it should be kept pure and uncontaminated wherever it was received.

    It was for this reason that the bishops of the whole world, sometimes individually, sometimes gathered in synods, according to the long established custom of the Churches and the pattern of ancient usage referred to this Apostolic See those dangers especially which arose in matters concerning the faith. This was to ensure that any damage suffered by the faith should be repaired in that place above all where the faith can know no failing.

    The Roman pontiffs, too, as the circumstances of the time or the state of affairs suggested, sometimes by summoning ecumenical councils or consulting the opinion of the Churches scattered throughout the world, sometimes by special synods, sometimes by taking advantage of other useful means afforded by divine providence, defined as doctrines to be held those things which, by God’s help, they knew to be in keeping with Sacred Scripture and the apostolic traditions.

    For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.

    Indeed, their apostolic teaching was embraced by all the venerable fathers and reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors, for they knew very well that this See of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Savior to the prince of his disciples: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.

    Though you no doubt debate the historical claims being made here, the point being conveyed is that the Roman pontiff’s approbation is required for any doctrinal assertion to become binding upon the faithful – regardless of the circumstances under which the doctrine took shape formally (a council of bishops, a synod, personal consultation with other bishops, etc.)

    From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    It is the action of the pope that makes the councils ecumenical. That action is the exercise of his office of supreme teacher and ruler of the Church. Its necessity results from the fact that no authority is commensurate with the whole Church except that of the pope; he alone can bind all the faithful. Its sufficiency is equally manifest: when the pope has spoken ex cathedra to make his own the decisions of any council, regardless of the number of its members nothing further can be wanted to make them binding on the whole Church. The earliest enunciation of the principle is found in the letter of the Council of Sardica (313) to Pope Julius I, and was often quoted, since the beginning of the fifth century, as the (Nicaean) canon concerning the necessity of papal co-operation in all the more important conciliary Acts. The Church historian Socrates (Church History II.17) makes Pope Julius say, in reference to the Council of Antioch (341), that the law of the Church (kanon) forbids “the churches to pass laws contrary to the judgement of the Bishop of Rome” and Sozomen (III, x) likewise declares “it to be a holy law not to attribute any value to things done without the judgment of the Bishop of Rome”. The letter of Julius here quoted by both Socrates and Sozomen directly refers to an existing ecclesiastical custom and, in particular, to a single important case (the deposition of a patriarch), but the underlying principle is as stated.

    As to the council’s act of excommunication, I don’t see how that could possibly be considered authoritative by Catholic theologians in light of the following from Vatican I:

    The sentence of the Apostolic See (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an ecumenical council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman Pontiff.

    Only those parts of a council’s proceedings which are personally ratified by the successor of Peter are binding – but even the papal endorsement of part(s) of a council may warrant its designation as “ecumenical”.

    Vigilius did not speak – so far as I know – to the act of excommunication. Only that within the council which he specifically confirmed takes on a binding character. Again from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    Finally, Vigilius acknowledged in a letter of 8 Dec., 553, to the Patriarch Eutychius the decisions of the Synod of Constantinople and declared his judgment in detail in a Constitution of 26 February, 554.

    Of course, should the documentary evidence fail to clarify precisely which parts of a council’s proceedings enjoyed papal approbation, and should that question lead to disputes rising to the level of pastoral concern, the bishop of Rome can always speak authoritatively to the controversy – in which case the neccessary and sufficient approbation will have been achieved :>).

    Pax Christi,

    Ray

  61. jnorm888 says:
    “When one examines the decrees of Constantinople 1 and Chalcedon then it should be easy to see the Ecclesiology of Orthodox Christianity.”

    It would be interesting to know the Orthodox interpretation of these councils. I dug around a little and here’s what I found:

    Warren Carroll, Roman Catholic historian, says about Constantinople 1 (in his book The Building of Christendom):
    “None who would not profess the Creed of Nicaea were allowed to attend. No bishops from the west were present, nor was the Pope represented. Therefore this was not really an ecumenical council, though due to later historical confusion and the enthusiastic acceptance by the whole Church of its strongly orthodox creed, including an explicit confession of the full divinity of the Holy Spirit, it came to be regarded and numbered as such”.

    And then: “The Council confirmed the orthodox ascendency, but failed to settle the schism in Antioch. ”

    Carroll says this is how Chalcedon began:
    “But Marcian pressed for the council, and the Pope yielded. He endorsed it in June 451, calling upon the new council to affirm his Tome, restore the orthodox bishops degraded by the “robber council,” and reconcile those who it had forced into schism against their will. … On October 8, 451 the ecumenical council met at Chalcedon to undo the damage done at Ephesus. Bishop Paschasius of Lilybaeum, representing Pope Leo, presided. He began by charging Dioscorus with having taken the presidency of the preceding council without the Pope’s consent…”

    The final decree of Chalcedon states this:
    http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/incac2.htm
    “The Master, exercising his usual care for the human race, roused this religious and most faithful emperor [Marcion] to zealous action, and summoned to himself the leaders of the priesthood from everywhere, so that through the working of the grace of Christ, the master of all of us, every injurious falsehood might be staved off from the sheep of Christ and they might be fattened on fresh growths of the truth. This is in fact what we have done. We have driven off erroneous doctrines by our collective resolution and we have renewed the unerring creed of the fathers.”

    And according to Wikipedia:
    “Canon 28 grants equal privileges (isa presbeia) to Constantinople as of Rome because Constantinople is the New Rome as renewed by canon 36 of the Quinisext Council. The papal legates were not present for the vote on this canon, and protested it afterwards, and was not ratified by Pope Leo in Rome.”

    Again, Wikipedia:
    “The near-immediate result of the council was a major schism. The bishops that were uneasy with the language of Pope Leo’s Tome repudiated the council, saying that the acceptance of two physes was tantamount to Nestorianism. Dioscorus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, advocated miaphysitism and had dominated the Council of Ephesus. Churches that rejected Chalcedon in favor of Ephesus broke off from the rest of the Church in a schism.”

  62. @Andrew McCallum #57

    I cannot answer you here as my reply will get pulled for being off topic. If you would like to post your email address or other means of contacting you for a reply I will do so. Thanks.

  63. “Without the benefit of history?? But that is precisely what you cannot do. Christianity is a historical religion — that is to say that is is manifest in history by history and is the point of history. As soon as you don’t go by history, you have turned Christianity into a philosophy or a mythology.”

    Nathan, let me clarify. By history, I mean “without the benefit of a millennium and a half of history” and not “without the benefit of the history up to the point of the council”.

    While there is no schism, as was the case in the Arian controversy where 2/3 of the Church held the Arian and Semi-Arian position, there is no problem since you’re still in the Church and faithful to what has been declared definitively and would be loyal to whatever has been definitely declared later. More than a few saints held positions that were later declared to be heretical, but they are still saints because they would have repented had they known. But when schism happens and both sides declare the other to be heretical, you have to make a choice and you have to submit to some Church. If you have to wait more than a lifetime and travel the continent (how else would you know what the broader church taught?) to know if you’re in a faithful Church or a heretical Church then Divine mercy is really your only hope if you’ve made the wrong choice, and you’re no better off than the pagans who do so as well.

    So again, how would you decide between the Oriental and Orthodox back then? How would you decide now? Both make exactly the same claims that they have been faithful to the deposit of faith until their last Council and both claim a Church Father (St. Athanasius versus St. Cyril) for their Trinitarian formula.

    I don’t speak as an apologist (I don’t much are for a lot of the polemics and sophistry many apologists employ on all sides of every issue).

    I speak in earnest as someone who came from non-Christianity and had to make the choice and almost became Orthodox and still have a great love for both the Orthodox and Orientals (e.g. Among other things, I make the sign of the cross as the Orthodox and Eastern Catholics do and I would have had a much harder time becoming Catholic if there were no Eastern Catholics).

  64. Nathan B: The Orthodox don’t really have a monarchical structure to their Churches. As a result “juridical formal explicit expression” is not fundamentally necessary to know if a Council is in fact ecumenical. If I might make a comparison, what Metropolitan Ware is putting forth is a stronger understanding of the sensus fidelium that what you normally see in the West in terms of infallibility.

    … There are two primary positions out there Papal/Monarchical Theory (each bishop receives his pastoral powers from the Pope) and Episcopal Theory (each bishop receives his pastoral powers directly from Christ).

    The Orthodox don’t understand that the nature of the church that Christ founded is monarchical? Is that really true? Don’t kingdoms have kings? Catholics understand that there is a monarchical structure to the church that Christ founded – that is why we celebrate the feast of Christ the King in the Catholic Church. Christ is the head of the church that he founded – he is the the King of Kings – and when Christ established his church, he made Peter his Vicar for the church militant. The keys of the kingdom that Christ gave to Peter alone are the symbol of the office that the Vicar of Christ holds within the monarchical church.

    Did the other Apostles receive their offices as bishops within the monarchical church Christ founded through Peter, or were they installed in their offices directly by Christ the King? Christ directly appointed the Apostles into their office of bishops, but because Peter was installed by Christ into the office of the Vicar of Christ for the Church Militant, Peter was also made the chief of the bishops of the Church Militant. The question of Petrine primacy has nothing to do with the question of whether Andrew; James and John sons of Zebedee, Philip, Bartholomew; Thomas, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot were invested in their offices through Peter or by Christ directly. The question of Petrine Primacy has to do with the authority that the office of the Vicar of Christ can exercise.

    In the Ravenna statement, “the Orthodox representatives recognized a universal primacy of the bishop of Rome.” The Orthodox are more than willing to give a “primacy of honor” to the bishop of Rome, but that is merely a way of saying that Peter received an honorary title from Christ when he received the Keys to the Kingdom of God, and that the office of the Vicar of Christ has no more authority than the offices held by any other validly ordained bishop within Christ’s church. Which of course Catholics object to as being neither scriptural (see donald todd’s post # 46) nor historical.

    Nathan B: The Orthodox don’t really have a monarchical structure to their Churches. As a result “juridical formal explicit expression” is not fundamentally necessary to know if a Council is in fact ecumenical. If I might make a comparison, what Metropolitan Ware is putting forth is a stronger understanding of the sensus fidelium that what you normally see in the West in terms of infallibility.

    The Catholic church has never taught that the sensus fidelium held by the faithful is the same thing as the charism of infallibility. The sensus fidelium – the “sense of the faithful” – is had by the faithful through the reception of sacramental grace. An adult catechumen in RCIA will stand before the congregation of a local parish, and the presiding priest will ask the catechumen what he or she wishes to receive from the chrurch. The catechumen will answer “Faith”. The Catholic Church teaches that catechumen already has been given a supernatural gift of faith in some degree, otherwise the Catholic Church would be teaching semi-Pelagianism. The supernatural faith that the catechumen possesses does not confer upon him the charism of infallibility, for if it did, he wouldn’t be asking for faith!. What about after the catechumen receives the sacramental grace of Baptism? The Sacrament of Baptism bestows upon the catechumen the seven sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit, one of which is supernatural faith. Does reception of the sanctifying gift of faith confer a charism of infallibility? No, nor does the reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation which further strengthens the sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit received by Sacrament of Baptism. Nor does receiving the Eucharist confer a charism of infallibility to the adult received into the church.

    The charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are not equally distributed among the members of body of Christ, as is plainly taught in scriptures. The charismatic gift of infallibility is like other charismatic gifts, in that charismatic gifts are distinct from the sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit. The sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit are received by all members that receive a valid Sacrament of Baptism, but the charismatic gifts are given by the Holy Spirit only as the Holy Spirit sees fit for the building up of the body of Christ.

    When an Ecumenical Council is called to settle, once and for all, a question of theology that is troubling the church, the charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit may, or may not be, exercised by the bishops at that Council. When the charism of infallibility is exercised at an Ecumenical Council, the dogmas promulgated are valid. But not all councils that were called as Ecumenical Councils promulgate valid dogma, which is something that the both the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Church recognizes to be true (for example, the “Robber Council” of Ephesus, which was called as an Ecumenical Council, is not accepted as valid by either the Eastern Orthodox or the Catholic Church) . And that leads to a question of vital importance: What are the criteria that establishes whether or not the charism of infallibility has been exercised at any given Ecumenical Council? This is not a trivial question that can be answered with a tautological argument – an Ecumenical Council can be known to be valid when it is accepted by the true Christians that recognize its validity. Nor can this question be answered by asserting that the laity bestow validity on an Ecumenical Council because they exercise the charism of infallibility which confirms the charism of infallibility exercised by their bishops. If the latter was true, then the Holy Spirit would have to bestow the charism of infallibility upon all the faithful, in which case, there would be no need for an Ecumenical Council in the first place!

    Nathan B:Your examples concerning the problems of Orthodox theology don’t work. The Church “as a whole” cannot be broken down into individuals or groups of individuals. It is the whole collective, not part of it or parts of it that constitutes the “whole”. The “whole Church” is not the sum of its parts. This is true in Catholic theology as well — the whole Church subsists in the particular Churches not that the Church is a collective or federation created from uniting its particulars.

    For the Catholic Church, the “whole church” is the Church Militant (the church on earth), the Church Suffering (the church in purgatory) , and the Church Triumphant (the church in heaven). Furthermore, the “whole church” includes the Christians not yet born that persevere in the faith. Given that conception of the “whole church”, it becomes incomprehensible that the validity of Ecumenical Councils is determined by its acceptance by the “whole church”. How, exactly, does the Church Suffering, the Church Triumphant and the Church Not Yet Born “accept” the decrees of an Ecumenical Council?

    The Catholic Church teaches that formal heretics are automatically excommunicated from the church by obstinately holding to heretical views. It is not wrong to say that Church Militant is composed of only those who hold to orthodox doctrine, that is, the true Christians will never knowingly reject what is taught in the deposit of the faith. We also know from Christ, is that there will be those that are Christians in name only that may be standing next to me and partaking of the Eucharist. These are the tares in the wheat field, and they will not be separated from the wheat until the Final Judgment. So who are the true Christians, and how do I spot them? Christ says that I can’t know who they are, because I can’t read the heart of man. Still, Christ told me that I must listen to his church or be excommunicated, so how is Joe Christian is supposed to know when the bishops have exercised the charism of infallibility at an Ecumenical Council so that he can listen to the church?

    Nathan B: Again, no particular (all women, the individual man, toddlers, or even bishops) have the ability to “overrule” that which has been taught and handed down from God via Sacred Tradition.

    Granted. True Christians do not reject the deposit of the faith. But how does Joe and Suzy Laity, the average Christians with humble hearts that desire to be true Christians … how do they know with certainty that the bishops at an Ecumenical Council have exercised the charism of infallibility? If the Holy Spirit does not give Joe and Suzy Laity the charism of infallibility, how are they supposed to know the answer to this question? How is Joe and Suzy Laity supposed to “listen to the church” if they don’t first listen to the bishops of Christ’s church when they solemnly define dogma at an Ecumenical Council?

    Nathan B: Basically the authority of the infallibility of the sensus fidelium is much stronger in the Orthodox Church than in the Western Catholic Theology.

    Most Protestant sects don’t each that the average Joe has been given the charism of infallibility because he has faith! Are you saying that the Orthodox bishops have only a primacy of honor within their churches, but that when it comes to teaching authority, that the Orthodox bishops are first among equals with the laity?

    Nathan B: The Orthodox way of understanding things really isn’t that far off from the Catholic way of understanding things. Western Catholics have just placed a huge emphasis on the infallibility of the Pope, which has diminished the infallibility of the bishops, as well as the infallibility of the Church within Western theology. Western Catholics tend to get the idea that something is true only if the Pope has declared it to be true. Well, no. The Pope is not the ruler of the Faith, he is the rule of Faith — big difference.

    Who are the Catholics that believe this? Not the Catholics that know their faith! The Catholic Church teaches that bishops are exercising the charism of infallibility when they promulgate valid doctrine at an Ecumenical Council. The pope’s affirmation of what is taught may be simply that, an affirmation. The pope may have not had anything at all to do with formulating the words the bishops used to solemnly define a dogma at an Ecumenical Council. And this has happened at valid Ecumenical Councils – i.e. the pope has merely affirmed solemnly defined dogma, dogma which he had no part in writing.

    Something is true because it is true, and I think that Joe Catholic understands that quite well. What Joe Catholic must believe if he is to be a practicing Catholics, is that when the bishops solemnly define dogma at an Ecumenical Council, and the Pope has affirmed what has been taught, that the charism of infallibility has been exercised by the living magisterium of Christ’s church. In no way does the Catholic Church teach that the Holy Spirit must give Joe and Suzy Laity the charism of infallibility so that they can affirm what has been affirmed by the Pope and the bishops at an Ecumenical Council.

    mateo: Can you give any historical evidence that shows how the millions of uneducated and illiterate serfs in Russia were educated so that they could intelligently debate the the dogma of the Procession of the Holy Spirit as that dogma was promulgated by the Council of Florence?

    Nathan B: The Faith is not a syllogism nor can it be reduced to such. We do not believe by understanding rather we believe in order that we might understand. The historical example is that the millions of uneducated and illiterate serfs lived and believed in the Procession of the Holy Spirit, without being able to express that in a precise intellectual formula.

    Granted that millions of uneducated and illiterate serfs believed in the Procession of the Holy Spirit before the Council of Florence without necessarily being able to infallibly define a dogma concerning the eternal Procession of the Holy Spirit. After all, these serfs had been confessing for many centuries before the Ecumenical Council of Florence that they believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father when they confessed the Nicene Creed. However, at the Ecumenical Council of Florence a dogma was solemnly defined that spoke about a specific aspect of this eternal procession within the Godhead. So again, what historical evidence can you show that millions of uneducated and illiterate serfs in Russia were educated so that they actually understood what was solemnly defined at the Ecumenical Council of Florence?

    Nathan B: If you ask an Orthodox or an Eastern Catholic a question, don’t expect him to return a Western answer.

    All I want from the Orthodox is an answer that doesn’t evade the question being asked! What are the criteria that Joe Christian should look for to know, with certainty, that the charism of infallibility has been exercised by the teaching office of Christ’s church at an Ecumenical Council?

  65. Ray,

    I am not seeing anything in what you cited from V1 to imply or entail that ratification by the pope is the sole necessary and sufficient condition for a council to be ecumenical. So either you need to point it out to me or make an argument that such a claim is imolicit in what you cited. But the latter won’t count as a statement of the magisterium.

    As for your comments that papal ratification is necessary, saying that X is necessary and saying that X is the sole necessary condition are two different things. What has been claimed is the second and not the first, so you are saddled with defending the first. So far I haven’t see a reason to think the first is true or even defined with ultimately normative force by the ordinary or extra-ordinary magisterium. But this is what I have asked about. Where does Rome formally define and state that this is the sole sufficient and necessary condition?

    The Catholic Encyclopedia is not a statement by the ordinary or extra-ordinary Magisterium with full normative force, is it? Not that I know of, so regardless of what it says, I can’t see that it addresses the question on the table.

    I can quite agree that after V1 the excommunication of Pope Vigilius by the Fifth Council could not be considered authoritative by Catholic theologians. That doesn’t tell us whether it was so or not. Nor does it offer an explanation of how a thing was possible if V1 was of the apostolic deposit. is there anything in the evidence of the council or Pope Vigilius or his immediate successors that would give us reason to think that the council could not normatively excommunicate a sitting pope at the council? If so, where?

    Where did Vigilius ratify the Fifth council and does he make any distinction between parts he ratified and parts he didn’t? If he doesn’t then I can’t see how the condition that only those parts ratified by the Pope are normative really is applicable. So again, where does he ratify it and what does he say?

    I am aware of what the Cath Ency says, but that is not what I asked. I asked what Vigilius says in his confirmation that is confirming. The reference you cite doesn’t answer that question. So it is irrelevant.

    As for what the pope may say in the future, that will be irrelevant to what the facts were concerning the council and its ratifiction. But the question on the table is concerning the latter and not the former. Further, such a take would be rather question begging as well as being ad hoc. It is also a promissory note for something that you do not have in hand. It strikes me as kin to atheists claiming that eventually science will be able to explain all things in a naturalistic manner. Science of the guesses is no better than God of the gaps or in this case, Popes of future profferings.

    Here is a further question, were any of the Papal statements made by Vigilius during the council claimed by him to be irreformable or no?

  66. Bryan,

    I read Harrison’s article, from the link that you provided. While he exercises some clear logic, his starting premise is contains an assumption that is rejected by Orthodox. He says:

    “he will need to establish a completely reliable intermediary, perennially accessible here on earth to ordinary people like you and me. ”

    There is an assumption here that God needs to set up something apart from Himself as an authority that we can access. However, it is rather that the authority is Christ Himself, actively present and accessible in the Church through the hierarchs. This presence though is in synergy and respects freedom. As such it is impossible to have an infallible individual or group because this would deny true human freedom in the synergy; it is not a synergy of a controlled robot or puppet. This does not mean that Christ cannot exercise His authority and that His authority cannot be known and spoken clearly through the mouth of man; it means though that authority must be seen in terms of faith. The Church is infallible because it is Christ Himself in union with those of one mind with Him. Consistency in time and space is the test of Christ’s presence and authority because He is the same yesterday, today and forever. An infallible intermediary is both impossible and unnecessary. There is a place for primacy though in a focus for being in communion to the Church and this is Rome’s strongest point but it is not missing from Orthodoxy; it is rather at times buried in polemics.

    So, to seek an intermediary is to fail to recognise the real presence of Christ in the Church and even if there was an intermediary, it is inconsistent with the freedom of will to be infallible as a human. Harrison’s arguments against Orthodoxy fail because it assumes a Catholic premise initially as if it were an Orthodox premise.

    Also, he complains that the Greek services mean that the Orthodox Church is not open to all nations. Please remind me when the western churches stopped using Latin as the only language of worship, although recognising Greek and Hebrew?

  67. Nathan: The second sentence does logically follow because WCF XX.II anything that is contrary or besides that which is found in scripture cannot bind the conscience of a man. This is not saying that anything which is untrue cannot bind the conscience of a man, but it is rather more expansive than that because the “besides” includes those things which are true but are not located in scripture.

    Andrew McCallum: Right here you are switching topics from what I originally answered Mateo on. He was speaking of the primacy of individual conscience rendering the bishops unable to speak on “matters of doctrine and discipline. “ But you are speaking to issues which are not explicitly laid down in Scripture, rather than all matters of doctrine.

    I never asserted that Protestant doctrine of the primacy of the individual conscience renders bishops unable to speak on “matters of doctrine and discipline.” The bishops are individuals with consciences, so of course they can speak on matters of doctrine and discipline, just like any other Christian. The problem here is that unless the bishops are just quoting Scripture, the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura doctrine reduces what the bishops teach to that of fallible of opinion. Learned opinion, perhaps, opinion that is true, maybe, but never a teaching of the church that is known with certainty to be inerrant because the charism of infallibility has been exercised by the living Magisterium. Luther’s doctrine of sola scriptura is an attack on the authority of the living Magisterium, it is nothing more that Luther infallibly declaring that no living man can speak infallibly – it is an absurdity that is nowhere taught in scriptures.

    Andrew McCallum: And Catholics agree with the positions of their priests only so far as they agree with the interpretations that the priest has of the tradition of the RCC. And as I have pointed out numerous times, there are an innumerable different interpretations of the tradition of the Church within the RCC from the extremely liberal to the ultra conservative.

    Yes, you have pointed this out many times. And I have pointed out to you that the dissenters within the Church are automatically excommunicated by obstinately holding to heretical views, and it matters not if the dissenters are extremely liberal or ultra-conservative. Is it easy to find a dissenter cafeteria Catholic? Sure. But no one should listen to them because they are heretics. Which makes your point about cafeteria Catholics ironic, since Martin Luther and John Calvin were cafeteria Catholics!

    Andrew McCallum: It is my observation that there are lots more Catholics in our local diocese here who use their conscience to decide what RCC dogma to believe than there is in the local Reformed congregations doing something analogous.

    There are over 700 “Reformed” denomination is the world today – some of these sects teach abortion is acceptable (like the Presbyterians near where I live), some of them have women pastors that teach three point Calvinism, some (all?) of these sects teach practicing artificial contraception is not a sin. So sure, it is likely that the members of a local “Reformed” congregation are not so cafeteria as the member of the local Catholic congregation, since the member of the local “Reformed” congregation can church shop until he or she finds a “Reformed”sect that teaches what he or she wants to hear. If a woman wants a “Reformed “ church with women pastors that teach three point Calvinism,a church where it is taught that practicing birth control or having an abortion is not grave sin, all she has to do is church shop until she finds that “Reformed” church. And then she can “submit” to the elders of the “Reformed” church that teach what she wants to hear. And if a man wants to find a “Reformed” church” that teaches abortion is a sin, but that it is okay to discriminate against the “colored” since they can’t possibly be among the elect, he can church shop until he finds a “Reformed” church that teaches what he wants to hear too. And he can also “submit” to the elders in that “Reformed” sect that agree with him.

    The Catholic is out of luck if he or she wants to be in a Catholic Church that officially teaches that practicing artificial contraception or having an abortion is not a sin that can send you to Hell, or belong to a church that has women pastors that teach process theology. All he or she can do is be a dissenter within the a church that officially rejects those beliefs.

  68. As someone who has learned a great deal reading the works of Ware, Lossky, Farrell, McGuckin, and John of Damascus and has separated from my Scottish Puritan Church specifically because of what I learned from these men on the Doctrine of the Trinity and the Filioque, this picture makes me despair of life. So many divisions, so may compromises, so much confusion.

  69. RECOMMENDED:
    Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity,

    Dr. Adam DeVille
    the editor of Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies; author of Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy; a professor at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana; and a subdeacon of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church (UGCC) resident in the Eparchy of St. Nicholas of Chicago.

  70. Jonathan Brumley,

    Yes, our interpretation is different. Unlike Rome who constantly fights against and disrespects the councils she claims to embrace with us. We on the other hand will defend the councils and there decrees and treat them with greater respect. Now I know Rome will have to be anachronistic and say that the 2nd council wasn’t ecumenical because the bishop of Rome or his representative wasn’t there, and how it was only a council made up of Eastern Christian bishops. Well, the bishops at Chalcedon must of missed that memo because they saw Constantinople 1 as Ecumenical. Now why did they see it as Ecumenical? They obviously didn’t have the modern Roman Catholic view in mind.

    I’m not going to comment on your other quotes about Chalcedon because my original comment was about our Ecclesiology, not the Tome of Saint Leo and the Roman Catholic bias in how they interpret the event. I want to stay focused on the issue of Orthodox Ecclesiology, but for the record just know that our interpretation of the events stresses the theology of Saint Cyril.

    The Councils(Constantinople 1 and Chalcedon) represent our(Orthodox Christian) Ecclesiology! You guys are questioning and fighting against the councils you are suppose to embrace. How can some Roman Catholics on here embrace these councils while at the same time call our Ecclesiology into question? How can they call it protestant? Are the decrees of the councils protestant too?

    Yes, it took centuries for Rome to officially accept some of the decrees. But does she really adhere to them? We all know each individual protestant is free to reject whatever part of the creed or councils they want. Well, what do we see Rome doing? Wasn’t she acting like a protestant in rejecting them for a period of time?

  71. According to Dom John Chapman’s Studies on the Early Papacy,

    “No official confirmation of the Council by Vigilius is extant. Evagrius states that he did confirm it…For the successor of Vigilius upheld the council. He was Pelagius…” (p. 236)

    So I suppose that one should look to Evagrius and Pope Pelagius for evidence of Popes Vigilius and Pelagius confirming this council.

    Chapman’s take on Pope Vigilius’ excommunication is interesting:

    “The emperor [Justinian] also sent a dissertation proving that the Pope, by changing his mind, had now excommunicated himself. The Council, of course could not have done so. This is at least amusing. The Pope had excommunicated all who agree with Justinian; they had begged for pardon. [A description of this incident can be found here.] Now the Emperor appeals to the Pope’s earlier decisions from this later recantation. Yet nothing could be more absurd; since when the Pope was free in Italy he had held the view to which he had returned when in sanctuary at Chalcedon.”

    The Emperor has concluded in his rage, however; “we have decided that it is not proper for Christians to recite his name in the diptychs, lest we should be found thus to be in communion with Nestorius and Theodore… But we preserve unity with the Apostolic see, and are sure that you will preserve it.”

    This was nonsense. Many of the bishops were the recent nominees of the Emperor. But probably most of them preferred the Pope’s policy. Hence their brief reply jumped at the past phrase, and ignored the rest. They said: “The Emperor’s view is in harmony with the labours he has undergone for the unity with the Apostolic See of the holy Church of Rome according to his letter.” The Emperor could take this as an agreement or not, as he chose.”

    This was the seventh session. The Pope had given no directions to the Council, which was officially, at least, in ignorance of his mind. They were in communion with him, and had apparently no intention of removing his name from the diptychs. Their course was therefore clear: the Emperor had ordered what was perfectly orthodox; as the Pope gave no lead, they would obey the Emperor, and escape deposition, exile and imprisonment.

    Hence, on June 2nd, the eighth, and last session of the Council condemned the Three Chapters just as the Emperor hand condemned them. Without the Pope’s support what else could they do? Deposition to bishops and clergy who should not accept the decree was enacted as usual.

    The assembly was known to be partly packed, partly terrorized. Would the Pope simply annul it? The Emperor had no intention of permitting this.

    He followed up the decision of the Council by exiling the Pope, the Roman Clergy, and the Western Bishops, imprisoning two deacons….” (pp. 234-235)

    According to Chapman, it seems as though the Emperor Justinian was arguing for a latae sententiae excommunication of Pope Vigilius, but the terrorized bishops skillfully avoided commenting on that claim of his while affirming his attempt to preserve unity with Rome.

  72. All,
    I think the key issue to keep in mind for this present post is one pointed out by Monk Patrick. Met. Kallistos has pointed to a three level jurisdictional picture which includes the Pope of Rome as a universal hierarch, in some as yet to be clarified sense by the Joint International Theological Commission. We who are Catholic should not despair or belabor any points of a failure to have clarity. This is a work in progress, after all! I’ve read this thread and feel that some Catholic commenters lament that the talk by Met. Kallistos doesn’t go “far enough”, and yet we can see that Monk Patrick and other Orthodox have seen the fruits of Ravenna as conceding “too much” to Rome. We are living in the here and now of ecumenical dialogue, our bishops are making these statements, and we need to incorporate them into our view of ecumenism, primacy, and the like.

    Speaking of ecclesiology as being wholly conciliar or wholly focused on the regal/supremacy/primacy Papal perspective is in a sense, too simplistic for the Ravenna document, as both perspectives have received approval from Ravenna. Granted, integrating them both into Church life has been problematic throughout history, but it is the goal towards which we strive as Catholics and Orthodox.

    May God grant us a heart of unity in the road of dialogue and holiness which comes only through Our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

  73. Nathan #42,

    To say that the article I wrote doesn’t present an alterantive is to note what is beyond the intended scope of what I wrote. I do not understand how we get from the limitations of my intention with that article to the complete lack of an alternative on Orthodox principles.

    The problem you pose for a theory of patriarchial ratification is one I can’t see as a problem. HEre is why. First, the necessity of patriarchial ratification isn’t a theory, it is a well established fact in church history. Second, what you pose as a problem would only be a problem if something like sede vecanteism wasn’t a possibility. Third, it is only a problem on non-Orthodox views of what constitutes Rome being the chief see. Fourth, other sees have fallen away and been replaced (Alexandria, which incidentally was historically considered a Petrine see).

    To say that the ORthodox have no ability to determine truth at the conciliar level is just to assert what the Orthodox deny. Since it is an assertion, I simply assert its denial.

    Perhaps it has never been accepted by Rome, but that wouldn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. And Rome isn’t theonly see that has the apostolic deposit. Further, I’d suggest actually reading the decree of the fifth council which certainly reads as if none of the other apostles required any of the others for the execution of their work but out of necessity for a common statement, they came together and so too with the leading sees. That the council talks this way is just a simple fact and doesn’t turn on interpretative matters or textual varriances.

    Whether the patriarchial theory amounts to distrubuting petrine primacy to the patriarchates depends on what we mean by papal primacy, doesn’t it? So that is rather a caricature. If the theory were true, petrine primacy wouldn’t be exactly what Rome says it would so there would be no distributing the petrine primacy. So this looks like a straw man since the theory implies nor states any such thing.

    I see no reason to think that having multiple “heads” as the councils speak of them would violate the unity of the church nor do I see any demonstration by you that it makes the church the sum of its parts, since what is decided is not a “part” of the church in terms of ecclesiastical office. One oculd easily turn around the objection that Rome does the same thing, except it reduces the church to one part, the pope. I don’t find criticisms like these helpful since they really prove nothing either way.

    I think a good thing for people is to read a lot more than Bp Ware. Bp. Ware is one bishop out of many and there are a good many equally learned and pious bishops who have written openly and academically on the matter. I suspect the reason why their writings never seem to make it into these discussions is because people take Ware’s introductory book as some kind of representative statement. Its a fine book, for an introductory book. And Bp Ware has stated a number of things that are in fact completely false or misleading for example regarding Universalism or women’s ordination. Bp. Ware is not an Orthodox magisterium.

    In response to your question, it is helpful to reflect on the following question, what is the nature of tradition?

  74. J. Andrew Deane,

    My concern with Ravenna is not that it concedes too much to the Pope but that it is not consistent with the historical and canonical evidence. To accept the Ravenna model, as it was presented by Metropolitan Kallistos, would be in effect to deny that the hierarchal structure is one of Apostolic Tradition, therefore having a consistent history, and to undermine both the Orthodox position and the Roman Catholic position.

    I think that the importance of Rome in the unity of the Church has been too down played by many Orthodox which has led to distortions in Orthodox church structure particularly in the last couple of centuries, although it hasn’t lost its structure entirely, and the Ravenna document partly reflects and reinforces these distortions. I think that much can be learnt from western Fathers in terms of better understanding the role of Rome (Old and New) and I think a good case can be made for the need to remain in communion with Rome. However, all this must be placed in a model that is historically consistent and so able to be consistent with Apostolic Tradition, at least providing a good explanatory model for any development. The Ravenna model in my opinion fails to do this.

  75. From the Fifth Council:

    The Acts, session VII declares to Vigilius “but if you have written now something contrary to these things which were done by you before, you have condemned yourself by your own writing since you have departed from orthodox doctrine and have defended impiety….”
    Then at the end of session VII, a letter is read that states “….concerning the name of Vigilius that it be no more inserted in the holy diptychs of the Church on account of the impiety which he defended.”

    The Council spanks Vigilius because he ceases to be Orthodox! He had written several condemnations with authority to anyone who condemns the 3 Chapters (which were condemned in the 5th Council) and the Council rejected these writings. They did not think he had supreme, universal, absolute authority.

  76. Monk Patrick, (re: #66)

    On the one hand, you say that “it is impossible to have an infallible individual or group because this would deny true human freedom in the synergy ….” Later in the paragraph, you say, “The Church is infallible ….” But the Church is a group, so there is a contradiction in your position. To resolve the contradiction, you either have to hold that only Jesus is the Church, or you have to retract your claim that it is impossible to have an infallible individual or group. Which is it?

    So, to seek an intermediary is to fail to recognise the real presence of Christ in the Church

    So, how do you avoid the circularity problem I explained in comment #45? I mean, if you think pentarchial ratification is not sufficient for a council to be both ecumenical and infallible, and you think that acceptance by “the whole Church” is a necessary and sufficient condition for a council to be both ecumenical and infallible, then how do you avoid the circularity problem?

    On the one hand, if you think that acceptance by “the whole Church” is a necessary and sufficient condition for a council to be both ecumenical and infallible, then, according to Perry (in his “Against Khomiakov” post linked in #41), ” you have likely been relying on “pop-Orthodox works or some distinctly Russian theological works.” On the other hand, if you think pentarchial ratification is sufficient for a council to be both ecumenical and infallible, then this contradicts your earlier statement that “it is impossible to have an infallible individual or group,” for in that case it follows that [at least when ratifying councils] the pentarchy is infallible. And of course the pentarchy is a group.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  77. Hi jnorm,

    Regarding 1 Constantinople, what is the Orthodox criteria for a council to be considered ecumenical?

    And how do the Orthodox distinguish between the “robber council” of Ephesus and the “ecumenical” council Chalcedon?

    According to Warren Carroll, the first item on the agenda for Chalcedon was to accuse Dioscorus for having held a council without the Pope’s consent. If this is true, then it answers the question of how the early church distinguished between valid and invalid councils. But what is the Orthodox story here?

  78. David W (re: #43)

    If you believe that pentarchial ratification is a necessary and sufficient condition for a council to be both ecumenical and infallible, then from your position it follows that the pentarchy has the right/authority to bind the conscience (and then this pentarchial authority is the prototype of what would later become Protestantism, in which each man is his own pentarchy). But if you believe that acceptance by “the whole Church” is a necessary and sufficient condition for a council to be both ecumenical and infallible, then not only have you (according to Perry) been relying on “pop-Orthodox works or some distinctly Russian theological works,” but you are faced with the circularity problem I explained in comment #45.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  79. Monk Patrick (re: #59)

    You wrote:

    How do we know that the Holy Spirit has confirmed a Council? There are a number of indicators such as durability, consistency in Scripture, theology, history and tradition and the opinion of those who know the Spirit such as Elders. However, in the end it comes down to a choice of faith. After each council there are some who will accept it and some who will reject it and we have to decide to which group we will belong and accept the group’s faith regarding the authority a particular council or councils.

    It sounds like you want to give objective criteria, but you recognize that the criteria you offer are not objective or clear, and so ultimately you leave the individual either with a fideistic choice (i.e. a “choice of faith”), or with some sort of bosom-burning. (I have written here against fideism.) For example, if ‘durability’ is a criterion for an ecumenical council, then for a hundred years or more (??), no one would be able to know whether a council is ecumenical. We would all have to withhold assent to any council for generations after it had occurred. And durability’ consists of chronic retention by whom? The whole Church? That just pushes us back to the circularity problem I described in #45. Yet, if a group of persons still to this day believed that 2nd Ephesus was ecumenical, then apparently it would be durable.

    Likewise, if “consistency in Scripture” is a criterion, this reduces to “consistency with Scripture as determined by the individual” and this is very much the Protestant position, according to which the interpretive ‘authority’ of the individual trumps that of any council. And if concordance with “the opinion of those who know the Spirit such as elders” is a criterion, then this requires that the individual already know which elders have the Spirit (by bosom-burning?), and it just pushes the problem back. How do they (i.e. the elders) know whether the council is ecumenical? Again, if it is agreement with their own interpretation of Scripture and tradition, and/or bosom-burning, we’re left with the reign of private judgment at the level of those presbyters judged by the laity to have the Spirit. But even so, if approval by the elders [at least the ones with the Spirit] is a necessary condition for a council to be ecumenical, this is a form of Presbyterianism, in which the presbyters have veto authority over the bishops.

    There is no point in holding a general council if it has no authority. It is then merely a time to share ideas, opinions, and maybe even recipes. But that’s what you’re left with if, after each council, whether it is ecumenical and infallible comes down to a fideistic choice on the part of each individual whether to accept the council or reject it, whether to join this group that accepts the council, or that group that doesn’t accept the council, etc. It is merely a suggestion. And it comes to have ‘authority’ only if the persons who agree with one’s own interpretation come to accept it as authoritative. Hello Derrida.

    This idea that “we have to decide to which group we will belong,” where there are no objective criteria for determining where is the Church that Christ founded, reduces to ecclesial consumerism, which is Protestantism’s bane. Likewise, if each individual is supposed to follow the Spirit by way of an internal bosom-burning (as opposed to following the Spirit by following the Magisterium of the Church Christ founded), this too reduces to the Protestant reign of private judgment, as I explained in my response to Protestant pastor Rick Phillips.

    The “acceptance by the whole Church” criterion for a council to be ecumenical and infallible, where “whole Church” consists of approval by each individual according to subjective standards of private judgment, fideistic choice, and/or bosom-burning, reduces to Protestantism, if what essentially defines Protestantism is belief in the authority of private judgment, and denial of the conscience-binding authority of the Church. And, as I explained earlier, this “acceptance by the whole Church” criterion is also subject to the circularity problem I described in comment #45. This circularity problem sets up the ecclesial consumerism in which each individual ‘makes church’ in his own image, according to his own interpretation of Scripture.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  80. Drake #68,

    “As someone who has learned a great deal reading the works of Ware, Lossky, Farrell, McGuckin, and John of Damascus and has separated from my Scottish Puritan Church specifically because of what I learned from these men on the Doctrine of the Trinity and the Filioque, this picture makes me despair of life. So many divisions, so may compromises, so much confusion.”

    So are you considering Orthodoxy, or do your 41 Reasons still stand in your mind?
    I understand despairing over theological, ecclesial, and practical issues that seem insurmountable. How about finding your local english Orthodox church and just stand, listen and worship. See the ancient Tradition in real life.

    Though our minds can blow from confusion, the hearts of the simple find God.

  81. Monk Patrick, (re: #59)

    You wrote:

    The third layer suggested by Ravenna would require a synod of Patriarchs with the Pope, and there is no evidence such a synod ever existed.

    Perry, however, in his “Against Khomiakov” post wrote, “So an ecumenical council accepted by East and West teaches that what constitutes the ecumenical nature of the council is pentarchial ratification ….”

    Something has to give here. In your mind, there is “no evidence” of a synod of the universal Church led by Patriarchs and Pope. According to Perry, on the other hand, pentarchial ratification is the normative way in which ecumenical councils are to be ratified.

    It sounds like you are denying the historicity of synodality at the level of the universal Church. In other words, it sounds like you are denying that there has ever been such a thing as an ecumenical council. (But surely I’m misunderstanding you.) So, if you do affirm the first seven councils, then how is that not synodality at the level of the universal Church? It seems to me that by affirming that there have been seven ecumenical councils, you are at least tacitly affirming the historicity of synodality at the level of which Bishop Ware and the Orthodox representatives at Ravenna are speaking. I mean, it seems to me that in order to reject the level of synodality referred to in the Ravenna document, you would have to reject the first seven ecumenical councils.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  82. Luther’s doctrine of sola scriptura is an attack on the authority of the living Magisterium, it is nothing more that Luther infallibly declaring that no living man can speak infallibly – it is an absurdity that is nowhere taught in scriptures.

    Mateo,

    The concept of sola sciprtura in no way undermines the teaching authority of the ecclesiastical offices of the Church as those offices were established in Scriptures and subsequently practiced by the Church immediately following the Apostolic age. Sola scriptura does delimit the content of divine revelation and forms a distinct corpus of infallible data upon which ecclesiastical judgments were and are made. And so the debate between Catholic and Protestant, utilizing the tradition of the Early Church, concerns the foundational infallible set of standards are upon which the Church can make subsequent judgments. Is it 1) the Scriptures alone or is it 2) the Scriptures + something else? If there is something else (option 2) then the task for the Catholic apologist is to determine what this something else is and how it can be known. It seems to me that it is no easy task for the Catholic apologist to define how it is that the Church could infallibly pronounce certain traditions to be infallible, so I don’t think you should be too quick to dismiss our position.

    If the Catholic cannot come up with a good rationale for this addition to Scripture then we are left with Scripture alone as the final basis of authority for the Church. The historic material for this debate precedes Luther by over 1000 years. Let’s get the history of the Early Church on this matter straight before taking on the Reformation. If you are right that the Fathers of the Early Church believed that there must be something in addition to Scriptures, which together with Scripture, provides an infallible basis for separating what must be known about Scripture from mere opinion, then you can rightfully judge Luther to be out of accord with a core belief of the earliest centuries of Christianity.

  83. Bryan,

    I don’t think anyone offered patriarchial ratification as a necessary and sufficient condition for a council to be infallible. So I can’t see how you are accurately representing the conciliar position with your remarks. I don’t know that it is on any conciliar theory. It is certaintly a necessary condition though. If it weren’t the fight prior to the Sixth Council concerning it would make no sense whatsoever.

    But even if it were, how that would even if so get us to Protestantism is beyond me so please flesh this out. Protestantism is according to Louis Bouyer and other Catholic writers a distinctly Catholic phenomenon. Of all the schisms (Old Believer and otherwise) in the East there is nothing like Protestantism-not even close. Nor does Orthodoxy have any kind of doctrine of the right of private judgment. Consequnelty, It isn’t helpful to compare Orthodoxy with Protestantism. Rather it is beneficial to try and understand Orthodoxy on its own terms and apart from Catholic/Protestant disputes which find their home only in the west. None of the participants on the Catholic side, nor any popes that I know of have ever accused even in the most heated rrhetoric when Popes and high ranking Catholic theologians accused the Orthodox of “heresy” acused the Orthodox of Protestantizing on this or any other point. I’d suggest it would be beneficial to mutual dialog and understanding to restrict Catholic arguments to the corral that the Catholic magisterium has laid down in practice.

    To be fair to Fr. Patrick, there is some historical truth in what he claims. Even after ratifiction it took longe periods of time before certain councils were accepted y various churches. Take Constantinople II, which resulted in a schism in the West from Rome which took about a century to cease. The same goes for the Papacy Great Western Schism where there was no valid Pope nearly fifty years. Where do you suppose the principle of unity was during that period? How did people know where the church was for nearly half a century? And what if this wee to happen again and last for a longer period? What then? Reducing ultimacy to one person doesn’t seem to preclue such a problem.

    Some of the discussion between you and he depends on differing notions of tradition. For the Orthodox, tradition doesn’t develop and so acts as a kind of backstop to which Councils go to examine if some apparently new teaching is in line with it. On this picture, the work of a council is more modest than on a model where doctrine develops and thecouncil’s job is in part to develop it. This is why Fathers like Maximus and even his opponenats prior to the Fifth Council recognized explicitly that the “rightness of the doctrine” determined the legitimacy of the council. It seems to me when they expressed such a view they weren’t anticipating Protestantism or falling prey to the right of private judgment. Neither can such expressions be dismissed as Protestantizing. Such a move would be entirely anachronistic, among other things.

  84. Monk Patrick (re: #74),

    You wrote:

    I think that the importance of Rome in the unity of the Church has been too down played by many Orthodox which has led to distortions in Orthodox church structure particularly in the last couple of centuries, although it hasn’t lost its structure entirely, and the Ravenna document partly reflects and reinforces these distortions.

    What “distortions” in Orthodox church structure in relation to the downplaying of the importance of Rome in the unity of the Church are, in your opinion, reflected and reinforced by the Ravenna document?

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  85. Canadian (re: #75),

    You wrote:

    From the Fifth Council:

    The Acts, session VII declares to Vigilius “but if you have written now something contrary to these things which were done by you before, you have condemned yourself by your own writing since you have departed from orthodox doctrine and have defended impiety….”
    Then at the end of session VII, a letter is read that states “….concerning the name of Vigilius that it be no more inserted in the holy diptychs of the Church on account of the impiety which he defended.”

    The Council spanks Vigilius because he ceases to be Orthodox! He had written several condemnations with authority to anyone who condemns the 3 Chapters (which were condemned in the 5th Council) and the Council rejected these writings. They did not think he had supreme, universal, absolute authority.

    I’m not going to take this thread into a full scale discussion of Pope Vigilius; such a discussion needs to be on its own thread. But, as K. Doran and I already pointed out to you in January (in comments #1190-1200 of the Solo Scriptura thread), those words you quoted from Session VII are not the words of the Council, but of the Emperor Justianian, and therefore have no ecclesial authority.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  86. Bryan Cross,

    It’s insulting to link us with Protestantism! Also I don’t see how you can critique us without harming Rome for to attack us is to essentially attack the Ancient councils we both hold in common.

    Jonathan Brumley,

    I will have to review the minutes of the council in order to give a proper response. I am presently working on a project(against the 5 points of Calvinism in the Pre-Augustinian Fathers and Witnesses) that is taking up most of my time. If I get to it, I will post my response on here, but it might be months from now.

    At the end of the day, we are not against the concept of Papal Primacy and so one will have to look at the 4th council and see if it fits the Eastern Christian view or the modern(19th, 20th and 21st century) Roman Catholic view.

  87. I meant to say it’s insulting to link us to Reformed Protestantism

  88. Bryan,

    The post isn’t about how Orthodox are really Protestants either, but for some reason that thread seemed to go on without interruption. This looks like special pleading on your part. You allow digressions that present problems for the Orthodox, but not for Catholics.

    As for the facts, while the letter is from the Emperor, the bishops in the council concur with it, and so their judgment does have ecclesial authority. Just read the next few lines of the document.

  89. Bryan,
    You said:
    “But, as K. Doran and I already pointed out to you in January (in comments #1190-1200 of the Solo Scriptura thread), those words you quoted from Session VII are not the words of the Council, but of the Emperor Justianian, and therefore have no ecclesial authority.”

    Yes, and it was partially because of that discussion about Vigilius (and the Catholic response to it) along with a couple other issues, that I ended up repenting of my schism and submitting myself to his grace Bishop JOSEPH and not to Catholic Bishop Richard Smith.

    Cyril’s letters to Nestorius are not the words of the 3rd Council either UNTIL the Council makes them words of that Council.

  90. David W. (re: #86)

    If I have insulted you in some way, I apologize. That was not at all my intention. I construct arguments, and follow the premises to their conclusions. If something is true, I accept it, and try not to allow whether a belief or claim is insulting to anyone, to be a criterion in determining its truth. There are instances in history where some persons found certain truths insulting, because they did not accept those truths. So I hope you agree that we can’t assume that because a claim is insulting to someone, that therefore it isn’t true. More important therefore, than determining whether a claim is insulting, is determining whether it is true.

    But let’s be clear. My claim is not that Orthodoxy is “linked” to Protestantism or to “Reformed Protestantism.” I’m talking about something much more specified. There is a problem here that, from my point of view, has not yet been addressed, and that is the problem of circularity, which I explained in comment #45. And unless/until that problem is adequately addressed, it leaves the Orthodox (or at least the Khomiakov school of Orthodoxy) open to sharing something with Protestantism, namely, the ‘authority’ of individual private judgment, in the way I described in comment #79. If you don’t agree with that conclusion, then please explain how you avoid the circularity problem, such that it does not by default leave the individual with higher interpretive ‘authority’ than that of a council.

    If the circularity problem cannot be avoided within Orthodoxy, then this is further evidence, it seems to me, of the need for what Ravenna is describing regarding primacy at the level of the universal Church, because by its very nature as the primacy at the universal level, there is no appealing against or beyond that primacy, and hence no individual trumping of that primacy (and the bishops in communion with that primacy) by way of one’s own private judgment. Primacy at the level of the universal Church therefore brings with it the kind of Magisterial authority that does not leave the individual with higher interpretive ‘authority’ than that of the Magisterium, but instead binds the conscience of the individual. And there is a principled and essential distinction between that ecclesiology, and Protestantism.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  91. Canadian, (re: #89)

    K. Doran and I made a total of six comments between #1190 and #1200 in that thread, and we explained there that we weren’t going into any depth on the subject, but would address it at a later time in more detail. Six comments is far too few to get to the bottom of the Vigilius case, and understand it from a Catholic point of view. You discussed the Vigilius case with Orthodox apologists, but you never wrote me or K. Doran privately about it. If you took those six comments as a sufficient presentation of the Catholic case regarding Vigilius, and you never contacted us privately as we offered, then it is not surprising to me that you chose as you did. But Proverbs 18:17 is in order here, and so it is important to investigate both sides thoroughly (even if not exhaustively).

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  92. Re 82

    Andrew,

    My impression of scripture is that the Jewish scripture was written by the Jews. There certainly did not appear to be a central Jewish authority regarding Scripture, more so once the Temple was destroyed. The Greek Jews had their version of the Old Testament, and the Hebrews had theirs with a disparity of books between them.

    It was the Church that determined what books went into both the Old and New Testaments, using the Greek Septuagint for the Old Testament and literally determining which gospels and letters would be in the New Testament. Scripture came from the Church.

    The Lutheran theologian Nicolai Grundtvig (1783-1872) wrote, “I have discovered a truth; we do not discover the Church in the Scripture, we discover the Scripture in the Church.”

    What you have discovered is what you brought into the discussion, even as Grundtvig discovered Lutheranism in the Scripture, which is not unexpected given that he was a Lutheran. You have made the Church (in so far as you understand “Church”) subject to scripture. While Grundtvig and I disagree on which Church, we are much closer than those who hold a very low view of Church, as is evidenced by what he wrote.

    At this point I invite you to read the major subheadings in the Yellow Pages under Church to see where your idea leads. Those subheadings for which sola scriptura is a benchmark and a standard literally make God the Author of confusion, while making unaided human reason the master of scriptural understanding. Given the wide disparity of understandings expressed by those major subheadings, confusion and mastery are in conflict.

    When I was evangelical, we had the round table discussions which determined little if anything and were binding on no one. If I disagreed? Find some group closer to what I now believed. We could fling scripture with the best of them, and even when we agreed on the scripture, we did not necessarily agree on its meaning. Pentecostal? Plenty of references to pentecostal / charismatic practices. Anti-Pentecostal? The gifts will come to an end. For the anti-Pentecostals they had, usually with the death of the last apostle, which made the denial of Pentecostalism quite easy.

    For me, it finally came down to a variation of the question given Adam and Eve, “Did God really say…”

    Did God really say that that we were subject to a book? I could not find that passage.

    Did God really establish a Church that would not fail? Jesus was quite specific. Did I believe Him? Given the innumerable splits I was aware of even back then, it does not seem that I then believed Him.

    Did God Himself not promise to be with us to the end of time? Jesus again. However Protestantism believed that He was missing in action somewhere between the death of the last apostle or the middle of Constantine’s reign, depending on whose beliefs you gave credence to. We were largely ahistorical because history would have invalidated our position. Literally we had faith that Jesus had failed and needed our assistance in re-forming (or re-establishing – LDS) the Church.

    Did God really tell the apostles, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them? Whose sins you retain, they are retained”? End of John’s gospel. Did I believe Him? Apparently not. I was able to bypass His direction and go directly to Him. Who needs the Church?

    Do I really need to eat His Body and drink His Blood to have everlasting life? John 6 is clear. The association of the Last Supper with the Passover meal and the Lamb Which must be eaten is clear. Paul’s instruction in Corinthians is quite clear. Did I believe Him?

    Did God really say ______?

    It is hard stuff determining if He is right and is trustworthy or if I am right in any place where He and I come in conflict. Faith is a gift and is not always related to knowledge or a perceived insight.

    It is a good thing that He came to save the world and not to condemn it. So, however poorly, I am now joined with the Baptist. “He must grow greater, and I must grow less.”

    dt

  93. Bryan,

    If those comments there are not sufficient to get to the bottom of the case of Vigilius, how is this thread sufficient to give a fair, charitable and informed view of Orthodox ecclesiaology? The case of Vigilius is one case while the latter spans many cases. And yet, you permit time and again discussions critical of Orthodox ecclesiology by persons who seemingly have spent no significant time studying Orthodox ecclesiology and who have no professional competence in that area. Repeatedly your own contributors have expresse dignorance in this area or stated that they are just getting into the subject. Again, this seems like special pleading.

    As to your remark to Canadian, how if we poll the contributors here and see how much time and effort they spent studying Orthodoxy as opposed to Catholicism prior to their conversion? What do you think we will find? Is it suprising that they chose as *they* did? Your remarks here seem to at least border on an ad hominem.

  94. Perry, (re: #88)

    I posted this article not to say anything about the relation between Orthodoxy and Protestantism, but only to focus on the progress made at Ravenna. (It was a positive goal in mind.) In comment #5, Mateo asked about the Orthodox criteria for the validity of an ecumenical council, and how that answer avoids the Protestant notion of the primacy of the individual conscience. Mateo’s point there, I take it, was that a recognition of papal primacy (of the sort Bishop Ware and Ravenna acknowledge) is an alternative to the primacy of the individual conscience. And I think that Mateo is right about that, for the reason I explained in #90. But the Vigilius case deserves its own thread, because it is a particular event in Church history, and cannot be adequately addressed in a thread on the progress of Ravenna.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  95. Bryan,

    Sure, I agree that you posted it for the reasons you say. But then you permit the discussion to go off topic and then join in a critique of Orthodoxy. Then when Orthodox respond with an apparent substantial problem for Catholicism, then its shut down convo time.

    Orthodox ecclesiology as a whole cannot be discussed sufficiently well on this thread either which spans many more cases and a much longer period of time, but the criticisms still fly. If the case of Vigilius is precludedon those grounds, so much the more reason to preclude that repeated argument from being discussed here on the very same grounds. Do you really believe that someone can grasp a tradition sufficiently well in reading a hostile peice by like that of Harrison which you refer to rather thans speding a good amount of time in the best works that a tradition has to offer? I don’t think so, which is why I don’t refer people to hostile works to find out what Catholicism teaches but rather to represntative sources and theologians. Charity I think demands the same.

  96. Bryan,

    I’m Jnorm (The first initial of my first name and a portion of my last name). I know of two Orthodox Christians online by the name of David W. One is a friend of mine, but we are not the same person.

    Now in regards to your comparison, I saw it as insulting because the Bishops who gathered at Constantinople 1 and Chalcedon existed a thousand plus years before the birth of a Martin Luther, Zwingli, or a John Calvin, and so it would of been better to say that in some respects they are like those who gathered at the great Mostly Eastern Christian Ecumenical Councils. To say we are like them is insulting! We are not brand new! Our Ecclesiology and Theology is practically embeded in these councils! The very same councils you are also suppose to embrace! And so to attack us is to also attack yourself.

    You mentioned the problems of circularity and the ‘authority’ of individual private judgment. Then you referred me to posts #’s 45 and 79. I would like to reread those and ponder some more before I give a complete response. I probably will give my complete answer around 1am tonight. But for now I will simply say it’s flawed to associate us with “individual private judgment”. We are communal and so you would have to look at it as Regional or local judgments of Bishops (we are not Protestants and you are trying hard to make it seem like we are).

    Bishops do have authority? Do they not? You are making it seem as if only one Bishop on the planet has authority. But let me ponder this some more.

  97. Perry, (re: #95)

    Well how about this as a compromise: You give me a verbal promissory note that you or someone else will write a post (at EP or elsewhere) addressing the circularity problem I described in comment #45, and I’ll give you a verbal promissory note that I or someone else will post an article here at CTC on the Pope Vigilius case. Ok?

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  98. Bryan,

    I have repeatedly argued here and elsewhere against the circularity claim. To date, I can’t see any serious takers to what I’ve written. It is also engaged in Orthodox source on the nature of ecclesial infallibility in Orthodoxy in works in English, Greek and Russian. I’ve yet to see anyone here or elsehwere go beyond the remarks of Bp. Ware or at best a handful of Russian emigres. Besides, I don’t see a need to do all of that work all over again.

    Second, your proposal ignores the misrepresentations made concerning conciliarism and patiarchial ratification which are still unaddressed.

    Third, your proposal leaves untouched the point I made. If you are going to exclude discussion of Viglius for the reasons you stated, then on the basis of the very same basis, you should exclude discussion of arguments against Orthodox ecclesiology here. Either do not permit objections in both directions or do. I see it as prima facia unfair to put Orthodox commenters here in the dock while precluding them from advacing their better counter arguments.

    If you don’t permit them to do so, while permitting Catholics to digress and go off topic, launching criticisms of Orthodoxy, I would simly counsel all the Orthodox commenters to cease commenting in this forum since by such an action it is not within reason a free, open and fair forum.

  99. Perry,

    I hope you take up Bryan on his offer. Harrison said in his memoir:

    I felt confronted by another version of the same problem I had faced earlier in trying to decide whether Protestantism was true or false: the problem of having to negotiate mountains of erudition that could easily occupy a lifetime of study, if I was to have any hope of arriving at a definitive answer. If these detailed questions of theology, exegesis, and history had kept the rival Catholic and Orthodox experts in these fields interminably divided in spite of centuries of scholarly debate and oceans of spilled ink, who was I to presume the ability ever to reach any certainty as to which side was right?

    I think referring people to redacted versions of the arguments is important, even if the breadth of the content they cover makes it seem like they are a gloss/hostile–which is why what Bryan is proposing is important. I look forward to the work.

  100. Jnorm, (re: #96)

    I’m sorry about getting your name wrong. I fully agree, of course, that the bishops who gathered at Constantinople 1 and Chalcedon lived a thousand years before Luther and Calvin. No one is claiming that Orthodoxy is “brand new.” No one is attacking any council. From the Catholic point of view, the first seven councils are Catholic councils, and we affirm them. But, we do not believe that individuals have higher authority than does the Magisterium (i.e. popes and bishops in communion with him), so as to trump a council of the Magisterium, or to approve it in order to vest it with ecclesial authority. Moreover, we do not believe that this has ever been the view of the Catholic Church in the first millennium. So, from the Catholic point of view, to criticize the notion of the primacy of individual conscience is not to criticize either the councils of the first millennium or the Church of the first millennium. If the Church of the first millennium did not hold to primacy of the individual conscience (such that the Magisterium has no authority to bind the conscience, but anyone can determine for himself whether a council is ecumenical or not, depending on whether it agrees with his own interpretation of Scripture and Tradition), then anyone who holds that view today, has moved away from the position of the Church of the first millennium, and cannot rightly claim the councils of the first millennium for himself.

    Bishops do have authority? Do they not? You are making it seem as if only one Bishop on the planet has authority.

    I’m definitely not saying that only one bishop has authority. I have said or implied nothing of the sort. What I’m criticizing is the notion that a council becomes authoritative only if the lay people who agree with its interpretation of Scripture and Tradition agree that the council is authoritative. In my opinion, that position makes the individual have the highest interpretive ‘authority,’ even higher than that of the bishops.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  101. Bryan,
    You said: “If you took those six comments as a sufficient presentation of the Catholic case regarding Vigilius, and you never contacted us privately as we offered, then it is not surprising to me that you chose as you did. ”

    This is my last comment regarding Vigilius.
    I appreciate your offers of private contact, but I researched things elsewhere. After 5 years of this you think I would become Orthodox because of six comments here? What I meant was that the Vigilius issue and it’s attending discussion here and the Catholic response (not just at CTC) was significant in my decision. You explicitly, for example, denied my accusation of Vigilius “waffling”. Yet Catholic sources I saw accused him directly of “waffling” and “shilly-shallying”.

    Why for you is it “not surprising that I chose as I did”? Let me guess….because reading the Council and looking at the issue “thouroughly (even if not exhaustively)” makes it sufficiently obvious that the pope did not have supreme, full, immediate and universal power in the view of an Ecumenical Council let alone the eastern church in general. Without the attending academic historical and hermeneutical gymnastics (snippets of which were proffered by K. Doran), the Catholic position was not so obvious as the Orthodox one.
    Let me end here with a clear display of affection for both you and the Catholic brothers here. I have benefitted greatly from this site and I desire unity very strongly between Rome and Orthodoxy! But in light of your own catechism, I am in a “church”, not an assembly of separated brethren. I would therefore appreciate not being dismissed as having not investigated both sides adequately. Just hanging around this site for several years could be classed as investigating Catholicism pretty thouroughly, don’t you think?

  102. Canadian,

    I don’t remember you ever correcting or responding to my last comments to you about Vigilius in that thread. I certainly think taking one statement from the Fifth Council and interpreting it without the context of other statements by the Eastern clerics involved in the controversy is insufficient proof of what Eastern clerics generally believed about papal powers and responsibilities. I could take one statement of support for the irreformability of papal pronouncements by said clerics and say “end of story.” One needs to read all the statements in context. That is something I haven’t done, so I am happy to be corrected by you. From what I have read, the case for some kind of definitive rejection in the Eastern data of that era of the pope’s ability to make irreformable doctrinal statements is really really weak. Do you have something specific to say about the specific responses Bryan and I made to your assertion that your quote from the Fifth council nails the issue?

    Maybe when Bryan posts something on Vigilius, you can explain why he and me and other Catholic interpreters of that controversy miss the obvious evidence that Eastern Christianity rejected modern papal claims at that time. I certainly think that if this one issue — and our specific response to your statements about it — was a key reason you became Orthodox, then you owe us out of Christian charity for our salvation an explanation of why our understanding of this issue is wrong.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  103. Perry, (re: #98)

    You wrote:

    I have repeatedly argued here and elsewhere against the circularity claim.

    Where have you answered the circularity problem here? Links?

    Second, your proposal ignores the misrepresentations made concerning conciliarism and patiarchial ratification which are still unaddressed.

    What misrepresentations? (If you are serious, then please don’t just hand-wave; spell it out.)

    Third, your proposal leaves untouched the point I made. If you are going to exclude discussion of Viglius for the reasons you stated, then on the basis of the very same basis, you should exclude discussion of arguments against Orthodox ecclesiology here. Either do not permit objections in both directions or do. I see it as prima facia unfair to put Orthodox commenters here in the dock while precluding them from advacing their better counter arguments.

    I can see appealing to the Vigilius case in an Orthodox argument that papal ratification isn’t necessary for a council to be ecumenical. (I don’t agree, but I can see it.) But this thread isn’t about papal ratification, nor is papal ratification the point in question. The question raised toward the beginning of this thread is what is necessary and sufficient for ratification from an Orthodox point of view, and how does this answer avoid the circularity problem and the problem of the primacy of the individual conscience. And I don’t see any need to refer to the Vigilius case to answer those two problems.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  104. K. Doran,

    Does Vigilius state that any of his offered statements at or before the Fifth Council were irreformable?

  105. Canadian, (re: #101)

    If you researched elsewhere, then good for you. Your comment in #89 suggested that our six comments were the deciding factor. Just so you know, the only reason I said what I said about ‘waffling’ is because of the negative character judgment loaded within the term, as I explained in my comment; in no way was I claiming that he didn’t change his mind.

    Perhaps we can discuss it in more depth when one of us writes the article on it.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  106. Well, all I have to say about the “academic historical and hermeneutical gymnastics” is that without context, anyone can prove anything from a single statement in a single council.

    So, I can also take something out of context and “prove” that the Eastern clerics such as Patriarch Menas and the metropolitans of Ephesus, Caesarea and many others involved in the Vigilius controversy really believed the following in the year before the fifth council:
    “And we promise that we will in all things follow and observe also the letters of Pope Leo of blessed memory, and the constitutions of the Apostolic See which have been published whether as to the faith or the confirmation of the aforesaid councils.”

    So, these representatives of Eastern thought at that time promised to follow and observe “in all things” the “constitutions of the Apostolic See” which have been published “as to the faith”. And they made this promise with the exact opposite direction of physical coercion from the Emperor that the Easterns faced the next year during the council, making their true beliefs that much more reliably presented.

    Does that prove the Catholic view point for all time and without any further discussion? Of course not, one needs to weigh all the evidence. But what it does show is that if a simplistic hermeneutical method of merely quoting one passage from history were legitimate, we could reach opposite conclusions every time we opened a book to a different page.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  107. Hey Perry,

    I think he does. But my memory is that he is referring to things which Catholics can convincingly argue are not _sufficiently pure_ doctrinal statements. As I recall, he makes firm statements about no one being allowed to discuss certain issues before a council. I think he also made some firm statements about which earlier theologians were going to be condemned or not condemned. And I’m almost positive that some of these firm statements included the words “irreformable” or “binding forever” or some such phrases.

    But, as I recall, Catholics can and do argue that these statements — while certainly touching on doctrine — are not so completely doctrinal as to make his later waffling a _doctrinal_ reversal of previously irreformable papally-defined doctrine. You must recall that, partly because of a couple cases such as Vigilius, many of us don’t believe that anything but doctrine itself can be irreformably defined, whatever a desperate Pope may try to do beyond that.

    I believe this is why there was an eventual decline in people using Vigilius as an example against Catholic claims of irreformability in years past. The evidence of an actual doctrinal reversal was not strong enough to rule-out alternative interpretations. Eventually, I have heard that controversalists generally tried to use Honorius as their main example instead.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  108. Bryan,

    The “negative character judgment” is found in Catholic apologetic and historical sources spanning at least the last century. Some of those sources are works in your blog’s “suggested reading” section. It was not “spin” as you claimed in your remarks to Canadian.

  109. Perry, (re: #108)

    We know from his life that he wasn’t a virtuous man. This is why he is not “Saint” Pope Vigilius. So his character isn’t in question. What is speculation is construing his change of mind as due to lack of backbone. And that’s true whether the speculation comes from Catholic sources or not.

    But, as I said, this isn’t the thread to get into the details of the Vigilius case.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  110. Monk Patrick (re: #66)

    There is one other thing in what you said that seems ad hoc to me. You wrote:

    As such it is impossible to have an infallible individual or group because this would deny true human freedom in the synergy; it is not a synergy of a controlled robot or puppet.

    If the bishops at an ecumenical council cannot possess the charism of infallibility because having such a charism would remove their true human freedom, then why does possession of this charism of infallibility by “the whole Church” not remove the true human freedom of “the whole Church”? It seems ad hoc to claim that such a charism possessed by a small group would destroy their freedom, while claiming that a large group can simultaneously be truly free and possess this charism. In other words, if the large group’s possessing this charism does not deny or destroy its freedom, then neither does a small group’s (or even an individual’s) possessing this charism deny or destroy its (or his) freedom. And in that case, it seems to me, denying the infallibility of an ecumenical council or a pope on the basis of the alleged incompatibility of such a charism with true freedom, is not a good argument.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  111. Perry,

    It seems to me the ‘circularity charge’ is where the Eastern Orthodox position is in a definitive bind and has brought this discussion to a halt until such is either refuted or conceded. I would like to echo Byran’s Post 103 request for Links or Posts where you have addressed this.

    I await your response to that, as do the rest of us.

  112. Andrew McCallum: The concept of sola sciprtura in no way undermines the teaching authority of the ecclesiastical offices of the Church as those offices were established in Scriptures and subsequently practiced by the Church immediately following the Apostolic age. Sola scriptura does delimit the content of divine revelation and forms a distinct corpus of infallible data upon which ecclesiastical judgments were and are made. And so the debate between Catholic and Protestant, utilizing the tradition of the Early Church, concerns the foundational infallible set of standards are upon which the Church can make subsequent judgments. Is it 1) the Scriptures alone or is it 2) the Scriptures + something else? If there is something else (option 2) then the task for the Catholic apologist is to determine what this something else is and how it can be known. It seems to me that it is no easy task for the Catholic apologist to define how it is that the Church could infallibly pronounce certain traditions to be infallible, so I don’t think you should be too quick to dismiss our position.

    I believe we are talking past each other because you are using the word infallible when you should be using the word inerrant – e.g. “a distinct corpus of infallible data”.

    Infallibility is a charism of the Holy Spirit that validly ordained bishops can exercise in a synergistic relationship with the Holy Spirit. A distinct corpus of data cannot be infallible – it can be inerrant, it can be inspired and inerrant, but it can’t be infallible because data is not a bishop.

    As to data upon which ecclesiastical judgments were and are made – the Catholic Church teaches that all the scriptures found in a Catholic Bible are God-breathed (literally inspired), and because God is the author of the scriptures, the scriptures are inerrant. The Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura is not the doctrine that the scriptures are inspired and inerrant (the Catholics and the Orthodox both teach that doctrine). Nor is sola scriptura the doctrine that the scriptures are materially sufficient for teaching all orthodox doctrine (a Catholic can believe that too). No, sola scriptura is the Protestant doctrine that scriptures are the only known source of inerrant teaching for the Christian. The Catholic Church rejects this Protestant novelty, because the bishops can exercise the charism of infallibility when interpreting the scriptures, and when the charism of infallibility is exercised at, say, an Ecumenical Council, the interpretation of the scriptures that is given by the bishops can be known with certainty to be inerrant. Luther denied that the bishops of Christ’s church are a source of inerrant teaching that can bind the conscience of a Christian, and he did this through the sola scriptura novelty.

    Catholics and the Orthodox believe that dogma promulgated at valid Ecumenical Councils are a source of inerrant, conscience binding, teaching for the Christian. But not all Ecumenical Councils are valid. For example, both the Orthodox and the Catholics recognize that the Robber Council of Ephesus was called as an Ecumenical Council, but that what was taught by the bishops at that council is not orthodox doctrine. So the question naturally arises, how does anyone know with certainty when an Ecumenical Council is valid? To know the criteria that determines the validity of an Ecumenical Council is to know the criteria for what constitutes orthodox doctrine promulgated at an Ecumenical Council.

    The Christian is conscience bound to believe both what is taught in scriptures and what is taught in a valid Ecumenical Council, because God is the author of scriptures, and dogma taught at a valid Ecumenical Council is inerrant because the inerrancy is guaranteed by God, through the exercise of a charism of the Holy Spirit (infallibility).

    …the debate between Catholic and Protestant, utilizing the tradition of the Early Church, concerns the foundational infallible set of standards are upon which the Church can make subsequent judgments

    No, that is not the issue. The issue between Catholics and Protesants is the issue of primacy – is Petrine primacy what Christ would have us accept as faithful Christians, or does Christ mean for us to live by the primacy of the individual conscience?

    Bryan Cross: …What I’m criticizing is the notion that a council becomes authoritative only if the lay people who agree with its interpretation of Scripture and Tradition agree that the council is authoritative. In my opinion, that position makes the individual have the highest interpretive ‘authority,’ even higher than that of the bishops.

    …. If the circularity problem cannot be avoided within Orthodoxy, then this is further evidence, it seems to me, of the need for what Ravenna is describing regarding primacy at the level of the universal Church, because by its very nature as the primacy at the universal level, there is no appealing against or beyond that primacy, and hence no individual trumping of that primacy (and the bishops in communion with that primacy) by way of one’s own private judgment. Primacy at the level of the universal Church therefore brings with it the kind of Magisterial authority that does not leave the individual with higher interpretive ‘authority’ than that of the Magisterium, but instead binds the conscience of the individual. And there is a principled and essential distinction between that ecclesiology, and Protestantism.

    Well said! Wherever primacy is located, by definition, there can be no authority that one can appeal to that is above that authority, since whatever is above that authority would have primacy. That is why it seems to me that when the Orthodox advocate that the validity of an Ecumenical Council is determined by its latter acceptance by the laity, the Orthodox are teaching a doctrine of the primacy of the laity. The laity have the ultimate say, and hence hold primacy.

  113. Bryan Cross,

    The Emperor, Empress and the Emperor’s mother are layman and we had alot of Eastern Christian Emperors that had a voice in the first 1,000 years of Christianity. Also monks can be laity and they too had a voice in the first one thousand years of Christianity. And for a number of councils it did take time for them to be received by various churches and so there is some truth to the claim. Now you said

    Bryan Cross said:
    “to criticize the notion of the primacy of individual conscience is not to criticize either the councils of the first millennium or the Church of the first millennium.”

    Didn’t you and someone else criticize the statements of the Emperor in the 5th council?

    Bryan Cross said:
    “What I’m criticizing is the notion that a council becomes authoritative only if the lay people who agree with its interpretation of Scripture and Tradition agree that the council is authoritative. In my opinion, that position makes the individual have the highest interpretive ‘authority,’ even higher than that of the bishops.”

    After re-reading posts #’s 45, 59, 66 & 79 by Fr. Monk Patrick and you I will say:

    1.) The Assyrian Church of the East that rejected the 3rd council but in modern times embrace the 4th council were bishops. And so it was a disagreement by bishops and not a disagreement by mere laymen or elders as in most cases in the protestant world. When you say that no one can say “Whole Church” because they rejected the 3rd council you will have to assume no other criterion. Now your position is simple! It’s following the decisions of the Bishop of Rome and all those in communion with him that also agree with him. That is your one and only criterion and you want us to also have one criterion.

    We have multiple criteria, not just one! Fr. Monk Patrick listed multiple reasons, you wanted to make each of his criteria a stand alone position isolated from the other reasons he gave. Perry in post # 83 said “”“the rightness of the doctrine” determined the legitimacy of the council””

    Now in this we will have two different notions of Tradition. For Perry also said in post # 83
    Quote:
    “”For the Orthodox, tradition doesn’t develop and so acts as a kind of backstop to which Councils go to examine if some apparently new teaching is in line with it. On this picture, the work of a council is more modest than on a model where doctrine develops and thecouncil’s job is in part to develop it. This is why Fathers like Maximus and even his opponenats prior to the Fifth Council recognized explicitly that the “rightness of the doctrine” determined the legitimacy of the council.””

    When one examines our Tradition in comparison with Rome’s, they will see that we have a stronger continuity with the past. This can be seen in alot of different doctrinal issues. And so Tradition plays a role in all this. Also when we look at the word “ecumenical”, in and of itself it simply means more than one region of the Church doing something together. When it comes to ecumenical councils there is alot of truth to the concept of Patriarch ratification, for a Patriarch is over a certain region of the globe and if he ratifies a council then that councils becomes authoritative in his Jurisdiction.

    Historically the bishop of Rome was seen as being the Patriarch of the west. I know modern Roman Catholics dislike that ancient term, but he was seen as being the Patriarch of the west, and so how can we know that we are right while the others were wrong in regards to the 7 councils.

    1.) If a concept is strictly regional then how can it be ecumenical? With the Arian heresy we saw that it started locally in Egypt by an elder by the name of Arius, and so how could it be ecumenical?

    2.) The Nestorian heresy was also localized to a certain region.

    3.) Those who only wanted to stick with a term by Saint Cyril was originally found in a certain region of the Church

    4.) Those who only wanted to obey the decisions of the Bishop of Rome and wanted to see him as the universal bishop was found in a certain region

    And so what we see is regional ideas. Regional ideas are not ecumenical ideas.

    I am sorry Bryan, but this is the best I can do at this point in time. I have too much on my plate at the moment to really continue in this discussion and so I must bell out! Maybe someone else who is more knowledgeable can continue the discussion with you.

  114. Nick,

    Since the charge of circularity, like the charges with respect to Vigilius are off topic for this post, I am simply either not free to engage them here or if I am, refuse to participate in an unfree forum where I can’t level coutner arguements against Catholicism. I can be reached via my blog, blogger profile/email for further dialog.

  115. Perry, (re: #114)

    We have not judged the circularity question to be off-topic for this post. The Vigilius case, as I said before, will be treated in a future post, and can be discussed freely in that combox. As I explained in #103, the questions raised toward the beginning of this thread are what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for ratification of a council from an Orthodox point of view, and how does this answer avoid the circularity problem and the problem of the primacy of the individual conscience. There is no need to refer to the Vigilius case to answer those two questions and address those two problems. So, in short, you are free to answer and address those questions and problems here.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  116. Bryan,

    Sorry for the slow reply.

    When saying “infallible individual or group”, I meant here by “group” a set of individuals larger than one individual but I was not intending to refer to the complete group of faithful, Church; the contradiction that you develop requires equating these two understandings of group to be valid. I was also making a distinction of a group in and of itself being infallible, particularly as an intermediary, and that of sharing the infallibility of Christ, which assumes union with Him in one mind.

    My comment was not an attempt to answer the circularity problem, so I will leave issue that for the meantime. It was just a critique on the assumption that there needs to be an intermediary.

    Our faith does not give the authority but is rather only that we accept the authority inherent in a true Council. Is the authority of the papacy only so because you believe it? Is the authority of the teachings of Christ so because individuals happened to believe them? Does one not need to make a ‘choice of faith’ to accept the authority of the Pope? Is it such a self evident truth that almost all people accept it by default without the need of faith, such as the presence of the Earth? Surely, you are Roman Catholic because you believe in the papal claims and his authority based on some form of learning and rational decision? How is this different from a choice of faith regarding the authority of particular councils and joining a group sharing that belief? Such a choice of faith here is no more fideism than faith required to be Roman Catholic. Accusations of being Protestant are irrelevant here. All the criteria that I mentioned are not individually decisive nor all relevant in each case. I grant that an infallible papacy makes it easier to know whether one should accept a council, such as Vatican II, but this does not mean that the papacy is what it claims to be. In my opinion, the Papacy fails all the tests that I suggested and it is rather a leap of faith to accept papal claims in the first place. I find that Orthodox claims are far better grounded in reason and evidence and I didn’t need much of a leap of faith to know that they are true.

    A council is authoritative because it is of the Lord. He gives it authority. Here is a quote of the definition of faith from the fourth Ecumenical council that I think is helpful to illustrate the point of the Lord giving it authority:

    The holy, great, and ecumenical synod, assembled by the grace of God and the command of our most religious and Christian Emperors, … has decreed as follows:
    Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when strengthening the knowledge of the Faith in his disciples, to the end that no one might disagree with his neighbour concerning the doctrines of religion, and that the proclamation of the truth might be set forth equally to all men, said, “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” But, since the evil one… ever invents some new device against the truth; … the Lord, providing, as he ever does, for the human race, has raised up this pious, faithful, and zealous Sovereign, and has called together unto him from all parts the chief rulers of the priesthood; so that, the grace of Christ our common Lord inspiring us, we may cast off every plague of falsehood from the sheep of Christ, and feed them with the tender leaves of truth. And this have we done with one unanimous consent, driving away erroneous doctrines and renewing the unerring faith of the Fathers, …

    And also a quote from a letter of Patriarch Anatolius of Constantinople to Pope Leo the Great:

    …, there was need that all should agree in the right faith (for which purpose the most pious emperor had with the greatest pains assembled the holy Synod) with prayer and tears, your holiness being present with us in spirit and co-operating with us through those most God-beloved men whom you had sent to us, …. that all the most holy bishops gathered together should set forth an unanimous definition for the explanation and clearer understanding of our confession of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord God was found appearing to them that sought him not, and even to them that asked not for him. And although some from the beginning contentiously made opposition, he shewed forth nevertheless his truth and so disposed things that an unanimous and uncontradicted writing was published by us all, which confirmed the souls of the stable, and inviting to the way of truth all who had declined therefrom. And when we had subscribed with unanimous consent. … we placed upon the holy altar the decision … then handed it to their piety, …. And when they had received it they gave glory with us to Christ the Lord, who had driven away the darkness of wicked opinion, and had illustrated with the greatest unanimity the word of truth, etc…

    It is clear that the Lord inspired the Council’s coming together, showed His truth and ordered the events that a unanimous decision was made by which the Lord drove away wicked opinion. No mention anywhere of any infallible magisterium. Our faith is in the Lord to direct and show us the truth by inspiring the calling of councils etc. He is quite capable of doing that without the need of an infallible intermediary.

    When I spoke of there not being a Patriarchal Council, that means that there is no formal regular structure of the Patriarchs meeting on a regular basis with the Pope to sort out Church matters at an Ecumenical level. It was also assume that the Pope could order such councils to convene and that he also would ordain each Patriarch. It does not refer to Ecumenical Councils which are extraordinary councils and not regular. Ecumenical Councils did not just consist of the Patriarchs under the leadership of Rome but gathered as many bishops as possible from across the churches without limiting representatives according to rank. My rejection of the former type of council is not connected to the existence of the latter.

    Regarding distortions in Orthodox church structures, is that the Pentarchy structure of a few Patriarchs overseeing a larger number of regions, with some exceptional independent regions, which in turn oversee a number of dioceses in a sort of three-tiered pyramid structure with a blunt top has distorted to a larger number of Patriarchs and independent regions which directly oversee dioceses without regions, apart from in Russia. Thus, the pyramid has become effectively two-tiered with a wide top. This then distorts the increasing unity of the Church to a single point, which emphasises the unity of the Church as One. Thus, the Orthodox Church appears to be a collection of independent churches rather than One Church. This distortion was partly caused by a rejection of a single See at the top of a pyramid and the important function that Rome played in portraying the unity of the Church as One Church.

  117. Bryan,

    Primarily, an ecumenical council is ecumenical in extent because it is called to be so by the Emperor. It also requires a representative basis that extends beyond that of one patriarchate and ideally is represented by all the patriarchates. The intention of the council is to define the faith and praxis to be followed by all churches. This makes the council “ecumenical”; it does not mean that it will be true that is a different issue. A council though still needs the ratification of a Patriarch to be regarded as applicable within that Patriarchate. So, for Councils to be applied across the whole Church, it requires each Patriarch to ratify it for his jurisdiction. This doesn’t guarantee the truth of the Council or even its authority but it does recognise the dignity of each Patriarch to consent to the Council having application within his jurisdiction. So, Rome’s slowness to accept some councils did not negate their general authority but rather only that the Pope of Rome was not willing to apply a council’s findings, or part of its findings, within his patriarchal jurisdiction. Unfortunately, such decisions ultimately become divisive if all other Patriarchs confirm the council within their territories and one fails to do so.

    The truth of a council’s decision(s), ecumenical or regional, is confirmed, after a common discussion, by the unanimous agreement of the bishops present and the confirmation of the Holy Spirit thus recognising the Church as united as one in Christ. Although, the truth of the matter precedes the Council. The council also declares is acceptance of the faith and canons of the earlier councils that they remain in conformity with then, that is the principle of consistency with the tradition already affirmed. Primarily a council is accepted by God, once this is the case He will work that it is accepted by those willing to receive it.

  118. Perry,

    I cannot seem to track down your email address on your blog nor on Blogger Profile (since your blog is a WordPress). According to Bryan’s most recent clarification, we are allowed to talk about Circularity Charge – but even if it weren’t on topic, I don’t think he would consider it derailing this thread if you posted a link or two for where you’ve covered this issue various other times.

    My preference is that you provide the link and someone here address the work you’ve already done, thus sparing you having to repeat yourself, then any further clarifications/arguments can be addressed.

  119. @Fr. Patrick:

    Primarily, an ecumenical council is ecumenical in extent because it is called to be so by the Emperor.

    I think this is diagnostic of the fundamental difference between the Catholic Church and all the Orthodox group as far as I know anything about them, and also including most Lutheran and Anglican groups. The Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran groups are Erastian – fundamentally the Christian church is a property of a Christian people – and therefore ultimately tend to statism. The other sort of Protestant group is ultimately independist – down to the congregational level, and in the ultimate case, to the individual.

    The Catholic Church is neither. God rules it through men, but the office of those men is not dependent on their membership of a nation, a state, or any other purely human society – and when push comes to shove, submission to those men comes down, again, to unity with an individual – the Pope.

    Or so it seems to me.

    jj

  120. Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Our faith is in the Lord to direct and show us the truth by inspiring the calling of councils etc. He is quite capable of doing that without the need of an infallible intermediary.

    Strictly speaking, no man is infallible except the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Infallibility is a charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit, and like all charismatic gifts (e.g. prophecy, gifts of healing, miracle working) they are not natural to man. The charismatic gifts are manifested by men through a synergistic relationship with the Holy Spirit.

    The bishops or Christ’s church are vested in the office of teacher, and thus they are endowed with the authority of Christ to teach in his name. (“He who hears you, hears me” Luke 10:16) At a valid Ecumenical Council, the bishops exercise the charism of infallibility. The Holy Spirit works through and with the bishops, and it is the action of the Holy Spirit that guarantees the inerrancy of the dogmatic teaching at an Ecumenical Council.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    2034 The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are “authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice.” …

    2035 The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.

    2036 The authority of the Magisterium extends also to the specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation. In recalling the prescriptions of the natural law, the Magisterium of the Church exercises an essential part of its prophetic office of proclaiming to men what they truly are and reminding them of what they should be before God.

    Fr, Patrick, to help me understand what you are trying to say, would you agree or disagree with what I posted from the CCC?

    I have always thought that the Eastern Orthodox bishops understood that they had a teaching authority that is above that of the laity. That is, the teaching authority of Christ is exercised by the bishops, and they are authorized by Christ to solemnly define dogma in the name of Christ for the whole church, while Joe and Suzy Orthodox laity are not authorized by Christ to solemnly define dogma in the name of Christ for the whole church. But the more that the Orthodox post to this thread, the more I am getting the impression that what is believed by the Orthodox is that their bishops hold a primacy of honor within the Orthodox Church, and when it comes to teaching authority, the bishops have no more teaching authority than that that which is held by the laity.

  121. John,

    Your diagnostic is not properly reflective of what the Orthodox Catholic Church is in relation to the papist group claiming the name “Catholic Church”. There is some accuracy to what you say but from an Orthodox perspective of what the Catholic Church, itself, is, we get another picture. Firstly, we do not see that the papist group, as self-defined, is run by God through men but by men claiming to have authority to do so from God and governing the group on His behalf to a degree independent of Him, hence they must have a charism of infallibility to do so without risk of the group falling completely from God. The Orthodox position is that the Church is governed by Christ through the hierarchy, which has multiple layers and facets that both distinguishes the members of the Body of Christ and unites them. The hierarchy is not given authority to rule on behalf of Christ but to manifest His rule in synergy by continuing the incarnate presence of Christ. The hierarchy shares in this rule and has authority as participator but does not require infallibility because Christ Himself is here ruling and teaching. The Church is firstly the property of Christ and those united to Him also inherit it as co-hiers with Him.

    The reason for the Emperor calling an ecumenical council is not that the Church is the property of the people in an Erastian model but because the Church does not have a bishop of bishops and thus no single bishop has the authority to command all other bishops to a council; a Patriarch only has authority to call a council of his Metropolitans, and the Metropolitans of their bishops. Only the emperor as ruler of the “world” could command in this capacity his citizens to come together and the bishops as loyal citizens obey him in this regard in obedience to Christ, who teaches us to submit to the civil authorities where it is not offensive to the Faith. The Emperor does not decide the matter in his power over the Church but only calls the bishops together to make a decision as the proper office of Church governance so that the whole of the faithful may know the truth. The Emperor doesn’t even need to be a member of the Church, just have a motivation for the Church to express its Faith in a ecumenical manner.

    That there is not to be a bishop of bishops, that is assuming the jurisdiction of bishop in every local church, is the teaching of both Popes Sts Leo the Great and Gregory the Great, who severely criticised the Patriarch of New Rome for using the title “Ecumenical” for this reason, and hence the limitations seen canonically and historically on the role of the Bishop of Rome (Old and New) to avoid him becoming a bishop of bishops. He was given real authority in receiving appeals and writing pastoral letters but not for calling ecumenical or patriarchal councils nor for ordaining patriarchs. Rome has a place as a focus of communion, that is one should remain in communion with her else be in schism, yet that does not require infallibility. (Remaining in communion with New Rome is the same requirement so the schism of Old Rome did not affect the Orthodox Catholic churches because they continued in communion with Rome, New Rome.) The authority of Rome was manifested in two Sees Old and New to reinforce that one See was not to rule the others as bishop of bishops and this was to ensure that the proper source of unity and rule was Christ Himself. Sadly, the Church in Old Rome ignored the teaching of Popes Leo and Gregory and established itself in its official teaching in the eleventh Century as bishop of bishops, which it continues to this day contrary to the Tradition of the Church and to its own earlier Bishops. The Church in New Rome has remained faithful in its role to the teaching of Popes Leo the Great and Gregory the Great, even when continuing to use the title “Ecumenical” in spite of the protest.

  122. Mateo,

    Part of my answer to is found in the comment to John. That is a distinction between an office that enables Christ to rule in synergy and an office that rules on His behalf. This distinction is manifested in a number of ways such as gives an impression to one working in the Roman Catholic model that the Orthodox bishop is not above the laity. That is because the model of ruling on Christ’s behalf requires being above the laity to define doctrine for them. The hierarchy of synergy does not require this, yet this does not remove a distinction between the teaching office of the bishop and the laity. This is because the hierarchy works on an iconic basis, each level manifests Christ, and so the laity can teach and know the truth also but they do so in a manner that fits the proper iconic place. For example because God is One, there is only one bishop in each local church and because only God is our Master and Teacher only the clergy and in particular the bishop and presbyter can teach in public. But because we teach in synergy and participate as humans, laity can also teach in private. So, the bishop does not merely have a primacy of honour in teaching and no more authority than the laity; he has a specific iconic function of teaching in the Church with an associated authority iconically presenting this teaching and authority of Christ, but this does not mean that the laity cannot teach or have authority as appropriate to their iconic function. They both share in the ownership of the same Faith and laity can challenge a bishop who fails to teach in accordance with the Tradition, thus failing to fulfil his iconic place presenting Christ as Teacher. Only bishops gather for councils to define doctrine because they as iconic heads of their local church are the proper icons to meet in council to present the truth of the Head of the Church, Christ. This does not mean that others cannot have input into the discussions but the iconic role of deciding is reserved for the bishops. Ordination formalises the iconic roles and also imparts a real grace to enable the role to be fulfilled in its reality of manifesting Christ.

  123. Fr. Patrick,

    Could you please explain how, in your view, if Rome is the principle of Unity, there can exist “two” (old and new) principles of unity? (philosophically, I don’t understand how this works) Also, could you point to me somewhere in Scripture that seems to identify “two manifestations” of the Petrine authority so as to safeguard against a singular Petrine preeminence? Lastly, what would you do if the Orthodox Church, despite what you have written here, concedes in someway to a singular Petrine preeminence, against your reading of Pope St. Leo et. al and your two-See theory and reunites with “Old Rome”?

    Your brother in Christ,

    Brent

  124. Hey guys,

    The more I learn about Orthodoxy, the more it seems that the modern Orthodox do a really great job of preserving much of the canon law associated with the temporal era around 600 and the geographic area of the Byzantine Empire. They also seem to do a great job of preserving some of the more anti-Western ecclesiological opinions that increasingly found support in the geographical region of the Byzantine Empire after that time.

    But where it seems the modern Orthodox Church does a less careful job is in preserving the more pro-Western ecclesiological opinions that can also be found in abundance in the testimonies of those Eastern clerics who promised actual obediance to the Bishop of Rome (not just preservation of communion with them), to say nothing of preserving the ecclesiological opinions that were stated so firmly in the West at the same time. Many of these attestations date to the earliest period at which we have abundant evidence with which to analyze ecclesiology (late 300′s, early 400s).

    It’s not that you can’t find people in East and West who think that bad Popes can be excommunicated for heresy by local councils, or who think that Popes can’t be contradicted by others, but can contradict themselves. You can find that at various places and times in the first millenium without too much work. But what you can also find is people saying “I promise to follow whatever the Bishop of Rome teaches about the Faith”, and “The Bishop of Rome cannot teach heresy,” and other such things. And these attestations date very early, and are scattered throughout the world in abundance.

    I guess my question is: why do the modern Orthodox do such a great job of preserving the minimalist tradition that can admittedly be found in the first millennium, but such a bad job of preserving the (in my view) much broader and more easily attested (and less likely to be promoted by heretics) tradition? And what do they think about the idea of development of Doctrine in their own Church, when it is clear that their modern firm reliance on the minimalist tradition is itself a Development?

    By the way, Monk Patrick: Leo and his predecessors thought and taught plenty of things about the powers of the bishop of Rome that your Church doesn’t teach. Leo didn’t even think that Chalcedon was necessary, since his tome defined the tradition and was binding on the whole Church. Leo’s predecessor Innocent also claimed the right to make binding doctrinal decrees for the whole world, and the Emperors of that era sometimes backed these Popes up, as the Pelagian controversy demonstrates.

  125. I meant to end the comment by saying: Michael Liccione has hit the nail on the head with his comment above.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  126. K. Doran,

    I agree that at times those in the East rather play down the evidence that supports a papal position. I think that it does need to be taken seriously. However, if we believe in a genuine Apostolic Tradition shared by all West and East then our understanding of that must take into account evidence of all regions. Your statement in the end does not offer a solution nor provide any support for the Papacy as it understands itself today.

    I have mentioned teachings of Sts Leo the Great and Sts Gregory the Great that run counter to the Papal model and thus raise an inconsistency. This will need to be addressed. A Papal model needs to show how it is consistent with the material evident in the Ecumenical Councils and how they speak and how they define authority and learning the truth. Granted that Rome had high views of itself and made statements such as Popes Innocent and Leo but I don’t think that these are inconsistent with a denial of a bishop of bishops, nor the call to obey Rome or that it cannot teach heresy. These may on the surface seem to mean that the Pope is infallible but considered with the other evidence they may be better read as being pious exclamations without being careful definitions. Also, the opinion of one needs to be confirmed in more formal ecumenical statements. I personally see a higher role for Rome than many in the East but I do not see this as inconsistent with the model that I am trying to express that also takes into account a multitude of other evidence.

    If there is evidence that is inconsistent with the model that I am suggesting then please refer me to it, so that I can try to explain it within the model. Otherwise please provide a model that is consistently explains the eastern evidence without saying that there are two Apostolic Traditions.

  127. Brent,

    Here is a rather long winded answer but hopefully it will help to build some of the framework to give context to the answer.

    From St Cyprian of Carthage, Rome is the principle of unity in the manner of St Peter among the Apostles. St Peter is singled out to receive the grace of forgiveness first to show that the gift is both one and complete in one, then the other Apostles receive the same gift as St Peter. This shows that not only St Peter received the gift but all of them. The gift wasn’t a group gift requiring all members to work because one had it complete but they are not so independent of each other because one leads to show the union of one gift. Thus, we see leadership of equals. This is also why the Pope cannot be bishop of bishops because each bishop, as bishop, has equal dignity and this must be preserved in him has his own inviolate jurisdiction, but nevertheless one is singled out to show unity. This is the reason for Apostolic Canon 34 mentioned by Metropolitan Kallistos, all cannot act without the one nor can the one act without the consent of the others. This is the position of Popes St Leo the Great and St Gregory the Great, that is preserving the jurisdictional dignity of each bishop. This is the primary problem with present papal theory that it infringes this principle. The issue of having a singular binding authority mentioned by K. Doran, has early scattered support and it does not necessarily infringe the principle of respecting the dignity of each other bishop in his own jurisdiction, so is more open to discussion.

    Now all this does not answer your question yet. I have also puzzled over this point but the model I stated seems the only one that fits the evidence; there were two equal sees historically and canonically recognised and only in their equality was there any justification for the rise of Constantinople otherwise the rise would oppose Tradition, which was St Leo’s problem with the rise of Constantinople; St Leo saw it coming in as number two replacing Alexandria and a breach of the set hierarchal order of Nicaea. This problem is removed if Constantinople is first equal then there is no change of order just a second manifestation of the one See of Rome. This works just as having a second capital in the Empire didn’t divide the Empire in principle because the concept of one Empire transcends that of capital, yet one state in principle has one capital. Hence, Constantinople was called New Rome to show its unity with Rome but second after Old Rome both in time, and to point to the singleness of the principle in Old Rome of which New Rome is an exact image and also for practical matters of listing names etc, otherwise New Rome was equally the capital. This is reflected in the headship of the Church and works because the headship is Christ not the See of Rome, which is an icon of the unity pointing to the single source that is Christ. If the See of Rome was the actual source of unity then it could not be replicated in two. It also works because each Apostle was the same as St Peter regarding Apostolic authority and grace, so apart from the symbol of unity of the one there is no difference in grace or authority. It also reflects Trinitarian theology in that Father and Son are two and equal and yet One and the Father has priority over the Son as source without this diminishing the equality.

    The Scriptural model that supports this is the rise of the Apostle Paul from not being qualified to be an Apostle to being the Prince of the Apostles, equal with St Peter, as Apostle to the Gentiles while St Peter was Apostle to the Jews, yet both preached to both. The importance of Rome was confirmed by both going there. Having St Paul as prince of the Apostles with St Peter did not diminished the symbolic importance of St Peter in reflecting unity, so neither does the equal headship of Constantinople diminish the importance of the symbol of Rome. The lack of the apostolic credentials of Constantinople, regardless of the tradition of St Andrew, was no more a problem than the lack of credentials of St Paul. It is interesting that in the East the equality of St Peter and St Paul as leaders of the Apostles is still strongly maintained as it was in earlier in the West but in the West the single prominence of St Peter now seems to be the focus. This trend matches perfectly with the development in ecclesiology. St Paul’s “correction” of St Peter regarding eating with gentiles is an example of St Paul being a safeguard. The fact that St Peter denied Christ as leader of the Apostles means that it is possible that the Bishop of Rome could deny Christ; leadership does not guarantee non-denial, yet this does not diminish the role of leadership.

    If the last situation that you mention occurred in that Old Rome was given privileges and priorities that New Rome was not to have then I would have to protest that it is contrary to the canonical tradition that gives Constantinople equal privileges and priorities as Old Rome. In principle I believe that the Bishops of the Orthodox Church have no freedom to change this without overturning Tradition and ceasing to be Orthodox.

    I hope this answers your questions somewhat.

  128. Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Part of my answer to is found in the comment to John. That is a distinction between an office that enables Christ to rule in synergy and an office that rules on His behalf. This distinction is manifested in a number of ways such as gives an impression to one working in the Roman Catholic model that the Orthodox bishop is not above the laity. That is because the model of ruling on Christ’s behalf requires being above the laity to define doctrine for them. The hierarchy of synergy does not require this, yet this does not remove a distinction between the teaching office of the bishop and the laity.

    You make a distinction between an office that enables Christ to rule in synergy, and an office that rules on His behalf. Certainly Peter and the Apostles knew that they held offices in the Church that Christ established (see Acts 1:15-20 and Tim Troutman’s CTC article Holy Orders and the Sacrificial Priesthood where Tim makes the observation that word “office” used in the RSV translation of Acts 1:20 is translated as “bishoprick” in the KJV).

    Peter and the Apostles appoint Matthias to the “bishoprick” left vacant by Judas Iscariot’s suicide, and Matthias’ appointment to the office of bishop was made before Pentecost. At Pentecost, we see Peter and the Apostles baptized in the fire of the Holy Spirit where they begin to publicly exercise the teaching office of Christ’s Church. I think that shows that the office of bishop is one where the bishops act in the name of Jesus through a synergistic relationship with the Holy Spirit. As a Catholic, I understand that the office of bishop as an office where “Christ rules in synergy”, to use your words.

    King Henry VIII is an example of the man who thought he ruled on Christ’s behalf. King Henry VIII was indeed the holder of a worldly office (the King of England) and he claimed that he ruled on Christ’s behalf because of the Divine Right of Kings, a rule that he claimed made him the supreme ruler of the Catholic Church in England (which turned him into a Protestant). So I grant you the “distinction between an office that enables Christ to rule in synergy and an office that rules on His behalf” – Catholic and Orthodox bishops are examples of the former, and Kings, Czars and Emperors can be examples of the latter (even legitimately so, as long as Kings, Czars and Emperors see their authority restricted to its proper place as worldly rulers – see Romans 13:1-4).

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick):… the hierarchy works on an iconic basis, each level manifests Christ, and so the laity can teach and know the truth also but they do so in a manner that fits the proper iconic place. For example because God is One, there is only one bishop in each local church and because only God is our Master and Teacher only the clergy and in particular the bishop and presbyter can teach in public. But because we teach in synergy and participate as humans, laity can also teach in private. So, the bishop does not merely have a primacy of honour in teaching and no more authority than the laity; he has a specific iconic function of teaching in the Church with an associated authority iconically presenting this teaching and authority of Christ, but this does not mean that the laity cannot teach or have authority as appropriate to their iconic function. So, the bishop does not merely have a primacy of honour in teaching and no more authority than the laity; he has a specific iconic function of teaching in the Church with an associated authority iconically presenting this teaching and authority of Christ, but this does not mean that the laity cannot teach or have authority as appropriate to their iconic function.

    You have lost me here. What do you mean by “iconic basis”, “iconic place” and “iconic function”? As a lay catechist for my parish, I can teach publicly, but that teaching is under the authority of my pastor. I have no authority to teach what is contrary to official Church doctrine, and I most certainly have no authority to formally define doctrine for the whole church, because I am not a bishop.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick):They [bishops and laity] both share in the ownership of the same Faith and laity can challenge a bishop who fails to teach in accordance with the Tradition, thus failing to fulfil his iconic place presenting Christ as Teacher.

    Right. I can challenge my pastor or my bishop if I believe either is teaching heresy. But ultimately, I must follow what Christ teaches in Matthew 18:15-18. I must listen to what the church decides, and I am not free to go found my own denomination, or go into schism with the church if I don’t agree with the church. Calling an Ecumenical Council to settle a matter of controversy is the supreme example of Christ’s teaching of Matthew 18:15-18 being put into action. After the Ecumenical Council formally defines the dogma that settles the issue, I can’t continue to hold to my opinions if the Council rules against me, nor can my bishop hold to his opinions if the Council rules against him. Which brings up the importance of knowing with certainty the criteria that establishes the validity of an Ecumenical Council – criteria that you have not yet given, as far as I can see.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Only bishops gather for councils to define doctrine because they as iconic heads of their local church are the proper icons to meet in council to present the truth of the Head of the Church, Christ. This does not mean that others cannot have input into the discussions but the iconic role of deciding is reserved for the bishops.

    Right, bishops are free to talk to and consult with their pereti (theological advisors) at an Ecumenical Council, and these advisors can be laity. Bishops alone can solemnly define dogma for the whole church, since only bishops can cast votes at an Ecumenical Council. The laity, even if they are Kings, or Emperors have no vote in an Ecumenical Council.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Ordination formalises the iconic roles and also imparts a real grace to enable the role to be fulfilled in its reality of manifesting Christ.

    Bishops have the sole authority to formally define dogma for the whole church – I think that is what you are saying. Bishops hold a divine office within Christ’s church, and receiving the Sacrament of Ordination confers sacramental grace that equips bishops for the responsibilities of their office. But the grace that bishops receive is not restricted to the sacramental grace conferred by the Sacrament of Ordination, the bishops can receive the charismatic grace too, such as the charism of infallibility. Do you agree with that last sentence?

  129. @Mateo – and in conversation with @Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick):

    King Henry VIII is an example of the man who thought he ruled on Christ’s behalf. King Henry VIII was indeed the holder of a worldly office (the King of England) and he claimed that he ruled on Christ’s behalf because of the Divine Right of Kings, a rule that he claimed made him the supreme ruler of the Catholic Church in England (which turned him into a Protestant). So I grant you the “distinction between an office that enables Christ to rule in synergy and an office that rules on His behalf” – Catholic and Orthodox bishops are examples of the former, and Kings, Czars and Emperors can be examples of the latter (even legitimately so, as long as Kings, Czars and Emperors see their authority restricted to its proper place as worldly rulers – see Romans 13:1-4).

    This is precisely why I raised the issue of Erastianism. This is one of the things Newman saw about the Anglican Church. It became in practical reality a branch of the State. This has happened to the Catholic Church (the ‘papist’ Church if Fr Patrick prefers it that way :-)) in the past – or has been a threat. The whole history of the Church has been characterised by this sort of thing – the Avignon ‘Captivity’ is only one example amongst many.

    It has, of course, been a threat to the various Orthodox bodies, as well, as the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Twentieth Century shows. The ‘Papist’ Catholic believes that God has so ordained things that the Church can have a visible earthly head, a sign of unity. I have not had time to read all Fr Patrick’s posts in detail, but I gather he does acknowledge a form of Petrine primacy – so it is, perhaps, only a matter of degree.

    I am well aware, though, of the truth of what someone, earlier – Nathan? – said, that reunion was going to have to come, at least in part, from the bottom up as well as from the top down. Metropolitan Ware is not just going to be able to issue a statement tomorrow to the effect that, from Monday the Church under his supervision is now in union with the Pope. If he did, I think that on Monday that Church would have a new Metropolitan :-)

    jj

  130. John Thayer Jensen: It has, of course, been a threat to the various Orthodox bodies, as well, as the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Twentieth Century shows …

    Good point. “It” has another name – “caesaropapism”. The Orthodox have struggled against caesaropapism since the time of the Emperor Constantine:

    Caesaropapism is the idea of combining the power of secular government with, or making it superior to, the spiritual authority of the Church; especially concerning the connection of the Church with government. The term caesaropapism (Cäseropapismus) was coined by Max Weber, who defined it as follows: “a secular, caesaropapist ruler… exercises supreme authority in ecclesiastic matters by virtue of his autonomous legitimacy”. …

    Caesaropapism’s chief meaning is the authority the Byzantine Emperors had over the Church of Constantinople or Eastern Christian Church from the 330 consecration of Constantinople through the tenth century. The Byzantine Emperor would typically protect the Eastern Church and manage its administration by presiding over Ecumenical Councils and appointing Patriarchs and setting territorial boundaries for their jurisdiction. The Emperor, whose control was so strong that “Caesaropapism” became interchangeable with “Byzantinism”, was called “Pontifex Maximus” after the fourth century, and the Patriarch of Constantinople could not hold office if he did not have the Emperor’s approval. Eastern men like St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople and St. Athanasius, Patriarch of Alexandria, strongly opposed imperial control over the Church, as did Western theologians like St. Hilary and Hosius, Bishop of Córdoba. …

    Caesaropapism was most notorious in the Tsardom of Russia when Ivan IV the Terrible assumed the title Czar in 1547 and subordinated the Russian Orthodox Church to the state. This level of caesaropapism far exceeded that of the Byzantine Empire. Caesaropapism in Russia was taken to a new level in 1721, when Peter the Great abolished the patriarchate and formally made the church a department of his government formally known as the beginning of the Russian Empire.

    Caesaropapism existed in the Eastern Orthodox Church in Turkey until 1923 and in Cyprus until 1977, when Archbishop Makarios III died. However, in no way is caesaropapism a part of Orthodox dogma. The historical reality, as opposed to doctrinal endorsement or dogmatic definition, of caesaropapism stems from, according to Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, the confusion of the Byzantine Empire with the Kingdom of God and the zeal of the Byzantines “to establish here on earth a living icon of God’s government in heaven.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesaropapism

    Metropolitan Kallistos Ware rightly rejects caesaropapism as not being a part of Orthodox dogma. Given his acknowledgement that caesaropapism is not dogma, would Metropolitan Kallistos Ware reject the idea that structure of the church is hierarchical, patriarchal and authoritative? I would hope not, and I have no reason to think that he does. The hierarchical organization of Christ’s church does not serve the same function as the typical hierarchical organization in the Kingdom of World, and that understanding is necessary to avoid a church that becomes degraded by caesaropapism.

    Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” … When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
    Matt 20: 20-21 & 24-28

    The mother of the sons of Zebedee had a wrong notion about the Kingdom of God. She was angling to get her sons, James and John, appointed to the office of Vicar to the King and to the next most powerful office in the Kingdom of God. Being an ambitious Jewish mother, she was looking to gain prestige and power for herself through her sons. When the other ten disciples found out about her power play, they became indignant, because they wanted those two positions for themselves. Jesus uses this incident to explain to them the org-chart of Kingdom of God. The rulers of the Gentiles were hierarchically organized with a top down org-chart. The Roman Legions that conquered an Empire were organized like this too, as is the typical corporation in the Kingdom of the World of our era. The org-chart of the realm of fallen angels also reflect this top down hierarchical structure, with the Prince of Darkness reigning from the top, ruthlessly lording his power over the lower ranks of demons. The org-chart of the Kingdom of God would look like an inverted pyramid. At the bottom of the inverted pyramid is Christ the King, who came not to be served, but to serve. Next up the line of command is the Vicar of Christ (the Servant of the Servants) then the bishops (the Servants of God), then priests, etc. with the laity on the top of the inverted pyramid. The organization of the Church is indeed hierarchical, but when the church’s hierarchy is properly functioning, it is doing the opposite of Satan’s hierarchical organization. Satan’s hierarchy wants to dominate men not serve men, while the church’s hierarchy was established by the King of Kings to serve, not dominate – “whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick):The Orthodox position is that the Church is governed by Christ through the hierarchy, which has multiple layers and facets that both distinguishes the members of the Body of Christ and unites them. The hierarchy is not given authority to rule on behalf of Christ but to manifest His rule in synergy by continuing the incarnate presence of Christ. The hierarchy shares in this rule and has authority as participator but does not require infallibility because Christ Himself is here ruling and teaching.

    I agree with this except the part about the hierarchy not requiring infallibility. If the bishops don’t exercise the charismatic gift of infallibility when they solemnly define dogma at an Ecumenical Council, then we are stuck with end result of sola scriptura – the bishops are only giving us opinion at Ecumenical Councils, and there is no reason to think that their promulgated dogma is a known source of inerrant teaching for the Christian.

  131. Mateo,

    The use of the term iconic is in terms of a symbolic role that is portrayed by the various orders of the hierarchy. That is following St Ignatius of Antioch, the bishop has the particular symbol of portraying Christ, the presbyters that of the Apostles in relation to or in the presence of the bishop but Christ in relation to their parish. A bishop is the symbol of Christ when present and we honour his/His presence as such. The other presbyters in the bishop’s presence do not act in a manner reflecting Christ in that they do not bless but only the bishop alone. Yet, when the bishop is not present then they take on the icon of Christ and bless the people. The laymen cannot bless the congregation in public because in this context he is not the correct symbol, even if a bishop or presbyter is not present but in his own home he blesses his family members as being the presence of Christ in that context. We have symbols that take on particular privileges/authority in the presence of others or in a public/private framework. Ordination limits who can do what in a public context; and it is not a matter of someone in authority saying that one has permission to do something for one to be able to do it; only ordination gives permission to do something in certain contexts. Thus, that you have been permitted in your parish to teach as a lay catechist, does not mean that you have permission in terms of the canonical/Apostolic tradition regardless of whether you are under authority etc. To teach as such would require at least an ordination to Reader or even Subdeacon.

    Regarding laity challenging bishops, it is not a case of laity self-opinion but due the layman’s obedience to Tradition as passed on by the Fathers. The challenge only goes so far as when a present bishop ceases to be consistent to the earlier bishops, that is Fathers. Otherwise it is quite wrong to disobey or challenge the bishop.

    Regarding infallibility, although what exactly is meant by this term needs to be discussed, I am willing to accept that in the context of bishops gathering together in council in unanimous agreement among themselves and with the generations of preceding bishops, that is consistency with the previous Ecumenical and Ecumenically recognised regional councils and individual Fathers, by the grace of the Holy Spirit they share a charism of infallibility for that decision because the condition of agreement means that free will is not infringed.

    Also, a king/Emperor also can be an icon of Christ and can have a certain grace/charism to rule his people as Christ, but this is limited to avoid caesaropapism. I say this to avoid a complete opposition of Emperor to Bishop and that this example does not properly portray the differences between the idea of “synergy” and that of “on behalf” that I raise. A bishop rules in synergy with the Son of God, Christ, not by a “synergistic relationship with the Holy Spirit”; the Holy Spirit enables synergy with the Son of God to occur.

    Although, your thoughts are coming closer to mine, you still are not reflecting back to me that you have grasped the distinction as I understand it. That may be more to do with my poor presentation but I hope you keep trying to see this distinction even if you may reject it. The bishop is in a manner more passive in his office in Orthodox terms than in Catholic terms. A bishop does not define dogma as actively stating new dogma but passively, as affirming old dogma; he is clarifying not creating dogma. He does not act on behalf of Christ so much as allows Christ to act through him.

  132. Mateo (re: 112 on sola scriptura),

    Sorry to take so long to respond, I’ve been out camping in the Texas backwoods.

    … sola scriptura is the Protestant doctrine that scriptures are the onlyknown source of inerrant teaching for the Christian.

    I think it would be better if you let me define sola scriptura since that is my position. No, the doctrine of sola scriptura states that it is only the Scriptures alone which have been pronounced infallibly. We believe that there are many statements, both theological and not, which are inerrant. A statement can certainly be inerrant but not pronounced infallibly. However, it is only the Scriptures which were pronounced infallibly. There is no possibility of the Scriptures being in error since errors in Scripture, in their original autographs, would require that God has pronounced something in error. Ecclesiastical statements made by councils or popes or bishops could be in error and obviously have been. The question that is before us is whether there are any statements of councils or popes or bishops which should rightfully be said to be pronounced infallibly. The Protestant argument here is that the RCC’s system of dogmatic certainties is the novelty when compared with the teachings of the Early Church.

    This debate does not begin at the Reformation era; it begins in the Early Church. Keith Mathison spends a great deal of space digging through the ECF corpus to determine when it was that Christian theologians first suggested the possibility of an extra-biblical statement being pronounced infallibly and whether there was any good reasons to assume that there was a necessity for such infallible pronouncements. If there is no good reason then we are left with the Scriptures alone as the sole source of infallibly pronounced dogma for the Church to base her judgments on.

  133. Monk Patrick,

    What happens if an individual believer, upon hearing the canons of Nicea, is convinced after much prayer and study, that its Christology is in contradiction to the Tradition, and therefore rejects its claims based on the freedom of his/her will? In addition, how much different is your claim than Luther’s, which seems to imply councils can err? trying to understand…

    Your brother in Christ,

    Brent

  134. Andrew,

    In the early centuries there were a number of texts circulating that claimed to be Scripture and thus infallible pronouncements. The early Christians had to work out which were genuine and which were not. They did this by testing the texts against the common tradition that they had received and through the historic witness to the authenticity of the texts. By the end of the fourth Century the set of texts that we have today forming the canon of the New Testament was finalised. Unless, you can demonstrate a reason why Christ would no longer guide the Church by revealing His truth to it then the findings of councils etc can acquire the same authority as the Scriptures for the same reason that they are faithful to the Tradition passed down from the Apostles. It is only in the 15th Century the one can argue that the Scriptures are better authority than other things because the canon of the NT had become so common and normal that it seems to have been delivered together and self gathered. Rather the canon of infallible Scripture was chosen by the same process as choosing infallible Councils and so is there a Scriptural inconsistency to say that Christ is still with us and that the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth including enabling it to be written for the benefit of others?

  135. Brent,

    The Arians, who were not convinced by the Council of Nicaea, and some non-Arians, who did not like the use of a non-Scriptural word, did fall into the category that you mentioned. Some were eventually reconciled but others remained apart from the Nicaeans. An Arian today of course would say that they made the right choice and we being Nicaeans with a well established confidence in First Nicaea would say that the person made the wrong choice and was separated from the Church. They were free to choose and at the time it would not have been the seemingly obvious choice as it is today unless one had already accepted its dogma beforehand.

    History testifies to councils that seem to have all the marks of being Ecumenical yet were shown to be in error. And there are councils that initially did not seem to have the marks of being Ecumenical but were later consistently held as being so. Thus, the historical evidence does not support an idea that a council based on exterior features will automatically be correct or that being correct is solely based on exterior features. It is only interior features such as unity of opinion, historical consistency with earlier authoritative writings, in claim and in fact, and the grace of the Holy Spirit that mean that a council is infallible. These matters cannot be tested before a council. So, based on historical evidence, I don’t see any problem with Luther’s position. Where there is a difference is whether a council as a council can in itself potentially be considered an authority with Scripture. Orthodox would say yes to this and name such councils. Many Protestants would deny that a council could have such an authority and that any council cannot be trusted as authoritative.

  136. Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Regarding laity challenging bishops, it is not a case of laity self-opinion but due the layman’s obedience to Tradition as passed on by the Fathers. The challenge only goes so far as when a present bishop ceases to be consistent to the earlier bishops, that is Fathers. Otherwise it is quite wrong to disobey or challenge the bishop.

    I agree with that, but that means that the laity must have some way of knowing what the doctrines of the church actually are. Which means, as a minimum, that the laity have to know the criteria that establishes the validity of Ecumenical Councils. So avoiding the “circularity problem” that Bryan speaks of is critical.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Regarding infallibility, although what exactly is meant by this term needs to be discussed, I am willing to accept that in the context of bishops gathering together in council in unanimous agreement among themselves and with the generations of preceding bishops, that is consistency with the previous Ecumenical and Ecumenically recognised regional councils and individual Fathers, by the grace of the Holy Spirit they share a charism of infallibility for that decision because the condition of agreement means that free will is not infringed.

    That sounds right to me.

    May I ask you another question? When the bishops universally teach that something is a sin (say abortion), are the bishops exercising the charism of infallibility in teaching of that doctrine of morals? The Catholic Church would say that they are, and it would be impossible for an Ecumenical Council to teach abortion is not a grave sin. It seems hard for me to believe that the ancient and universally held teaching by bishops prohibiting abortion is merely a theological opinion that could be overruled by a valid Ecumenical Council.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Also, a king/Emperor also can be an icon of Christ and can have a certain grace/charism to rule his people as Christ, but this is limited to avoid caesaropapism. I say this to avoid a complete opposition of Emperor to Bishop and that this example does not properly portray the differences between the idea of “synergy” and that of “on behalf” that I raise. A bishop rules in synergy with the Son of God, Christ, not by a “synergistic relationship with the Holy Spirit”; the Holy Spirit enables synergy with the Son of God to occur.

    The Catholic Church has canonized Christian kings and queens (e.g. St. Louis and St. Elizabeth of Hungary). So I agree that secular rule by Christian kings and queens cannot conflated to be caeseropapism in every case.

    I am not quite getting the nuances that you are giving to the meaning of “synergy”, and the distinction between “on behalf” and “synergy” that you are making. I also don’t want to sidetrack this thread into a discussion about synergy. I believe that CTC is planning an article about synergy in the future, and I hope that we can pick up a discussion of synergy there. I don’t doubt that we may be defining synergy in different ways, and this is causing problems in communicating our ideas. Thank you for your answer though, I sense that we may not be that far apart in what we believe about synergy, but again, synergy need to be precisely defined if we are not going to speak past each other.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): The use of the term iconic is in terms of a symbolic role that is portrayed by the various orders of the hierarchy. That is following St Ignatius of Antioch, the bishop has the particular symbol of portraying Christ, the presbyters that of the Apostles in relation to or in the presence of the bishop but Christ in relation to their parish. A bishop is the symbol of Christ when present and we honour his/His presence as such. The other presbyters in the bishop’s presence do not act in a manner reflecting Christ in that they do not bless but only the bishop alone. Yet, when the bishop is not present then they take on the icon of Christ and bless the people. The laymen cannot bless the congregation in public because in this context he is not the correct symbol, even if a bishop or presbyter is not present but in his own home he blesses his family members as being the presence of Christ in that context. We have symbols that take on particular privileges/authority in the presence of others or in a public/private framework.

    This sounds somewhat familiar. For example, the presiding priest or bishop at the Mass is an alter Christus (another Christ).

    Catechism of the Catholic Church
    1548 In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis:

    It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi).

    Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a figure of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ.

    The Catholic Church teaches that the bishops and the laity share in the one priesthood of Christ:

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    Two participations in the one priesthood of Christ

    1546 Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church “a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.” The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are “consecrated to be … a holy priesthood.”

    1547 The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, “each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ.” While being “ordered one to another,” they differ essentially. In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace –a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit–, the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians. The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders.

    Would you take exception to what is taught in CCC 1546-1548?

    As a lay Catholic, the church teaches that I have been consecrated to the one priesthood of Christ through the reception of the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Thus, I am a priest of Christ, but one that shares in the common priesthood. When the Mass is said, the congregation that is in the pews is is a gathering of priests (if they have all received the Sacraments of Baptism). But being layman that is consecrated into the one priesthood of Christ, does not mean that I can go up on the altar and say the Prayers of Consecration with the ministerial priest that is presiding at the Mass. In fact, I am never authorized to say a Mass, even in the private of my own home. Is that not the same teaching one would find within Orthodoxy?

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): The laymen cannot bless the congregation in public because in this context he is not the correct symbol, even if a bishop or presbyter is not present but in his own home he blesses his family members as being the presence of Christ in that context. We have symbols that take on particular privileges/authority in the presence of others or in a public/private framework. Ordination limits who can do what in a public context; and it is not a matter of someone in authority saying that one has permission to do something for one to be able to do it; only ordination gives permission to do something in certain contexts.

    As a lay Catholic, I can give a blessing in public, but not a blessing that is reserved to the ordained ministry:

    Catechism of the Catholic Church
    1669 Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood: every baptized person is called to be a “blessing,” and to bless. Hence lay people may preside at certain blessings; the more a blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or deacons).

    Thank you Fr. Patrick for taking the time to answer my questions. I wanted to say “bless you” but I didn’t know if that is appropriate.

    ;-)

  137. mateo: sola scriptura is the Protestant doctrine that scriptures are the only known source of inerrant teaching for the Christian.

    Andrew McCallum: I think it would be better if you let me define sola scriptura since that is my position. No, the doctrine of sola scriptura states that it is only the Scriptures alone which have been pronounced infallibly.

    From a Catholic point of view, I think that you are confusing inspiration with inerrancy.

    INSPIRATION, BIBLICAL. The special influence of the Holy Spirit on the writers of Sacred Scripture in virtue of which God himself becomes the principal author of the books written and the sacred writer is the subordinate author. In using human beings as his instruments in the composition, God does so in harmony with the person’s nature and temperament, and with no violence to the free, natural activity of his or her human faculties. According to the Church’s teaching, “by supernatural power, God so moved and impelled them to write, He was so present to them, that the things which He ordered and those only they first rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth” (Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus, Denzinger 3293).
    http://www.therealpresence.org/cgi-bin/getdefinition.pl

    Because God is the principle author of scriptures, the scriptures also possess the character of inerrancy, since God cannot lie. The dogmas promulgated by a valid Ecumenical Council are not God-breathed in the way that the scriptures are God-breathed, but because the charismatic gift of infallibility was exercised at a valid Ecumenical Council, the dogmas promulgated by that Council are known to be inerrant.

    Andrew McCallum: We believe that there are many statements, both theological and not, which are inerrant. A statement can certainly be inerrant but not pronounced infallibly.

    If all you mean is that the dogmas promulgated by a valid Ecumenical Council are not God-breathed (inspired) then I would agree to that statement. The dogmas promulgated by a valid Ecumenical Council are inerrant because the charismatic gift of infallibility was given to the bishops that solemnly defined the dogmas of a valid Ecumenical Council. But these dogmas are not inspired, since God is not the principal author of the dogmatic formulations. The dogmas may be clumsily written, wooden in their wording, and in need of further clarification. But they are not in error.

    Andrew McCallum: However, it is only the Scriptures which were pronounced infallibly.

    Again, I believe that you are not understanding the Catholic meaning of “infallibly”. The Scriptures are inspired and inerrant, while dogmas promulgated at valid Ecumenical Councils are only inerrant.

    Andrew McCallum: There is no possibility of the Scriptures being in error since errors in Scripture, in their original autographs, would require that God has pronounced something in error.

    I completely agree.

    Andrew McCallum: Ecclesiastical statements made by councils or popes or bishops could be in error and obviously have been.

    Of course. The “Robber Council” of Ephesus was called as an Ecumenical Council, but it is not a valid Ecumenical Council. But dogmas promulgated by valid Ecumenical Councils cannot be in error, because the charismatic gift of infallibility protects the true Church from teaching error in her official teaching. Do you believe that the dogmas promulgated at the first seven Ecumenical Councils are known with certainty to be inerrant?

    Andrew McCallum: The question that is before us is whether there are any statements of councils or popes or bishops which should rightfully be said to be pronounced infallibly.

    Not from the point of view of the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholics. Dogmas promulgated at valid Ecumenical Councils are recognized by all these church to be without error, and no member of these churches can knowingly reject a dogma promulgated at a valid Ecumenical Council without being excommunicated. Where the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholics disagree is which Ecumenical Councils are to be considered as valid.

    Andrew McCallum: The Protestant argument here is that the RCC’s system of dogmatic certainties is the novelty when compared with the teachings of the Early Church.

    What do you mean by “early church”? The church that existed before the first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea? The early church that existed before the first Ecumenical Council had doctrinal certainty, because that is testified to by the scriptures:

    I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. Romans 16:17

    How were the Christians that read this letter from Paul supposed to do what Paul asked if they didn’t have a sure knowledge about what constitutes the orthodox doctrines of Christianity? Also why would anyone expect that all these doctrines to have been solemnly defined by the church? The church typically does not solemnly define doctrine until the need arises, which can be caused by an Arius, a Nestorius, a Luther, or a Calvin that begin to spread heresy.

    Andrew McCallum: This debate does not begin at the Reformation era; it begins in the Early Church.

    Please define what you mean by “early church”, and how you know what the early church believed. If you are saying that the ante-Nicene Fathers wrote little about Ecumenical Councils, well why would that be surprising, since they were, after all, ante-Nicene Fathers (Fathers that wrote before the first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea) !

    Andrew McCallum: Keith Mathison spends a great deal of space digging through the ECF corpus to determine when it was that Christian theologians first suggested the possibility of an extra-biblical statement being pronounced infallibly and whether there was any good reasons to assume that there was a necessity for such infallible pronouncements.

    It seems to me that Keith Mathison spent a great deal of time rooting around in the writings of the ante-Nicene Fathers looking for what the ante-Nicene Fathers believed about Ecumenical Councils! Is it any surprise that he found that the ante-Nicene Fathers had little to say about that topic since they had no knowledge of what was taught at the Ecumenical Councils that had not yet been convened? The ante-Nicene Fathers couldn’t have called an Ecumenical Council if they had wanted to, since these Fathers were being rounded up and killed by the Roman Emperors and secular powers that were persecuting the church. It is not until the Emperor Constantine quit persecuting the church, that the bishops could hold an Ecumenical Council.

    Andrew McCallum: If there is no good reason then we are left with the Scriptures alone as the sole source of infallibly pronounced dogma for the Church to base her judgments on.

    There is a good reason why the ante-Nicene Fathers never called an Ecumenical Council – it would have been suicide for the bishops of the church. Let’s call the bishops together in one place and hold an Ecumenical Council during the reign of Nero, or Domitian, or Trajan, or Septimus Severus, or … . Not going to happen.

  138. Mateo,

    From what I understand of the Orthodox perspective, Tradition incorporates both dogma and practice; both are fixed and not up for change by later Councils. This includes moral teaching such as about abortion, which the tradition of the Church confirms is murder and this cannot be changed. A Council is only infallible if it is consistent with previous Councils. This does not mean that there are times that a practice needs to be qualified due to new situations that make keeping of the full practice almost impossible. This does not change the practice; it qualifies it terms of the particular situation and the former practice is required in other situations.

    Regarding CCC 1546-1548, generally it is saying the same as the Orthodox position, although with some nuanced differences. The Patristic position, as far as I understand, stresses that the roles are distinguished in terms of public and private spheres rather than ministerial and common. Following St Dionysius the Areopagite, the priesthood of the laity is seen not so much set beside the ministerial hierarchy but is part of the hierarchy with its own place within it. Regarding a minister, the line from 1548: “Now the minister… possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself” is something that is not quite as I understand the Orthodox position, although “In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church” is the same as an Orthodox understanding. There is also an implied restriction in CCC to ministers being bishops and priests, whereas in patristic evidence it includes the minor orders also including lectors and cantors thus an public chanting or reading is a clerical (ordained) task, not a lay task, who in public services only speak briefly in response to the lead of the ordained orders of hierarchy.

    Regarding going to leading the Mass or Liturgy as Priest, the Orthodox are the same in that a layman can never do this.

    It has been interesting to discuss these things with you and to be refreshed in terms of the Roman Catholic teaching on these matters. We are saying very similar things, although I still think that there is a perspective/framework shift that while on the main providing the same practices can lead to variation in some matters. I find that the Roman Catholic framework does not quite lead to practices that match the patristic evidence completely; that is it doesn’t provide the canons seen in the Ecumenical Councils as expected canons from the framework and so has failed to maintain them. That is why I have tried to provide a framework that better results in the canons seen in the Ecumenical Councils pre-ninth Century and the need to keep them. Also, my thoughts are regarding the formal canonically defined Tradition of the Catholic Church as maintained by the eastern churches, yet this is not always reflected in actual practice at any particular Orthodox parish.

  139. Monk Patrick,

    A few questions:

    1. Are the Arians heretics? Why?

    2. On what ground do you assert that a Council is authoritative? You said you believe it, but Protestants don’t. You also said the Orthodox say they are. Who are those Orthodox that say they are and on what authority do they say that such a council is authoritative?

    3. “It is only interior features such as unity of opinion, historical consistency with earlier authoritative writings, in claim and in fact, and the grace of the Holy Spirit that mean that a council is infallible. “ Who gets to judge this, and why, in principle, is the “grace of the Holy Spirit” necessary since it would seem that a council would be authoritative only if it were rationally unassailable? Why the dichotomy between the extrinsic and intrinsic features? This doesn’t seem to be an Orthodox idea but rather a Protestant idea (most of my life I was a Protestant, so I’m reading into that my experience in Protestantism and what you’ve said about the iconic nature of the Church). I’m not giving you a free pass on the protestant comparison simply because you are Orthodox, and I don’t mean to do so out of contempt. Anyone in a modern society is bound to think a protestant idea now and then. : )

    Your brother in Christ,

    Brent

  140. Monk Patrick,

    Thanks for your patience; I’ve been out of town and unable to read through the more recent comments on this thread until recently. Regarding your comments in #116, I understand that by ‘group’ you meant a “set of individuals larger than one individual” and that you were “not intending to refer to the complete group of the faithful.” But, as I mentioned earlier, it is ad hoc to claim that a small group cannot be infallible while acknowledging that a larger group can be infallible. To avoid arbitrariness, you would need either to deny infallibility to the Church as a whole, or allow the [at least theoretical] possibility that smaller group within the Church could be infallible.

    You wrote:

    Surely, you are Roman Catholic because you believe in the papal claims and his authority based on some form of learning and rational decision? How is this different from a choice of faith regarding the authority of particular councils and joining a group sharing that belief?

    I have answered this question in an article titled “The Tu Quoque.” Yes, I used my learning and rational decision to locate the Church Christ founded. But I did not do so by determining the orthodox doctrine for myself, and then finding that group of Christians today whose beliefs most closely conform to the doctrine I had determined to be orthodox from my own study of Scripture. Rather, I found the ecclesial authorities Christ had established, and the bishops who succeeded them, and then conformed my doctrine to the authoritative teaching they provided, concerning the deposit of faith.

    But that is altogether different from basing the ‘authority’ of a council on its agreement with one’s own interpretation of Scripture and Tradition. (i.e. if its decrees agree with my interpretation of Scripture and Tradition, then it is authoritative; if its decrees do not agree with my interpretation of Scripture and Tradition, then it is not authoritative.) As I wrote in comment #12, “if I submit to a person on the basis of his agreement with me, in actuality the one to whom I am submitting is me.” And the same can be said of councils. If I were to determine which councils to submit to on the basis of agreement between their decrees and my interpretation of Scripture and Tradition, then in actuality the person to whom I am ‘submitting,’ is me. And that is no submission at all. That’s the reign of the individual conscience, or what Mateo called “primacy of conscience.”

    I haven’t yet seen a way in which you avoid the primacy of the individual conscience, i.e. the ‘authority’ of private judgment, if the authority of a council depends finally on your acceptance of the teaching of the council, rather than upon the bishops’ divinely-given authority through apostolic succession.

    A council is authoritative because it is of the Lord. He gives it authority.

    Of course I agree. But, Protestants claim the same about, say, the Westminster Confession of Faith. So the question to be answered is not “From whence does authentic ecclesial authority derive its authority?” We know that the answer to *that* question is “God.” Rather, the question is, “How do know whether a council has divine authority, and is therefore one to which we ought to submit?”

    Our faith is in the Lord to direct and show us the truth by inspiring the calling of councils etc. He is quite capable of doing that without the need of an infallible intermediary.

    Again, any Protestant could say the same. It sounds like you are relying on some kind of internal ‘bosom-burning’ as a way of determining whether a council is authoritative or not. Regarding the fideistic implications of bosom-burning, see comment #79.

    My rejection of the former type of council is not connected to the existence of the latter.

    I’m in full agreement with you that there was never a formal structure for the regular meeting of only the five patriarchs. But, there were ecumenical councils, and the goal for an ecumenical council is to include as many bishops as possible. So it seems very strange for there to be some kind of primacy at the level of the local particular Church with bishops, some kind of primacy at the regional level with Metropolitans / Archbishops, some kind of primacy at the Patriarchal level, and yet no primacy at the level of the universal Church. That doesn’t seem right. If primacy is needed at the other levels, then it is needed at the universal level, and Christ wouldn’t have left His Church without having provided her with primacy at that level. (That’s what Ravenna is acknowledging, I think.) But if hierarchical primacy is not needed at the level of the universal Church, then hierarchical primacy is not needed at any other level as well, and at bottom it is just solo scriptura wearing a hierarchical façade.

    Thus, the pyramid has become effectively two-tiered with a wide top. This then distorts the increasing unity of the Church to a single point, which emphasises the unity of the Church as One. Thus, the Orthodox Church appears to be a collection of independent churches rather than One Church. This distortion was partly caused by a rejection of a single See at the top of a pyramid and the important function that Rome played in portraying the unity of the Church as One Church.

    This is a fascinating paragraph, because it relates to much that I have written on my own blog. But, I’m not sure I fully understand what you are saying in this particular paragraph. It sounds like you are saying that Orthodox ecclesial structure has been [wrongly] distorted by its rejection of the important function of the Church of Rome in serving as a principle of unity for the universal Church. Instead of the hierarchy coming to one visibly unified point at its apex, and thus providing visible hierarchical unity, Orthodoxy in its present form involves a group of patriarchs and so the ecclesial unity is not intrinsic to the present hierarchical structure, but is found in communion of faith and sacraments between the patriarchs. If that’s what you are saying, then I very much agree with you regarding the importance of the bishop of Rome as the principle of visible unity. New Rome then, did not get that charism from old Rome, for otherwise, since “new Rome” (i.e. Constantinople) still has its patriarchy among the Orthodox, Orthodoxy would in no way be distorted by any lack of anything in Rome.

    In #117, you wrote:

    Primarily, an ecumenical council is ecumenical in extent because it is called to be so by the Emperor.

    I found Soloviev’s The Russian Church and the Papacy to be very helpful regarding the theological implications of caesaropapism. I have written about the relation of Church and State in “The Relation of Man’s Two Ends to Church and State.” Reason, prompted by actual grace, has a duty to cooperate in responding to divine revelation. Likewise, the State, also enlightened by grace, has a duty to serve the supernatural community directed toward its supernatural end. The notion that the State has ecclesial authority over the Church is, as Soloviev explains, a kind of ecclesial Arianism, because it denies the divine character of the Church in relation to the human character of the State.

    The intention of the council is to define the faith and praxis to be followed by all churches. This makes the council “ecumenical”; it does not mean that it will be true that is a different issue. A council though still needs the ratification of a Patriarch to be regarded as applicable within that Patriarchate.

    We need to be careful not to confuse the epistemological and the ontological. The question is not “What is necessary for the persons within a Patriarchate to regard a council as ecumenical?” The question is: What makes a council ecumenical?” Surely, it is possible for persons to regard a council as ecumenical when in fact it is not ecumenical, or for persons to regard a council as not ecumenical when in fact it is ecumenical.

    So, Rome’s slowness to accept some councils did not negate their general authority but rather only that the Pope of Rome was not willing to apply a council’s findings, or part of its findings, within his patriarchal jurisdiction. Unfortunately, such decisions ultimately become divisive if all other Patriarchs confirm the council within their territories and one fails to do so.

    Again, you seem to be saying that councils can have authority even if one or more patriarchs does not accept them. But, again, that doesn’t answer the question: What makes the council to be authoritative? Are you saying that if three patriarchs ratify it, then it is authoritative even if the other patriarchs don’t? That is, is majority patriarchal ratification sufficient to make a council ecumenical and authoritative for the whole Church?

    The truth of a council’s decision(s), ecumenical or regional, is confirmed, after a common discussion, by the unanimous agreement of the bishops present and the confirmation of the Holy Spirit thus recognising the Church as united as one in Christ.

    Are you claiming that the decrees of ecumenical councils in which there was not unanimous agreement by the bishops, are not protected from error?

    In #121 you wrote:

    The hierarchy is not given authority to rule on behalf of Christ but to manifest His rule in synergy by continuing the incarnate presence of Christ.

    If the hierarchy have no authority to rule on behalf of Christ, then how can they manifest His rule? It seems like putting in icon of Christ that depicts Him ruling in heaven, on the bishop’s chair would be better if the purpose of the bishop is not to rule on behalf of Christ, but only to manifest Christ’s rule. If the bishops have no divinely given authority, then I don’t see how your position differs essentially from that of Keith Mathison, apart from some differences in sacramental and liturgical practice. He follows his interpretation of Scripture + Tradition, and so do you. He thinks the 7th council made a wrong decision regarding icons; you don’t. So, you accept the 7th council, and he doesn’t. He thinks there is no essential distinction between bishops and presbyters in the Tradition; you do. But, fundamentally, if the bishops have no divine authority, then in essence we are left with the reign of private judgment — the primacy of the individual conscience, to determine all these things, with no authoritative Magisterium. That then is something that distinguishes Catholicism on the one hand, from both Orthodoxy and Protestantism on the other hand, namely, that Catholicism has an authoritative Magisterium, and neither Protestantism nor Orthodoxy has an authoritative magisterium.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  141. Fr. Patrick said: Unless, you can demonstrate a reason why Christ would no longer guide the Church by revealing His truth to it then the findings of councils etc can acquire the same authority as the Scriptures for the same reason that they are faithful to the Tradition passed down from the Apostles.

    Fr. Patrick (re: 134),

    We have every reason to think that the individual texts of Scripture and the canon of Scripture is infallible because God worked through the individual authors, and the ECF’s who received the canon, to produce an infallible collection of books. Our confidence that God is infallible guarantees that the final collection of Scriptures is infallible (whether or not the Church was given any special gift of infallibility). So is it possible that God could have used the Church to produce other infallible statements beyond what is stated in Scripture? Well sure it is. But since the Church can no longer claim inspiration as a reason for according certain statements as being infallibly pronounced, there needs to be some other reason for according conciliar or papal statements with a level of certainty equivalent to the Scriptures. It is here where the debate begins. It is very important to note that the debate begins in the Early Church, not in the 15th or 16th century. We Reformed are focusing on the sorts of theological discourse that characterized the earliest centuries of Christianity. As I was saying to Mateo, we have to get this straight before we move on to the Reformation.

    The best defense I have seen for rejecting sola scriptura on this website comes from Mike Liccione who said that the case for ecclesiastical infallibility can not be formally derived from either Scriptures nor the early tradition of the Christian Church, but rather the case must be made on philosophical grounds as a necessary principle in order to distinguish what must be believed concerning the Christian faith from what is mere human opinion. Philosophy thus becomes the handmaiden of theology in this case. But coming from an EO perspective I would guess you might have some misgivings about such an approach?

  142. From a Catholic point of view, I think that you are confusing inspiration with inerrancy.

    Mateo,

    I’m specifically referencing infallibility and you are saying that I am confusing inspiration with inerrancy? I’m not sure how you are coming to this conclusion from what I write. Read some of the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on “Infallibility.” From my perspective, it is a very helpful statement on infallibility from the RCC perspective. It’s the defense of the doctrine of infallibility, as nicely summarized in the CE, that I am taking issue with. We don’t have any issues with describing a particular doctrine as inerrant. We can say that man made statements on any number of things, both theological and not, are inerrant. But it is a far greater thing to say that they are infallible. And yes, if something is inspired it must be infallible, it could not be otherwise. But, as stated to Fr. Patrick, if God did not inspire something then it could still be infallible but there would have to be some other reason for according infallibility to the ecclesiastical pronouncement in question. We Reformed find that such evidence from the Early Church lacking. You have dismissed Mathison very quickly as have others here. That’s too bad. But at least note that the argument from Mathison does not begin with anything close to the Reformation. It starts with an analysis of writings of the Fathers in the earliest centuries of Christianity.

    ….the charismatic gift of infallibility protects the true Church from teaching error in her official teaching.

    You are making this statement as if it is self-evidently clear. But it’s not clear to us and does not seem to be the way that many of the ECF’s argued.

    What do you mean by “early church”? The church that existed before the first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea? The early church that existed before the first Ecumenical Council had doctrinal certainty,

    Sure, that’s not a bad place to start. So did the doctrinal certainty that Athanasius held to, if you will take his position as being representative of the Nicean pronouncements, come from his assurance of the infallibility of the Church or the infallibility of the Scriptures?

    I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. Romans 16:17….How were the Christians that read this letter from Paul supposed to do what Paul asked if they didn’t have a sure knowledge about what constitutes the orthodox doctrines of Christianity?

    And how were these Christians supposed to know that the person who sought to interpret this Scripture was interpreting it correctly? It was not as if there was some sort of list of orthodox priests and bishops to be referenced. Arianism made huge gains after Nicea because the ecclesiastical pronouncements of Nicea did not settle matters. The question in the minds of so many of the congregations was whether the Athanasian or Arian position was correct. Athanasius obviously did believe that he was orthodox and speaking for the orthodox church, but he could hardly use this fact to prove his position. The congregations were either going to be convinced from the plain meaning of Scripture or they were not.

    Enough for now….

  143. Andrew (#141):

    You wrote:

    The best defense I have seen for rejecting sola scriptura on this website comes from Mike Liccione who said that the case for ecclesiastical infallibility can not be formally derived from either Scriptures nor the early tradition of the Christian Church, but rather the case must be made on philosophical grounds as a necessary principle in order to distinguish what must be believed concerning the Christian faith from what is mere human opinion

    I appreciate the compliment, but I still think you have not fully understood my argument. I do not argue, imply, or suggest that the philosophical case for Catholicism must be made instead of a case from Scripture and Tradition. That would be utterly ahistorical and thus not Christian. I argue, rather, that the philosophical case gives us good reason to prefer the Catholic way of interpreting Scripture and Tradition to any other way which eschews ecclesial infallibility.

    I know it’s hard, but it’s very important to get opposing viewpoints right.

    Best,
    Mike

  144. Mike,

    Yes, I could have stated it better. I was just interested in getting the EO perspective.

    I should also have noted that the CE article that I referenced does have a small section trying to make the case for ecclesiastical infallibility from Tradition. I’m sure you would not consider such examples irrelevant. And neither would I.

  145. Brent,

    The Arians are heretics because they teach that the Son of God is a creature and not eternal God. This was contrary to the Apostolic Tradition as passed on in written form and unwritten form. It is also contrary to sound theology and denies theosis, so teaches a false Gospel.

    I have stated why I understand a council is authoritative in earlier comments, so please highlight what you see is missing. The Orthodox are those defined as those who accept the Seven Ecumenical Councils as authoritative and are in recognised union with other Orthodox at parish, local church, regional, patriarchal and inter-patriarchal levels. Those who identify themselves as Orthodox accept the formal beliefs of the Orthodox communion as formally attested by the bishops, with whom they hold communion. The Orthodox claim that the councils accepted as authoritative are those consistent with the Apostolic Tradition, Scripture, previous accepted Fathers and reason.

    The bishops of a council declare their unity of consensus, they affirm their conformity with established Tradition and they confirm that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s inspiration is a major factor in developing the rationally unassailable finding of a council. Also, the Holy Spirit’s primary purpose is to manifest the Son. Thus, the presence of the Spirit ensures that the Council expresses the truth of Christ, and is the teaching of Christ with the authority of Christ, and not some merely human finding, even if it is rationally unassailable. The Holy Spirit completes the mystery of the Council as also completing the other mysteries/sacraments.

    I don’t think that I am creating a dichotomy by distinguishing interior and exterior. Thus, as I understand, Protestant thinking tends to say that the exterior features are of no value or at best limited value. While I used the word only, this is not to exclude the importance of exterior factors, such as the Council is decided by bishops not laymen; these are necessary for a council to be authoritative. However, it may not have been the best choice of word to express my thought. I am saying that while certain external factors are necessary they, alone or combined, are not sufficient to guarantee a council’s authority; internal features, within the framework of certain external features, more directly relate to the truth of the council. The features that I listed are taken directly from the extant formal definitions provided at each Council in confirming its own authority; I am pulling out the features that are expressed in the Councils themselves as to why they are authoritative. There is no reference of any papal infallibility nor magesterium, as defined in the “Catholic Catechism”; if there was I would be agreeing with the Roman Catholic position. Where I believe that there is conformity with the Roman Catholic position and the Orthodox position is that any authoritative declarations need to be made at the episcopal level. This does not mean that laymen cannot be inspired and know the truth but that publicly defined and binding dogma and canons must be expressed through the bishops. A council of laymen can fulfil this function.

    Andrew,
    Please provide an argument to substantiate this statement: “But since the Church can no longer claim inspiration as a reason for according certain statements as being infallibly pronounced…” Why not? Please see the quote in #116, from the definition of faith of the Council of Chalcedon, regarding the Fathers being inspired and regarding the unerring faith of the Fathers which is immediately followed in the original by a listing of Councils, that is the Councils were unerring expressions of the Faith. Also the Council considered that it was speaking infallibly by the grace of the Lord so that the Council was able to “cast off every plague of falsehood from the sheep of Christ, and feed them with the tender leaves of truth” which would hardly be suitable if the Fathers of the Council considered that there could be some doubt about the truth of their findings.

  146. Bryan,

    Regarding the primacy of individual conscience, I essentially agree with you. Choosing to be Orthodox means also accepting the hierarchy and obedience to the faith formally defined in Councils of the hierarchs. The standard of orthodoxy is set by them and accepted by the convert. It means that one consents to its teachings as one’s own and that one is willing to accept them, just as you did in deciding to be Roman Catholic. That there is a hierarchy to which one submits, I agree is essential. The question then is which hierarchy. A self-proclaimed statement of one’s infallibility can be made by any cult leader so this in itself is insufficient to determine the correct hierarchy. Yes, agreed that the hierarchy must be able to make, are a necessary requirement for to be made, inerrant definitions of faith and in certain contexts do this infallibly. I think that Apostolic succession is the key to determining the hierarchy. That is it can trace its physical, laying on of hands, lineage back to the Apostles and also that it maintains itself consistent with Apostolic Tradition. So, from this I would say that infallibility must be combined with consistency to Tradition. To determine whether a claim of infallibility is that instituted by Christ through His Apostles requires that the hierarchy is consistent with the Tradition because Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. To rely on consistency alone without hierarchy, and its ability to make authoritative statements, I agree is open to private interpretation. In context of this, my reason for being Orthodox is that the hierarchy is consistent with Tradition and can exercise infallibly exercise authority in certain circumstances. However, while the Roman papacy claims to be able to infallibly exercise authority in certain circumstances; from my learning and reason I see that it has not remained consistent with Apostolic Tradition so it is not Christ’s appointed hierarchy.

    While I said that there was a distortion in the Orthodox hierarchy, it is not so much that it has lost its correct structure but that in the expressions of some theologians and the acts of certain regions where there has been a move away from the correct structure against the protests of the See of New Rome, which still maintains its place as the centre of union, even if other churches may not see it as such. This situation is no more a detriment to the place of New Rome, rather much less of a detriment because it maintains communion, than the lack of ability of Old Rome to maintain the unity of all the other Patriarchs in the eleventh Century; it was simply reduced to a single Patriarchate and Patriarchal authority is confused with universal authority. Having a See of Primacy is no guarantee that others will remain in union with it but does mean that they are wrong in not doing so, unless there is a valid reason, such as heresy, not to do so. Also, even though it seems to make sense having a level above the Patriarchs, the evidence does not support this and there must be a good reason, which I believe was to prevent the arising of a bishop of bishops and the danger, noted by Pope St Gregory the Great, that the fall of one see could bring down the whole Church; this was prevent by having a number of Patriarchates, not too many though, and a universal role within that but not over it.

    Regarding the role of the Emperor in calling Ecumenical Councils, I have stated this earlier that it does not mean that the Emperor has a say in the doctrinal matter of the Church; it is rather the request for the Bishops to define the Faith. As, no bishop can command a council beyond his patriarchate then only the Emperor has sufficient authority in his secular capacity to do so. It is precisely his secular capacity that enables this; if it was a clerical capacity then it would bring in another bishop of bishops, which would defeat the purpose of the Emperor calling the council, so it is not a case of caesaropapism. His role as such is clearly stated by each Ecumenical Council in its definition of Faith such as quoted in #116, so I cannot see why there is an argument here. The ratification by a Patriarch is in recognition of his dignity that nothing is done in his Patriarchate without his consent; this is not to speak to the authority of the Council but to recognise the place of each Patriarch in applying something to his patriarchate.

    The authority of a council requires a union of mind, “And this have we done with one unanimous consent” [Chalcedon] and consistency with the Fathers “We confessed that we hold, preserve, and declare to the holy churches that confession of faith…[list of previous Ecumenical Councils] the one and the same faith, which they both followed and taught. And all those wile from time to time have been condemned or anathematised by the Catholic Church, and by the aforesaid four Councils, we confessed that we hold them condemned and anathematized. [Fifth Ecumenical Council] in keeping with the Lord’s promise that: ““Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” this is recognised by the presence of the Holy Spirit and the council with these marks, in fact not merely in claim, carries the authority of the Lord. The Ecumenicity of a Council requires it being called as such, it being represented as such and ratified as such by representatives of each Patriarchate and in particular Rome (Old and/or New). I am concerned that there is a confusion between Ecumenical and authority. The issues are distinct. That is a council can be ecumenical in form but not authoritative, such as the Robber Council, and a council can be authoritative, e.g. regional councils, yet not ecumenical. However, generally speaking the name Ecumenical Council is given to councils that are both ecumenical and authoritative.

    The authority of bishops has been covered earlier in the comment. The function of manifesting Christ in iconic manner is not a passive function but an active function that is the bishop participates in the function and exercises genuine authority in the function. This is the teaching of synergy. Christ and the bishop act as one while remaining distinct. Acting on behalf of Christ implies that Christ is not present; that is one sends someone on their behalf who cannot be there themselves. Rather the bishop’s role is to make Christ present and to exercise His rule, so the bishop is not acting on the behalf of Christ but rather together with Christ.

  147. mateo: From a Catholic point of view, I think that you are confusing inspiration with inerrancy.

    Andrew McCallum: I’m specifically referencing infallibility and you are saying that I am confusing inspiration with inerrancy? I’m not sure how you are coming to this conclusion from what I write. Read some of the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on “Infallibility.” From my perspective, it is a very helpful statement on infallibility from the RCC perspective. It’s the defense of the doctrine of infallibility, as nicely summarized in the CE, that I am taking issue with. We don’t have any issues with describing a particular doctrine as inerrant. We can say that man made statements on any number of things, both theological and not, are inerrant. But it is a far greater thing to say that they are infallible.

    Yes, a statement made by a man that has not exercised the charismatic gift of infallibility can be without error. For, example, if I were to develop a proof of a new theorem of Euclidean Geometry, my new theorem could be error free. Other experts in Euclidean Geometry could examine my proof and affirm its inerrancy.

    You have hit the nail on the head when you said “We can say that man made statements on any number of things, both theological and not, are inerrant. But it is a far greater thing to say that they are infallible.” That is exactly right. The Catholics Church teaches that that the dogmas of taught by bishops at valid Ecumenical councils are infallible, because a charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit has protected these dogmas from being in error – the charismatic gift of infallibility. The Catholic Church is also saying that a specific charismatic gift, the gift of inspiration, the gift that gave us the God-breathed scriptures, was NOT exercised by the bishops at an Ecumenical Council. All scriptures are infallible, and all dogmas promulgate by bishops at a valid Ecumenical Council are infallible. But scriptures are both inspired and infallible, while dogmas taught by bishops at valid Ecumenical Councils are only infallible.

    Andrew McCallum: And yes, if something is inspired it must be infallible, it could not be otherwise.

    Agreed, Catholics and sola scriptura confessing Protestants have a doctrine that they hold in common, and that gives us a basis for dialog. We can begin by looking at what is explicitly taught in scriptures.

    Andrew McCallum: But, as stated to Fr. Patrick, if God did not inspire something then it could still be infallible but there would have to be some other reason for according infallibility to the ecclesiastical pronouncement in question. We Reformed find that such evidence from the Early Church lacking.

    I don’t understand why you find the evidence lacking – the scriptures themselves testify to this truth!

    Andrew McCallum: You have dismissed Mathison very quickly as have others here. That’s too bad. But at least note that the argument from Mathison does not begin with anything close to the Reformation. It starts with an analysis of writings of the Fathers in the earliest centuries of Christianity.

    For me, Mathison’s reply is wholly irrelevant. Mathison’s reply was to a specific argument systematically developed by Bryan Cross and Neil Judisch, and their argument had to do with the Protestant doctrine of the primacy of individual conscience (although they did not use that specific phrase – the primacy of the individual conscience). That doctrine is implicit in the doctrine of sola scriptura, and it is the doctrine of the primacy of the individual conscience that undermines the teaching authority of validly ordained bishops. Their argument was a philosophical argument, and it could have been refuted by reason, if it was in error. But Mathison never attempted to even address the philosophical argument that was systematically developed by Cross and Judish. At least not that I could see.

    mateo: ….the charismatic gift of infallibility protects the true Church from teaching error in her official teaching.

    Andrew McCallum: You are making this statement as if it is self-evidently clear. But it’s not clear to us and does not seem to be the way that many of the ECF’s argued.

    What I am saying is self-evident to me, and the evidence comes not primarily from the teachings of the ante-Nicene Fathers, but from scripture itself!

    Andrew McCallum: … did the doctrinal certainty that Athanasius held to, if you will take his position as being representative of the Nicean pronouncements, come from his assurance of the infallibility of the Church or the infallibility of the Scriptures?

    From both, of course. Ataanasisus was not a sola scriptura confessing Protestant that believed in the primacy of the individual conscience.

    I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. Romans 16:17

    mateo :How were the Christians that read this letter from Paul supposed to do what Paul asked if they didn’t have a sure knowledge about what constitutes the orthodox doctrines of Christianity?

    Andrew: And how were these Christians supposed to know that the person who sought to interpret this Scripture was interpreting it correctly? It was not as if there was some sort of list of orthodox priests and bishops to be referenced.

    Andrew, we don’t have to speculate about how the Christians in Rome would have answered this question of interpretation. We, we can look to the scriptures and know how they would have answered this question. They would not have acted like a bunch of contentious sola scriptura confessing Protestants and began endless debates based on their private interpretations of a NT that had not yet been written – endless debates that would have ended up with the Christians breaking up into divided sects – “I follow Paul” – “I follow Kephas” – “I follow Luther” – “I follow Calvin”- “I follow Wesley” …. .

    How would the Christians in Rome settled an issue of private interpretation that is dividing the church? These Christians in Rome would have known the teaching of Christ, and followed that teaching, namely, the teaching of Christ that eventually became written down in Matthew’s Gospel, the teaching of Matthew 18:15-18

    “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    Suppose a brother (or group of brothers) is teaching my children what I think is heresy. What am I supposed to do if the brother doesn’t listen to me and persist from teaching heresy? What if he doesn’t listen to my two witnesses that agree with me that he is teaching heresy? What if the brother doesn’t listen to me or my two witnesses, because he is sure that his private interpretation of Apostolic teaching is correct? The teaching of Christ is explicit in this matter, we must take the issue to the church – the church that Christ founded – and we let the church settle the matter. We don’t take the issue to the church that Luther founded, or the church that John Calvin founded, or the church that Aimee Semple McPherson founded. We take the issue to the church that Christ founded, the church against which the powers of death can never prevail.

    The scriptures itself have a clear example of this teaching of Christ being put into action:

    But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” [A mistaken opinion about doctrine based on their unauthorized private interpretation of the OT scriptures] And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.

    What is the doctrine of the church that is promulgated by this council? It is this:

    They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren, with the following letter: “The brethren, both the apostles and the elders, to the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greeting. Since we have heard that some persons from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”
    Acts 22-30

    The teaching sent back by the Council of Jerusalem was the product of debate – “The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate … ”. The end result of that debate was a teaching that was infallible: “It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you …”

    Andrew McCallum: But, as stated to Fr. Patrick, if God did not inspire something then it could still be infallible but there would have to be some other reason for according infallibility to the ecclesiastical pronouncement in question. We Reformed find that such evidence from the Early Church lacking.

    How can the “Reformed” not understand the meaning of “it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us”? In Acts chapter 15 we see a council being called to settle a matter of doctrine that is causing dissension in the church. Some Christians have privately interpreted the scriptures to say that it is a doctrine that unless the Gentile converts are “circumcised according to the custom of Moses, [they] cannot be saved.” That unauthorized and mistaken private interpretation of scriptures is rejected by the council, and the ultimate teaching of the council is not merely the product of men debating, it is the product of the church debating and exercising the charismatic gift of infallibility – “ “It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us …”.

  148. Andrew M,

    You said the debate should start in the early church. When exactly? Before or after St. Ignatius wrote regarding the Eucharist as the “body and blood of Christ”? Before, at the time of, or after St. Augustine alluded to a post-mortem purgation. Or maybe right after St. Cyprian wrote:

    “On him (Peter) He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep, and although He assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet He founded a single chair (cathedra), and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity…. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he (should) desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church? On the Unity of the Catholic Church, 251 A.D.

    The problem with that theory is that the default position for 1,500 years before the Reformation and the assumption of the Reformation (particularly Luther) was that the Catholic Church is the Church Jesus established. However, according to the reformers, it had apostatized and they–the reformers–would re-establish Christ’s Church through the teaching of the true gospel. To be fair to Calvin, he posits that the Church exists even if you could not see it (hmmm, maybe that’s what Bryan is talking about), but that only where there is pure teaching there is the Church (Institutes–Epistle Dedicatory, 5.). This of course begs the question who decides what is pure teaching.

    The question then is not whether or not Catholicism is true, but whether or not Protestantism is true. If Protestantism is true, is not a question the early Church had, it is a question of whether or not the 15/16th aforementioned thesis is accurate. If it is not, you should go back to the Catholic Church, but you would have no principled ground to remain Reformed Protestant. You could, of course, become ahistorical and become evangelical and hold to the theory that there always has existed a remnant church, here and there, until these last days when Willow Bend, Church on the Way, and Father’s House could abound.

    Actually, I find the anabaptist position to be the most refreshingly consistent with the reformed principles. Let’s just start over with me and my bible and see what happens.

    The best,

    Brent

  149. Monk Patrick (re: #146),

    Thanks very much for your reply. I’m understanding you a little better. Some things still aren’t clear to me.

    You wrote:

    Regarding the role of the Emperor in calling Ecumenical Councils, I have stated this earlier that it does not mean that the Emperor has a say in the doctrinal matter of the Church; it is rather the request for the Bishops to define the Faith. As, no bishop can command a council beyond his patriarchate then only the Emperor has sufficient authority in his secular capacity to do so. It is precisely his secular capacity that enables this; if it was a clerical capacity then it would bring in another bishop of bishops, which would defeat the purpose of the Emperor calling the council, so it is not a case of caesaropapism.

    I wasn’t denying the ability of the emperor to request the bishops to hold a council. But, the emperor does not have the authority to force bishops to assemble in council, because he has no ecclesial authority. That is why, for example, the government of China has no authority to ordain whichever bishops it wants for the Catholic Church in China (see here, here, and here).

    So, this is why your argument in the above quoted paragraph is puzzling to me. You argument goes something like this:

    (1) If the authority to call an ecumenical council were a clerical capacity then it would require there to be a “bishop of bishops.”

    (2) There can be no “bishops of bishops.”

    Therefore,

    (3) The authority to call an ecumenical council cannot be a clerical capacity [from (1) and (2)]

    (4) Someone has to have the authority to call an ecumenical council (because Christ would not leave His Church without the authority — in it or along side it — to call ecumenical councils).

    (5) With regard to non-clerical authority, no one but the emperor is suited to calling an ecumenical council.

    Therefore,

    (6) Only the emperor has the authority to call an ecumenical council. [from (3), (4), and (5)]

    If, in your opinion, only the emperor as the authority to call an ecumenical council, then did the ability of the Church to hold an ecumenical council cease when Constantine XI died in 1453, or was it lost from that year at least until a future revival of the Roman empire and a new Roman emperor arises? If that authority to call an ecumenical council was not lost in 1453, then in your opinion which political leader now holds the authority to call an ecumenical council? (The only present political equivalent to the Roman emperor would be something like the United Nations.)

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  150. Monk Patrick,

    From my point of view, the six line argument I sketched out in #149 is a kind of reductio. The conclusion [i.e. line (6)] obviously cannot be true; therefore one of the premises must be false. The particular premise that is false, in my opinion, is premise (2), for the reasons Phil Porvaznik argues here. In other words, if on the one hand I have to choose between the Church being dependent on the Roman emperor (or the United Nations) to call an ecumenical council, or on the other hand the possibility that your interpretation of the meaning of St. Gregory the Great’s statement about a “universal bishop” or “bishop of bishops” [as you have stated it in comments #121, 126, 127, and 146] is mistaken, it seems to me that there is better evidence (in light of Phil Porvaznik’s evidence and argumentation linked just above, and Soloviev’s argumentation in The Russian Church and the Papacy regarding caesaropapism) that line (2) of the argument in comment #149 is false, than that line (6) of the argument is true.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  151. Brent,

    You said the debate should start in the early church. When exactly?

    The CE article takes several examples from the first three centuries of the Church. Like I said before, this is not a bad place to start. Keith Mathison also starts in this time period.

    The statement that the Medieval Church assumed the Medieval Church was the Church Christ established is undeniable. Of course this was assumed and would have been assumed whether or not it was true. But the system of Medieval speculative dogmatic theology that gave birth to the precise definitions of the hierarchy of ecclesiastical certainties would have been unrecognizable to the theologians of the Early Church. The nature of theological discourse was distinctly different and the Medieval Church’s assumption that their system was in line with Early Church theology is just that, an assumption. So what the Protestant Reformers did was to test that assumption by going back to the same era that the CE does and look at whether there was any evidence that these theologians ascribed infallibility to anything besides Scripture. I think my example of Athanasius was apropos. Athanasius is absolutely certain that the Arians were wrong, but the question at hand is what the basis of this certainty was. Our contention is that Athanaius’ certainty came from the plain meaning of Scripture (as such Scripture was proclaimed by the officers of the Church), not the fact that a particular interpretation of Scripture had been pronounced infallibly by bishops or a council. But you can read Athanasius yourself and decide.

    In Keith Mathison’s analysis of the subject he quotes the Orthodox scholar George Florevsky who says that in the Early Church biblical exegesis was “the main and probably the only theological method, and the authority of the Scriptures was sovereign and supreme.” There was no appeal to any body of doctrine which had been pronounced infallibly, except for the Scriptures. Or so it would seem from what we can understand of the nature of theological argumentation in the Early Church. But again, you can go through the sorts of arguments that Keith Mathison makes in The Shape of Sola Scriptura and read the Fathers that he discusses. If what Mathison says is true then I think it is very difficult to say that the Medieval understanding of certain ecclesiastical authority is a proper development of ECF’s understanding of the matter.

    If Protestantism is true, is not a question the early Church had, it is a question of whether or not the 15/16th aforementioned thesis is accurate.

    But before we go to the 15th and 16th centuries to see if the Protestants had a position in line with that of the ECF’s on this issue, we first have to decide what it was that the ECF’s were saying. Let’s begin at the beginning.

  152. Bryan,

    The six line argument that you wrote is the logic with which Orthodox work. The UN could be a suitable candidate for the process, although its real authority may be a problem, and a request could be made by the Patriarchs for a UN resolution to be passed to call them to Council at such a time and place with such an agenda. This would certainly solve the problem that the Patriarch of Moscow has with the idea of Constantinople calling the Council, and hence exercising a jurisdiction that could imply being bishop of bishops.

    Regarding the correctness of bishop of bishops, this quote from the Catholic Catechism as found on the Vatican website is one that I think is contrary to the position of St Gregory the Great, Pope of Old Rome, even taking into account the reasons of Phil Porvazink: “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.” It is the full, supreme and universal unhindered power that is the problem and makes the Pope bishop of bishops in a manner to which St Gregory would object. To prevent this there needs to be limits on his power that recognises the authority of other bishops, which Phil claims should be the case. Thus, a Pope should have not right to usurp a Metropolitan’s right to ordain the bishops of his region nor can the Pope ordain a priest within a local diocese of another bishop without the consent of that bishop nor do any other episcopal function in a local diocese without the consent of the local bishop; the Pope’s power is hindered by requiring consent or is not full. It is not the issue of a universal role of the Pope nor certain powers with that role to which I object, as would a Protestant, but to it being unlimited so as to infringe the rights of other bishops, hence why the top of the hierarchy was deliberately left blunt. Reasons such as written by Phil are interesting to read but often because they are targeted at Protestants there can be a lack of distinctions between various aspects of universal jurisdiction that are needed in debate with Orthodox.

    The historical evidence supports the line of my argument, all the Ecumenical Councils state to have been called together by the Emperor and not by the Pope of Rome; if this was not necessary nor appropriate then we would not see such evidence. All “Ecumenical Councils” called by the Pope post-Schism are really Patriarchal Councils because the Roman Catholic communion of churches was reduced to one Patriarchate and so the Pope/Patriarch of Rome had the authority to call such councils. Your case needs to properly explain this evidence; why if the Pope could call Ecumenical Councils, and is the proper person in Tradition to do so, are all the Councils called by the Emperors and not the Pope? As such I find line (6) more accurate to the historical evidence than saying that line (2) is false and that there is a good logic to it. Again, it is one thing to claim that all bishop are real successors with authority, such as said by Phil, but this authority needs to be protected to recognise the equality of the episcopate and so, while the Pope does have certain authority vis a vie the bishops this must be limited to respect their equality and own dignity. This is a balance that I find in the Canons and in the formal structure of the eastern churches but lacking among the western churches since the Schism.

    Finally, also to be remembered is that according to the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils the Patriarch of New Rome has the same privileges and priorities as the Pope of Old Rome. So, whatever one wishes to claim for Rome is also to be affirmed for Constantinople. Again, St Peter was not singularly head of the Apostles, he shared this equally with St Paul, yet without this affecting the unique role that he had. A model of Petrine primacy must provide an account for this.

  153. Bryan,

    After saying finally, I noted that there was another point that needed response. There must not be confusion between the role of the Emperor in terms of calling an Ecumenical Council and in appointing bishops by his own power with the consent of the Church. These are different matters and again confuse the authority to call bishops into an Ecumenical Council in his secular capacity/authority, which he has, and appointing a bishop which is to exercise episcopal capacity/authority, which he does not have. This does not mean that the Emperor has authority within the Council to determine doctrine only in calling together the bishops into an Ecumenical Council.

    Another quote from the Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon: “The holy, great, and ecumenical synod, assembled by the grace of God and the command of our most religious and Christian Emperors, Marcian and Valentinan, Augusti, at Chalcedon” Assuming that the translation recognises the difference in Greek between request and command, it seems that the Council understood that the Emperor could command and not merely request a Council. And also from the third Ecumenical Council: “The holy and ecumenical Synod, gathered together in Ephesus by the decree of our most religious Emperors” and the word “decree” was also used to state: “the Holy
    Synod, by one common decree, deposed them from all ecclesiastical communion, and deprived them of all their priestly power…” This not seem to be able to be understood as a request but an authoritative command.

  154. Monk Patrick,

    Thanks for your recent comments. They merit a longer reply, but before I write that reply, I would like a clarification. It is still not clear to me what your answer to my question is about the locus of the political authority to call an ecumenical council, between the death of Constantine XI in 1453, and the formation of the United Nations in 1945. During those 492 years, who, in your opinion, had the authority to call ecumenical councils? I want to understand the implications of believing that the power of the Church to hold an ecumenical council is necessarily dependent on the existence of a one-world government (or an attempt at a one-world government). Since you agree with the six line argument in #149, you affirm line (4) of that argument. You believe that someone has to have the authority to call an ecumenical council, because Christ would not leave His Church without the authority — in it or along side it — to call ecumenical councils. And since in your opinion the authority to call ecumenical councils has to be political (not clerical), and since such authority must be over all the bishops (or at least over all the patriarchs), so that they are obligated by this authority to convene an ecumenical council when he commands, in that case you must believe that there was a one-world government (or at least a political authority attempting to exercise one-world governance) during the 492 years between 1453 and the formation of the United Nations in 1945. So, I am wondering which political authority that was, in your opinion, that during those 492 years retained the authority to call ecumenical councils.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  155. Andrew #151,

    But you are starting from the beginning as a Protestant. Unless the 15th/16th century thesis can be validated, you are better to go back to the Catholic Church and then, within that Church, seek to reform her in line with your reading of the ECF’s. Do you think the ECF’s were Protestant? If not, why are you Protestant or why do you care what they say? If so, can you point to some more evidence than a few citations that demonstrate that they had a high view of Scripture–which of course Catholics do–and actually demonstrate that their theology is more like yours than say St. Thomas regarding ecclesiology, the Eucharist, Confession, Purgatory, The Blessed Virgin, et. al.?

    Warmly in Christ,

    Brent

  156. Andrew,

    The problem with taking pre-Nicaean Fathers in terms of what they used as authoritative texts is that the Ecumenical Councils had yet to be held and there were few other formal written definitions of faith that could stand with Scriptures, so it was be obvious that they relied on Scripture as written authority. One needs to see during the fourth and fifth Century how the Fathers accepted and used the Councils with the Scriptures. I have not seen any testimony that the Councils were rejected as authorities on sola Scripture grounds and there was no protest to the calling of Councils per se and to their authority in matters of faith, so it seems that the Fathers of the fourth and later centuries were consistent with the thought of earlier Fathers. The Fathers are overall very conservative; they would not accept a change without a noticeable protest and struggle. Thus, the idea that Constantine in some way formally brought in pagan aspects to the Church or changed its way of operation doesn’t fit the evidence. Nevertheless, even with Scripture as the only written authority, the early Fathers appealed constantly to Tradition, written and unwritten, and to the example of the preeminent Sees, such as Rome, and their constant preservation of Tradition. There was also the place of the hierarchy and regional councils were held to determine the truth of matters. The early Fathers were not Protestant but Catholics, just the Orthodox variety than the Roman Catholic Papal variety. ;)

    P.S. Medieval Church means something different to Orthodox and to Roman Catholics, so one needs to be very specific about what is being talked about including dates and places.

  157. Bryan,

    There were no Ecumenical Councils for the first three hundred years of the life of the Church but this did not adversely affect the preservation of Tradition and so the fall of the Empire in 1453 would not necessarily have adverse effect either. There can still be regional and Patriarchal Councils that can still have an authoritative value, if not Ecumenical in extent. Also, there is a sense of the sufficiency of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, even though the Council of 879 can be rightly considered Ecumenical. So, even before the fall of the Empire the calling of Ecumenical Councils had been somewhat completed in need, although that is not to say that another could not be held but that there is no need for a regular holding of Ecumenical Councils; they are extraordinary events rather than normal events. Thus, that there was no emperor to call a council is not something that meant an important and necessary means of governing the Church was absent. Christ can still lead it without Ecumenical Councils.

  158. Monk Patrick, (re: #157)

    So are you saying that during the four hundred and ninety-two years from 1453 until the United Nations was formed in 1945, the Church did not have the ability to convene an ecumenical council, because there was no one-world government (or an at least moderately successful attempt at one)? I’m not asking whether you think an ecumenical council was necessary during that time period; I know you think none was necessary. I’m asking whether you think it was impossible for an ecumenical council to be called during that time period, given the absence of an emperor, until the formation of the United Nations in 1945.

    When the Apostles convened the Jerusalem Council in AD 50 (cf. Acts 15), why didn’t they need the command of Claudius Caesar, who was the reigning emperor at that time? (Or do you assume that Claudius must have sent such a command to all the Apostles, and that we simply have no historical record of it?)

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  159. Gentlemen:

    Although I’ve been following this thread with some interest, so far I’ve said rather little, in the hope that I’d see the issues discussed along lines different from those with which I was already familiar. So far, I can say that my hope has been in vain. The newest things I’ve heard from the Orthodox on ecclesiology and ecumenism come from Ravenna and Metropoltian Kallistos (Ware); as I expected, the Orthodox who have contributed to this thread are not of one mind about those sources. There just is no voice within Orthodoxy that is authorized to speak and judge on its behalf about any matter that wasn’t settled before the fall of the Byzantine empire. About such matters, all we seem to have are opinions. Some, such as those of the Ravenna participants, are more helpful than others, such as Monk Patrick’s. But none bind anybody.

    That, to my mind, is a more telling criticism of Orthodoxy than anything else in particular I could say.

    Best,
    Mike

  160. Bryan,

    My response was to point out that because Ecumenical Councils are not required at every point of time then if there is a time that it is impossible to call them due to a lack of Emperor this would not inhibit the function of the Church; it would not be missing something essential to herself. The short answer to your question is: yes an Ecumenical council could not have been called during this time, so? Although, in answering this, I am not precluding the possibility that there was an authority that could have called an Ecumenical Council during this time.

    The Council of Jerusalem is not known as an “Ecumenical Council” by anyone of which I am aware, the first Ecumenical Council is that called by St Constantine, so the relationship of the Jerusalem council to the Emperor is irrelevant. I have not said that there cannot be Church councils without an Emperor, the vast majority of councils are called by churchmen, and history has shown a number of pan-Orthodox Councils consisting of representatives from all Patriarchates and self-governing churches but they were not called Ecumenical. They neither carry the formally accepted authority as one, although nevertheless, they still carry a considerable weight of authority, similar perhaps to a Papal encyclical which I believe is not formally an infallible pronouncement nor ranked with Ecumenical Councils but is nevertheless of considerable authority.

    I have not yet seen a response to my question in #146 as how does one determine that the Papacy is the hierarchy established by Christ given that its claim to be the only hierarchy with some form of infallibility is challenged by the Orthodox Church? How does one distinguish it from a cult where the leader claims infallibility for himself singularly, even if also possible in group, and absolute obedience by all members?

  161. Mike,

    I am sorry that your hopes were disappointed but what were you expecting? I starting commenting in this post because the proposal of Ravenna mentioned by Metropolitan Kallistos is not in keeping with the historical evidence of Church hierarchy. Granted that I have been rather polemical in this thread at times, but that is to put some theories to a vigorous test , which has been a beneficial exercise in helping to see what is important in Roman Catholic hierarchy and how also that these issues are also addressed and fulfilled in the hierarchy as maintained by Orthodox. All this is providing options for continuing the work of Ravenna as well as continuing the debate of why not all accept one of the Traditions without modifying it. I could discard remaining faithful to the canonical tradition of the Church and suggest solutions for a united hierarchical structure but by doing so how could it be claimed to be a structure grounded in Apostolic Tradition and not a human fabrication, and thus could it stand the test of time and would it not undermine the Church’s claim as to its authority? If we follow Ravenna, then what are we to do with Constantinople and the Canons regarding her equality with Rome? Are we to drop her into a Patriarchal Council with the other members but perhaps first among them with Rome as the single president of the Council? Yet, how does this fulfil the canons because Constantinople will have no more privileges in this case than the other Patriarchs and certainly it was not have the priority of presidency in the Council? How do we by putting aside Tradition, or parts thereof, admit that we are the Church; this is is much more difficult for Orthodox than Roman Catholics because consistency with Tradition is essential for Orthodox identity whereas faithfulness to the Papacy allows the Pope to be freer to amend things while maintaining the faithful; the Orthodox bishops do not have this room, as seen in my comments in this post as an protesting member of the Church.

    To put aside history and canons, which must be done mutually, then here are some ideas. Would Rome accept presidency of a Patriarchal council, in terms of Apostolic Canon 34 of mutual consent, with Constantinople giving up its privilege of equality with Old Rome in return that Rome agrees to accept the dignity of the other Patriarchs in ordaining Bishops, as well as the Patriarchs being elected by their own Patriarchate, without the need of the consent of Rome and that Rome has no right to act within their territories without consent of the Patriarch/Bishops? Would the Pope accept exercise of infallibility only in terms of a Council of which he is chair and that his consent is required and not alone ex cathedra? We could be more historical and rather than a regular Patriarchal Council accept the right of the Pope to call Ecumenical Councils within which to exercise infallible judgements; this right of calling could be shared by the Constantinople, although only the Pope would be president of the Council. There could be an understand of the need to remain in union with Rome to be in the Church, protected from any Papal abuse by having mutually consenting counsels as the only means to enforce any practices etc in the Church. The Pope could continue encyclicals, also shared by the Patriarch and any disputes would be settled in Council. Any possibilities in these ideas?

  162. Monk Patrick,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m headed out the door, so my answer to your question will be delayed. But my answer would begin with a careful study of what the Church Fathers say about the charism Christ gave to St. Peter, and his role as the principle of unity of the Church. See The Chair of St. Peter, and St. Optatus on Schism and the Bishop of Rome.” My answer would also include what the Easter bishops signed when they signed the Formula of Hormisdas, which states:

    I promise that from now on those who are separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who are not in agreement with the Apostolic See, will not have their names read during the sacred mysteries.

    Much more needs to be said, but it will have to wait. May God continue to bring peace and reconciliation to all those who love Him.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  163. Fr Patrick,

    I have a brief request for you, if you don’t mind:

    It appears this discussion has gotten so long that Perry has stopped following it – and I admit I’ve not been able to keep up fully myself – but I and others were really hoping to see the Links where Perry has discussed the Circularity Charge (see Posts #118; re:#111, #114).

    Could you please ask Perry what those Links are and/or if he is planning on writing up a new article on it for Energetic Processions?

    Thanks

  164. Brent (re:155),

    But you are starting from the beginning as a Protestant.

    And you are starting from the beginning as a Roman Catholic. We cannot escape the fact that we bring intellectual and spiritual presuppositions to the table. You and I are certainly not neutral as we approach the ECF’s. This is why there is value in theologically uncommitted observers listening in. I don’t think such folks are entirely neutral but they are more so than you or I.

    On the matter at hand, it seems to me that there are NO ECF’s that back the modern Roman Catholic assumptions about ecclesiastical infallibility. The holding of even ecumenical councils do not change this. You still have folks like Athanasius arguing foundationally from Scripture rather than conciliar pronouncements after Nicea. The attempt that the CE makes to prove ecclesiastical infallibility from early Tradition seems very weak. They use sources which certainly demonstrate that the ECF’s believed that tradition was necessary and authoritative but never infallible.

    But I would add that in terms of dialogue, if RC’s can get away with trying to start the discussion by juxtaposing 15th and 16th century Protestant and Catholic thought, then there is some progress being made.

  165. Fr. Patrick (re:156),

    I would first note that my references to Athanasius were from his discourses against the Arians which were written well after the Nicean pronouncements were established tradition. Nicea did not solve anything in terms of providing an absolute standard, and the Arians continued to make huge strides against the Trinitarians. The argument that the ECF’s like Athanasius are making is that the Arians have ignored the plain meaning of Scripture. It seems to me that at this point in the history of the Church Scripture still rained supreme.

    But even before the ecumenical councils there were still important theological debates, and at least on a regional level, the congregations of Christianity were able to resolve matters with only the Scriptures as an infallible standard.

    At some point in the history of the Western Church we can find evidence of at least the suggestion that extra-biblical tradition should be accorded the sort of epidemiological status that the Scholastics would codify centuries later. For us Protestants there are two logical possibilities – either such developments were in line with with previous ecclesiastical statements about revelation or they were not. Perhaps this is analogous to the way that an EO theologian might argue against papal primacy as the RCC conceives of it – either such Roman developments in the Western Medieval Church were in line with previous understandings of the role of the Roman See or they were not.

  166. Andrew,

    And you are starting from the beginning as a Roman Catholic. We cannot escape the fact that we bring intellectual and spiritual presuppositions to the table.

    The point, Andrew, was that Luther and Calvin were starting as Roman Catholics. I’m a convert, so I started as a Protestant, and then suspended my judgment/presuppositions (I had rather loaded ones) and considered the claims of the Reformers against actual Catholic teaching (putting myself in the shoes of a 15/16th century person). I tried to assume people like Peter Lombard, St. Thomas Aquinas, Chesterton and Blessed Newman weren’t total dupes. This is an intellectually honest project, not one that claims biases and then does nothing to suspend those biases. I had nothing to gain by becoming Catholic other than to follow the Christ whom the Protestant church taught me to love.

    As a Protestant, my theological forebears were the Reformers, and if their positions are untenable, then it would be at the least best to try to figure out how to be Catholic or something else; but I would have no principled reason to continue to be Protestant no matter what I think the ECF’s teach or don’t teach regarding Papal infallibility with reference to the 20th century. This, I think, is the most logical and historical course of action, or else I am bound to simply become the ahistorical man. You do have another option, and that is to start a new reformation, apposing the Catholic Church anew and starting a new church.

    You can fall on the sword of papal infallibility on your road to Rome if you like–call it unclear or whatever–but that still doesn’t obfuscate your responsibility to demonstrate how Protestant doctrines are more in line on just a few of the topics I referenced in #155. Further, it would seem more incumbent upon you to show how the modern notion of the Papacy is not an organic development of the Tradition. This, I think, is what is germane to the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, and once ironed out, portends the terminus of the official protest.

    Peace to you on your journey,

    Brent

  167. @Andrew:

    We cannot escape the fact that we bring intellectual and spiritual presuppositions to the table.

    I think this rather misses the point. If we do bring our presuppositions to the table – and we do, of course – and simply leave them unexamined, we are going to get nowhere. It is precisely the presuppositions themselves that we are discussing, or else we are just conducting each his own monologue into vacuum.

    jj

  168. Monk Patrick,

    You wrote: “If we follow Ravenna, then what are we to do with Constantinople and the Canons regarding her equality with Rome? Are we to drop her into a Patriarchal Council with the other members but perhaps first among them with Rome as the single president of the Council? Yet, how does this fulfil the canons because Constantinople will have no more privileges in this case than the other Patriarchs and certainly it was not have the priority of presidency in the Council?”

    Are you sure that this is the right interpretation of the 28th canon? I thought it was about two things: equal honor with Old Rome, and the power to ordain certain metropolitan Bishops. I don’t remember it being about equal power with Old Rome. There was a big distinction between power and honor in the antique Church.

    I know that later people in Constantinople sought to interpret the canon differently. But I think there is a clear and documented history of the existence of a nationalist/separatist party among the clergy of Constantinople, and that the interpretation of the 28th canon that you have referred to is an example of their unfortunate but steady rise from the time of Arianism through the beginnings of the current Schism.

    You wanted an example of something from antiquity that didn’t fit in with your ecclesiology. I think the entire era of the undivided Church between about 380 and 430 contains ample evidence that the Popes taught decisively that they had the power to make binding doctrinal decrees for the whole Church. Other saints backed them up on this. And — most importantly — great defenders of orthodoxy who were willing to risk their lives and all their possessions for the sake of defending the truth did not attack these declarations and practices like they did the declarations and practices of, for instance, Nestorius.

    As one example, Pope Innocent the I wrote to the Bishops at Carthage around 417 AD: “In making inquiry with respect to those things that should be treated with all solicitude by bishops, and especially by a true and just and Catholic Council, by preserving, as you have done, the example of ancient tradition, and by being mindful of ecclesiastical discipline, you have truly strengthened the vigour of our Faith, no less now in consulting us than before in passing sentence. For you decided that it was proper to refer to our judgement, knowing what is due to the Apostolic See, since all we who are set in this place, desire to follow the Apostle (Peter) from whom the very episcopate and whole authority of this name is derived. Following in his steps, we know how to condemn the evil and to approve the good. So also, you have by your sacerdotal office preserved the customs of the Fathers, and have not spurned that which they decreed by a divine and not human sentence, that whatsoever is done, even though it be in distant provinces, should not be ended without being brought to the knowledge of this See, that by its authority the whole just pronouncement should be strengthened, and that from it all other Churches (like waters flowing from their natal source and flowing through the different regions of the world, the pure streams of one incorrupt head), should receive what they ought to enjoin, whom they ought to wash, and whom that water, worthy of pure bodies, should avoid as defiled with uncleansable filth. I congratulate you, therefore, dearest brethren, that you have directed letters to us by our brother and fellow-bishop Julius, and that, while caring for the Churches which you rule, you also show your solicitude for the well-being of all, and that you ask for a decree that shall profit all the Churches of the world at once; so that the Church being established in her rules and confirmed by this decree of just pronouncement against such errors, may be unable to fear those men, etc.”

    Innocent teaches that the practice of asking for a final doctrinal decree from Rome was so important and ancient that it was equally important to defending the faith from Pelagianism itself. He teaches that this decree was for the benefit of the whole world.

    And Augustine wrote of this Pope’s letter the following: “After letters had come to us from the East, discussing the case in the clearest manner, we were bound not to fail in assisting the Church’s need with such episcopal authority as we possess (nullo modo jam qualicumque episcopali auctoritate deesse Ecclesiae debueramus). In consequence, relations as to this matter were sent from two Councils — those of Carthage and of Milevis — to the Apostolic See, before the ecclesiastical acts by which Pelagius is said to have been acquitted had come into our hands or into Africa at all. We also wrote to Pope Innocent, of blessed memory a private letter, besides the relations of the Councils, wherein we described the case at greater length, TO ALL OF THESE HE ANSWERED IN THE MANNER WHICH WAS THE RIGHT AND DUTY OF THE BISHOP OF THE APOSTOLIC SEE (Ad omnia nobis ille rescripsit eo modo quo fas erat atque oportebat Apostolicae sedis Antistitem). All of which you may now read, if perchance none of them or not all of them have yet received you; in them you will see that, while he has preserved the moderation which was right, so that the heretic should not be condemned if he condemns his errors, yet the new and pernicious error is so restrained by ecclesiastical authority that we much wonder that there should be any still remaining who, by any error whatsoever, try to fight against the grace of God….”

    Read the numerous attestations of how it was the pope’s actual authority that disarmed the heresy, regardless of the decsisions of the patriarch of Jerusalem or those of any other opinions of Bishops around the world. You can read them at the following links (skip the stuff about protestants at the beginning):
    http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/num16.htm
    http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/num17.htm

    On top of all the positive attestations, where are the negative ones from the defenders of orthodoxy? Where was Cyril when the Popes of his era said that no one could reverse a binding papal decree? Where was he when the Popes had bishops removed from their sees for disobeying one? Where was he when the Popes and all the people who agreed with them claimed this authority was divine in origin? Am I to believe that his whole personality changed into “let’s not rock the boat” when dealing with the heretical Pope of Rome, as opposed to the heretical leaders of Constantinople which he so bravely resisted? And why is this strange double personality true of all the early defenders of orthodoxy?

    Innocent’s letter sounds like something Leo XIII might write to Catholics. But it doesn’t sound like anything a modern Orthodox would accept. Would the modern Orthodox respond the way Augustine or Cyril did? Or would they respond the way the bravest of the heretics of that era did (basically, more or less “who said you were in charge around here?). I should note that the less brave heretics tried to pretend that they were approved by Rome anyway; such was the importance of the ancient and universal practice, of divine origin, for establishing doctrine within the Church of Christ.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  169. Andrew McCallum,

    I will have to disagree with you and what you said about the Pre-Nicene fathers and Scripture. I’ve been reading them off and on since 1997/1998 and I know that what you say isn’t true. Eventually I will get to that issue after I handle the issue I’m dealing with right now.

  170. If we do bring our presuppositions to the table – and we do, of course – and simply leave them unexamined, we are going to get nowhere.

    John, I agree with this 100% and would add that this is why the Protestants come to sites such as CTC. We want our presuppositions examined. I hope this is true of the Catholics as well.

    In #155 Brent told me that I was “starting from the beginning as a Protestant.” To me this is just stating the obvious. Equally as obvious is that fact that he is starting from the beginning as a Roman Catholic and hence my comment about not being able to escape such things. Sometimes I get the feeling that the Reformed folks turned Catholic perceive that this is less of a problem for them, but I would not agree. From my perspective the situation is analogous to what Chesterton notes in Everlasting Man of Christians turned agnostic/atheist skeptics. Such folks think they are better able to judge Christianity because they were part of a Christian communion, but as Chesterton points out, it’s often excessively difficult to have an objective discussion about Christianity with such people. My observation is it is often a very similar sort of problem with the Reformed turn Catholic (no doubt equally true of those going the opposite direction).

    Anyway, my encouragement to Brent was that we being with trying to investigate the ECF’s, and specifically their understanding of revelation, before we get into a discussion of the idiosyncracies of Scholastic vs. Reformed understanding of revelation. I have to admit that my first inclination is to point out what a curious novelty Roman Scholasticism is in the history of Christian thought, but if I start here then I’m doing exactly what Brent is by starting with the perceived novelty of the Reformed approach to revelation. So again, if we are going to use the history of Christian tradition as a point of contact between Catholic and Protestant, as best as we can, let’s begin at the beginning.

  171. K. Doran,

    Canon 28 states:

    Everywhere following the decrees of the Holy Fathers, and aware of the recently recognized Canon of the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops who convened during the reign of Theodosius the Great of pious memory, who became emperor in the imperial city of Constantinople otherwise known as New Rome; we too decree and vote the same things in regard to the privileges and priorities of the most holy Church of that same Constantinople and New Rome. And this is in keeping with the fact that the Fathers naturally enough granted the priorities to the throne of Old Rome on account of her being the imperial capital. And motivated by the same object and aim the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the city which is the seat of an empire, and of a senate, and is equal to old imperial Rome in respect of other privileges and priorities, should be magnified also as she is in respect of ecclesiastical affairs, as coming next after her, or as being second to her. And it is arranged so that only the Metropolitans of the Pontic, Asian, and Thracian dioceses shall be ordained by the most holy throne of the most holy Church of Constantinople aforesaid, and likewise the Bishops of the aforesaid dioceses which are situated in barbarian lands; that is to say, that each Metropolitan of the aforesaid dioceses, together with the Bishops of the province, shall ordain the Bishops of the province, just as is prescribed by the divine Canons. But the Metropolitans of the aforesaid dioceses, as has been said, are to be ordained by the Archbishop of Constantinople, after the elections have first been conducted in accordance with custom, and have been reported to him.

    The priorities of Old Rome were granted to her because she was the Imperial Capital; the Lord ordained this. Priorities in the context here seems to cover all authorities and power that are associated with the position just as New Rome was not just given honour of a capital of the Emperor but exercised all that goes with being the capital; it effectively became the capital of the Empire. “Like” priorities is then to be read in a similar manner including all priorities and privileges of Old Rome including power and we see this in that anyone could appeal to the See of Constantinople in the same manner as anyone could appeal to the See of Rome [Canon 9, Chalcedon]. This is also reinforced by saying magnified like Old Rome in terms of ecclesiastical affairs; that is in practical matters pertaining to the Church; which would be unnecessary if if was only honour given. If honour was only intended then they would have said something like honour of such a title and then also qualified it by limiting the powers, such as in another canon when there were two Metropolitan cities in one region, the earlier city was given both honour and authority the second city honour of title but restricted in authority [Canon 12, Chalcedon]. Also, Constantinople was recognised as having Patriarchal rank with real powers in ordaining Metropolitans. This means that the Fathers were not only intending honour but real privileges and powers; else they would not have given Constantinople these rights. Nevertheless, Old Rome retains the first place similar as the Father has first place regarding the Son yet the two are equal is power and authority.

    Your historical point cuts both ways and the same can be said of Rome in terms of exaggerating rights, separatism etc. If there was such a party in Constantinople, and I have not seen any clear and documented evidence as such, then they would not have continued in union with all the other Patriarchates; it is Old Rome who is the See that has become separate from the other Patriarchs not New Rome. Also, the causes of the Schism are the divergences of traditions that grew to such an extent that the churches could not continue to be united as one with one mind rather than caused by a separatist group and there is no evidence that traditions were changed in the eastern churches to deliberately separate them from Old Rome. In this matter Rome went one way and the other Patriarchs another. However, to balance this point in practice the other Patriarchs of the East were fairly much becoming dependant on Constantinople, so tended to follow her line.

    Regarding the definitions of the Pope being considered binding per se. The evidence of the Councils does not support this. They do not simply state that the Pope has decided the matter end of story but they discussed the matter and the definition/letter of the Pope and once it was found to conform to the Faith then it was praised highly, that is not to say that the letter/definition was not received with great honour and respect initially.

    Regarding the evidence of decisions of the Pope that were considered binding. Yes, this is perfectly acceptable to Orthodox. When there is an appeal to the Apostolic See on some manner from a local synod in terms of its finding regarding the position of some cleric who is being tried for a matter or morality or heresy then the decision of the Apostolic See in this matter is binding and cannot be appealed against. This is perfectly within the expected powers of the Apostolic See and very much in keeping with the powers of a supreme court. Please provide evidence of a binding decision that cannot be framed as an appeal to Rome.

    The importance and honour given to Rome by the ancients is not in dispute and perfectly acceptable to Orthodox Catholics. (Again, as I said to John, the Orthodox Church recognises itself as the Catholic Church, Orthodox are Catholics; they take the name Orthodox to show that they keep the correct teachings of the Catholic Church as opposed to the alleged heresies of the non-Orthodox Churches.) What one would need to do is to prove that it is either impossible for a Pope to be a heretic, but since Pope Honorius was so condemned then this line does not work. Or one could try to show that a definition of Faith or the Canons of a Pope were considered by an Ecumenical Council as binding apart from there inclusion in a particular Council, that is certain regional councils and Fathers were recognised as writing binding canons for the Church, but looking through those who have been recognised there are a number of Patriarchs of Alexandria but not of Rome and no regional councils of Rome were recognised either. They were recognised in the West but not ecumenically. Or one could show that the authority of Rome is decoupled from its preservation of the Faith unsullied but I think even a Roman Catholic would not admit that because the reason for the authority of Rome is to keep the Faith unsullied. In the seventh Century we see the Fathers of the Council of Trullo commanding Rome to keep strictly to the Tradition of not fasting on Saturday during Lent. And the Council did not feel bound to follow Rome on another matter regarding strict keeping of the canons nor in keeping clerical celibacy preferring the ancient practice of marital relations being maintained by the priesthood, excepting the Bishop. These acts do not seem to reflect an attitude of not resisting innovations in the See of Rome or of a common shared understanding that such innovations were impossible in Rome because she was always to be preserved unsullied from such things. Rather the Council thought itself in a position, as an Ecumenical Council, to command the Church in Old Rome to adhere to its canons. (Regardless, of the disputes about its actual authority, that the Council, consisting largely of those Fathers of the fully recognised Council in 681, could unanimously express this opinion is what is relevant here.) So, the evidence runs counter to an universal understanding, allowing exceptional detractors, of a infallibility of the See of Old Rome in terms of Tradition or Faith. Yes, in the early times, it was honoured highly both because it was the chair of Peter and also because it kept the Faith unsullied but it is another thing to say that the faith could not become sullied in the See of Rome and that this understanding was the common opinion of the Fathers until at least the ninth Century, when it is clear that the eastern churches were opposing many western customs, and this is not because the eastern churches had decided to do their own thing. An explanation is required to show why the “Apostolic Tradition” of a permanently infallible Rome was no longer recognised in the seventh Century, at least in the eastern Churches. Either this or there was no such “Apostolic Tradition” that applied exclusively to the See of Old Rome other than the principle of primacy, maintained in the See of New Rome, as well as the other Apostolic Sees of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, and Church infallibility recognised in Councils that continues in the Orthodox Catholic Churches to this day.

  172. Andrew,

    The importance of Nicaea as a universally authoritative and unerring standard of Faith and Scriptural interpretation was well recognised by the end of the Fourth Century. By Chalcedon this was completely explicit and every Council of the Church since is bound to keep it. Here is an example from Chalcedon:

    And this have we done with one unanimous consent, driving away erroneous doctrines and renewing the unerring faith of the Fathers, publishing to all men the Creed of the Three Hundred and Eighteen, and to their number adding, as their peers, the Fathers who have received the same summary of religion. Such are the One Hundred and Fifty holy Fathers who afterwards assembled in the great Constantinople and ratified the same faith. Moreover, observing the order and every form relating to the faith, which was observed by the holy synod formerly held in Ephesus, of which Celestine of Rome and Cyril of Alexandria, of holy memory, were the leaders, we do declare that the exposition of the right and blameless faith made by the Three Hundred and Eighteen holy and blessed Fathers, assembled at Nice in the reign of Constantine of pious memory, shall be pre-eminent: and that those things shall be of force also

    Why Protestant groups must write other confessions than that passed down by the Fathers only proves both the need of such things and that Protestants are not within the Church nor maintain the Faith of the Fathers, else they would accept their confession of Faith.

    Also, the Council in Jerusalem was considered authoritative as a Council before the Scriptures, which simply attest to its authority. The early Christians obeyed it because it was a Council of the Church and didn’t wait for the Scriptures to be written first before accepting it as authority. The authority came from the hierarchy of Apostles not from it being written in a book of infallible Scripture.

  173. Nick,

    I would like to help you get in touch with Perry but I have no better communication than you have. Try posting a comment on the latest thread on EnergeticProcession and he should see it, hopefully.

    Fr Patrick.

  174. Bryan,

    Thanks for the links. I think that Mike’s comment on The Chair of St Peter post is pertinent regarding interpreting the evidence and I would also like to hear Mike’s solution to it. I also look forward to your further comments.

  175. Monk Patrick,

    I don’t see anything in the 28th Canon that gives Constantinople any power more than a right to ordain metropolitans (an action she had already been taking anyway). Where in the Canon does it say that “the two are equal is power and authority.”? Is that not exactly the _opposite_ of what it says? And the idea that that is the opposite of what it says is backed-up by the entire content of the accusations that Leo made afterwords and the replies (or rather cringes) made by his interlocutor. The whole content of Leo’s argument was about Alexandria and Antioch. Do you think Leo, who, along with Innocent I, taught that several key powers of the Church actually flowed out from Rome to the other Churches, would have spent all his time arguing about the rights of Alexandria and Antioch if the 28th Canon did all that you said to make Constantinople equal to Rome? And do you think that the issue would have been dropped by Patriarch Anatolius (to be picked up by others later) if they believed what you said about their own rights? What you are saying is completely divorced from the actual historical context of the time, as well as from what Leo and other Popes actually taught about their own prerogatives. There’s no way that these guys would have remained in communion with Leo and the other popes of his era unless they were either (a) craven cowards, or (b) aware that Leo was right about what he consistently taught.

    As for the canard that Leo’s teaching had to be examined by the council. Dude. If you read the recent english translation of the acts, you can see that (as I remember) 150 of the bishops had already signed the Tome before the council even began! The emperor had made it clear that he would use his (de facto) presidency of the council to defend Rome’s (theoretical) presidency of the council in full. In the end, he threatened the bishops until they came up with a definition of faith to which Rome could agree. When some bishops asked to examine Leo’s Tome, it was to decide whether they would individually break away from Rome and Constantinople or not; because the decision of the council as a whole was known to be pre-ordained when the emperor decided to enforce Leo’s presidency (a decision promised before the council began in his letter to Leo), and when a substantial number of Bishops made a point of signing his Tome in advance.

    I realize that there were bishops who doubted whether they could just take what Rome said as gospel truth. But they were usually the same bishops who were wavering on their Chistology as well. Do you not see the correlation there, in all the early years? I am really surprised you don’t. If the fact that some bishops were wavering on ecclesiology is evidence against Rome’s ecclesiology, then the fact that some (usually the same) bishops were wavering on Christology is evidence against our mutually-agreed-upon Christology. But you wouldn’t want to say that, right? So why do you say the former?

    You wrote: “An explanation is required to show why the “Apostolic Tradition” of a permanently infallible Rome was no longer recognised in the seventh Century, at least in the eastern Churches.” I already suggested such an explanation: according to your own Church’s history and definitions of schism and heresy, the see of Constantinople was a source of division and difficulty in the Church since the time of Arianism. In every schism in which it left Rome behind from the 1st ecumenical council through the 7th, Rome was in the right by your own definition of Orthodoxy. That is why the anti-Roman council of Trullo said some unfortunate things. Because there is a documented history of clerics from Constantinople saying unfortunate things about both Christ and Rome for 400 years. There is a correlation between schism and heresy. And, unfortunately, that correlation sometimes has a geographic component as well. I am begging you to ask yourself: _what_ in the first 400 years of the see of Constantinople’s existence would make you want to take everything their clerics say about ecclesiology as an accurate representation of the apostolic tradition? If they were so bad about christology, then why was every hiccup (at least in the negative direction) about Rome the gospel truth? Which brings up another point: why are you taking the negative things they say about Rome as gospel truth while ignoring the more “fundamentalist”, shall-we-say, statements? I have to be honest with you: to my mind, this just gets weirder and weirder. Rome had a consistent story-line for it’s own powers; Constantinople doesn’t even have that. I just can’t understand it.

    Now, please be clear to me: you think Innocent’s teaching about the truth flowing from Rome to the rest of the world is acceptable to modern orthodox (because it was clearly acceptable to the Orthodox of his era)? What about Leo’s teachings that were possibly even more explicit (see Walter Ullman, The Journal of Theological Studies “LEO I AND THE THEME OF PAPAL PRIMACY J Theol Studies” (1960) for a detailed explanation of just what Leo taught and believed about Rome’s place)? Do you think that Innocent and Leo thought and taught that Rome had equal powers to the other Churches; that the bishop of Rome had no powers that other bishops did not have? Are you prepared to argue this?

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  176. Hey guys,

    It seems to me that the great historical mistake of the Orthodox is that they take the politics surrounding the Ecumenical Councils as the key paradigm for how the Church _ought_ to behave in arriving at doctrinal decisions large or small. While it is true that the Ecumenical Councils are uniquely influential cases of doctrinal decision-making, the fact is that they occurred precisely because there was chaos and turmoil in the Church. Thus, the politics surrounding them are exactly the wrong places to look for evidence for how the Church ought to behave. Good men wavered on both Christology and ecclesiology.

    The Councils are full of bishops who were wavering on their Christology, who were changing their minds, sometimes due to force applied in one direction and then the other! They are also, therefore, full of bishops who were wavering on their ecclesiology, sometimes following Rome as they should, and other times falling away into independence and turmoil. Fortunately, for the first seven times the majority of bishops ended up getting both the Christology right, and the ecclesiology right (i.e. they agreed with Rome’s view point). But in both cases you can find plenty of quotes from people in the councils who wavered on christology or ecclesiology (usually the same bishops), as well as people who finally fell away on both issues.

    The thing to do is not to get confused about the christological content of the apostolic tradition due to the fact that massive numbers of bishops were apparently willing to contradict their own christologies during the Chalcedonian controversy. And the other thing to do is not to get confused about the ecclesiological content of the apostolic tradition due to the fact that some bishops weren’t sure that they were ready to abandon their christological heresies just because Rome said so.

    Instead, one should take the example of the Church at relative peace and almost completely unified, and look at the earliest setting in which there is enough data to make precise ecclesiological statements. The earliest period I know of that satisfies those conditions is the period between 380 AD and 430 AD. The Church is unified throughout the world, and the Donatists are being brought back into the fold. During that period, the Pelagian Controversy makes it clear that the bishops of Rome clearly taught that they had world-wide doctrinal authority that could override the decisions of eastern and western bishops and councils. And the explicit agreement of saints with these teachings, as well as the complete lack of complaint of notable hot-headed defenders of orthodoxy on these teachings, proves to the highest level that history can offer that this teaching was part of the apostolic tradition.

    The clear evidence comes from people who are not in the throes of confusion during the crises of the ecumenical councils. We must let the clear evidence interpret the unclear. Yes, the bishops of Chalcedon were often the same bishops who voted the wrong way at the Robber Council. But that doesn’t mean we doubt the truth of which christology is correct. Nor should we take the fact that some of them weren’t ready to simply take Rome’s word for it as a sign that taking Rome’s word for it isn’t the apostolic tradition. The more peaceful eras (as well as the fact that a huge number of the bishops at Chalcedon had already signed Leo’s tome before the council began) demonstrate that taking Rome’s word for it was exactly the apostolic tradition. Men follow tradition with difficulty during crises. Let us not allow that to get us confused on the genuine apostolicity of both the christological teachings of the councils and the pro-Roman ecclesiologies of so many of their bishops.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  177. Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Also, the Council in Jerusalem was considered authoritative as a Council before the Scriptures, which simply attest to its authority. The early Christians obeyed it because it was a Council of the Church and didn’t wait for the Scriptures to be written first before accepting it as authority. The authority came from the hierarchy of Apostles not from it being written in a book of infallible Scripture.

    Exactly! We know from scriptures that Matthias had already been appointed to the “bishoprick” left vacant by Judas’ suicide. We also know from scriptures that it wasn’t just the Apostles in Jerusalem that debated the issue upon which they ultimately ruled:

    The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them …Acts 15:6-7

    The kind of Protestantism that is built upon a foundation of the sola scritura assumes that when the last of the Apostles died, the one church that Christ founded was suddenly transformed into an institution without authoritative leaders that could call solemnly define conscience binding dogma for the whole church. There is nothing in the scriptures that supports that idea, nothing in the scriptures that supports the idea of bible churches, nor is their anything written by the Church Fathers that supports the idea of bible churches. Bible churches” are a Protestant invention, and the are wholly unscriptural!

  178. @Andrew:

    Thanks for your reply in #170. Yes, I understand your point, that we Catholics have our presuppositions as well. For me, at least, and, I suspect, for most of the authors on this blog, the situation isn’t quite the same as for, let us say, a ‘cradle Catholic.’

    Most of the authors – perhaps all? – and I myself – are converts. In my case, at least, I was brought up without any sort of religious background. At age 27 I encountered Christ in a ‘street Christian’ context. By that time I had already seen the inadequacy of my presuppositions – basically a kind of post-World-War-II scientism – their inadequacy to any real human concerns, I mean – so that my conversion to the Christian message was just about instantaneous.

    There followed a few years in which I was learning about my new faith. By the time I was about 30 or 31, I had seen the inadequacy of the emotionalistic evangelical world I had been in and saw the superiority of a Calvinist, and Van-Tillian-Bahnsenist presuppositionalism, and joined a Reformed Church.

    It took another 18 or 20 years from that point to see, what I think I do see now, the fact that the Reformed/Calvinist/presuppositionalist approach, though far better, was like a house built on sand. It was a very fine house – but the foundations were unsteady. The beginnings, I suppose, of my doubts were based on the Canon idea. “How,” I asked my pastor (this was 27 years ago, actually), “do we know which books are part of those ‘Scriptura’ which we rely on ‘Sole?” I confess I was a bit shocked when the reply was that we had to presuppose them – this, mind you, including the fact that the Deuterocanonical books, accepted by the Church for centuries, were not part of Scripture.

    Over the next 9 or 10 years I encountered one after another such problem. And what really freed me was a careful examination of the very idea of ‘raw presuppositionalism’ that I saw in reading, especially, Aristotelian-Thomist philosophy. We do not, I think, have to make a fideistic leap in the dark.

    Now it may be that you have gone through exactly the same sort of thing, I wouldn’t know. But it seems to me from your arguments that you do actually assume the validity of Sola Scriptura in much of what you write. This means that we have no common ground on which to argue. The reason I felt freed by the philosophical approach was because the considerations involved – reason, experience of the world, and history – were matters that all men had in common. There was no reliance on revelation.

    If there was one book that finally did it for me, it was Ronald Knox’s “Belief of Catholics.” The clarity of that book – and its reliance on reason, experience, and history, up to the point of its claim that these three show us the authority of the Catholic Church – and to be clear, I mean what you refer to, somewhat tendentiously, I fear, as the “Roman Catholic Church” – that this reliance meant that I was not in the position or presupposing anything other than that my own reason, experience of the world, and knowledge, not in detail but only in fundamental outline, of history, were enough to bring me to the point of knowing that I must become a Catholic if I was to be saved.

    I don’t know if what I have written here is either very clear or to the point, but I have the sense, in reading what you write, that there is some way that you “just know” that Sola Scriptura – and, I must assert, the concomitant ultimate ground of private interpretation – that you “just know” these are true, and then seek to mine history to demonstrate them.

    It may be the same for Catholics. It is not my approach in talking to people. I do talk about history, but principally, at the start, that proto-history which we call the Bible – but here not considered as revelation but only as … history! I think these things point to Jesus Christ as a unique messenger from God (God Himself being known, as Romans tells us, from His works and from reason); to an authoritative, organisationally as well as spiritually united body, the Church, and to the consequent duty of submitting to that “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic” Church.

    And I do not honestly see how anyone can point to any modern descendant of that institution that is still “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” but the “Roman” Catholic Church. There is no other. To whom shall we go? It has the Words of eternal life.

    jj

  179. K. Doran,

    We are clearly interpreting “priorities and privileges” differently. I understand them to mean powers and authorities and not mere honour, which in other canons was clearly spelt out if it was to be mere honour. The fact that the same Council in another canon gave Constantinople the same right as Old Rome to receive appeals from any church was a power equal to that of Rome. Also Canon uses words such as same, like, equal and also as, all that point to an understanding of equality. St Leo the Great’s argument was about Alexandria and Antioch and the overturning of the canons of Nicaea that ordered the ranks of the Apostolic Sees. St Leo was adamant to maintain the Nicaean canons inviolate, something which I wish was more strongly maintained by his successors. I think that St Leo in defending the canons missed the reason for the canon and what it meant. I agree with St Leo’s reason for his opposition in principle but I think he misunderstood what was happening especially what was meant but second. Anyway, Constantinople, New Rome, nevertheless, took on its jurisdiction as given by the Council and continues to exercise it until today, accepted by later Popes, despite the protest of Pope St Leo the Great. I agree entirely though with St Leo regarding the ordination of the Patriarch of Antioch, which I think was inappropriate by Orthodox standards today. St Leo was a humble man and fighting for the rights of Alexandria and Antioch were more fitting than his own rights, which were by no means infringed by Canon 28. Peace is more important than the assertion of rights and this could explain why the matter was dropped for the time. Also, your interpretation of how St Innocent and St Leo understood their position as Pope may not be correct and they didn’t see the problem that you do. I think you have a reasonable opinion but I disagree that it is the only way of understanding the matter. If St Leo misunderstood the situation then we would have the same evidence trail as if he understood it and Constantinople was claiming nothing more than second place after Rome and ordination of Metropolitans. It depends on our sense of which line is more credible because we cannot read St Leo’s mind on the matter. The letter of the Council to St Leo asks for his ratification of the decision but this was rather an after the fact matter because they had already made the decision and understood it as being the Divine will. Also, they understood the new position of Constantinople as being one that shared in the prestige of Old Rome and in its good things, assuming that St Leo had already previously extended such things to Constantinople; this is consistent with a sense of equality stated politically to persuade.

    Regarding the new translation, I have not read it yet so please provide a link and details as to who the writer/translator is. The description that you provided seems more that the Emperor decided before the Council and tried to enforce his will on the matter rather than an acknowledgment of an guaranteed Papal right to define doctrine infallibly. Also, the decision was laid on the tomb of Saint Euphemia, who miraculously caused it to rise to her head and the false doctrine to her feet, thus confirming the decision. This was hardly even remotely needed if everyone knew that there was no way the St Leo’s letter could be wrong. That 150 signed it before the Synod is irrelevant; it was still read to the synod and approved by them. Your points about wavering on ecclesiology are without sufficient evidential support so I cannot really comment on the matter nor does your correlation necessarily follow.

    I agree that Constantinople had a good number of heretical bishops in the period that you mention and in comparison Rome only had one or maybe two, although Constantinople remained a See of the Church with orthodox Patriarchs quickly replacing heretics. However, the history of Roman Bishops from the late ninth Century is not one that reflects well on the Church and in comparison the Bishops in Constantinople have become a solid rock of faith and piety. The history of clerics saying unfortunate things is not much help without knowing why and from who’s point of view they were unfortunate. The matters of complaint in the Trullo canons are not frivolous, they are well founded in the evidence of the traditions of the Church, at least from an eastern perspective; for them Rome was not in keeping with the traditions known throughout the east and also in many parts of the west. The Council was not anti-Roman but one that sort to tidy up and confirm a number of Apostolic Traditions; it is just that Rome and the eastern churches by then had come to recognise effectively two different traditions as being Apostolic and yet the Fathers of Trullo recognised there to be one Apostolic Tradition. Who is right and wrong is another matter but to say that unfortunate things were said is an one-sided opinion. I am not saying that I am following the Constantinople party position. I am basing my thoughts on wide range of Patristic material including western Fathers and I share Pope St Leo’s deep sense of maintaining the canons of the Ecumenical Councils. In this regard, I find the position of the Orthodox much more true than that of Rome; it is the fact that Rome has failed to remain consistent to the unsullied Tradition that it kept for so long that I find it inconsistent to accept its claims today. Its actions contradict its claims, so I have to understand the tradition pertaining to its place in another manner and the Orthodox Church’s teaching is very consistent with that of the Popes before the ninth Century, after which opinions rapidly started to diverge. It is not from taking negative opinions about Rome as gospel truth, I have found Rome’s present claims based on Scripture, reason, spirituality, the Fathers etc as wanting; it is just not consistent with the material in terms of maintaining the Traditions of the Church. The Orthodox Church in its formal teaching and spirituality is so consistent. As I have tried to state in these comments, all that you raise about what is important in Roman ecclesiology is also maintained in Orthodox ecclesiology. Rome does not have a consistent story line for its powers. The claims of the Popes post 1054 would not have been accepted by earlier Popes. You are reading the powers of Rome from what is the position of Rome today and I am reading them from an Orthodox perspective, thus of course my opinion may seem weird. I accept the statements of universal jurisdiction in terms of appeal and letter writing as part of the function that Rome had. I also accept that waters flow from here as from one head to all the world. This is the iconic function that it has to demonstrate on Head Christ from whom all grace flows to the whole world. So, these things match the symbol of why the See of Rome was established in primacy. But, this doesn’t mean that the See of Rome could not cease to fulfil its iconic function and separate from the Church with the function fulfilled by another See. The function is to be preserved with its authority but that it has to be located in the city of Old Rome is another matter. Even if one can show that it has to be in Rome, then New Rome still fulfils this. Yes, Rome has priorities and privileges, powers and authorities vis a vie other Bishops that were not shared by all; this is also true of Metropolitans and Patriarchs although Rome (Old and New) had broader yet. However, they also recognised a fundamental equality of all Bishops and that their dignity and authority as Bishops needed to be maintained, thus the authority of the Primary Sees was limited to respect this equality. It may be better to say that Rome did not have powers that the other Bishops did not have rather it exercised the same powers at a different level in which the other bishops could not exercise them, and this was to enable the unity of the Church in one Faith in One Christ.

  180. We cannot escape the fact that we bring intellectual and spiritual presuppositions to the table.

    Last year I sponsored a friend through the RCIA process during which one of the catechists continually emphasized the Church’s teaching on the importance of following one’s conscience. It was presented in a way that allowed for a sort of escape clause for any Church teaching a person may not like. The catechist misunderstood the Church’s position and left out the necessity of forming one’s conscience over time to reflect the truths taught by the Church.

    I am reminded of this when I hear people speak about individual presuppositions. Our presuppositions, much like our conscience, need to be continually examined, informed and adjusted where needed. We aren’t just stuck with a static world view and forced to throw up our hands. Our presuppositions need to reflect truth in the same way our conscience does. There is truth that should shape our conscience and truth that should shape our presuppositions.

  181. Andrew,

    I think you are missing my point all together. To be Protestant or Catholic, is to be something/someone, not merely to hold to a particular philosophy or theory regarding data, but to be situated in history as a thing that has developed from a particular point in time/space. To say that the 15/16th century debate is secondary to the 1-4th century debate is to claim that one lives in a kind of ahistorical bubble, a theory-land, where who someone is is secondary to what they think they are.

    Further, to say that Chesterton’s insight applies to Catholic converts from Protestantism misses his point entirely. The reason is that for the Protestant, it is in fact their Protestantism that leads them to the Church, and Catholicism becomes the perfection and completion of that faith–not the annihilation of it. For the atheist, Christianity becomes their age of credulous thought, darkness, and naivety. A Catholic converts in a pursuit of Christ whereas the atheist loses that pursuit altogether. We don’t hate Protestantism, for without the authentic work of the Spirit there, we would be lost. Those differences make the analogy inapplicable, for it is precisely in the differences that the onus of Chesterton’s insights lie.

    Moreover, the convert from Protestantism to Catholicism, I would argue, is best suited to discuss Protestant theology (at least in this forum) since he has converted, not out of a rash infatuation with Catholic dogma (nor by getting “saved” in a Catholic evangelistic service), but in a careful examination of his Protestant assumptions. This examination many times leads him into a “no man’s land”, where he is neither Catholic nor Protestant yet still a follower of Jesus Christ–of which how the story ends in our case need not be repeated. And, again, it is precisely in this more objective place of “no man’s land”, there exists something that one cannot find in one who becomes an atheist. For, as C.S. Lewis notes, to be agnostic is to be atheist in the end, for in the end, what is the difference? So, let’s assume that it is possible that those who write on this blog understood, as well as you, their Protestant theology/assumptions/biases. They didn’t come to doubt their theology because they were Catholic, they doubted because moments in their journey required a sincere and honest account of data they could not account for. And so a man either continues to cling to that which he sees slipping through his hands, or he pursues–as in the dark–the light for which his soul longs: the Truth.

  182. To say that the 15/16th century debate is secondary to the 1-4th century debate is to claim that one lives in a kind of ahistorical bubble, a theory-land, where who someone is is secondary to what they think they are.

    Brent,

    I really don’t know why you would say this. If we are in disagreement over a certain doctrine and we cannot agree as what earlier theologians said on the matter, how much success can we have on what later theologians believed on the same issue? Take the divide between the West and East on the Filioque. We can talk about what the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches believe today, but shouldn’t we start with what earlier theologians had to say about this doctrine? If East and West don’t agree over. for instance, what Gregory the Great and Photius thought about the Filioque, what success will you have in delving into the understanding of modern theologians on the same matter? So likewise the problem between you and my stems from disagreements over what the ECF’s were and were not saying about revelation some 1500 years prior to the Reformation. I have no problems talking about the Reformed and RCC understandings of revelation in later Medieval and Reformation eras, but there is only so far we will get if we have not agreed on what theologians such as Athanasius were and were not saying about revelation. And we don’t agree and this disagreement is at the heart of the matter.

    You are making too much of my Chesterton quote. I’m only trying to bring into question the assumption that Catholics who have come from a Protestant background are better able to judge matters between Protestant and Catholic than those who have not come from a Protestant background. We Reformed spend a great deal of time trying to communicate what it is we believe. This task is no less difficult when we are speaking with those who have come from a Protestant background. My observation is that it is generally more difficult since the convert to Catholicism feels assured that he knows Reformed systematics.

    Moreover, the convert from Protestantism to Catholicism, I would argue, is best suited to discuss Protestant theology (at least in this forum) since he has converted, not out of a rash infatuation with Catholic dogma (nor by getting “saved” in a Catholic evangelistic service), but in a careful examination of his Protestant assumptions.

    So would you affirm the opposite, that is, that the convert FROM Catholicism is best suited to discuss Catholic theology assuming that he has made a “careful examination” of Catholic assumptions?

  183. Fr. Patrick (re: 172)

    The importance of Nicaea as a universally authoritative and unerring standard of Faith and Scriptural interpretation was well recognised by the end of the Fourth Century. By Chalcedon this was completely explicit and every Council of the Church since is bound to keep it.

    But no Reformed theologian would disagree. Why would you think we would?

    Why Protestant groups must write other confessions than that passed down by the Fathers only proves both the need of such things and that Protestants are not within the Church nor maintain the Faith of the Fathers, else they would accept their confession of Faith.

    Writing other confessions does not necessarily undermine previous ones. Later confessions are meant to deal with new issues or to further elucidate what has been stated previously.

  184. Monk Patrick,

    Thank you for the detailed response! I think that Innocent’s and Leo’s (and the intervening Popes’) teachings about the role God had chosen for the Bishop of Old Rome were completely inconsistent with that role being capable of being taken-over by New Rome or anyone else. Also, I think that the role that they played, and the decrees which they made, were more binding than anything you would accept from the bishop of Constantinople. So, on both fronts, your argument does not convince me.

    I’ll tell you what: I’m super busy (as I am sure you are) right now, but give me a few days to compile the material during minutes of free time here or there over the next two weeks, and I’ll write down the explicit quotes and surrounding details that demonstrate both of the responses I made in the paragraph above. Then, I would be interested in hearing what you say about it.

    To reiterate it, what I’m saying is: I don’t think acquiescing on the evidence of old rome’s authority, but then deflecting that by saying the authority got transferred to Constantinople, is going to work for you. The two reasons being (1) that the tradition was very explicit about the location, and the line of succession, of the key Petrine powers; Constantinople didn’t have these distinguishing marks which the tradition had already infallibly associated with the Petrine Roman role, and (2) the things that Leo and Innocent and Boniface and Zosimus and others did were beyond the pale of what Constantinople currently teaches about its own role.

    Thanks again for the discussion!

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  185. Andrew #182,

    In your first paragraph, you keep referencing “modern theologians”. I’m not interested in those, I’m interested in challenging the notion that you can continue to be Protestant because of a patristic disagreement, while ignoring the fact that your origins aren’t in the early centuries of the Church (unlike the Orthodox), but instead reside in a particular place in history that is your very raison d’etre. If there isn’t a sufficient reason for you to exist as such, that doesn’t diminish your questions about the 1-6 centuries but would simply give them a new context.

    So would you affirm the opposite, that is, that the convert FROM Catholicism is best suited to discuss Catholic theology assuming that he has made a “careful examination” of Catholic assumptions?

    What I wouldn’t do is discredit someone’s ability to reflect upon their assumptions but would rather consider their ability to rightfully present their interlocutor’s position and consider how well they represented that position in times past. So, it would have to be on a case-by-case basis. A lot of Catholic converts to Protestantism “get saved” in an evangelical service or, from my reading of them, scarcely knew their Catholic theology (there are plenty of active priests who would fall under that category for catechetical reasons; as a seminary friend of mine has attested). I know that there are cases that defy this generalization, and I would judge those on a case-by-case basis given what they say and write. For example, I’ve seen former Catholics in good standing demand that I admit I worship Mary–which is laughable, I don’t. To the point of this forum, I think it is safe-to-say that these gentlemen knew their Protestant theology, defended its orthodoxy with their lives, but are now Catholic. Yes, there are plenty of cases of converts to Catholicism who didn’t know their protestant theology, but not any here, so we are safe moving forward under that pretense.

    God bless,

    Brent

  186. K. Doran,

    Thanks for the reply. I appreciate that you are busy and it is not easy finding time to pursue these discussions such as this but it is interesting and, I think unlike Mike, worthwhile discussion. I look forward to seeing your material. As it is going to be a while before you can post it or comment it, could you please comment somewhere on my blog, Sacred Traditions, to let me know when its ready. Thanks.

    Briefly, I hope to at least present that there is a possible, if perhaps not convincing, alternate reasonable explanation for the evidence that appears contrary to an Orthodox position. Conversely, I haven’t seen much here in terms of reasonable explanations of the evidence contrary to the Papal position that has been raised, other than to try to perhaps discredit the evidence. So, what is a reason that at least the first Seven Ecumenical Councils state to have been called together by the Emperor and not by the Pope, who is only a must in terms of ratification and representation, if it was Apostolic Tradition that the Pope had authority in himself to call Ecumenical Councils and it was proper for him to do so? Please develop an answer to this while you collect your evidence. Also, please when saying things such as “completely inconsistent” it needs to be supported by a clear logic that shows a logical contradiction in the reason or that it cannot be reasonably reconciled with the evidence in any manner; being difficult to reconcile or possible but not very likely is not sufficient because such evaluation becomes framework dependent.

    Finally, in collecting your evidence please try to counter this position: The reason for the explicitness of the location is that Rome was the location of the capital of the Empire and that is why Sts Peter and Paul went there and that the Lord appointed it to be the See of primacy with universal powers, which was to be maintained permanently within the Church, hence the successors. Constantinople was not built on the same geographical piece of land as Old Rome but this was not the reason for the location of the See of Rome; the reason was that it was the location of the capital. Once Constantinople was established as the capital of the Empire, it becomes the location of the capital and hence the priorities of the See in the Capital become its also because it is the location of the capital. This is the logic of Canon 28. So, the location evidence fits Constantinople sharing Old Rome’s authority in terms of location, because it has the distinguishing marks of being the capital, and rather necessitates such an equal sharing to maintain the consistency of why Old Rome had such an authority given by the Lord, else one would be saying that the Lord chose Rome on some grounds of favouritism, which would be contrary to the preaching of the Lord. What Constantinople currently teaches and powers exercised may be like those of the Popes listed than you may realise.

    Thank you also for being willing to continue the discussion and go to the effort of collecting more evidence etc.

    Priest-monk Patrick.

  187. Andrew,

    Are you willing to accept the Ecumenical Councils as authorities with Scripture to guide interpretation at least to the extent that any interpretation of Scripture that is inconsistent with the doctrine/canons of Ecumenical Councils is not that of the Church but a false opinion, i.e. heresy? If so, to which Councils would you subscribe? I don’t think that there is a problem of ascribing a certain primacy to Scripture in correcting heretics, such as was used by St Athanasius, that is one reason for having the Scriptures, but to say “sola Scripture” is another matter. We can equally use the definitions and canons of the Ecumenical Councils to correct heretics.

    Writing other confessions, than the Nicene Creed as amended at the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, was forbidden at the Third Ecumenical Council regardless other how true or consistent a correction may be; which was one of the key reasons for the dispute regarding the addition of the filioque clause. So, writing other confessions is in disobedience to the Fathers and shows disrespect for the authority of the Councils, such as only possible from those not willing to accept them as authorities, seemly contrary to your claim that Reformed theologians do accept the authority of the Ecumenical Councils. Note: I tend to be referring to confessions written by the increasingly numerous evangelical/charismatic groups today, who do not, on the whole, use the Nicene Creed as even the first standard of Faith, let alone recognise the authority of the Councils in terms of Faith.

  188. Fr Patrick

    As Protestant I don’t have a dog in this fight but I find your reasoning very strange to say the least in many aspects. You say the Emperor needs to call an ecumenical council. That seems archaic at best given that the last Emperor of the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire died 500 years ago. What if there is a need for a new council? What if a new heresy sweeps through the church as Arianism did? You’re up the creek without an imperial paddle. I’m not clear as to why the Orthodox Church should chain itself to an imperial throne that has been dead for 500 years. And I don’t see a comeback waiting in the wings.

    Additionally, your logic concerning Rome’s primacy vs. Constantinople can be turned against both of these sees. If Rome was chosen because it was the imperial capital, and Constantinople should have equal rights because it became the imperial capital, well . . . The Western Roman Empire has been dead for 1500 years and the Eastern Roman Empire has been dead for 500 years. There is NO imperial capital. Hence neither Rome nor Constantinople can claim primacy, or they should share it with a newcomer. The nearest thing to an “imperial” capital these days would either be New York (UN HQ) or Washington, DC (US capital, head of the West) or Brussels (site of NATO HQ). Perhaps you both should share primacy with the Protestants? :)

    Tying yourself to a dead empire creates all sorts of problems it seems to me and I’m not sure what it is even relevant. Why do you think a dead empire is relevant to Orthodox issues today?

  189. Andrew,

    Firstly, that Emperors called the Ecumenical Councils is an historically well verified situation and this seems to be the crucial distinction of an Ecumenical Council from a regional Council, which could be called by Metropolitans/Patriarchs. That there is no obvious Emperor of Rome today, although there are some symbolic equivalents, is an issue regarding calling an Ecumenical Council. This does not prevent regional/Patriarchal Councils from being called and condemning heresies, and a number of these councils have occurred with considerable authority, although not recognised as Ecumenical Councils. Also, I am not sure that one needs an Ecumenical Council to deal with every new heresy, most are adequately dealt with by applying previous definitions, and even if an Ecumenical Council is required, the Church can resort to an economy in a situation where it is impossible to follow the canonical practice and do the next best thing to call the Council. But, I will leave the point that requiring an Emperor to call an Ecumenical Council does raise problems for the present time. The reason for making this point in the discussion is to question the claim that the Pope called Ecumenical Councils and that he has a specific universal power to do so.

    The logic regarding Rome and Constantinople needs to be framed into Tradition, that is once something is established within the Tradition of the Church, even if initially due to a secular political reality, it is no longer bound by that political reality, and it always continues in its traditional function while it remains in and continues to exist as a living member of the Church. This was the reason that Pope St Leo the Great used to protest the claim to have Constantinople come second after Rome, even if it was to be honoured as a See of the Imperial City, it broke the Traditionally fixed order of Sees. So, despite the fact that both ancient capitals no longer serve as capitals of the Empire, both the cities and the churches in them still exist, so continue their authority, although each regards the other as not being members of the Church, at least not complete members.

  190. I’m Steve, not Andrew :)

    The logic regarding Rome and Constantinople needs to be framed into Tradition, that is once something is established within the Tradition of the Church, even if initially due to a secular political reality, it is no longer bound by that political reality, and it always continues in its traditional function while it remains in and continues to exist as a living member of the Church.

    I find it strange that just because an imperial power transfers its capital to another city, that see automatically becomes equal to the see of the pre-existing capital. Why does the decision of a secular emperor about his capital determine anything about the church?

    You also note that tradition has established Rome and Constantinople as the primary sees because of the former political weight given those cities, and their primary remains even if those cities are no longer imperial capitals. But why should tradition stop now? Why can’t tradition take into account that these are no longer imperial capitals. Why can’t tradition say that New York or Washington, DC or some other city now qualifies as having a better claim due to contemporary realities. On what basis does tradition stop in 400AD in selecting the two primary sees? That seems a rather arbitrary basis to me. After all, if it added Constantinople after Rome, why not another city after Constantinople?

  191. Hi Monk Patrick,

    Sure, I will do my best to see what the fathers I have read have to say about the theoretical possibility of Divine translation of one see’s authority and succession to another see. It seems like the geographical movement of a line of succession to another see that already has its own (very shaky) succession is fraught with theological and epistemological peril. If the Bishop of Constantinople is now the “unworthy successor of Peter” in Leo’s words, then who is the successor of Andrew? Perhaps some of the early fathers did consider this theory, though I fear this is one of those suggestions which is too far removed from the landscape of early Christian thought for me to find any direct evidence either for or against it in antiquity.

    The translation of the Acts of Chalcedon that I have been using is the Three Volume one by Price and Gaddis, published by Liverpool University Press. I can’t find anything in there about the Council as a whole treating Leo’s Tome like it might at any moment be condemned. I am quite sure from what I have read of the Acts, of the secondary literature about the Council, and from Chapman’s summary of the Council that the result of the Council was pre-ordained by the emperor who decided to threaten the bishops until they agreed to agree with Leo. Much of that threatening took place in advance, it appears. The pre-signing of the Tome is extremely significant here, as is the Emperor’s promise to hold the council under Leo’s authority. Another threat took place during the hubub about a new confession of Faith later on during the Council itself. Although I will look to see if there is anything else in the Acts about Leo’s Tome being examined for its possible rejection by the Council (as opposed to rejection by a subset of Bishops who would then know exactly what the emperor was going to do to them), I have to say that I seriously doubt such an examination occurred given the surrounding facts that I mentioned. If you could specify the exact place in the Acts where this is said to have occurred, I would appreciate it.

    While you’re waiting for me to tell you where I think you’ve erred, please go ahead and prepare yourself by reading the article by Walter Ullman that I recommended above. Also, please do three more things: (1) explain how we know that it is Constantinople which got the authority of Old Rome when Old Rome lost it, and not a truly Petrine see such as Antioch, or a pseudo-petrine see with more history such as Alexandria, or not Moscow, considering what happened to the Byzantine Empire? (2) when exactly did the geographic movement of authority take place? Is this something that should be accompanied by signs of divine intervention, or something visible that everyone can see for themselves? (3) could you specify the exact clause in the 28th Canon that gives the Bishop of New Rome all the same powers as the Bishop of Old Rome? I know that ordaining metropolitans in the surrounding geographic area is one of Old Rome’s powers, so yes, Constanitnople was given one of Old Rome’s powers in its respective geographic area. But where is the evidence that it was given all of Old Rome’s powers?

    Finally, I would ask you to consider whether the evidence against Rome’s claims is not rather stretched in comparison with the large mass of positive and clearly written evidence in favor of its claims. I don’t mean that rhetorically — I actually am suggesting as a line of future inquiry a comparison of the general weight of the evidence, and a consideration of the fact that the papal evidence is generally composed of positive, clearly written statements like Innocent’s letters, Boniface’s letters, Leo’s letters, the formula of Hormisdas, etc, whereas the evidence against papal authority is generally negative evidence, needs lots of close reading to reveal itself, etc. I just ask you to consider whether you agree with this claim, or whether you don’t, and why.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  192. Steve,

    Sorry to call you Andrew, I didn’t look at the name carefully enough.

    See my next comment to K. Doran for some answers to your questions. Also in answer, other cities were later given Patriarchal ranks, such as Moscow to lead the territory of Russia, and these cities rank in order after the ancient Patriarchs. The Church is in a manner timeless and from above and yet it meets the world and lives in history. It requires a ranking system to demonstrate its unity and equality. In this, it follows the world in terms of locating its own hierarchy and ranking yet once its hierarchy is ranked it becomes timeless as the continuing unchanging presence of Christ. It follows the world initially in part for practical matters, such as because all road lead to Rome it naturally is a focus of world attention and so it is the best location for the See that shows to the world the One Catholic Church, and also to use spiritual means of ranking would be impossible to determine, infringe on spiritual equality and open the door to freely to spiritual pride. The ranking becomes fixed otherwise the Church would become subject to politics and the ever changing life of the world; it would lose its transcendence and become something of the world. It stopped in 400AD because the Roman Empire didn’t establish another capital and also because any further capitals would overturn the singleness of the capital into a plurality, just as there can only be one eternal Son of God.

  193. Brent (re:185),

    I’m interested in challenging the notion that you can continue to be Protestant because of a patristic disagreement, while ignoring the fact that your origins aren’t in the early centuries of the Church (unlike the Orthodox)

    The entire debate between Catholic and Protestant is over which system correctly finds its origin in the early centuries of the Church, most notably as that Church is found described in Scripture. Telling me that Protestantism has no origin in the early centuries of the Church is just to restate the Roman Catholic position. So yes Brent, I realize that you don’t think Protestantism has any justification in ancient Christianity. I feel the same about Roman Catholicism. That captures the entire Protestant/Catholic debate in a nutshell.

    Now the specific point at hand is whether the Protestant or Catholic position on Scripture and tradition is more closely approximated by what we find in these early centuries. And that brings us back to what the ECF’s believed about tradition and what they believed about Scripture. Again, if you will agree that the teachings of the ECF’s provide some point of contact between Catholic and Protestant, then as best we can, I think we should begin with a investigation into what the earliest theologians of Christianity said about Scripture and tradition. We should do this before and after there were definitive statements of doctrines such as those at Nicea. This is why Athanasius’ discourses against the Arians provide one good reference point – he is speaking after Nicea.

    Either Scripture was the only infallible standard for the Early Church, or tradition in some sense provided an infallible standard by which the Church could render judgments. If you wish to ignore the specific examples that theologians like Keith Mathison have raised then you are not addressing the Reformed case.

    I think it is safe-to-say that these gentlemen knew their Protestant theology, defended its orthodoxy with their lives, but are now Catholic. Yes, there are plenty of cases of converts to Catholicism who didn’t know their protestant theology, but not any here, so we are safe moving forward under that pretense.

    I cannot agree with this. And when I do disagree with the Catholics here as to what a given Reformed position is, I think I should be allowed to define the Reformed position unless one of the Catholics here can tell me where I am in error from the standpoint of the Reformed confessions.

  194. Fr. Patrick (re :187),

    Are you willing to accept the Ecumenical Councils as authorities with Scripture to guide interpretation at least to the extent that any interpretation of Scripture that is inconsistent with the doctrine/canons of Ecumenical Councils is not that of the Church but a false opinion, i.e. heresy? If so, to which Councils would you subscribe?

    I don’t think we should ask what councils we subscribe to, since it is I think reasonable to suppose that councils could say some things which are true and other things that are in error. I would expect that you would have to agree with this at some level since you judge many of the matters that the Western Church pronounced in ecumenical councils to be in error. After the first seven you would hold that some of the statements of these councils were incorrect, right? You would not deny everything beyond what was taught in the first seven I would assume, but would take given pronouncements from “ecumenical” councils #8 and beyond on a case by case basis, correct? You would disagree with such councils where they disagreed with your understanding of the tradition of the Church.

    This is in some sense the way we Reformed would look at the councils. The later councils ought to be in line with the earlier ones, and all should be in line with Scripture. If it could be demonstrated that a given council erred on a given issue, then the pronouncement in question should be corrected. I don’t know about how the EO looks at this, but the RCC perspective is that certain ecclesiastical pronouncements made under certain conditions are incapable of being in error. Our problem with this is that this perspective has no obvious basis in the teaching of the early centuries of Christianity. In the end I think that neither conciliar nor papal infallibility can be formally derived from the teachings of the ECF’s. This leaves the RC theologian relying on certain philosophical principles as they touch on the nature of special revelation.

    I think I see what you are saying about writing “other confessions.” You are saying that the Trinitarian statements should not be amended, correct? You raise the issue of the Filioque which from your perspective is a change in how the Trinity is understood. From listening to EO’s discuss this, my perception is that they think the West was saying something ontologically by the Filioque which the West was not. This is obviously a very involved debate, but if the Filioque doctrine really did undermine what Nicea and Constantinople stated then it should have been rejected. If it did not then it was a helpful addition to what the Scriptures teach on the work of the members of the Trinity, and not a contradiction of what had come before.

  195. @Andrew:

    Now the specific point at hand is whether the Protestant or Catholic position on Scripture and tradition is more closely approximated by what we find in these early centuries.

    Good! But then don’t we have to go back to the earliest century – the first century, and the New Testament? And what it seems to me we find there is an emphasis on hierarchical authority and on the moral impossibility of schism.

    jj

  196. Andrew #193,

    From Scripture:

    I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you (1 Cor. 11:2)

    Which biblical letter is he referencing?

    So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15)

    Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us (2 Thess. 3:6).

    Early Church:

    Papias [A.D. 120], who is now mentioned by us, affirms that he received the sayings of the apostles from those who accompanied them, and he, moreover, asserts that he heard in person Aristion and the presbyter John. Accordingly, he mentions them frequently by name, and in his writings gives their traditions [concerning Jesus]. . . . [There are] other passages of his in which he relates some miraculous deeds, stating that he acquired the knowledge of them from tradition“.

    At that time [A.D. 150] there flourished in the Church Hegesippus, whom we know from what has gone before, and Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, and another bishop, Pinytus of Crete, and besides these, Philip, and Apollinarius, and Melito, and Musanus, and Modestus, and, finally, Irenaeus. From them has come down to us in writing, the sound and orthodox faith received from tradition” (fragment in Eusebius, Church History, 3;39 & 4:21).

    “As I said before, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although she is disseminated throughout the whole world, yet guarded it, as if she occupied but one house. She likewise believes these things just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; and harmoniously she proclaims them and teaches them and hands them down, as if she possessed but one mouth. For, while the languages of the world are diverse, nevertheless, the authority of the tradition is one and the same”

    “That is why it is surely necessary to avoid them [heretics], while cherishing with the utmost diligence the things pertaining to the Church, and to lay hold of the tradition of truth. . . . What if the apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the churches?

    “With this church, because of its superior origin (not teaching as Calvin claims), all churches must agree—that is, all the faithful in the whole world—and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition“. (St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1:10:2 [A.D. 189]).

    Our friend St. Athanasius says:

    “Again we write, again keeping to the apostolic traditions, we remind each other when we come together for prayer; and keeping the feast in common, with one mouth we truly give thanks to the Lord. Thus giving thanks unto him, and being followers of the saints, ‘we shall make our praise in the Lord all the day,’ as the psalmist says. So, when we rightly keep the feast, we shall be counted worthy of that joy which is in heaven” (Festal Letters 2:7 [A.D. 330]).

    “But you are blessed, who by faith are in the Church, dwell upon the foundations of the faith, and have full satisfaction, even the highest degree of faith which remains among you unshaken. For it has come down to you from apostolic tradition, and frequently accursed envy has wished to unsettle it, but has not been able”.

    “And in dizziness about the truth, are full set upon accusing the Council, let them tell us what are the sort of Scriptures from which they have learned, or who is the Saint by whom they have been taught…” (Defence of the Nicene Definition, 18 NPNF 2, IV: 161).

    “But beyond these [Scriptural] sayings, let us look at the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, the Apostles preached, and the Fathers kept (notice he doesn’t say write down). Upon this the Church is founded, and he who should fall away from it would not be a Christian, and should no longer be so called” (Ad Serapion 1:28).

    “Let the unlearned persons cease such misrepresentations, but let them learn from the example of the Fathers; and let them read the Scriptures” (Defence Before Constantius, 18; NPNF 2, IV:245).

    “But do you, remaining on the foundation of the Apostles, and holding fast the Traditions of the Fathers, pray that now at length all strife and rivalry may cease, and the futile questions of the heretics may be condemned” (Councils of Arminum and Seleucia, 54; NPNF 2, IV:479).

    “Of the dogmas and messages preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching and others we receive from the tradition of the apostles, handed on to us in mystery. In respect to piety, both are of the same force. No one will contradict any of these, no one, at any rate, who is even moderately versed in matters ecclesiastical. Indeed, were we to try to reject unwritten customs as having no great authority, we would unwittingly injure the gospel in its vitals; or rather, we would reduce [Christian] message to a mere term” (St. Basil the Great, The Holy Spirit 27:66 [A.D. 375]).

    This last sentence from Basil’s quote summarizes our disagreement in your first paragraph.

    You said:

    I cannot agree with this. And when I do disagree with the Catholics here as to what a given Reformed position is, I think I should be allowed to define the Reformed position unless one of the Catholics here can tell me where I am in error from the standpoint of the Reformed confessions.

    Andrew, that is fair. However, this is not merely a forum where we state the obvious. We are examining the assumptions of each other’s given claims/confessions, and given that the Reformed position is perspicuous in Scripture, I should have cause to imagine that it should be rather obvious what the Reformed position is. Nevertheless, your interaction, for example, with Bryan in #12/#31 demonstrates what it appears is your unwillingness to engage your assumptions. Bryan asked a question, you responded, he challenged it, and then you said he was merely spouting off a Catholic position and then asked him why he didn’t answer your question in #8 (which was to Mateo and not Bryan???). You discredit the Catholic position, or at least require an argument for it (Apostolic succession) without critically examining your position. It isn’t an either/or but an if/but. In other words, even if the Catholic position isn’t true, doesn’t mean your position is true. The question, “who has authority over you” is not a Catholic question. It is a general question, I could ask, about a child. If the child always has last right of refusal to disobey their parents, then that parent has no binding authority on the child, or at least the child has not submitted to the authority of his/her parents. What I am asking is for you to examine your doctrines and determine if they are consonant with the ECF, and if not, explain to us all why and how you are able to obtain your doctrines using their principles but in no way as to obtain their theology.

    Warmly in Christ,

    Brent

  197. Gentlemen,

    The purpose of CTC comboxes is to discuss the post/article to which that combox is attached (see the Posting Guidelines). This requires a certain intellectual discipline and restraint. There is some flexibility, but in general, if the comment you wish to make is not about the article above, then please either find another CTC post/article about that subject and use that combox (to find such a post or article, use the “tags” in the Complete Archive), or save your comment for a future CTC post/article about the subject you wish to discuss. This is especially the case for sustained conversations about subjects other than that of the post/article above the combox. Thank you.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  198. Bryan,

    No problem. Sorry for the temporary tangent.

    Andrew,

    If you want respond in a different thread, I would be happy to continue our current conversation. If not, that’s fine as well.

    Cheers,

    Brent

  199. Bryan,

    Thanks for the reminder as to be on topic for the article. The issue about the place of St Peter and how this relates to the position of Rome and Constantinople is I believe still relevant to the article in that you mention that the Orthodox recognised a universal primacy for the Pope of Rome. Metropolitan Kallistos also mentioned the importance of history, which is what we are continuing to discuss in terms of the hierarchical structure of the Church. Is this ok? Or shall be continue elsewhere? The issue about sola Scripture is off topic and I will discontinue comments in this regard; apologies for going off track. Anyway, I think that this conversation is coming to a time for a breather, although much more can be discussed, and I am happy to continue further discussion on my own blog if that is preferred.

    K. Doran,

    I will leave this as my last comment for a week or so and perhaps pick up further discussion on my blog. I may make a post about Ullmann and the legal framework for the papacy which I think is a good angle on which to continue the discussion, if desired. Thanks for the information regarding the translation and I have found and read Ullmann’s article.

    In terms of the See of Constantinople sharing Petrine primacy, it is not so much a translation of Petrine authority rather than sharing and replicating that authority. Thus, the authority was not removed from Old Rome and reference to it was always in terms of Old Rome but was also present in New Rome. There is no geographic movement per se but a replication in another location in terms of geographic position but in the same location in terms of being in the capital. When the capital of the Empire was founded in Constantinople it did not remove the capital from Rome but shared in its status and authority. When Rome fell to the barbarians, Constantinople continued as capital without the populace considering that they ceased to be Romans because Old Rome fell or that the Emperors were suddenly illegitimate because they were not located in Rome. Again, consider Sts Peter and Paul, the leadership of the Apostles is named after St Peter yet this did not mean that St Paul did not share that leadership equally as St Peter, and St Paul was not even qualified as an Apostle according to the standards set in choosing St Matthias. We know they shared equal authority because the one mission was divided between the two of them, one to the Jews and the other to the Gentiles, yet they both preached to both as did all the Apostles. It is the same logic that allows Constantinople as New Rome to share equally in the authority of Old Rome yet all the reference of this authority is in terms of Old Rome and also New Rome pays deference to Old Rome as coming second after her, just as St Paul did to St Peter even though he was his equal. Also the Roman idea of the eternal city was applied to Constantinople with no concern that it could only belong to Old Rome. Because it is a replication of Rome it occurs when Old Rome is still in existence, it is not a replacement for Rome but a manifestation of Rome in another geographic location, else it would be a new capital of a new Empire. Also, in terms of Nicaea, Constantinople is not a new See pushing into the ranks and changing the position of Alexandria and Antioch, it is the same See as Rome in replication. Alexandria continues its same place vis a vie Rome as second. Thus, the Nicene Canons were not overturned by Canon 28 as St Leo thought. The succession of Bishops can still be traced to St Andrew, also indicating equality being the brother of St Peter and first-called, because this does not prevent New Rome sharing in the authority of Old Rome and in the Petrine ministry, which, by the way, is also shared by all bishops at various levels just as the power of binding and loosing was given to all Apostles equally not to St Peter alone. At one level the bishops of Constantinople are the successors of St Andrew and at another they exercise the Petrine ministry of Old Rome, which is maintained in the succession of the bishops of New Rome just as it was by the successors of the bishops of Old Rome. Also there is no need for the bishops of New Rome to refer to themselves as “Peter” just as St Paul did not have to refer to himself as “Peter” in exercising the one and same authority as St Peter. Some of this is seen in St Leo’s sermon 82 on the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, which is consistent with what I have said.

    Examining St Leo’s Tome wasn’t about trying to find a way to reject it, I don’t imagine that any such evidence would exist, but rather to confirm that it is the faith shared by all.

    (1) We know it is Constantinople the continues the Petrine ministry in terms of a universal scope after the separation because it was already exercising that ministry before the Schism and it was the capital; Alexandria nor Antioch were ever the capital of the Empire.

    (2) As said there was not geographic “movement” but we see that Constantinople shared equality by the divine will expressed in the Holy Canons of the Ecumenical Council, which reflect something that had already taken place de-facto from almost the time of that Constantinople officially became the imperial capital and event that was obvious to all in the Empire.

    (3) “And this is in keeping with the fact that the Fathers naturally enough granted the priorities [understood to include powers and being plural with no qualification to how many implies all priorities not some] to the throne of Old Rome on account of her being the imperial capital. And motivated by the same object and aim the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities [the like means the same] to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the city which is the seat of an empire, and of a senate, and is equal [a comparison is made to being equal in secular terms so implying this applies also in church terms, else this comparison would be inappropriate] to old imperial Rome in respect of other privileges and priorities, should be magnified also as she is in respect of ecclesiastical affairs [that is made equal in terms of church affairs just as in secular affairs] ” I cannot get a tighter quote than this without losing too much context but I have made notes through it highlight key points.

    I will continue to consider your claim. Reading Ullmann, we are clearly discussing matters of framework for understanding the powers of the Pope and the continuation of them. I will still need to see how much of the logic is that of St Leo and how much is of later development.

  200. Monk Patrick,

    The discussion of the place of St Peter and how this relates to the position of Rome and Constantinople, and the hierarchical structure of the Church are sufficiently relevant to the article. Debates about Protestantism are off-topic for this thread.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  201. Brent,

    I think Bryan is right that we’ve veered somewhat off course. But it is an important issues since we Protestants get misunderstood on the issue of tradition. I agree with the sentiments from the Fathers that you cite – tradition is necessary and inescapable and we cannot ignore it or do without it. Evidently I have not explained well enough from the Reformed perspective where the difference liesbetween Catholic and Protestant on this matter. But I’m sure there will be a CTC discussion at some point in the future where I can more appropriately raise the issue again.

    Cheers for now….

  202. Peter was the only one who was given the keys, which are not identical to the power of binding and loosing (which was given to the other apostles). Jesus prayed for Peter [singular] that Peter [singular] might turn and strengthen the others.

    The 28th Canon does not grant equal authority on all levels between New Rome and Old Rome. It makes a very specific comparison between the cities, and then grants authority to new rome to consecrate metropolitans.

    Here it is, clause by clause, with my commentary in brackets after each clause:

    (1) “Following in all things the decrees of the holy fathers and acknowledging the canon just read of the 150 most God-beloved bishops who assembled under the then emperor Theodosius the Great of pious memory in imperial Constantinople New Rome,”
    [blah blah blah]

    (2) “we too define and decree the same regarding the privileges of the most holy church of the same Constantinople New Rome.”
    [yadda yadda yadda]

    (3) “The fathers appropriately accorded privileges (latin: privilega) to the see of Senior Rome because it was the imperial city and,”
    [Unfortunately for your interpretation of this canon, the fathers who defended Roman primacy before Chalcedon actually spend very little time talking about the splendor of the Roman City, and a lot of time talking about God and St. Peter. The city of Rome's imperial status only matters as an input into God's decision-making, it does not figure directly in the prominent explanations of why the Bishop of Rome must be obeyed (see Augustine, or Peter Chrysologous, or the numerous papal self-explanations). The fathers made a special connection between Peter and the Bishop of Rome, and between God's authority and the local Church of Rome. That bishop had many powers, and no doubt some are at the whim of canon law; some even were probably assigned by early (now lost) canon law specifically because Rome was the imperial city. But there are repeated references to divinely-granted powers in the pre-Chalcedonian literature that have nothing to do with canon law, and cannot be ascribed to strategic decision-making of post-apostolic men. Fortunately, I think your interpretation of this canon is wrong, and I can save its historical reliability by affirming that what the Constantinopolitan bishops were saying here is that _some_ of Rome's powers were granted for that reason, by those fathers.]

    (4) “moved by the same intent,”

    (5) “the 150 most God-beloved bishops assigned equal privileges to the most holy see of New Rome,”
    [OK, so whatever privileges they're talking about, they are going to be ones that bishops can reassign and divvy-up, and they are going to do some of that for the benefit of New Rome.]

    (6) “rightly judging that the city which is honoured with the imperial government and the senate and enjoys equal privileges with imperial Senior Rome should be exalted like her in ecclesiastical affairs as well,”
    [OK, so this is _why_ they're going to send some or all of the privileges over to New Rome . . . whether it’s all or some will remain to be proved by the rest of the canon and the surrounding context]

    (7) “being second after her,”
    [this suggests again that they are talking about some priveleges, not all privileges, otherwise "second after her" means nothing but flattery; but the proof remains to be seen either way]

    (8) “with the consequence that the metropolitans alone of the Pontic, Asian, and Thracian dioceses, and also the bishops from the aforesaid dioceses in barbarian lands, are to be consecrated by the aforesaid most holy see of the most holy church at Constantinople,”
    [They finally come to the point. That is the consequence of some subset of Old Rome’s powers being given to New Rome. The powers they are talking about are powers of consecration of specific metropolitans in specific geographic areas around the city, just like Old Rome has. We hear nothing of New Rome being given the right to make binding doctrinal decrees and asking all bishops around the world “even to the most distant provinces” to sign them or be removed from their sees. We hear nothing of New Rome speaking for Peter; of the bishop of New Rome being the heir of Peter; of Constantinople being incapable of definitively teaching heresy (like the claim that Cyprian so famously made, in spite of his difficulty in agreeing with Rome, of the Roman Church). I think this clause makes it quite probable that the bishops mean the power of regional consecration, and that power only. It at least must be said that they had every option to list other powers, and rather suspiciously declined to do so. It will remain for the extra-canonical context to prove the point finally and completely.]

    (9) “while, of course, each metropolitan of the aforesaid dioceses, together with the bishops of the province, ordains the bishops of the province, as is laid down in the divine canons.”

    (10) “As has been said, the metropolitans of the aforesaid dioceses are to be consecrated by the archbishop of Constantinople, after elections by consensus have taken place according to the custom and have been reported to him.”
    [Wow. Now they reiterate that this is what has been said. Still they ascribe no other specific powers to Constantinople.]

    What of the context of the 28th canon? Well, as the historians Price and Gaddis write: “the ‘equal priveleges’ with those of Rome that the canon awards to Constantinople meant simply a comparable authority over subordinate metropolitan sees: they did not undermine the primacy of Rome as the first see of Christendom. Nor did the stress on the status enjoyed by Constantinople as one of the two imperial cities mean that the Petrine authority of the Roman see was ignored (Anatolius, for example, wrote to Rome in December 451 recognizing her as the ‘father’ of his own see); it was simply a device to justify attributing primacy in the east to Constantinople over both Alexandria and Antioch. It is therefore no surprise that the letters of Leo criticizing the canon, as well as the letters in rely that defended it, made no reference to the relative standing of Rome and Constantinople.”
    So the back and forth of letters after the canon never even brings your interpretation up!

    Finally, yes, they did very imploringly ask Leo to affirm the canon, and they did drop the issue after he refused. This cannot be ignored, and is the final nail in the coffin to the idea that the men who issued that canon thought that they had just made their Church the equal of Old Rome in power and authority in all matters. What later Byzantine churchmen made of the canon is their own business, and we all know the sad outcome that ensued.

    I can’t believe your interpretation of the plural word “privileges”, since everything else in the Canon, in the teachings of the Fathers before the Canon about Roman primacy, and in the interactions of the bishops who wrote the canon with Pope Leo, indicates that they meant a power of consecration over metropolitans in the East, and that power alone. Your argument hinges on your own interpretation of that one word. The argument of Price and other historians and myself does not.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  203. Monk Patrick,

    If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that St. Peter gets the Jewish ministry and St. Paul the Gentile ministry. I understand, on one level, what you mean. However, how do you understand Acts 15:7:

    After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.”

    You said:

    At one level the bishops of Constantinople are the successors of St Andrew and at another they exercise the Petrine ministry of Old Rome, which is maintained in the succession of the bishops of New Rome just as it was by the successors of the bishops of Old Rome.

    Can you point to somewhere in Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition that foreshadows this or teaches this? I’m working through Chalcedon and cannot seem to get to your conclusions . I highly recommend Bryan’s article on St. Optatus regarding the Bishop of Rome or his article on the Chair of St. Peter (look especially at the 6th century after Chalcedon where we would expect your reading to immediately bear fruit). I am having a hard time figuring out how to synthesize this data with what you are saying and would be interested in your thoughts.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Brent

  204. Brent,

    In regards to Acts 15:7, I also stated that St Peter preached to the Gentiles as well as the Jews in saying “both preached to both.” I was quoting Galatians 2:9 in dividing the ministries as I did, so the apparent inconsistency is a Scriptural issue.

    I thought that I had referred to Scripture and Tradition during this discussion in foreshadowing what I said by reference to Sts Peter and Paul. Every bishop shares in the ministry of St Peter in being the singular head of the council of priests. The Metropolitans share this at a regional level with the council of bishops and each Patriarch with the Metropolitans, which is why, in particular, the first Patriarchal Sees, Rome, Alexandria and Antioch are all tied to St Peter. The See of Constantinople as a Patriarchal See shares in this ministry in practice even if it was not a Petrine See from the time of the Apostles but this doesn’t matter because St Paul shared the leadership equally with St Peter as “twin light of the eyes in the body whose Head is Christ” (to quote St Leo the Great), even though he was not qualified to be one of the twelve. Also, I am basing this on the teaching of St Cyprian of Carthage, Apostolic Canon 34 and other sources.

    My reading in terms of the quote given is rather in terms of modern conditions rather than those of the 6th Century when the idea of being the successors of St Andrew had not been developed. Also, because Old Rome was still in communion with the rest of the Church, it was the natural focus of Petrine ministry not Constantinople, as the name Petrine refers to St Peter even though St Paul also shared the same ministry. Where I would expect my reading to bear fruit is after the Schism in which case I believe there is plenty of evidence to show the leadership of Constantinople, even if not referred as Petrine (which after the Schism suffers connotations of western papal thought), including effectively controlling the Pope of Alexandria, and Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem, and exercising as much, if not more, real control than the See of Old Rome managed until the Ottoman victory over the Empire severely restricted the practical ability of the Ecumenical Patriarch to manage affairs in Russia etc and so the subsequent growth of other Patriarchs. Even earlier in the sixth century the Patriarch of Constantinople called himself Ecumenical, which is a fruit of my reading.

    I have read the two articles thanks.

  205. K. Doran,

    I think we can argue the meaning of the Canon 28 for sometime, without convincing each other. I will add a little more here to complete my case and leave it to the readers to decide themselves which case is stronger.

    Firstly, I had never heard of your interpretation before you brought it up so it isn’t that common nor does it square with evidence that I have seen. Secondly, the Second Ecumenical Council in Canon 3 raised Constantinople to have the privileges of honour after Rome as New Rome without saying it was to ordain Metropolitans. Canon 28 is primarily expanding and clarifying this Canon as its initial aim. The Council of Trullo repeats the Canon 28 without mentioning ordination of Metropolitans. If the intention of the Canon was only to give ordination rights to Constantinople over these Metropolitans then this would have also been mentioned in both other councils else the Canon would have no meaning. Rather by not mentioning ordination in the other Canons it is clear that the intention is to give equal rights and the ordination is an added result of these equal rights. This can be seen in the Greek with the word “And” (καὶ) coming before the discussion of ordination. Thus, showing that this discussion is an added result of the conferred privileges. Without the “And” then your reading would be viable, although inconsistent with the other equivalent Canons.

    The repetition at the end of the Canon was to ensure that Constantinople only ordained the Metropolitans and not the other bishops of these provinces so that the Metropolitans dignity was kept safe; it wanted to make this very clear so it reworded itself to clarify its meaning and to explain the use of the word “only”.

  206. Monk Patrick,

    You said: “If the intention of the Canon was only to give ordination rights to Constantinople over these Metropolitans then this would have also been mentioned” in the 381 Council. Why? Is not the purpose of the 28th canon in 451 rather to clarify the only exercise of such power that Constantinople had ever made use of since the 381 council, namely: the right of consecration of metropolitans? When the Papal legates complained that the signatures of the canon had been forced, several bishops said: “no, we weren’t forced to sign this canon, and in fact we’ve been ordained by constantinople for several iterations now.” It is clear that all they were talking about was ordination — can you find one single example from before, during, or immediately after the council where anyone interprets it more broadly? I cannot. But I can find a lot of examples where they interpret it the way I suggested above. I can’t understand why you’re pressing this point. If no one interpreted it your way until years and years after the council itself, then that is very clear evidence that the canon does not mean what you think it means.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  207. K. Doran,

    The Council twice (Canons 9 and 17) also recognised the privilege of Constantinople to hear appeals from provincial councils; which is a privilege also shared by Old Rome. So, there is evidence that Constantinople has received more rights than those of ordaining and thus I cannot agree that the 28th Canon was “to clarify the only exercise of such power.”

  208. Monk Patrick,

    Here is Canon 9:

    “If any cleric has a suit against a cleric, he is not to leave his own bishop and have recourse to civil courts, but is first to argue the case before his own bishop, or at least with the consent of the bishop himself let justice be done before whomever both parties choose. If anyone infringes this, he is to be subject to the canonical penalties. If a cleric has a suit against his own, or another, bishop, he is to plead his case before the council of the province. If a bishop or cleric is in dispute with the metropolitan of the same province, he is to have recourse oot the exarch of the diocese or to the see of imperial Constantinople and plead his case there.”

    From Price and Gaddis on Canon 9:

    “The ‘exarch of the diocese’ was the bishop of Antioch in Oriens and the bishop of Alexandria in Egypt. The canon did not apply to Illyricum, which was under papal jurisdiction. It is not clear whether the bishops of Ephesus (the capital of Asiana) and Caesaria (of Pontica) were also recognized as exarchs with appelate jurisdiction; Jones, LRE, III, 300 believes they were not. In practice the court of appeal in these dioceses was certainly Constantinople. See the debate over Canon 28 in Section XVI.”

    The canon didn’t apply around the world. The canons 1-27 weren’t even issued at the council, they were issued afterwords by people from Constantinople, to settle business in the East.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  209. Monk Patrick,

    You’re right that it is up for the readers to decide for themselves; we can’t decide for them. All I would say is the following: this whole discussion has been about whether the 28th Canon of Chalcedon provides a basis in tradition for “New Rome” becoming a copy or version or example of “Old Rome” to a sufficient degree that modern Orthodox can accede to the numerous traditional statements of Old Rome’s authority without actually submitting to the current Bishop of Rome.

    Is there a basis in tradition for this kind of theological move? Not, at least, in the 28th Canon. Everything in the 28th Canon itself and in the surrounding literature points to exactly the opposite conclusion.

    The 28th Canon says that New Rome is now to be given privileges that Old Rome has; in these privileges at least, they will be equal. But when it describes “the consequence” of this sharing of privileges, it only mentions the power to ordain geographically close metropolitans; it goes on to affirm that Constantinople will be “second after” Old Rome.

    After the Council, Emperor Marcian, the real power behind the proceedings, writes to Pope Leo: “Because indeed it was also decreed that the decree of the 150 most holy bishops under the divine Theodosius concerning the honour of the venerable church of Constantinople and the present decree of the holy council on the same matter are to be firmly upheld, namely that the bishop of the city of Constantinople is to have the second place after the apostolic see, because the same most glorious city is called Junior Rome, may your sanctity deign to bestow your own assent on this article also, even though the most devout bishops who came to the holy council to represent your religiousness formally objected to it; ”

    Where is the mention of universal equality and sharing of all powers? It’s not there, because it’s not what the Canon meant to the men who wrote it.

    The same month, Anatolius of Constantinople wrote to Pope Leo:
    “the clergy and people were concerned that the most holy see in this imperial Constantinople should perceive some increase in honour through the agreement of this holy council with the canon of the 150 holy fathers. . . We embarked on this undertaking with a natural confidence in your beatitude that you would consider the honour of the see of Constantinople as your own, since your apostolic see has from of old exhibited solicitude and accord in its regard and has been unstinting in giving it your own assistance in everything it required. For since there is no doubt that your beatitude rejoices unreservedly that the church strengthened by you yourself has received more glorious honour, [the council] with eager mind proceeded to confirm the same canon of the 150 holy fathers which decrees that the bishop of Constantinople has honour and privileges after the most holy see of Rome, because Constantinople is New Rome; it also decreed that the consecrations of the metropolitans of the Pontic, Asian and Thracian dioceses are to be performed [by the see of Constantinople], while the bishops under them are to be consecrated by their own metropolitans, with the results that this rather deprives the see of Constantinople of the consecrations of very many bishops, which it has been performing for sixty or seventy years. . . . This decree has been transmitted to your sacredness by the holy council and by us in order to receive from you approval and confirmation. We beg you to do this, O most holy one (for the see of Constantinople has as its father your apostolic see and has joined itself to you in a special way), so that from the care you bestow on it all may be convinced that, having shown genuine solicitude from of old, you continue to exercise the same care of it at the present time also”

    Again, where is the mention of universal equality and sharing of all powers? It’s not there, because it’s not what the Canon meant to the men who wrote it. The canon meant: that Constantinople was to be second in honour after Old Rome; that Constantinople was to have the second-best privileges after Old Rome; and that Constantinople was to share very important privileges with Old Rome — namely, the consecration of neighboring metropolitans, just like Old Rome did. Can you find anything in the correspondence which suggests otherwise?

    Leo responded to these letters in his most fatherly tone. I will not waste space on his rejection of the appeals, except to note that nowhere does he complain that Constantinople was making itself equal to Old Rome; on the contrary, he complains that Constantinople was making itself higher than the other Churches in the East, whose rights had already been elucidated at Nicea.

    Dom John Chapman writes: “The answer of Anatolius is abject. He had instantly obeyed, he says, all the Pope’s injunctions; the canon was not his work — the blame is to be laid on the clergy of Constantinople! “But even so the whole force and confirmation of the acts was reserved to your holiness.” The result of this was that the canon was not copied into the Western Acts, nor into the Arabic ones. But naturally the course of things at Constantinople went on as before, for the system had long been in exercise.”

    I know that you believe that this canon gives Constantinople’s enlarged role in later ecclesiastical history a basis in the tradition of the 450′s. But I can’t see this conclusion as even a matter for debate. Everything in their writing and behavior confirms that they did not think they had made themselves equal to Rome; and in fact, they had not. It was up to later writers to think such thoughts, and take such actions, much to the detriment of the history of Christendom. Would that the current leaders of Constantinople believed and behaved as Anatolius and Marcian did towards the Bishop of Rome; we would then be a united church again.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  210. K. Doran,

    I think that you rely too heavily on one source of interpretation, Price and Gaddis, for interpreting the Canons; there is a rich tradition of interpretation that does not say the same thing as them. To counter your claim that there was only one power shared with Rome, I don’t have to point to the appeal being universal only that it is given above the level of a province, such as Rome was acknowledged to have in the Council of Sardicia. Whether or not the first 27 Canons were of the council is not relevant, you asked me: “can you find one single example from before, during, or immediately after the council where anyone interprets it more broadly” and I have done so. The privilege of hearing appeals from Metropolitan councils is at least the same level as that of ordaining Metropolitans, so if the ordination rights require the equation with Old Rome to justify them then so do the appeal rights. Thus, this is an example of someone interpreting Canon 28, or rather more appropriately Canon 3 of the Second Council, more broadly than only referring to ordination rights.

  211. Monk Patrick,

    I cite Price and Gaddis because it is the most recent authoritative English translation by non-sectarian historians on the council. Since I was copying their translations into the com-box, it was easy enough for me to copy their interpretations as well. But why don’t you check out their bibliography to see if they are the only ones who think the Eastern Orthodox interpretation of this council makes any sense? I doubt very much that they are; there may be many faults with those authors, but I don’t think originality is one of them! I cited Chapman as well, btw, though he’s a Catholic so I cited him sparingly — I’ve found him to correspond excellently with primary sources whenever I’ve checked.

    The main point is that none of the primary sources bear your interpretation. No one doubts that Constantinople gained a greater and greater role in the East as time went by — no one doubts the canons you’ve cited played a role. The question was whether, in the 450s, the clergy and people of Constantinople thought they had made themselves _equal_ to Rome through the 28th canon. Their own words and behavior make that interpretation simply unbelievable.

    You’ve never convincingly addressed why I should believe that their imploring requests for Leo to approve the Canon were merely a sham. You haven’t explained clearly to me why Marcian reversed himself at Rome’s direction and congratulated Leo on his rejection of the Canon, and why Anatolious cringed and distanced himself from the Canon when Leo took a fatherly tone with his “son”. Are these the actions of men for whom the see of Constantinople has just been made the equal of Old Rome? And, finally, and most importantly, you haven’t explained why the whole discussion in every letter about the canon was the relationship between Constantinople and Alexandria and Antioch — not with Rome. Isn’t it simply obvious that the canon was “about” what it spent most of its time talking about: the relationship between Constantinople and the other Church’s in the East? Even if I grant you that it was about more than the ordination aspect of that relationship, in what piece of evidence is there anything to suggest that the Canon was about absolute equality with Rome? Not only all the auxillary evidence, but the words of the canon itself explicitly belie such absolute equality!

    Constantinople is definitely after Rome in authority; whether or not she is second depends on how much weight we place on the various versions of the 28th canon (Leo thought that the 28th Canon was malarky, and that Alexandria was second, and he said so). But it is clear that in the 450s at least, Constantinople was not even nearly tied for first. View her as second if you wish, but please don’t press the point on being tied for first. It doesn’t follow from your evidence.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  212. Monk Patrick,

    Also, I want to make clear that I really respect and appreciate the highly irenic way you’ve been writing your comments to me (I’m sorry if I haven’t lived up to that in any of my words). Thanks for having a great discussion, and I wish you best as you continue to study the sacred tradition which binds our faiths!

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  213. K. Doran,

    It is interesting to see in the letter of Anatolius to Pope Leo that you quoted that the Council rather than giving Constantinople rights of ordination, it was reducing the extent of these rights. The Canon then seems to run in the lines: yes you have these equal privileges with Old Rome but in ordaining it is only the Metropolitans not all the Bishops that you should be ordaining. It confirms the rights to show that it is not removing them when its main purpose was to correct Constantinople regarding an abuse of those privileges. This is something that I had not seen in the Canon; thank you for pointing it out. This makes much better sense of what is going on.

    I have no problem with saying that Constantinople is second to Rome and that she shows deference to her and calls the Pope “father”, I have said this earlier. When I speak of equal rights I am not speaking of them over and against Old Rome but exercising them with Old Rome as second or junior to her; this is affirmed in the letter of Anatolius, “for the see of Constantinople has as its father your apostolic see and has joined itself to you in a special way” See how it has joined in a special way, that is it shares privileges in unity with the elder Rome. Note the word “also” in the letter of Anatolius “…it also decreed…”, which says the same as in my earlier comment that the matter of ordinations was in addition to the recognition of equal right and not the sole reason or consequence.

    Also, the privilege of ordaining Metropolitans is a Patriarchal privilege, shared also be Alexandria and Antioch, so there was no need to reference equality with Rome in this matter; it could have been done with reference to Alexandria and Antioch and Constantinople ranked fifth after Jerusalem, as St Leo thought that it should be and there nothing special in the power of ordaining to join the two Romes in a special way. Also, your initial interpretation, which I accept that you are prepared to give way in a little, gives Constantinople less privileges than the other Patriarchs because they could also hear appeals from provincial synods under them and they had general oversight of all the churches under them, which is why St Peter visited them in person or in his disciple to give the Apostolic seal to their roles. It is hardly likely that in raising Constantinople to higher than the other Patriarchs that they would give her Bishop less authority than the other Patriarchs, who also share everything that Rome has in terms of functions but only in terms of their own Patriarchal area. Also, does Antioch have less privileges than Alexandria because she is ranked below her? I should not think so, the ranking is an honour but not in itself a test of equality of privileges. So, Rome is not above the other Sees in being ranked first, rather to be ranked with them at all is a sign of equality of privileges with differential of honour. I do think unlike some Orthodox, and have said a number of times, that Rome had a universal aspect to her function because she was the See of the Capital, which meant she had an extent of jurisdiction that the other Patriarchs did not have who were located in secondary cities of great authority in their wide but limited area. The emphasis on the Capital is very important in this Canon and points precisely to that something that Rome had which was not shared by the other Patriarchs, and that was not the ordination of Metropolitans. By pointing to this it is including Constantinople in these unique, special privileges, albeit as junior to father.

    I did offer explanations for the actions of Anatolius in that it was better to withdraw than cause a bitter fight and the Emperor could have accepted in a similar manner. It was an act of love and preservation of unity not to press the point. God had willed it and they could be confident in that so it was better not to press the point because St Leo was so adamant. I explained the terminology of son above. Yes, they are the actions of saintly men who do not push their rights when it will cause division and strife. I have explained why St Leo focused on Alexandria and Antioch and not on himself; there was no threat to his position by the Canon and he was more interested in the cause of the Canons than his own rights.

    I am not arguing for absolute equality in that Constantinople is clearly second after Rome but the Canons clearly speak in terms of equal privileges and being equally magnified in terms of church matters. That is what the words of the Canon say. There is a good reason for saying that Constantinople is first equal with Rome but I will concede that unless one is to see the matter in terms of all the logical balances needed to keep the canon law and historical evidence consistent then it is not obvious from the material in terms of a flat reading of it. The evidence that you have shown does not harm my position, and I find it rather quite in support, but then again neither does it state it in black and white; I don’t expect it to do so. It is hard to see how New Rome can at the same time be both first equal and second but it does work and it needs to do so if one cares for canonical and logical consistency. For example if it is second only then it infringes the order of Canons of Nicaea, which is why St Leo rejected it. If it is only first equal then St Leo may perhaps have objected on that ground and it would be impossible to maintain the unity of the two Sees without a sense of priority of Old Rome. It could not replace Rome as first, again infringing Nicaea. The only solution is that expressed in the Canon of being given equal privileges but second after Rome in honour. Thus, it is neither first equal completely over and against Rome neither is it outright second thus replacing Alexandria from its place, although in practical terms this takes place because physically counting them and sitting them needs three places unless one sits in the other’s lap which wouldn’t be very bishop like. It also works with the Churches tradition of adapting to the political honour of cities as well as maintaining its traditions. Rejecting it outright as St Leo did causes a contradiction in Tradition regarding the divinely willed reason for Rome being in the first place and having unique privileges was that is was the capital. Practically, it was already a fiat accompli and practical necessity to give Constantinople equal privileges because of the way the Empire worked and the role of the capital and emperor within it; the Church could not function properly vis a vie the world without Constantinople obtaining the same privileges as Old Rome to exercise the ministry that was required in the Capital. You will have to develop a very careful ecclesiological model to convince me that your interpretation is right to deal with all the nuances inherent in the matter, or simply state that you don’t care for such matters and what does it matter if things are nicely consistent.

  214. K. Doran,

    Thank you also for the discussion it has brought out some things that I hadn’t seen before. Thanks be to God for any sense of peace in the discussion. Thank you also for your well wishes, I may God assist you with your study also.

    Returning to the post, I think that we have seen some of the evidence to which I was referring in regards to the model proposed in Ravenna in that, regardless of the exact extent of the privileges, Constantinople was above the second layer of Metropolitans, who in turn were over bishops, and so we cannot have Rome alone at this third layer, I would also add the other Patriarchs. So, either we have Rome in a fourth layer, or we recognise Rome (with/without Constantinople) with privileges that make her distinct from the other Patriarchs but yet not above the Patriarchs (which I think is the best fit for the evidence). Which ever way, the model of Ravenna is a departure from the historical structure and I do not think that it is adequate for purposes of reuniting the western and eastern churches.

  215. Monk Patrick,

    You said: “The only solution is that expressed in the Canon of being given equal privileges but second after Rome in honour.”

    But the canon does NOT say that Constantinople is second to Rome in honor. It says it is “second after her”, full stop. And all of Anatolius’ and the council fathers’ and Marcian’s interactions with Leo are much more clearly explained by their own words (that Leo had real “authority”, and that they submitted things to him for his genuine approval, and that they were ready to obey instantly when his approval was denied) rather than your extremely stretched explanation that they just wanted to let sleeping dogs lie. For heaven’s sake, Monk Patrick, you are making all their actions of (sometimes cowering) obedience to Leo’s will a mere sham. If a man can’t convince you of his obedience to another man with all the words and actions I recorded above, then he can never convince anyone of that fact.

    Constantinople was obedient to Rome. As soon as Leo barked, Anatolius retreated. He retreated so much that he blamed other people for the canon so that he wouldn’t be in trouble with the Pope.

    Obedience isn’t a sham and it isn’t an attempt to just let the loudest person get his way. Anatolius was quite loud and persistent and passionate in his requests that Rome let him do what he wants initially. But Anatolius seemed genuinely terrified when Leo rejected his evident ambition, and he didn’t just drop the issue: he said what he could to distance himself personally from it and obey Leo immediately.

    If those are the actions of a man who is equal in privileges to Leo, then I am a chipmunk. I can’t put it any other way. Every word and action indicates that Leo is the one in charge. He “orders, decides, reprehends, deposes, corrects, threatens.” Anatolius obeys, and submits everything to his holiness’ “confirmation.” Anatolius defends his stupidity in the 28th canon matter by reminding Leo that the “whole force” of the canon depended on Leo’s “confirmation” anyway, (hence Anatolius should not be blamed for merely suggesting the idea). Do you honestly believe that this is equality in all privileges? Equality in some, but not in all.

    You need to be honest about the fact that it was not mere honor at stake. Rome used actual power to make actual policy and actual doctrine enforced throughout the Church. There is no way in the world I am going to believe that Rome had no more power than Constantinople in the Church of 450 given all that I have read and even given the small handful of quotes I have taken the trouble of copying down here in the combox.

    Honor and power are two different things. I am not so confused as to think that the history of the 450s can be explained with a throw-away reference to Roman “honor”. If you don’t see Roman power in all of Leo’s dealings with the rest of the Church that I referenced above (a small portion of all the evidence of his genuinely unique ecclesiastical power), then, for the time being, all I can say is that I genuinely believe that you are fooling yourself. If I copied into the combox the emails of my superiors and my responses to them, you would need, for consistency’s sake, to claim that these words suggest that my superiors are really just superior in honor, whereas in power I’m just as influential as my boss (even though I’ll be fired if I act that way in reality).

    I wish you the best! Take care, and let’s not bother discussing this for the time being. Thank you again for always being very irenic in your messages to me in the combox.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  216. Fr. Patrick,

    I just finished reading all the comments and have a comment/question. You said:

    “When I speak of equal rights I am not speaking of them over and against Old Rome but exercising them with Old Rome as second or junior to her.”

    “I am not arguing for absolute equality in that Constantinople is clearly second after Rome”

    “There is a good reason for saying that Constantinople is first equal with Rome”

    “It is hard to see how New Rome can at the same time be both first equal and second but it does work and it needs to do so if one cares for canonical and logical consistency.”

    “Thus, it is neither first equal completely over and against Rome neither is it outright second thus replacing Alexandria from its place, although in practical terms this takes place because physically counting them and sitting them needs three places…”

    I have lost you. Is what you are describing in #213 and elsewhere the Orthodox position? Because I sure have heard other Orthodox opinions on it. Whether the monks of Athos, bishop Ware, or you, there seems to be quite a few incompatible positions on such a basic issue of authority. Who should I look to for the “real” Orthodox opinion on this? I know what the Catholic Church teaches about this issue. Everyone does, it is quite simple and clear. So what is the Orthodox position on this? I thought I was starting to understand some of your thinking on it, but now you lost me in your last comment.

    And can you sympathize with my concern (I am a new convert to Catholicism) that the lack of agreement on this within Orthodoxy itself can be seen as a sign that Orthodoxy is in need of the “principle of unity” which the Apostolic See of Rome so authoritatively functions as for Catholics?

    If the Catholics are wrong about the Papacy, there is only one, big, dogmatic opinion that is wrong. If the Orthodox are wrong about the papacy, there are half a dozen nuanced opinions that are wrong! To a layman, that seems bizarre to have such differences on such a basic issue, and in my mind lends plausibility to the Catholic position.

    Blessings,

    David Meyer

  217. David Meyer,

    I am sorry that you have lost me; I will be happy to try to help you find me again if you wish. It would be helpful if you could outline where you lost me. Can you please give examples of in what particular ways is what I am saying different to the monks on Mt Athos or Metropolitan Kallistos are saying?

    What I am arguing is a framework from within which to understand the Orthodox position in terms of the canonical and dogmatic evidence and in context of Roman Catholic claims. It is given to counter certain stereotyped and straw-men understandings of the Orthodox position that are often used to reject the Orthodox Church and also question the validity of the Ravenna model presented by Metropolitan Kallistos. In itself my interpretation is not binding nor dogmatic truth but rather presented to show that one must take care in rejecting Orthodoxy on the basis of certain interpretations because they in themselves are only interpretations and there may be an interpretation that makes very good sense. The dogmatic statements and canons of, and recognised by, the Seven Ecumenical Councils are the formal statements of the Orthodox position and these are the what you should be examining to accept or reject Orthodoxy as ultimately one must accept or reject the Roman Catholic position in terms of its formal teachings and not one what some individual Roman Catholic may say about it. There are variations in frameworks interpreting these formal statements among Orthodox, as there have been throughout history of the Catholic Church, which is a reason for the present spilt because the various interpretations became irreconcilable, so the apparent lack of agreement among Orthodox Catholics is nothing different than that in the Catholic Church 1900-1000 years ago, in fact it is less divergent because the papist party is almost no longer represented and positions have been rather more fixed against it. Roman Catholics have both defined themselves by papist doctrine, developing much more detailed definitions of it, and also lost most of the Orthodox understandings prevalent in the eastern churches.

    Detailed definition doesn’t add any more plausibility to the Roman Catholic position in itself, as a highly defined Mormon hierarchy doesn’t make it plausible or true. One still needs to examine whether the papist doctrine of the See of Rome is indeed consistent with Apostolic Tradition; looking at Apostolic Tradition as understood both in the West and in the East.

    If the Orthodox are wrong about the papacy it is that they are also wrong about the same one thing, the papacy. If the Orthodox are wrong about the formal teaching on the hierarchy then they are wrong about one thing, the formal teaching. An Orthodox Catholic may have more freedom in interpreting the hierarchical structure of the Church than a Roman Catholic but there are limits on what one can believe and do in terms of the hierarchy. A Roman Catholic is in the same situation except the limits are narrower but there is still a little freedom for a variety of nuances of understanding. It is a difference in extent not kind.

  218. “The dogmatic statements and canons of, and recognised by, the Seven Ecumenical Councils are the formal statements of the Orthodox position and these are the what you should be examining to accept or reject Orthodoxy as ultimately one must accept or reject the Roman Catholic position in terms of its formal teachings and not one what some individual Roman Catholic may say about it.”

    But why stop at seven? For someone who was looking at both options last year (Catholic/Orthodox) I could not see a good reason to stop at seven.

  219. David,

    There are properly Eight Ecumenical Councils and arguably more. However, this is not important because the Seven are sufficient in terms of becoming Orthodox as opposed to any other Christian group. The Oriental Churches and the Church of the East are not Orthodox based on the Fourth and Third Ecumenical Councils respectively. The Protestants generally don’t accept in word the Fifth to the Seventh Councils and in practice any of them, I don’t recall any Protestant group venerating icons according to the Seventh Council, which also is not really followed by Roman Catholics either. Also, if one includes all the recognised canons of the Seven Councils as known by Orthodox churches then one would not be a Roman Catholic because they reject some of the canons as being anti-Roman and also by permitting the filioque change in the Creed from that finalised at the Second Ecumenical Council means that there is a good argument that they do not believe in the same Trinity as the Orthodox, who cannot permit this change. Thus, there are really no Christian groups other than those mutually recognised as Orthodox who maintain the Seven Councils, as the collections of the councils have been maintained in eastern churches. However, if you find this insufficient then the Palamite Councils of 1341, 47, 51 are also recognised by all Orthodox and those accepting these councils with the Seven have no place to go other than be Orthodox.

    Why not stop at seven; is there a necessity that there is more? I believe that there are 21 recognised by Roman Catholics but is this sufficient? Does there need to be an Ecumenical every 50 years, 100 years, or 300 years? What you seem to be querying is that the Orthodox believe that the process of holding Ecumenical Councils has stopped at a fixed number but this is not what Orthodox believe; there can in principle be more Ecumenical Councils. That there has been no necessity to recognise an Ecumenical Council past the Seventh or Eighth for 1100 years is a different matter.

  220. I would like to cut and paste what the Roman Catholic scholar Leo Donald Davis said about some of the canons and the issue of “honor” in his book The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology. K. Doran seems to think our interpretation of “honor” doesn’t have any legs to stand on.

    “In the second canon the fathers renewed Nicaea’s instructions that bishops were to confine their activities to their own churches and not leave the boundaries of their own local jurisdictions to ordain or exercise ecclesiastical functions unless invited. Behind the prescriptions of the fathers about the jurisdiction of the bishops of Alexandria and Antioch lies what the orthodox churches of the East will later call the principle of accommodation, that the importance of an Episcopal see depends on its prominence in civil matters. The ninth canon of the Council of Antioch of 341 had already specified this principle: “It behooves the bishops in every province to acknowledge the bishops who presides in the metropolis, and who has to take thought for the whole province; because all men of business come together from every quarter to the metropolis. Wherefore, it is decreed that he have precedence in rank…..” Thus, according to the bishops at Constantinople, the bishops of Alexandria had precedence in rank in Egypt alone. In the minds of the conciliar fathers there should be no more attempted intrusion of bishops into another ‘s eparchy like that perpetrated by Peter of Alexandria in the case of Maximus the Cynic.” [1] page 127

    “Continuing the principle of accommodation, the fathers proclaimed: “The Bishop of Constantinople shall have primacy of honor after the Bishop of Rome because Constantinople is the new Rome.” Nothing was said of Constantinople at the council of Nicea because the Emperor Constantine had not yet begun to turn the old Greek town of Byzantium into the great new eastern capital of the Empire. Now this metropolis, only fifty years old, was placed ahead of Alexandria and Antioch, just behind Old Rome. Future bishops of Alexandria would labor to keep the upstart capital in its place to the great detriment of the eastern Church. Though the canon was not directed against Rome, no notice was taken of the claim of its bishop to a primacy among bishops based on his succession from Peter, head of the Apostles. This short canon will be the cause of turmoil in the Church for centuries to come.” [2] page 128

    “the work of the Council of Constantinople was completed. Theologically, it had carried on the logic of the Council of Nicaea and cautiously applied that Council’s reasoning about the Son’s relation to the Father to the Holy Spirit, though confining its statement to biblical terminology. Administratively, the Council continued the eastern practice of accommodating the ecclesiastical organization of the Empire, sowing the seeds of discord among the four great sees of East and West by raising the ecclesiastical status of Constantinople to correspond to its civil position as New Rome. All in all, it proved to be a remarkable Council. It was never intended to be an ecumenical Council: the Bishop of Rome was not invited; only 150 Eastern bishops were present; only one by accident from the West. Only at the Council of Chalcedon of 451 did it begin to rank in the East with the Council of Nicaea as more than a local council. Because of the schism at Antioch, its first president, Meletius, was not in communion with Rome and Alexandria. Its second president, Gregory of Nazianzus, was not in western eyes the legitmate bishop of Constantinople. Strong doubts were later expressed about the authenticity of its creed. Its canons were rejected in the West for nine hundred years. [3] page 129

    “Damasus’ response to the eastern principle of accommodation was clear; the Bishop of Rome owed his primacy to succession from Peter and Paul. The hierarchy of sees was based on Peter: Rome is the first see of Peter; Alexandria is the second see because consecrated by Peter; Alexandria is the second see because consecrated by Peter’s disciple Mark; Antioch is the third see because there Peter lived before going to Rome. Already in 376 the western Emperor Gratian had recognized in civil law the right of the bishop of Rome to hear appeals in the first instance from metropolitans in Gaul and Italy and appeals from defendants who had not received justice from their metropoltans. In 380 Emperor Theodosius had singled out Damasus of Rome and Peter of Alandria as guardians of orthodoxy. Damasus customarily referred to his see as apostolic, adopted the imperial “we” and began to address his fellow bishops not as brothers but as sons. Clearly East and West differed on the basic principles of ecclesiastical organization.” [4] page 130

    “Most controversial of all, canon twenty-eight read that the Fathers of the Council of Constantinople “properly gave the primacy to the Throne of elder Rome, because that was the imperial city.” And being moved by the same intention they now “gave equal privileges to the most holy Throne of New Rome, judging with reason, that the city which was honored with the sovereignty and senate, and which enjoyed equal privileges with the elder royal Rome, should also be magnified like her in ecclesiastical matters, being second after her.” The canon also granted to the patriarch of Constantinople the right to ordain the duly elected metropolitans of the civil diocese of Thrace, Asia and Pontus as well as the bishops in lands outside the Empire, though metropolitans continued to ordain the bishops subject to them. Thus, Constantinople was assigned a patriarchate comprising today’s Turkey, eastern Bulgaria and romania, giving it territory equal to Antioch and Alexandria. Besides it was declared, as the see of the capital of the Eastern Empire, to have equal privileges in ecclesiastical matters with the see of Rome but occupying second place to Rome in honor. Further, the patriarch of Constantinople could hear appeals over the heads of all the bishops, metropolitans and exarchs of the East. The intent of the Council Fathers in all of this was not to attack the bishop of Rome but to provide an ecclesiastical structure for the East to keep the Church in peace. In another declaration, the see of Jerusalem was proclaimed a fifth patriarchate along with Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch. The twenty-eighth canon was voted on October 21 with neither the papal legates nor the imperial commissioners present. Anatolius of Constantinople, Maximus of Antioch, Juvenal of Jerusalem and 182 bishops approved it. The next day the legate Paschasinus demanded the reading of the acts of the session. The bishops pointed out that he had refused to attend, but the notary read out the account of the proceedings. The papal legate Lucentius suggested that the bishops had been coerced into accepting the canon. This was vigorously denied. The legates then expressed amazement that the bishops had not followed the sixth canon of Nicaea which had said nothing of the authority of Constantinople. They insisted that their instructions were to resist any usurpation of the rights of the bishop of Rome. They refused to accept the third canon of the Council of Constantinople which decreed of Rome because Constantinople was new Rome. In vain the bishops of Pontus and Asiaa pointed out that the twenty-eighth canon merely sanctioned practice, for the patriarch of Constantinople had long ordained metropolitans in their civil dioceses. Eusebius of Dorylaeum said that he had personally read the third canon of Constantinople to Pope Leo and claimed that he had accepted it. The imperial commissioners approved the canon; the bishops acclaimed their decision over the protests of the papal legates. On this sour note, the Council ended. In February, 452, Emperor Marcian promulgated the decrees: “All therefore shall be bound to hold the decisions of the sacred council of Chalcedon and indulge no further doubts. Take heed therefore to this edict of our Serenity: abstain from profane words and cease all further discussion of religion.” [5] pages 190-191

    [1], [2],[3],[4],[5] from the book (The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology) by Leo Donald Davis.

  221. Fr. Patrick,
    Why should i accept 7 Councils as ecumenical? Why can’t i stop at the 1st 3 Ecumenical Council and become Oriental Orthodox? If I’m a novice as have accepted apostolic succession as a criterion for location the Church of God. How to choose between Catholic vs Oriental Orthodox vs Eastern Orthodox?

  222. The first 4 quotes are in regards to the decrees Constantinople 1. The last quote is in reference to the decrees of Chalcedon.

  223. jnorn,

    Thanks for the quotes, it is interesting that at least Antioch and Jerusalem and, after the Council, also Alexandria accepted Canon 28 even though it “affected” their rank but that didn’t seem to concern them.

    Tap,

    Briefly, because they are in conformity with the Gospel and the Fathers. To accept only three would be to deny the Lord’s will in gathering the other Councils to proclaim His truth and that they did so; it is a rejection of Christ. To add those not called by Him is to accept the decrees of men as the decrees of God. The Seven are definitely known to be of God and so must be believed, although this does not exclude other councils from being of God. Each Council must remain consistent with the previous and with Scriptures and the recognised holy Fathers. This was the rule of St Leo mentioned in his letters. These Seven have this mark of consistency but the “ecumenical” councils of Lyons and Florence were rejected by Orthodox as not being so consistent and are not counted as of Christ. Apostolic succession is a succession of both physical ordinations and also of Apostolic Tradition and Faith; true succession must demonstrate that both have been maintained and it is possible to search this out; our Lord promises that those who seek the truth will find it. To fully answer the question that you asked would be outside the scope of this thread so I will put a reply as a post on my blog and you can engage with it there, if you wish.

  224. @Fr Patrick:

    Briefly, because they are in conformity with the Gospel and the Fathers.

    I confess this seems a bit circular to me. What is the Gospel? Is it that which is in conformity with the first seven councils? Who are the Fathers? Is Arius a Father? If not, is it because he is not in conformity with the first seven councils?

    jj

  225. Fr. Patrick,

    I look forward to your answering the question on your blog. When you say “To accept only three would be to deny the Lord’s will in gathering the other Councils .” you seem to begging the question because the question in front of us now is; how do we know which ones would these councils represent “the Lords Will” (i.e. count as Ecumenical). I don’t even mind if you assume the Catholic Church is apostate and out of bound of the Church. How would an impartial, sincere “seeker” choose between the Oriental Orthodox Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. I look forward to your answer.

  226. Monk Patrick, (re: #160)

    You asked me two questions in #160, and I haven’t gotten around to answering them; I only gave a preliminary answer in #162. Your questions were “[H]ow does one determine that the Papacy is the hierarchy established by Christ given that its claim to be the only hierarchy with some form of infallibility is challenged by the Orthodox Church? How does one distinguish it from a cult where the leader claims infallibility for himself singularly, even if also possible in group, and absolute obedience by all members?”

    First, the Catholic teaching is not that “the papacy is the hierarchy;” the hierarchy of the Catholic Church includes all the bishops in communion with the pope. The pope has a unique role in this hierarchy, but is not himself “the hierarchy.” So your questions can be revised as the following question: How does one determine whether the pope and the bishops in communion with him are the hierarchy of the Church Christ founded, or whether some other group of bishops is the hierarchy of the Church Christ founded?

    The Protestant way of answering this question is to locate ‘the Church’ by defining its essential doctrines according to one’s own interpretation of Scripture. That approach presupposes that the individual himself can function as the Magisterium, so as to determine which doctrines are orthodox and essential, so as to locate the Church. And for this reason that approach makes the Magisterium superfluous, and thus it reduces fundamentally to solo scriptura.

    The other way of locating the Church in the present is to find the Church and her ecclesial authority (i.e. hierarchy) in the first century, trace it forward to the present day, and then accept the doctrine it teaches as the Apostolic faith. But this tracing forward requires that we answer questions about how to determine which way the Church goes in the event of a schism. (I wrote about this in “Branches or Schisms?“) When Catholics and Orthodox trace the Church forward, we are agreed about its identity and location until some time after the seventh ecumenical council, then for Catholics the Orthodox fall into schism, while for Orthodox the Catholics fall into schism. That disagreement (about which is the Church, and which is the schism) depends on what authority and function was given by Christ to St. Peter and his successors in Rome. If St. Peter was given a unique role as the rock upon which Christ is building His Church, then the faith is found always with St. Peter and his episcopal successors in the Church of Rome. If St. Peter was not given any such role, then the faith is determined by one’s own judgment concerning the interpretation of Scripture and tradition, and what counts as ‘the Church’ is determined by its general agreement with that interpretation [this is the Protestant methodology described above, and discussed throughout much of the earlier part of this thread].

    The Orthodox do not think that something uniquely possessed by one was given to St. Peter; for the Orthodox, the keys are equally shared by all the bishops, period. For Catholics, by contrast, the keys were given to one, and remain under the stewardship of one even while shared with all the bishops, who exercise their authority in communion with him. In this way, the unity of the Church is maintained, because God the Father chose Simon, and made him to be the rock upon which Christ’s Church is continually being built. For this reason, the Chair of St. Peter is unique, in that it serves as the visible principle of unity for the universal Church. Schism from the Church is defined in terms of breaking communion with the successor of St. Peter in Rome. We see this clearly in the Donatist case, as I showed here, and in the case of the Novatians, as I showed here from St. Cyprian. And the evidence for this authority of the bishop of Rome in the first millennium is far more than I can type out here; it can be found in “The Papacy” section of the Suggested Reading tab above.

    So the short answer to your first question is that from the Catholic point of view, the ecclesial authority of the bishop of Rome is evident in the tradition of the Church of the first millennium, and shows that the pope with the bishops in union with him is the hierarchy established by Christ. In consequence as an implication, what is referred to as “the Orthodox Church” is a group of bishops (and their flocks) in schism from that hierarchy, much as the Oriental Orthodox are a group of bishops (with their flocks) in schism from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, though of course we share the fourth through seventh councils, and the Oriental Orthodox do not. In other words, the Oriental Orthodox could ask the very same question you are asking, and I would give the same answer. The rejection by the Oriental Orthodox of the authority of the Council of Chalcedon is not evidence that ecumenical councils are not authoritative, but rather that the Oriental Orthodox have not properly subjected themselves to that council (and the subsequent ecumenical councils). And so likewise, the “challenge” of the authority of the pope by the Eastern Orthodox isn’t necessarily evidence that the pope does not have that authority, because it could just as easily be an indication that the Eastern Orthodox are presently not rightly related to that authority.

    The answer to the question depends on whether the pope has that authority. And the way of answering the question involves examining the tradition of the Church of the first millennium. If the pope were not the unique successor of St. Peter, and St. Peter had not been given the keys of the Kingdom, then the pope (of the present) would be an illegitimate and inauthentic cult leader. A proper reply to the claim of a cult leader is: Who authorized and sent you, and what evidence do you have to show that you have been so authorized and sent? If such a figure is not divinely authorized, then he is an illegitimate cult figure. But, if there is a case in which Christ did truly authorize a man to be the steward of the keys of the Kingdom, entrust him with those keys, promise to build His Church on this man, pray infallibly for this man that his faith would not fail, and commission this man to feed His sheep, and if he in turn handed on this authorization to a line of successors, then the present-day man in that line of successors would not be illegitimate; he would be one with whom we should all be in full communion, out of obedience to and love for Christ. And if the Church is infallible, and if union with (and schism from) the Church is defined in relation to the line of St. Peter, then the charism by which the Church is infallible must have its fundamental locus in this line from St. Peter, whom Christ made to be the rock of the Church. In this way, St. Peter’s role as the principle of unity, and his unique participation in the charism of infallibility, go together, and we should expect them to go together if we recognize the successor of St. Peter as the divinely established principle of unity in the Church.

    So, then, in order to answer the question: “How does one determine whether the pope and the bishops in communion with him are the hierarchy of the Church Christ founded, or whether some other group of bishops is the hierarchy of the Church Christ founded?” we would need to examine the tradition of the Church in the first millennium, and see whether there is evidence that St. Peter and his successors in Rome were given unique authority with respect to the keys of the Kingdom, and what is the nature of that authority. Doing that would take far too much time for a combox comment. But, in short, we do believe that there is much evidence in the tradition of the first millennium that St. Peter and his successors were given a primacy of authority. The Church’s understanding of the nature and extent of that authority developed (organically, not as a novel introduction), as development takes place in living and growing organisms (see what St. Vincent of Lérins says about development, here). But throughout we find evidence of such authority in the successor of St. Peter at Rome.

    This is a paradigm question, because the evidence can be viewed through either paradigm, and the paradigm in this way changes how the evidence is viewed. (Yet, one paradigm is superior to the others in explaining the data.) For example, challenges to the authority of the pope can be viewed as evidence that the pope did not have that authority, but in another paradigm those same challenges can be understood as evidence that the persons making the challenge were not conforming to that authority. Similarly, exercises of papal authority can in one paradigm be viewed as evidence of his possession of that authority, while in the other paradigm they are seen as his acting beyond his rightful authority. So, it is important not to treat the question in piece-meal, as though there are silver-bullets that by themselves settle the question. (That’s typically the way the question is debated online.) The better way of approaching it, in my opinion, is to lay out the evidence in total as completely as possible, each piece of evidence according to its strength and place in the Church’s historical development, and then compare the explanatory power of the two paradigms with respect to that evidence. Obviously that’s not something that can be done in a combox, or even in an article. It is a project that takes much time and patience, in order to lay out and organize the evidence, and then to evaluate the interpretive paradigms. But it seems to me to be the best way of resolving the disagreement in a cooperative manner, in addition to prayer for each other and acts of charity for each other and together for others.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  227. Monk Patrick (re: #152),

    It seems to me that this notion that Christ made His Church incapable of calling an ecumenical council without necessarily depending on a one-world government (or at least one somewhat successful at attempting to be such) or the United Nations is deeply problematic for the Orthodox paradigm. It has as an implication the consequence that when the Antichrist arrives and (let us grant) sets up a one-world government over which he rules, the Church will be incapable of resolving any new questions or disputes requiring an ecumenical council (and surely it wouldn’t be implausible that the rise of the Antichrist might provide an occasion in which such questions and disputes would be provoked) unless the Antichrist himself calls the Church into ecumenical council to resolve them. And of course he, being the Antichrist, would have no desire to help the Church of Christ thrive in unity, would he? Surely he would be glad to use his council-convening authority to attempt surreptitiously to influence the decisions of the council in subtle yet diabolical ways.

    We (Catholics) believe, by contrast, that Christ has placed the rock upon which the Church is built and which faithlessness cannot enter within the Church, such that the Church does not by her very structure require the permission of the State in order to make decisions. In this way, in the Catholic paradigm, the Magisterium of the Church is never intrinsically dependent on the permission of the State, and therefore never possibly intrinsically dependent on the permission of the Antichrist in order to govern the Church. That seems to be a definitive advantage of the Catholic ecclesial paradigm.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  228. David P, I missed your post #45, where you referenced an article by Perry Robinson that is germane to this thread. In my post #5 I made this comment:

    … what, exactly, are the criteria that determine the validity of an Ecumenical Council? Since the Orthodox would necessarily reject the Protestant dogma of the primacy of the individual conscience and all that that novel doctrine implies, any more hopelessly vague talk from the Orthodox about [how] the “whole church” determines the validity of dogmas promulgated by the bishops at an Ecumenical Council would cease, and the role of the universal primacy of the bishop of Rome would come into focus by forthrightly addressing this question.

    In my post # 17 I critiqued an idea proposed by some members of the Orthodox Church that an Ecumenical Council is not valid until the “whole church” approves the council. I found Perry Robinson’s article very interesting, in that it is an Orthodox critique of that idea. Perry argues that the “whole church” approval doctrine is in reality a novelty proposed by Aleksey Stepanovic Khomiakov. Fr. Andrew, also Orthodox, named this novelty “receptionism” in his combox reply to Perry’s article.

    Here are some relevant quotes from Perry’s article and Fr. Andrew’s combox replies:

    http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/against-khomiakov/

    Perry Robinson writes: When I was first seriously considering becoming Orthodox, how the Orthodox understood church authority was an important area to map out. In discussing the matter with Catholics that I knew, they often objected that Orthodox ecclesiology falls prey to the same problems as Protestantism. There was no locus of authority in the offices of the church, but the source of normativity was ultimately to reside in the judgment of the people.

    … [It] is proffered [by some within Orthodoxy] that for the Orthodox an ecumenical council is either known to be such or becomes such when it has been accepted by the “whole church.” … The position usually isn’t stated very clearly. Usually it begins with a claim regarding what the sufficient conditions are for a council to be ecumenical, which is a metaphysical claim and then slides into a claim regarding how one can know that a council is ecumenical … the idea [proffered by some withing Orthodoxy] is that a council can only be ecumenical if the “whole church” assents to it. This is obviously problematic since no council could ever meet such conditions where every professing Christian agreed. There is no council that I know of, even the Apostolic council in Acts 15 that didn’t result in some measure of dissent. I think Catholics are right to object to this idea as untenable. But I don’t think it is Orthodox teaching as such either …

    Fr. Andrew responds to Perry’s article: You’ve actually hit on one of my minor soapboxes/rants within Orthodox circles, what I call “receptionism,” i.e., the idea that a particular council has to be “received” by the whole Church in order to be considered truly ecumenical. This begs two questions:

    1. Since the councils were rejected by some Christians, how do we know that they’re not the real Church and those who received it aren’t outside the Church? (As with your example of Chalcedon.)

    2. How long do we have to wait before we can say a council has been “received”?

    …. The fathers at those councils nowhere in their texts indicate that they’re waiting for their rulings to be “received.” …

    Point 1 made by Fr. Andrew is related to a point raised by Bryan Cross in his post # 19 to me. Bryan pointed out that before we can even discuss the criteria that determines “whole church approval”, we must first have some way of determining who belongs to the “whole church”. Fr. Andrew and Perry Robinson are cognizant of the fact that some Christians within the church rejected the decrees of every Ecumenical Council, including the Council of Jerusalem of Acts chapter 15. To argue that the “whole church” is constituted of the members that accept valid Ecumenical Councils is to be caught up in the “circularity problem”. Bryan Cross makes this comment about the circularity problem in his post # 45:

    The circularity problem discussed above isn’t solved by identifying the “whole Church” as “the whole Church.” The problem, again, is this: if a council must be accepted by “the whole Church” in order to be an ecumenical council, then what counts as “the whole Church” cannot be defined as “those who accept the ecumenical councils.” Such an answer is circular because it defines ecumenical councils in terms of acceptance by “the whole Church,” and then defines “the whole Church” in terms of acceptance of the ecumenical councils.

    Fr. Andrew in his point 2, asks this question, “How long do we have to wait before we can say a council has been ‘received?” This is the same point I raised in my post # 25, where I wrote:

    …the “whole church” that approved the Seventh Ecumenical Council cannot be “the whole church”- it must be only a part of the whole church, i.e. the people that were in the church during some arbitrary time frame – say, for the sake of argument, the members of the church that lived between the years 787 and 887. If there is no firm cutoff date, then the whole church can never be said to have approved a dogma, since we could still be waiting for the members of the whole church to be born , that, in the end, will have the final say about whether to accept or reject the dogmas promulgated at the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

    Fr. Andrew makes a third point against ‘receptionism, namely, “The fathers at those councils nowhere in their texts indicate that they’re waiting for their rulings to be “received.” I fully accept this point – there is nothing written by the Fathers of the first seven Ecumenical Councils that indicate that they needed the laity to “approve” of their decisions. For sure, the Fathers of the Councils did not believe in a doctrine of the primacy of the laity.

    To sum up, I think that it is safe to say that Catholic critics of ‘receptionism’ have a much in common with Orthodox critics of ‘receptionism’, since they are both making many of the same arguments. But is there any need to resolve the question about what constitutes the criteria that determines the validity of an Ecumenical Council? Fr. Andrew, surprisingly says there is no need to resolve this question!

    Fr. Andrew writes: What’s underneath all this is the psychological need, borne of the so-called Enlightenment, for epistemological certainty about these things. The Latins want an absolute system centered in the Pope, so we answer it with an absolute system centered in “receptionism,” which is a decidedly slippery concept which turns out to be entirely impractical in actual use …

    In the end, it really is a matter of faith. There is no rational, logical way to know for sure. What makes the Ecumenical Councils trustworthy is that they are true, not that they have been “received” by anyone (pope, populace, etc.).

    Incredible. If there is no logical way to know for sure which Ecumenical Councils are valid, why bother holding Ecumenical Councils in the first place? That is exactly why I wrote in my post # 5:

    For the Catholic Church, the nature of Petrine primacy is crucial in understanding how Joe Christian determines that an Ecumenical Council is valid. The Protestant that is struggling with whether he should swim the Tiber or the Bosporus , can’t wait another thousand years for the Orthodox to give a straightforward answer to a crucial question, namely the criteria for determining the validity of an Ecumenical Council. If the Orthodox bishops can’t answer that question, the Protestant is left twisting in the wind, since a clear answer to that question, determines the answer to what the Protestant is likely to be struggling with, namely … How do I know with certainty what is orthodox doctrine and what is heresy?

    Perry Robinson is right, some Catholics do object “ that Orthodox ecclesiology falls prey to the same problems as Protestantism.” And that objection is valid if Fr. Andrew’s views are normative for the Orthodox.

    To be fair to Perry, I don’t think that he necessarily accepts Fr. Andrew’s opinion. Perry writes:

    Fr. Andrew,

    Needless to say, I am not a “receptionist.”
    How we know which councils are normative turns on what makes them so. I need to have in hand the conditions for it to BE such and so before I can go out and find out if it is such and so. Consequently the fundamental issue is what are the conditions for it to BE ecumenical or normative. …

    And:

    … what I have not done is spell out in detail what conditions are necessary and sufficient for a council to be ecumenical and normative. That I am largely leaving for another post.

  229. Following Bryan’s method of tracing through history and choosing the best paradigm to discern the schismatic from the orthodox, when I get to the so called eighth Ecumenical of 869 I find that in the Council that restored Photius in 879 Pope John VIII has annulled the 869 Council and has made the 879 Council to be the valid one. It seems Rome adhered to this for some time. John VIII said:

    “We [Pope John VIII] wish that it is declared before the Synod, that the Synod which took place against the aforementioned Patriarch Photios at the time of Hadrian, the Most holy Pope in Rome, and [the Synod] in Constantinople [869/70] should be ostracized from this present moment and be regarded as annulled and groundless, and should not be co-enumerated with any other holy Synods.” The minutes at this point add: “The Holy Synod responded: We have denounced this by our actions and we eject it from the archives and anathematize the so-called [Eighth] Synod, being united to Photios our Most Holy Patriarch. We also anathematize those who fail to eject what was written or said against him by the aforementioned by yourselves, the so-called [Eighth] Synod.”

    http://home.comcast.net/~t.r.valentine/orthodoxy/filioque/dragas_eighth.html

  230. Canadian, (re: #229)

    The quotation you cite is from the Greek Acts of the Photian Council. The Latin text of Pope John VIII’s Commonitorium does not exist. (See Dvornik, The Photian Schism, p. 175) The Latin you have cited here is a translation from the Greek Acts, and was included by Ivo of Chartes in his Decretum over two hundred years later. (cf. Dvornik, p. 305) Moreover, there is ample evidence that Photius altered the text of John VIII’s Commonitorium. See pages 260-263 of Mann’s The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages vol. III. See also Warren Carroll’s The Building of Christendom, p. 381, in which Carroll shows how Photius altered the words of Pope John VIII to the emperor Basil; see also Dvornik, p. 183, who is surprised at what is still left after all Photius' "doctoring." Given that Photius clearly altered Pope John VIII's Commonitorium, and given that the Greek Acts of the Photian Council are the only copies we have of Pope John VIII’s Commonitorium, this is a dubious piece of evidence upon which to determine the question of the eighth council. Pope John VIII, in his letter to Photius in 880 (after the Photian council) admonishes him gently, writing, “But though we have determined to deal with you in writing and speech with exceptional restraint, it is a wonder to us why so many things that we had decided should have been obviously altered, transformed and, we do not know through whose mistake or design, distorted.” That’s a gentle way of letting Photius know that he [Pope John VIII] knows that it was Photius who altered, transformed, and distorted what he had sent to Constantinople to be read at the council of 879. But it also provides more evidence that the source you cite is not necessarily what Pope John VIII actually sent to Constantinople to be read at the council. At least we have good reason not to assume that this is the text Pope John VIII sent to have read at the council, even if it retains some of what Pope John VIII had originally said.

    There is no doubt that the condemnation of Photius was rescinded in 879. But even after the council of 879, Pope John VIII continued to hold as authoritative canons of the eighth council (cf. Dvornik, p. 329, footnote 1). This (along with other evidence) indicates that Pope John VIII’s ratification of the decrees of the Photian council was qualified, such that what was rescinded from the eighth council through Pope John VIII’s ratification of the Photian council was only the condemnations of Photius. Hence in his letter to Photius (mentioned above), Pope John VIII writes, “[I]f perchance at the same synod [Constantinople, 879] our legates have acted against apostolic instructions, neither do we approve their actions nor do we attribute any value to it.” (Dvornik, p. 206) But the sense of Pope John VIII’s apostolic instruction can be gathered from his letters written prior to the Photian council, letters to the Emperor and to Photius himself. In these letters we find that a condition for Photius’s forgiveness is that he apologize at the council of 879 for his actions that led to the eighth council. (He refused to do this.) Pope John VIII speaks very clearly about his apostolic authority to bind and loose, and sees himself in this case as exercising that very power to loose Photius from the prior council’s disciplinary anathema. All this explains the qualified nature of Pope John VIII’s rescinding of the eighth council.

    And Will Huysman has pointed out that “In his ca. 885-886 letter to Emperor Basil I, Pope Stephen V says that Photios was still trying to have the 869-870 Council annulled, which would not make sense if Pope John VIII in fact abrogated the 869-870 Council.” He draws this from Venance Grumel’s article “La Lettre du pape Étienne V à l’empereur Basile Ier,” Revue des études byzantines 11 (1953) 129–55. These pieces of evidence show that the question isn’t resolved by the quotation you cite. There is much more to the story. But to go into all the details of the Photian narrative, would require its own article, and this thread isn’t the place for it. This is why, as I said in #226, I think the better way to approach the Catholic / Orthodox division is to lay out the evidence in total as completely as possible.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  231. Father Patrick,

    “I don’t recall any Protestant group venerating icons according to the Seventh Council, which also is not really followed by Roman Catholics either.”

    I havent heard that before, but I will add it to my growing list of ways Catholics don’t measure up.

    Please explain how Catholics don’t “really” follow that? I have heard that we don’t pray properly, are purely logical and not truly “spiritual” like the Orthodox. Upon mere mention of the Rosary, an Orthodox friend of mine at work said that the Orthodox could never pray the Rosary. When I asked what in particular was wrong with it, he could not say… but he just knew it was wrong. He says purgatory is not part of the Tradition, but when I asked him why he prays for his dead he… described purgatory!
    I have heard that our monks are not as holy and dont have light shooting out of their chests like the Orthodox. They can’t levitate and read minds like the Orthodox. To my friend, stigmata is a sign that Catholics are the scismatics but the “uncreated light” of Orthodox monks is proof of their holiness. Instead of seeing stigmata as a sign of the work of God among Catholics, he chooses to see it as the opposite.

    As someone new to the Catholic/Orthodox debate, I see one side being “open to a new situation” (Ut Unum Sint 95), and willing to meet halway on a lot of things, and oftentimes the other side gets hung up on some very trivial things like married clergy, veneration of icons, and music. Imo, it is missing the forest for the trees. My question is how much are you willing to give up for reunion? Could you ever call St Francis, St. Thomas, or St. Padre Pio Saints? Could you deign to grant that *perhaps* a Catholic monk can venerate an image at least 10% as devoutly as an Orthodox monk? Because I get the feeling sometimes that if these trivialities were the FINAL step towards reunion, there would still be some Orthodox that would stubornly resist. I think that is sad when so much is at stake. I hope you agree that reuinion would be the biggest and best news in the past 1000 years, and we should both be willing to give up a lot to make it happen.

  232. David,

    Sorry for the slow reply, I was away for a few days. Our discussion is moving away from the post.

    Regarding venerating icons. If there was a fully shared commitment to the Seventh Council then Roman Catholics would be known for their veneration of icons just as the Orthodox are. However, the difference is of degree not principle. Whether or not the Caroline Books correctly portray the mind of the Frankish churches in terms of accepting the veneration of icons, the following comment from them is interesting to our discussion about determining a true Council: “If this synod had kept clear of novelties and had rested satisfied with the teachings of the ancient Fathers, it might have been styled ecumenical.” At least one person in the ninth-Century in the west tests Ecumenical Councils by the same standards that I am proposing and he felt it sufficiently accepted to use it to argue a case.

    From Orthodox perspective some of the trivialities are not so trivial; a misplaced decimal point could send a crew of a space mission to their deaths. If the matters are indeed trivial for Old Rome then why does not Old Rome swiftly change its practices etc to be acceptable to the Orthodox? What has it to lose in these trivial matters? Who cares if the movement isn’t equally shared; does God expect us to give equally to what He gave to us? The division between the two is not symmetrical. As I understand, for Roman Catholics nearly all the issues are relatively minor in terms of doctrine and practice and it is a schism rather than over heresy but this is not the case for Orthodox for whom the division is over heresy rather than a schism. (Although, there are a number of hard-line Roman Catholics who condemn St Photios the Great as a heretic and label Orthodox heretics and soft-line Orthodox who see the matter as a schism not over heresy and accept western post-schism saints.)

  233. Bryan,

    In using the same type of argument that I use, you have tried to demonstrate to me that to choose the Papal hierarchy over the Orthodox hierarchy is a matter of personal conviction in regards to Tradition based on research etc. Thus, legitimating my argument for being Orthodox. But this type of argument was claimed to be a Protestant choice because it depends on one’s own interpretation of the evidence. So, choosing to be Roman Catholic is no less Protestant than choosing to be Orthodox based on evidence for Tradition. However, rather you would say that you are not finding the hierarchy that fits your interpretation of Scripture but one that has a legitimate tradition from the Apostles for you to accept its doctrine. This is exactly the same for a decision to become Orthodox. The difference from Protestantism, shared by both Roman Catholic and Orthodox, is submission to an existing hierarchy that legitimately traces itself to the Apostles in a line of ordination succession and continuance of faith. To be Protestant is to reject the authority and continuance of hierarchy, which is not the case of Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox nor Oriental Orthodox. One doesn’t need to have a Papal model of hierarchy to have a hierarchy that negates the Protestant methodology.

    In regards to Christ making His Church incapable of calling an Ecumenical Council without an Emperor (or equivalent). The Councils confess that Christ, Himself, calls Councils together through inspiring the Emperor to gather the bishops. The question should be whether Christ has incapacitated Himself from calling an Ecumenical Council. Remember that Ecumenical Councils are not regular institutions of the life of the Church but extraordinary institutions and they are only something required in particular circumstances for particular issues and not for day to day management of the Church even though they have universal authority. Thus, if needed, Christ can find a means of calling a Council, unless you are suggesting that not all things are possible to Him, or, maybe, He permitted the Empire to fall because He foresaw that there is no further need for an Ecumenical Council, unless you are limiting His foresight? Thus, who are we to question Christ should He seem to do something odd to us? Are we to know the mind of God? Such questions are not appropriate. We know that the Emperors called the Ecumenical Councils before the Schism and not the Popes and that this was one defining feature of an Ecumenical Council. That there are no Emperors now is another matter and it does not prove that the Popes called the Councils historically nor that they have the authority to do so now nor does it prove that the Church cannot be properly governed now nor that the Church was under control of the state.

    Regarding the Antichrist, the whole reason for having the Emperor call Ecumenical Councils was to prevent the possibility of one Church leader being an antichrist and leading the whole Church astray. I say again that each Patriarch is capable of calling councils to make decisions and this enables the Church to function in its various Patriarchates. An Ecumenical is not to make management decisions but to preserve the Faith once and for all delivered to the Church. One problem is that you seem to be looking at the Church assuming the papal model that the Church is one centrally coordinated institution on earth. Whereas, the Orthodox see a large number of bishops who completely administer their own dioceses and are gathered in councils capable of administering the needs of the province and Patriarchates for the needs of regions or countries. This administration is maintained under the Rule of Law of the Tradition, which keeps a strong unity and a great deal of uniformity among the various churches without the need of a single central authority, although the option of a central point of appeal among, not above, the Patriarchs ensures that the same Rule of Law is maintained in each Patriarchate; this is the role of Petrine primacy to preserve the faith. This structure remains that of the Orthodox Church.

  234. John,

    Although I can see your query as to circularity in what I said, the comment was not intended to be an explanation to know which Fathers are the Fathers or which Gospel is the Gospel. What I was meaning was that the Seven Ecumenical Councils are consistent to, and true expressions of, the preaching of Christ and the God-appointed line of the Fathers through whom it has been faithfully passed on to each generation, that is the hierarchy. The Fathers refer to the hierarchs and the Gospel to Apostolic Tradition. A Roman Catholic could read it as “in conformity with the Tradition as passed on by the Popes”; and an Orthodox Christian could read it as “in conformity with the Tradition passed on by the bishops”.

  235. Monk Patrick,

    A Roman Catholic could read it as “in conformity with the Tradition as passed on by the Popes”; and an Orthodox Christian could read it as “in conformity with the Tradition passed on by the bishops”.

    That is an unnecessary slight of hand that seems to imply that the Catholic Church does not acknowledge apostolic succession in the bishops or that the faith has been entrusted to the Church, and that somehow the Petrine primacy renders the other bishops without import (the same Bishops who speak of Petrine primacy yet acknowledge their own service to the Universal Church).

    The Fathers refer to the hierarchs and the Gospel to Apostolic Tradition.

    I think that distinction shows us a bit of where we might be talking past each other (unless you would like to clarify). We believe the Gospel entails the hierarchs (the divinely appointed teachers by Christ) and that the good news is not one thing, ecclesiology another, but that he left us a Church that by the Spirit can lead us into all truth. I call that better news (than it’s alternative)–the not left to your own demise news. And while, yes, the Councils are consonant with the Gospel and the Fathers, they do not have to be consonant with my personal judgment of what the Gospel and the Fathers entail, but rather consonant with what that Church Christ founded proclaims, since she (not I) have been given the Holy Spirit’s gift to grow the Church in all truth. It is the spirit of schism that judges the Church instead of letting The Church judge her.

  236. Bryan,

    Another thought, is that I think one needs to distinguish between a unique calling and an exclusive calling. Thus, St Peter was given a unique position by the Lord but this does not mean that it is exclusive. That is, as I have argued earlier, St Paul was not excluded from sharing the position of St Peter. It can be unique and not exclusive in terms of different times. Thus, at first it is given to only St Peter, its uniqueness, but later St Paul shares it and thus it is not exclusive. So, evidence for the papacy needs to point specifically at the leadership of the Apostles being exclusive to St Peter rather than unique, which can be given an Orthodox interpretation. Also, I have argued here before that the role of Petrine See(s) in terms of unity can be agreed by Orthodox, including an special place for the See in Rome. This role is still maintained in the See of New Rome for the Orthodox. I have said before that the keys are a symbol of binding and loosing, that is forgiving sins, and this is shared by all the Apostles and from succession not only by all bishop but by all priests. Also all the Apostles are said to be foundations of the Church, thus the Church is built on them, not St Peter alone; Christ is the chief-cornerstone, not St Peter.

    So, what you have put forward as a reason for preferring the Roman Catholic position does not sufficiently distinguish it from the Orthodox position apart from introducing the later idea of infallibility but this is weak in the pre-schism evidence.

    Finally, you seem to be confusing separation from Old Rome for heresy with a schism, which is strictly only applied in terms of a continued sharing of the same faith. The Oriental Orthodox were separated for heresy not as a schism. The Orthodox separated from Old Rome because, for them, it had fallen into heresy not as an act of schism. For the Orthodox the heresy in Old Rome meant that it no longer exercised any authority from which to schism; it had ceased to be in the Church. Yes, heresy is also schism in some manner but the manner in which you are using it is blurring the importance of this distinction and implying that the separations were about being in communion with Old Rome as an end in itself and not for a multitude of other reasons that would cause separation regardless of the authority of Old Rome.

  237. Brent,

    I was not intending to say that Roman Catholics deny bishops’ apostolic succession and their role in passing on Tradition rather to point out the emphasis on the role of the Pope in passing on Tradition as distinct from an Orthodox position, for which to say “passed on by the bishops” is also open to misinterpretation to overly diminish the important role of the Bishops of Old and New Rome with the Patriarchs in passing on the Tradition. Thanks, though, for raising the point.

    Regarding the Gospel entailing the hierarchs, Orthodox would also accept that one cannot divorce the hierarchy from the Gospel and consider one without the other, which is why I have put the two together. We can, though, distinguish between the teachings of Tradition and the teachers of Tradition without divorcing them.

    I am totally in agreement with you when you say: ” they do not have to be consonant with my personal judgment of what the Gospel and the Fathers entail”. This does not mean, though, that one does not have to personally accept the Gospel for himself by examining it to see if he agrees with it. If he does not agree then he refuses to join with the hierarchy and remains outside the Church; if he agrees then he is admitted into the Church and his personal judgement coincides with that of the Church. His agreement does not conform the Gospel to himself but conforms himself to the Gospel. This respects and reflects the freedom each has to receive the Gospel.

    Are you suggesting the laity are not given the gift of the Holy Spirit nor that they are led by it to all truth? I agree that the teaching hierarchy has a role of building up the body in the public sphere but each member also builds himself in the private sphere and the truth is not in the sole possession of the public teachers but also with each member of the laity, who have the one Spirit of Truth also abiding in them. Agreed that laity don’t raise their private opinion over and against the Tradition as passed on by the hierarchs but care must be taken to deny that the laity can know the truth and personally have the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth. Also, you say that the Church is given the Holy Spirit to grow the Church into all Truth but exclude yourself. It seems that there is a danger here of confusing the Church with the hierarchs; everyone who is a member of the Church has the Holy Spirit and participates in her growth according to the function of each. Also, what then qualifies you to discuss this matter of going into all truth with me?

  238. Monk Patrick,

    We agree that everyone must personally exercise the virtue of faith in response to the Gospel. We agree that everyone has the Holy Spirit. What qualifies me to discuss these matters with you is that I have an intellect and a will (i.e., I am choosing to type and have an intellect that can understand the concepts expressed in this forum). From my sociological studies of Christian behavior throughout history, I don’t find a compelling case to believe that the Holy Spirit will vouchsafe you or I from believing or teaching error under the assumption of either me + scripture alone or even me + Scripture + Tradition alone (nor do I see that taught in the Scripture or in the Tradition). However, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit works through his divinely instituted teachers, and if I will attend my ear to wisdom, I can be led into all truth being “rooted and grounded in love” (Eph 3:17) in the assembly in Christ Jesus (v.21).

    What disqualifies me (and us) from saying that what we say qua what we say has any binding authority on anyone in this forum is precisely in the distinction between laity and those divinely instituted bishops in union with the Chair of St. Peter who were uniquely graced with a gift of the Holy Spirit to preserve the Gospel until the return of our King (I have the gifts of the Holy Spirit, just not that one). There (in the assembly), as St. Paul exhorts, we should comprehend his love “with all the saints” (v.18) and, in particular, with that Church which is the ground and pillar of truth. It is why St. Ignatius told Christians not to look for that Church that holds fast to the Tradition and Scripture–although he and St. Paul exhort us to–but rather to look for, “Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church” (which is one of the ways we fulfill our duty to “hold fast” to the Tradition)

    It is precisely when one abstracts himself out of that Church, and thinks without the Church, that the Tradition and Scripture can become equal mediums for heretical deductions.

    Through the Immaculate Conception,

    Brent

  239. Monk Patrick said:

    “Finally, you seem to be confusing separation from Old Rome for heresy with a schism, which is strictly only applied in terms of a continued sharing of the same faith. The Oriental Orthodox were separated for heresy not as a schism. The Orthodox separated from Old Rome because, for them, it had fallen into heresy not as an act of schism. For the Orthodox the heresy in Old Rome meant that it no longer exercised any authority from which to schism”

    Precisely.

  240. The Orthodox separated from Old Rome because, for them, it had fallen into heresy not as an act of schism. For the Orthodox the heresy in Old Rome meant that it no longer exercised any authority from which to schism.

    Canadian, and Monk Patrick,

    How do you know that “Old Rome” had fallen into heresy? How do you know that “Old Rome” fell into heresy, if you cannot even list the criteria that determines when an Ecumenical Council is valid? Every Protestants sect claims that “Old Rome” fell into heresy too. Why should I listen to you, and not to the Protestants that insist that the Orthodox are heretics?

    RE. My post # 228: I believe that Fr. Andrew has made a rational and logical case against the doctrine of “receptionism”. Canadian and Monk Patrick, do you agree or disagree with Fr. Andrew that “receptionism” is not orthodox doctrine because it is untenable? If you disagree with Fr. Andrew about this, how do each of you each respond to Fr. Andrew’s three points against “receptionism”?

    Fr. Andrew… what I call “receptionism,” i.e., the idea that a particular council has to be “received” by the whole Church in order to be considered truly ecumenical. This begs two questions:

    1. Since the councils were rejected by some Christians, how do we know that they’re not the real Church and those who received it aren’t outside the Church? (As with your example of Chalcedon.)

    2. How long do we have to wait before we can say a council has been “received”?

    …. The fathers at those councils nowhere in their texts indicate that they’re waiting for their rulings to be “received.” …

    How would you answer Perry Robinsons’ objections to “receptionism”?

    Perry Robinson:
    If i thought it [“receptionism”] was workable I would entertain it, but received by whom? What constitutes reception? And what kind of authority is required? And how could it possibly escape an infinite regress?

    Canadian and Monk Patrick, do you agree, or disagree, with Fr. Andrew when he makes this claim about the criteria that determines whether or not a particular Ecumenical Council is valid?

    “In the end, it really is a matter of faith. There is no rational, logical way to know for sure.”

    The Eastern Orthodox accept seven Ecumenical Councils, the Oriental Orthodox accept three, and the Catholics accept twenty-one. But if the reason why the Eastern Orthodox accept seven, and not three or twenty-one, is both irrational and illogical, how can we ever answer the the question of what criteria determines the validity of an Ecumenical Council? We can’t.

    Perry Robinson, in his combox replies to his article “Against Komiakov” makes two points that should be addressed:

    How we know which councils are normative turns on what makes them so. I need to have in hand the conditions for it to BE such and so before I can go out and find out if it is such and so.

    I am not concerned with acceptance outside of a certain scope since it obviously isn’t adequate at the level of each and every person. What seems canonically and historically to be important is invited sees participating, how they did so and then ratifying it. Contention afterwards isn’t sufficient to imply that the conditions for the council to be ecumenical and normative weren’t met. It might imply that one would have trouble knowing it, but that is a separate question. For my part, I don’t think the arguments that one couldn’t know it are good ones either. I don’t need to infallibly to know in order to know. I just need to know.

    Let us assume that we do know the conditions for an Ecumenical Council to BE an Ecumenical Council, and that we all agree about these conditions. We have to consider the problem of councils that were called as Ecumenical Councils, but are recognized by both Catholics and the Orthodox as invalid Ecumenical Councils (e.g. the Robber Council of Ephesus of 449 AD). The unavoidable question that needs to be answered is this – What are the criteria that determines the validity of a council that was called as an Ecumenical Council? I assert that a valid Ecumenical Council is one where the charismatic gift of infallibility has been exercised by the bishops at that council. It is the Holy Spirit that protects the true church from teaching error. The bishops use their logic and reason when discussing the issues before the council, but it is the charismatic gift of infallibility that guides their reasoning and logic to the truth. Grace perfects nature. But how does mateo know when the bishops have exercised the charismatic gift of infallibility? Perry Robinson makes this point, and I fully agree with Perry Robinson:

    “ I don’t need to infallibly to know [when an Ecumenical Council is valid] in order to know. I just need to know.”

    Where does it leave me, if I, as a layman, need to exercise the charism of infallibility to know whether or not the bishops at an Ecumenical Council have exercised the charism of infallibility when they have solemnly promulgated doctrine? If I am in that position, that would mean that that I personally possess the primacy of authority, and I exercise my primacy by exercising the charimatic gift of infallibility that is given to me personally by the Holy Spirit. If I believed that the bishops were wrong in their solemnly defined teachings, I would be obligated to reject the bishop’s teachings, or to declare that the bishops are heretics that are no longer members of the church founded by Christ. Which is exactly what both Protestants and the Orthodox do when they declare that “Old Rome” is teaching heresy without giving the criteria for determining when an Ecumenical Council is valid.

    On the other hand, if I know the logical and rational criteria that establishes whether or not an Ecumenical Council is valid, I don’t need to exercise the charismatic gift of infallibility to judge the validity of a particular council. All I have to do is use my natural intellect to see if the criteria has been met, and then once I have determined that the criteria has been met, I can accept, by faith, that the authorized teachers of Christ’s church have spoken in the name of Jesus. But if the criteria for determining the validity of an Ecumenical Council is neither rational nor logical, as Father Andrew asserts, then I can never know if any Ecumenical Council is valid, and I am no better off in knowing what constitutes orthodoxy than a sola scriptura confessing Protestant.

    ”When I submit (so long as I agree), the one to whom I submit is me.”

  241. Mateo,

    Firstly, I don’t subscribe to the doctrine of receptionism where an Ecumenical is not valid until it is received by the laity and I agree with the arguments of Perry and Fr Andrew.

    Knowing the validity of an Ecumenical Council and whether a see falls into heresy are two different matters. We can know the latter if the particular see teaches or justifies actions contrary to the teachings of faith and practice of Apostolic Tradition as testified in the Scriptures or a previously mutually recognised Church council or Father. Thus, because all sees of the Catholic Church have already mutually accepted the seven Ecumenical Councils and defined themselves against heretics by the acceptance of these Councils, then should a see of the Catholic Church later refuse to accept a teaching of faith or practice of any of these Ecumenical Councils then it no longer remains united in one mind with the other sees and separates itself from them. This is the situation in the case of Old Rome when it acted contrary to the Third Ecumenical Council and added the filioque to the Creed and then in justifying the action it expressed heretical teachings about the Trinity. That the Creed was changed is clear from the historical evidence and the teaching that the Creed should not be changed is also clear from the appropriate Canon. The heresy of the change is made clear by St Photius the Great and others. You should listen to the Orthodox Catholic hierarchy because Old Rome acted contrary to itself and separated itself from the hierarchy established by Christ by contradicting the unerring faith and practices of its own Fathers, which are still maintained by the Fathers of the eastern churches. Unlike the Protestants, the Orthodox are speaking as the hierarchy that was established by Christ and given the responsibility to preserve the tradition unsullied, which they have done. The Protestant may be right about some of the heresies and should be heeded in this regard but they too have other heresies and they deny the hierarchy of Christ and cannot claim to be the Church united in one mind and one Body.

    An Ecumenical Council does not teach anything new regarding the Apostolic Tradition in faith or practice other than clarifying these matters in terms of new heresies or new circumstances. Thus, the key test of the validity of a Council is its consistency with both Scriptures, the preceding Ecumenical Councils and also the general testimony of faith and practice seen in the Fathers and local churches. This is possible with the application of logic and reason without the need for infallibility and even though our knowledge is limited and we do need to ultimately act with faith, there is sufficient evidence to do so beyond reasonable doubt.

    How do you know that Old Rome has not fallen into heresy? Because it says so? I don’t think so. Because it teaches that it is infallible? That in itself is not sufficient. Because God said this explicitly? But there is no clear evidence of this apart from that within Old Rome. Because given you an infallible revelation that it is so? But then everyone should have had this private revelation and how do you know that they haven’t? Are you doing the same as Bryan and turning to the argument of consistency with the historical evidence and reason to show beyond reasonable doubt that this is so but then you are relying on the same level of proof on which Orthodox are relying and yet you criticise this. One may claim that the papacy guarantees knowledge of an Ecumenical Council but this only pushes the problem back on how does one know that the papacy is to be trusted. Anyway for the papal claim to be any use it would require that any decision of the pope is infallible because how does one know that his acceptance or rejection of a particular council was done correctly? Also, infallibility itself recognises as its condition non-contradiction of previous infallible teachings. Which leaves us back to the position that I stated for testing the validity of an Ecumenical Council.

    Finally, you have mis-represented Fr Andrew’s position. He did not say that criteria of knowing the truth of a council is not rational nor logical but only that the limits of our knowledge mean that we can not know absolutely without doubt. Only God has such knowledge and surety, with those who have reached theosis and see God “face-to-face”; the rest of us must walk in faith but this does not mean without rationality or logic.

  242. Mateo,
    I’m just heading out for a few days on holidays. Taking the computer to follow if I can.

  243. Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Firstly, I don’t subscribe to the doctrine of receptionism where an Ecumenical is not valid until it is received by the laity and I agree with the arguments of Perry and Fr Andrew.

    I accept the arguments of Perry and Fr Andrew too, because these are rational and logical arguments. So I believe that we have some agreement here – a doctrine can be known to be not from God if it is irrational and illogical.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Knowing the validity of an Ecumenical Council and whether a see falls into heresy are two different matters. We can know the latter if the particular see teaches or justifies actions contrary to the teachings of faith and practice of Apostolic Tradition as testified in the Scriptures or a previously mutually recognised Church council or Father.

    You have yet to give me the criteria that determines the validity of an Ecumenical Council, and still you claim that you can know that “Old Rome” teaches heresy. What is worse, the charge of heresy that you make against “Old Rome” has its roots in the opinions of Photius, and his weak filioque argument. But who authorized Photius to issue dogma that binds the whole church to his interpretations of what the Fathers taught? No one. Photius has no more authority to define dogma for the whole church than does John Calvin or Martin Luther. The reason that I reject the opinions of Photius is because the Council of Florence is a valid Ecumenical Council. It is a valid Ecumenical Council because it meets all the criteria for being a valid Ecumenical Council. Until you can give me the criteria that determines the validity of an Ecumenical Council, I have no reason to reject the solemnly defined dogmas of Florence concerning the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit in favor of the opinions of a man that had no teaching authority within the church. You claim that “knowing the validity of an Ecumenical Council and whether a see falls into heresy are two different matters”, and it is precisely because I know the criteria for determining the validity of an Ecumenical Council that I know that Photius is in error.

    You are claiming that the addition of the filioque clause is a “change”, when it isn’t. What can’t change is the meaning that the Father’s intended when they wrote the creed.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): That the Creed was changed is clear from the historical evidence and the teaching that the Creed should not be changed …

    The meaning of the creed cannot be changed, and it hasn’t been changed by adding the filioque clause. On the contrary, what we believe about the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit has been clarified by the Ecumenical Council of Florence. For the benefit of the “lurkers” that might be following this discussion, here is the dogma that was solemnly defined at the Ecumenical Council of Florence, and the Papal bull confirming that dogma:

    Denzinger 460, 14th Ecumenical Council (Lyons II in 1274), Declaration Concerning the Procession of the Holy Spirit: In faithful and devout profession we declare that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two beginnings, but from one beginning, not from two breathings but from one breathing. The most holy Roman Church, the mother and teacher of all the faithful, has up to this time professed, preached, and taught this; this she firmly holds, preaches, declares, and teaches; the unchangeable and true opinion of the orthodox Fathers and Doctors, Latin as well as Greek, holds this. But because some through ignorance of the irresistible aforesaid truth have slipped into various errors, we in our desire to close the way to errors of this kind, with the approval of the sacred Council, condemn and reject (those) who presume to deny that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son; as well as (those) who with rash boldness presume to declare that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from two beginnings, and not as from one.

    Denzinger 1084, Profession of Faith Prescribed for the Greeks by Pope Gregory XIII of Rome in 1575: I also believe, and I accept and profess all the things which the holy ecumenical Synod of Florence defined and declared concerning the union of the Western and Eastern Church, namely that the Holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son; and that He has His essence and His subsistent being from the Father and from the Son together; and that He proceeds from both eternally, as from one principle and by a single procession, since what the holy Doctors and Fathers say comes to mean the same thing, that from the Father through the Son the Holy Spirit proceeds, and that the Son, according to the Greeks, is also the cause, and according to the Latins, indeed the principle of the subsistence of the Holy Spirit, as is the Father. All things, however, which are of the Father, the Father Himself has given to His Only-Begotten Son in generation, outside of being the Father; the very fact that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, the Son Himself eternally has from the Father, by Whom He has also been eternally begotten. And that the explanation of these words, “Filioque,” for the sake of declaring the truth, and because of imminent necessity, has lawfully and reasonably been added to the Creed.

    I don’t want to sidetrack this thread into a discussion about the filioque. My point here is that because I know the criteria that determines the validity of an Ecumenical Council, I can base my faith on what valid Ecumenical Councils have solemnly taught, and not on the mere opinions of unauthorized teachers. Until you can give me criteria that determines the validity of an Ecumenical Council, I have no reason whatsoever to reject the solemnly defined dogmas of the Ecumenical Council of Florence.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick) :An Ecumenical Council does not teach anything new regarding the Apostolic Tradition in faith or practice other than clarifying these matters in terms of new heresies or new circumstances. Thus, the key test of the validity of a Council is its consistency with both Scriptures, the preceding Ecumenical Councils and also the general testimony of faith and practice seen in the Fathers and local churches. This is possible with the application of logic and reason without the need for infallibility and even though our knowledge is limited and we do need to ultimately act with faith, there is sufficient evidence to do so beyond reasonable doubt.

    I agree that an “Ecumenical Council does not teach anything new regarding the Apostolic Tradition in faith or practice other than clarifying these matters in terms of new heresies or new circumstances.” Which is exactly why I accept the solemnly defined dogmas of the Ecumenical Council of Florence. Photius rendered an opinion that was in error, and this was the circumstance that caused the true Church to clarify what orthodox Christians believe about the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit.

    I reject the idea that the bishops at an Ecumenical Council are in no need of the charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit of infallibility. I reject the idea that bishops can determine the objective content of supernatural revelation by merely natural reasoning . The scripture teach that spiritual truths are understood by the Spirit:

    And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1Cor 2:13

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): One may claim that the papacy guarantees knowledge of an Ecumenical Council but this only pushes the problem back on how does one know that the papacy is to be trusted.

    How can I know that Photius can be trusted to be infallible in his opinions? I believe that the Peter was vested in an office of Vicar to the King because that is explicitly testified to by scriptures. I believe that the office that Peter first held in Christ’s church has teaching authority vested with that office because that is testified to by both scriptures and the the Church Fathers. I don’t base my faith on the mere opinions of Photius when his opinions contradict the teaching of a valid Ecumenical Council. I have no reason whatsoever to place my trust in Photius, and I don’t.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Finally, you have mis-represented Fr Andrew’s position. He did not say that criteria of knowing the truth of a council is not rational nor logical but only that the limits of our knowledge mean that we can not know absolutely without doubt.

    How, exactly, have I misrepresented Fr. Andrew? Do you agree with Fr Andrew that no one can know with certainty the criteria that establishes the validity of an Ecumenical Council? If so, then you and Fr Andrew are no better off than any sola scriptura confessing Protestant when it comes to having certainty about what constitutes orthodox doctrine. To admit that you have no certainty about the criteria that establishes the validity of an Ecumenical Councils, is to admit that you certainty that any Ecumenical Council is valid.

  244. Fr. Patrick,
    I must say after reading your answer to my question on your blog. I’m disappointed. ((btw i didn’t realize you had posted it on your own person blog, i thought it would be on the EP blog)

    Anyways, you again did not explain how an uncommitted seeker would be able to tell which would be the One True Church, by way of an Ecumenical council. Instead you make statements like these:

    The miaphysites by refusing to say two natures to cling to the a word of St Cyril has not properly declared the faith of St Cyril and open themselves for confusing the natures or mingling the natures…

    and

    Between Roman Catholic and Orthodox, issues between them have been raised throughout this thread. To go further in the distinction between them lso the distinction between essence and energies is essential for our salvation otherwise we could not unite with God….Denying this distinction leads Roman Catholics to come up with another Gospel and understanding of salvation, which is not in keeping with the early Fathers….

    But these statements just begs the question because if does not tell the uncommitted seeker who has the authority to pronounce the miaphysite doctrine as heretical, or to pronounce and essence-energy distinction as orthodox.

    As a matter of fact, your statement about St. Cyril cuts against your position, b/c you make St. Cyril’s statement into the standard of orthodox doctrine, yet claim that the Oriental Orthodox have not properly declared it. But it would seem that since he was writing in their language, in their received tradition and custom, they would be in a better position to know and exposit his writings.

    So your claim that they have not ‘declard it properly’ again begs the question of who has the authority to make such a declaration, in a manner that binding to all Christians.

  245. Mateo,

    I gave the criteria for determining the validity of a council a number of times, you may not accept them but they have been given. By the way, what is your criteria and how does it avoid the problems I raised in #241? Why is the Council of Florence valid?

    Again, from what can be read from the conciliar decisions to be valid a council needs (1) to have a unanimous free consensus of the bishops partaking, (2) it must be consistent with the doctrine and canons of previous acknowledged Councils and the Scriptures and (3) it must be confirmed by the Holy Spirit. To be Ecumenical it must also be (4) called as such by the Emperor and (5) be representative of all churches, particularly the Patriarchates. To be applicable within each Patriarchate it must also be (6) ratified respectively by each Patriarch/Pope.

    I did not say that the Holy Spirit was not required in determining the findings of a Council but rather that once a council is completed, its truth or otherwise can be ascertained by someone using logic and reason without the gift of infallibility. One can recognise an infallible statement by reason without oneself being able to make an infallible statement.

    The question was how we know that Old Rome feel into heresy using the criteria that I have given for testing the validity of an Ecumenical Council. I demonstrated how we know and whether you accept this reason for yourself is besides the point. You seem to be really asking: “prove to me beyond absolute doubt that Old Rome is in heresy”, which I have argued is impossible and that your position cannot have this level of certainty either. So, in terms of what is possible to know, we know beyond reasonable doubt.

    You still have not shown how the papacy is to be trusted by a level of knowledge greater than Orthodox claim for knowing the validity of an Ecumenical Council. You are arguing from consistency with Scriptures so are at the same level of certainty that you claim a Protestant or Orthodox has.

    You misrepresented Fr Andrew by interpreting the statement that “there is no logical or rational way to know for sure” to say that determining the validity of an “Ecumenical Council is neither rational nor logical, as Father Andrew asserts”. He did not say that it is neither rational nor logical to determine the validity of a council only that that validity cannot be known to the extent of “absolutely without doubt”, that is what he meant by “for sure”. We can be sure to the level expected in a criminal trial of beyond reasonable doubt because the law realises that this is the highest possible level of sureness based on examining evidence.

  246. Canadian: I’m just heading out for a few days on holidays. Taking the computer to follow if I can.

    Looking forward to your responses. Bless you, and have a great holiday!

    I was in such a hurry this morning that I didn’t post what was defined at the Ecumenical Council of Florence about the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit. To those following this conversation, here is the dogma defined at the Ecumenical Council of Florence concerning the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit:

    The General Council of Basel-Ferrara-Florence, 1431-45 A.D.

    SESSION 6 6 July 1439
    For when Latins and Greeks came together in this holy synod, they all strove that, among other things, the article about the procession of the holy Spirit should be discussed with the utmost care and assiduous investigation. Texts were produced from divine scriptures and many authorities of eastern and western holy doctors, some saying the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, others saying the procession is from the Father through the Son. All were aiming at the same meaning in different words. The Greeks asserted that when they claim that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, they do not intend to exclude the Son; but because it seemed to them that the Latins assert that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from two principles and two spirations, they refrained from saying that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Latins asserted that they say the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son not with the intention of excluding the Father from being the source and principle of all deity, that is of the Son and of the holy Spirit, nor to imply that the Son does not receive from the Father, because the holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, nor that they posit two principles or two spirations; but they assert that there is only one principle and a single spiration of the holy Spirit, as they have asserted hitherto. Since, then, one and the same meaning resulted from all this, they unanimously agreed and consented to the following holy and God-pleasing union, in the same sense and with one mind.

    In the name of the holy Trinity, Father, Son and holy Spirit, we define, with the approval of this holy universal council of Florence, that the following truth of faith shall be believed and accepted by all Christians and thus shall all profess it: that the holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son, and has his essence and his subsistent being from the Father together with the Son, and proceeds from both eternally as from one principle and a single spiration. We declare that when holy doctors and fathers say that the holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, this bears the sense that thereby also the Son should be signified, according to the Greeks indeed as cause, and according to the Latins as principle of the subsistence of the holy Spirit, just like the Father.

    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Councils/ecum17.htm

  247. My concluding sentence in post my 243 should have said this:

    To admit that you have no certainty about the criteria that establishes the validity of an Ecumenical Council, is to admit that you no certainty that any Ecumenical Council is valid.

    How is it possible after two-thousand years of Christianity, that no one has any certainty about the criteria that establishes the validity of an Ecumenical Council? How can something this fundamental be an unknown? It is irrational and illogical to believe that I must listen to the church that Christ founded, and then be left without any way of knowing with certainty when Christ’s church has spoken with her full authority!

  248. @Fr Patrick:

    Again, from what can be read from the conciliar decisions to be valid a council needs (1) to have a unanimous free consensus of the bishops partaking, (2) it must be consistent with the doctrine and canons of previous acknowledged Councils and the Scriptures and (3) it must be confirmed by the Holy Spirit. To be Ecumenical it must also be (4) called as such by the Emperor and (5) be representative of all churches, particularly the Patriarchates. To be applicable within each Patriarchate it must also be (6) ratified respectively by each Patriarch/Pope.

    These all seem rather subjective to me, apart from the first. (2) raises the question who decides what is consistent – my Reformed friends think that the 7th council on icons was inconsistent both with Scripture and tradition. (3) is great, as far as the Holy Spirit is concerned. How do I know the Holy Spirit has confirmed it? (4) is objective enough, but (5) -which churches are included in ‘all churches?’

    And so forth.

    jj

  249. Fr. Patrick,
    I would add to John Thayer Jensen’s critique the question of whether or not an emperor is a necessity for an ecumenical council to be valid because your #4 implies as much. If so, then what is the theological basis for such, as opposed to the mere economy of the first century?

    -Craig

  250. Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Again, from what can be read from the conciliar decisions to be valid a council needs:

    to have a unanimous free consensus of the bishops partaking,

    Agree that the debate must be free from coercion at an Ecumenical Council, but disagree that unanimity is an essential. One obstinate bishop at an Ecumenical Council would not overrule the consensus of a thousand other bishops at an Ecumenical Council. Unanimity is an ideal, not a necessity.

    it must be consistent with the doctrine and canons of previous acknowledged Councils and the Scriptures

    Agreed, but one reason Ecumenical Councils are called in the first place is because some poor confused soul is teaching what he thinks is true doctrine, but is, in fact, not true doctrine. And that confused person may have a large number of followers, including large numbers of bishops (e.g. Arius and the Eastern Bishops that became Arians).

    it must be confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

    Agreed, the bishops at an Ecumenical Council exercise a particular charism of the Holy Spirit, the charism of infallibility.

    To be Ecumenical it must also be called as such by the Emperor

    Disagree. If the Emperor Constantine had the authority to dictate to Christ’s Church, then so did the Emperor Nero. The Emperor Nero is a type of the Antichrist!

    to be representative of all churches, particularly the Patriarchates …

    Ideally, every bishop with valid Apostolic succession would attend an Ecumenical Council, but that ideal has never been realized. Therefore, this is an ideal, not a necessity.

    To be applicable within each Patriarchate it must also be ratified respectively by each Patriarch/Pope.

    Agree that ratification by the Pope is necessary, but disagree that an Ecumenical Council is not valid unless every Patriarch ratifies the dogma promulgated by an Ecumenical Council. The Oriental Orthodox do not accept four of the first seven Ecumenical Councils.

    The principle which directs the practical working of a council is the perfect, or best possible, realization of its object, viz. a final judgment on questions of faith and morals, invested with the authority and majesty of the whole teaching body of the Church. To this end some means are absolutely necessary, others are only desirable as adding perfection to the result. We deal first with these latter means, which may be called the ideal elements of the council:

    1. The presence of all the bishops of the world is an ideal not to be realized, but the presence of a very great majority is desirable for many reasons. A quasi-complete council has the advantage of being a real representation of the whole Church, while a sparsely attended one is only so in law, i.e. the few members present legally represent the many absent, but only represent their juridical power, their ordinary power not being representable. Thus for every bishop absent there is absent an authentic witness of the Faith as it is in his diocese.

    2. A free and exhaustive discussion of all objections.

    3. An appeal to the universal belief — if existing — witnessed to by all the bishops in council. This, if realized, would render all further discussion superfluous.

    4. Unanimity in the final vote, the result either of the universal faith as testified to by the Fathers, or of conviction gained in the debates.

    It is evident that these four elements in the working of a council generally contribute to its ideal perfection, but it is not less evident that they are not essential to its substance, to its conciliary effectiveness. If they were necessary many acknowledged councils and decrees would lose their intrinsic authority, because one or other or all of these conditions were wanting. Again, there is no standard by which to determine whether or not the number of assisting bishops was sufficient and the debates have been exhaustive — nor do the Acts of the councils always inform us of the unanimity of the final decisions or of the way in which it was obtained. Were each and all of these four elements essential to an authoritative council no such council could have been held, in many cases, when it was none the less urgently required by the necessities of the Church. …

    Catholic Encyclopedia article, General Councils
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04423f.htm

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): I did not say that the Holy Spirit was not required in determining the findings of a Council but rather that once a council is completed, its truth or otherwise can be ascertained by someone using logic and reason without the gift of infallibility.

    I fail to see why you are not contradicting yourself. If the action of the Holy Spirit is necessary for bishops to reach an infallible determination at an Ecumenical Council, how does natural reasoning suddenly become sufficient for reaching the same conclusion after an Ecumenical Council?

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): One can recognise an infallible statement by reason without oneself being able to make an infallible statement.

    Right. If I know the criteria that determines the validity of an Ecumenical Council, then, yes, I can use my natural reason to see if that criteria has been met. I recognize that the infallibility of the dogma promulgated at the Council of Florence because I see that the criteria that establishes the validity of Ecumenical Councils has been realized by the Council of Florence.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): The question was how we know that Old Rome feel into heresy using the criteria that I have given for testing the validity of an Ecumenical Council. I demonstrated how we know and whether you accept this reason for yourself is besides the point.

    I accept the Ecumenical Council of Florence as being valid, and you, of course, do not. Obviously I disagree with some of the criteria you have listed as being necessary for an Ecumenical Council to be valid.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): You seem to be really asking: “prove to me beyond absolute doubt that Old Rome is in heresy”, which I have argued is impossible and that your position cannot have this level of certainty either.

    What I am asking you is to convince me that the criteria you have given for determining the validity of an Ecumenical Council is correct.

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): So, in terms of what is possible to know, we know beyond reasonable doubt.

    I think that is quite reasonable to doubt that an Ecumenical Council lacks validity because some pagan Emperor did not demand that Christ’s Church hold an Ecumenical Council!

    Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): You still have not shown how the papacy is to be trusted by a level of knowledge greater than Orthodox claim for knowing the validity of an Ecumenical Council.

    It is true that I haven’t done that, and I don’t see why I should. What I could show is the Patristic evidence that the solemnly defined dogmas of an Ecumenical Council are not known to be valid without papal ratification. Papal ratification doesn’t mean that I trust the pope more than the holy bishops of a valid Ecumenical Council. What I trust is the Holy Spirit, and if a wicked pope affirmed the dogmas promulgated by the bishops at an Ecumenical Council, I would trust that the Holy Spirit has protected Christ’s church from teaching error.

  251. Tap,

    Why do you seem to be restricting knowing the truth to only through an ecumenical council or an authority? There are much wider means than these, which I addressed in by blog because they were not relevant to this thread, so they did not beg the question you asked but rather only beg the answer that you seem to have pre-determined to seek, which also seems to suggest that you have already accepted the Roman Catholic paradigm, if not yet its conclusions. Unless one is ready to consider matters within different paradigms then one may miss the answer. One difference of perspective is that for the Orthodox the first importance is that the believer accepts and owns the faith for themselves, that they learn it and understand it. Part of the process of finding the true Church is for the enquirer to search the faith of the Church and accept it for himself as his own faith and to reject the teaching of heretics because he recognises these as not being consistent with the faith. The priority for a Roman Catholic is submitting to an authority who tells us what the faith is. This does not require the believer to learn the faith or to know why the heretics are wrong but simply to accept it all on authority. Both require one to accept the faith of the hierarchy and live in communion with the hierarchy, there is no space for each to have his own faith or to live apart from the hierarchy. These differing priorities lead to different criteria to know the truth. One speaks of consistency with the Apostolic Tradition as the criteria focusing on the content of faith and believes that God will lead a seeker to the truth and the other speaks of criteria in regards of the authority of the hierarchy. These distinctions are in terms of emphasis and it does not mean that the Orthodox Church does not respect the authority of the hierarchy nor that Roman Catholics don’t respect learning the faith.

    In terms of authority, the Orthodox are Chalcedonians and not non-Chalcedonians because they accept that the fourth Ecumenical Council is consistent with the faith as delivered to them by the Fathers and by the grace of God it was an unerring declaration by the authority of the hierarchy of this faith. The matter of essence and energies was also confirmed by authority of the hierarchy in three councils in 1341, 1347, and 1351, which have been accepted by Orthodox hierarchs since then.

    In regards to St Cyril’s writing. Firstly he wrote in Greek, which was shared by all the eastern fathers, so they all understood him in terms of language. Secondly there is one Apostolic Tradition to which he was referring so the particular traditions in Alexandria etc provide no special interpretative key to know and exposit his writings, than that the shared Tradition elsewhere would provide. Thirdly, a letter of St Cyril was read to the Fourth Ecumenical Council confirming that his faith was that consistent with two unconfused natures in on person and that he refuted that he held any form of monophysite or miaphysite only position.

    Again, the authority for determining the truth is that of Christ and His authority is manifest in councils of bishops through the Holy Spirit. So, the question is not who has the authority but how to know it is truly exercised.

  252. Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick): Unless one is ready to consider matters within different paradigms then one may miss the answer. One difference of perspective is that for the Orthodox the first importance is that the believer accepts and owns the faith for themselves, that they learn it and understand it. Part of the process of finding the true Church is for the enquirer to search the faith of the Church and accept it for himself as his own faith and to reject the teaching of heretics because he recognises these as not being consistent with the faith. The priority for a Roman Catholic is submitting to an authority who tells us what the faith is. This does not require the believer to learn the faith or to know why the heretics are wrong but simply to accept it all on authority.

    I don’t know where you get the idea that catechesis in the Catholic Church does not require the believer to learn the faith. If one wants to know the Catholic Church’s general directives for proper catechesis, the document to consult is the General Directory for Catechesis.

    Here are some snippets from the GDC:

    The basic intention of the Directory was (and remains) that of offering reflections and principles, rather than immediate applications or practical directives.

    “Catechesis is intrinsically bound to every liturgical and sacramental action”

    It [catechesis] needs to announce the essential mysteries of Christianity, promoting the trinitarian experience of life in Christ as the center of the life of faith …

    Those who are moved by grace to decide to follow Jesus are “introduced into the life of faith, of the liturgy and of the charity of the People of God”. The Church achieves this function fundamentally by catechesis, in close relation with the sacraments of initiation …

    Continuous education in the faith
    In many regions this is also called “permanent catechesis”. It is intended for those Christians who have been initiated in the basic elements of the Christian faith, but who need constantly to nourish and deepen their faith throughout their lives. This function is accomplished through a great variety of forms: “systematic and occasional, individual and community, organized and spontaneous”.

    - The theological function [of the ministry of the word]
    This seeks to develop understanding of the faith and is to be situated in the dynamic of “fides quaerens intellectum“, that is, of belief which seeks to understand.

  253. All,

    Unfortunately, I am running out of both time and energy to continue engaging in this discussion with a number of people so I am going to have to call it quits. It also seems that we have somewhat drifted off the thread and comments, including mine, are getting more polemical and repetitive rather than a genuine discussion to understand the other position, while challenging its validity. Nevertheless, I know that there are quite a number of people who have been following this thread quietly and if anyone wants to continue on a specific point one to one then please drop a comment on my personal blog Sacred Traditions

    As a final comment here are lengthy annotated quotes from the Fourth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils’ definitions of Faith to show how they manifest the criteria that I mentioned with my comments in square brackets with numbers relating to the criteria I mentioned above.

    Fourth Ecumenical Council
    The holy, great, and ecumenical synod, assembled by the grace of God [this is God's decision to have a council] and the command of our most religious and Christian Emperors, Marcian and Valentinan, Augusti, [council called at the command of the Emperors (4)] at Chalcedon, the metropolis of the Bithynian Province, in the martyry of the holy and victorious martyr Euphemia, has decreed [made an authoritative ruling and not setting forth something to be approved by another] as follows:
    Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when strengthening the knowledge of the Faith in his disciples, to the end that no one might disagree with his neighbour concerning the doctrines of religion, and that the proclamation of the truth might be set forth equally to all men, said, “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” But, since the evil one does not desist from sowing tares among the seeds of godliness, but ever invents some new device against the truth; therefore the Lord, providing, as he ever does, for the human race, has raised up this pious, faithful, and zealous Sovereign, [called by Emperor as inspired by Christ (4)] and has called together unto him from all parts the chief rulers of the priesthood [representatives from all churches (5), who include those from each Patriarchate and self-ruled church that appoints its own chief bishop]; so that, the grace of Christ our common Lord inspiring us, [inspiration of the Holy Spirit (3)] we may cast off every plague of falsehood from the sheep of Christ, and feed them with the tender leaves of truth [provide the faithful with a means of knowing the truth]. And this have we done with one unanimous consent, [the condition of unanimous consent (1)] driving away erroneous doctrines and renewing the unerring faith of the Fathers, publishing to all men the Creed of the Three Hundred and Eighteen, and to their number adding, as their peers, the Fathers who have received the same summary of religion. Such are the One Hundred and Fifty holy Fathers who afterwards assembled in the great Constantinople and ratified the same faith. Moreover, observing the order and every form relating to the faith, which was observed by the holy synod formerly held in Ephesus, of which Celestine of Rome and Cyril of Alexandria, of holy memory, were the leaders, we do declare that the exposition of the right and blameless faith made by the Three Hundred and Eighteen holy and blessed Fathers, assembled at Nice in the reign of Constantine of pious memory, shall be pre-eminent: and that those things shall be of force also, [consistency with the previous Councils/Fathers (2)].
    Following the holy Fathers [(2)] we teach with one voice [unanimity (1)] that the Son and our Lord Jesus Christ is to be confessed as one and the same, that he is perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, very God and very man, of a reasonable soul and body consisting, consubstantial with the Father as touching his Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching his manhood; made in all things like unto us, sin only excepted; begotten of his Father before the worlds according to his Godhead; but in these last days for us men and for our salvation born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God according to his manhood. This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, distinctly. These things, therefore, having been expressed by us with the greatest
    accuracy and attention, the holy Ecumenical Synod defines that no one shall be suffered to bring forward a different faith nor to write, nor to put together, nor to excogitate, nor to teach it to others. But such as dare either to put together another faith, or to bring forward or to teach or to deliver a different Creed to as wish to be converted to the knowledge of the truth, from the Gentiles, or Jews or any heresy whatever, if they be Bishops or clerics let them be deposed, the Bishops from the Episcopate [later Popes fall under deposition of this Council for writing and teaching a Creed different to that of this Council*], and the clerics from the clergy; but if they be monks or laics: let them be anathematized.
    After the reading of the definition, all the most religious Bishops cried out:
    This is the faith of the fathers [(2)]: let the metropolitans forthwith subscribe it [(5)]: let them forthwith, in the presence of the judges, subscribe it: let that which has been well defined have no delay: this is the faith of the Apostles: by this we all stand: thus we all believe. [The one and same Apostolic Tradition (2) and unanimity (1)] [Also no mention of requiring papal approval or ratification to be valid nor of the council being summoned by the Pope or that the authority is a reference point to determine the truth.]

    *To confirm this is not only change in meaning but in words here is a quote from the letter of St Cyril read in the Council: “And we will allow the defined Faith, the symbol of the Faith set forth by our holy Fathers who assembled some time ago at Nice, to be shaken by no one. Nor would we permit ourselves or others, to alter a single word of those set forth, or to add one syllable, remembering the saying: ‘Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set,’ for it was not they who spoke but the Spirit himself of God and the Father who proceedeth also from him, and is not alien from the Son, [interesting here that St Cyril does not know of possession from the Son else he would not have said "is not alien from the Son" after mentioning the procession from the Father, which he did to avoid people thinking that the procession from the Father alone meant that the Spirit has no relation to the Son. If he understood double procession he would have mentioned it instead of say "not alien".] according to his essence. And this the words of the holy initiators into mysteries confirm to us.

    Seventh Ecumenical Council.
    The holy, great, and Ecumenical Synod which by the grace of God [(3)] and the will of the pious and Christ-loving Emperors, [Note synergy of God with Emperors "and the will" (4)] Constantine and Irene, his mother, was gathered together for the second time at Nice, the illustrious metropolis of Bithynia, in the holy church of God which is named Sophia, having followed the tradition of the Catholic Church, hath defined as follows:
    Christ our Lord, who hath bestowed upon us the light of the knowledge of himself, and hath redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous madness, having espoused to himself the Holy Catholic Church without spot or defect, promised that he would so preserve her [Christ preserves]: and gave his word to this effect to his holy disciples when he said: “Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,” which promise he made, not only to them, but to us also who should believe in his name through their word. But some, not considering of this gift, and having become fickle through the temptation of the wily enemy, have fallen from the right faith; for, withdrawing from the traditions of the Catholic Church [from the traditions not from the Pope], they have erred from the truth and as the proverb saith: “The husbandmen have gone astray in their own husbandry and have gathered in their hands nothingness,” because certain priests, priests in name only, not in fact, had dared to speak against the God-approved ornament of the sacred monuments, of whom God cries aloud through the prophet, “Many pastors have corrupted my vineyard, they have polluted my portion.” And, forsooth, following profane men, led astray by their carnal sense, they have calumniated the Church of Christ our God, which he hath espoused to himself, and have failed to distinguish between holy and profane, styling the images of our Lord and of his Saints by the same name as the statues of diabolical idols. Seeing which things, our Lord God (not willing to behold his people corrupted by such manner of plague) hath of his good pleasure called us together, the chief of his priests, from every quarter, [representative of all (5)] moved with a divine zeal and brought hither by the will of our princes, Constantine and Irene,[(4)] to the end that the traditions of the Catholic Church may receive stability by our common decree [To clarify and preserve the traditions]. Therefore, with all diligence, making a thorough examination and analysis [examining the evidence not asking for papal authoritative statements], and following the trend of the truth, we diminish nought, we add nought, but we preserve unchanged all things which pertain to the Catholic Church, and following the Six Ecumenical Synods, especially that which met in this illustrious metropolis of Nice, as also that which was afterwards gathered together in the God-protected Royal City. [Consistency with Tradition (2)]
    We believe…life of the world to come. Amen.
    We detest and anathematize Arius and all the sharers of his absurd opinion; also Macedonius and those who following him are well styled “Foes of the Spirit” (Pneumatomachi). We confess that our Lady, St. Mary, is properly and truly the Mother of God, because she was the Mother after the flesh of One Person of the Holy Trinity, to wit, Christ our God, as the Council of Ephesus has already defined when it cast out of the Church the impious Nestorius with his colleagues, because he taught that there were two Persons. With the Fathers of this synod we confess that he who was incarnate of the immaculate Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary has two natures, recognizing him as perfect God and perfect man, as also the Council of Chalcedon hath promulgated, expelling from the divine Atrium as blasphemers, Eutyches and Dioscorus; and placing in the same category Severus, Peter and a number of others, blaspheming in divers fashions. Moreover, with these we anathematize the fables of Origen, Evagrius, and Didymus, in accordance with the decision of the Fifth Council held at Constantinople. We affirm that in Christ there be two wills and two operations according to the reality of each nature, as also the Sixth Synod, held at Constantinople, taught, casting out Sergius, Honorius, [Pope cast out of Church for heresy not reprimanded for negligence] Cyrus, Pyrrhus, Macarius, and those who agree with them, and all those who are unwilling to be reverent.
    To make our confession short, we keep unchanged all the ecclesiastical traditions handed down to us, [consistency of faith and canons (3)] whether in writing or verbally [oral and written traditions], one of which is the making of pictorial representations, agreeable to the history of the preaching of the Gospel, a tradition useful in many respects, but especially in this, that so the incarnation of the Word of God is shown forth as real and not merely fantastic, for these have mutual indications and without doubt have also mutual significations.
    We, therefore, following the royal pathway and the divinely inspired authority of our Holy Fathers and the traditions of the Catholic Church (for, as we all know, the Holy Spirit indwells her), define with all certitude and accuracy [infallibility in condition of consistency (2) and Holy Spirit (3)] that just as the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross, so also the venerable and holy images, as well in painting and mosaic as of other fit materials, should be set forth in the holy churches of God, and on the sacred vessels and on the vestments and on hangings and in pictures both in houses and by the wayside, to wit, the figure of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, of our spotless Lady, the Mother of God, of the honourable Angels, of all Saints and of all pious people. For by so much more frequently as they are seen in artistic representation, by so much more readily are men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes, and to a longing after them; and to these should be given due salutation and honourable reverence not indeed that true worship of faith which pertains alone to the divine nature; but to these, as to the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross and to the Book of the Gospels and to the other holy objects, incense and lights may be offered according to ancient pious custom. For the honor which is paid to the image passes on to that which the image represents, and he who reveres the image reveres in it the subject represented. For thus the teaching of our holy Fathers, that is the tradition of the Catholic Church, which from one end of the earth to the other hath received the Gospel, is strengthened. Thus we follow Paul, who spake in Christ, and the whole divine Apostolic company and the holy Fathers, holding fast the traditions which we have received [consistency again (3)]. So we sing prophetically the triumphal hymns of the Church, “Rejoice greatly, daughter of Sion; Shout, daughter of Jerusalem. Rejoice and be glad with all thy heart. The Lord hath taken away from thee the oppression of thy adversaries; thou art redeemed from the hand of thine enemies. The Lord is a King in the midst of thee; thou shalt not see evil any more, and peace be unto thee forever.”
    Those, therefore who dare to think or teach otherwise, or as wicked heretics to spurn the traditions of the Church and to invent some novelty, or else to reject some of those things which the Church hath received (e.g., the Book of the Gospels, or the image of the cross, or the pictorial icons, or the holy reliques of a martyr), or evilly and sharply to devise anything subversive of the lawful traditions of the Catholic Church [tests of inconsistency with Tradition] or to turn to common uses the sacred vessels or the venerable monasteries, if they be Bishops or Clerics, we command that they be deposed; if religious or laics, that they be cut off from communion.

  254. P.S. Thank you for the interesting and challenging discussion. May God guide all to the truth.

  255. Fr Patrick (Monk Patrick):

    Your personal commentary on the decrees of the Fourth Ecumenical Council and the Seventh Ecumenical Council is interesting, but I would counter that just because Emperors have called upon the Church to hold an Ecumenical Council, it doesn’t follow that an Emperor is necessary for an Ecumenical Council to be called. Likewise, just because there have been Ecumenical Councils that have had unanimous consent, it doesn’t follow that unanimity is necessary for a Ecumenical Council to be valid.

    For those interested in more discussion about the criteria that determines the validity of an Ecumenical Council, you might want to peruse Joe Heschmeyer’s article Catholics, Orthodox, and the Robber Council, and the comments following the article.

    From Joe’s article:

    … [Keith] Mathison quotes the Orthodox Bishop Timothy Ware, who admits, “All Orthodox know which are the seven councils that their Church accepts as ecumenical, but precisely what it is that makes a council ecumenical is not so clear.”  …. Mathison is quick to pounce on Bp. Ware’s admission: “This is extremely important because if the Church does not know what it is that makes a council ecumenical, how can the Church say that any council is ecumenical?” (quotes from Keith Mathison’s Shape of Sola Scriptura}.

    http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2011/07/catholics-orthodox-and-robber-council.html

  256. Mateo,
    How does this squeaky clean definition of Papal ratification work when the Catholic Encyclopedia states the following regarding the illegal Council of Pisa which was convened to deal with multiple popes at once:

    “It resembles no other council, and has a place by itself in the history of the Church, as unlawful in the manner in which it was convoked, unpractical in its choice of means, not indisputable in its results, and having no claim to represent the Universal Church. It is the original source of all the ecclesiastico-historical events that took place from 1409 to 1414, and opens the way for the Council of Constance.”

    Pisa anathematizes two popes unsuccessfully and introduces another in their place.

    Then Constance, your 16th Ecumencial, immediately follows and is admitted to only be partly Ecumenical.
    With the successor of the Pisa pope having fled, the Council proceeds with the following:
    “As finally adopted in the fifth session they were five in number and declared that the council, legitimately called in the Holy Spirit, is a general council, represents the whole Church Militant, has its authority directly from God; and that in all that pertains to faith, the extinction of the schism and reformation in head and members, every Christian, even the pope, is bound to obey it; that in case of refusal to obey the council all recalcitrant Christians (even the pope) are subject to ecclesiastical punishment and in case of necessity to other (civil) sanctions; that without the consent of the council Pope John cannot call away from Constance the Roman Curia and its officials, whose absence might compel the closing of the council or hinder its work; that all censures inflicted since his departure by the pope on members and supporters of the council are void.”

    So the Council declares these things without a pope, which you say ONLY a pope can declare. Then all of this, it seems, is void as Constance proceeds to elect a new pope “On the principle that a doubtful pope is no pope, the Apostolic See appeared really vacant, and under the circumstances could not possibly be otherwise filled than by the action of a general council.”

    There is Catholic confusion as to when Constance, your 16th Ecumenical becomes official because of it’s earlier anti-papal acts, but none of this nor the delay of ratification of early Ecumenical councils lends convincing support to your simple solution of papal ratification.
    And it is evident, that when the papal schism became unresolvable, Catholics resorted to a conciliar act to wipe the papal slate clean!

  257. Canadian, I will do my best to answer your questions, but I would like to know what alternative that you are proposing. Do you accept the doctrine of “receptionism”, or is it a doctrine that you reject like, Perry Robinson, Father Andrew, and Fr. Patrick.

    I really did appreciate the work Fr. Patrick did to spell out the specific criteria that he believes establishes the validity of an Ecumenical Council. He is, in fact, the only member of the Orthodox faith that I have ever been in dialog with that has forthrightly admitted that the doctrine of receptionism is untenable, and has offered and alternative to receptionism. The foremost problem that I see with Fr. Patrick’s answer is that he is giving me learned opinion, and there are Eastern Orthodox bishops (Bishop Timothy Ware for instance) that accept the doctrine of receptionism. Does Fr. Patrick speak for everyone within Eastern Orthodoxy? He could have just cut and pasted from one of the many online catechisms written by Orthodox bishops that listed the criteria that he gave, but he did not do that. And I think that I can see why, because I have never found the criteria he has given in any online Orthodox Catechism (I don’t claim to have read them all either. If you can cut and paste from an Eastern Orthodox Catechism written with the approval of an EO bishop that gives the explicit criteria for determining the validity of an Ecumenical Council, I would really appreciate that).

    It seems to me, and a lot of other Catholics more learned than me, that the Eastern Orthodox are all over the map about what, exactly, constitutes the criteria that determines the validity of an Ecumenical Council. And that is a very big problem, because if after two-thousand years of Christianity, we still don’t really know what criteria must be met to establish the validity of an Ecumenical Council, then Keith Mathison is right, we don’t know if any Ecumenical Council is valid. I find it ironic that Keith Mathison would criticize Bishop Timothy Ware on this point, but that he himself cannot give an alternative to Papal Primacy without falling into his own tautological arguments.

    Canadian: How does this squeaky clean definition of Papal ratification work when the Catholic Encyclopedia states the following regarding the illegal Council of Pisa which was convened to deal with multiple popes at once:
    “It resembles no other council, and has a place by itself in the history of the Church, as unlawful in the manner in which it was convoked, unpractical in its choice of means, not indisputable in its results, and having no claim to represent the Universal Church. It is the original source of all the ecclesiastico-historical events that took place from 1409 to 1414, and opens the way for the Council of Constance.”

    The Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Council of Pisa could not be more explicit about what was wrong with that council, and why it is not counted as a valid Ecumenical Council. From the article:

    The right of the cardinals to convene a general council to put an end to the schism seemed to themselves indisputable. This was a consequence of the natural principle of discovering within itself a means of safety: Salus populi suprema lex esto, i.e., the chief interest is the safety of the Church and the preservation of her indispensable unity. The tergiversations and perjuries of the two pretenders [the two antipopes] seemed to justify the united sacred colleges. “Never”, said they, “shall we succeed in ending the schism while these two obstinate persons are at the head of the opposing parties. There is no undisputed pope who can summon a general council. As the pope is doubtful, the Holy See must be considered vacant. We have therefore a lawful mandate to elect a pope who will be undisputed, and to convoke the universal Church that her adhesion may strengthen our decision”. Famous universities urged and upheld the cardinals in this conclusion. And yet, from the theological and judicial point of view, their reasoning might seem false, dangerous, and revolutionary. For if Gregory and Benedict were doubtful, so were the cardinals whom they had created. If the fountain of their authority was uncertain, so was their competence to convoke the universal Church and to elect a pope. Plainly, this is arguing in a circle.

    Theologians and canonists are severe on the Council of Pisa. … Protestants, faithful to the consequences of their principles, applaud this council unreservedly, for they see in it “the first step to the deliverance of the world”, and greet it as the dawn of the Reformation (Gregorovius). Perhaps it is wise to say with Bellarmine that this assembly is a general council which is neither approved nor disapproved. On account of its illegalities and inconsistencies it cannot be quoted as an ecumenical council. And yet it would be unfair to brand it as a conventicle, to compare it with the “robber council” of Ephesus, the pseudo-council of Basle, or the Jansenist council of Pistoia. This synod is not a pretentious, rebellious, and sacrilegious coterie. The number of the fathers, their quality, authority, intelligence and their zealous and generous intentions, the almost unanimous accord with which they came to their decisions, the royal support they met with, remove every suspicion of intrigue or cabal. It resembles no other council, and has a place by itself in the history of the Church, as unlawful in the manner in which it was convoked, unpractical in its choice of means, not indisputable in its results, and having no claim to represent the Universal Church. It is the original source of all the ecclesiastico-historical events that took place from 1409 to 1414, and opens the way for the Council of Constance.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12112b.htm

    Yes, the Council of Pisa was called to deal with the crisis caused by the confusion of having a legitimate pope and two antipopes. The desire of the cardinals to preserve the unity of the church is laudable, but the ends don’t justify the means. This era of history shows that it isn’t only the Orthodox that have suffered from the deletrious effects of caesaropapism. Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church, and the fact that the Catholic Church was able to survive intact after the Avignon papacy means something to me.

    That is all I can write tonight. I hope to be able to give a response to your questions about the Council of Constance soon.

  258. Fr. Patrick, (#251)

    I asked for a “non question-begging” way for an uncommited inquirer to distinguish, between Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox, if such a person is already commited to apostolic succession. It is not a way to seek a pre-determined answer, as i’m open to any solution that would entail no logical fallacy. So far all of your solutions beg the question, thats why i was dissappointed with your answer.

  259. Tap, I think that your point is valid. If the first seven Ecumenical Councils meet Fr. Patrick’s criteria, then obviously the first three councils must meet that criteria also. The Oriental Orthodox accept the first three Ecumenical Councils, and claim (or once did claim) that the additional Ecumenical Councils that Eastern Orthodox accept don’t past the criteria # 2 given by Fr. Patrick.

    Here are the six criteria given by Fr. Patrick:

    Again, from what can be read from the conciliar decisions to be valid a council needs (1) to have a unanimous free consensus of the bishops partaking, (2) it must be consistent with the doctrine and canons of previous acknowledged Councils and the Scriptures and (3) it must be confirmed by the Holy Spirit. To be Ecumenical it must also be (4) called as such by the Emperor and (5) be representative of all churches, particularly the Patriarchates. To be applicable within each Patriarchate it must also be (6) ratified respectively by each Patriarch/Pope.

    The Oriental Orthodox claim that the Eastern Orthodox bishops promulgated doctrine that is not “consistent with the doctrine and canons of previous acknowledged Councils and the Scriptures.” The Eastern Orthodox claim that the Catholics promulgate doctrine that is not “consistent with the doctrine and canons of previous acknowledged Councils and the Scriptures.” So merely claiming that a group of bishops promulgates doctrine that is not consistent with the doctrine and canons of previous acknowledged Councils and the Scriptures is a meaningless argument, since even Protestants make that argument. How to settle that argument in a non question-begging way is indeed the issue. Table pounding does not settle the argument.

    It seems to me that Fr. Patrick’s criterion #5 – the acceptance by the Patriarchs test – works against the Eastern Orthodox. The first three councils are accepted by the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholics, therefore, we only have certainty about the validity of the first three Ecumenical Councils given criterion #5. But the acceptance by the Patriarchs test is itself problematic. Kevin Vance made these comments that are germane to Fr. Patrick’s acceptance by the Patriarchs test in his comments in Joe Heschmeyer’s blog (see my post # 255):

    … who determines what a patriarchy is? Apart from Rome, the other most ancient but lesser patriarchies were Antioch and Alexandria. Both of these were important because of their connection to the Petrine ministry (St. Peter had been bishop of Antioch, and his follower St. Mark had been bishop at Alexandria). The patriarchs of the other major sees were established later. Second, who determines who the patriarch is? Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria each have many rival patriarchs. Finally, each of these patriarchies fell into heresy early on in the history of the Church, at least at (important) times. The council of Chalcedon had the bishop of Rome but was opposed by the patriarch of Alexandria. That didn’t make the Council of Chalcedon illegitimate, did it? … At Ephesus (#3), the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Antioch embraced heresy and were condemned and deposed by the council. At the 6th council, Antioch and Alexandria embraced heresy, while Constantinople turned away from it during the course of the proceedings.

    So it seems to me that we must discard Fr. Patrick’s criteria #1, #2, # 5 and # 6 for the reasons given above. That leaves criteria # 3 and # 4. Criterion #3 – to be Ecumenical it must be confirmed by the Holy Spirit – that is something that the OO, the EO and Catholics accept. But how does criterion # 3 help the “uncommitted inquirer to distinguish, between Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox, if such a person is already committed to apostolic succession”? It doesn’t. Criteria #3 is accepted by faith, but the person that is committed to apostolic succession already believes criterion # 3, and that belief doesn’t help him

    That leaves criteria # 5 – an Ecumenical Council is not valid unless it is called by an Emperor. I believe that a case can be made that Constantine was NOT a Christian when he called the first Council of Nicaea. Constantine issued the Edict of Milan (the Edict of Toleration) 313 A.D. The first Council of Nicaea was 325 A.D. For Constantine to have become a Christian, he would have needed to be baptized. Is there any evidence that Constantine was ever baptized? None that I know of.

    If the Emperor Constantine was a pagan when he called the first Council of Nicaea, then it follows that the Emperor Nero would also have legitimate authority within Christ’s church. And who wants to accept that?

  260. Tap,

    Although I said I was not continuing on this thread, your statement that my solutions beg the question is something that I would like to know more about why. You stated that it begged the question “because it does not tell the uncommitted seeker who has the authority to pronounce the Miaphysite doctrine as heretical, or to pronounce and essence-energy distinction as orthodox.” And, yes, I did not mention any authority directly, although then I returned, in the next comment, to Christ and the hierarchy, who were already agreed as authorities earlier in this thread. I talked instead about the Gospel and a little about why the position of the Miaphysites is not consistent with the Gospel and that it has implications for salvation; I wanted you to understand for yourself why they are wrong so that you could make an informed decision. This is a distinction between Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox in terms of theology and faith, is that not in some manner a way of distinguishing between the two by which an outsider can distinguish them? Is this not for what Wikipedia and other encyclopaedias are in existence to help us? Why does the answer need to be about authority? The differences between the two are matters of faith not authority, although the Orthodox Catholic hierarchs used their authority in Christ to pronounce the miaphysite position and hierarchs as heretical; it is just that the Oriental didn’t care about this “authority” because they didn’t believe that the Orthodox Catholic hierarchs were in the place to have such authority for reasons of having the wrong faith. I cannot point you to an independent and neutral authority to say who is right and so I cannot see that you can do otherwise than make a choice of which faith you will accept as your own and be accountable for on Judgement Day. For this you need to know about the faith differences and their implications to make this choice;

    For “whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear apart from a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, of those preaching the gospel of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes, indeed they have: “Their voice went out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

    However, if you choose the Orthodox hierarchy then you are under obedience to them as to what you need to believe and what you may not believe and similarly from the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the Oriental hierarchy. Each group of hierarchs identifies itself by its faith and its recognised councils and also union with its hierarchs united to their chief hierarches. Each hierarchy claims to have the authority and that the other hierarchies do not. None has authority for someone apart from the hierarchy until that someone believes and accepts that they do so. That is why St Paul says that we are not judge those outside the Church that is for God alone. This does not make the authority objectively dependent on the faith or not of people, such as in Pratchett’s Small Gods, but that it recognises their freedom of faith and that the Church does not impose itself on the world anymore than Christ is imposing Himself on the world. He testifies to the truth and gives evidence for it but He does not compel to faith by demanding that people listen to His authority in itself. That is why, in each of the separations, the authority of the Pope in itself was useless because it was a matter of faith and, as such those, who disagreed with him in faith did not see him as having any authority. The Council of Chalcedon condemned the followers of Dioscorus for heresy and blasphemy not disobedience to the Pope that I believe can be seen in the quotes of the formal decisions of the Councils that I posted above. I believe that our union with the Church is first about accepting their faith then living in obedience to an authority of that faith. This is the problem that I keep trying to raise with the papal position, which no-one has seemed to try to answer, that to accept the papacy and its hierarchy requires a personal choice of faith from a personal accepting for oneself of an interpretation of the evidence, just as the Orthodox claim is required to be Orthodox. It is not sola scripture nor sola fide because there is a package of Traditions beyond Scripture that you must accept to be Orthodox, Oriental or Roman Catholic; you are not free to your own personal opinions about each thing nor to live to your own rule of life. Nevertheless, you need to make a choice of faith based on which package you judge is right and I cannot see that there is no way around this. Even if God appeared to you and told you the correct group, you would still have to believe that it was Him and not the devil. So, it seems to me that you have to choose which authority is the one to believe, although Mike seems to claim, without having expressed it here, that there is another solution to avoid this problem.

    So, am I still begging the question? If so then please try to expand on your explanation, and explain what logical fallacy there may be, so that I can see why you say that all of my solutions beg the question. By finding my arguments disappointing you are making your own personal judgement based on criteria the you judge important, if not then on what basis and authority are you deciding and expressing this? Perhaps it is a logical inconsistency but this needs proving then can we start to move beyond purely personal whim in terms of choosing a hierarchy based on logic and consistency, which is my position for knowing the truth. If you take up this then my argument, which John says is subjective, about knowing whether a council is wrong, is indeed subjective or rather that there is no way of knowing the truth. To say that the papacy is the only solution as an authority to guide us, is a solution using a logical argument and so is open to the subjectivity claims of John. I think that John is wrong about subjectivity and use of logic to test consistency can work very well, just as it has the science community, who initially had to disassociate with authority to discover the truth but then develop their own authorities to preserve and teach the discovered truth. Also, the extent of agreement of a hierarchy among itself or its ability to explain itself can be a factor but should not be a absolute factor in the choice. Mateo has pointed out the variety of opinions among Orthodox about some matters and says that this is a very big problem and by implication gives much weight that Roman Catholics are right although the Roman Catholic position may be open to the charge of being simplistic and not consistent with the complex early evidence and even more within Roman Catholic circles there is a huge range of variation in opinions about all sorts of matters and, as I have said before, the extent of these disagreements does not prove one against the other. The argument could only work if there were no such disagreements among one party and such disagreements among the other, and yet we do not even see such evidence in the early Church. Focusing on such disagreements may even hide how much is actually agreed among Orthodox, which you may find in many matters more consistent that Roman Catholics in these matters.

    Anyway, I have probably gone on for too long but here is an argument to try and explain why I was question begging and if I have failed to make any sense then I can only but try again, unless you are sick of me by then, which would not be a surprise. :)

  261. Fr. Patrick (Monk Patrick):

    You stated that:

    “To be Ecumenical it must also be called as such by the Emperor.”

    and

    “The Council of Jerusalem is not known as an “Ecumenical Council” by anyone of which I am aware, the first Ecumenical Council is that called by St Constantine, so the relationship of the Jerusalem council to the Emperor is irrelevant. I have not said that there cannot be Church councils without an Emperor, the vast majority of councils are called by churchmen, and history has shown a number of pan-Orthodox Councils consisting of representatives from all Patriarchates and self-governing churches but they were not called Ecumenical. They neither carry the formally accepted authority as one, although nevertheless, they still carry a considerable weight of authority, similar perhaps to a Papal encyclical which I believe is not formally an infallible pronouncement nor ranked with Ecumenical Councils but is nevertheless of considerable authority.” (my emphasis)

    Please correct me if my interpretation of your comments happens to depart from what you actually intended, but is it truly the case that you actually consider the Council of Jerusalem, the very council held by the blessed Apostles themselves, lacking not only “formally accepted authority” but also not even to be considered infallible since it was not, by your definition, “ecumenical” as it was not even called into session by some pagan emperor?

    If this is not the case, please kindly elaborate on your above statements as they appear to imply as much.

  262. mateo,
    But the self admitted circularity of Pisa is not done away with by Constance.
    There is not a conciliar deliberation into which pope during the schism was the valid one, but rather Pisa came up with a new one and then Constance comes up with a new one again. You say that papal ratification identifies an ecumenical Council, yet your 16th Ecumenical elects a new pope in order to ratify it’s proceedings. Your charge of circularity against the Orthodox seems to have lost it’s force.
    You chide the Orthodox for believing that an Ecumenical Council can be self ratifying. Yet you discover that only a conciliar act, a supposed Ecumenical one at that (16th), has the ability and authority to bring to pass your own conditions for ratification. This seems like special pleading.
    In the past, it was papally decreed that no election is confirmed without the ratification of the emporer (didn’t you guys go after monkpatrick about this?). This was overturned by another papal decree and so on with a not-so-squeaky-clean road to papal ratification.
    Also, it doesn’t seem that the papal see was either impeded or vacant during the schism, just doubtful. As well, there was no death of a pope, just a resignation of Gregory XII, and John XXIII and Benedict XIII were deposed .The Council of Constance either neglected to recognize a valid pope (GregoryXII) or deposed a valid one. Either way, the election of Martin V seems to be an inordinate conciliar act in light of Rome’s position.

  263. Canadian, getting back to your questions about the Council of Constance from your post # 256. You write in your post # 256:

    Then Constance, your 16th Ecumencial, immediately follows and is admitted to only be partly Ecumenical.

    “admitted to only be partly Ecumenical” ……. Right. The Catholic Encyclopedia article on The Council of Constance states that this Ecumenical Council is only in part Ecumenical:

    Council of Constance
    A (partly) ecumenical council held at Constance, now in the Grand Duchy of Baden, from 5 Nov., 1414, to 22 April, 1418. Its forty-five general sessions were devoted to three chief purposes:

    (I) The Extinction of the So-Called Western Schism;

    (II) The Reformation of Ecclesiastical Government and Life;

    (III) The Repression of Heresy.

    Ref: Catholic Encyclopedia article The Council of Constance
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04288a.htm

    Item (I) is what we are concerned with, the ending of the so-called Western Schism. Before proceeding, I would like to quote another Catholic Encyclopedia that compares the Western Schism with the Eastern Schism:

    Western Schism

    This schism of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries differs in all points from the Eastern Schism. The latter was a real revolt against the supreme authority of the Church, fomented by the ambition of the patriarchs of Constantinople, favoured by the Greek emperors, supported by the Byzantine clergy and people, and lasting nine centuries. The Western Schism was only a temporary misunderstanding, even though it compelled the Church for forty years to seek its true head; it was fed by politics and passions, and was terminated by the assembling of the councils of Pisa and Constance. This religious division, infinitely less serious than the other, will be examined in its origin, its developments, the means employed to end it, and its ending in 1417 by the election of an undisputed pope. From a legal and apologetic standpoint what did the early doctors think of it? What is the reasoned opinion of modern theologians and canonists? Was the real pope to be found at Avignon or at Rome?

    Ref: Catholic Encyclopedia article, Western Schism
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13539a.htm

    The article quoted above traces the history of the “so-called Western Schism” starting with the election by the cardinals to the successor of Pope Gregory XI, (Urban VI), and then follows the escalating confusion unleashed upon the church when these same cardinals subsequently elected another man to the office of Peter (Clement VII) while Urban VI was still alive. The article traces the successors to Urban VI and Clement VII, and the article notes that there arises a third claimant to the Petrine office, Gregory XII, before the whole mess is settled. This article states that the Western Schism ended with the Council of Constance:

    After many conferences, projects, discussions (oftentimes violent), interventions of the civil powers, catastrophes of all kinds, the Council of Constance (1414) deposed the suspicious John XXIII, received the abdication of the gentle and timid Gregory XII, and finally dismissed the obstinate Benedict XIII. On 11 November, 1417, the assembly elected Odo Colonna, who took the name of Martin V. Thus ended the great schism of the West.

    Ref: Catholic Encyclopedia article, Western Schism http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13539a.htm

    The article Western Schism concludes with the point that while the “so-called Western Schism” was an period of confusion for forty years, the doctrine of the Petrine Primacy was never contested during that time by the faithful Catholics that knew not who was the legitimate pope:

    From this brief summary it will be readily concluded that this schism did not at all resemble that of the East, that it was something unique, and that it has remained so in history. It was not a schism properly so called, being in reality a deplorable misunderstanding concerning a question of fact, an historical complication which lasted forty years. In the West there was no revolt against papal authority in general, no scorn of the sovereign power of which St. Peter was the representative. Faith in the necessary unity never wavered a particle; no one wished voluntarily to separate from the head of the Church. Now this intention alone is the characteristic mark of the schismatic spirit (Summa, II-II, Q. xxxix, a. 1). On the contrary everyone desired that unity, materially overshadowed and temporarily compromised, should speedily shine forth with new splendour. The theologians, canonists, princes, and faithful of the fourteenth century felt so intensely and maintained so vigorously that this character of unity was essential to the true Church of Jesus Christ, that at Constance solicitude for unity took precedence of that for reform. The benefit of unity had never been adequately appreciated till it had been lost, till the Church had become bicephalous of tricephalous, and there seemed to be no head precisely because there were too many. Indeed the first mark of the true Church consists above all in unity under one head, the Divinely appointed guardian of the unity of faith and of worship. Now in practice there was then no wilful error regarding the necessity of this character of the true Church, much less was there any culpable revolt against the known head. There was simply ignorance, and among the greater number invincible ignorance regarding the person of the true pope, regarding him who was at that time the visible depositary of the promises of the invisible Head. How indeed was this ignorance to be dispelled? The only witnesses of the facts, the authors of the double election, were the same persons. …

    Ref: Catholic Encyclopedia article, Western Schism http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13539a.htm

    The main take away point is here is that there was confusion in the West for forty years because of the irregular actions of cardinals that resulted in the faithful not knowing who was the legitimate pope. This confusion cannot be conflated to schism, nor can it be conflated to a rejection of papal authority on the part of the ordinary faithful. It is quite true that during this time of confusion that there were those within the Western church that tried to take advantage of the confusion caused by the cardinals to assert that all popes are subordinate to Ecumenical Councils. That very thing was attempted at the Council of Constance.

    (Returning now to the Catholic Encyclopedia article The Council of Constance that you quoted.) You write, “with the successor of the Pisa pope having fled, the Council [of Constance] proceeds with the following” (you then quote this from Catholic Encyclopedia article The Council of Constance):

    As finally adopted in the fifth session they were five in number and declared that the council, legitimately called in the Holy Spirit, is a general council, represents the whole Church Militant, has its authority directly from God; and that in all that pertains to faith, the extinction of the schism and reformation in head and members, every Christian, even the pope, is bound to obey it; that in case of refusal to obey the council all recalcitrant Christians (even the pope) are subject to ecclesiastical punishment and in case of necessity to other (civil) sanctions; that without the consent of the council Pope John cannot call away from Constance the Roman Curia and its officials, whose absence might compel the closing of the council or hinder its work; that all censures inflicted since his departure by the pope on members and supporters of the council are void.

    Ref: i>Catholic Encyclopedia article The Council of Constance
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04288a.htm

    You then draw these conclusions from that snippet that you quoted:

    Canadian: So the Council declares these things without a pope, which you say ONLY a pope can declare. Then all of this, it seems, is void as Constance proceeds to elect a new pope “On the principle that a doubtful pope is no pope, the Apostolic See appeared really vacant, and under the circumstances could not possibly be otherwise filled than by the action of a general council.”

    There is Catholic confusion as to when Constance, your 16th Ecumenical becomes official because of it’s earlier anti-papal acts, but none of this nor the delay of ratification of early Ecumenical councils lends convincing support to your simple solution of papal ratification.

    And it is evident, that when the papal schism became unresolvable, Catholics resorted to a conciliar act to wipe the papal slate clean!

    I believe that you are misreading the Encyclopedia article. First, the article states that the Council of Constance was called by one claimants to the Petrine Office, so the bishops at Constance never proceeded without a pope:

    In its attempt to restore to the Church her immemorial unity of headship the Council of Pisa in 1409 had only added to the confusion and scandal that afflicted all Christendom since 1378 … There were now three popes, the two deposed by the council (Gregory XII and Benedict XIII) and its own creation, Alexander V; the latter soon died (3 May, 1410) and was succeeded by Cardinal Baldassare Cossa as John XXIII. Obedient to a decree of the Council of Pisa that ordered a general council every three years, this pope convoked such an assembly at Rome for April, 1412, but with so little success that it was prorogued and again convoked for the beginning of 1413; its only important decree was a condemnation of the writings of Wyclif. In the meantime the treachery and violence of Ladislaus of Naples made John XXIII quite dependent politically on the new Emperor-elect Sigismund whose anxiety for a general council on German territory was finally satisfied by the pope, then an exile from Rome. He convoked it from Lodi, 9 December, 1413, for 1 November, 1414, at Constance, a free city of the empire, on Lake Constance. It was solemnly opened 5 November in the cathedral of Constance, where all the public sessions were held.

    Ref: Catholic Encyclopedia article The Council of Constance
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04288a.htm

    Needless to say that there was confusion about who was the legitimate pope at this time, but note that the Council of Constance was not convoked by the bishops, it was convoked by [Pope] John XXIII at the request by Emperor-elect Sigismund. The bishops that elected John XXII wanted this council to be held, but they did not usurp the power to convoke an Ecumenical Council to themselves. Thus the principle that only a pope has the authority to convoke an Ecumenical Council is being upheld, and the bishop are not proceeding without a pope.

    The article explicitly states that:

    The first public session took place 16 November under the presidency of [Pope] John XXIII, and for a while it considered itself a continuation of the Council of Pisa, and John XXIII the sole legitimate pope. It was soon evident, however, that many members of the new assembly (comparatively few bishops, many doctors of theology and of canon and civil law, procurators of bishops, deputies of universities, cathedral chapters, provosts, etc., agents and representatives of princes, etc.) favoured strongly the voluntary abdication of all three popes. This was also the idea of Emperor Sigismund (q. v;) present since Christmas Eve, 1414, and destined to exercise a profound and continuous influence on the course of the council in his character of imperial protector of the Church …

    Ref:Catholic Encyclopedia article The Council of Constance
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04288a.htm

    Now let us look at what you quoted from the Catholic Encyclopedia article, The Council of Constance, in its context in the article:

    …[Pope] John XXIII grew daily more suspicious of the council. Nevertheless, and partly in consequence of a fierce anonymous attack, from an Italian source, on his life and character, he promised under oath (2 March, 1415) to resign. On 20 March, however, he secretly fled from Constance and took refuge at Schaffhausen on territory of his friend Frederick, Duke of Austria-Tyrol. This step filled the council with consternation, for it threatened both its existence and its authority. Emperor Sigismund, however, held together the wavering assembly. Then followed the public sessions (third to fifth) of 26 and 30 March and 5 April out of which came the famous decrees “Articles of Constance”, long a chief argument of Gallicanism. [your quote begins here:] As finally adopted in the fifth session they were five in number and declared that the council, legitimately called in the Holy Spirit, is a general council, represents the whole Church Militant, has its authority directly from God; and that in all that pertains to faith, the extinction of the schism and reformation in head and members, every Christian, even the pope, is bound to obey it; that in case of refusal to obey the council all recalcitrant Christians (even the pope) are subject to ecclesiastical punishment and in case of necessity to other (civil) sanctions; that without the consent of the council Pope John cannot call away from Constance the Roman Curia and its officials, whose absence might compel the closing of the council or hinder its work; that all censures inflicted since his departure by the pope on members and supporters of the council are void [your quote ends here], and that Pope John and the members of the council have hitherto enjoyed full liberty. In the meantime (29 March, 1415) the English, German, and French nations had agreed to four articles, in the first two of which was expressed the complete supremacy of the council over the pope; these two were incorporated in the aforesaid articles of the fifth session. It has been maintained that these decrees were meant only for the extraordinary situation which then faced the council; they express, nevertheless, the well-known persuasion of the majority of the peculiar ecclesiastical representation at Constance that the council, independently of the pope, was the final depository of supreme ecclesiastical authority; indeed, by virtue of these decrees they proceeded at once to judge and depose John XXIII, hitherto for them the legitimate pope. It is to be noted that of the twelve cardinals present at Constance only seven or eight assisted at the fifth session, and they solely to avoid scandal (among the absent was d’Ailly). Nor would any cardinal announce these decrees; that office fell to a bishop, Andrew of Posen. The emperor was present at their promulgation, also 200 members, mostly doctors, etc. These decrees it must be remembered, though adopted at Basle and often quoted by the disciples of Gallicanism and other opponents of papal supremacy, were formulated and accepted at Constance amid quite unusual circumstances, in much haste, and in quasi despair at the threatened failure of the long-desired general council; they ran counter to the immemorial praxis of the Church, and substituted for its Divine constitution the will of the multitude or at best a kind of theological parliamentarism. They were never approved by the Apostolic See (Funk, Kirchengeschichtliche Studien, Paderborn, 1897, I, 489-98) and were almost at once implicitly rejected by Martin V …

    Ref: Catholic Encyclopedia article The Council of Constance
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04288a.htm

    There is good reason why the Council of Constance is seen as only partially Ecumenical. The decrees that you have quoted from that Council has been rejected because “they ran counter to the immemorial praxis of the Church, and substituted for its Divine constitution the will of the multitude or at best a kind of theological parliamentarism. They were never approved by the Apostolic See …”.

    Canadian: So the Council declares these things without a pope, which you say ONLY a pope can declare. Then all of this, it seems, is void as Constance proceeds to elect a new pope “On the principle that a doubtful pope is no pope, the Apostolic See appeared really vacant, and under the circumstances could not possibly be otherwise filled than by the action of a general council.”

    You are quoting the Encyclopedia article out of context and drawing the wrong conclusion. The Encyclopedia article does not assert that the bishops at the Council declared anything without a presiding pope. It is true, however, that some bishops, did write the decree that stated that even the pope is subordinate in authority to that of an Ecumenical Council. That decree was rejected, and that is why the Catholic Encyclopedia article states that the Council of Constance is only partly Ecumenical. That bishop write mistaken opinions at Ecumenical Councils is not unprecedented. Remember that the entire “Robber Council” of Ephesus was called as an Ecumenical Council but its decrees were rejected by the pope, and that is why it is not seen as even being partly Ecumenical.

    Canadian: There is Catholic confusion as to when Constance, your 16th Ecumenical becomes official because of it’s earlier anti-papal acts, but none of this nor the delay of ratification of early Ecumenical councils lends convincing support to your simple solution of papal ratification.

    Who, exactly, is confused as to what parts of the Ecumenical Council of Constance has been rejected and what parts have been accepted?

    Canadian: And it is evident, that when the papal schism became unresolvable, Catholics resorted to a conciliar act to wipe the papal slate clean!

    I don’t see how you draw this conclusion. There was no “papal schism”. What pope went into schism? There was confusion in the West for roughly forty years over who was the legitimate pope caused by the irregular actions of the cardinals, but there was no real schism caused by this confusion. John XXIII, Gregory XII, and Benedict XIII all believed that they were the pope (and they had reason to believe this, since none of these men elected themselves). These men were defending the doctrine of Petrine Primacy, not rejecting it. The Council of Constance was not called to reject Petrine Primacy, it was called in part to settle who was the legitimate pope. The solution of the Council of Constance was to have all three men withdraw any claim to the Petrine Office, and elect a new Pope, Martin V.

  264. Quaestio,

    The Council of Jerusalem is testified by St Luke as being a legitimate inspired council of the Apostles and, as such, it carries the authority of the Apostles as a sure testimony of their teaching. It is an Apostolic Council, which has, in a sense, even greater prestige than an Ecumenical Council coming directly from the Apostles’ mouths. The extent of the Church’s spread has an aspect to the title ecumenical and it was not until the end of the Apostolic era with the martyrdoms of the Apostles Sts Peter and Paul that the Church in a sense becomes ecumenical in presence, which is recognised with the establishment of the See of Rome as the See of primacy. Also, one must not confuse ecumenical status with infallibility. A council is of Christ should it meet conditions 1-3. It is universal (ecumenical) in scope should it meet conditions 4-5. The scope provides it with an extent of authority that a regional council does not have, although it does not mean that a regional council cannot carry the authority of truth nor was infallibly decided(inspired). A regional council does not have ecumenical testimony to its truth and so cannot be recognised as universally binding until it is recognised as such by an Ecumenical Council then it becomes binding on all regions. Even individual Fathers can be recognised binding on all in certain of their teachings, if recognised as such ecumenically.

    When I was speaking of formally accepted authority of pan-Orthodox Councils, I am speaking more in terms of how their authority is generally received among Orthodox today. This does not mean that they do not have the authority of truth but that they have not been universally added to Canon law collections nor is adherence to them universally required of all Orthodox believers. This is more a statement of fact than of what should be the case. My apologies for not making this clear.

  265. Canadian: There is not a conciliar deliberation into which pope during the schism was the valid one, but rather Pisa came up with a new one and then Constance comes up with a new one again. You say that papal ratification identifies an ecumenical Council, yet your 16th Ecumenical elects a new pope in order to ratify it’s proceedings. Your charge of circularity against the Orthodox seems to have lost it’s force.

    In regards to the Council of Constance, the Catholic Encyclopedia article this:

    The first public session took place 16 November under the presidency of [Pope] John XXIII, and for a while it considered itself a continuation of the Council of Pisa, and John XXIII the sole legitimate pope.

    Ref: Catholic Encyclopedia article The Council of Constance
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04288a.htm

    The Council in Constance was called in part to deal with a crisis of the time, i.e. that there were three different men who believed that they were the legitimate holders of the Petrine office, and each man had its advocates within the church. When the Council of Constance began, it was believed by at least some that John XXIII was the legitimate pope. Ecumenical Councils are not valid unless there is free discussion among the participants, and within a short time, the legitimacy of John XXIII was called into question. John XIII believed he was the legitimate pope, but so did Gregory XII, and Benedict XIII. None of these men elected themselves to the Petrine office, and all three men would have seen it as their duty to protect the Petrine office from those who subjugate the authority of the Petrine Office to that of the bishops at an Ecumenical Council. Many (if not most) of the cardinals that created this crisis forty years ago would have been dead by the time that the Council of Constance was convoked, so this problem of having three men believing that they were the legitimate pope was not going to be easily resolved. There could only be one legitimate holder of the Petrine Office, but there was real reason to doubt the legitimacy of all three claimants to the Petrine Office. Who knew for sure who the real pope was? No one. If a man who wasn’t a pope, affirmed the decrees of a Council, would the decrees of that Council be conscience binding upon all Christians? Of course not. Ratification by a pope whose legitimacy is in doubt is the same as no ratification at all. It is intolerable that the decrees of an Ecumenical Council are doubtful in their legitimacy. So the Council of Constance came up with a solution. Since there was no way to determine at this point who was really the pope, it was time to elect an uncontested pope and end the crisis. And that is what happened, Martin V was elected pope, and no one doubted his legitimacy. The crisis was ended. Now there was an uncontested pope, that could exercise the powers of the Petrine Office, and the decrees of the Ecumenical Council could be ratified by a pope whose authority was not doubtful.

    Canadian: Also, it doesn’t seem that the papal see was either impeded or vacant during the schism, just doubtful. As well, there was no death of a pope, just a resignation of Gregory XII, and John XXIII and Benedict XIII were deposed .The Council of Constance either neglected to recognize a valid pope (GregoryXII) or deposed a valid one. Either way, the election of Martin V seems to be an inordinate conciliar act in light of Rome’s position.

    I don’t see why the election of Martin V was “inordinate”. Before Martin V was elected, no one knew who was the legitimate pope among the three claimants to the Petrine Office. John XXIII, Benedict XIII and Gregory XII each thought that they were legitimate, and they had reason to believe that.

    You make the charge that what was done at the Council of Constance can be compared to the circularity problem that Bryan Cross identified in this thread. The circularity problem is this:

    The circularity problem discussed above isn’t solved by identifying the “whole Church” as “the whole Church.” The problem, again, is this: if a council must be accepted by “the whole Church” in order to be an ecumenical council, then what counts as “the whole Church” cannot be defined as “those who accept the ecumenical councils.” Such an answer is circular because it defines ecumenical councils in terms of acceptance by “the whole Church,” and then defines “the whole Church” in terms of acceptance of the ecumenical councils.

    Ref Bryan Cross’s post # 45 in this thread

    There is no equivalence between the “circularity” of Constance and the circularity of the argument above. That Martin V chose not to accept some of the decrees of the Council of Constance is not the unresolvable problem caused by the doctrine of “receptionism”. The principle that Ecumenical Councils are not known to be valid unless they are affirmed by the pope can only be maintained by having a legitimate pope affirm the decrees of an Ecumenical Council. Where as the doctrine of “receptionism” make every Ecumenical Council doubtful in its legitimacy because there is no way of knowing when the “whole church” has “received” the decrees of an Ecumenical Council. Which is why I asked you what alternative to Petrine Primacy you are offering. You still haven’t answered my question. Do you accept “receptionism” as a doctrine or do you reject “receptionism”?

  266. Mateo,
    Thanks for putting in the time on this.

    This confusion cannot be conflated to schism, nor can it be conflated to a rejection of papal authority on the part of the ordinary faithful

    I was not adressing schism or the view of papal authority by the faithful . I am trying to show that Rome gave an Ecumenical Council an authority to overrule a confusing papal situaton in order to give ratifying authority back to a pope. The Chair was not the seat of authority! You ask the Orthodox “how do you know a Council is valid without a popes ratification.” I am wondering why Rome could not accept any of the 3 pope’s validity without a Council’s action, however doubtful? You have a point in your history where the Council supercedes the pope, but then say it’s ok because he ratifies his own ratification.

    Thus the principle that only a pope has the authority to convoke an Ecumenical Council is being upheld, and the bishop are not proceeding without a pope.

    No! John XXIII is an antipope. How can he convoke an ecumenical Council? You added brackets around [Pope] John XXIII because the encyclopedia does not consider him a pope, don’t try to pass him off as one.
    Constance starts out leaning on the actions of Pisa but soon discovers that it is not working. Notice too emporer Sigisimund’s heavy influence which some of you chided monkpatrick about.

    You guys keep saying that wherever the pope is, there the truth will be found….in communion with him. Yet, for 40 years the location of the true pope could not be found so a new pope was created IN COUNCIL!

    It had come about that, whichever of the three claimants of the papacy was the legitimate successor of Peter, there reigned throughout the Church a universal uncertainty and an intolerable confusion, so that saints and scholars and upright souls were to be found in all three obediences. On the principle that a doubtful pope is no pope, the Apostolic See appeared really vacant, and under the circumstances could not possibly be otherwise filled than by the action of a general council.

    Who, exactly, is confused as to what parts of the Ecumenical Council of Constance has been rejected and what parts have been accepted?

    I’ve looked and looked, now I can’t find it. It just says in one of those articles that various persons disagreed on where exactly in the acts Constance becomes papally ratified. Remember, I am not saying that it was finally papally accepted that a Council has the authority which the early acts of Constance decreed, but I am highlighting the fact that a Council WAS NECESSARY to create a pope that all could submit to, and shows you too have a Council acting of necessity in a way which you refuse to the Orthodox.

    The Council of Constance was not called to reject Petrine Primacy, it was called in part to settle who was the legitimate pope. The solution of the Council of Constance was to have all three men withdraw any claim to the Petrine Office, and elect a new Pope, Martin V.

    No, but the Council of Constance was called to RESTORE Petrine Primacy! That is my point! an Ecumenical Council was required to bring about the conditions of Petrine Primacy! Constance did not settle who was the legitimate Pope, it brought into existence a new Pope as from a clean slate by a Conciliar act. This is circularity. You gave a Council power to bring to an end 3 rival popes, not to find which one was true, that would be different. Your defining proposition–that Councils are invalid without papal ratification–would have died on the spot unless a Council waved the hand to make the Western schism disappear by starting over with a new pope.

  267. Mateo,
    This is exhausting :-) Especially for a simpleton like me.

    Such an answer is circular because it defines ecumenical councils in terms of acceptance by “the whole Church,” and then defines “the whole Church” in terms of acceptance of the ecumenical councils.

    Here’s where I see a parallel of circularity, I’ll just change the words to reflect Constance:
    “your answer is circular because Rome affirms Constance in terms of it’s recognizable papal authority and then affirms it’s recognizable papal authority in terms of acceptance of the Council of Constance.”

    Ok. So now having attacked your position, I shall face the music like a man and respond with confidence and eloquence the question you posed

    Which is why I asked you what alternative to Petrine Primacy you are offering. You still haven’t answered my question. Do you accept “receptionism” as a doctrine or do you reject “receptionism”?

    I’m an Orthodox catechumen, how should I know :-)

    I accept the 7 Councils as authoritative over us….period. Receptionism by itself is certainly not evident in the authoritative, conscience binding declarations of the Council’s father’s.

  268. Mateo,

    I think that there are two distinct issues that must be kept in mind when speaking about the truth of a council and its ratification. One is what happens during the time of the Council and how the Holy Spirit manifests the teaching of Christ within the Council, especially in its decrees, and the other is the reception of the Council by the various churches or by the Pope after the Council is completed.

    Now, the Council expresses its decrees under inspiration of the Holy Spirit then those decrees must surely be true and authoritative at that point because they are written infallibly by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Thus, ratification after the Council is complete does not make the Council true but only acknowledges acceptance of its truth. This means that the ratification is not necessary for the truth of the Council but only an aid to knowing that it is true. Should the Pope not ratify a true Council this would not stop it being true nor if he ratified a false Council would this make it true.

    If the Pope was always right about the truth of a Council then this would assume that the Pope has a gift of infallibly knowing the truth and that he cannot/will not lie about this knowledge. But this is not part of the formal definition of Papal primacy because he is not defining a doctrine or similar but the Fathers of the Council are doing so, particularly when he is not personally present. Now the response from Vatican 1 would be that he is defining the doctrine through the Council by calling it. But this fails for the first seven Ecumenical Councils because he did not call them and he did not personally attend, although he may have sent a letter and delegates to speak for himself. So another defined power needs to be made for the Pope to ratify correctly.

    The papacy by its own definition only has the gift of the Holy Spirit to preserve undefiled Apostolic Tradition and not to define new doctrine etc (Vatican 1) Thus, the Apostolic Tradition is prior to the papacy and so is not dependant on the papacy as its source but only its preservation. This means that Apostolic Tradition can be tested independently of the papacy and the truth claims of the papacy can be examined against other sources of evidence of Apostolic Tradition. This is reinforced by the teaching that decisions of the Pope are irreformable (Vatican 1) including all the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils because it is claimed that they are called as part of his teaching function, which also makes the Councils valid evidence to test self-consistency of the papal claim. Therefore if it can be shown that the papacy has not preserved undefiled the Apostolic Tradition, especially if it contradicts itself or any accepted doctrine or canon of an Ecumenical Council or the Scriptures, then it has no gift of infallibility of the Holy Spirit. This is the Orthodox claim; they show that the papacy has not keep the Apostolic Tradition(s) undefiled so it cannot have any infallibility. The arguments need to be whether or not it has done so and these arguments cannot rely/assume on papal interpretation of the evidence or authority about the evidence. Thus, the only way to know whether to be Roman Catholic or Orthodox is to examine the evidence and the various interpretations that they both mutually claim and also individually claim to be Apostolic, including the Scriptures, and see which one one thinks, on one’s own reading of the evidence and reasons, is true to its claim of preserving Apostolic Tradition. Since this is the only way to test then it must be a possible and valid test and not one that is merely subjective or at least every one is in the same position. Also it must be possible to know the truth of a claimed Ecumenical Council by testing its claim of consistency to the truth with needing an authority to tell you, so the conditions that I set out are sufficient.

  269. mateo: Thus the principle that only a pope has the authority to convoke an Ecumenical Council is being upheld, and the bishop are not proceeding without a pope.

    Canadian: No! John XXIII is an antipope. How can he convoke an ecumenical Council? You added brackets around [Pope] John XXIII because the encyclopedia does not consider him a pope, don’t try to pass him off as one.

    I have cited three articles in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Where in those three articles was John XXIII described as an antipope? The encyclopedia article The Council of Constance says this in the first paragraph of the main article:

    In its attempt to restore to the Church her immemorial unity of headship the Council of Pisa in 1409 had only added to the confusion and scandal that afflicted all Christendom since 1378 (see WESTERN SCHISM). There were now three popes, the two deposed by the council (Gregory XII and Benedict XIII) and its own creation, Alexander V; the latter soon died (3 May, 1410) and was succeeded by Cardinal Baldassare Cossa as John XXIII. Obedient to a decree of the Council of Pisa that ordered a general council every three years, this pope convoked such an assembly at Rome for April, 1412, but with so little success that it was prorogued and again convoked for the beginning of 1413; its only important decree was a condemnation of the writings of Wyclif. In the meantime the treachery and violence of Ladislaus of Naples made John XXIII quite dependent politically on the new Emperor-elect Sigismund whose anxiety for a general council on German territory was finally satisfied by the pope, then an exile from Rome. He convoked it from Lodi, 9 December, 1413, for 1 November, 1414, at Constance, a free city of the empire, on Lake Constance. It was solemnly opened 5 November in the cathedral of Constance, where all the public sessions were held. The first public session took place 16 November under the presidency of John XXIII …

    “This pope” in the paragraph cited above refers to John XXIII, not Gregory XII or Benedict XIII. It was “this pope” that became an exile from Rome, and “this pope” was was living under the protection of Emperor-elect Sigismund when “this pope” convoked a Council at the urging of the Emperor. I just don’t see where in the three Catholic Encyclopedia articles that I cited where John XXIII is identified as an antipope, but perhaps I missed that.

    Canadian: Constance starts out leaning on the actions of Pisa but soon discovers that it is not working. Notice too emporer Sigisimund’s heavy influence which some of you chided monkpatrick about.

    The Council of Constance follows the Council of Pisa which is not counted among Catholics as a valid Ecumenical Council. I don’t see your point.

    I have not “chided” Fr. Patrick about any Emperor using his influence to bring about an Ecumenical Council to settle religious questions within his Empire. What I have done is disagree with Fr. Patrick about his novel assertion that an Ecumenical Council is not valid unless an Emperor convokes the council. The whole scriptural basis for holding Ecumenical Councils is found in Christ’s teaching in Matthew 18:17 where we are commanded by Christ to take our disagreements to the church to let the church make her ruling. Nowhere does Christ teach that we must take our disagreements to the Emperor so that the Emperor can convoke an Ecumenical Council. I object to Fr. Patrick’s doctrine that an Ecumenical Council is not valid unless an Emperor convokes the Council as being a doctrine utterly without scriptural support. The Apostles seemed to be unaware that they needed to send an envoy to Rome to get the Emperor’s permission before they made their ruling at the Council of Jerusalem. And that is good thing, I think, because the Roman Emperor’s government had Peter crucified in Rome and Paul beheaded in Rome.

    Canadian: You guys keep saying that wherever the pope is, there the truth will be found….in communion with him. Yet, for 40 years the location of the true pope could not be found so a new pope was created IN COUNCIL!

    The truth is the truth wherever the truth is found. What Catholics teach is that it is a doctrine that an Ecumenical Council cannot be known to be valid without papal ratification. A pope was elected at a Council? So what? Ecumenical Councils do not need to be called to elect a pope, what is necessary is for an election is for the cardinals to gather together to an elect a pope.

    At the time of the Council of Constance there was no undisputed pope , and there was good reason to doubt the claims to validity of all three claimants to the Petrine Office. What solution would you propose to solve this crisis? Pray to God that He strike dead all three men so that a new pope could be elected? What if all three men sincerely believed that they were the legitimate pope? Should God kill three men who were not culpable for the sin of deception to preserve his church and give to her an undisputed pope? This was an unprecedented situation within the church, and the election of an undisputed pope is the only solution to the crisis that I can see. If the undisputed pope later ratified the doctrines promulgated by the Council of Constance, what of it? Who should accept the decrees of a Council that was ratified by a man who might not have been the pope? Not faithful Catholics.

    Canadian: I am not saying that it was finally papally accepted that a Council has the authority which the early acts of Constance decreed, but I am highlighting the fact that a Council WAS NECESSARY to create a pope that all could submit to, and shows you too have a Council acting of necessity in a way which you refuse to the Orthodox.

    An Ecumenical Council was not necessary to elect a pope. Ecumenical Councils have never been necessary to elect a pope. The mess created by the highly irregular actions of cardinals decades before the Council of Constance came to a head during the Council of Constance, but the Council of Constance began with some, including Emperor-elect Sigismund, believing that John XXIII was the legitimate pope. After the Council was underway, the free debate in the Council that was enabled by the protection of Emperor Sigismund brought forth evidence that cast doubt upon the legitimacy of John XXIII’s claim to the Petrine Office. Is it any wonder that John XXIII tried to resist the direction that the Council was headed in if he truly believed that he was the pope? He would have seen it as his duty to resist the Council if they tried to establish a principle that an Ecumenical Council’s doctrinal decrees had no need of papal ratification. At Constance, that principle was formalized as a decree, and some tried to pass off this bunkum as the new official doctrine of the church, but that mistaken principle has never been ratified by an undisputed pope. Even the disputed popes of that era would never have ratified the doctrine that made them impotent. The doctrine that Ecumenical Councils don’t need papal ratification to be valid has never been affirmed by any pope, disputed or undisputed, and that is is why the Catholic Encyclopedia article says that Constance is only partly Ecumenical.

    Canadian: No, but the Council of Constance was called to RESTORE Petrine Primacy!

    Petrine Primacy is a doctrine. The Council of Constance was not called to “restore” the doctrine of Petrine Primacy, because that doctrine had never been lost or forgotten. It is true that at the Council of Constance there was an attempt by heretics to establish a new doctrine that the decrees of Ecumenical Councils do not need papal ratification, but the attempt to make that bogus doctrine official failed.

    Canadian: Constance did not settle who was the legitimate Pope …

    Agreed, as this was an unresolvable problem.

    … it brought into existence a new Pope as from a clean slate by a Conciliar act.

    Are you sure about that? Doctrinal decrees can only be promulgated by bishops, but cardinals elect popes. I believe that in this era that there were still lay cardinals in addition to cardinal bishops, so a new pope would have been elected by laymen who had no authority to promulgate decrees at an Ecumenical Council.

    mateo: …what alternative to Petrine Primacy you are offering. You still haven’t answered my question. Do you accept “receptionism” as a doctrine or do you reject “receptionism”?

    Canadian: I’m an Orthodox catechumen, how should I know :-)

    :-) Good answer. Why don’t you ask your catechist what criteria establishes the validity of an Ecumenical Council and get back to us with the answer given to you.

    Canadian: I accept the 7 Councils as authoritative over us….period.

    Why “period”? Why not three? Why not twenty-one?

    That is enough for tonight! I hope to respond to Fr. Patrick soon.

  270. Mateo,

    I just don’t see where in the three Catholic Encyclopedia articles that I cited where John XXIII is identified as an antipope, but perhaps I missed that.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08434a.htm
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm

    Notice in the John XXIII article where they call all of the antipopes “popes”, so I would be careful how you read into the word as used in this situation

    when the two popes, Gregory XII of Rome and Benedict XIII of Avignon, were deposed……Alexander V was now proclaimed pope at Rome

    What I have done is disagree with Fr. Patrick about his novel assertion that an Ecumenical Council is not valid unless an Emperor convokes the council.

    I am not making this claim, just trying to show that Constance was not just a simple ecclesiastical occasion without heavy political influence as the article on Constance conveys:

    Emperor Sigismund, however, held together the wavering assembly……In some respects the council resembled more a modern Catholic congress than a traditional ecclesiastical synod. The numerous princes and nobles……..made Constance for the time the cynosure of all Europe and even of the Greek world. There is, of course, no reason to wonder that in so motley a throng, suddenly gathered from all quarters, moral disorders and loose living should have manifested themselves.

    The Council of Constance was not called to “restore” the doctrine of Petrine Primacy

    I did not say that. But Constance was required to restore an authoritative pope. This is an ecumenical Council and it was the occasion to authoritatively bring papal authority into effect! I know ecumenical Councils are not needed to elect popes, but in my mind the circularity is obvious here. You can’t just reduce this to an elected pope in succession simply ratifying an Ecumenical Council, but the Council had to bring about the condition of it’s own ratification. Constance seems to have authority to declare a pope but you say Constance really has no authority until ratified by the pope it created. When Constance acts authoritatively to elect a pope, there is no sitting pope presiding which will only have to accept it’s proceedings. Constance acts with an authority of it’s own to bring into existance the conditions of it’s own ratification, but you turn and deny that the Orthodox have a right to accept the authority of an ecumenical Council’s authority without a pope’s ratification.

  271. Canadian: Mateo, Thanks for putting in the time on this.

    No problem, I have enjoyed the discussion. Thanks for the link to article on John XXXIII. It is interesting to me that this Catholic Encyclopedia article clearly calls John XXXIII an antipope. Now I am wondering how the author of the article was able to make that determination.

    Canadian: Notice in the John XXIII article where they call all of the antipopes “popes”, so I would be careful how you read into the word as used in this situation .

    Good advice. Still, I would note that encyclopedia article The Council of Constance makes a point that Emperor Sigismund and others at the start of the Council of Constance believed that John XXXIII was the legitimate pope.

    Canadian: … just trying to show that Constance was not just a simple ecclesiastical occasion without heavy political influence …

    I agree with that analysis. This forty year period with three men claiming to hold the Petrine office is a shameful example of caesaropapism run amok in the Catholic Church.

    Canadian, I wrote a long response to your post # 266, but for some reason I never posted it. I wante to address some of your points that you made in that post, so here goes.

    mateo : This confusion cannot be conflated to schism, nor can it be conflated to a rejection of papal authority on the part of the ordinary faithful

    Canadian: I was not adressing schism or the view of papal authority by the faithful . I am trying to show that Rome gave an Ecumenical Council an authority to overrule a confusing papal situaton in order to give ratifying authority back to a pope. The Chair was not the seat of authority! You ask the Orthodox “how do you know a Council is valid without a popes ratification.” I am wondering why Rome could not accept any of the 3 pope’s validity without a Council’s action, however doubtful?

    I don’t understand what you are saying here. Rome is a city. How could a city give an Ecumenical Council “an authority to overrule a confusing papal situation”? What is the referent for “Rome” in the your comment? Do you mean the actual geography of Rome?

    I believe that Fr. Patrick is trying to make a point that the Patriarch of Rome has a certain type of authority superior to that of a bishop in a backwater community because Rome was the seat of the Emperor, and that the Patriarch of Constantinople has a similar type of superior authority because the Emperor Constantine established a “new Rome” in Constantinople. At least that is what I think he is saying. The argument here seems to be that the authority of the Emperor gives special authority to the bishop of the city where the Emperor resides. But the Emperor has authority because he holds an office, the office of Emperor, and Constantinople only became significant as a city centuries after Christianity was established because the Emperor exercised the authority of his office in that city. Neither the city of Rome nor the city of Constantinople – as cities – gives authority to the Emperor. How is then that mere geography gives special authority to a bishop? It doesn’t.

    The authority of the Patriarch of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople does not have as its source the authority vested in the office of the Emperor. The authority of bishops has its source in the authority of Christ, who holds the offices of priest, prophet and king in his church. Peter and the popes have special authority within Christ’s church because of the unique office that popes holds in Christ’s church, the office of the Vicar of Christ. If the pope relocated to Kansas City because terrorists exploded a dirty nuclear bomb that made Rome unlivable for humans, the pope would not cease to hold the powers of his office as the Vicar of Christ because he had established residency in Kansas City.

    Point one, the bishops and the pope have authority because of the offices that they hold in Christ’s church, not because of the city where they have residency. Point two, the fact that the bishops and the pope hold offices in Christ’s church is taught in the scriptures:

    Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
    Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you [singular] the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:13-19

    Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, “Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him … I will thrust you from your office, and you will be cast down from your station. In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
    Isaiah 22:15-22

    The “key of the House of David” is the symbol of the office of Vicar (Viceroy, Regent, take your pick) of the Kingdom of David. God vested Elaikim with the authority of that office in the Kingdom of David. Elaiakim’s office, and the key of the house of David that is the symbol of that office, are types in the Old Testament that point to their fulfillment in their antitypes in the New Testament.

    antitype – One that is foreshadowed by or identified with an earlier symbol or type, such as a figure in the New Testament who has a counterpart in the Old Testament.

    Ref: The Free Dictionary
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/antitypes

    Matthew tells us explicitly that that to Peter, and to Peter alone among the Apostles, was given by Christ the “keys of the kingdom of heaven”. Matthew’s Gospel is using typology to show Peter being vested by Christ in a unique office in the church that Christ is establishing in heaven and on earth, and that Christ is building his church on earth upon the man vested with authority of that unique office. Whoever holds the keys of the kingdom of heaven has the power to bind on earth and in heaven, a power that includes the power to issue conscience binding doctrine within Christ’s church. This unique office is known by various names, e.g. the office of the Vicar of Christ, the papacy, the Petrine office.

    Matthew chapter 16 quoted above is one of the two places where the word “church” is used in the Gospels. In Matthew chapter 16 Christ lays the first building “stone” of his church, the Rock of Peter, that is, Christ establishes the Petrine office as the foundation of his church on earth. Christ promises that the “powers of death” will never prevail against the church that he founded. The other time we see the word “church” used in the Gospels is in Matthew chapter 18, where Christ gives establishes the basis for his church holding Ecumenical Councils. In Matthew chapter 18 Christ teaches that his church is the ultimate authority for settling disputes among Christians, disputes that certainly include disputes involving questions of doctrine.

    If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
    Matt 18:15-18

    Christ is explicit here, it is his church, the church that Christ built upon the Petrine Office that we must listen to, and Christ doesn’t give any wiggle room to come up with excuses for not listening to his church. The Protestant doctrine of the primacy of conscience cannot be reconciled with Matt 18:15-18, and neither can the Protestant practice of founding one’s own personal church, and then claiming obedience to Christ because one “listened” to one’s own personal church. Nor can the Protestant practice of church shopping among “churches” founded by men and women be reconciled with Matt. 18: 15-18, since listening to a “church” founded by a man or a woman would not be listening to the Church that Christ founded.

    In Matthew 18:18 the power to bind on earth and in heaven is not directed to Peter alone, but to all the Apostles, which would mean that the bishops of Christ’s church have the authority to teach conscience binding doctrine. A valid Ecumenical Council is the supreme example of the bishops of Christ’s church settling a matter of disputed doctrine in a conscience binding manner. Is the validity of an Ecumenical Council determined by the bishops alone, or by bishops in union with the Vicar of Christ. That is, of course, what the dispute between the Orthodox and the Catholics is really all about.

    Fr. Patrick writes the following in his post #268 concerning the office of the papacy, and I will respond now to his comment:

    Fr. Patrick… the Apostolic Tradition is prior to the papacy and so is not dependent on the papacy as its source but only its preservation

    I disagree with Fr. Patrick when he claims “he Apostolic Tradition is prior to the papacy”. The papacy (the office of the Vicar of Christ) is obviously prior to the Apostolic Tradition because Christ vested Peter in the office of the Vicar of Christ before Pentecost. Pentecost is the date when the authority of the office of the Vicar of Christ was first exercised by Peter, and the Apostolic Tradition doesn’t begin to be manifested until after Pentecost.

    I would also like to note here that that before Pentecost, that Peter and the other Apostles fill the office that is vacant in Christ’s church by the suicide of Judas . That is done by appointing Matthias to the vacant office:

    In those days Peter stood up among the brethren (the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty), and said, “Brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas who was guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us, and was allotted his share in this ministry. … For it is written in the book of Psalms, `Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it’; and `His office let another take.’ So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us — one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
    Acts 2:15-22

    The original King James Version translated the word “office” in Acts 1:20: as “bishoprick”. The point of all this is that Peter is asserting his leadership as the holder of the office of the Vicar of Christ in the upper room, and he, along with the other ten Apostles gathered in the upper room, appoint Mathias to the office of bishop. The Apostles and their newly appointed bishop are waiting in the upper room to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). But what is that “baptism”? The Apostles had already received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at Easter:

    Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
    John 20:21-22

    So what exactly is this “baptism in the Holy Spirit” that the Apostles and their newly appointed bishop are are waiting for in the upper room? They are not waiting in the upper room to receive the Holy Spirit, since the Apostles had already received the Holy Spirit at Easter. They must be waiting for something else, and what they are waiting for is the baptism of fire.

    John [the Baptist] answered them all, “I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
    Luke 3:16

    “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!”
    Luke 12:49

    When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
    Acts 2:1-4

    What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, this baptism of fire? It is the outpouring of the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s Church.

    I would like to make a few points now about the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. One, the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are different from the seven sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord). The seven sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit are given by God when a person receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (which Peter and nine of the Apostles received on Easter Sunday – Thomas was not in the upper room on Easter and Judas was already dead). The Sacrament of Baptism is how one received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

    The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are enumerated in Isaiah 11:2-3. They are present in their fullness in Jesus Christ but are found in all Christians who are in a state of grace. We receive them when we are infused with sanctifying grace, the life of God within us—as, for example, when we receive a sacrament worthily. As the current Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, “They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them.” Infused with His gifts, we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as if by instinct, the way Christ Himself would.

    http://catholicism.about.com/od/beliefsteachings/tp/Gifts_of_the_Holy_Spirit.htm

    First point, the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit do not bestow sanctity upon a person.

    The sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit are for our personal sanctification (our holiness, which makes us justified before God). The charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for the building up of the body of Christ, not for our personal sanctification, which is my second point about the charismatic gifts.

    Third point, the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are not bestowed equally upon the members of Christ’s church whereas all Christians in a state of grace have the sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit.

    In Corinthians chapter 12 Paul speaks about the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit:

    Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 1 Cor 12:1-11)

    My last point about the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit is that even the damned can exercise the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit:

    “Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’
    Matthew 7:21-23

    Speaking prophecy, casting out demons, and doing mighty works (working of miracles) are all done through the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. Conclusion, Jesus teaches that manifesting the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are not signs of personal holiness, since even wicked men without the sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit can exercise the charismatic gifts.

    To sum up what I have said about offices within Christ’s church and the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit:

    Peter, the ten Apostles, and Mathias all held the office of bishop in Christ’s Church before Pentecost. Peter, as the first pope, also held the unique office of Vicar of Christ.

    At Pentecost, Peter, the ten Apostles, and Mathias “were filled with the Holy Spirit” and they began to manifest the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit.

    The first manifestation of the outpouring of the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit on Christ’s church to a world in need of the Good News, is Peter preaching the Gospel to the Jews in Jerusalem with power and authority. The entire Apostolic Tradition is taught by the power of the Holy Spirit that has fallen upon Christ’s church.

    Except for the gift of speaking under the gift of speaking under inspiration, the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit were not withheld from Christ’s church after the last Apostle died.

    The charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are not given equally to the members of Christ’s Church.

    The charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for the building up of the Body of Christ.

    Manifesting the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are not signs of personal sanctity. That includes manifesting the charism of infallibility. The principle that needs to be understood is that infallibility does not imply impeccability. Infallibility is a charismatic gift, and that gift does not bestow personal holiness, it is a gift given to build up the Body of Christ. Impeccability is about personal holiness, and impeccability would be achieved through the sanctifying gifts.

    Conclusion from the above. The Holy Spirit gives charismatic gifts to build up the Body of Christ, and these gifts are not distributed equally. The bishops are leaders in the Body of Christ and to the bishops alone is given the authority to define doctrine that is binding upon the whole church. The bishops are given a special charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit when solemnly defining doctrine, the charism of infallibility. The bishops cannot teach error at a valid Ecumenical Council because Christ’s church can never become a tool of Satan that spreads heresy. A bishop does not need to be holy, intelligent or wise to exercise the charism of infallibility, and neither does a pope.

    My main take away points: The Apostolic tradition and the official doctrine of Christ’s church is preserved from all error by the power of the Holy Spirit through the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. At a valid ecumenical council, the charismatic gift of infallibility is given to the bishops when they exercise the authority vested in their office of bishop as the teachers of Christ’s church.

    Canadian, do you have issue with what I have said above about office of bishop. the office of Vicar of Christ, and anyything I have said about the charismatic gifts? If you do, I would like to know, because every answer that I will give you depends upon these points. The response I am planning to write to Fr. Patrick’s lasted post to me depends upon these points too.

  272. Mateo (re:259)

    I agree with you comments regarding Fr. Patrick’s criteria. The only one with scintilla of objectivity is
    (4) called as such by the Emperor.

    On the surface it seems objective, but practically speaking its disasterous, and begs a whole host of other questions, Like;
    1. If there are two emperors in the empire, which one has the authority to call and Ecumenical Council?
    2a.)In a place where the Emperor has no jurisdiction like in Persia. Is it then ok for them to reject those councils they didn’t participate in, given the emperors lack of Jurisdiction in that area?
    2b.) Given that the Assyrian Church of the East has valid appostolic succesion, why are they not the Church Christ founded, rather than the Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox.

  273. Mateo,

    I don’t understand what you are saying here. Rome is a city. How could a city give an Ecumenical Council “an authority to overrule a confusing papal situation”? What is the referent for “Rome” in the your comment? Do you mean the actual geography of Rome?

    By Rome I mean the western Roman church….you guys. You Roman Catholics gave an Ecumenical Council authority to create a new pope! You gave the Council the power to annul the holder of the petrine office due to confusion, and instate a new one!
    Q.How do you know Constance is an Ecumenical Council? A. Because Martin V said so.
    Q.How do you know Martin V is the pope? A. Because Constance had an extraordinary circumstance and made him pope.
    I see a tired dog chasing his tail in circles, here. Somehow, you see a cat sleeping peacefully.

    At a valid ecumenical council, the charismatic gift of infallibility is given to the bishops when they exercise the authority vested in their office of bishop as the teachers of Christ’s church.

    Honestly, would you have me believe the bishops of the 5th Council did not have the gift of infallibility during the Council, and it was not until many months later and after incessant resistance, protest, waffling and written proclamations to the contrary, that pope Vigilius finally “ratified” (or rather, as the evidence would show submitted to) the Council—did it only become infallible then?
    So tell me as a faithful Catholic, 5 months after the 5th Council would you have obeyed the infallible 5th Council and her decrees, or the pope and his position? As Perry has brought out in his recent post at EP, on Catholic principles who would you obey? Would you have sided with the ecumenical Council or with your pope? Did the Council wait around all those months for papal ratification, or did they go home with assurance of a God-ordained mandate?
    Also, if the pope has full, universal, absolute, and immediate authority over the church, why did the Council not submit to the pope’s demands, in fearful obedience, before they ended the 5th Council?
    And why did your church not submit to popes #203, #204, #205, and #206 in your list of (retroactively) authorized successors of he-who-has-absolute-authority?

    So did the bishops of Constance infallibly create a pope? Or was infallibility withheld until papally approved?
    If the first, then Martin V’s papal infallibility requiredthe conciliar infallibility of Constance to bring it into existencebecause of the 3 pope debacle. (See the above dog chasing tail)
    If the second, Constance did not infallibly end the schism or bring Martin V to a position of infallible ratification at all.

  274. Fr. Patrick: I think that there are two distinct issues that must be kept in mind when speaking about the truth of a council and its ratification. One is what happens during the time of the Council and how the Holy Spirit manifests the teaching of Christ within the Council, especially in its decrees, and the other is the reception of the Council by the various churches or by the Pope after the Council is completed.

    Now, the Council expresses its decrees under inspiration of the Holy Spirit then those decrees must surely be true and authoritative at that point because they are written infallibly by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    I might agree with that. It all depends on what you mean by saying that decrees of valid Ecumenical Councils “are written infallibly by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” The sticking point here is your use of the word “inspiration”, which might be inappropriate, depending upon what you intended to really say. Since the scriptures are written under the charism of inspiration, the scriptures have a quality of being inspired, and hence, infallible. When valid Ecumenical Councils promulgate solemnly defined dogma, that dogma is infallible, but the dogma does not have the quality of inspiration. (See my post #137, this thread).

    I agree, of course, that solemnly defined dogma promulgated at a valid Ecumenical Council is infallible. I have no problem if what you are saying is that valid Ecumenical Councils promulgate solemnly dogma that “must surely be true and authoritative at that point” because of the action of the Holy Spirit.

    Whether or not the pope ratifies the decrees of a Council is hardly a matter or secondary importance for Catholics.

    Fr. Patrick: This means that the ratification is not necessary for the truth of the Council but only an aid to knowing that it is true.

    Agreed.

    Fr. Patrick: Should the Pope not ratify a true Council this would not stop it being true nor if he ratified a false Council would this make it true.

    I agree, of course, that the lack of papal ratification would not stop the truth from being true. The Pope’s ratification of a dogma does not make the dogma true, and neither did bishops solemn definition of a dogma at a valid Ecumenical Council make what they defined true. Obviously valid dogma must be true before it is solemnly defined. But it is impossible for a pope the ratify a false dogma that has been solemnly defined at an Ecumenical Council because God will never allow that to happen. It is not impossible, however, for bishops to define dogma that is false at Councils that were called as Ecumenical Councils. Bishops have done that many times.

    Fr. Patrick: If the Pope was always right about the truth of a Council then this would assume that the Pope has a gift of infallibly knowing the truth and that he cannot/will not lie about this knowledge.

    Since God will not allow a pope to ratify a false doctrine that was solemnly promulgated by bishops at an Ecumenical Council, we don’t have to assume anything about what the pope knows, or whether he might have the intention of being a deceiver. We simply have to trust Christ in his promise that the gates of hell would never prevail against his church.

    Fr. Patrick: But this is not part of the formal definition of Papal primacy because he is not defining a doctrine or similar but the Fathers of the Council are doing so, particularly when he is not personally present.

    The doctrine of Petrine Primacy does not mean that the pope has to personally define the doctrine at an Ecumenical Council. The bishops can define the doctrine, and the pope may only ratify what the bishops have defined. I think that we are in agreement about that.

    Fr. Patrick: Now the response from Vatican 1 would be that he is defining the doctrine through the Council by calling it.

    I honestly have no idea where you get this idea,. Why would the pope calling an Ecumenical Council be the equivalent of the pope solemnly defining dogma?

    Fr. Patrick: But this fails for the first seven Ecumenical Councils because he did not call them and he did not personally attend, although he may have sent a letter and delegates to speak for himself. So another defined power needs to be made for the Pope to ratify correctly.

    It only fails a test that you have pulled from who knows where. Did the Pope call the second Council that the EO accept as valid? That Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges that Pope Damasus did not call that Council:

    The Second General Synod (381) was not, at first, intended to be Ecumenical; it only became so because it was accepted in the West …

    The Synod of Constantinople (381) in which the Nicene Creed received its present form — the one used at Mass — had in itself no claim to be Ecumenical. Before Pope Damasus and the Western bishops had seen its full Acts they condemned certain of its proceedings at an Italian synod, but on receiving the Acts, Damasus, so we are told by Photius, confirmed them. Photius, however, is only right with regard to the Creed, or Symbol of Faith: the canons of this council were still rejected by Leo the Great and even by Gregory the Great (about 600). A proof that the Creed of Constantinople enjoyed papal sanction may be drawn from the way in which the Roman legates at the Fourth General Synod (Chalcedon, 451) allowed, without any protest, appeals to this Creed, while at the same time they energetically protested against the canons of the council. It was on account of the papal approbation of the Creed that, in the sixth century, Popes Vigilius, Pelagius II, and Gregory the Great declared this council Ecumenical, although Gregory still refused to sanction its canons. The First Synod of Constantinople presents, then, an instance of a minimum of papal co-operation impressing on a particular council the mark of universality. The normal co-operation, however, requires on the part of the head of the Church more than a post-factum acknowledgment.

    Ref: Catholic Encyclopedia article General Councils.

    That Pope Damasus did not convoke the second general council, does not mean that “ another defined power needs to be made for the Pope to ratify correctly.”

    Fr. Patrick: The papacy by its own definition only has the gift of the Holy Spirit to preserve undefiled Apostolic Tradition and not to define new doctrine etc (Vatican 1) Thus, the Apostolic Tradition is prior to the papacy and so is not dependant on the papacy as its source but only its preservation.

    See my post # 265 for why I disagree with your assertion that the Apostolic tradition is prior to the establishment of the Petrine Office. Can the pope define new doctrine? It all depends on what you mean by new. Neither the pope, nor the bishops can define novel doctrine that contradicts the faith handed down by the Apostles. But that does not preclude them from solemnly defining doctrine that has never been solemnly defined.

    Fr. Patrick: This means that Apostolic Tradition can be tested independently of the papacy and the truth claims of the papacy can be examined against other sources of evidence of Apostolic Tradition. This is reinforced by the teaching that decisions of the Pope are irreformable (Vatican 1) including all the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils because it is claimed that they are called as part of his teaching function, which also makes the Councils valid evidence to test self-consistency of the papal claim.

    How, exactly, would you go about testing the Apostolic Tradition independently of the papacy? When Ecumenical Councils are called to settle once and for all a question of the faith, it is because there is typically someone that is teaching something that he believes is true, but isn’t true. The Eastern bishops became Arian heretics in large numbers, but I would not accuse them of being deceivers that knew better. They were confused about the Apostolic Tradition, and they could, and did, quote scriptures and give logical arguments to support what they believed.

    Fr. Patrick: Therefore if it can be shown that the papacy has not preserved undefiled the Apostolic Tradition, especially if it contradicts itself or any accepted doctrine or canon of an Ecumenical Council or the Scriptures, then it has no gift of infallibility of the Holy Spirit.

    I agree that if you could prove that the pope ratified a doctrine at an Ecumenical Council that contradicted the faith handed down by the Apostles, then papal ratification would been shown to be worthless as a criterion for determining the validity of an Ecumenical Council. That said, the canons of Ecumenical Councils can include matter of church discipline, and church discipline is not the same thing as church doctrine. Church doctrines are never reformable, but canons involving church discipline are always reformable (for example, canon 20 of first Nicaea forbade kneeling on a Sunday, which is a canon involving church discipline, not church doctrine). You don’t plan on proving that the Catholic Church has corrupted the faith because we kneel on Sundays do you?

    Fr. Patrick: This is the Orthodox claim; they show that the papacy has not keep the Apostolic Tradition(s) undefiled so it cannot have any infallibility. The arguments need to be whether or not it has done so and these arguments cannot rely/assume on papal interpretation of the evidence or authority about the evidence. Thus, the only way to know whether to be Roman Catholic or Orthodox is to examine the evidence and the various interpretations that they both mutually claim and also individually claim to be Apostolic, including the Scriptures, and see which one one thinks, on one’s own reading of the evidence and reasons, is true to its claim of preserving Apostolic Tradition. Since this is the only way to test then it must be a possible and valid test and not one that is merely subjective or at least every one is in the same position. Also it must be possible to know the truth of a claimed Ecumenical Council by testing its claim of consistency to the truth with needing an authority to tell you, so the conditions that I set out are sufficient.

    So now we get to the heart of the matter. It seems to me that you are claiming that you can prove that Catholic Church has corrupted the faith handed down by the Apostles. And you are going to do that by quoting to me the scriptures and giving me your personal interpretation of scriptures to make your proof. You might even toss in some selectively picked quotes from the Early Church Fathers to back up your personal interpretation of scriptures. Thousands upon thousands of Protestant sects claims that they can do the same thing. So your proof is going to be one among thousand upon thousands of “proofs” that contradict each other. Why should I accept your “proof” and not one of the tens of thousands of other proofs that are also dependent on the personal interpretation of scriptures, and the selective quotation of the Early Church Fathers?

  275. Canadian: By Rome I mean the western Roman church….you guys. You Roman Catholics gave an Ecumenical Council authority to create a new pope! You gave the Council the power to annul the holder of the petrine office due to confusion, and instate a new one!
    Q.How do you know Constance is an Ecumenical Council? A. Because Martin V said so.
    Q.How do you know Martin V is the pope? A. Because Constance had an extraordinary circumstance and made him pope.

    I see a tired dog chasing his tail in circles, here. Somehow, you see a cat sleeping peacefully.

    I don’t know about cats sleeping peacefully, but papal ratification of dogmas promulgated at Ecumenical Councils is one of the most important criteria for discerning the validity of an Ecumenical Council. I don’t want to lose sight of that in our discussion. Let us compare the Council of Constance with the Council of Trent and how Petrine primacy played out in those two councils.

    COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE

    Years: 1414-1418

    The Council of Constance was held during the great Schism of the West, with the object of ending the divisions in the Church. It became legitimate only when Gregory XI had formally convoked it. Owing to this circumstance it succeeded in putting an end to the schism by the election of Pope Martin V, which the Council of Pisa (1403) had failed to accomplish on account of its illegality. The rightful pope confirmed the former decrees of the synod against Wyclif and Hus. This council is thus ecumenical only in its last sessions (42-45 inclusive) and with respect to the decrees of earlier sessions approved by Martin V.

    ————————————————————–

    COUNCIL OF TRENT

    Years: 1545-1563

    Summary: The Council of Trent lasted eighteen years (1545-1563) under five popes: Paul III, Julius III, Marcellus II, Paul IV and Pius IV, and under the Emperors Charles V and Ferdinand. There were present 5 cardinal legates of the Holy See, 3 patriarchs, 33 archbishops, 235 bishops, 7 abbots, 7 generals of monastic orders, and 160 doctors of divinity. It was convoked to examine and condemn the errors promulgated by Luther and other Reformers, and to reform the discipline of the Church. Of all councils it lasted longest, issued the largest number of dogmatic and reformatory decrees, and produced the most beneficial results.

    Ref: New Advent website, The 21 Ecumenical Councils
    http://www.newadvent.org/library/almanac_14388a.htm

    The Council of Trent is far more significant in terms of doctrinal content than the Council of Constance. Trent lasted eighteen years, and was held under five popes. That means four popes died while Trent was convoked, and the cardinals had to elect new popes during the Council of Trent. At Trent, Pius IV had to ratify dogma that was promulgated by bishops in a Council convoked by Paul III. At Constance, Martin V had to ratify decrees in a Council that became legitimate only when Gregory XI formally convoked it. I don’t see ‘circularity’ in either Constance or Trent, I see linearity. One pope may convoke a council, but another pope entirely may end up ratifying the decrees of the Council. The principle that Ecumenical Councils must be affirmed by a pope, does not mean that the pope that convoked the council must be the pope that affirms the decrees of a Council.

    Canadian: So did the bishops of Constance infallibly create a pope?

    Infallibility is a charism of the Holy Spirit that is exercised by the teaching office of Christ’s church when doctrine is taught. Cardinals elect popes, and the Holy Spirit does guide the cardinals during the election. Is that guidance an absolute guarantee that the right man was picked to hold the Petrine Office? I wouldn’t go that far, but then, I am only speculating on that point. Can a council depose a pope – perhaps that is the question to ask. That exact question is addressed by the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    Can a council depose the pope?

    This question is a legitimate one, for in the history of the Church circumstances have arisen in which several pretenders contended for papal authority and councils were called upon to remove certain claimants. The Councils of Constance and Basle, and Gallican theologians, hold that a council may depose a pope on two main grounds:

    ob mores (for his conduct or behaviour, e.g. his resistance to the synod)
    ob fidem (on account of his faith or rather want of faith, i.e. heresy).

    In point of fact, however, heresy is the only legitimate ground. For a heretical pope has ceased to be a member of the Church, and cannot, therefore, be its head. A sinful pope, on the other hand, remains a member of the (visible) Church and is to be treated as a sinful, unjust ruler for whom we must pray, but from whom we may not withdraw our obedience.

    But the question assumes another aspect when a number of claimants pretend to be the rightful occupants of the Apostolic See, and the right of each is doubtful. In such a case the council, according to Bellarmine (Disputationes, II xix, de Conciliis) has a right to examine the several claims and to depose the pretenders whose claims are unfounded. This was done at the Synod of Constance. But during this process of examination the synod is not yet Ecumenical; it only becomes so the moment the rightful pope assents to its proceedings. It is evident that this is no instance of a legitimate pope being deposed by a legitimate council, but simply the removal of pretender by those on whom he wishes to impose will.

    Not even John XXIII could have been deposed at Constance, had his election not been doubtful and himself suspected of heresy. John XXIII, moreover, abdicated and by his abdication made his removal from the Apostolic See lawful. In all controversies and complaints regarding Rome the rule laid down by the Eighth General Synod should never be lost sight of: “If a universal synod be assembled and any ambiguity or controversy arise concerning the Holy Church of the Romans, the question should be examined and solved with due reverence and veneration, in a spirit of mutual helpfulness; no sentence should be audaciously pronounced against the supreme pontiff of the elder Rome” (can. xxi. Hefele, IV, 421-22).

    Ref: Catholic Encyclopedia article General Councils
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04423f.htm

    Canadian: Honestly, would you have me believe the bishops of the 5th Council did not have the gift of infallibility during the Council …

    No, I would not. For sure, the bishops have exercised the charism of infallibility at an Ecumenical Council when the dogma they solemnly promulgate is affirmed later by the holder of the Petrine Office. If it took fifty years for a pope to affirm the dogma that the bishops solemnly defined, it would mean that the bishops exercised the charismatic gift of infallibility fifty years before the pope. It is usually the case that at Ecumenical Councils, the bishops exercise the charism of infallibility in solemnly defining dogma before the pope exercises the charism of infallibility in affirming the dogmas defined by the bishops.

    That the pope is not subordinate to the authority of an Ecumenical Council does not mean that the pope is superior in authority to an Ecumenical Council.

    Is a council above a pope?

    … General councils represent the Church; the pope therefore stands to them in the same relation as he stands to the Church. But that relation is one of neither superiority nor inferiority, but of intrinsic cohesion: the pope is neither above nor below the Church, but in it as the centre is in the circle, as intellect and will are in the soul. By taking our stand on the Scriptural doctrine that the Church is the mystical body of Christ of which the pope is the visible head, we see at once that a council apart from the pope is but a lifeless trunk, a “rump parliament”, no matter how well attended it be.

    Ref: Catholic Encyclopedia article General Councils
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04423f.htm

    Canadian: … it was not until many months later and after incessant resistance, protest, waffling and written proclamations to the contrary, that pope Vigilius finally “ratified” (or rather, as the evidence would show submitted to) the Council—did it only become infallible then?

    It seems obvious to me that what is true doctrinally is true prior to the Council, especially when we are talking about doctrines involving eternal truths, such as the eternal begetting of the Son by the Father. So no, the truth didn’t become true when the pope ratified the doctrine, anymore than the truth became true when the bishops defined the doctrine. Likewise, what is false doctrine before it is defined remains false doctrine after it is defined. The “Robber Council” of Ephesus defined doctrine, but the bishops at that Council defined false doctrine. Therefore, the “Robber Council” Ephesus, even though it was called as an Ecumenical Council, is not a valid Ecumenical Council. So it is absolutely vital to know the criteria that establishes the validity of an Ecumenical Council.

    The bishops of the Catholic Church can tell you the objective criteria that determines the validity of an Ecumenical Council. The bishops of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, tell you … well, what exactly do their bishops tell you when you ask them what constitutes the necessary criteria that makes an Ecumenical Council valid ? You can get from both the EO and OO bishops nebulous criteria such as: Ecumenical Councils teach the truth; Ecumenical Councils do not contradict the faith handed down by the Apostles; the truth taught by Ecumenical Councils is guaranteed by the action of the Holy Spirit; etc. True statements, but useless as far as objective criteria that Joe and Suzy Seeker need for determining whether to accept, three, seven or twenty-one Ecumenical Councils. At least that is my experience in seeking out what EO and OO bishops have written in books and in online catechisms about the criteria that determines the validity of Ecumenical Councils. Certainly I haven’t read everything that might have been written by EO and OO bishops, not by a long shot. Perhaps if I could locate the right sources, the EO and the OO bishops really do have something more than nebulous criteria for determining the validity of an Ecumenical Council. If you find out what that objective criteria is, I would sure like to know about it, and so would a lot of other Catholics.

    Canadian, as a person receiving instruction in the Eastern Orthodox Church, you are in a unique position. Why don’t you ask your catechist what constitutes the objective criteria for determining the validity of an Ecumenical Council? Then, please, tell us at CTC what answer you received.

    Blessings to you, and may the Spirit of Truth guide you on your journey!

  276. One pope may convoke a council, but another pope entirely may end up ratifying the decrees of the Council

    This is not what I was adressing, I already made that clear.

    It became legitimate only when Gregory XI had formally convoked it.

    Your own encyclopedia shows that he was not pope then and that the schism began after his death. If you meant Gregory XII then now you will have to explain two dogs chasing their tails as you have to explain how a pope not known to be valid, authoritatively through a second party, not only convokes a council but pre-ratifies it’s acts. Wow, now you have both post and pre-emptive attempts to get Constance covered.

    The Council of Constance finally put an end to the intolerable situation of the Church. At the fourteenth session (4 July, 1415) a Bull of Gregory XII was read which appointed Malatesta and Cardinal Dominici of Ragusa as his proxies at the council. The cardinal then read a mandatory of Gregory XII which convoked the council and authorized its succeeding acts. Hereupon Malatesta, acting in the name of Gregory XII, pronounced the resignation of the papacy by Gregory XII and handed a written copy of the resignation to the assembly

    In addition to this you will need explain why only sessions 42-45 along with the condemnation of Wycliffe and Hus were all that Martin V ratified. He did not ratify the 14 session!

    You can get from both the EO and OO bishops nebulous criteria

    All that surrounds this period of 4 popes that are now considered valid but were not obeyed, 3 popes removed a new one put in, pre-ratifying of Constance by a dead pope in one article and pre-ratifying by an unrecognized pope the NON-Ecumenical portion of a Council, etc, etc. Talk about nebulous! Your own Conciliarists from this period cry out against your claims.

  277. Canadian, (re: #276)

    You wrote:

    If you meant Gregory XII then now you will have to explain two dogs chasing their tails as you have to explain how a pope not known to be valid, authoritatively through a second party, not only convokes a council but pre-ratifies it’s acts.

    Pope Gregory XII did not “pre-ratify” any of the Council’s decisions. To authorize the convening of the Council is not the same thing as “pre-ratifying” its conclusion. Also, authorization of the Council by the true pope (Pope Gregory XII) did not require that the participants in the Council know for sure which of the three men was the actual pope. His authorization of the Council was genuine, because he was the actual and only true pope at the time. The Council said the following:

    this most holy general synod of Constance, legitimately assembled in the holy Spirit and representing the catholic church, accepts in all matters the convoking, authorising, approving and confirming that is now being made in the name of the lord who is called Gregory XII

    Notice that they accepted the “convoking, authorizing, approving and confirming” by Pope Gregory XII.

    You wrote:

    In addition to this you will need explain why only sessions 42-45 along with the condemnation of Wycliffe and Hus were all that Martin V ratified. He did not ratify the 14 session!

    No one here needs to explain why popes make the decisions they make. They have the keys of the Kingdom, and what they bind on earth is bound in heaven.

    All that surrounds this period of 4 popes that are now considered valid but were not obeyed, 3 popes removed a new one put in, pre-ratifying of Constance by a dead pope in one article and pre-ratifying by an unrecognized pope the NON-Ecumenical portion of a Council, etc, etc.

    The Council of Constance did not remove any pope. Pope Gregory XII, who was the actual pope, voluntarily resigned in July of 1415, in Session 14, after authorizing the convocation of the Council. Moreover, nothing was “pre-ratified” by any pope or anti-pope.

    The Council’s acceptance of Pope Gregory XII’s resignation from the papacy reads as follows:

    The most holy general synod of Constance, legitimately assembled in the holy Spirit, representing the universal catholic church, accepts, approves and commends, in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy Spirit, the cession renunciation and resignation made on behalf of the lord who was called Gregory XII in his obedience, by the magnificent and powerful lord Charles Malatesta. here present, his irrevocable procurator for this business, of the right, title and possession that he had, or may have had, in regard to the papacy.

    In #273 you wrote:

    You Roman Catholics gave an Ecumenical Council authority to create a new pope!

    Pope Gregory XII gave the Council of Constance the authority to elect a new pope, and then he [Pope Gregory XII] resigned. Whenever a pope dies, the Cardinals elect a new pope. Electing a new pope is not something that contradicts Catholic doctrine.

    You gave the Council the power to annul the holder of the petrine office due to confusion, and instate a new one!

    No, the Council never “annuled” Pope Gregory’s XII papacy. He voluntarily abdicated the papacy, and the Council accepted it.

    Q.How do you know Constance is an Ecumenical Council? A. Because Martin V said so.
    Q.How do you know Martin V is the pope? A. Because Constance had an extraordinary circumstance and made him pope.
    I see a tired dog chasing his tail in circles, here. Somehow, you see a cat sleeping peacefully.

    It is not a “circle,” because Constance had its authority by the authorization given to it by Pope Gregory XII, just as the pope today appoints cardinals, and then when the pope dies, the cardinals select a new pope. Constance did not give Pope Gregory XII his authority, so it is not a circle. Constance had its ratification from Pope Martin V, but that does not mean that the papal office was given its authority by Constance. Rather, Constance had the authority (from Pope Gregory XII) to select a another man to hold that office. But that doesn’t mean that they (i.e. Constance) had the full authority of that office, such that their decisions did not need papal ratification.

    You wrote:

    So did the bishops of Constance infallibly create a pope? Or was infallibility withheld until papally approved?
    If the first, then Martin V’s papal infallibility requiredthe conciliar infallibility of Constance to bring it into existencebecause of the 3 pope debacle. (See the above dog chasing tail)
    If the second, Constance did not infallibly end the schism or bring Martin V to a position of infallible ratification at all.

    Only when the Church is defining doctrines in faith and morality do we know the Church to be guarded by the charism of infallibility. Of course we believe the Holy Spirit to be guiding the selection of new popes, but there is no Church doctrine teaching that the elections of new popes are infallible. Infallibility is not relevant to this particular event. What matters here is authority. First, was the Council of Constance authorized to select a new pope? Yes, by Pope Gregory XII, prior to his resignation. Second, was the Council of Constance an ecumenical council, and if so, how? Yes, because it was ratified (or rather, parts of it were ratified) by the newly elected pope, Pope Martin V.

    In comment #270, you wrote:

    This is an ecumenical Council and it was the occasion to authoritatively bring papal authority into effect! I know ecumenical Councils are not needed to elect popes, but in my mind the circularity is obvious here. You can’t just reduce this to an elected pope in succession simply ratifying an Ecumenical Council, but the Council had to bring about the condition of it’s own ratification. Constance seems to have authority to declare a pope but you say Constance really has no authority until ratified by the pope it created. When Constance acts authoritatively to elect a pope, there is no sitting pope presiding which will only have to accept it’s proceedings. Constance acts with an authority of it’s own to bring into existance the conditions of it’s own ratification, but you turn and deny that the Orthodox have a right to accept the authority of an ecumenical Council’s authority without a pope’s ratification.

    Again, it is as if you think there is some kind of circularity problem if Cardinals elect new popes, and new popes appoint Cardinals. That would be a circularity problem only if the Pope received his authority from the Cardinals who elected him, and they received their authority from that same Pope. But, that’s not the way it is, as you know. Having the authority to elect a person to hold an office does not mean that one must have the authority of that office. Yes, Constance had the authority to elect a pope. It had received that authority from Pope Gregory XII. But that does not ipso facto make Constance an ecumenical council. Papal authorization is not the same as papal ratification. In order to be an ecumenical council, it required papal ratification. And that was given to it (actually to parts of it) by Pope Martin V. Because you’re not seeing the difference between authorization and ratification, you’re creating a false dilemma: Either Constance had no authority, or it had all authority, i.e. all the authority of an ecumenical council. But that’s a false dilemma, because it had authority in one sense by its authorization (from Pope Gregory XII), but it didn’t yet have authority in another sense (i.e. ratification). And when it was ratified by Pope Martin V, only parts of it were ratified.

    All this on the Council of Constance takes us way off the topic of this thread. So, if you and mateo wish to continue, I recommend that you either take it to a private email discussion, or get back to the topic of the post.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  278. Mateo,

    I don’t know from where you are taking your ideas about the meaning of inspiration. As I quoted from the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, the Fathers considered that the previous Holy Fathers were inspired in their teachings, so to limit inspiration to merely Scriptures seems contrary to the decrees of the Fathers.

    Please show me a conciliar or papal decree that says this: “But it is impossible for a pope the ratify a false dogma that has been solemnly defined at an Ecumenical Council because God will never allow that to happen.” It you can admit this to be the case, that God will not allow something to happen, then you must also admit my claim that God will never allow a heretical Ecumenical Council to persist for more than a generation before having it overturned by a true council and this can occur without the need of the Pope because our hope is ultimately in God and one cannot say that God can only work through the Pope.

    This quote from the decrees of Vatican I are the reason for him defining a doctrine through a council:

    The Roman pontiffs, too, as the circumstances of the time or the state of affairs suggested, sometimes by summoning ecumenical councils or consulting the opinion of the churches scattered throughout the world, sometimes by special synods, sometimes by taking advantage of other useful means afforded by divine providence, defined as doctrines to be held those things which, by God’s help, they knew to be in keeping with sacred scripture and the apostolic traditions.

    And then the definition for infallibility:

    we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church, irreformable.

    This only covers the situation of the Pope defining a doctrine, not a council and it says nothing about ratify the doctrine defined by others. So, by what Roman Catholic doctrine are you claiming that the Pope cannot err in ratifying a Council. Please quote. If there is no such doctrine then surely you are defining this on your own personal judgment and, by your own admission, the doctrine defined by the Ecumenical Councils cannot be guaranteed true by the Pope, since there is no authority to say that this is the case apart from your private judgment. Hence Papal ratification is not able to assist us reliably in telling the truth of a Council. I know many say that a council must be ratified but where is the doctrine that the Pope cannot fail in this ratification?

    In terms of priority, St Peter was given the keys after confessing the truth about Christ and this faith is what he is appointed to preserve, which is revealed to him and so prior to him. Likewise for Apostolic Tradition in terms of the successors of St Peter, unless you wish to deny that the faith was given in Tradition once to the saints?

    Because someone is sincere in their belief and provide logical arguments for it does not mean that one cannot prove them wrong and inconsistent with themselves and the written and unwritten testimonies of tradition. This is exactly what St Athanasius did with the Arians and St Cyril with the Nestorians and St Leo with the Monophysites and St Maximus with the Monothelites. If you don’t think that reason can be used to determine the truth then why are you engaging with reasoned arguments here? You are reasoning yourself to simply repeat the mantra: “The Pope so said and we so believe, reasoned arguments are useless, The Pope so said so we believe.” except of course there is no good reason why you are saying this, it must be an accident of life that you do say it or it is a Calvinist predetermination.

    It is a point of difference between Orthodox and Roman Catholics about the reformability of the canons, so one cannot use it to prove something. St Leo did not think that any of the canons of Nicaea are reformable and the first canon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council explicitly forbids any such notion, without any distinction that you put forward. That Roman Catholics kneel on Sundays in the teaching that the canon has no effect any more is indeed proof that they have not remained consistent with Apostolic Tradition in teaching and practice. This goes to the heart of the Schism and why it occurred. Just like the fall of Adam and Eve, it was primarily for persistent disobedience to Tradition that Old Rome fell.

    My answer to your last charge is for you to prove to me that Roman Catholicism is consistent with Apostolic Tradition or even that the Orthodox Church is not consistent with Apostolic Tradition, to justify your heresy (which you share accepting the teachings of Old Rome) for which you are justly excluded from the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, without saying that the Pope said so because this must be shown to be accepted. Also you, by answering in your own words, must prove that this is not your own personal opinion and your proof cannot be with reference to the Scriptures nor to quotes from the Fathers and Councils because you allege that such proofs are personal and Protestant. You need to show me another way of proving the truth of a Christian position that does not rely on interpreting the Scriptures and quoting the Fathers, even those of recent times including those gathered in Councils and any Popes, to prove that such a method means being Protestant and why I should distinguish your personal proof against the Holy Orthodox Church from those of Protestants. (P.S. I have deliberately stated that you are in heresy for you to recognise that the onus is on you to justify yourself and your position and not to assume that you are in the Church nor even in the Catholic Church of the Fathers, including Pope St Leo. It is not intended as an insult or mere name calling.)

  279. From the article on Constance:

    The promised resignation of Gregory XII was now in order, and was accomplished with the dignity to be expected from the pope usually considered by Catholic historians the legitimate occupant of the See of Peter, though at this time his obedience had practically vanished, being confined to Rimini and a few German dioceses.Through his protector and plenipotentiary, Carlo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini, he posited as conditions that the council should be reconvoked by himself, and that in the session which accepted his resignation neither Baldassare Cossa nor any representative of him should preside. The council agreed to these conditions. The fourteenth session (4 July, 1415) had, therefore, for its president the Emperor Sigismund, whereby it appeared, as the supporters of Gregory wished it to appear, that hitherto the council was an assembly convoked by the civil authority. The famous Dominican Cardinal John of Ragusa (Johannes Dominici), friend and adviser of Gregory XII, and since 19 Dec., 1414, the pope’s representative at Constance, convoked anew the council in the pope’s name and authorized its future acts. The reunion of both obediences (Gregory XII and John XXIII) was then proclaimed, whereupon the Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia (Viviers) assumed the presidency, and Malatesta pronounced, in the name of Gregory, the latter’s abdication of all right whatsoever to the papacy. Gregory confirmed these acts in the seventeenth session (14 July) and was himself confirmed as Cardinal-Bishop of Porto, Dean of the Sacred College and perpetual Legate of Ancona, in which position he died (18 Oct., 1417) at Recanati, in his ninetieth year in the odour of sanctity. From the fourteenth session, in which he convoked the council, it is considered by many with Phillips (Kirchenrecht, I, 256) a legitimate general council.

    So Gregory XII is usually (and obviously retroactively) considered the legitimate pope, usually but not unanimously? Earlier, Mateo told me John XXIII and not Gregory XII convoked Constance and was the legitimate pope, you guys still aren’t sure. Bryan, it seems you are relying heavily on the validity of what was then not known by the church, “except for a few German diocese”, that the now seemingly obvious (usually) Pope Gregory XII was the pope all along. But Constance was called to solve the papal schism!
    He desires to reconvoke the Council in session 14 in his own name. That means it must not have been originally convoked by him. So the council is re-convoked by Gregory and it’s “future acts are authorized”. That must be because Gregory is going to resign and someone has to “authorize or ratify” that act itself, especially because Martin V doesn’t ratify it…..but wait, Gregory is back in the 17 session to “confirm these acts” anyway, resignation-handed-in-and-all!?!?
    Then Sigisimund is in charge because Gregory wanted it to appear that this was, up until then, a civilly convoked council! So far, there have been references to Conciliarists, John XXIII, Gregory XII and Sigisimund to be the convoker of this Council, did I miss any one?
    Finally, it is considered by many to be a legitimate general Council from session 14 on. Many but not all? So it is General but not Ecumenical until the 45th?
    It says Gregory died in the odour of sanctity, all joking aside—I hope so. However, I can’t help but smell a different odour in all this. I guess I just don’t have a Catholic nose.

    Notice that they accepted the “convoking, authorizing, approving and confirming” by Pope Gregory XII…..The Council of Constance did not remove any pope. Pope Gregory XII, who was the actual pope, voluntarily resigned in July of 1415, in Session 14, after authorizing the convocation of the Council.

    If everyone was so sure, there would have been no need for a conciliar act to bring into existence a different “actual pope”. That’s the point, this confusion required this Ecumenical Council to bring in an “actual pope”!

    All this on the Council of Constance takes us way off the topic of this thread. So, if you and mateo wish to continue, I recommend that you either take it to a private email discussion, or get back to the topic of the post.

    I have repeatedly shown why I think it is relevant to discuss it. You have charged the Orthodox for not using papal authority to recognize EC’s.Yet your 16th Ecumenical Council was covoked to solve the problem of unrecognizable papal authority. If the church knew at the time Gregory was the pope they would have simply requested he depose the imposters and take his rightful place. But it took this Council to procure this, not just a simple papal resignation and new election as you are trying to pass this off as. I am only bringing out what it seems many of your own Conciliarists of those centuries already had. And this only reinforces for me that Orthodoxy has the rightful claim to be the guardian of Holy Tradition.

  280. Canadian, (re: #279)

    You wrote:

    So Gregory XII is usually (and obviously retroactively) considered the legitimate pope, usually but not unanimously?

    Sometimes historians make mistakes. But in this matter, there is no uncertainty on the part of the Church. Pope Gregory XII is recognized to have been the true pope, because Urban VI was the true pope when Robert of Geneva became antipope in 1378, and Gregory XII was the third after Urban VI, in his line of succession. In other words, Pope Gregory XII being the true pope follows from Urban VI being the true pope in the late 14th century.

    You wrote:

    Earlier, Mateo told me John XXIII and not Gregory XII convoked Constance and was the legitimate pope, you guys still aren’t sure.

    John XXIII also did as well earlier, but since he was not the actual pope, his convocation was not authoritative.

    Bryan, it seems you are relying heavily on the validity of what was then not known by the church, “except for a few German diocese”, that the now seemingly obvious (usually) Pope Gregory XII was the pope all along.

    Nothing that I said in my previous comment depends on the bishops who participated in the Council of Constance knowing that Pope Gregory XII was the actual pope.

    But Constance was called to solve the papal schism!

    True.

    He desires to reconvoke the Council in session 14 in his own name. That means it must not have been originally convoked by him.

    Correct. See my comment above about John XXIII.

    So the council is re-convoked by Gregory and it’s “future acts are authorized”. That must be because Gregory is going to resign and someone has to “authorize or ratify” that act itself, especially because Martin V doesn’t ratify it

    No one has to authorize a pope’s resignation.

    …..but wait, Gregory is back in the 17 session to “confirm these acts” anyway, resignation-handed-in-and-all!?!?

    If I remember correctly, Pope Gregory XII was not at the council; he appointed two persons to represent him, and act on his behalf.

    Then Sigisimund is in charge because Gregory wanted it to appear that this was, up until then, a civilly convoked council! So far, there have been references to Conciliarists, John XXIII, Gregory XII and Sigisimund to be the convoker of this Council, did I miss any one?

    Sigisimund’s having a role in the council is fully compatible with Pope Gregory XII having a role, and John XXIII having a role. They each had a different role, so there is no contradiction here.

    Finally, it is considered by many to be a legitimate general Council from session 14 on. Many but not all? So it is General but not Ecumenical until the 45th?

    Again, your desire for unanimity is a reflection of the influence on you of the time and culture in which you live, in which everything is treated as though it must meet the rigorous standards of publicly verifiable empirical science, such that there be no dispute among observers, if it is to be true and knowable. But that’s not a safe methodological assumption. According to the Catholic Church, the Council of Constance is an ecumenical council, and this is a settled matter.

    It says Gregory died in the odour of sanctity, all joking aside—I hope so. However, I can’t help but smell a different odour in all this. I guess I just don’t have a Catholic nose.

    Statements about yourself, and your subjective response to the Catholic account, are quite compatible with everything I’ve said being true; they don’t refute anything I’ve said, but they do reveal your own stance/disposition, which, seems to me to be unnecessarily hostile and antagonistic, especially for someone in your position. As a person in the catechumen stage, perhaps you shouldn’t be trusting your nose, because it is not yet well-formed. When you’re so set on demonstrating that we’re wrong, your mind is not open to seeing how Constance is fully compatible with Catholic teaching.

    If everyone was so sure, there would have been no need for a conciliar act to bring into existence a different “actual pope”.

    I agree. I never said everyone was so sure. So, you’re criticizing a straw man.

    I have repeatedly shown why I think it is relevant to discuss it.

    I agree that it is “relevant to discuss it,” but the problem is that just about everything in Church history is “relevant to discuss” in a thread on Catholic-Orthodox reunion and papal primacy, so in order to have any sort of disciplined conversation, and not meander in an intellectually undisciplined way from one council to another, and one pope to another, and one doctrine to another, the topic needs to stay within the bounds defined above. Otherwise, the discussion sinks into sophistry, as persons grab any incident or event from history, and throw it into the discussion (hoping something sticks), rather than stay focused and disciplined on the topic of the post. As I’ve said above, this particular thread isn’t the place to go into the details about a particular ecumenical council.

    You have charged the Orthodox for not using papal authority to recognize EC’s. Yet your 16th Ecumenical Council was convoked to solve the problem of unrecognizable papal authority.

    True. You have not yet shown any incompatibility between what the Catholic Church teaches, and what happened at Constance.

    If the church knew at the time Gregory was the pope they would have simply requested he depose the imposters and take his rightful place.

    I completely agree.

    But it took this Council to procure this, not just a simple papal resignation and new election as you are trying to pass this off as.

    I never claimed that a “simple papal resignation and new election” were sufficient to address the problem. I agree that the Council was needed. That is fully compatible with everything I said above being true, and with everything the Catholic Church teaches being true.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  281. The original videos in the post appear to have been removed from YouTube. I believe that this is the same keynote address…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcZSU7SGYRI

  282. Does anyone know of a good book that discusses the East/West schism from a historical standpoint?

  283. Metropolitan Kallistos Ware: “Orthodox-Catholic Relations,” a lecture at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary, February 19, 2011.

  284. Position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the problem of primacy in the Universal Church” (Dec 26, 2013)

    Response by Metropolitan of Bursa and exarch of Bithynia, Elpidophoros Lambriniadis (first secretary of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople), titled “First Without Equals: A Response to the Text on Primacy of the Moscow Patriarchate.” (UPDATE: The document is now here.)

    Yesterday, AsiaNews posted an article titled “Bartholomew convokes the Primates of the Orthodox Churches,” which includes the following:

    The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has convoked the patriarchs and archbishops of all the Orthodox Churches to a meeting in Istanbul, next March, for an exchange of views on the guidelines and timeframe for the Preparatory Commission of the Pan-Orthodox Synod, scheduled for 2015. …

    In addition to talk of the Preparatory Commission, next March’s encounter is also motivated by Constantinople’s desire to remind sister [Orthodox] churches that they cannot face the challenges of a economically globalized but spiritually fractured world – with all the negative consequences that follow for human existence – without joint initiatives. Orthodox circles see this as an attempt to move beyond a self-marginalization born of a localist mentality that has characterized the Orthodox Churches in the modern era, partly because of a certain post-Ottoman filettism (nationalism).

    Constantinople, also thanks to its historical supra-national mentality, is attempting to prevent the introversion of the Orthodox world . This because there are many in the Orthodox world who see an Orthodox Church fearful of the social challenges of the new era, a church that is content to perform simple acts of charity and obsess itself in discussions on individual social issues, thus avoiding having to deal with the whole crisis that afflicts the human existence in modern society. Individual churches that, with the approval from their synod, undertake “local” initiatives, without keeping in mind the universal needs and challenges.

  285. In comment #284 I posted some links, first to a recent statement by the Moscow Patriarchate “on the problem of the primacy in the Universal Church,” and then to a response by His Eminence Metropolitan of Bursa and exarch of Bithynia, Elpidophoros Lambriniadis (first secretary of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople), titled “First Without Equals: A Response to the Text on Primacy of the Moscow Patriarchate.”

    Adam DeVille has already written a critique of the Moscow Patriarchate’s statement in a post titled “The Russian Church and the Papacy,” in which he focuses mostly on the nature of “primacy of honor.” I think the response by Metropolitan Elpidophoros is also worth examining more closely, especially regarding what he says about ecumenical primacy, in view of the Ravenna Statement. Metropolitan Elpidophoros is arguing here in support of the ecumenical primacy of the Patriarch of Constantinople in relation to the communion of Orthodox Churches, to which the Church of Russia belongs. According to Metropolitan Elpidophoros, the Moscow Patriarch’s statement challenged that primacy in two respects: first, by indirectly positing a separation between ecclesiological primacy and theological primacy, and second, by positing that while the source of the primacy of the local bishop over the local diocese is top-down (i.e. from the Apostles by apostolic succession), the source of both the primacy of the head of an autocephalous Church and the ecumenical primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarch is bottom-up (i.e. from the choice by the synod, and from the rank attributed by the diptychs, respectively).

    Regarding the Moscow Patriarchate’s separation of ecclesiological primacy and theological primacy, Metropolitan Elpidophoros writes:

    Moreover, the desired separation of ecclesiology from theology (or Christology) would have destructive consequences for both. If the Church is indeed the Body of Christ and the revelation of the Trinitarian life, then we cannot talk about differences and artificial distinctions that shatter the unity of the mystery of the Church, which encapsulates the theological (in the narrow sense of the word) and Christological formulations alike. Otherwise, church life is severed from theology and is reduced to a dry administrative institution, while on the other hand a theology without repercussions in the life and structure of the Church becomes a sterile academic preoccupation. According to Metropolitan John of Pergamon: “The separation of the administrative institutions of the Church from dogma is not simply unfortunate; it is even dangerous.”

    According to Metropolitan Elpidophoros, the Moscow Patriarchate fails to recognize that the Body of Christ, which is the Church, in its very structure reveals the Trinity, and thus there can be no ecclesiology that does not conform to the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, nor can there be any “artificial distinctions” that rupture the unity of the mystery of the Church. Dogma and ecclesial hierarchy must remain harmonious.

    Metropolitan Elpidophoros then characterizes the Moscow Patriarchate’s position as one that make the first-hierarch (i.e. the Patriarch of Constantinople) the recipient [from the patriarchs] of ecumenical primacy, rather than the source of his ecumenical primacy [through a unique, ecumenical primacy, extending down from the Apostles].

    According to Metropolitan Elpidophoros, this position [proposed by the Patriarchate of Russia] leads to the following “logical and theological contradictions.” Such a position would entail that ecumenical primacy exists “without [i.e. outside of / extrinsic to] and regardless of the First [hierarch], which is impossible.” As Metropolitan Elpidophoros explains on the basis of the 34th Apostolic canon, there can be no synod without a First-Hierarch, because the First-Hierarch serves as the “constitutive factor [of unity] and guarantor of the unity of the many,” and therefore he must be the source of the synod’s unity, rather than the other way around, on pain of logical contradiction. Furthermore, the Diptychs are not the source of the First-Hierarch’s ecumenical primacy, argues Metropolitan Elpidophoros, but rather the sign of his ecumenical primacy. According to Metropolitan Elpidophoros, the Patriarchate of Moscow has mistakenly treated what is a sign of the identity of the one holding ecumenical primacy, as if it were the source of ecumenical primacy. What is essentially epistemological has been mistakenly treated as something ontological. The development of the uniformity and authority of the Diptychs depended on the presence and function of ecumenical primacy, and therefore the Diptychs “cannot in some retrospective way institutionalize the primacy on which they are based.”

    Then Metropolitan Elpidophoros argues that these “innovations” proposed by the Patriarch of Moscow oppose the doctrine of the Trinity, because the structure of the Church is necessarily a reflection of the Trinity. According to orthodox Trinitarian dogma, the primacy of God the Father is not derived from the Son or from the Holy Spirit. But, according to Metropolitan Elpidophoros, the Moscow Patriarchate’s position regarding the source of ecumenical primacy would have just that implication. It would imply that the Son or the Spirit “precede” the Father, and thus overturn [in ecclesial structure] the orthodox dogma concerning the relations of the Persons of the Most Holy Trinity.

    According to Metropolitan Elpidophoros, the Moscow Patriarch’s claim that the universality of an ecumenical patriarch “eliminates the sacramentality of bishops” is merely “sophistry,” because the hierarchy of bishops (which the Moscow Patriarchate acknowledges) is not only fully compatible with their equality with respect to their priesthood, but is also inconceivable without a first-hierarch in that hierarchy. The Moscow Church has, he claims, adopted a “novel primacy, namely the primacy of numbers,” by which it is claimed that its jurisdiction extends to wherever there is a Russian. Metropolitan Elpidophoros concludes his response with the following two paragraphs:

    In the long history of the Church, the first-hierarch was the bishop of Rome. After Eucharistic communion with Rome was broken, canonically the first-hierarch of the Orthodox Church is the archbishop of Constantinople. In the case of the archbishop of Constantinople, we observe the unique coincidence of all three levels of primacy, namely the local (as Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome), the regional (as Patriarch), and the universal or worldwide (as Ecumenical Patriarch). This threefold primacy translates into specific privileges, such as the right of appeal and the right to grant or remove autocephaly (for example, the Archdioceses-Patriarchates of Ochrid, Pec and Turnavo, etc.), a privilege that the Ecumenical Patriarch exercised even in decisions not validated by decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, as in the case of modern Patriarchates, the first of which is that of Moscow.

    The primacy of the archbishop of Constantinople has nothing to do with the diptychs, which, as we have already said, merely express this hierarchical ranking (which, again in contradictory terms the text of the Moscow Patriarchate concedes implicitly but denies explicitly). If we are going to talk about the source of a primacy, then the source of primacy is the very person of the Archbishop of Constantinople, who precisely as bishop is one “among equals,” but as Archbishop of Constantinople is the first-hierarch without equals (primus sine paribus).

    In these final two paragraphs, Metropolitan Elpidophoros acknowledges that prior to the break with Rome, the first-hierarch was the bishop of Rome. Since the break with Rome, he claims, canonically the first-hierarch among the Orthodox Churches is the Archbishop of Constantinople, who is not only the local archbishop of his diocese, and not only the Patriarch of his region, but also the Ecumenical Patriarch of all the Orthodox Churches. Because he is the Ecumenical Patriarch, he possesses certain privileges and rights (e.g. the right of appeal, the right to grant or remove autocephaly, etc) that he may exercise authoritatively without validation from an Ecumenical Council. The source of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s ecumenical primacy is not the diptychs, which merely “express this hierarchical ranking,” but the very person of the Archbishop of Constantinople, who, as Archbishop of Constantinople is the first-hierarch without equals (primus sine paribus).

    What are the implications of these arguments by Metropolitan Elpidophoros? What are the implications of recognizing that primacy in the hierarchical structure in the Church must conform to the relation of the Persons of the most Holy Trinity? And what are the implications of recognizing that the source of ecumenical primacy is not bottom-up, but top-down? If the ecumenical primacy of the first-hierarch is intrinsic, not extrinsic, and does not derive from the other bishops, and thus does not derive from the diptychs, then from whence does it come? Metropolitan Elpidophoros does not here explicate the meaning of his claim that the ecumenical primacy of the archbishop of Constantinople derives from himself as to its source. In itself, unqualified, such a statement would be preposterous, for of course he was not born with this primacy, and thus must have received it. How then did he receive it? If it did not come from the other brother bishops, then he had to receive it through a unique, ecumenical primacy that has been handed down from the Apostles. (I say ‘unique’ because the belief that all bishops are successors of St. Peter does not grant ecumenical primacy to any one of them, including the Archbishop of Constantinople.) But as Metropolitan Elpidophoros acknowledges in his penultimate paragraph, during the first millennium of the Church, this unique, intrinsic ecumenical primacy was possessed by the bishop of Rome until Eucharistic communion with Rome was broken early in the second millennium.

    So for roughly a thousand years, according to Metropolitan Elpidophoros, the bishop of Rome possessed this ecumenical primacy from the Apostles; he was “the first-hierarch without equals (primus sine paribus).” But the same argument Metropolitan Elpidophoros makes about ecumenical primacy not coming from the bottom-up among the bishops, applies no less among the Apostles. And thus on pain of logical contradiction, the ecumenical primacy must come from St. Peter, who had received this primacy directly from Christ. There is then a difficulty explaining how after a thousand years, an intrinsic ecumenical primacy received in a unique succession from St. Peter in Rome, could through mutual excommunications between the particular Churches of Rome and Constantinople, be thereby transferred to the archbishop of Constantinople who according to tradition has his succession from St. Andrew. If the first-hierarch’s ecumenical primacy is intrinsic, how can a lower hierarch or lower hierarchs transfer it to another patriarchy? The very idea is a problem for Metropolitan Elpidophoros’s argument. That’s one problem.

    Let’s say Metropolitan Elpidophoros’s answer to this question is to deny its premise, namely, to deny that the unique ecumenical primacy received from St. Peter was transferred to the archbishop of Constantinople at the time of the schism, and claim rather that by default, upon the ‘departure’ from the Universal Church by the [particular] Church of Rome, the ecumenical primacy thereby rests upon the designated second-hierarch, the archbishop of Constantinople. This raises a second problem for Metropolitan Elpidophoros’s argument in relation to his claim that primacy in ecclesiology must match orthodox Trinitarian theology. According to his own position, for a thousand years God the Father’s primacy in the Trinity was reflected in the Mystical Body of Christ on earth in the intrinsic ecumenical primacy held by the bishop of Rome. What does claiming that the one holding intrinsic ecumenical primacy for a thousand years then lost it, and that the second-hierarch now holds this intrinsic ecumenical primacy suggest but a fallibilism (and susceptibility to apostasy) on the part of God the Father, and perhaps a lust for power on the part of the Son, who judges that the Father has fallen, and takes over the Father’s role? Such notions are blasphemous, as we would all agree. So Metropolitan Elpidophoros must either make an ad hoc exception to his claim that ecumenical primacy must mirror the Trinity, or he must retract his claim. Both options are problematic for his argument.

    Thirdly, if Metropolitan Elpidophoros maintains that ecumenical primacy was, but no longer is, intrinsic to the bishop of Rome, then ecumenical primacy likewise cannot be intrinsic to the archbishop of Constantinople. But then how can ecumenical primacy rightly be said to be intrinsic at all? If for any number n, the nth hierarch can take ecumenical primacy to himself by deciding that hierarchs [1 through (n-1)] are in error, then the situation is akin to the “cum submitto tantum cum condico, homo cui submitto est ego” problem found in Protestantism, and ecumenical primacy is thereby shown to be merely semantic. Just as the obligation to submit to Protestant leaders cannot be bootstrapped into existence by Protestant leaders while these leaders are themselves in a condition of rejecting the authority of the Church leaders whom they disobeyed, so the obligation to acknowledge ecumenical primacy cannot be bootstrapped by persons in a condition of rejecting the ecumenical primacy of one they acknowledged to have that primacy until they disagreed with him. That’s a principled problem for Metropolitan Elpidophoros’s argument.

    Fourth, an additional problem for his argument follows from his claim that primacy in theology and primacy in ecclesiology must hold together. In that case too, when there is a theological disagreement (say, between the first and second hierarchs), then theological disagreement is to be resolved by way of ecclesiological primacy (“the first-hierarch without equals (primus sine paribus)”), and thus in such a case the first-hierarch is to be regarded as the touchstone of orthodoxy rather than the other way around. And when there is a separation (say, between the first and second hierarchs), the first-hierarch is to be regarded as the touchstone of the continuation of the Mystical Body of Christ, rather than the other way around. The latter is especially the case if, as Metropolitan Elpidophoros claims, the First-Hierarch serves as the “constitutive factor [of unity] and guarantor of the unity of the many.” Hence insofar as Metropolitan Elpidophoros argues for the inseparable unity of ecclesial primacy and theological primacy, he seemingly undermines his own position in relation to the bishop of Rome. But insofar as he relaxes (or makes an ad hoc exception to) the necessity of the inseparable unity of ecclesial primacy and theological primacy, he undermines his own argument in response to the Moscow Patriarchate.

    So Metropolitan Elpidophoros faces a general dilemma, it seems to me. Either he affirms intrinsic ecumenical primacy, in which case his argument runs into the problems I have mentioned above, which seem to me to undermine his argument against the position of the Moscow Patriarchate, or he denies intrinsic ecumenical primacy, which also undermines his argument against the position of the Moscow Patriarchate. Both horns of that dilemma are problematic for his argument.

  286. Dear Bryan,

    What a great comment! (285). Since the obvious way to avoid the dilemma you mentioned is for Constantinople to renew its communion with the Catholic Church, this reinforces for all of us our duty to be welcoming to them to the highest degree. If words and actions of love can get us past the cultural misunderstandings and the history of violent speech and actions, then I think the logic of reunion will have no barriers left to prevent it from winning the day.

    It is too bad that this theological dialogue cannot better reach the Russian Orthodox however. It seems the separation is greater there.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  287. Dear Bryan (re: #285),

    This is one of the most insightful comments to appear recently on CtC. (Is there any reason your comment should not be its own blog post? It’s substantively meritorious, and its short length strikes me as a virtue rather than a vice.) Regardless, thank you for publishing it and providing an occasion for me to read it. I hope you have a blessed day!

    Yours Sincerely,
    ~Benjamin