Skip to comments.The Time Machine Challenge (Protestants / Catholics / Church Fathers)
Posted on 06/12/2013 2:50:41 PM PDT by NYer
There are certain Church Fathers (mostly St. Augustine) that are loved by both Protestants and Catholics. And we Catholics are inclined to point out that these Church Fathers were Catholics then, and if they were roaming the earth these days, would be Catholics now. They were members of the Catholic Church, and they held to Catholic doctrines.
There are a number of Protestants who agree with us. They tend to either (1) convert to Catholicism, or (2) reject the Church Fathers as heretics. But there are other Protestants who challenge this description, who deny that the Fathers were Catholic then, or would be Catholic now. In this latter category falls my friend, Rev. Hans Koschmann, a Lutheran pastor from the Kansas City area. Here is his argument, in his own words:
The Early Church Fathers were neither Catholic nor Protestant as those labels retain to the original issues of sixteenth century Europe and the continued fracture of the church. It is anachronistic to make the Early Church Fathers into modern day Catholics or Protestants. It is intellectually dishonest to place a label upon someone that lived many centuries before simply because we do not know what the Early Church Fathers would think about the issue of indulgences or other issues of the Reformation. We can make arguments and assumptions, but these anachronistic arguments are more likely to reveal our own opinion than those of the actual Church Fathers.This is a reasonable objection, and Rev. Hans is right that the Fathers had no way of foreseeing the future, of knowing what would happen in the Church in the centuries after their death. But I think that the Catholic answer is stronger than this objection. In a nutshell, the Church Fathers articulated an ecclesiology that made membership in the visible Catholic Church a non-negotiable principle. To leave the Church was to leave Christ. So we have no reason to believe that any intervening changes would cause them to reject their own beliefs and abandon the Church.
|Sandro Botticelli, The Last Communion of St. Jerome (detail) (1495)|
Great and Powerful Line:
“We have the Eucharist, in which we are united, through the Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, with the whole Communion of Saints”
I disagree. The Church Fathers would be absolutely horrified if they were transported to today at what their “Church” has transformed into.
False premise. False results. Sorry. Not rising to the bait.
What about my ability and the Holy Spirit together. Why are they separate and not enough?
This is what I was thinking. I wonder whether they would even recognize it. At the very least, they sure as heck would be horrified with the fact that bishops/cardinals allow pro-abortion/gay marriage politicians to receive communion...and the Pope does nothing to stop it.
I agree -- a great post!
Even the most ardent "Sola Scriptura" advocate has to rely on those human men, the early Church fathers, who God chose to bring the "Scriptura" part to all of us. Some apparently rely on the guidance the Holy Spirit gave to those men for their selection of what texts belong in the Bible, but do not rely on the guidance the Holy Spirit gave them for teaching and handing on their faith. (We should all remember that God does not appreciate those who reject the human beings God specifically chooses to pass on God's teachings, even though God knew they would be rejected, as Jesus plainly spoke about.)
(By the way, your tagline looks like a short pro-traditional-marriage poem -- do those words all rhyme?)
(Going to go watch Father Mitch on EWTN now.)
Makes sense to me.
On the contrary, it affirms the fact that the Holy Spirit continues to guide the church founded by Jesus Christ.
I was responding to the points in your post. I didn’t write that - I responded to it. Ephesians 6:11-17 tells me what I need.
I agree with you.
But I would wager that we wouldn't agree on the reasons why they'd be horrified. Just a guess.
“Herein lies the challenge: if you took a time machine back to the millenium from 200-1200, what Church would you be in communion with?”
Indeed! WHICH church WOULD you be in communion with? The Romanist assumption is that the Pope in Rome was the visible center amongst all the churches, but this false unity in a particular Universal Bishop was simply not a reality even in the days when the Primacy of Peter was seriously and widely believed.
From my stock reply to this constant and false assertion by Rome:
Does the RCC have a 2,000 year tradition that there is a Pope in Rome who is head over the entire church? Even in the days when the alleged supremacy of Peter came into vogue, not even the Bishop in Rome believed he was the only man who was the successor of Peter.
According to the Catechism, the Roman Bishop is:
882 ... the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.402 For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.403
883 The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peters successor, as its head. As such, this college has supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.404
It was this same idea of General Father or a Universal Bishop that Gregory condemned in the then Bishop of Constantinople who had taken the title Universal Bishop:
What then, dearest brother, will you say in that terrible scrutiny of the coming judgment, if you covet to be called in the world not only father, but even general father? Let, then, the bad suggestion of evil men be guarded against; let all instigation to offense be fled from. It must needs be (indeed) that offenses come; nevertheless, woe to that man by whom the offense comes Matthew 18:7. Lo, by reason of this execrable title of pride the Church is rent asunder, the hearts of all the brethren are provoked to offense. What! Has it escaped your memory how the Truth says, Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a mill stone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Ib. 5:6)? But it is written, Charity seeks not her own 1 Corinthians 13:4. Lo, your Fraternity arrogates to itself even what is not its own. Again it is written, In honour preferring one another Romans 12:10. And you attempt to take the honour away from all which you desire unlawfully to usurp to yourself singularly. Where, dearest brother, is that which is written, Have peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord Hebrews 12:14? Where is that which is written, Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God Matthew 5:9?
Some Catholics can read this letter and say that Gregory only condemned the title, but not the power they claim he still possessed. However, there are other instances where Gregory could have embraced his power as universal Bishop of the entire church. While at this time the idea of the Primacy of Peter was in vogue, yet this same primacy was not translated to a supremacy over the entire church. And, in fact, there wasnt just one person who held the throne of Peter; according to Gregory, it was held by one Apostolic see ruled by divine authority by THREE separate Bishops, which is that of Antioch, Alexandria and Rome. Here is the letter in full, but first I am going to quote the RCC abuse of it:
The link to the whole letter first
Now here are the Roman quotations of this letter, wherein they assert that Gregory is a champion of the Primacy of Rome. Take special note of the clever use of ellipses:
Pope Gregory I
Your most sweet holiness, [Bishop Eulogius of Alexandria], has spoken much in your letter to me about the chair of Saint Peter, prince of the apostles, saying that he himself now sits on it in the persons of his successors. And indeed I acknowledge myself to be unworthy . . . I gladly accepted all that has been said, in that he has spoken to me about Peters chair, who occupies Peters chair. And, though special honor to myself in no wise delights me . . . who can be ignorant that holy Church has been made firm in the solidity of the prince of the apostles, who derived his name from the firmness of his mind, so as to be called Peter from petra. And to him it is said by the voice of the Truth, To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven [Matt. 16:19]. And again it is said to him, And when you are converted, strengthen your brethren [Luke 22:32]. And once more, Simon, son of John, do you love me? Feed my sheep [John 21:17] (Letters 40 [A.D. 597]).
Who does not know that the holy Church is founded on the solidity of the Chief Apostle, whose name expressed his firmness, being called Peter from Petra (Rock)?...Though there were many Apostles, only the See of the Prince of the Apostles...received supreme authority in virtue of its very principate. (Letter to the Patriarch Eulogius of Alexandria, Ep. 7)
I provide their versions of the quotations only to highlight for you the parts they omit. And, really, there is no reason for them to omit them. The lines they remove are small sentences, and then they continue quoting right after they finish. Its quite an embarrassing display!
In this letter, Gregory is specifically attributing to the Bishops of Alexandra and Antioch the Chair of Peter and its authority that they bestowed upon him. In the first quotation, the Romans omit the sentence which says: And, though special honour to myself in no wise delights me, [they omit here] yet I greatly rejoiced because you, most holy ones, have given to yourselves what you have bestowed upon me. [They rebegin here] After telling them about the special honor that is respectively given to both parties, Gregory immediately goes into a discussion on what that special honor is... which is the authority of Peter they all enjoy:
Wherefore though there are many apostles, yet with regard to the principality itself the See of the Prince of the apostles alone has grown strong in authority, which in three places is the See of one. For he himself exalted the See in which he deigned even to rest and end the present life. He himself adorned the See to which he sent his disciple as evangelist. He himself established the See in which, though he was to leave it, he sat for seven years. Since then it is the See of one, and one See, over which by Divine authority three bishops now preside, whatever good I hear of you, this I impute to myself. If you believe anything good of me, impute this to your merits, since we are one in Him Who says, That they all may be one, as You, Father, art in me, and I in you that they also may be one in us John 17:21.
Notice how different this reads when one does not omit what the Romans omit! Gregory declares that the See of Peter is one see... but in THREE places, over which THREE Bishops preside, which is Rome, Antioch and Alexandria, the latter of which he was now writing to.
So while the Romans insist that the Primacy of Peter refers to the Bishop of Rome, Gregory applies the Primacy of Peter to ALL the major Bishops of the See. They are, in effect, ALL the Church of Peter, and possess his chair and authority.
And Gregory, of course, isnt alone in this. Theodoret references the same belief when he places the throne of Peter under the Bishop of Antioch:
Dioscorus, however, refuses to abide by these decisions; he is turning the See of the blessed Mark upside down; and these things he does though he perfectly well knows that the Antiochene (of Antioch) metropolis possesses the throne of the great Peter, who was teacher of the blessed Mark, and first and coryphæus (head of the choir) of the chorus of the apostles. Theodoret - Letter LXXXVI - To Flavianus, Bishop of Constantinople.
So while you may have particular people saying that the Roman Bishop has authority, or has the chair of Peter, yet these same accolades are given to multiple Bishops, all said to have the throne or authority of Peter. Furthermore, this authority, at best, consisted only as a place of honor, and not one that the various Christian churches across the world took as the final say on matters of doctrine or canonicity (just ask the Eastern Orthodox, the other guys who claim to be THE Holy and Apostolic Church of God on Earth).
The Catholic Church gave the world the Holy Bible.
Be prepared for in-coming? LOL.
Better still, what would/could you do once you got there?
Related time-travel thread:
THE GREATEST ACTION STORY EVER TOLD
How about sharing some of those reasons why then?
Is the Bible the word of the Catholics or the Word of God (as the Holy Spirit moved them)? The early church was instrumental in the compilation and preservation, but such work is for the glory of God not self aggrandizement. The louder this proclamation goes forth, the less God likes it. He who is first shall be last in the Kingdom of God. It is liken to the Pharisee who prayed, "at least I'm not as bad as my neighbor" Luke 18:10. You do not please God when you repeat this thing and boast on your church. So why do it?
Because it is the TRUTH.
That is a poor excuse if I have ever heard one. Do you go up to overweight people and say "You're fat"? Or go to a nursing home and say "Don't worry you don't have long to live"? It may be the TRUTH but it is a poor example of which to do. Eph 2:9 and many other places in the Bible tells us not to boast. And that is what most of the Catholic threads are - boasting. Look at us!! We are the Church!! We have a superior church and are a superior people. Balaams donkey spoke the TRUTH but he was still a donkey. If the fact that boasting is abhorrent in Gods eyes does not deter you, I will pray for your soul.
Peace be to you
Odd. The “Church Fathers” agree on very little, and used terms that are confusing because the terms were later redefined to mean something else. Real presence & transubstantiation are not the same...
“Would you be comfortable being in full communion with someone who believes in transubstantiation? With someone who venerates Mary? With someone who believes that justification involves faith and works? With someone who believes that the papacy is the visible head of the Church, and that all Christians owe the Bishop of Rome their allegiance?”
Again, the early church fathers didn’t all believe in those things, either. Transubstantiation is a term invented around 1100 AD. Since the Apostles didn’t venerate Mary, why should I? I believe someone who is born again WILL live a changed life, but not that you are born again by trying to be good. And Augustine, IIRC, was willing to reject the Bishop of Rome’s authority.
The problem was when the church rejected the authority of scripture and sought to trust men instead. The change from an Elder into a Bishop was a disaster! And the evil lives of many Bishops, the selling of the office, etc PROVES the evil of the system. You cannot be truly saved and continue to rejoice in sin, yet Catholic theology says you can be a Bishop and rejoice in sin...
I must say, however, that the Church Fathers, while certainly not Protestant, are not (contemporary) Catholics either. They are Orthodox!
Well, maybe Augustine qualifies as primarily Catholic.