The Visible Apostolicity of the Invisibly Shepherded Church (part 6)

The Early Church knew that there was but one Chief Shepherd, and He wasn’t in Rome.
The Early Church knew that there was but one Chief Shepherd, and He wasn’t in Rome.

In our series on the invisibly shepherded Church, two names necessarily stand out because of the weight of their historical testimony—Irenæus and Cyprian. We addressed Irenæus last week because Roman Catholicism misreads his testimony in Book III, chapter 3 of Against Heresies to mean that all churches everywhere must agree with Rome. In context, Irenæus had all churches everywhere guarding apostolic truth, and frequently meeting with Rome to correct her, not to submit to her. This week we will address Cyprian who again is the victim of Roman apologists who attempt to make his words carry much, much more than their context will allow. Continue reading The Visible Apostolicity of the Invisibly Shepherded Church (part 6)

The Visible Apostolicity of the Invisibly Shepherded Church (part 5)

The Early Church knew that there was but one Chief Shepherd, and He wasn’t in Rome.
The Early Church knew that there was but one Chief Shepherd, and He wasn’t in Rome.

Last week we spent some time analyzing the thoughts of Tertullian and Origen on the concept of a strong central episcopate to rule the Early Church. As we have shown, the very idea was not only foreign to them, but also repugnant. They relied on the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit and the Chief Shepherd in heaven to guard the church, even in times when there were known disagreements among men. Christ, His Spirit, and His Scriptures provided the solutions to whatever ailed the Early Church. The Church did not desire, and did not seek, a visible chief shepherd for this task. Tertullian rejected the pretenses of ostensibly “papal” edicts from a fallible “bishop of bishops,” and insisted that men ought rather to “imbibe the Scriptures of that Shepherd who cannot be broken” (Tertullian, On Modesty, chapter 10). Origen rejected the carnality of an earthly chief city, and insisted that Christians instead “have the heavenly Jerusalem as their metrop­olis” (Origen, De Principiis, Book IV, chapter 22). Such statements, so forceful and adamant, can hardly be construed as support for the early rise of papal and Roman primacy that Roman Catholics earnestly desire to find in the post-apostolic era. Continue reading The Visible Apostolicity of the Invisibly Shepherded Church (part 5)

The Visible Apostolicity of the Invisibly Shepherded Church (part 4)

The Early Church knew that there was but one Chief Shepherd, and He wasn’t in Rome.
The Early Church knew that there was but one Chief Shepherd, and He wasn’t in Rome.

Last week, we continued our series on the invisibly shepherded Church by showing from the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Mathetes that the idea of a central metropolis, or a visible chief shepherd on earth, was foreign to the Early Church. The former had “St. Michael” rather than Peter’s successors, governing the Church, and the latter understood that Christians had no “cities of their own,” and owed their unity not to an early ruler “as one might have imagined,” but to a heavenly one, for “seeking to hold the supremacy” over one’s neighbor was altogether inconsistent with the majesty of God’s kingdom. Continue reading The Visible Apostolicity of the Invisibly Shepherded Church (part 4)

The Visible Apostolicity of the Invisibly Shepherded Church (part 3)

The Early Church knew that there was but one Chief Shepherd, and He wasn’t in Rome.
The Early Church knew that there was but one Chief Shepherd, and He wasn’t in Rome.

Last week we spent some time analyzing the Roman Catholic propensity for finding Roman and Papal primacy in the Early Church Fathers, focusing particularly on Bryan Cross’s article,  “St. Ignatius of Antioch on the Church,” at Called to Communion. As we noted, Cross labors to find evidence of early Roman Primacy, and early evidence of submission to it, in Ignatius’ letter to the Romans, but can do so only by ignoring the broader collegiality that existed within the burgeoning Early Church. Continue reading The Visible Apostolicity of the Invisibly Shepherded Church (part 3)