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Re: [SORForum] A primacy of Love and service

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  • Brian Ingram
    While I agree with you Thomas that in a wider sense scripture says that bishops govern over the church and as such have a collective responsibility for it,
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 26, 2003
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      While I agree with you Thomas that in a wider sense scripture says that
      bishops govern over the church and as such have a collective responsibility
      for it, however Peter was specifically refereed to in both Matthew and
      John's gospel as having an overall shepherding role in the church. As you
      put it ."There is no doubt about Peter's Primacy" you go on to describe this
      primacy as one of "not of power" , but a primacy of Love and service that
      Jesus leaves him.
      In fact we could say that all bishops have a primacy in the own jurisdiction
      of love and service. However can we deny that they also have from Christ the
      authority and power to exercise that love and service?
      In regards to what you quoted from St Cyprian of Cathage here is the full
      text in which explains the role of Peter and his office.
      Cyprian of Carthage
      "The Lord says to Peter: 'I say to you,' he says, 'that you are Peter, and
      upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not
      overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and
      whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and
      whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven' [Matt.
      16:18-19]). . . . On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives
      the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like
      power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he
      established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that
      unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a
      primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one
      Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the
      flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord.
      If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he
      still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom
      the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?"
      (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).

      Regards
      Brian
    • Thomas P
      ... responsibility ... As you ... describe this ... service that ... jurisdiction ... Christ the ... full ... Peter, and ... heaven; and ... gives ... a like
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 30, 2003
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        --- In SOR-Forum@yahoogroups.com, "Brian Ingram" <Brian.Ingram@x> wrote:
        >
        > While I agree with you Thomas that in a wider sense scripture says that
        > bishops govern over the church and as such have a collective
        responsibility
        > for it, however Peter was specifically refereed to in both Matthew and
        > John's gospel as having an overall shepherding role in the church.
        As you
        > put it ."There is no doubt about Peter's Primacy" you go on to
        describe this
        > primacy as one of "not of power" , but a primacy of Love and
        service that
        > Jesus leaves him.
        > In fact we could say that all bishops have a primacy in the own
        jurisdiction
        > of love and service. However can we deny that they also have from
        Christ the
        > authority and power to exercise that love and service?
        > In regards to what you quoted from St Cyprian of Cathage here is the
        full
        > text in which explains the role of Peter and his office.
        > Cyprian of Carthage
        > "The Lord says to Peter: 'I say to you,' he says, 'that you are
        Peter, and
        > upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not
        > overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of
        heaven; and
        > whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and
        > whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven' [Matt.
        > 16:18-19]). . . . On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he
        gives
        > the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns
        a like
        > power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra],
        and he
        > established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason
        for that
        > unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [i.e., apostles],
        but a
        > primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is
        but one
        > Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the
        > flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded
        accord.
        > If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine
        that he
        > still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon
        whom
        > the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the
        Church?"
        > (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).
        >
        > Regards
        > Brian

        Dear Brian, St. Cyprian is asking a question here. I do not want to
        engage in a prolonged debate on this topic, but try to summarise my
        understanding. We need to acknowledge that there is difference between
        fathers attached to Rome and fathers of the East regarding this aspect
        of faith. Some western fathers write about "unity under successors of
        Peter" (or whatever we prefer to call it). But in Orthodox churches,
        it is accepted by all of them that unity of the Catholic church means
        a "unity in faith". This is why the faith is called Universal
        (Catholic) faith.

        The problem with unity based on primacy is that it can lead to one
        church ruling over other churches (concept of uniates etc.) and other
        complications, as we have already seen in history. It leads mostly to
        divisions in local churches, thus contradicting the original purpose
        of the teaching, i.e. achieving unity.

        The real issue is not primacy of Peter and Paul, but translating this
        primacy to successors of Peter or Paul in a specific region.

        All Oriental Orthodox churches honor Peter and Paul as first among
        Apostles. But Apostles are a different category. Their successors in
        different nations are just bishops. In this sense, a successor of
        Peter or Paul is equal to a successor of another Apostle. They are all
        bishops. How can these bishops claim same firstness as Peter or Paul,
        the Apostles? There is nothing in the Bible which suggests that
        Church should be united under successors of Peter. Or am I wrong? But
        the unity is understood as a unity of one confession.

        Since bishops are understood as ordained to shepherd and rule over the
        church (Apostolic Canons), primacy of successors implies ruling also.
        So, we cannot exclude the administrative implications and only one
        church enjoying such administrative previleges.

        There is also another aspect of this I want to mention in this
        context. I read an article which elevated Apostle Peter to the level
        of Christ, accordingly the name of Christ was given to Peter in a
        special way. The error is this, the author knows that there is only
        one Rock, Christ the Rock. Now, to explain that Peter is Rock, the
        author had no choice, but to suggest that the name of Christ was given
        to Peter. Apostles are image (Icon) of Christ, not Christ.

        "when he made the confession, «Thou art Christ, the Son of the living
        God», «Thou art Cephas, and upon this rock will I build my church, and
        the gates of Sheol shall not prevail against it»; and he called the
        firmness and fixity of such a confession a rock." - St. Severus,
        Letter to the Holy Convents of Virgins of Christ.

        "Peter and John were equal in dignity and honor. Christ is the
        foundation of all - the unshakeable Rock upon which we are all built
        as a spiritual edifice."
        [St. Cyril, Letter to Nestorius]

        Peter as a person has different qualities. But only the quality of
        firmness, his love for Christ, and his correctness of confession is
        called a Rock (another aspect of his nature was equated to wheat
        sifted in wind). All Orthodox bishops are united in the firmness of
        confession of true faith (the faith which was further explained in
        Ecumenical councils).

        Only very few fathers are called "mouth", "Pillar" etc. of the
        Catholic (Universal) Church. This includes St. Cyril and St.
        Severus. Orthodox church does not believe that church fathers are
        infallible (that all they wrote is truth in an infallible way), but
        there is a general concensus in the church, which the church believes
        is inspired by the Spirit of God. It is in this consensus that some
        fathers are called "pillar of faith".

        There is no end to this discussion. This is not a topic that affects
        our understanding of salvation in any way. For all Eastern fathers,
        the focus was Christ. It is through Christ that we know the Church. As
        long as Orthodox church does not consider this model of primacy (under
        one line of succession) important, there is no need for us to assert a
        "unity under successors of Peter". What are the merits of accepting
        such a faith? Also, does the Orthodox understanding lead to errors in
        faith? If the end result is the unity of the Church, why the Orthodox
        position is wrong, given that explaining the person of Peter as Rock
        leads to equating the Apostle to Christ, which is a Christological error?

        Please do not feel offended about my words. Both sides are hoping for
        the same end result - the unity of the Universal Church. So, let us
        honor a position which puts Christ at the center.

        humbly,
        Thomas
      • Brian Ingram
        ... Dear Thomas In discussing this issue with Greek Orthodox I would agree that they have a similar veiw point. However is it an objective one? In my reading
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 6, 2003
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          >Dear Brian, St. Cyprian is asking a question here. I do not want to
          >engage in a prolonged debate on this topic, but try to summarise my
          >understanding. We need to acknowledge that there is difference between
          >fathers attached to Rome and fathers of the East regarding this aspect
          >of faith. Some western fathers write about "unity under successors of
          >Peter" (or whatever we prefer to call it). But in Orthodox churches,
          >it is accepted by all of them that unity of the Catholic church means
          >a "unity in faith". This is why the faith is called Universal
          >(Catholic) faith.

          Dear Thomas
          In discussing this issue with Greek Orthodox I would agree that they have a
          similar veiw point. However is it an objective one?
          In my reading of the Fathers, both East and West there is a high degree of
          unamity amongst them in regards Peter as being the safeguard for that faith
          and unity of the Church.

          In regards the Eastern Fathers, below are some quotes which supports this
          position. Please excuse me for the number of and the legnth of the quotes

          St. Peter, Bishop of Alexandria (306-311 A.D.):
          Head of the catechetical school in Alexandria, he became bishop around A.D.
          300
          "Peter, set above the Apostles". (Peter of Alexandria, Canon. ix, Galland,
          iv. p. 98)

          St. Anthony of Egypt (330 A.D.):
          "Peter, the Prince of the Apostles "(Anthony, Epist. xvii. Galland, iv p.
          687).

          St. Athanasius (362 A.D.):
          Rome is called the Apostolic throne. (Athanasius, Hist. Arian, ad Monach. n.
          35).
          The Chief, Peter. (Athan, In Ps. xv. 8, tom. iii. p. 106, Migne)

          St. Macarius of Egypt (371 A.D.):
          The Chief, Peter. (Macarius, De Patientia, n. 3, p. 180)
          Moses was succeeded by Peter, who had committed to his hands the new Church
          of Christ, and the true priesthood. (Macarius, Hom. xxvi. n. 23, p. 101)

          St. Cyril of Alexandria (c. 424):
          He (Christ) promises to found the Church, assigning immovableness to it, as
          He is the Lord of strength, and over this He sets Peter as shepherd. (Cyril,
          Comm. on Matt., ad loc.)
          Therefore, when the Lord had hinted at the disciple's denial in the words
          that He used, 'I have prayed for thee that thy faith not fail,' He at once
          introduced a word

          Eulogius of Alexandria (581 A.D.):
          Born in Syria, he became the abbot of the Mother of God monastery at
          Antioch. In 579, he was made Patriarch of Alexandria; and became an
          associate of St. Gregory the Great while visiting Constantinople. Much of
          their subsequent correspondence is still extant.
          "Neither to John, nor to any other of the disciples, did our Savior say, 'I
          will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,' but only to Peter.
          (Eulogius, Lib. ii. Cont. Novatian. ap. Photium, Biblioth, cod. 280)

          Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus in Syria (450):
          A native of Antioch, Theodoret ruled under the Antiochean Patriarch.
          The great foundation of the Church was shaken, and confirmed by the Divine
          grace. And the Lord commanded him to apply that same care to the brethren.
          'And thou,' He says, 'converted, confirm thy brethren.' (Theodoret, Tom. iv.
          Haeret. Fab. lib. v.c. 28)
          I therefore beseech your holiness to persuade the most holy and blessed
          bishop (Pope Leo) to use his Apostolic power, and to order me to hasten to
          your Council. For that most holy throne (Rome) has the sovereignty over the
          churches throughout the universe on many grounds. (Theodoret, Tom. iv.
          Epist. cxvi. Renato, p. 1197).

          St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople (c. 387):
          Peter himself the Head or Crown of the Apostles, the First in the Church,
          the Friend of Christ, who received a revelation, not from man, but from the
          Father, as the Lord bears witness to him, saying, 'Blessed art thou, &c.'
          This very Peter and when I name Peter I name that unbroken Rock, that firm
          Foundation, the Great Apostle, First of the disciples, the First called, and
          the First who obeyed he was guilty ...even denying the Lord." (Chrysostom,
          T. ii. Hom)
          Peter, the Leader of the choir of Apostles, the Mouth of the disciples, the
          Pillar of the Church, the Buttress of the faith, the Foundation of the
          confession, the Fisherman of the universe. (Chrysostom, T. iii Hom).
          Peter, that Leader of the choir, that Mouth of the rest of the Apostles,
          that Head of the brotherhood, that one set over the entire universe, that
          Foundation of the Church. (Chrys. In illud hoc Scitote)
          (Peter), the foundation of the Church, the Coryphaeus of the choir of the
          Apostles, the vehement lover of Christ ...he who ran throughout the whole
          world, who , In Joan. Hom. 1xxxviii. n. 1, tom. viii)

          St. Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (434):
          A disciple of St. John Chrysostom,...
          Peter, the coryphaeus of the disciples, and the one set over (or chief of)
          the Apostles. Art not thou he that didst say, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son
          of the living God'? Thou Bar-Jonas (son of the dove) hast thou seen so many
          miracles, and art thou still but Simon (a hearer)? He appointed thee the
          key-bearer of Heaven, and has though not yet layed aside thy fisherman's
          clothing? (Proclus, Or. viii In Dom. Transfig. t. ix. Galland)
          John Cassian, Monk (c. 430):
          That great man, the disciple of disciples, that master among masters, who
          wielding the government of the Roman Church possessed the principle
          authority in faith and in priesthood. Tell us, therefore, we beg of you,
          Peter, prince of Apostles, tell us how the Churches must believe in God
          (Cassian, Contra Nestorium, III, 12, CSEL, vol. 17, p. 276).

          St. Nilus of Constantinople (448):
          A disciple of St. John Chrysostom, ....
          Peter, Head of the choir of Apostles. (Nilus, Lib. ii Epistl.)
          Peter, who was foremost in the choir of Apostles and always ruled amongst
          them. (Nilus, Tract. ad. Magnam.)

          Macedonius, Patriarch of Constantinople (466-516)
          Macedonius declared, when desired by the Emperor Anastasius to condemn the
          Council of Chalcedon, that 'such a step without an Ecumenical Synod presided
          over by the Pope of Rome is impossible.' (Macedonius, Patr. Graec. 108: 360a
          (Theophan. Chronogr. pp. 234-346 seq.)

          St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Patriarch (363):
          Our Lord Jesus Christ then became a man, but by the many He was not known.
          But wishing to teach that which was not known, having assembled the
          disciples, He asked, 'Whom do men say that the Son of man is?' ...And all
          being silent (for it was beyond man to learn) Peter, the Foremost of the
          Apostles, the Chief Herald of the Church, not using the language of his own
          finding, nor persuaded by human reasoning, but having his mind enlightened
          by the Father, says to Him, 'Thou art the Christ,' not simply that, but 'the
          Son of the living God.' (Cyril, Catech. xi. n. 3)
          For Peter was there, who carrieth the keys of heaven. (Cyril, Catechetical
          Lectures A.D. 350).
          Peter, the chief and foremost leader of the Apostles, before a little maid
          thrice denied the Lord, but moved to penitence, he wept bitterly. (Cyril,
          Catech ii. n. 15)
          In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, also the foremost of the
          Apostles and the key-bearer of the Kingdom of Heaven, healed Aeneas the
          paralytic in the name of Christ. (Cyril, Catech. xviii. n. 27)
          O Holy Head, Christ our God hath destined thy Apostolic See to be an
          immovable foundation and a pillar of the Faith. For thou art, as the Divine
          Word truly saith, Peter, and on thee as a foundation-stone have the pillars
          of the Church been fixed. (Sergius Ep. ad Theod. lecta in Sess. ii. Concil.
          Lat. anno 649)

          ENDQUOTES

          >The problem with unity based on primacy is that it can lead to one
          >church ruling over other churches (concept of uniates etc.) and other
          >complications, as we have already seen in history. It leads mostly to
          >divisions in local churches, thus contradicting the original purpose
          >of the teaching, i.e. achieving unity.

          The uniates are self governing churches in union with Rome. Take for example
          the Ukranian Catholic church. They were forced to break ties with Rome and
          join the Russian Orthodox church.. However after the fall of comminism they
          freely came back into union with Rome, they do see union with Peters
          sucessor as oppressive. That there is division in local churches, is not the
          fault of unity based on primacy. That firstly happened after the council of
          Chalcedon, when those local Churches that broke union with the rest of the
          Church had splits within their own ranks with those who agreed with that
          council..

          >All Oriental Orthodox churches honor Peter and Paul as first among
          >Apostles. But Apostles are a different category. Their successors in
          >different nations are just bishops. In this sense, a successor of
          >Peter or Paul is equal to a successor of another Apostle. They are all
          >bishops. How can these bishops claim same firstness as Peter or Paul,
          >the Apostles? There is nothing in the Bible which suggests that
          >Church should be united under successors of Peter. Or am I wrong? But
          >the unity is understood as a unity of one confession.

          The Fathers clealry acknowledged that the Bishops of Rome were Peters
          sucessor and such the authority that Peter had of chief shepherd over the
          the church carried on. It would make little sense for Christ to give that
          authority to a person only to have it authority not to carry on in the
          church after that person death.
          You say the apostles are a different category, yes they are they are the
          foundation of the Church, on which their successors the bishops build up the
          church.
          The Apostles were firstly Eye witlessness to Christ ministry and to His
          death and resurrection, that is why we do not have an official position of
          apostle in today's church.. Secondly the word Apostle primary means 'to go
          forth as emissaries to a King (Christ in this case)into a foreign land' .
          That is what they did set up and oversaw the church in foreign lands.
          However all authority that they had given to them by Christ was not for them
          personally but for the church as a whole. All the authority that was given
          to them exists in the church today, and is exercised by their sucessors..

          >Since bishops are understood as ordained to shepherd and rule over the
          >church (Apostolic Canons), primacy of successors implies ruling also.
          >So, we cannot exclude the administrative implications and only one
          >church enjoying such administrative previleges.
          "
          Scriptures clearly implies that all the bishops rule over the church. In the
          Catholic Church the Bishop of Rome does not have direct administrative
          control over all of it. He only does in the Latin part of the Church of
          which he is Patriarch. In for example the Ukrainian catholic church their
          Patriarch has direct authority over that church. It is only in matters of
          faith and morals has he primacy over all the Catholic Church
          This was made clear In the reign of Pope Hormisdas (514-23) the Eastern
          Bishops signed the so-called 'Libellus Hormisdae' which contained a clear
          definition of the Roman primacy in matters of faith. This was only affirming
          what had been always understood .

          >There is also another aspect of this I want to mention in this
          >context. I read an article which elevated Apostle Peter to the level
          >of Christ, accordingly the name of Christ was given to Peter in a
          >special way. The error is this, the author knows that there is only
          >one Rock, Christ the Rock. Now, to explain that Peter is Rock, the
          >author had no choice, but to suggest that the name of Christ was given
          >to Peter. Apostles are image (Icon) of Christ, not Christ.
          when he made the confession, «Thou art Christ, the Son of the living
          >God», «Thou art Cephas, and upon this rock will I build my church, and
          >The gates of Sheol shall not prevail against it»; and he called the
          >firmness and fixity of such a confession a rock." - St. Severus,
          >Letter to the Holy Convents of Virgins of Christ.

          >"Peter and John were equal in dignity and honor. Christ is the
          >foundation of all - the unshakeable Rock upon which we are all built
          >as a spiritual edifice."
          [St. Cyril, Letter to Nestorius]

          This article appears to be typical of some Protestant polemics against the
          Catholic church.
          Christ is the rock of our faith. Christ made Peter the rock on which he
          built his church on.
          The term rock is used in two different contexts here. It is offensive to
          Catholics to imply that Christ is somehow supplanted by Peter.
          Christ lives he is the head of the Church.
          Furthermore the quotes I have given above from the Eastern Fathers
          (including St Cyprian) also what you have quoted testify that it not
          some Roman Catholic invention, but the opinion of the early church.

          Also I concur that Pater and John were equal in dignity and honour. John
          probably was diserving of higher honour than Peter because he was the only
          apostle who was at the crusifiction. All bishops of the Church both Orthodox
          and Catholic are equal in dignity and honour.

          . Orthodox church does not believe that church fathers are
          >infallible (that all they wrote is truth in an infallible way), but
          >there is a general concensus in the church, which the church believes
          >is inspired by the Spirit of God. It is in this consensus that some
          >fathers are called "pillar of faith".

          The Catholic Church has the same position on this.


          There is no end to this discussion. This is not a topic that affects
          our understanding of salvation in any way. For all Eastern fathers,
          the focus was Christ.

          I would suggest also the Western Fathers focus


          >It is through Christ that we know the Church.

          Is it not more correct to say 'it is through the Church we know Christ'?.


          As
          >long as Orthodox church does not consider this model of primacy (under
          >one line of succession) important, there is no need for us to assert a
          ">unity under successors of Peter". What are the merits of accepting
          >uch a faith? Also, does the Orthodox understanding lead to errors in
          >faith?

          I go back to what you posted on the 24/6 and I quote you "There is no doubt
          about Peter's Primacy. It is not a primacy of
          power, but a primacy of Love and service that Jesus leaves him in John's
          gospel
          While I disagree with you that Peters primacy has no power, (clearly the
          Keys gives him power to bind on earth and in heaven) I agree with you that
          this power is to exercised in a collegial manner and in a manner which is
          one of love and service. In regards errors in faith, there are between
          Orthodoxy and Roman Catholic differences in expressing our common faith,
          which can appear to each side as errors in faith. However with mutual
          dialogue and respect we can over come.these , a perfect example is the
          Christlogical dispute that arose after the Council of Chalcedon which has no
          been resolved..


          >If the end result is the unity of the Church, why the Orthodox
          >position is wrong, given that explaining the person of Peter as Rock
          >leads to equating the Apostle to Christ, which is a Christological error?

          Firstly you must ask yourself why did Christ re-name Simon, 'Cephas' which
          means rock
          Secondly it was the understanding of the early Church both East and West
          that Peter was the rock that Christ built his Church on.
          Thirdly scholarly opinion even Protestant confirm that Christ refers to
          Peter as the Rock in Mathew 16

          >Please do not feel offended about my words. Both sides are hoping for
          >the same end result - the unity of the Universal Church. So, let us
          >honor a position which puts Christ at the center.

          I am not offended at all Thomas. The fact that we dialoguing in itself
          speaks of the Holy Spirit working in the Church.


          Brian
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