Skip to comments.Eastern Orthodox Ecclesiology: against false unions [my title]
Posted on 07/01/2005 2:22:18 AM PDT by kosta50
The commotion about union of the churches makes evident the ignorance existing as much among the circles of the simple faithful as among the theologians as to what the Church is.
They understand the catholicity of the Church as a legal cohesion, as an interdependence regulated by some code. For them the Church is an organization with laws and regulations like the organizations of nations. Bishops, like civil servants, are distinguished as superiors and subordinates: patriarchs, archbishops, metropolitans, bishops. For them, one diocese is not something complete, but a piece of a larger whole: the autocephalous church or the patriarchate. But the autocephalous church, also, feels the need to belong to a higher head. When external factors of politics, history, or geography prevent this, a vague feeling of weak unity and even separation circulates through the autocephalous churches.
Such a concept of the Church leads directly to the Papacy. If the catholicity of the Church has this kind of meaning, then Orthodoxy is worthy of tears, because up to now she has not been able to discipline herself under a Pope.
But this is not the truth of the matter. The catholic Church which we confess in the Symbol (Creed) of our Faith is not called catholic because it includes all the Christians of the earth, but because within her everyone of the faithful finds all the grace and gift of God. The meaning of catholicity has nothing to do with a universal organization the way the Papists and those who are influenced by the Papist mentality understand it.
Of course, the Church is intended for and extended to the whole world independent of lands, nations, races, and tongues; and it is not an error for one to name her catholic because of this also. But just as humanity becomes an abstract idea, there is a danger of the same thing happening to the Church when we see her as an abstract, universal idea. In order for one to understand humanity well, it is enough for him to know only one man, since the nature of that man is common to all men of the world.
Similarly, in order to understand what the catholic Church of Christ is, it suffices to know well only one local church. And as among men, it is not submission to a hierarchy which unites them but their common nature, so the local churches are not united by the Pope and the Papal hierarchy but by their common nature.
A local Orthodox church regardless of her size or the number of the faithful is by herself alone, independently of all the others, catholic. And this is so because she lacks nothing of the grace and gift of God. All the local churches of the whole world together do not contain anything more in divine grace than that small church with few members.
She has her presbyters and bishop; she has the Holy Mysteries; she has the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Within her any worthy soul can taste of the Holy Spirit's presence. She has all the grace and truth. What is she lacking therefore in order to be catholic? She is the one flock, and the bishop is her shepherd, the image of Christ, the one Shepherd. She is the prefiguring on earth of the one flock with the one Shepherd, of the new Jerusalem. Within her, even in this life, pure hearts taste of the Kingdom of God, the betrothal of the Holy Spirit. Within her they find peace which "passeth all understanding," the peace which has no relation with the peace of men: "My peace I give unto you."
"Paul, called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ ... to the Church of God which is at Corinth ...." Yes, it really was the Church of God, even if it was at Corinth, at one concrete and limited place.
This is the catholic Church, something concrete in space, time, and persons. This concrete entity can occur repeatedly in space and in time without ceasing to remain essentially the same.
Her relations with the other local churches are not relations of legal and jurisdictional interdependence, but relations of love and grace. One local church is united with all the other local Orthodox churches of the world by the bond of identity. Just as one is the Church of God, the other is the Church of God also, as well as all the others. They are not divided by boundaries of nations nor the political goals of the countries in which they live. They are not even divided by the fact that one might be ignorant of the other's existence. It is the same Body of Christ which is partaken of by the Greeks, the Negroes of Uganda, the Eskimos of Alaska, and the Russians of Siberia. The same Blood of Christ circulates in their veins. The Holy Spirit enlightens their minds and leads them to the knowledge of the same truth.
There exist, of course, relations of interdependence between the local churches, and there are canons which govern them. This interdependence, though, is not a relation of legal necessity, but a bond of respect and love in complete freedom, the freedom of grace. And the canons are not laws of a code, but wise guides of centuries of experience.
The Church has no need of external bonds in order to be one. It is not a pope, or a patriarch, or an archbishop which unites the Church. The local church is something complete; it is not a piece of a larger whole.
Besides, the relations of the churches are relations of churches, and not relations which belong exclusively to their bishops. A bishop cannot be conceived of without a flock or independent of his flock. The Church is the bride of Christ. The Church is the body of Christ, not the bishop alone.
A bishop is called a patriarch when the church of which he is the shepherd is a patriarchate, and an archbishop when the church is an archdiocese. In other words, the respect and honor belongs to the local church, and by extension it is rendered to its bishop. The Church of Athens is the largest and, today, most important local church of Greece. For this reason the greatest respect belongs to her, and she deserves more honor than any other church of Greece. Her opinion has a great bearing, and her role in the solution of common problems is the most significant. That is why she is justly called an archdiocese. Consequently, the bishop of that church, because he represents such an important church is a person equally important and justly called an archbishop. He himself is nothing more than an ordinary bishop. In the orders of priesthoodthe deacon, the presbyter, and the bishopthere is no degree higher than the office of the bishop. The titles metropolitan, archbishop, patriarch, or pope do not indicate a greater degree of ecclesiastical charism, because there is no greater sacramental grace than that which is given to the bishop. They only indicate a difference in prominence of the churches of which they are shepherds.
This prominence of one church in relation to the others is not something permanent. It depends upon internal and external circumstances. In studying the history of the Church, we see the primacy of prominence and respect passing from church to church in a natural succession. In Apostolic times, the Church of Jerusalem, without any dispute, had the primacy of authority and importance. She had known Christ; she had heard His words; she saw Him being crucified and arising; and upon her did the Holy Spirit first descend. All who were in a communion of faith and life with her were certain that they walked the road of Christ. This is why Paul, when charged that the Gospel which he taught was not the Gospel of Christ, hastened to explain it before the Church of Jerusalem, so that the agreement of that church might silence his enemies (Gal. 2:1-2).
Later, that primacy was taken by Rome, little by little. It was the capital of the Roman Empire. A multitude of tried Christians comprised that church. Two leading Apostles had lived and preached within its bounds. A multitude of Martyrs had dyed its soil with their blood. That is why her word was venerable, and her authority in the solution of common problems was prodigious. But it was the authority of the church and not of her bishop. When she was asked for her view in the solution of common problems, the bishop replied not in his own name as a Pope of today would do, but in the name of his church. In his epistle to the Corinthians, St. Clement of Rome begins this way: "The Church of God which is in Rome, to the Church of God which is in Corinth." He writes in an amicable and supplicatory manner in order to convey the witness and opinion of his church concerning whatever happened in the Church of Corinth. In his letter to the Church of Rome, St. Ignatius the God-bearer does not mention her bishop anywhere, although he writes as though he were addressing himself to the church which truly has primacy in the hierarchy of the churches of his time.
When St. Constantine transferred the capital of the Roman state to Byzantium, Rome began gradually to lose her old splendor. It became a provincial city. A new local church began to impose itself upon the consciousness of the Christian world: the Church of Constantinople. Rome tried jealously to preserve the splendor of the past, but because things were not conducive to it, it developed little by little its well-known Papal ecclesiology in order to secure theoretically that which circumstances would not offer. Thus it advanced from madness to madness, to the point where it declared that the Pope is infallible whenever he speaks on doctrine, even if because of sinfulness he does not have the enlightenment of sanctity the Fathers of the Church had.
The Church of Constantinople played the most significant role throughout the long period of great heresies and of the Ecumenical Councils, and in her turn she gave her share of blood with the martyrdom of thousands of her children during the period of the Iconoclasts.
Besides these churches which at different times had the primacy of authority, there were others which held the second or third place. They were the various patriarchates, old or new, and other important churches or metropolises. There exists, therefore, a hierarchy, but a hierarchy of churches and not of bishops. St. Irenaeus does not advise Christians to address themselves to important bishops in order to find the solution to their problem, but to the churches which have the oldest roots in the Apostles (Adv. Haer. III, 4, 1).
There are not, therefore, organizational, administrative, or legal bonds among the churches, but bonds of love and grace, the same bonds of love and grace which exist among the faithful of every church, clergy or lay. The relationship between presbyter and bishop is not a relationship of employee and employer, but a charismatic and sacramental relationship. The bishop is the one who gives the presbyter the grace of the priesthood. And the presbyter gives the layman the grace of the Holy Mysteries. The only thing which separates the bishop from the presbyter is the charism of ordination. The bishop excels in nothing else, even if he be the bishop of an important church and bears the title of patriarch or pope. "There is not much separating them [the presbyters] and the bishops. For they too are elevated for the teaching and protection of the Church .... They [the bishops] surpass them only in the power of ordination, and in this alone they exceed the presbyters" (Chrysostom, Hom. XI on I Tim.).
Bishops have no right to behave like rulers, not only towards the other churches but also towards the presbyters or laymen of the church of which they are bishop. They have a responsibility to Oversee in a paternal way, to counsel, to guide, to battle against falsehood, to adjure transgressors with love and strictness, to preside in love. But these responsibilities they share with the presbyters. And the presbyters in turn look upon the bishops as their fathers in the priesthood and render them the same love.
All things in the Church are governed by love. Any distinctions are charismatic distinctions. They are not distinctions of a legal nature but of a spiritual authority. And among the laymen there are charisms and charisms.
The unity of the Church, therefore, is not a matter of obedience to a higher authority. It is not a matter of submission of subordinates to superiors. External relations do not make unity, neither do the common decisions of councils, even of Ecumenical Councils. The unity of the Church is given by the communion in the Body and Blood of Christ, the communion with the Holy Trinity. It is a liturgical unity, a mystical unity.
The common decisions of an Ecumenical Council are not the foundation but the result of unity. Besides, the decisions of either an ecumenical or local council are valid only when they are accepted by the consciousness of the Church and are in accord with the Tradition.
The Papacy is the distortion par excellence of Church unity. It made that bond of love and freedom a bond of constraint and tyranny. The Papacy is unbelief in the power of God and confidence in the power of human systems.
But let no one think that the Papacy is something which exists only in the West. In recent times it has started to appear among the Orthodox too. A few novel titles are characteristic of this spirit, for example, "Archbishop of all Greece," "Archbishop of North and South America." Many times we hear people say of the Patriarch of Constantinople, the "leader of Orthodoxy," or we hear the Russians speaking of Moscow as the third Rome and its patriarch as holding the reins of the whole of Orthodoxy. In fact, many sharp rivalries have begun. All these are manifestations of the same worldly spirit, the same thirst for worldly power, and belong to the same tendencies which characterize the world today.
People cannot feel unity in multiplicity. Yet this is a deep mystery. Our weakness or inability to feel it originates from the condition of severance into which the, human race has fallen. People have changed from persons into separated and hostile individuals, and it is impossible for them now to understand the deep unity of their nature. Man, however, is one and many; one in his nature, many in persons. This is the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and the mystery of the Church.
It is imperative that Christians realize that the Church has sacramental and not administrative foundations; then they will not suffer that which has happened to the Westerners who followed the Pope in his errors because they thought that if they did not follow him, they would automatically be outside the Church.
Today the various patriarchates and archdioceses undergo great pressures from political powers which seek to direct the Orthodox according to their own interests. It is known that the Patriarchate of Moscow accepts the influence of Soviet politics. But the Patriarchate of Constantinople also accepts the influence of American politics. It was under this influence that the contact of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the similarly American-influenced, Protestant, World Council of Churches was brought about, and its servile disposition toward the Pope started to take on dangerous dimensions and even to exert over-bearing pressure upon the other Orthodox churches.
America thinks that it will strengthen the Western faction against communism if, with these artificial conciliations, it unifies its spiritual forces. But in this way the Church becomes a toy of the political powers of the world, with unforeseeable consequences for Orthodoxy.
Are the Orthodox people obliged to follow such a servile patriarchate forever? The fact that this patriarchate for centuries held the primacy of importance and honor in the Christian world cannot justify those who will follow it to a unifying capitulation with heresy. Rome also once had the primacy of importance and honor in the Christian world, but that did not oblige Christians to follow it on the road of heresy. The communion with and respect for one church on the part of the other churches remains and continues only as long as that church remains in the Church, that is, as long as it lives and proceeds in spirit and truth. When a patriarchate ceases to be a church, admitting communion with heretics, then its recognition on the part of the other churches ceases also.
The Orthodox people must become conscious of the fact that they owe no obedience to a bishop, no matter how high a title he holds, when that bishop ceases being Orthodox and openly follows heretics with pretenses of union "on equal terms." On the contrary, they are obliged to depart from him and confess their Faith, because a bishop, even if he be patriarch or pope, ceases from being a bishop the moment he ceases being Orthodox. The bishop is a consecrated person, and even if he is openly sinful, respect and honor is due him until synodically censured. But if he becomes openly heretical or is in communion with heretics, then the Christians should not await any synodical decision, but should draw away from him immediately.
Here is what the canons of the Church say on this: "... So that if any presbyter or bishop or metropolitan dares to secede from communion with his own patriarch and does not mention his name as is ordered and appointed in the divine mystagogy, but before a synodical arraignment and his [the patriarch's] full condemnation, he creates a schism, the Holy Synod has decreed that this person be alienated from every priestly function, if only he be proven to have transgressed in this. These rules, therefore, have been sealed and ordered concerning those who on the pretext of some accusations against their own presidents stand apart, creating a schism and severing the unity of the Church. But as for those who on account of some heresy condemned by Holy Synods or Fathers sever themselves from communion with their president, that is, because he publicly preaches heresy and with bared head teaches it in the Church, such persons as these not only are not subject to canonical penalty for walling themselves off from communion with the so-called bishop before synodical clarification, but they shall be deemed worthy of due honor among the Orthodox. For not bishops, but false bishops and false teachers have they condemned, and they have not fragmented the Church's unity with schism, but from schisms and divisions have they earnestly sought to deliver the Church" (Canon XV of the so-called First and Second Council).
What is tragic is that the Pope may be giving some what amounts to a wishful thinking, which is little if any different from similar overtures for reconciliation in the past. To understand why and also to understand the Orthodox Ecclesiology, I decided to post this excerpt.
Aside from the Orthodox 'mindset' so well explained by Dr. Kalimoros, we differ on the theological interpretation of the Scripture as well, as illustrated by this passage:
"With regard to the other verse which you cite, St. Theophylact of Ochrid points out that the words, "I will give unto thee,""...were spoken to Peter alone, yet they were given to all the apostles," since Christ also said, Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted." (The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew [House Springs, MO: Chrysostom Press, 1994], p. 141.) The second verse to which St. Theophylact refers is St. John 20:23. As the translator rightly observes, the verb "remit" is in the second person plural, and thus refers not to St. Peter alone, but to all of the Apostles. As for the "controversial verse" (St. Matthew 16:18), St. Theophylact, following St. John Chrysostomos and the overwhelming consensus of both Greek and Latin Fathers, interprets the words "this rock" to denote St. Peter's confession of faith in the Divinity of Christ, and not the Apostles person. Any other interpretation would, of course, violate the Christocentric nature of the Church and the rather clear Scriptural affirmation that "Christ is the head of the Church" (Ephesians 5:23) and the "head of the Body" (Colossians 1:18).
Let us note, also, that the honor which the Orthodox Church has bestowed on both St. Peter and St. Paul, that is, the title of Protokoryphaioi, i.e., "leaders" or "chiefs" of the Apostles, gives us some insight into what the distinctions between the Disciples of Christ actually mean. They describe functions, responsibilities, cares, and rôles; they do not, however, refer to special privileges, prerogatives, or authority. For, in the final analysis, despite these distinctions, all of the Apostles were equal, just as all of the Bishops of the Orthodox Churchwho are their successors, whether they be simple Bishops or Patriarchs or cumenical Patriarchs, are absolute equals. This fact helps to explain both the passage which you cite from II Corinthians and the Gospel passages which Papists have wholly unjustifiably used to support the doctrine of Papal supremacy." [From Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XVII, No. 1 (2000), pp. 28-30] as posted on www.orthodoxinfo.com
Thank you for posting this.
I am neither Catholic nor Orthodox, but of a more independent mind for the role of the local Church and a larger organization of like-minded Church bodies.
Kalomiros has put into words what I have been unable to form.
I have no way of knowing if this is true, but "born" Orthodox friends have told me that the most ardent supporters of St. Nectarios Press - and the ecclesiological orientation it represents - are (around these parts) the monastery of "the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia" (where, in years past, some of the [convert] monks would not sell you incense if they found out you were either RC or even, sometimes, OCA, lest you be using it in "false worship"!) and converts to Orthodoxy from the Roman and Episcopal Churches and evangelical denominations, who would have good reason to espouse that theology.
I've noted on here before, to the great anger of some, that, in my experience, those most upset about the Fourth Crusade are those Orthodox who, until a few years ago, were Episcopalians, Roman Catholics or Southern Baptists.
Among Roman Catholics, too, there is no shortage of official theological documentation regarding our status as "the one true Church" whose Bishop of Rome is "Supreme (immediate, universal) Pontiff," and, in its strictest interpretation, this stance is most frequently cherished by converts to Roman Catholicism, especially from among Anglicans and evangelicals.
I believe Pope Benedict is inviting both sides to examine what we believe and to ask ourselves, in the words of Acts, what constitutes "those things that are necessary." Whilst the abandonment of the idea of "absorption and fusion" would be anathema, literally, to some Roman Catholics (not least among them, understandably, some converts) and rethinking of the Nectarios-press stance would be the same for some Orthodox (according to my friends, principally converts).
The Pope's incorporation of the Pauline admonitions and the approach of the Council of Jerusalem certainly gives one food for thought, unless, I suppose, one's thoughts are pretty much "carved in stone." In which case, we - on both sides - need to ask whether our thoughts only are stony or whether our hearts have become so as well (Psalm 94/95).
But that's exactly what this article is about: it tries to show that what makes a Church are not individuals; that our loyalty is not to a person or to a seat or throne of authorty, but to Christ. The Church administration is a necessity and has nothing to do with its theology.
If for one moment you realize that the fullness of God can be experienced in every church, no matter how big or how small, the whole concept of central authority and the juridical, corporate concept of the Church becomes meaningless. And with it, the whole idea of one bishop's supremacy over others, even a 'ruler' of the Church.
Since Vatican II, the 'imperial' Papacy has been redefined by one man whose style and personality defined the Papacy for the last 40 or so years, John Paul II. Most Catholics of today do not even remember the pre-Vatican II Mass, the three-step elevated altar against the wall, facing the East, and the priest symbolically leading the flock towards God, with his back turned to the congregation and facing the icons of the Lord and the blessed Saints. But, the Church did it in this manner for centuries, and the Popes were anything but JPII-like.
I mention this so that you would realize that no man's personality must dominate or define the Church, except that of Christ. Yet, unlike the Orthodox Church, the the Church of the West had been defined and redefined by some many different men on the throne of Saint Peter. The Church can remain timless only if it is defined by God and not by men.
The purpose of this article, and I hope this becomes clear, is that the Church does should not depend on the personality of the Pope or anyone else, nor should the Pope be the central personality in the Church. The Church is where we receive Sacraments, where we partake of the Gifts, in fullness whether we are in a small parish in Louisana or in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
I know there are Roman Catholics who can show "theological documentation regarding our status as "the one true Church" whose Bishop of Rome is "Supreme (immediate, universal) Pontiff," the point of the article was to demonstrate, and familiarize those who are not versed in this division, the different about our faith and the Church. And, let me tell you, as close as our Churches are, our cracks are unbridgeable. Any kind of union would consume one or both.
Because he, of all people knows this, the Pope's overtures are so much more perplexing, since they are not backed by any specific proposals, or better yet -- any badly needed new proposals.
Actually, a majority of the Fathers understand it as referring to St. Peter himself. So does St. John, who gives a double interpretation.
What then saith Christ? "Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas." "Thus since thou hast proclaimed my Father, I too name him that begat thee;" all but saying, "As thou art son of Jonas, even so am I of my Father." Else it were superfluous to say, "Thou art Son of Jonas;" but since he had said, "Son of God," to point out that He is so Son of God, as the other son of Jonas, of the same substance with Him that begat Him, therefore He added this, "And I say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church;" that is, on the faith of his confession. Hereby He signifies that many were now on the point of believing, and raises his spirit, and makes him a shepherd. ... Seest thou how He, His own self, leads Peter on to high thoughts of Him, and reveals Himself, and implies that He is Son of God by these two promises? For those things which are peculiar to God alone, (both to absolve sins, and to make the church in- capable of overthrow in such assailing waves, and to exhibit a man that is a fisher more solid than any rock, while all the world is at war with him), these He promises Himself to give; as the Father, speaking to Jeremiah, said, He would make him as "a brazen pillar, and as a wall;" but him to one nation only, this man in every part of the world. (Hom. LIV in St. Matthew)
St. John Chrysostom on the Apostle Peter - great article here which surveys all his writings. "[W]hen I say Peter, I mean the unbroken Rock, the unshaken foundation, the great apostle, the first of the disciples, the first called, the first to obey".
PS: Isn't picking up this Protestant argument a little strange when the Byzantine liturgy openly calls St. Peter the Rock? Does your liturgy do violence to the Christocentric nature of the Church?
"Peter, the rock of faith,
the fervent intercessor,
again lifts us up together for a spiritual feast,
setting before us his precious chains
as provision for a costly banquet
that our infirmities may be healed and our sorrows consoled,
and the storm-tossed ships of our life brought to harbor.
Come, let us kiss them, and entreat Christ Who glorified him,
saying: By his prayers, O Christ, save our souls!"
January 16: Veneration of the chains of the holy Apostle Peter
First of all, just an historical time-check, you said "the 'imperial' Papacy has been redefined by one man whose style and personality defined the Papacy for the last 40 or so years, John Paul II" - while it may have SEEMED like 40 years to those less-than-pleased with his pontificate, John Paul was "only" (!) in the 27th year of his Pontificate at the time of his death.
I think your assertion that "the Church administration is a necessity and has nothing to do with its theology" misses the fact that ecclesiology, on both the Catholic and Orthodox sides, does function as part of the theological enterprise. Moreover, how do you explain "factions" (the word was so anathema to Saint Paul!) being "Orthodox in theology," as you put it, whilst denying one another "communio in sacris" (an OCA communicant being refused communion at the ROCOR monastery)? Does such a refusal not imply, or actualize, a judgement on the "fullness" of faith?
You make a very appropriate and important point on "one man's personality not dominating or defining the Church." Didn't the late lamented Father Schmemann have some extremely insightful thoughts on THAT in his Journal (entries at the time of the first papal visit of JP II to the USA)!? Pope Benedict seems VERY in tune with that concern. In fact, the AP carried a story that Pope Benedict had inquired about moving his installation Mass INSIDE Saint Peter's Basilica where, he is said to have remarked, it would be easier to keep the focus on Christ rather than on the Pope . . . the size of the crowds, however, etc.
Finally, you conclude, "our cracks are unbridgeable. Any kind of union would consume one or both." My personal interpretation (always dangerous with Scripture or papal speeches) is that this is precisely what the Pope was acknowledging when he talked about "the unity we seek involves neither absorption nor fusion".
Yes, it was my fault. Thank you. I was thinking of the Vatican II and writing about JPII.
how do you explain "factions" (the word was so anathema to Saint Paul!) being "Orthodox in theology," as you put it, whilst denying one another "communio in sacris
Apprently at that time they didn't think they were on the same sheet of music, or they allowed their personal grudges to dominate their lives. The OCA has incorporated some outwardly signs that appeared as "Protestant" to the Orthodox. To me (I am Serbian Orthodox), what I have seen of the Greek Orthodox in America, seems very "Protestant" and "unnatural" -- clean shaved priests, pews in the churches, paraffin candles, dog-collars, fun-raising in the middel of the Lirtugy, uniformed choir, electric organs (!), and so on, but in truth it's what the Church teaches that matters the most. So, part of it was my prejudice, and part of it has to do with the knowledge that letting changes in through the back door is not always progress.
Look at Maronites. They claim they were in an unbroken communion with Rome "from the beginning," yet Catholic Encyclopedia thinkgs otherwise, and Pope Pius II (1451) calles them heretics in one ofhis letter. You are missing the big picture.
Didn't the late lamented Father Schmemann have some extremely insightful thoughts on THAT in his Journal
Don't know much about him.
My personal interpretation (always dangerous with Scripture or papal speeches) is that this is precisely what the Pope was acknowledging when he talked about "the unity we seek involves neither absorption nor fusion"
That it's not a true re-union.
Well, that he was at the moment of revelation. And on that faith of his, and of other Apostles, the Church was built and still stands. The Church cannot be built on any man, but on faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and to imply that only Peter had that faith, or that his was stronger or purer than that of other Apostles, is not true.
Thanks for the ping!
A majority, really? Well that certainly would be interesting if you could prove it. Please compile a list of all of the Church Fathers and then cross-reference that to the exact words they used in this matter so that the rest of us can confirm your claimed majority, ok?
Because if you can't, then all you can really to is confirm that there is a division on this teaching.
Very well put.
Perhaps gbcdoj, FormerLib is not familiar with you and your posts. =D
Just remember, he's got to account for them ALL or the list is completely invalid.
Since I am familiar with his abilities, after reading many, many of his posts, I wouldn't be surprised if he could.
Nonsense. We have been up there a few times. Once many many years ago. Fr. Neketas would never, ever, ever, believe or say such things. He is a paragon of humility. A truly Christ-filled and loving man. My oldest daughter has a pin he gave her once from that first, long-ago trip.
Additionally some years ago we all participated in a pan-Orthodox collection for Serbia after we bombed the country. The parish which runs the press had no reservations about being part of it with the rest of us, be they OCA or otherwise.
Not to split hairs or anything...but are there ANY Orthodox apologetics works out there that don't rely on saying how wrong we Catholics are?
Every Orthodox apologetic tract I read says "we are right because you are wrong", perhaps I have missed some.
Catholics follow the style of writing that states "we are right because we are right"
It would seem that the latter is far more effective because it does not require standing on top of someone else to prove a point, it merely attempts to stand on it's own merits.
And if your name is any indication of your location, you may know the Russian monastery of which I speak (very near to Boston).
You quote "...the honor which the Orthodox Church has bestowed on both St. Peter and St. Paul, that is, the title of Protokoryphaioi, i.e., "leaders" or "chiefs" of the Apostles, gives us some insight into what the distinctions between the Disciples of Christ actually mean. They describe functions, responsibilities, cares, and rôles; they do not, however, refer to special privileges, prerogatives, or authority."
I fail to see this supposed "proof" that shows the validity of the statement at the end. A leader has authority. To fulfill his responsibilities to those he leads, he must have some sort of authority given to him. And in John's Gospel, Jesus tells Peter ONLY to feed His sheep. He doesn't say this to the other apostles. The Acts of the Apostles recognizes this, as does St. Paul. To claim Peter did not have some sort of special privelege within the early Church is to interject one's own bias and theology into the Scriptures.
You said ..."Well, that he was at the moment of revelation. And on that faith of his, and of other Apostles, the Church was built and still stands. The Church cannot be built on any man, but on faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and to imply that only Peter had that faith, or that his was stronger or purer than that of other Apostles, is not true."
I didn't realize that some Orthodox are confused with either/or, rather than both/and.
IF the rock that Jesus refers to is Peter's confession, why did Jesus make this declaration ONLY to Simon? What about "And those in the boat worshipped Him, saying, Truly, you are the Son of God". (Mt 14:33). NOTE, this is BEFORE Peter's confession. Why didn't Jesus call these disciples "rock"? And how about "Nathaniel replied, Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49). Note, earlier, Jesus saw Simon and said "you are Simon, son of John. You ARE TO BE CALLED CEPHAS" (John 1:42). This is before Peter's confession. Why didn't Jesus call Nathaniel the "rock"? You are focusing on either/or.
The fact of the matter is that the Father in heaven has revealed to Jesus that Simon would be something special. Jesus is not only recognizing Peter's confession, but the Father's Will in Heaven. Thus, the name change to Peter - Rock. Now. If you look in the OT, you will find that name changes by God are pretty significant. Abram to Abraham. Jacob to Isaac. Both fathers (in the secondary sense that God is our Father) of the people of God. And with Simon, Peter is to become the visible father of the people of God, the Church. We are not to forget that God is the true Father in heaven, but this does not differ from Abram or Isaac. We here on earth need a visible father - and of course, pope means papa.
To say that Peter was given no special authority or responsibility is to ignore Scriptures. PETER ALONE receives the keys (doesn't a person holding keys have a responsibility that no one else has?) to the Kingdom of Heaven. Peter ALONE is prayed for to bolster the other apostles' faith after the passion of Christ (Lk 22:31). And in John's Gospel, Peter ALONE is to tend the flock (Jn 21:15-17). Peter was certainly given special responsibility, above and beyond the other disciples. And the Church realized this in its actions later on.
Now, to what degree does this authority go? This is another question, dependent in part on development, since God's Providence controls everything. I submit to you Luke 21:24-27 as the example that the leaders of the Church should set for others:
"The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you (which implies there is a heirarchy among the 12) must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves."
And so the Pope is called the servant of the servants of Christ.
Finally, regarding what you say ..."The Church cannot be built on any man, but on faith in our Lord Jesus Christ".
Another Either/Or statement. Have you read the Scriptures?
"the household of God (the Church), built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone" (Eph 2:20).
"I (Jesus) confer on you (apostles), just as my Father has conferred on Me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Lk 22:29-30)
"It (the New Jerusalem) had a massive, high wall with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, the names of the twelve tribes of the Isrealites. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelves names of the twelve apostels of the Lamb" (Rev 21:12-14)
As can be seen, it is not an either/or in this case, either. Jesus is building His Church on the confession of Peter AND the role that the Father sees for Peter as keeper of the keys, earthly father of His people. The Church is built on Christ Jesus, AND the Church is built on the witness and teachings of the Apostles and Prophets.
Certainly, you are familiar with the idea that God, in His great Love, shares with His creation the functions that He possesses by Nature - the power to create and rule, the power to redeem others, and the power to sanctify others. The Church shares in all of these roles strictly as a result of God's great Love, in which even now we share in the divine nature, as a result of our Baptism.
What your friends told you is probably not right. The St. Nectarios Press is indeed part of a splinter group that actually broke off from the ROCOR many years ago, and is considered by most Orthodox to be uncanonical -- whatever that means.
The most commonly used Orthodox Psalter (The Psalter According to the 70) is a beautiful work produced by HTM. Our OCA parish has used their fine incense for years, and we have any number of icons produced there. I have corresponded with the fathers there over the years about this or that translational question, and most recently over permission to use their Psalter and Octoechos translations in musical settings. They have never been anything but cordial -- of course I also treat them with cordiality and respect.
They are off the beaten Orthodox path, but as our OCA bishop has said about them: "By their fruits..." -- and they do produce nice books, translations, icons, and incense. We Orthodox tend not to get as worked up about these things -- we hope that this group will someday return to communion with the rest of the Orthodox Church and into "canonicity."
Kalomiros, incidentally, is a Greek Orthodox Christian from Greece. At the time that "Against False Union" was published in English in America, it wasn't really politically correct to say what he says: the "make nice" school of Fr. Schmemann was ruling the day. The book therefore had to find a less mainstream publisher (but sold extremely well.)
Of course, an ironic thing about Schmemann was that he often said one thing in public, another in private. Fr. John Neuhaus' recent review was interesting in this regard, where Fr. Neuhaus got the opportunity to discover what Fr. Alexander was "really" thinking at an ecumenical gathering in which they both took part...
I personally feel that the straight up front approach is much better. But then, Orthodoxy is in a much stronger, indigenous position in America now than it was back in the days of Schmemann and Meyendorff. Our churches are dominated by cradle Orthodox who grew up in the United States, and we now have many elderly convert clergy who have been Orthodox most of their adult lives.
Any former Protestant or Catholic isn't going to have much problem speaking his mind about the differences between Orthodoxy and Catholicism -- and will often see both the differences *and* the commonality more clearly than someone who didn't grow up in the Protestant/Catholic milieu of America.
The Holy Transfiguration in Brookline?
I have been there, met a very nice Monk from Georgia who's name escapes me. They make awesome Icons.
Does that mean that the original claim, that "the overwhelming consensus of both Greek and Latin Fathers" understand it as St. Peter's confession, which gives no list or evidence at all except for a misinterpreted sentence of St. Theophylact, is also invalid? :) Hey, and this standard would also make invalid all the Orthodox claims made here at FR to have the "patristic" viewpoint, since they're usually not backed up at all with even one quote, much less a complete survey of every Christian writer from St. Clement to St. John Damascene.
But I'll give a sample, just to prove my point:
The Latin Fathers:
Augustine: (The rock is) St. Peter, his confession, Christ, and the succession of bishops at Rome (cf. Alphabetical Psalm against the Donatists).
Ambrose: (The rock is) St. Peter, and his confession.
Ambrosiaster: (The rock is) St. Peter's confession.
Bede: (The rock is) St. Peter's confession and Christ.
Cassiodorus: (The rock is) Christ.
Cyprian: (The rock is) St. Peter.
Gregory the Great: (The rock is) St. Peter, and the firmness of faith.
Hilary of Poitiers: (The rock is) St. Peter, and his confession.
Jerome: (The rock is) St. Peter, all the apostles, and the chair of Peter held by Damasus of Rome.
Maximus of Turin: (The rock is) St. Peter.
Paschasius Radbertus: St. Peter, and his confession.
Paulinus of Nola: St. Peter.
Prosper of Aquitaine: St. Peter.
Tertullian: St. Peter.
And the Greek Fathers:
Asterius: (The rock is) St. Peter.
Athanasius: (The rock is) The faith of the saints.
Basil of Caesarea: (The rock is) St. Peter.
Basil of Seleucia: (The rock is) St. Peter's confession.
John Cassian: (The rock is) St. Peter's confession.
John Chrysostom: (The rock is) St. Peter, and his confession.
Peter Chrysologus: (The rock is) St. Peter.
Cyril of Alexandria: (The rock is) St. Peter, his confession, and Christ.
Didymus: (The rock is) St. Peter's confession.
Epiphanius: (The rock is) St. Peter.
Eusebius of Caesarea: (The rock is) St. Peter, and Christ.
Firmilian: (The rock is) St. Peter.
Gregory Nazianzen: (The rock is) St. Peter.
Gregory of Nyssa: (The rock is) St. Peter, and his confession.
Isidore of Pelusium: (The rock is) St. Peter's confession.
John Damascene: (The rock is) St. Peter, his confession, and Christ.
Nilus of Ancyra: (The rock is) St. Peter's confession.
Origen: (The rock is) St. Peter.
Palladius: (The rock is) St. Peter's confession.
Paul of Emessa: (The rock is) St. Peter's confession.
Paul Orosius: (The rock is) St. Peter.
Theodoret: (The rock is) St. Peter, his confession, and Christ.
Documentation here: Patristic Exegesis of the Rock of Matthew 16:18, unless otherwise noted, as compiled by a Protestant who denies that St. Peter was the rock. I have omitted certain statements about Christ as a rock which don't seem to be connected to Matt. 16:18, but only to the passage in 1 Cor. Obviously these 'rocks' are different and Peter is not the rock of 1 Cor., and I counted some statements about the Church being founded on Peter as equivalent to him being the rock of Matt. 16:18, which may not be correct. At any rate, you can go see for yourself.
I wonder if all those Fathers weren't Christocentric enough, seeing as they make St. Peter to be the rock.
So many Father's referencing his Confession of faith or his faith specifically, Christ Himself, and even the Church certainly makes it seem that declaring Peter himself and alone to be the "rock" somewhat outside of their intent.
I wonder what Peter would say if you asked him directly? What do you think he would say?
Well, that would be beyond our interpretation too...
CCC 424 Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his Church.
What do you think he would say?
If we asked him who or what Christ meant when he said "Thou art Peter and upon this rock"? He'd say himself.
It makes one wonder how or why could the Vatican even consider such a "church" worthy of its attention, let alone unity, or its priesthood valid, or its Sacraments the same.
It makes one wonder even more why would the Vatican accept Eastern churches willing to "return" without having to change their "unscriptural" theology, so long as they agree to read these few passages about St. Peter the same way as you do. As long as they agree on that, it really doesn't matter if the East does not profess the same Trinitarian economy, because everything hinges on the man who succeeds St. Peter.
Yet you fail to show, scripturally or historically, that the Apostles and the Early Church shared your interpretation. For, nowhere does the New Testament even hint that Peter was the "prince" of Apostles, nor that the Apostles considered him someone who alone possessed the purity of faith, or supreme authority in faith. The Apostles do not seek his advice because they are all inspired, and do not know faith by virtue of reason or flesh, but directly from God.
You reference Luke 21:24-27, and I offer you some examples of the Dictatus Papae.
Nothing, nothing like this has ever been given to St. Peter, nor has anything like this been given Scripturally to the successors of St. Peter. It was Pope Leo I (5th century) who introduced the idea of Papal supremacy.
The Church of the West changed with the Popes the way empires change with kings. The Orthodox Church remains unchanged despite many Patriarchs. The East never allowed an ordinary man to define the Church.
It is quite clear that, after Vatican II, the Roman Catholic Church is doctrinally and externally not the same Church it was before that, and that what is considered "traditional" Roman Catholic is not what it was in the first millennium. Why is that? Because we are changable. If the Church reflects the character of Her caretakers, it will change continuously. If the Church reflects only God, it will remain unchanged.
That's why the Church is anchored on the faith, and not on men. Men come and go. It is the faith that defines the Church and makes it stand.
The key to the Kingdom of Heaven is the Faith. Without the Faith, no one goes to heaven; without the Faith all the successors of the Apostles would count for nothing. Without the Faith, the Church would be a Sunday club, not a house of God. With faith, we all have the keys to the Kingdom of God. The inspired faith of Peter is the same inspired faith of the other Apostles, the same keys. The Apostles are merely the vessels through whom God spoke. They were infallible but not impeccable, as someone said.
My priest once used the word "ticket." He said to me "You have a ticket, Kosta." At that time I was the biggest doubting Thomas but now I realize that Fr. Dragan gave me the keys. God gave all of us tickets, the get-out-of-jail keys. All we have to do is get on that train and stay on it until its final destination. That ticket will get us there, and set us free.
As long as St. Peter had the rock-solid faith, he had the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and with that faith he could bind and loosen in his apostolic role -- just as the other eleven did, and just as their successors in their apostolic roles do.
The authority of the Church comes from the Apostles, not one Apostle. They all received the faith and ministered by divine revelation and not by +Peter's supervision. The validity of its clergy comes from the authority of the Apostles, not from or through St. Peter. The validity of its Mysteries comes from the validity of the clergy, not from some external authority.
Thus, every church under a valid bishop, big or small, offers the fullness of faith and Sacraments, by virtue of its apostolic clergy, and not by virtue of some central authority on earth. Every such church is the Body of Christ and Christ as the Head. The Church is not a sum of its parts requiring central authority and a visible head. The Church is where the bishop is.
How lovely about the ticket....thank you.
I seriously doubt that because there is nothing in the New Testament that shows that any of the Apostles thought so or acted as if he was the "key" person.
The early Church certainly did not show reverence to Peter as the "prince" of the Apostles, nor did everything they say or teach require his blessings. The Apostles were vessels through whom Gos spoke; they did not "study" or "research" the faith -- they were all equally inspired, and therefore they all possessed the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, as we all do -- it's called the faith. That is the only key to the Kingdom of God.
His rock-solid faith represents the keys. As long as he had those keys he could minister (bind and loosen) in his Apostolic role. There is nothing that says that he was the guardian of the faith, or the first among Apostles, or the only one who could minister.
The title "Prince of the Apostles" is frequently used by the Fathers, is it not? "As Plato was prince of philosophers, so is Peter of the apostles, upon whom the Church is founded in massive solidity, which is shaken by no surge of floods nor any storm" - St. Jerome.
I offer you some examples of the Dictatus Papae
The Dictatus is not some sort of official statement of Rome!!! It is from St. Gregory VII's notes! Of those four, only the power of deposing bishops is granted to St. Peter and his successors, and this is abundantly witnessed to by the deposition of Nestorius by St. Celestine and of Anthimus by St. Agapetus. Bl. Pius IX rejected the idea that the Pope had the power of deposition by Divine Right, rather than by the civil law of Christendom.
When my maternal grandmother passed away, my mother was terribly shaken and couldn't eat or sleep for several days. The priest came to incense and bless the house and pray with us. Afterwords, he sat with my mother in the living room and I overheard the conversation.
He said to my mother "You are a believer?" She was tearful and her voice was quivering. "Yes I am" she said. And she was, trust me. "Then," the priest said, "as a believer you know that life is not s full-stop, but only a comma."
Those words lifted my mother instantly; her color returened; hear tears stopped; she smiled at the priest and said "Thank you." I was amazed and speechless. The priest struck the "nerve," he turned on the light so she could see that life here is not the end. Although I was a doubter at that time, I always remembered the "power" of the priest. He didn't preach to her how Christ died for us and all that...he simply said one sentence and made the truth known.
And so did Father Dragan.
No, but it is the mindset of Rome behind the external humility.
No, gbcdoj, where in the New Testament is that stated? I don't care what St. Jerome thinks. I would like to see his reference in the New Testament that proves his opinion is a fact.
Far cry from Papacy! Apples and oranges. St. Jerome;'s idea of the "prince" of Apostles is not Pope Leo I's idea, not of his legate at the Council of Chalcedon who says that the Pope is the "ruler of the church," or that he has the right to imperial insignia.
And as far as Dictatus is concerned, how is that different from from +Jerome's writings? What makes +Jerome's writing "official" is the faith behind it, not every word he says. He did not write scripture, just opinions.
I knew you could do it. ;-)
Gal. 1, where St. Paul visits St. Peter:
You see his humble soul? You see how he sets himself below all saints, not merely below all the apostles? And feeling this towards all, he was aware how great a superiority Peter must enjoy, and he reverences him more than all men, and he esteemed him according to his dignity. The whole world was looking to Paul, the care of the Churches throughout the world was hung upon his soul, every day he transacted a thousand matters, all surrounded was he with business, presidency, corrections, counsels, warnings, instructions, the management of a thousand things; and setting all this aside, he went to Jerusalem, and there was no other pretext for his journey but to see Peter, as he himself says: 'I went up to Jerusalem to visit Peter,' so greatly did he honor him and set him before all. (St. John Chrysostom, Homily on "I withstood him to the face")
Acts 1, the appointment of Matthias. On this, St. John says:
Here is forethought for providing a teacher; here was the first who ordained a teacher. He did not say, 'We are sufficient.' So far was he beyond all vain-glory, and he looked to one thing alone. And yet he had the same power to ordain as they all collectively. ... For observe, they were an hundred and twenty, and he asks for one out of the whole body with good right, as having been put in charge of them: for to him had Christ said, "And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Homily 3 in Acts)
Acts 9:32, "Peter, as he passed through, visiting all". St. John says here:
"And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda." Like the commander of an army, he went about, inspecting the ranks, what part was compact, what in good order, what needed his presence. See how on all occasions he goes about, foremost. When an Apostle was to be chosen, he was the foremost: when the Jews were to be told, that these were "not drunken," when the lame man was to be healed, when harangues to be made, he is before the rest: when the rulers were to be spoken to, he was the man; when Ananias, he: when healings were wrought by the shadow, still it was he. And look: where there was danger, he was the man, and where good management (was needed); but where all is calm, there they act all in common, and he demands no greater honor (than the others). (Homily 21 in Acts)
it's called the faith. That is the only key to the Kingdom of God.
"Keys", in context, most likely refers to authority. Cf. Isa. 22:20-22 for a parallel. The Fathers usually interpret them either with reference to the Church's authority to forgive sins or as a general grant of authority: thus Chrysostom gives (Homily 55 in St. Matthew) the paraphrase: What dost Thou give? tell me. "The keys of the heavens, that whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in Heaven." and says that For the Father gave to Peter the revelation of the Son; but the Son gave him to sow that of the Father and that of Himself in every part of the world; and to a mortal man He entrusted the authority over all things in Heaven, giving him the keys. To understand the keys as referring to faith also makes no sense in context. St. Peter already confessed his faith in Christ. How then should it be said to him, "I shall give to thee faith"?
There is nothing that says that he was ... the first among Apostles
Surely you realize that you have at this point wholly departed from the Patristic interpretation of Scripture. There are no grounds whatsoever for denying to him the title of "first among the apostles". St. Cyprian speaks for the primitive Church when he calls the episcopal chair the "chair of Peter", senseless unless St. Peter was the chief or first of the apostles. Moreover, Cornelius was made bishop by the judgment of God and of His Christ, by the testimony of almost all the clergy, by the suffrage of the people who were then present, and by the assembly of ancient priests and good men, when no one had been made so before him, when the place of Fabian, that is, when the place of Peter and the degree of the sacerdotal throne was vacant; (Ep. 51:8) There is one God, and Christ is one, and there is one Church, and one chair founded upon the rock by the word of the Lord. Another altar cannot be constituted nor a new priesthood be made, except the one altar and the one priesthood. Whosoever gathereth elsewhere, scattereth. (Ep. 39:5) Upon one He builds His Church, and to the same He says after His resurrection, 'feed My sheep'. And though to all His Apostles He gave an equal power yet did He set up one chair, and disposed the origin and manner of unity by his authority. The other Apostles were indeed what Peter was, but the primacy is given to Peter, and the Church and the chair is shown to be one. And all are pastors, but the flock is shown to be one, which is fed by all the Apostles with one mind and heart. (On the Unity of the Church, §4).
Only the interpretation in your church...
In yours as well, it would seem.
The Orthodox Faith - Fr. Thomas Hopko
The Tradition of the Church, however, maintains the testimony of the letters themselves, ascribing them to the foremost leader of Christ's apostles writing from "Babylon," which was the early Church's name for Rome, on the eve of his martyrdom there in the latter half of the first century (see 1 Pet 5:13, 2 Pet 1:14).
The Church assigned ther title "Protokoryphaioi" (leaders or chiefs) to St Peter and St Paul. This title, however, as indicated in the Orthodox Tradition, reflects their "functions, responsibilities, cares, and rôles; they do not, however, refer to special privileges, prerogatives, or authority."
Their work included more people, and was harder and more dangerous in the center of an Empire that persecuted them, so their contribution was naturally recognzied above those of other Churches.
That is a good link. Thank you MarMema.
But you denied that he was Prince, not that he was ruler. But since you mention it: "In this world there are many kings, not one, like that pope who is over the church of the whole world" (Letter of Rebuke from the Bishop of Patara to the Emperor Justinian, On the Exile of St. Silverius, 537 AD).
or that he has the right to imperial insignia
Look, this is just some silly thing from the Dictatus. Can we just forget about that? No one in the West treats the thing as a source of Catholic teaching, nor was it ever considered such.
What makes +Jerome's writing "official" is the faith behind it, not every word he says.
But here +Jerome speaks for the rest of the Fathers (as I said) - surely it is not necessary to dredge up the texts on St. Peter as prince.
We also venerate Sts. Peter and Paul as chiefs of the apostles. But St. Peter was the first and the chief of all of them. Chrysostom appears to differ on whether such titles imply authority, as I have shown - I think he's probably a good source for what those were thought to mean.
This are +Chrysostom's words...the New Testament says this:
"Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." (Gal 18-19)
+Paul went to see +Peter and +James. He went specifically to speak with +Peter but there is nothing that says here because "so greatly did he honor him and set him before all." That is +Chrysostom's version...it's ain't the Gospel.
+Paul doesn't say why he went to see +Peter or why he also saw +James but not others (maybe because they were busy baptizing the world!). +Paul also doesn't say anything about what they discussed. +Paul doesn't say "I went to see Peters because he is my leader, or because he is above me."
It seems to me these gaps were slowly "filled" by various Fathers as the time went by.
That the Apostles themselves did not buy into this interpretation as they argued who is first among them.
There is one instance where the NT "ranks" Apostles: "Peter as the "first" (Mat 10:2) but that can be because he was the oldest. It says nothing about first in authority.