Skip to comments.Constantine the Great and the rise of Monasticism
Posted on 11/15/2011 4:28:39 PM PST by rzman21
Monasticism in the Orthodox Church
His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh
THE ORTHODOX MONASTIC TRADITION - THE BEGINNINGS.
Since the early years of the Christian era, Christians have been called by Christ Himself to life in the world without being of the world (John 17:13-16). They are distinct from the world, because of their special conduct and their exemplary ethical life. When, toward the middle of the second century of the Christian era, Christian life reached a low ebb, some Christians, both men and women, reacted to this by raising their own personal standards of austere Christian life. They practiced chastity, celibacy, poverty, prayer and fasting (Justin, I Apology 15:6; Athenagoras, Apology 33; and Galenus, De Sententiis Politiae Platonicae).
These people considered themselves Christians selected to live the life of angels (Matt. 22:30). They lived by themselves or in special houses as a community. At about the middle of the third century, they began fleeing the world and going to the desert, where they established permanent habitations, whether by themselves or in small groups. They are known as the "anchorites" (from anachoresis: departure, flight); the hermits (from eremos: desert); and the monastics (from monos: alone, for a monastic "lives in the presence of God alone").
A good example of an anchorite monk is Saint Anthony the Great, who fled the world [c. 285] and established himself in the desert of Middle Egypt. Many people imitated his example; they went and lived close to him, thus "populating the desert" (Troparion of St. Anthony). These monks lived by themselves in huts and small houses to form a village called "lavra" (later the concept of "lavra" develops, as we will see). St. Anthony is considered the Father of Orthodox monasticism, for his kind of monasticism, that of "living alone with God as his only companion" remained the most cherished monastic ideal for the monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church throughout the ages.
The establishment of Christianity as a legal religion of the roman Empire by Constantine the Great, with the edict of Milan (313), led to a new decline in the ethical life of Christians. In reaction to this decline, many refused to accept any compromises and fled the world to become monastics. Monasticism thrived, especially in Egypt, with two important monastic centers, one in the desert of Nitria, by the Western Bank of the Nile, with Abba Ammoun (d. 356) as its founder, and one in the desert of Skete, south of Nitria, with Saint Makarios of Egypt (d. ca. Egypt 330) as its founder. These monks were anchorites, following the monastic ideal of St. Anthony. They lived by themselves, gathering together for common worship on Saturdays and Sundays only.
Whereas Saint Anthony the Great is the founder of anchorite monasticism, Saint Pachomios of Egypt (d. 346) is the founder of the so-called "cenobitic" (from Koinos bios: communal life) monasticism. Pachomios started as an anchorite himself in the Thebaid, Upper Egypt. Later in that same place, he founded the first "monastery" in the modern sense of the term. St. Anthony's lavra was a village of anchorites who lived by themselves in their own huts and had a life in common, practiced common daily prayer evening and morning, worked in common, had common revenues and expenditures, and common meals, and wore the same identical monastic garb. This garb consisted of a linen tunic or robe and belt, a white goat skin or sheep skin coat and belt, a cone-shaped head-cover or hood (koukoulion) and a linen scarf (maforion or pallium). At this stage, monks were identified with lay people seeking Christian perfection. No religious ceremony was required, and no monastic vows. Monks were prohibited from becoming clergy.
Anchorite monasticism existed in other places besides Egypt. However, "organized monasticism," that is, of the "cenobitic" type, spread to Sinai, Palestine and Syria from Egypt. Two monks from Egypt, St. Ilarion (d. 371) and St. Epiphanios, later bishop of Salamis in Cyprus (d. 403), brought organized monasticism to Palestine.
Monasticism at this time was identified with the "charismatics" of the ancient church. This identification of monasticism with the "enthusiastic element" in the church led to some abuses, of which those around Eustathios of Sebastia (d. 380) are good example. Eustathios introduced monasticism into Asia Minor from Egypt. His followers became overzealous; they taught that marriage and meat-eating made salvation impossible; they were, in fact, advocating monasticism for all Christians. The Council of Gangra (343) condemned these over-enthusiastic practices. Another heresy that affected monasticism during this same time was "Messalianism," which appeared in Mesopotamia (c. 350 A.D.). Messalians were ascetics who practiced poverty, celibacy and fasting. They rejected the sacramental life of the church and pretended to see God with their physical eyes. They spread in Syria and Asia Minor; they finally were anathematized by the Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus . Under the influence of the Messalians, the non-sleepers or Vigilant (Akoimetoi) type of monasticism was developed in the area of Constantinople (mid-fifth century). The most famous instance was the Studion monastery, renowned for its polemic against the Iconoclasts. St. Symeon of Antioch [ca. 460] also developed the Stylite type of monasticism, living himself on a pole (stylos) for over 36 years.
Monasticism became a strong movement in the life of the church. The church not only condemned anti-church groups and tendencies within monasticism, but also guided and directed the monastic movement to meet its own needs. One of the ways through which this occurred was through a convergence of monasticism and clergy: monks were now ordained in a special religious service at which they subscribed to special monastic vows, thus becoming a special class of Christians standing between the clergy and the laity. This development was mostly due to the efforts of Saint Basil, Archbishop of Caesaria in Cappadocia.
BASIL THE GREAT AND THE CONSTITUTION OF ORTHODOX MONASTICISM .
Eustathios of Sebastia introduced monasticism to Asia Minor; he influenced St. Basil, who borrowed whatever was good in his innovations, including the monastic garments, monastic vows, and the special religious service (tonsure) that indicated the special status of a monk, superior to that of lay people, and subordinate to the clergy.
Among the many ascetical works of St. Basil, two are the most significant in terms of regulating the life of monasticism: the "Great Rules" (Oroi Kata Platos), and the "Brief Rules" (Oroi Kat' Epitomen). These rules regulate the life in the cenobitic monasteries: they extol the monastic life in common as the ideal Christian life, the "life of perfection," while at the same time indicating the dangers of the solitary anchoretic life. St. Basil's Rules became the Magna Carta of Monasticism, both in the East and in the West, throughout the monastic tradition. The difference is that while in the Christian East the anchorite spirit of St. Anthony continues to persist as the original monastic ideal, thus at times reacting against the organized monasticism of a Pachomian, cenobitic type promulgated by Saint Basil in the Rules, the Christian West, after the modifications to the Basilian Rules by St. Benedict, remains faithful to the cenobitic spirit of organized monasticism.
St. Basil set Christian perfectionism as the goal of monastic life. The monks were to practice Christian virtues together, especially love; to practice obedience to a spiritual father; to practice chastity and poverty, and share the common goods of the monastery. After they achieved Christian perfection, they were allowed to come back to the world and help others to achieve Christian perfection. Thus, the monks had the mission of "social workers" as well. St. Basil's institutions, especially his Basileias, which was at the same time an orphanage, a "kitchen for the poor," and a school for the illiterate was in practice run by monks. This was St. Basil's way of utilizing the monastic movement to benefit the mission of the Church in the world.
Following St. Basil's example, the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451), in its canonical legislation, placed the monastics in a given Diocese under the direct jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop. Only this bishop can allow the foundation of new monasteries in his diocese (Canons 4 and 8). Thus in the Orthodox Church the possibility of the creation of monastic "Orders," as we see them developing in the West during the Middle Ages, was once and for all eliminated.
Monasticism also spread in the West. Its origins go back to St. Athanasios of Alexandria, who was exiled to the West (399). His Life of St. Anthony was translated into Latin by Evagrios of Antioch (380). Two Latin monks, Rufinus and St. Jerome, who lived in Palestine, brought monasticism to the West when they returned, during the second half of the 4th century. St. Ambrose of Milan (d. 395) introduced monasticism in Northern Italy, and St. Augustine (d. 430) in Northern Africa, whence monasticism was transplanted to Spain. St. Martin of Tours (370) introduced monasticism into Northern France (Gaul), and St. Honoratus of Arles into the South. St. John Cassian founded two monasteries near Marseilles (415); he had become acquainted with monasticism in Egypt and Palestine, and was ordained a deacon by St. John Chrysostom in Constantinople. At. St. John's deposition, John Cassian returned to Gaul to establish monasticism there.
THE ROLE OF MONASTICISM IN THE BYZANTINE AND THE OTTOMAN STATES.
With the development of Monasticism during the fourth century and thereafter, many monastics became involved with the various heresies, especially those concerning the Christological dogma. Most of the monastics were the defenders of the Orthodox faith. Still, Eutyches, an archimandrite from Constantinople, headed the heresy of monophysitism. On the Orthodox side, St. Maximos the Confessor (c. 580-662) played an important role in defeating the heresies of monothelitism and monoenergism. The Sixth Ecumenical Council (680) condemned monothelitism and reestablished the doctrine of Chalcedon. During the time of the iconoclastic controversy, the Studite monks, led by St. Theodore the Studite (759-826), played a very important role. In addition to organizing his monastery, the Studion, on the basis of the cenobitic principles of St. Pachomios and St. Basil, St. Theodore also wrote his three Antirrhetics against iconoclasm.
After the condemnation of the iconoclasts, monasticism thrived even more. Many representatives of the Byzantine aristocracy became monks. Monks were men of letters; clergy received their education in the monasteries. Bishops, metropolitans, and patriarchs were taken from their ranks; monks were involved with the church affairs, at times for the good of the church, at times creating trouble. Monasteries existed in almost every diocese, with the Bishop as their head, planting a cross in their foundations. Since 879, the right was given to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople of planting a cross in monasteries that were under the jurisdiction of other dioceses throughout the empire. They were called "Patriarchal Stavropighiac Monasteries." This right exists to our days.
With the Arab conquest of Syria, Palestine and Egypt (during the 7th century), new centers for monasteries were sought and founded, among which were Mount Olympus in Bithynia and the Holy Mount Athos.
During the entire Byzantine period, the monks took an active part in the life of the Church in general. Still, spirituality was their strength. Concerning this tension in Christian anthropology, two schools of thought were represented; that of Evagrios ponticus (d. 399), who followed a Platonic and Origenistic doctrine pertaining to the "mind," thus de-emphasizing the importance of the human body and becoming dualistic, and St. Makarios of Egypt (or, better, the writings attributed to him), present a more Christian, holistic anthropology; for in this theology man is a psycho-physical entity, and, as such, being a destined to deification. "Prayer of the mind," in the Evagrian spirituality, becomes "prayer of the heart" in the Macarian spirituality. The two schools of thought with the two different anthropologies continue to find representatives throughout the history of the Church.
Saint Symeon, the New Theologian (949-1022), marks an important development in monastic spirituality. A disciple of a Studite monk, he left the Studion to join the small monastery of St. Mamas in Constantinople, were he was ordained a priest and became the abbot. He wrote several works, among which are the fifty-eight hymns of "Divine Love," in which he stresses that the Christian faith is a conscious experience of God. St. Symeon is the exponent of an intensive sacramental life, which leads to this personal conscious experience, as we can see in his Hymns. In this he is a predecessor of Hesychasm, which also shares this personal experience of God in conjunction with intensive sacramental life.
Finally, the spirituality of Hesychasm, as enunciated in the theology of St. Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), is of paramount importance not only in the life of monasticism, but also in the life of the entire Church. An Anthonite monk, St. Gregory took it upon himself to defend the holy Hesychasts of the Holy Mountain in their ways of praying and experiencing the presence of God the "uncreated light" that they contemplated. Barlaam the Calabrian had led the attack against the pious monks and their psycho physical method of prayer, and accused them of "gross materialism," Messalianism, calling them "navel-souls" (omphalopsychoi) and "navel-watchers" (omphaloskopoi).
The hesychastic method of prayer consists of regulating one's breathing with the recitation of the "Jesus prayer": "O Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." The prayer is repeated constantly until it descends from the lips and minds into one's heart. At the end of the process, the peace of Christ is poured into the heart of the worshipper, and the light itself of Christ shines upon him and around him. This light, as that of the Holy Transfiguration of Christ, may also be seen by our physical eyes.
Saint Gregory established that the experience of the Holy Hesychasts was an authentic one, for it is similar to that of the disciples on Mount Tabor. Theologically it is justified by the distinction between essence and energies in God, this light being the "uncreated light," or the "uncreated energy" of God, that "can descend toward us," whereas the essence of God "remains unapproachable" (St. Basil).
After the fall of Constantinople, the number of idiorrythmic monasteries continued to grow, a fact which brought a further decline to monastic life. The 16th century was the lowest ebb. In reaction to this problem, many of the monks themselves, especially on the Holy Mountain, left the main monasteries and turned to idiorrhythmic ones, establishing Sketai (dependencies) of the main monasteries, with a more rigorous typikon (order). Also, Patriarchs Jeremy II of Constantinople, Silvester of Alexandria, and Sophronios of Jerusalem led the attack against idiorrhythmic monasticism, thus managing to counteract its spread. Cenobitic monasticism prevailed for a while, but the tide soon went in its original direction. Many monasteries of the Holy Mountain, including the mother monastery, the Great Lavra, became idiorrhythmic. Today an idiorrhythmic monastery may become cenobitic but not the other way round. Hopefully, this will guarantee that organized monastic life will finally prevail, according to the Basilian ideal of monasticism.
Monasticism played an important role under the Ottoman Empire, as well. The monks not only kept the faith alive, but they also kept the Greek culture and literature alive. Not only did the education of clergy continue at the monasteries, but the monasteries became the "clandestine school" (Krypho Scholeio) for all the Greeks under Turkish occupation. The monks thus prevented the Christian nations under Turkish occupation from being assimilated to them, and thereby became the natural leaders of national ("ethnic") resistance against the oppressors. It is no accident that the Greek Revolution started in 1821 at a monastery in the Peloponnesos, Aghia Lavra, with Metropolitan Germanos of Old Patras raising the banner of revolution and blessing the arms of the Greek freedom fighters.
THE MONASTIC COMMUNITY OF THE HOLY MOUNT ATHOS.
Monasticism existed on the Mountain even before the tenth century. Many anchorites were living on Mt. Athos, especially in the area of Ierissos. The anchorites lived in the cells (kellia), and were organized according to the general pattern, selecting a "leader" (protos) from among themselves to keep a semblance of order. Some of those cells were built for many anchorites to live in, and some of these joint habitations were called "monasteries." Two of these were in existence on the Mount before the tenth century: Zogrophou and Xeropotamou.
However, cenobitic monasticism, which is considered to be the beginning of the Great Republic of Monks on the Holy Mountain, only started in 963 when monk Athanasios the Athonite built the cenobitic monastery of Meghisti Lavra, with the help of the Emperor Nicephoros Phokas and the continued support of Emperor John Tsimiskis. The community soon became a "pan-Orthodox" community: Iberians (Georgians), Russians, Serbians, Bulgarians and Romanians joined the Greeks to form the pan-Orthodox community, a "Republic of Monks."
Each of the monasteries had its own abbot; one, chosen leader as Protos, was installed by the emperor himself. Following the example of Lavra, which was given an autonomous status, all the monasteries were considered royal monasteries, without any ecclesiastical dependence. This was changed by Emperor Alexios Comnenos (1081-1118), who gave the Patriarch the right to supervise the monasteries (Novella 37); all the monasteries thus became "Stavropighiac" and Patriarchal. The Patriarch appointed the Bishop of Ierissos to be his representative at the Holy Mountain.
The multiplication of idiorrythmic monasteries under the Turkish occupation affected the Holy Mountain; they dismissed their abbots and even the Protos in the course of the seventeenth century. The abbot was replaced by two or three "trustees" chosen yearly by the monks; the Protos was replaced by four supervisors (Epistatai) who changed every year. One of them chosen as chief supervisor (Protepistatis), as a "first among equals." The Republic, consisting of twenty monasteries, is still represented in the Synaxis by as many representatives that meet twice a year, or as necessary. The representative of Lavra presides over the Synaxis. This typikon, established in 1783 by Patriarch Gabriel IV of Constantinople, still regulates the life of the Anthonite republic of monks.
ORTHODOX MONASTICISM TODAY.
With the conversion of the Slavs in the ninth and tenth century, monasticism spread to the Slavic countries as well, where it continues to thrive up to our day, in spite of communist oppression. Important monasteries in Russia - Zagorsk, Optimo, and Valamo - continue the hesychastic tradition. Great monks and spiritual fathers were exponents of this tradition, including St. Nilus (1433 1508), St. Seraphim of Sarov (1759-1833), and Father John of Kronstadt (1829-1908), a married priest. Monasticism thrives today in Romania, Serbia, and even Bulgaria.
On the Holy Mountain itself, there is an impressive monastic renewal: several monasteries, inactive in the recent past, were recently populated by young, educated, enthusiastic monks, who give new life and a new spirituality, more in conformity with that of St. Basil, to the Holy Mountain. The monastery of Stavronikita is an example. Under the guidance of important spiritual fathers on the Holy Mountain today - among them ore Father Ephraim, abbot of Philotheou; Father Aimilianos, abbot of Simonos Petra; and abbot Vassilios of Stavronikita - monasticism is thriving on the Holy Mountain, both spiritually and intellectually. The pattern of cenobitic life prevails at present, and continues to gain ground.
Spiritual fathers from the Holy Mountain visit the States, including Holy Cross Theological School. Interest has been generated among young men and women who aspire to monastic life and wish to see its tradition flourish in America. The St. Gregory Palamas Monastery in Hayesville, Ohio under the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh, has this potential.
In our day, there is a monastic renewal, as a reaction to the materialist spirit in our society, in almost every Orthodox land. Longovarda Monastery, Nea Makri, and St. John's Monastery on Patmos are some of the active monasteries in Greece outside Mount Athos. As for the States, the major Holy Places, monasteries and shrines connected with them, are under the jurisdiction of the Synodal Church outside Russia. Among these monasteries are: Saint Tikhon's, near South Canaan, Pennsylvania (OCA); Novo-Diveyevo convent, near Spring Valley, New York; Holy Transfiguration Monastery and Convent in Boston, Convent of the Vladimir Mother of God, San Francisco, California, Holy Dormition Monastery, Northville, Alberta, New Skete Monastery, near Cambridge, New York and Holy Annunciation Monastery (Carpatho Russian Diocese), Tuxedo Park, New York.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING:
H. Waddell, The Desert Fathers, London 1936.
N.F. Robinson, Monasticism in the Orthodox Churches, London, 1916.
C. Cavarnos, Anchored in God, Athens, 1959.
Constantine was the worst thing that ever happened to Christianity.
He took a persecuted but devout, peaceful and unified church and turned it into the persecutors of everyone else and murderous factions against each other. “Orthodoxy” simply became us against anyone who disagreed who had to be butchered in the millions over obscure and irrelevant trivialities of interpretation. The church was ruined by Constantine’s intrigues and meddling for the next 1500 years.
I don’t have much good to say about Constantine.
Then the gates of hell prevailed against the Church.
Protestants simply invented a new religion.
Ever stop to think how you go about killing millions?
It's really difficult.
There's currently a theory being investigated that most Protestant areas in Europe were actually Orthodox up until quite recent times but when invaded and taken over by Western princes or armies the priests were sacked or they fled and the new rulers simply failed to bring in Roman priests. The populace left to its own started running their own churches.
THE CHURCH, is the believers in Christ, not a building, or a religion full of traditions. If we learned one thing about Jesus, is he had no use for traditions held by synagogues and by extension, churches.
If you equate Orthodoxy with Byzantine theology or Byzantine praxis. I think that’s hard to prove considering Northern Europe has been profoundly Augustinian since its conversion.
Although if you are referring to the conciliarist movement then you might have a point.
The Orthodox never burned anyone at the stake. Protestants weren’t much better as they burned Catholics and their enemies at the stake.
The Bible doesn’t discuss everything Jesus did, nor does it explicitly discuss things like the Trinity of Divinity of Christ. That’s Tradition.
The Catholics and Orthodox are far closer to what the early Christians believed and prayed than Evangelicals are.
Evangelicalism relies on an imagined reading of scripture that is really neo-Gnostic in nature.
Christ was visible therefore is visible. Saying otherwise is shear gnosticism.
The Church is Visible and One
A Critique of Protestant Ecclesiology
by Patrick Barnes
This article is approx. 40 pages and still in an early form; but it is quite readable. I welcome any and all feedback. For those who wish only to read the Introduction I have included this below. Download the essay in PDF format.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians 4:6
And I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church ... The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed
And if ever you are sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lords House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the church is, but where is the Catholic* Church. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, XVIII
Protestant Christians around the world are steadily becoming more aware of the reality of the Church. This century has especially seen a tremendous reawakening to this aspect of Christianity. What is the Church? is often the question that drives Protestants to either Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. Many Protestants who begin reading the the writings of the early Churchespecially works like Tertullians Prescription Against the Heretics, St. Cyprians Unity of the Catholic Church, or St. Irenaeuss Against the Heresies, or who begin to ponder the implications of 1 Timothy 3:15,  soon begin to realize that the concept of unity with the One Visible Church is central to Christianity. All other doctrinal issues and disagreements are downstream of the issue of the Church, for She is the pillar and ground of the Truth. Find the Church and one finds the fullness of Truth. 
The question of the Church was certainly the catalyst in my own journey, especially after reading the Ignatius Press edition of Thomas Howards delightful book Evangelical Is Not Enough. In the Postscript he reflects upon the steps that took him from Canterbury to Rome by saying that it was the same old story which one finds in Newman, Knox, Chesterton, and all others who have made this move. The question, What is the Church? becomes, finally, intractable; and one finds oneself unable to offer any compelling reasons why the phrase one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, which we all say in the Creed, is to be understood in any way other than the way in which it was understood for 1500 years. If Howard introduced the question to me, the hammer that drove home the nails came, ironically, from yet another encounter with a Roman Catholic book. To this day Yves Congars monumental Tradition and Traditions remains one of the most important books I have ever read besides the Bible; for it thoroughly convinced me that the Bible, Tradition, and the Church are one majestic tapestry woven and preserved by the Holy Spirit. When I finally became aware of the reality of this undivided, historical and visible Church I knew I could no longer remain separate from Her. I was not in the Church, and I needed to be.
Most of what will I will say below assumes that the concept of an ancient consensus fidelium carries some weight with the reader. For those who are of the opinion that the God-enlightened Fathers of the Church are not important, or who are under the sway of liberal scholars who champion theological relativism, there is probably not much common ground for discussion. One Protestant I have corresponded with, a doctoral candidate studying under Thomas Oden at Drew University, is probably representative of many when he said:
As for the proper interpretation of Nicea being, by definition, that interpretation which the Church has given it: First, that assertion so clearly begs the question that it leaves one suspecting whether there is any room left for dialogue at all. But second, and more importantly, I would contend with your assumption about the nature of Tradition. The Creed is itself an aspect of Tradition and, as such, leaves room for a spectrum of interpretations. For you to demand that there is only one possible interpretation of the Creed is certainly counter to the way [in] which that same Tradition has interacted with itself. The whole methodology of the Councils permits a breadth of freedom within certain conceptual parameters. We are not all required to affirm the same interpretation of the Creed, just the same Creed.
Is there any common ground for discussion? It is difficult to say.
Another way of stating my position is that I unapologetically presuppose that the Church is indeed the pillar and ground of the Truth, that the Mind of the Church (the consensus fidelium) has something authoritative to say to us today, that what She says is clearly discernible, and that Her Tradition is timeless and unchanging.
Now, by unchanging we Orthodox do not mean static or institutionalized, as those misinformed about the Churchs understanding of Tradition often think. What is meant is that there can be no doctrinal changes to the Apostolic deposit. Only new expressions of the faith once delivered to the saints, expressions typically formulated in response to attacks on the Churchs beliefs, are even considered, let alone adopted. St. Vincent of Lérins, in his masterful fifth century treatise entitled The Commonitory, perfectly expresses the platform from which I make my presentation:
I have often then inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity; and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or any one else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways; first, by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church.
But here some one perhaps will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Churchs interpretation? For this reasonbecause, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters. For Novatian expounds it one way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, another, Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian, another, Iovinian, Pelagius, Celestius, another, lastly, Nestorius another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation.
Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense Catholic, which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.
What then will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.
But what, if in antiquity itself there be found error on the part of two or three men, or at any rate of a city or even of a province? Then it will be his care by all means, to prefer the decrees, if such there be, of an ancient General Council to the rashness and ignorance of a few. But what, if some error should spring up on which no such decree is found to bear? Then he must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the ancients, of those, namely, who, though living in divers times and places, yet continuing in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities: and whatsoever he shall ascertain to have been held, written, taught, not by one or two of these only, but by all, equally, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently, that he must understand that he himself also is to believe without any doubt or hesitation. 
In this same vein, and echoing 1 Timothy 3:15, St. Irenaeus wrote:
But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth...
It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about....
In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth. 
In short, accusations of begging the question will fall on deaf ears. The Churchas it has been historically expressed and understood in the Nicene Creedis an object of faith. In this sense, belief in the Church is no different than belief in God. The Church as an infallible pillar and ground of the Truth cannot be proven empirically. We are simply to believe in it.  Thus, my appeal to those men who have been hailed throughout the centuries by countless Christians as Doctors and Teachers of the Faith par excellence ultimately stems from my belief, or faith in, an indefectible Churcha Church that has an authoritative Mind and Tradition which has been formed and preserved by the activity of the Holy Spirit. My platform is in principle no different than a Protestants belief in an infallible Bible interpreted through the unbiblical lens of sola Scriptura. 
At the outset, then, I wish to challenge Protestants to Question Authority, as the popular slogan goes. That is, I want them to see that their views do not rest on what the Church has always believed and confessed, but rather upon their own modern post-enlightenment understanding of things. This modern mindset is an inheritance from the well-intentioned Reformers whoin their attempt to bring the Church back to true Christianity, pure and undefiledunfortunately became unwitting victims of the collapsing framework of late-medieval scholastic nominalism. Shackled in a corrupt mindset that is alien to the Fathers of the Church, they developed a litany of doctrines that are nowhere to be found in the Mind of the Church.
Central and Eastern Europe were subjected to repeated transfers of authority from East to West and West to East throughout the the Middle Ages. Mistakes were made. People forgotten about in mountain valleys. Once out from under the thumbs of the priests, it was a simple matter to establish functioning congregations without them.
Frontiersmen on the American frontier were in the practice of creating new churches out of nothing. By the early 1800s Scottish immigrants added an intellectual component to the practice and came up with the idea of a Second Century church.
Probably not, but wasn’t Vlad the Impaler Orthodox at the time he was killing all those Turks by sticking them ON a stake ~ he just didn’t set fire to them, right?
The monks stood against the tyranny of the state and many such as St. Maximos the Confessor were either murdered or exiled for speaking truth to power.
For the Eastern Orthodox, the monastics have preserved the Church and kept the focus on holiness.
As for Vlad the Impaler, his crimes were political rather than religious in nature. His creed is a red herring.
Arguably the so-called Renaissance was a revival of Greco-Roman paganism.
I sincerely doubt based on what I have read of Second Century Christian doctrine or praxis that the Presbyterians or Baptists had much in common with the 2nd century Church.
The episcopacy, Eucharistic sacrifice, baptismal regeneration, etc. being prime examples.
This movement started as a reaction to the Baptists and Presbyterians having little in common with Primitive Christianity in fact.
Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:
Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.
“I dont have much good to say about Constantine.”
Probably because you don’t know much about him judging by your post.
Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.
“Northern Europe, and I don’t mean just “North of the Alps” was not converted totally before America was discovered. As late as the 1600s you could still find pagans throughout Northern Scandinavia and Northern Russia.”
And since we know there are Muslims and Buddhists in Greece and Russia respectively that means - by your logic - that those countries were never “converted totally” yet. See how that doesn’t work? You can’t say that because the Lapps ddin’t convert until the early modern period that that means the Swedes were somehow not really Christians. That is pure hogwash!
“Central and Eastern Europe were subjected to repeated transfers of authority from East to West and West to East throughout the the Middle Ages.”
Not really. Poland, once Christianized, never was “East”. You’re talking about a few places in the Balkans and Bohemia, Hungary perhaps and that’s really it.
“Frontiersmen on the American frontier were in the practice of creating new churches out of nothing. By the early 1800s Scottish immigrants added an intellectual component to the practice and came up with the idea of a Second Century church.”
In other words, they invented more Protestant rubbish and passed it off to ill-educated twist as proper and worthwhile. Man-made sects - and all Protestant sects are man made - are just lies.
I did NOT read his mind.
I clearly said: “Probably because you dont know much about him JUDGING BY YOUR POST.”
“I dont have much good to say about Constantine.”
AND JUDGING BY YOUR POST you probably don’t know much about him.
If you had said "By judging your post, I doubt you know much about him." you would have been expressing your own mind and not reading his.
“There’s currently a theory being investigated that most Protestant areas in Europe were actually Orthodox up until quite recent times but when invaded and taken over by Western princes or armies the priests were sacked or they fled and the new rulers simply failed to bring in Roman priests. The populace left to its own started running their own churches.”
Completely false. Take a map of Protestant Europe: England, Iceland, Scotland, Sweden, Holland, and most of the rest had no Eastern “Orthodox” Christians at all - ever - until modern times.
You’re still wrong, but I fixed it in another post. Why was my other post deleted?
The one with a reference to “crack” was deleted. Posts which suggest another Freeper is drunk, on meds, etc. are pulled whenever I see them because they are personal and lead to flamewars.
I dont have much good to say about Constantine.
“AND JUDGING BY YOUR POST you probably dont know much about him.”
And you seem to know a lot that isn’t so. (hat tip to Reagan)
I see. So, when a Freeper tells me that I worship the Virgin Mary (and I don’t), which is the same thing as saying I worship a false God and betray my own religion, that must also be personal and must also be considered something that would lead to a flame war, correct? After all, that would also have to be “mind reading” would it not?
Christian Traditions are not “inventions of philosophy”.
Also, neither 2 Thessalonians 2:14-15 nor 2 THESSALONIANS 3
6 say “Tradition...goes directly to SCRIPTURE” nor that it is “inventions of philosophy”. St. Paul simply correctly notes there is one body of doctrine and two modes of transmission. And that’s exactly what the church teaches:
II. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRADITION AND SACRED SCRIPTURE
One common source. . .
80 “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal.”40 Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own “always, to the close of the age”.41
. . . two distinct modes of transmission
81 “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.”42
“And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.”43
82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”44
Spare me your citations. When you understand 1st century Judaism then we can talk. Until then don’t bother using your cliches.
“2 Thessalonians defines good traditions as being from 1) the Gospel and 2) the Epistles from “us”, i.e. the Apostles and therefore synonymous with Holy Scripture.”
False. The Gospel is not a written message. It is the Good News of Christ - which St. Paul always preached and lived and SOMETIMES wrote. Look at St. Philip in Acts 8:12. In 8:35 Philip preaches starting with scripture. If you do a simple word search of “good news” you’ll see it is overwhelmingly by PREACHING not writing.
“Your traditions are supported by a catechism written by men whose hands were drenched in innocent blood over which non-scriptural tradition to accept, generally in order to cement political power. By their fruits ye shall know them.”
Your views are out of touch with reality. First, the Catechism was written by men who were never “drenched in innocent blood”. Tell me who Cardinal Schonborn killed. Can you? No, because he killed no one. Your comment rings of a bizarre twilight world view completely out of touch with reality. Second, although written by men, the work was protected by the Holy Spirit for He protects the Church. Also, you made no effort to refute what I posted. Failed so soon?
“Why do you think Christ and the Apostles blasted traditions other than those explicitly in Scripture as the philosophy of men over and over?”
First of all, they didn’t do what you claim. Please don’t twist the scriptures to your own destruction (2 Peter 3:14-18). Jesus “blasted” those traditions which NEGATED the word of God. He did not blast those which affirmed God word and that word did not have to be explicitly written either. Explain Matthew 23:1-3. Where do you find “Moses’ seat” in scriptures Christ would have known? Yeah, no where. And notice what he actually says to the Apostles about what they should do with the teachings?:
“so practice and observe whatever they tell you but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.”
Where is that in the scriptures that existed when Christ walked the earth? No where. It is Tradition.
“Why do you and the catechism ignore those warnings?”
Your distortions of scripture are not warnings except against making your mistakes. I don’t make your mistakes.
“It was clearly a warning against the mixture of lies and truth in the Catholic Catechism, as well as the errors of Luther, Calvin, Henry VIII, Joseph Smith, Jim Jones and everyone else.”
There are no lies in the Catechism. Have you ever even read it? You can’t seem to respond to it.
“The Black Letter of Scripture is the only true north that each conscience must strive to approximate. Debate is good. Prove all things. But nothing spiritual is proven by dictat of anyone regardless of their claim of authority, or by the sword or the stake.”
And you can’t seem to prove anything you say. You don’t even seem to know the scriptures very well. You certainly can’t seem to interpret them properly.
That's what's being investigated.
As you know there's this question about NORTHWESTERN Europe (Scotland, Britain, Western France and adjoining border areas) regarding the nature of the church during the early missionary periods ~ to wit the 200, 300, 400, 500 period, with many areas rejecting Augustine's authority into the 600, 700 period ~ and maybe even later. (NOTE: Christianization was still underway in Wales, Ireland, Alba and Britain right up to 535AD at which time there was a general economic, social and population collapse in the area. Augustine attempted to rule over a far different NW Europe than had existed in earlier times)
You were aware, of course, that Rome had little influence there. But who did?
BTW, Iceland was first settled in the 800s by monks FROM WHERE? No one seems to be really clear on the matter. There are claims but what archaeological evidence backs them up. The Roman claim is thin until about 1000 ~ the Vatican has a record of the Greenland settlements. Then there's the Mediterranean ~ while we were speaking of such clearly mixed Orthodox/Protestant areas as Bohemia, and undoubtedly vast stretches of Europe along the Carpathians, there's the Sicilian experience, and even that of Tyrolia and modern Croatia.
Russian Orthodox priests had been attempting to Christianize the Sapma (Northern Scandinavia) since even before the departure of the Mongol tax collectors. They weren't terribly successful, but the Eastern tribes seem to have had a substantial Orthodox presence in the early 1500s ~ and are still Orthodox ~ but that splits tribes right down the middle at the national border between Russia and Norway. When the Swedes began transporting tens of thousands of Sa'ami to America in the 1600s the Orthodox in their number were left unchurched and to their own devices. There are several religious movements here that date from that event ~ many don't celebrate Christmas.
You shouldn't be too quick to dismiss Orthodox presence in much more of Europe than has been traditional to believe. In this case facts on the ground are much more important than "faith".
If you ever understand the Word of God, then you and God can talk. I will simply pray for you.
Now how do you imagine those ol'boys got away with that right under the nose of the Orthodox Church?
It's clearly because much of Russia itself was only nominally Christian.
“Augustine attempted to rule over a far different NW Europe than had existed in earlier times)”
Who? What Augustine? You’re not making sense.
“You were aware, of course, that Rome had little influence there. But who did?”
No, actually before the barbarian invasions, Rome had great influence there.
“BTW, Iceland was first settled in the 800s by monks FROM WHERE? No one seems to be really clear on the matter.”
Yes, we are entirely clear on that. Ireland and Scotland.
“There are claims but what archaeological evidence backs them up. The Roman claim is thin until about 1000 ~ the Vatican has a record of the Greenland settlements.”
You are making no sense whatsoever. First, stop relying on Wikipedia. Your comments directly follow the article on settlement of Iceland on wikipedia. And what Roman claim are you even talking about? Your comments are nonsensical.
“Then there’s the Mediterranean ~ while we were speaking of such clearly mixed Orthodox/Protestant areas as Bohemia, and undoubtedly vast stretches of Europe along the Carpathians, there’s the Sicilian experience, and even that of Tyrolia and modern Croatia.”
No. 1) Sicily and Tyrol were Catholic before either ever could have become Orthodox. 2) None of the three places (Sicily, Tyrol, Croatia) are Protestants so they still don’t work for your bizarre claim.
“Russian Orthodox priests had been attempting to Christianize the Sapma (Northern Scandinavia) since even before the departure of the Mongol tax collectors.”
Do you have any idea what you’re actually saying? The Mongol conquest of Russia began in the 1220s. That’s 400 years AFTER St. Ansgar made his first attempt to convert the Swedes. The Archdiocese of Uppsala was establish in the late 12th century - 60 years before the Mongols began their conquest of Russia. Russia would dig their way out from under their Mongol overlords for two centuries.
“They weren’t terribly successful, but the Eastern tribes seem to have had a substantial Orthodox presence in the early 1500s ~ and are still Orthodox ~ but that splits tribes right down the middle at the national border between Russia and Norway.”
Eastern tribes? Do you mean the Setu? They’re not in Sweden. Do you mean in the area of Pechenga? That’s not even in Scandanavia either! Do you realize that the first Catholic parish in the Norwegian Lapland was built at Vardø in 1307?
“When the Swedes began transporting tens of thousands of Sa’ami to America in the 1600s the Orthodox in their number were left unchurched and to their own devices. There are several religious movements here that date from that event ~ many don’t celebrate Christmas.”
None of which proves any of your claims.
“You shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss Orthodox presence in much more of Europe than has been traditional to believe.”
Nonsense. There is no evidence for your Orthodox-Protestant claim.
“In this case facts on the ground are much more important than “faith”.”
You presented no facts whatsoever to prove your claims. I bet that’s exactly how your posts will continue as well.
Come on now, "vladimir998", you've blown your Eastern cover.
BTW, I think the first time I encountered you on Free Republic you were denying the existence of the "Dark Ages" or the vast desolation in Western Europe shortly after 535 AD.
“You really don’t know your Swedes do you.”
Yeah, actually I apparently know them better than others here.
“There’s a really great book out there called History of the Vikings.”
Which one? The one from Gwyn Jones? Read it. The one from Else Roesdahl? Read it. Viking Age Iceland by Jesse Byock? Read it. I also have in storage and read the encyclopedia of Medieval Scandinavia (great cure for insomnia). Oh, and did I mention I took Old Norse in graduate school and read some of the sagas in the original? Yeah.
“It reports a traditional Viking Chief’s burial ~ burning boat and sacrifical virgin included ~ in the 1700s on the Volga!”
What you’re apparently alluding to is the report of Ahmad ibn Fadlan, an early 10th century Arab assistant emissary, who traveled from Baghdad to the Volga Bulgars in 921. It was he who witnessed the chief’s funeral. I read his book more than 15 years ago. For kicks you might want to read Michael Cricton’s Eaters of the Dead which is a novelization of the old Beowulf story which takes its beginning from Fadlan’s chronicle. It was later made into a movie called 13th Warrior.
Your most glaring error is that you said there were Vikings on the Volga in 1700. Peter was the Tsar of Russia then. Do you really think the Vikings for contemporary to the Romanov dynasty?
“Now how do you imagine those ol’boys got away with that right under the nose of the Orthodox Church?”
They didn’t. BECAUSE RUSSIA WOULD ONLY BE CONVERTED 60 YEARS AFTER THE EVENT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!!! There was no Orthodox Church on the Volga yet. Unreal!
“It’s clearly because much of Russia itself was only nominally Christian.”
(sigh) No, it’s because Russia wasn’t Christian AT ALL YET. Please get your chronology straight.
Look in Gwyn Jones’ book, page 425, and see the appendix on the ship burial on the Volga and you’ll see it is based on Ibn Fadlan’s 10th century account.
“Sounds to me that you are prone to discount ALL Orthodox claims, even archaeological evidence.”
You presented none.
” Now, where do you see St. Sophia in all this?”
In the same place it’s been since the 6th century.
” Did the Bishop of Rome have authority over the services there?”
“Did he direct the order of worship?”
“Come on now, “vladimir998”, you’ve blown your Eastern cover.”
Show me when I claimed any. Can you?
“BTW, I think the first time I encountered you on Free Republic you were denying the existence of the “Dark Ages” or the vast desolation in Western Europe shortly after 535 AD.”
I do not use terms which make no sense. The “Dark Ages” effectively makes no sense. What centuries were the “Dark Ages”? How do we know? Based on what criteria? According to what standard? Who uses the term for political purposes? Why should I ally myself with them by using the same term when it makes no sense?
Vlad, my boy, you are nuts ~
Oooh! I’ll take this one. It’s a gimme. It is so simple a child can understand it!
1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
“Moses’ seat” is the Old Testament equivalent of the later claimed “Seat of St. Peter” from Linus forward. You do not find it elsewhere because it did not exist. It was fraudulent.
God gave to Moses the same authority (e.g. divorce) he gave to Peter but not to their “successors”, pretended or not:
5 And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.
6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
Just look around the Vatican.
8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Pope = Papa = Father (as are all priests called)
Who gave you the right to directly contradict scripture?
13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
The history of the Catholic Church. (e.g. on the destruction of the Cathars mixed with Catholics, ‘kill them all and let God sort them out’.)
Learn to read more carefully. You made a FALSE claim. There was no Viking funeral in 1700. The one you’re talking about happend in about 921. You were off by almost 800 years.
There were NO ORTHODOX CHURCH ALONG THE VOLGA in 921. Russia was only converted in 988. Is this beginning to sink in now? You were wrong about the story. You were wrong about when it took place. You were wrong in your conclusions. You apparently didn’t even read closely the book you cited. Again, look at page 425 of the book you mentioned.
Get a clue.
“Oooh! Ill take this one. Its a gimme. It is so simple a child can understand it!”
Except you apparently don’t.
“Moses seat is the Old Testament equivalent of the later claimed Seat of St. Peter from Linus forward. You do not find it elsewhere because it did not exist. It was fraudulent.”
So, you’re claiming Jesus told the Apostles to follow something that was fraudulent? “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do”
“Pope = Papa = Father (as are all priests called)
Who gave you the right to directly contradict scripture?”
It doesn’t contradict scripture. If your interpretation was valid then Jesus would have contradicted His own words. See John 8:55-57
“The history of the Catholic Church. (e.g. on the destruction of the Cathars mixed with Catholics, kill them all and let God sort them out.)”
The whole “kill them all” myth is exactly that. There’s no reliable historical evidence anyone ever said them before the storming of a town in the Albigensian crusade. Medieval warfare was harsh. What was done on the battlefield by soldiers has nothing to do with Catholic doctrine.
Can you actually present any evidence for your claims?
Is it beginning to sink in now?
Do you now realize that you didn’t even get right what the book said?
It was 921, not 1700.
It wasn’t that Russia was just nominally Christian, it was that Russia wasn’t Christian at all because it didn’t convert until more than 60 years AFTER THE EVENT you mentioned.
Get it now?
Don’t place yourself in the place of God. All I see is not the Word of God, but rather your twisting of the Word of God to suit your own prejudices.
There’s not much difference between someone like you who twists the scriptures to suit your prejudices against Apostolic Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox, and those who twist the Scriptures to defend their love of homosexuality.
In the end, those of you who believe in Solo Scriptura set your own consciences above Scripture even if you refuse to admit it.
It’s not much of a leap from going from being your own Pope and Ecumenical Council to being your own God.
Liberal and Fundamentalist Protestants are two sides of the same coin.
Arguing with Fundamentalist Protestants is like arguing with a brick wall because all you ever get is a mutual monologue.
They have their minds made up, and no amount of historical argument or appeals to how the Church Fathers read the Bible, etc. will open their minds.
They believe that they are individually superior to the Church Fathers and that they have an infallible understanding not of what the Bible says, but what it means. (Even Satan can quote scripture.)
As a historical note, the Patriarch of Alexandria was referred to as Pope before the Popes of Rome adopted the title.
If however he says that Catholics worship Mary then he is expressing his own mind and not reading yours.
As another example, "Scientologists are cultists" is not making it personal but "You are a cultist" is making it personal. Another, "Protestants are heretics" is not making it personal but "You are a heretic" is making it personal.
kinda like religion moderators are poopies is different from you are a poopie?