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Re: [SORForum] A primacy of Love and service

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  • Thomas P
    ... responsibility ... As you ... describe this ... service that ... jurisdiction ... Christ the ... full ... Peter, and ... heaven; and ... gives ... a like
    Message 1 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 2 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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