Saint Ambrose and Jerome on Petrine Primacy (?)

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Tnt, Sep 27, 2020.

  1. Tnt

    Tnt New Member

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    These quotes are often used to support the view that there is no salvation outside of Rome and the judicial primacy of Peter. What is your take of the wording below?
    • Jerome (died A.D. 420): “As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built. …This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails... And as for heretics, I have never spared them; on the contrary, I have seen to it in every possible way that the Church’s enemies are also my enemies.”

    • Ambrose (died A.D. 397): “Where Peter is therefore, there is the Church. Where the Church is there is not death but life eternal... Although many call themselves Christians, they usurp the name and do not have the reward.”
     
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  2. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Ignatius of Antioch

    He is also responsible for the first known use of the Greek word katholikos (καθολικός), meaning "universal", "complete" and "whole" to describe the Church, writing:

    Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid.

    — Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8, J.R. Willis translation. (early 2nd Century, perhaps C125AD)​

    It should be noted that both Jerome and Ambrose were Western Christians, and that may well represent an extension of the view expressed at the 1st Council of Constantinople 381, which accorded to Rome a primacy of honour, followed by Constantinople as Nova Romanum (New Rome). The claims of Rome are largely based on the seat of Empire. There is no doubt that Antioch also lays claim to Petrine and Pauline Foundations, and was indeed the first place the followers of the way were called Christians.

    Some understanding of the rivalry between Rome and Constantinople is to be understood in the foundation of Constantinople on the site of the old town of Byzantium. Constantine sought a new Capital in part to resolve the chronic atrophy of the politics of Rome. Constantinople's gain was Rome's loss. There was a balancing game, and Constantine provided significant funding for three Churches, including St Peter's in Rome on the site of Nero's Circus, The CHurch of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in the site his mother had identified, and Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.
     
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  3. Cooper

    Cooper Active Member Anglican

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    Tnt,
    Welcome to the Anglican Forums. We invite you to go the New Members Forum and introduce yourself.

    Cooper
    :)
     
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  4. Tnt

    Tnt New Member

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    Thank you for the welcome! I should have done that first.
     
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  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    "There are many quotes on the Internet, some of which may be inaccurate."
    -Abraham Lincoln
     
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  6. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    The Church fathers spoke in poetic senses as much as they did dogmatic formula. I believe they were speaking about the authority of all the Apostles, which St. Peter represented as the chief of apostles. Moreover I think they were recognizing the Apostolic unity of the undevided church. Here is an interesting read on how the tractarians viewed papal supremacy, which I would argue is something very different than Petrine Supremacy properly understood but which is often conveniently conflate by paints.

    http://anglicanhistory.org/tracts/tract90/section12.html
     
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  7. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Sorry if I was flippant, because there's so many ways to read the Papacy:

    1. First of all there were at least two Popes in the ancient church, the bishop of Rome and the bishop of Constantinople. There were five historic Metropolitan Sees that were considered the seedbeds of the church: Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople. It may be that all of those bishops were called "Papa", but at least the two I mentioned were definitely called that. So if those quotes are even accurate, which of them is it referring to?

    2. Are those quotes in any way accurate, if the ancient situation was far less simplistic than you'd be made to believe? In whose interest was it to adjust those quotes to make them nice and tidy for today's Pro-Romanist apologetics?

    3. Assuming the quotes were accurate, and that they meant the bishop of Rome, what did they mean by "Peter"? Most fathers when they referred to Peter (since he was not strongly associated with Rome, never having lived there), associated his name with the profession of faith which St. Peter makes alone of all the Apostles. The fathers frequently speak of the 'faith of Peter' as the rock of faith on which the church is built. And is his faith passed down automatically through ordinations, or is it a possession of every Christian? The Fathers praised the faith of Peter, much more than the Seat of Peter.

    4. There are many instances in antiquity (before the Roman Papacy solidified itself in the 9th century) of the Fathers strongly rebuking the Roman bishop, and completely negating his words. A famous instance of that is St. Cyprian.
     
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  8. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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  9. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Don't forget the Patriarch of Alexandria. He is still called Pope to this day.
     
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  10. Tnt

    Tnt New Member

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    I appreciate everyone's answers.
    So would everyone say the emphasis of the early church father's regarding Rome and Peter is because Peter was given the keys and nothing at all to do with a RC understanding of the Roman primacy? Are there any sources from Ambrose and Jerome that would go against an RC interpretation of what I quoted above?
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2020
  11. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, both of them do.
    • The is an Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria - Theodore,
    • The more ancient Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria - Tawadros.
     
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  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Very droll, Stalwart! :biglaugh:
     
  13. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Again, there simply isn’t an emphasis on Rome among church fathers as a group. Some of them discussed it simply because it was one of the five apostolic Sees. There was a small subset, a handful that did try to make out of Rome a principle of unity, among which they thought the whole oChurch should unite. Their ideas were what in the following 500 years mutated into what was first declared as something like a RC Papacy around the 9th century. You have bishops, even Popes of Rome as late as the 6th century professing that if any of their successors decided to take up this power, he’d be the forerunner of the Antichrist (St. Gregory the Great, his words).

    In the early church, some understood it as Peter receiving the keys on behalf of all the Apostles, rather than as the sole Apostle. Others understand that moment as Christ in that moment actually himself turning to the Apostles as a whole; so when he says “to you I will give the keys”, the “you” there is plural.
     
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  14. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Honestly, I have a problem with Jerome calling Peter the rock on which the Church is built. I feel that the "rock" in Matt. 16:16-18 is the foundational truth enunciated by Peter, that he believed Jesus was the prophesied Messiah and the Son of God. And wherever this truth is accepted by faith and voiced by the faithful, there is the Church.

    You know, there is no ecclesiastical authority who can speak on an equal level with (or with equal authoritativeness as) the Bible. While Anglicans look to the writings of the first 500 years for aid in interpreting and understanding the Bible (particularly with regard to the less-plain, more ambiguous matters), it should also be evident that men are fallible and sometimes erred in their understanding. I for one tend to think of the value of those early writings on a sort of sliding scale, such that the earliest writings (by people who learned from the apostles) are more theologically accurate than the writings of those who were a generation removed, which are more theologically accurate than those of two generations removed, etc.

    But then, I have only been in the Anglican church for 2 years, so (as you may have noticed) I'm not fully indoctrinated yet. :laugh:

    BTW, I think Albert Barnes' commentary on verse 18 is worth reading; his explanation makes sense to me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2020
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  15. Tnt

    Tnt New Member

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    If anyone has a good grasp on Church history, you can PM me.:)

    Struggling with a few cititions from patristic writers
    and I can't find the background to it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
  16. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Feel free to reach out to me, if need be. Or we can discuss here as well, all good.
     
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  17. Tnt

    Tnt New Member

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    If you don't mind me asking another question, what is everyones thoughts on Robert Bellarmine's response to Cyprian's challenge of the Pope of Rome, Pope Stephen, on the issue of re-baptizing heretics?

    I'm sure many of you are probably aware. This is just for a brief recap, there was a line from Cyprian at the Seventh Council of Carthage, along with 86 other western bishops, affirming that no bishop has the right to set himself up as the bishop among bishops.

    Here is the quote ‘For no one setteth himself up as a Bishop of Bishops, or by tyrannical terror forceth
    Also at ccel.org
    https://ccel.org/ccel/cyprian/carthage_council/anf05.iv.vi.i.html


    This is Robert Bellarmine's response. It's a short read: https://novusordowatch.org/de-romano-pontifice-book4-chapters6-7/

    Essentially, if I'm understanding correctly, Bellarmine is saying Cyprian did hold to the Roman papacy and recognized Stephen, but he (Cyprian) was being overly zelous in the matter of baptism. Since Pope's can become heretics, Cyprian did not do a mortal sin because he was acting in ignorance regarding the matter but he was in error.

    That's pretty much all there is to it.

    Also how would you understand these quotes used by Roman Catholics:

    The of Chalcedon said Peter speaks through Pope Leo. This is evidence for Catholicism.

    And you have St. Jerome stating: “But you say, the Church is founded upon Peter, although that is done in another place upon all the apostles, equally upon them the strength of the Church is solidified. [...] Although the strength of the Church is solidified equally upon all the apostles, nevertheless, in addition one was chosen among the twelve as head, constituted so that the occasion of schism should be removed.”

    This is a quote of St. Chrysostom: “Do you see how He, His own self, leads Peter on to high thoughts of Him, and reveals Himself, and implies that He is Son of God by these two promises? For those things which are peculiar to God alone, (both to absolve sins, and to make the church in capable of overthrow in such assailing waves, and to exhibit a man that is a fisher more solid than any rock, while all the world is at war with him), these He promises Himself to give; as the Father, speaking to Jeremiah, said, He would make him as a brazen pillar, and as a wall; Jeremiah 1:18 but him to one nation only, this man (Peter) in every part of the world.”
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
  18. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Good to follow up on these questions.

    That's just begging the question. Where did Cyprian "hold to the Roman papacy"? And although he never submitted to Stephen or anything like that, let's say he did. We have to remember that there were many apostolic Sees recognized as Popes, and thus one could hold any of these Popes in honor without holding to the Romanist usurpation. To read the Roman papacy into the ancient Church is sheer lunacy, given how many differences there are:
    -1. many Metropolitans who are called "Papa"
    -2. none of those Metropolitans/Popes claiming universal jurisdiction
    -3. none of those Metropolitans/Popes claiming infallibility.

    What gets confusing is that in addition to the existence of the Roman Bishop / "Papa", the Scriptures also placed a lot of weight on St. Peter, on his faith, etc. And thus what you see over time is a conflation of St. Peter, and the See of Rome. But in fact there is no evidence that St. Peter ever stepped foot in Rome, or had any association with Rome. Just read St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. :) Or see the First Council of Jerusalem where St. James presides (in the book of Acts).

    The conflation of Peter with Rome, and of making Rome a Christian locus of infallible unity, is a very late development, slowly appearing in some theologians of the 5th, 6th, 7th centuries, more and more until the full Papacy with its modern features/encyclicals/infallibility emerges by the 9th century AD. Rome as the center of the world (which it was), over time slowly got more and more conflated with St. Peter as the chief apostle (which he was). But the true ancient Faith can be seen as late as the 6th century AD, in Pope Gregory the Great, whose most famous and celebrated line was: "if any of my successors shall declare to have universal jurisdiction, he shall be the forerunner of the Antichrist."

    If you find someone in the 2nd century claiming that "we must all submit to the faith of Peter" (or something like that), you have to remember that they weren't thinking of Rome. The mere mention of Peter is not automatically a mention of the Papacy. Because today's Roman church has built their whole castle on him, we'll have a temptation to reject him, because any acknowledgement of his greatness will be seen as a tacit acceptance of the Papacy. But in fact he was the chief apostle; his faith is the rock on which the Church is built. He is my guide in courage, repentance, and constancy of faith. And if I can say that, why couldn't the Church Fathers? And if they did, would those be indications of submission to the Roman See?

    But anyway, as for Bellarmine, he's just begging the question. And although I'd be fine with St. Cyprian professing the authority of the (various) ancient Popes, just as I'm fine with the Archbishop of Canterbury and his authority today, in fact we don't have any evidence of St. Cyprian's submission. Unlike some of the other Church Fathers he had quite a low opinion of the Roman Pope, and was concerned about them starting to usurp the Church for themselves. From the evidence we have, we know that he did not consider the latter's opinions more valid or more binding. And he told him so, to his face.



    Literally, "There are many quotes on the Internet, some of which may be inaccurate."
    -Abraham Lincoln

    You have to understand that there are tons of false quotes floating around the Internet. When I was going through my journey of faith, I've done a lot of tracking down these purported expressions in favor of the Papacy, and almost all of them are fabricated, either in the time of the Reformation or in the Internet era, and easily seen as false because the original texts are now available in cheap/free access.

    You need to track this down yourself. And when you go through the morass of propaganda that such quotes float in, you'll recognize that people who advance them are far less interested in precise historical truth, than in inclining you to their opinions.

    By the way, "The office of Propaganda" was literally one of the main departments of the Roman Pontiff, until the 1960s. That's where we get the word propaganda.

    And what does that have to do with the Papacy?

    And what does that have to do with the Papacy? :)
    You see how much falsehood they attempt to advance, by polluting/eliding/conflating the original text and meaning?
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
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  19. Moses

    Moses Member

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    RC apologists routinely take quotes like these out of their context to try and defend the Vatican I papal dogmas, which didn’t exist in the mind of any of the Fathers being quoted. There are many problems with this approach, but here are the two most important:

    First, the assumption that peter=rock=pope=church. Specifically, they assume that the rock refers exclusively to Peter, the Bishops of Rome are Peter’s successors exclusively, and that each successive Bishop of Rome is the rock in perpetuity. The reason they throw quotes from a bunch of different Fathers to back up these assertions is because they can’t find anyone who makes all of them; no one thought of that chain of logic until much later.

    Jerome’s beliefs about the origin of the episcopate/presbyter distinction rule out Vatican I dogmas, since he wrote that the citywide episcopate was a later development. And saying he only communicates with Rome shows clearly that he’s exaggerating somewhat in the text quoted above. Cyprian had no trouble being disobedient to the Roman Bishop, which wouldn’t make sense if he believed that Rome had immediate and universal jurisdiction over the whole Church.

    There were three episcopal seats that were direct succors of Peter, as the Roman Bishops themselves pointed out. And the phrase “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church” was added to the creed at a council presided over by St. Meletius of Antioch, who wasn’t even in communion with Rome. In the early days, the Bishops of Rome were bastions of orthodoxy while the other Patriarchs fell in and out of heresy, which is why the saints usually thought it was important to be in communion with them. But their loyalty was to a particular faith, not to a particular bishop regardless of his faith.

    And this leads us to the second problem. You’re not likely to disprove the Papal claims using Church Father quotes, although studying the history of the early Church will certainly show a different form of government than the monarchical Papacy now assumed by Rome. Rather, the papal dogmas are proven false on their own terms: Rome’s current hierarchy has excommunicated themselves based on what was laid down by their predecessors. The sedes have thoroughly demonstrated that point.

    I don’t want to turn this into a book length essay, so I’ll make two suggestions for further reading:

    His Broken Body by Fr. Laurent Cleenewerk goes in depth into the commonly quoted proof texts for the Papal dogmas, and demolishes the assumptions surrounding them in a very friendly, non-polemical manner.

    The Sedevacantist Delustion by John Pontrello points out the inconsistencies in both the mainstream RC and the sedevacantist positions on the Papacy, working with magisterial documents from the last few centuries.

    Both of the books are written from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, but I don’t think an Anglican would find them objectionable. I should point out, though, that the only reason to read pop apologetics is to counteract bad pop apologetics. Reading the scriptures and the Fathers directly, rather than in quotation, causes fewer ecclesiological headaches.
     
  20. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Thanks for the information and the facts discussed here...
    One of the texts which helped me wrap my mind on the Papacy was Book III from the 1606 Convocation Book, as linked on this webiste ,https://www.anglican.net/works/john...-of-catholic-church-kingdoms-of-the-world/#p4

    This was a pretty strong Caroline history of the Papacy, and the section headings alone are enough to make one's hair stand on end!...

    History of Popes rise to power.
    1-3rd c. Early ambitions; bishops resist.
    4th c. Emperor lifts Papacy; bishops resist.
    4-6th c. New Rome built; Popes demolish.
    Ecclesiastical vs. Imperial dignity.
    6-9th c. Popes betray Emperors.
    9-11th c. Kings limit Papal ascendancy.
    11th c. Heretical rise of Gregory VII.
    11-16th c. Gregory's wicked successors.

    Papal rise aided by Scholastic flatterers.
    Rise of Gratian's Canon Law.
    ... Canonist flatteries & heresies.
    ... “Pope, Lord of lords, King of kings.”
    ... “None saved unless subject to Pope.”


    Some of the chapters in Book II also seem interesting ,such as :
    "That our Saviour Christ, upon his Ascension into Heaven, did not commit the Temporal Government of the whole World unto St. Peter.  That the Apostles and whole Ministry did succeed Christ, not as he was a Person immortal and glorious after his Resurrection ;  but as he was a Mortal Man here upon the Earth before his Passion.  That Christ left neither to St. Peter, nor to the Bishops of Rome, nor to any other Archbishops or Bishops any temporal Possessions ;  all, that since any of them have gotten, being bestowed upon them by Emperours, Kings and Princes, and other their good Benefactors.  And that the Imagination of St. Peter‘s Temporal Sovereignty, is very idle ;  the same being never known unto himself, (for ought that appeareth) and argueth great Ignorance of the true nature of the Spiritual Kingdom of Christ :  for the erecting whereof the spiritual working of the Holy Ghost with the Apostles, and the rest of the Ministry of the Gospel, was, and is only necessary."
    https://www.anglican.net/works/john...-catholic-church-kingdoms-of-the-world/#p3-16
     
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