Tag Archives: Church Structure

The genesis of the government of the church of Rome, plus the testimony of Jerome in general

DTK on the Puritan Board:

Perhaps the most scholarly treatment of the genesis of the earliest church structure in Rome is that of the work of Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries, trans. Michael Steinhauser (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003).

Peter Lampe: Thesis: The fractionation in Rome favored a collegial presbyterial system of governance and prevented for a long time, until the second half of the second century, the development of a monarchical episcopacy in the city. Victor (c. 189-99) was the first who, after faint-hearted attempts by Eleutherus (c. 175-89), Soter (c. 166-75), and Anicetus (c. 155-66), energetically stepped forward as monarchical bishop and (at times, only because he was incited from the outside) attempted to place the different groups in the city under his supervision or, where that was not possible, to draw a line by means of excommunication. Before the second half of the second century there was in Rome no monarchical episcopacy for the circles mutually bound in fellowship. Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries, trans. Michael Steinhauser (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), p. 397.

Peter Lampe: It was useful to assign to someone in Rome the work connected with eternal communication. Hermas knows such a person by the name of Clement. In The Shepherd of Hermas, Vision 2.4.3, Hermas prepares two copies of his small book and sends (πέμπω, within the city) one of them to Clement, who forwards it “to the cities outside, for he is entrusted with that task” (πέμψει Κλήμης εἰς τὰς ἔξω πόλεις, ἐκείνῳ γὰρ ἐπιτέτραπται).
It is important to note that Hermas’s “minister of external affairs” is not a monarchical bishop. In the second next sentence, Hermas describes how he circulates his little book within the city. He makes it known “to this city together with the presbyters who preside over the church” (εἰς ταύτην τὴν πόλιν μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων τῶν προϊσταμένων τῆς ἐκκλησίας). A plurality of presbyters leads Roman Christianity. This Christianity, conscious of spiritual fellowship with the city, is summed up under the concept “ecclesia,” but that changes nothing in regard to the plurality of those presiding over it. In Vis. 3.9.7, Hermas also calls them προηγούμενοι [ verb roughly trans. “leading,” but can function as a noun] or πρωτοκαθεδρίται. See Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries, trans. Michael Steinhauser (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), p. 398.

Hermas: Therefore you will write two little books, and you will send one to Clement and one to Grapte. Then Clement will send it to the cities abroad, because that is his job. But Grapte will instruct the widows and orphans. But you yourself will read it to this city, along with the elders (i.e., presbyters, πρεσβυτέρων) who preside over the church. See J. B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer, eds. And trans., The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations of Their Writings, 2nd Edition, The Shepherd of Hermas, Vision 2.4.3 (Grand Rapids: Babke Book House, 1992), pp. 345-347.
Greek text: Γράψεις οὖν δύο βιβλαρίδια καὶ πέμψεις ἓν Κλήμεντι καὶ ἓν Γραπτῇ. πέμψει οὖν Κλήμης εἰς τὰς ἔξω πόλεις, ἐκείνῳ γὰρ ἐπιτέτραπται. Γραπτὴ δὲ νουθετήσει τὰς χήρας καὶ τοὺς ὀρφανούς. σὺ δὲ ἀναγνώσῃ εἰς ταύτην τὴν πόλιν μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων τῶν προϊσταμένων τῆς ἐκκλησίας. Sancti Hermae Pastor, Liber I, Visio II, Caput IV, §3, PG 2:900.

The two following Jesuit scholars concur . . .

Klaus Schatz, S.J.: In fact, this “letter of Clement,” written around 95, is the first document indicating that the Roman community felt responsible for other churches. Its name is a subsequent addition, of course: according to Hegesippus’s list of bishops Clement was a bishop of Rome at that time, the third in succession. However, he is not named as the author of the letter; instead, the true sender is the Roman community. We probably cannot say for certain that there was a bishop of Rome at that time. It seems likely that the Roman church was governed by a group of presbyters from where there quickly emerged a presider or “first among equals” whose name was remembered and who was subsequently described as “bishop” after the mid-second century. Klaus Schatz, S.J., Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present, trans. John A. Otto and Linda M. Maloney (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1996), p. 4.

Francis A. Sullivan, S.J.: There exists a broad concensus among scholars, including most Catholic ones, that such churches as those of Alexandria, Philippi, Corinth and Rome most probably continued to be led for some time by a college of presbyters, and that only during the course of the second century did the threefold structure become generally the rule, with a bishop, assisted by presbyters, presiding over each local church. Francis A. Sullivan, S.J., From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church (New York: The Newman Press, 2001), p. 15.

Another Jesuit scholar expresses serious doubt (well, more than doubt) regarding the founding of the early Roman church by Peter . . .

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J.: If some of the Roman sojourners in Jerusalem were among the three thousand Jews converted to Christianity according to the Lucan account (Acts 2:10-11,41), they may have formed the nucleus of the Christian community in Rome on their return there. Thus the Roman Christian community would have had its matrix in the Jewish community, possibly as early as the 30s, and thus was made up at first of Jewish Christians and God-fearing Gentiles (or even of proselytoi, Acts 2:11, also mentioned in Roman Jewish funerary inscriptions), who had associated themselves with Jews of Rome. Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 29.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J.: A more reliable tradition associated Paul with Peter as “founders” of the Roman community, not in the sense that they first brought Christian faith there, but because both of them eventually worked there and suffered martyrdom there (or in its immediate environs), and because their mortal remains were in possession of the Roman church (see Ignatius, Rom. 4.3; Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 3.1.1, 3.3.2 [SC 211.22-23, 32-33]). Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 30.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J.: In any case, Paul never hints in Romans that he knows that Peter has worked in Rome or founded the Christian church there before his planned visit (cf. 15:20-23). If he refers indirectly to Peter as among the “superfine apostles” who worked in Corinth (2 Cor 11:4-5), he says nothing like that about Rome in this letter. Hence the beginnings of the Roman Christian community remain shrouded in mystery. Compare 1 Thess 3:2-5; 1 Cor 3:5-9; and Col 1:7 and 4:12-13 for more or less clear references to founding apostles of other locales. Hence there is no reason to think that Peter spent any major portion of time in Rome before Paul wrote his letter, or that he was the founder of the Roman church or the missionary who first brought Christianity to Rome. For it seems highly unlikely that Luke, if he knew that Peter had gone to Rome and evangelized that city, would have omitted all mention of it in Acts. Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 30.

Fitzmyer gives his view of the probable origin of the Church at Rome and then states that “we know nothing of its evangelization by an apostle, even though a later tradition associated that with Mark the evangelist (Eusebius, Historia ecclesiastica 2.16.1).” Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 30.

Fitzmyer then goes on to cite the anonymous early church writer whom Erasmus designated as Ambrosiaster . . .

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384) stated that the Romans “have embraced the faith of Christ, albeit according to the Jewish rite, without seeing any sign of mighty works, or any of the apostles.” In Epistolam Ad Romanos, Prologus, PL 17:46.

Now then, Notice Jerome’s comments regarding presbyters and bishops . . .

Jerome (347-420): For when the apostle clearly teaches that presbyters are the same as bishops, must not a mere server of tables and of widows be insane to set himself up arrogantly over men through whose prayers the body and blood of Christ are produced? Do you ask for proof of what I say? Listen to this passage: “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi with the bishops and deacons.” Do you wish for another instance? In the Acts of the Apostles Paul thus speaks to the priests of a single church: “Take heed unto yourselves and to all the flock, in the which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops, to feed the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” And lest any should in a spirit of contention argue that there must then have been more bishops than one in a single church, there is the following passage which clearly proves a bishop and a presbyter to be the same. NPNF2: Vol. VI, The Letters of St. Jerome, Letter 146 – To Evangelus, §1.

Jerome (347-420): Of the names presbyter and bishop the first denotes age, the second rank. In writing both to Titus and to Timothy the apostle speaks of the ordination of bishops and of deacons, but says not a word of the ordination of presbyters; for the fact is that the word bishops includes presbyters also. Again when a man is promoted it is from a lower place to a higher. Either then a presbyter should be ordained a deacon, from the lesser office, that is, to the more important, to prove that a presbyter is inferior to a deacon; or if on the other hand it is the deacon that is ordained presbyter, this latter should recognize that, although he may be less highly paid than a deacon, he is superior to him in virtue of his priesthood. In fact as if to tell us that the traditions handed down by the apostles were taken by them from the old testament, bishops, presbyters and deacons occupy in the church the same positions as those which were occupied by Aaron, his sons, and the Levites in the temple. NPNF2: Vol. VI, The Letters of St. Jerome, Letter 146 – To Evangelus, §2.

Jerome (347-420): In both epistles [i.e., 1 Timothy & Titus] commandment is given that only monogamists should, be chosen for the clerical office whether as bishops or as presbyters. Indeed with the ancients these names were synonymous, one alluding to the office, the other to the age of the clergy. NPNF2: Vol. VI, The Letters of St. Jerome, Letter 69 – To Oceanus, §3.

Jerome (347-420): And I do not say this because I have anything to blame in the mission itself, except certain partialities which beget suspicion, but because you ought rather to clear yourself in the actual presence of your questioners. You begin with the words, “You have sent a most devoted servant of God, the presbyter Isidore, a man of influence no less from the dignity of his very gait and dress than from that of his divine understanding, to heal those whose souls are grievously sick; would that they had any sense of their illness! A man of God sends a man of God.” No difference is made between a priest and a bishop (presbyterum et episcopum); the same dignity belongs to the sender and the sent; this is lame enough; the ship, as the saying goes; is wrecked in harbor. NPNF2: Vol. VI, To Pammachius Against John of Jerusalem, §37. See Contra Joannem Hierosolymitanum, §37, PL 23:390.
Latin text: Nec hoc dico, quod praeter amicitias, quae suspicionem generant, quidquam in legatione reprehendam; sed quia apud interrogantes magis et praesentes te purgare debueris. “Misisti religiosissimum hominem Dei Isidorum presbyterum, virum potentem tam ex ipsa incessus et habitus dignitate, quam divinae intelligentiae, curare etiam eos, qui animo vehementer aegrotant; si tamen sensum sui languoris habeant. Homo Dei mittit hominem Dei.” Nihil interest inter presbyterum et episcopum; eadem dignitas mittentis et missi: hoc satis imperite: in portu, ut dicitur, naufragium. Contra Joannem Hierosolymitanum, §37, PL 23:390.

Jerome (347-420): Therefore, as we have shown, among the ancients presbyters were the same as bishops; but by degrees, that the plants of dissension might be rooted up, all responsibility was transferred to one person.
Therefore, as the presbyters know that it is by the custom of the Church that they are to be subject to him who is placed over them so let the bishops know that they are above presbyters rather by custom than by Divine appointment, and ought to rule the Church in common, following the example of Moses, who, when he alone had power to preside over the people Israel, chose seventy, with the assistance of whom he might judge the people. We see therefore what kind of presbyter or bishop should be ordained. John Harrison, Whose Are the Fathers? (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1867), p.488. See also Karl Von Hase, Handbook to the Controversy with Rome, trans. A. W. Streane, Vol. 1, 2nd ed. rev. (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1909), p. 164. Cf. also
Thomas P. Scheck, trans., St. Jerome’s Commentaries on Galatians, Titus, and Philemon (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), p. 290.
Latin text: Haec propterea, ut ostenderemus apud veteres eosdem fuisse presbyteros quos et episcopos: paulatim vero ut dissensionum plantaria evellerentur, ad unum omnem sollicitudinem esse delatam. Sicut ergo presbyteri sciunt se ex Ecclesiae consuetudine ei qui sibi praepositus fuerit, esse subjectos: ita episcopi noverint se magis consuetudine, quam dispositionis Dominicae veritate, presbyteris esse majores, et in commune debere Ecclesiam regere, imitantes Moysen, qui cum haberet in potestate solum praeesse populo Israel, septuaginta elegit, cum quibus populum judicaret. Videamus igitur qualis presbyter, sive episcopus ordinandus sit. Commentariorum In Epistolam Ad Titum, PL 26:563.

J. N. D. Kelly: Particularly interesting is his [i.e., Jerome, examples given above] view that in the apostolic age the terms ‘bishop’ and ‘presbyter’ were synonymous, each church being governed by a committee of coequal presbyters. The emergence of the episcopate proper, he argues (much to the embarrassment of Catholics down the centuries), was due, not to any ordinance of the Lord, but to ecclesiastical custom, with the object of excluding divisions. J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), p. 147.

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/the-genesis-of-the-government-of-the-church-of-rome-plus-the-testimony-of-jerome-in-general.97729/

“The presbyter is the same as the bishop, and before parties had been raised up in religion by the provocations of Satan, the churches were governed by the Senate of the presbyters. But as each one sought to appropriate to himself those whom he had baptized, instead of leading them to Christ, it was appointed that one of the presbyters, elected by his colleagues, should be set over all the others, and have chief supervision over the general well-being of the community. . . Without doubt it is the duty of the presbyters to bear in mind that by the discipline of the Church they are subordinated to him who has been given them as their head, but it is fitting that the bishops, on their side, do not forget that if they are set over the presbyters, it is the result of tradition, and not by the fact of a particular institution by the Lord” (Jerome, Commentary on Titus 1:7)

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?search=cross+crescent&title=Special%3ASearch&go=Go&ns0=1&ns6=1&ns12=1&ns14=1&ns100=1&ns106=1, #4

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Meredian Lines and Easter

Bianchini's meridian line with solar disc at solar noon

Geoff Manaugh on meredian lines found in Catholic cathedrals.  The intended use:

“The way meridian lines operate is both surprisingly complex and quite easy to grasp. As the sun tracks from north to south on its annual migration between the summer and winter solstices, its image on the cathedral floor also shifts, moving slowly along the meridian line. Halfway between the solstices, of course, are the spring and autumn equinoxes. Once the position of the solar circle indicates the spring equinox, believers must simply wait for the next full moon; the first Sunday after that full moon will be the proper date of Easter.”

The eventual actual use:

“This [the fact that cathedrals are sinking into the ground over time] is true to the extent that the meridian line installed inside architect Filippo Brunelleschi’s Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence eventually became used as nothing more than a diagnostic tool for determining how much the cathedral itself had shifted. No longer useful for astronomical observation at all, the meridian became something more like an emergency light on the building’s creaking dashboard.”

Read more on astronomy and Catholic cathedrals: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/catholics-built-secret-astronomical-features-into-churches-to-help-save-souls

Is Rome A True Church?

FrancescoturrettiniTwo arguments from Francis Turretin on why Rome is not a true church of Christ:

7. Because Antichrist sits in her.

XXI. Seventh, Antichrist sits in her, the author of the great apostasy described by the apostle in 2 Thess. 2 who, under the pretext of a vicar, professing himself be in the place of Christ (anti christou), by impiously usurping the authority of the Lord betrays himself to be really Antichrist (antichriston), the rival of him and an opposing and self-exalting enemy (antikeimenon, kai, hyperairomenon) who, sitting in the temple of God as if he were God, exalts himself above all that is called God (to wit, emperors, kings and princes of the earth, and departed saints in heaven) and shows himself that he is God. That all these criteria of Antichrist can be found in the Roman pope can easily be gathered from a comparison of both, as has been proved at length in our Disputation 7, “De Necessaria Secessione,” Opera (1848), 4:147-77.

8. Because she is Babylon.

XXII. Eighth, she is the mystical Babylon, from which the pious are commanded to come out (Rev. 18:4) as a most corrupt society diametrically opposed to the mystical Zion, the true church of Christ, and incompatible (asystatos) with it. Both the description of John proves and our opponents themselves do not deny that by Babylon is meant no other than Rome. John’s description (Rev. 17) belongs exactly to her alone, especially as to the two marks by which he distinguishes her: that she is a seven-hilled (eptalophos) city, who “sitteth on seven mountains” (v. 9); and that she obtains power over the kings of the earth (v. 10). It is evident that she is seven-hilled and in the time of John no other except herself was the mistress of the world, the head of the earth and the queen of nations, who on this account was called by the Greeks “the ruling city” (basileuousa polis).

~Francis Turretin, “Institutes of Elenctic Theology” Vol. 3, p, 133

HT: https://feileadhmor.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/roman-church/

No Bishop of Bishops

Young Folks' History of Rome illus030
Carthage
“It remains for every one among us to deliver his opinion, judging none, separating none from the right of Church Communion for diversity of opinion. For no one among ourselves has set himself up above the rest, as the Bishop of Bishops, aut tyrannico terrore ad obsequendi necessitatem collegas suos adegit, or brought any of his colleagues under a forced submission by the fear of despotic power; inasmuch as every single Bishop is permitted to exercise his own free judgment, without constraint and of his own power, being ”exempt from the judgment of others, as they are from his. For we expect the universal judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, who possesses in Himself alone power and authority to raise us to the government of His Church, and then to take cognizance of what we do. 2 Cor. 10:16; Gal 2:8, 9.”

~Cyprian, Concio ad Episc. Council of Carthage

Source: https://ilyston.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/cyprian-against-romanism/

Cardinal Rebiba and Roman Catholic Apostolic Succession

Apologetica Christiana – Christian Apologetics:

Card REBIBA“However, an interesting fact arises in the Roman Catholic apostolic succession. Over 95% of modern Roman Catholic bishops, including the current pope, can trace their apostolic succession only as far as the 16th century, to a cardinal named Scipione Rebiba.”…

“The interesting thing about this is that nobody is sure who consecrated Rebiba as a bishop. No supporting documentation has been found. which means that the episcopal genealogies of 95% of today’s bishops stop at Rebiba and cannot be traced back to the Apostles.”

Read More: http://apologeticachristiana.blogspot.co.nz/2013/06/cardinal-rebiba-and-roman-catholic.html

Unintended Collapse

via Triablogue:

Catholicism in North AmericaWhether we like it or not, the Catholic Church, especially in America, is undergoing an institutional collapse.  This collapse did not happen as a result of splendid leadership.  While some of it was out of the control of Church leaders, many of the declines the Church in America faces were conscious choices that had the opposite result of what was predicted.  

Source and read more: http://triablogue.blogspot.ca/2015/02/roman-catholic-warlords.html

A Plurality of Elders was the Standard Structure

via Cannon Fodder:

Birth and Origin of the Pope by Lucas Cranach“In sum, the NT texts and texts from the early second century indicate that a plurality of elders was the standard structure in the earliest stages. But, as noted above, the idea of a singular bishop began to dominate by the end of the second century.”

Read more: http://michaeljkruger.com/were-early-churches-ruled-by-elders-or-a-single-bishop/

No Successor For Peter Is Indicated

Bishops of Rome advaunced by Emperours, Constantinus, Theodosius. &c

John Reuman via Bnonn.com:

“Biblical and patristic studies make clear that historically a gap occurs at the point where it has been claimed “the apostles were careful to appoint successors in” what is called “this hierarchically constituted society,” specifically “those who were made bishops by the apostles…,” an episcopate with an “unbroken succession going back to the beginning.” For that, evidence is lacking, quite apart from the problem that the monepiscopacy replaced presbyterial governance in Rome only in the mid-or late second century. It has been noted above how recent treatments conclude that in the New Testament no successor for Peter is indicated.”

Read more here: http://bnonn.com/5-reasons-to-seriously-doubt-the-papacy/

The Subtle Road to Rome

By J. Parnell McCarter:

1288850_49041012Protestants are being enticed to leave their historic Biblical position of the church for a position that really is Romish, but it is not being packaged that way. There is a significant difference between the Westminster Confession’s definition of the visible church (which summarizes the Protestant view) versus that of the so called emerging church using Jesuit Avery Dulles’ “mystical communion model of the church”. This latter Jesuitical model is in its essence the Romish model of the church, but disguised to appeal to and deceive Protestants.

The Biblical Protestant Model of the Church

Here is the Westminster Confession’s definition of the visible church:

Read more: http://www.puritans.net/articles/roadtorome.htm

Bone Chapel

800px-Capela_dos_ossos_esqueletos2

This image is taken from Capela dos Ossos in Portugal. This Holy Roman Catholic site is located in the city of Évora 130 kilometer south of Lisbon. In plain English “Capela dos Ossos”  should be translated Chapel of Bones.  The Chapel is located next to the entrance of the Church of St. Francis….

…The chapel holds 5.000 skeletons. Some of these skulls have been scribbled with graffiti. Two desiccated corpses, one of which is a child, dangle from a chain.

Read more:  http://ivarfjeld.com/2014/01/23/catholic-chapel-with-rotten-man-child-hanging-from-chains/