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Calvin on the Supremecy of the Roman See

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  • gmw
    Originally posted at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CalvinsCorner/ ... Scripture often mentions Christ the universal Head, but no where mentions the Pope. And
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2003
      Originally posted at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CalvinsCorner/

      Scripture often mentions Christ the universal Head, but no where
      mentions the Pope. And when Paul portrays the Church, he does not
      make it the universal bishopric of one, but says that Christ governs
      the Church by his ministers. And yet the passage especially required
      that one should be named as over the others, if that were the fact,
      (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18; 2:20.) In commendation
      of unity, he mentions one Lord, one faith, one baptism, (Ephesians
      4:11.) Why does he not add one Pope the ministerial head? Moreover,
      the hierarchy, which, as the flatterers of the Pope pretend, consists
      chiefly in the primacy of the Roman see is there professedly
      described. Why, then, does he omit; what would have been most
      appropriate to the subject? He elsewhere says, (Galatians 2:8,) that
      his office of apostle towards the Gentiles was equal to that which
      Peter received towards the Jews. Whence we infer two things — that
      Peter was not his head, and that the apostleship of Peter does not
      properly extend to us. He there also relates that he had entered into
      fellowship with Peter, but not to acknowledge him as superior. And
      Peter himself, when he writes to pastors, does not command with
      authority, but makes them his colleagues, and exhorts them in an
      affable manner, as is usual among equals, (1 Peter 1:5.) When he is
      accused of having gone in to the Gentiles, though this accusation was
      unfounded, yet by clearing himself before the Church, he professes
      subjection, (Acts 11:4.) And being justly reprimanded by Paul, he
      does not claim exemption, but obediently suffers himself to be
      corrected. Being ordered by his colleagues to go to Samaria with
      John, he obeys the order.

      Let us, therefore, hold fast what Paul says, (Ephesians 4:15,) that
      Christ is the head, "from whom the whole body, fitly joined together,
      and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the
      effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of
      the body unto the edifying of itself in love." For he there places
      all men, without a single exception, in the body, and leaves the name
      and honor of head to Christ alone. Besides, to each of the members he
      attributes a certain measure and a definite and limited function, in
      order that the supreme power of government may reside with Christ

      Cyprian, too, when he describes the unity of the Church, says, (De
      Unitate Ecclesiae, cap. 2.) "There is one bishopric, a part of which
      is held as a whole by each bishop, just as there are many rays, yet
      one light, and many branches in a tree, yet only one trunk: fixed by
      its root; and as several streams flow from one fountain, and being
      more than one seem divided, yet notwithstanding of the apparent
      numerical diffusion through the copiousness of the discharge, unity
      is preserved entire in the source; so also the Church, pervaded with
      the light of the Lord, sends its rays over the whole world, yet it is
      but one light which is everywhere diffused; it extends its branches,
      it pours out its refluent streams over the entire globe; still there
      is but one head, and one original."

      We see how he makes the bishopric of Christ alone universal, and
      teaches that portions of it are held by his ministers. For this
      reason it was forbidden by the Council of Carthage, (cap. 47,) to
      give to any one the name of chief of the priests, or prime bishop, or
      more than bishop of the prime see. And Gregory execrates the name of
      universal bishop as profane, nay, blasphemous, and the forerunner of
      antichrist, terming it an invention of the devil, (Epist. 76, ad
      Maur., Augustin. Epist. 78, ad Const., Augustin. sequenti ad
      Euodium.) Cyprian does not honor the Roman bishop with any other
      appellation than that of brother and co-bishop and colleague. In
      writing to Stephen, the Roman bishop, he not only makes him the equal
      of himself and others, but even addresses him in harsher terms,
      accusing him of arrogance and ignorance. Nay, even Jerome, a Roman
      presbyter, hesitates not to make that see subordinate. If, says he,
      (Epist. ad Anien.) the question of authority is raised, the world is
      greater than a city. Why talk to me of the custom of one city? Why,
      against the laws of the Church, vindicate the few, from whom
      superciliousness has sprung? Wherever there is a bishop, whether at
      Rome, or Eugubium, or Constantinople, or Rhegium, there is the same
      merit, and the same priesthood. The power of riches, and the
      humbleness of poverty, do not make one bishop superior, and another
      inferior. Lastly, were every thing else conceded to the Romans, he
      cannot be the chief of the bishops who is no bishop at all.

      -- Calvin's Antidote to Article 23 of the Theological Faculty of Paris

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