Last week, we examined Hosius of Spain, and his more than five decade career as an accomplished jurist and prominent bishop, especially his efforts to codify Constantine’s judicial reforms in the canons of the church. Once the data is evaluated, it becomes very clear that when the Council of Sardica was convened—bishop Hosius presiding—its purpose was to evaluate the evidence collected and the sententiam issued by the lower court in Rome and prepare a judgment to forward to the Emperor in order, finally, to settle the dispute. The whole process was taking place under the rubric of Constantine’s judicial reforms. Julius’ complaint to the Eusebian (Arian) party, therefore, was not that they had failed to recognize Roman primacy, but rather that they had failed to comply with their obligations under Constantine’s reformed judiciary. Continue reading Anatomy of a Deception (part 3)
Last week we discussed the Roman Catholic argument from the events leading up to and surrounding the Council of Sardica in 343 A.D.—particularly the claim that “pope” Julius of Rome asserted papal primacy in his letter to the Eusebian party at Antioch, as well as the claim that the Council of Sardica confirmed it. As we showed last week, Julius actually denied papal and Roman primacy, and rebuked the appellants in Antioch for writing to him alone when they should have written “to us all” so that “all” could render a decision together. Their failure to write to everyone (instead of Rome alone) was a violation of Church canon. Continue reading Anatomy of a Deception (part 2)
Last week we concluded an eight-week series on the Early Church’s position on papal, Roman and Petrine primacy. As we demonstrated, the Early Church did not want or seek a chief earthly metropolis, did not recognize a chief episcopate in Rome, and did not believe there was a visible chief shepherd on earth. Her Chief Shepherd ruled the Church from heaven. Further, the early Church believed that every lawfully elected bishop on earth was a successor to St. Peter and sat in his Chair, and on some occasions it was necessary to correct, rebuke and separate from the bishop of Rome in order to preserve the Petrine unity of the Church. Continue reading Anatomy of a Deception (part 1)
This week we conclude our series on the invisibly shepherded church. When we left off last week, we showed that Cyprian believed that to be truly “one,” the Church must be united with the chair of St. Peter. If we were to back-load that statement with all the trappings of modern papal claims, it would appear that Cyprian held to Roman, Petrine and papal primacy. In reality, Cyprian believed that every bishop possessed the “keys” and sat in “the chair” of St. Peter, and Cyprian actually invoked that Petrine prerogative as the basis for separating from the bishop of Rome. The “rock” upon which Christ had built His Church was the rock of the confessing church, and Cyprian believed that “pope” Stephen had wavered in that confession. If Cyprian believed that the bishop of Rome could be cut off in order to preserve the Petrine unity of the Church and to preserve the integrity of its foundation, we can be confident that Cyprian did not refer to “the chair of St. Peter” or “the rock” of Matthew 16:18 in the same way that Rome and her apologists do today. Continue reading The Visible Apostolicity of the Invisibly Shepherded Church (part 8)
We continue this week with our series on the invisibly shepherded Church. Our focus has been to show that for the first three centuries of Christianity, the church was unaware of a strong central episcopate to which she was to look for unity of faith and practice. To the contrary, the early church marveled at the fact that the churches dispersed throughout the world were bound together in unity and faith without a strong central episcopate to govern them. We have been spending considerable time with Irenæus and Cyprian largely because of the weight of their historical testimony, but also because their historical testimony has been conscripted to serve the objectives of Roman Catholic apologists.