Last week we addressed the portion of Canon 6 of Nicæa which has for many centuries been used by Roman Catholic apologists to advance the case for Roman primacy. Their argument is based on one of the most pervasive myths in the history of ecclesiology. The text of Canon 6 refers to a “similar custom” regarding the Bishop of Rome, and uses that “similar custom” as the basis for recognizing the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of Alexandria within the three specified provinces of Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis. As we discussed in last week’s article, the problem facing the council of Nicæa was that under Diocletian’s reorganization of the empire in 293 A.D., the Metropolitans of Alexandria and Antioch were located within a single civil diocese—the Diocese of Oriens, or “the East.” Diocletian’s arrangement made it impossible for the council simply to define Metropolitan jurisdiction in diocesan terms. To do so would have perpetuated the very problem the council was attempting to solve. Continue reading “Unless I am deceived…”
The Council of Nicæa, as church historians well know, was convened to address the errors of Arianism. Early in the 4th century, Alexander of Alexandria, sent a letter to Constantinople warning of the spreading error (Alexander of Alexandria, To Alexander, Bishop of the City of Constantinople, paragraph 1 (320 A.D.)). Within four years the dispute had captured the attention of the emperor, who sent his emissary, Bishop Hosius of Cordoba, to Alexandria to lend his prestige to the resolution of the matter (Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, Book I, Chapter 7). Finally, in 325 A.D., a general council was convened in Nicæa to address the matter and put it to rest. Because of its significance to the doctrinal health of the church, the Arian heresy typically receives first billing whenever the Council of Nicæa is described. But there was another significant matter, another dispute, that threatened the administrative health of the church. The way that dispute was addressed at Nicæa puzzled Patristic writers and church historians for the next twelve hundred years and led to one of the most pervasive myths in the history of ecclesiology. That dispute was the matter of Metropolitan jurisdiction and the boundaries within which a Metropolitan bishop was authorized to act. The myth that resulted from Nicæa’s solution was the false belief that the Council had acknowledged the primacy of the Bishop of Rome.
Those who have read our recent article, Melito’s Sacrifice, or last year’s Removing Jesus, are by now familiar with the Roman Catholic propensity for moving Jesus’ sacrifice back to Thursday night at the Last Supper. Rome’s sacrifice of the Mass is ostensibly grounded in Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper, and because Roman Catholicism considers the Mass to be a sacrifice, her apologists are ever eager to turn the Last Supper into a sacrifice of Jesus’ body and blood. As we have noted, apologist Art Sippo says “The Last Supper was the real sacrificial offering of Christ for sin” (Catholic Legate, Q&A on the Sacraments), and apologist Scott Hahn says “Jesus’ institution of the Holy Eucharist was nothing less than the sacrifice of the New Covenant Passover” (Scott Hahn, The Bible and the Sacrifice of the Mass, 9:00-9:10).
The Roman Catholic mass sacrifice is essentially meaningless if Rome cannot prove that Jesus actually sacrificed His body and blood on Thursday night. One of the main points in Hahn’s talk on the sacrifice of the Mass was that he did not finally understand this concept until he read the 2nd century work, Peri Pascha, by Melito of Sardis. Yet when one reads Melito’s Peri Pascha, there is simply no reference to a Thursday sacrifice. Every reference to Jesus’ sacrifice in Peri Pascha is a reference to the cross. What we found with Hahn we have found to be typical of Roman apologists—they must first read their beliefs into the Early Church first in order to get the Early Church to reflect their beliefs. Continue reading The ‘Certainty’ of ‘Cumulative Probability’
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “revelation,” or the “deposit of faith,” is that “which has been committed” to the Roman Catholic church, “and which she proposes to all her members for their acceptance.” As Catholic Answers helpfully defines, the “doctrines of the Catholic Church are the deposit of faith revealed by Jesus Christ, taught by the apostles, and handed down in their entirety by the apostles to their successors.” Having been entrusted with “the faith which was once delivered” (Jude 3), the Roman Catholic church is alleged to be the only authorized custodian and teacher of that deposit (Catholic Encyclopedia, Revelation). Continue reading It’s extremely complex