I came across Paul S. Pavao as an Old Earth Compromiser. One who considers Evolution not only OK, but even preferrable as consistent with "the laws of spiritual growth" whatever that might be. That phrase is as little from Bible or Church Fathers as Evolution. Of course the concept may repose on some misreading of the Church Fathers, as with some other Old Earth Compromisers who claim St Augustine's One Moment Creation against the Six Days and then the freedom from Six Days to depart from them in the opposite direction in an extreme way. Not quite what I consider reliable as theologians. But here I am not out to out him for his lack of Creationism, but rather for his attacks on Apostolic Succession.
The point, however, is that when a Catholic writes to me, he or she is always—I can't think of a single exception—telling me either that church history and the Bible require me to acknowledge that the RCC is the one true church ...
Church History and Matthew 28:18-20 require you to consider as the true Church the one that was in place at the day of Constantine with its legitimate successor today IN UNBROKEN SUCCESSION, and excludes:
a) the false answer that Primitive Christianity was preserved by Celtic Church and therefore independently of hierarchical Churches;
and b) the false answer that Primitive Christianity was preserved by Culdees forming a secret society.
It is true Church history which requires you to renounce as false answers what is false history. It is Holy Bible which requires you to concede an unbroken succession.
Now, there is another passage. Noone lighteth a lamp to put it under a bushel. A city on a mountain cannot be hidden.
These two items, if you concede they refer to the Church, exclude solution a) since a narrow Geographic visibility is a kind of minimum that would still leave the Church invisible to most of the world.
But they exclude solution b even clearer, since it would imply a Church that is precisely hidden and made invisible by hand of man despite the expressed will of God.
This does not leave you searching for a needle in a haystack. There is Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Monophysite in its Coptic and Armenian branch, Nestorian, none other. Monotelethites were united to Roman Catholics in Lebanon, they are called Maronites and are one of the Uniate Churches. So, they are not a fifth option. I am glad you are not considering Arians, but if you were, where were they between conversion of Visigoths in Spain and reemergence of Arianism through the two Sozzini in 1517? Eight hundred years without Church is not possible. Therefore Arianism is not possible.
There is a third false solution, which is also impossible:
c) the false answer that Primitive Christianity was preserved after its open glory UNDER Popes and Bishops who had nothing to do with so preserving it.
This is false because the hierarchy did claim obedience and because someone obeying to the eyes but disobeying only interiorly to obey God's word more would not be obeying God's word who did ask very clearly to obey, openly, Himself more than men defying Him.
And this gives us a clue to another one:
d) the false answer that Primitive Christianity was preserved by people believing as Catholics through no fault of their own while Catholicism was not Primitive Christianity.
It is false because the Church is not JUST an unbroken series of faithful but ALSO an unbroken series of open testimony to the truth.
The Church is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth.
In a sense, only God is that. But in another sense of visible social causes, God has said that the Church is so.
You cannot have ignorant Catholic laymen preserving the Church under wicked Catholic bishops destroying it, and the laymen not suspecting that, because that is not a visible Pillar and Foundation of Truth. Even if ill-instructed flocks could possibly be saved each soul individually despite total collective damnation for heresy of their shepherds, this could only be a local exception, not the case all over the world or even in a larger part of it than that having openly Orthodox shepherds, for a prolonged time.
If it were true that Roman Catholic Church in all its bishops, Eastern Orthodox Church in all its bishops, Copts and Armenians in all their bishops, Nestorians in all their bishops were with one voice denying the Literal Six Days of Creation, and God resting from New Creatures definitely the Seventh (at least new types of such), if they were in one voice denying Geocentrism and other options of Geostasis all together, one could only conclude one of two things, either that Evolution and Heliocentrism were right or that the Church had succeeded in breaking a promise given by God himself. Up to now it has not happened.
One could however see the Church reduced to one bishop. Or two. Or three. For a short time, like under St Athanasius in Egypt (but Latins remained Orthodox!) until the truth was restored to its correct place (even in Egypt in our example).
So, if denial of the Catholic dogmas attacked by the Reformation were part of truth and those dogmas part of Apostasy, the Reformers would have had to point to a fairly recent point in time when nearly all bishops, but not quite without exception, had ceased to proclaim the up to recently Protestant dogma of the church.
But instead that kind of dogma is known as Protestant precisely because it was protesting against all the bishops, hardly even getting a hearing from Kyrillos Laskaris in Constantinople, and that one not received in his place either as traditional, but rather as a revolutionary, one to be deposed and repudiated. Iasi and Jerusalem repeated, not all, but most of the Trentine Council's anathematisms over Protestant errors.
In other words, without exception, every time a Roman Catholic has written me, it has been as part of an attempt to claim every Christian needs to be under the authority of the bishop of Rome.
We think indeed that Matthew 16:16-19 refer to an individual authority given St Peter and transmitted to his successors precisely in Rome where he died.
One school of Eastern Orthodox (Gregorius Palamas - Paul S. Pavao cites St Cyprian for the same attitude) agree that authority was given St Peter individually, but that he started to transmit it as soon as there were other dioceses than the one where he was residing, in other words when the Church of Samaria was added to the Church of Jerusalem.
Another school of them (often pursuing the passage only to verse 18) would claim St Peter was given authority earlier than the others, but only same as the others of the twelve. And that the authority of these is transmitted to the bishops.
I think this latter position wrong, but even that one would clearly exclude Protestantism from being the true Church or even a legitimate and regular part of it.
Because we're ignorant of early Christian history—something that was not true of Martin Luther and John Calvin—we have been deceived into believing that Catholic claims about "the church fathers" are true.
The RCC does study and promote early Christian history. Non-Catholics, not knowing history themselves, believe Roman Catholic claims, such as that the "early" fathers worshipped liturgically, elevated the sacraments the way Roman Catholicism does, and had a hierarchy of priests, bishops, archbishops, and a pope.
- Early Fathers worshipped Liturgically
- St James the Brother of God was first bishop after St Peter left, in Jerusalem. The oldest and richest Liturgy preserved as such is his. The liturgy of St Basil is a shorter version of that. The Liturgy of St John Chrysostom is a shorter version of that. St Peter had a shorter Liturgy in Rome, but it has become longer in the Canon up to Pope St Gregory the Great, and before and after Canon, additions have been made even later.
- Early Church Fathers elevated the sacraments the way Roman Catholicism [and Eastern Orthodoxy] does.
- Hermas' Shepherd gives a Prophecy going through two positions about forgiveness of sins:
- Once in a lifetime only, by baptism. Those that sin after Baptism are lost.
- Once by baptism, but those that sin after baptism have a second chance by Penance.
Whether or not Penance was in that particular book once only, such claims about Baptism and Penance make these practises - and they count as belonging to the list of Seven Sacraments - decisive for Forgiveness of Sins, and therefore for Salvation. How is that not elevating the sacraments? Add thereto how St Ignatius of Antioch speaks of the Eucharist.
- Early Church Fathers had a Hierarchy of Priests, Bishops [Deacons] ...
- St Ignatius of Antioch clearly refers to it when telling "do nothing without the bishop"
- Early Church Fathers had Archbishops in their hierarchy.
- I do not know, but I do not find it anyway near certain either way, though Ephesus could have been Metropolis to Smyrna, since St John the Disciple was in Ephesus and St Poilycarp of Smyrna, being in Smyrna as bishop, was disciple of him who was in Ephesus and thus came from there to Smyrna. And one can argue that Jerusalem's See was from the first Archsee to that of Samaria.
- Early Church Fathers had a Pope
- St Ignatius of Antioch who succeeded St Peter via St Eleutherius in Antioch refers to the contemporary Bishop of Rome (who had more intermediaries between himself and his predecessor St Peter, I think, but I could be wrong), as Presiding the Community of Christian Love (tes koinonias tes agapes). Pope St Clement was recognised in Corinth, at least as having a judicial supremacy of appeal (his first Epistle to Corinthians), and in all probability also of having so directly (if Second Epistle to Corinthians is genuine, I think it has been called into question as spurious by antipapist fury rather than for good philological reasons).
Next item from Paul S. Pavao:
The Roman Catholics argue that it is the passing down of authority. Peter, and not any other apostles, passed authority down to the first bishop of Rome, and not any other bishops, and then down to the succeeding bishops of the Roman church.
This is not what the early church believed.
To the early churches, apostolic succession was a proof of the preservation of truth within the churches.
A proof of a thing and that thing itself are usually two different things or two different facts about a single thing.
The preservation of truth is called Apostolic Tradition. It is as much a fact about the Church as Apostolic Succession. However the fact of Apostolic Succession, every diocese but foremost in Rome, is a fact which in and of itself is a fact about a succession in authority.
Peter, for example, taught the truth—the faith once for all delivered to the saints—to Linus and other elders in Rome around A.D. 60. Linus taught it to Anacletus, Anacletus taught it to Clement, and so forth.
No. All three had it from both Peter and Paul. This order is the order in which they succeeded him in position of authority.
Clement did not need to hear the truth as if the first time from Cletus. He had already heard it from Sts Peter and Paul. He had been considered a good listener and transmitter also by St Linus whom St Peter had directly choosen as successor. He had also been that under St Cletus. If in any sense the words were used implying this latter was teacher of Pope St Clement, it meant that before the latter became Pope, Cletus had been recognised as teacher of the Church where he was, unless it was indeed as Roman Catholics claim, as teacher of the truth everywhere. But that Cletus and Clement should not have known St Peter or St Paul is preposterous. It makes the tradition of truth so slender, and it is therefore a clear misunderstanding of what St Irenaeus was saying in Contra Haereses.
Catholic Encyclopedia gives one hint about his being a disciple of Saint Paul:
Origen identifies Pope Clement with St. Paul's fellow-labourer (Philippians 4:3), and so do Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome — but this Clement was probably a Philippian.
How would his being a Philippian have impeded his being later on in Rome? How would his origin as a Philippian impede his being elected in Rome after he had been there some time and known as a disciple of St Paul who died along with St Peter? I also consider that "this Clement was probably a Philippian", but I see no point in placing a "but" before that and against his being Pope St Clement. Haydock Bible Commentary of 1859 comments on the verse in question, among other things:
[Verse 3 ...]With Clement. St. Jerome, Estius, and some others, believe that this Clement was the fourth pope that governed the Church, after Sts. Linus and Cletus: this at least is the common opinion.
What is this thing about "he was Philippian, so he cannot have later been Roman"? Is it Twentieth Century reliance on modern transports coupled with the knowledge that they did not exist back then?
So, no, Succession and Tradition are two distinct facts about the Church, both being part of its Apostolicity (and both being lacking in Protestantism). St Irenaeus even says so where he is quoted as somehow implying the opposite:
In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us.
Tradition or preaching of truth is thus one thing and the succession is a means for making it be there. Not identic with it.
The words that the tradition followed the same order as that of succession means that Cletus and Clement continued to listen while Linus was the great testimony to truth in the Church of Rome. And Clement waited with teaching while Cletus was doing it after Linus. Not at all that Clement was somehow ignorant of Christianity until he met Cletus, or Cletus until he met Linus as Linus had been until meeting either St Peter or St Paul or both or someone else (St Barnabas was in Italy too). Therefore Paul S. Pavao is just misreading the authority he is giving.
Saying that a Church that is Apostolic, i e has Apostolic Succession as its authority of action, is a witness to Tradition is not in any way a detraction of the fact that they are also enjoying to be Ruled by Successors of Apostles.
To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time
Succession does not mean they only heard of the truth from Polycarp. In some cases it may be so, in other cases perhaps not. It means each of them - up to the time of St Irenaeus who himself was not directly a disciple of Apostles, but only via Polycarp of St John - was in his turn bishop in Smyrna where Polycarp had been so up to his martyrdom.
Then again, the church in Ephesus, founded by Paul and having John remaining with them permanently until the times of Trajan [began his reign in A.D. 98], is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles.
Founding suggests very much a community with a real authority.
Will Tertullian (not a Saint, not a Church Father, but an early author) help our author better? He cites him:
We have fellowship with the apostolic churches because our doctrine is not in any way different from theirs. This is our witness of truth.
He is not saying this is only functioning as witness of truth and as nothing else. He is saying this is his witness of truth even before the texts and proof texts of the Bible, at least insofar as it is through this that he understands them.
Run over to the apostolic churches, in which the very chairs of the apostles are still preeminent in their places
To me a preeminent chair suggests a throne.
There is a cultural loan from the Roman administration very likely here. Certain magistrates of the Republic were sitting in Sella Curulis. It was a chair, it was even a chair that was possible to fold and carry, so physically a simple chair. But it had some distinct decorations meaning no one could sit in it unless he had a command in Rome.
If Sts Peter and Paul, Sts Barnabas and John were using chairs only as objects of daily use, why should it matter if their chairs were there when they were not? Why should their chairs have any kind of eminence? You can suggest they were valuable as relics of the second degree (precisely as the Scapular of St Theresa of Avila is a relic of the second degree of her - first degree being body or parts of it), and that the cult of relics had started already when a handkerchief that had touched St Paul could heal a sick man and was continuing. You can suggest that the chairs were reserved, so that the next man who sat in that chair was the next man who exercised that command. Or you can say that both things were true of these Chairs that had belonged to Apostles and were still preeminent in their Churches.
in which their own authentic writings are read. These utter the voice and represent the face of each of them individually.
Their own authentic writings. This very probably means the manuscripts of each New Testament book were still extant where the Apostles had placed them. These were venerated as relics - once again - up to the Iconoclastic Controversy in Byzantium, in which they were lost or destroyed along with so much else due to the fury of persecuting Emperors.
It could suggest that certain books were not known as part of the collection called the New Testament yet, but known mainly as genuine because they remained in place. Precisely as in United States the Declaration of Independence still remains in place. Or the Bill of Rights. But even if the New Testament was already a collection identic or near so with minor fluctuations, we see in Tertullian what the criterium was. The hierarchic structure of the Church, Apostolic Churches having preeminence over others, was the ultimate practical guarantee for the texts being genuine. Precisely as the hierarchic priesthood of the Old Testament had been for preserving the Torah and for recognising to the Book of Joshua, to the Book of Job, to the Book of Judges, and this for each part of it while it was being successively chronicled, and same for Ruth and the Four Books of Kings, the character of genuine Sacred Scripture.
In the late 2nd and early 3rd century, apostolic succession was a great argument.
After all, who really understands the Scriptures and the message of the apostles? Is it not those who are directly descended—spiritually speaking—from those to whom the apostles committed their message and the churches themselves?
However, to argue that apostolic succession has faithfully and accurately preserved apostolic tradition for two thousand years, including throughout the massively corrupt Middle Ages is quite a different issue.
Calling the Middle Ages "massively corrupt" is begging the question how he is supposed to know that. Especially as the same centuries are not only "massively corrupt" among Latins, apparently, but also among Greeks, Copts, Armenians, Nestorians - or otherwise Paul would simply have said teh Church was preserved, not in Rome but in Ethiopia, not in Rome but in Babylon on Euphrates, not in Rome but around the lake Van. But that is not Protestantism. That would not imply a connexion primarily with the Reformation. Which Paul S. Pavao does show. But more of that later. I have however previously on this blog dealt with massively corrupt or supposedly so Middle Ages.
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
Memory of St Amos the Prophet
Thecuae, in Palaestina, sancti Amos Prophetae, qui ab Amasia Sacerdote frequenter plagis afflictus est, atque ab hujus filio Ozia vecte per tempora transfixus; et postea, semivivus in patriam devectus, ibidem exspiravit, sepultusque est cum patribus suis.
Christian History - Roman Catholicism
By Paul S. Pavao
Christian History - Apostolic Succession
By Paul S. Pavao
New Advent : Catholic Encyclopedia > C > Pope St. Clement I
St. Irenæus (III, iii) tells us that Clement "saw the blessed Apostles and conversed with them, and had yet ringing in his ears the preaching of the Apostles and had their tradition before his eyes, and not he only for many were then surviving who had been taught y the Apostles".
New Advent : Catholic Encyclopedia > Making of the Catholic Encyclopedia (1917)
Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.
PHILIPPIANS - Chapter 4
Note on Cletus/Anacletus:
Anenkletos is the Greek name. Cletus is a Latin shorter form, and "it is more Christian". So is the Greek Anacletus. Kletos means "called", as Latin vocatus, and "ana kletos" means "called upwards". Two articles might clarify.