St. Maximos the Confessor (580-662) – Papal Supremacy and Infallibility by Divine Right

I have edited this article extensively to interact with Orthodox Byzantine historian A. Ed Siecienski.

Erick Ybarra - Credo Ut Intelligam

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As many readers know, the Monothelite controversy occupied the Church’s attention in the 7th century, and it was concluded by a firm condemnation of the belief that in Christ there is only one single will or that his acts were from one theanadric operation. This evil which inflicted the Church was partly attributable to Pope Honorius I, who’s letters to Sergius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, seemed to have supported the idea that Christ had two natures but one will.  Shortly after the reception of these letters, the Eastern Emperor, Heraclius, upon the composition of the Patriarch, released an edict called the Ecthesis ( εκθεσις , literally “statement of faith”), wherein Christ is taught to have one will. This was also accepted by the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch , and Jerusalem. It is reported that the successor of Honorius, Severinus, had time before his death to reject it. The successor of Severinus…

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Does Paul Say That God Punished Jesus? A Second Look

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Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin has put out another article which seeks to undermine the doctrine of Penal Substitution. In this article, he opens up with what he believes is a summary of the doctrine – “..that the Father ‘poured out his wrath’ on Christ as He hung on the cross”.  As my previous article responding to Akin made clear, there is a good way to hold to Penal Substitution, and I don’t think it has been interacted with in in Akin’s critiques. In this latest one, Akin focuses on the writings of St. Paul, particularly 2 Cor 5:21, Gal 3:13, and Romans 8:3-4. I recommend any to read it fully, and then compare what Akin has to say about these passages versus St. John Chrysostom and St. Thomas Aquinas. Chrysostom was born in Antioch (349 AD) to Greek parents, and grew to be a great orator (aka the Golden-Tongue) and expositor of Sacred Scripture. In fact, there are good grounds to believe that St. Thomas Aquinas said he would rather have St. Chrysostom’s commentary on St. Matthew than have the riches that would come from selling the city of Paris to the King of France. So here, the theologians of theologians, the Angelic Doctor himself, gives praise to the expository genius of this great 4th-century Saint from Antioch. And then following this, I will give Aquinas’ commentary on the Epistle to the Galatian churches. Continue reading

St. John Maron (628-707): First Syriac-Maronite Patriarch on the Roman Primacy

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“Let the Patriarch diligently search into everything which the Metropolitans or the Bishops, who are under his authority, are doing in the place of their jurisdiction; and, finding any inconvenient thing, let him alter it, and order in its stead what he thinks better. For he is the Father of them all, and they are his children. It is but right that the Bishops should respect the superiority of the Metropolitan as that of an Elder brother, and have recourse to the loftiness of his dignity, and his good administration; the Patriarch being in the place of a father who has sway over his household” (De Sacerdotio, ch. 33. Cod. Vatic. (Syriac), 101, p. 57 taken from The Tradition of the Syriac Church of Antioch: Concerning the primacy and prerogatives of St. Peter and of his successors the Roman Pontiffs, Cyril Benham Benni, pg. 107)

“And as a Patriarch has authority over his subjects, the Roman (Pontiff) has authority over all Patriarchs, in the same manner as Peter had it over all chiefs of Christianity, and over all Churches; for he is the successor of Christ, placed over His Church, over His flock, over all peoples. If any one refuses to observe these (statutes), let him be anathema” – ( ibid page 96)

 

Gates Of Hell Will Not Prevail? St. Basil the Great on 4th Century Arianism

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“It is not only one Church which is in peril, nor yet two or three which have fallen under this terrible storm. The mischief of this heresy spreads almost from the borders of Illyricum to the Thebaid. Its bad seeds were first sown by the infamous Arius; they then took deep root through the labours of many who vigorously cultivated the impiety between his time and ours. Now they have produced their deadly fruit. The doctrines of true religion are overthrown. The laws of the Church are in confusion. The ambition of men, who have no fear of God, rushes into high posts, and exalted office is now publicly known as the prize of impiety. The result is, that the worse a man blasphemes, the fitter the people think him to be a bishop. Clerical dignity is a thing of the past. There is a complete lack of men shepherding the Lord’s flock with knowledge.

 

“Ambitious men are constantly throwing away the provision for the poor on their own enjoyment and the distribution of gifts. There is no precise knowledge of canons. There is complete immunity in sinning; for when men have been placed in office by the favour of men, they are obliged to return the favour by continually showing indulgence to offenders. Just judgment is a thing of the past; and everyone walks according to his heart’s desire. Vice knows no bounds; the people know no restraint. Men in authority are afraid to speak, for those who have reached power by human interest are the slaves of those to whom they owe their advancement. And now the very vindication of orthodoxy is looked upon in some quarters as an opportunity for mutual attack; and men conceal their private ill-will and pretend that their hostility is all for the sake of the truth. Others, afraid of being convicted of disgraceful crimes, madden the people into fratricidal quarrels, that their own doings may be unnoticed in the general distress. Hence the war admits of no truce, for the doers of ill deeds are afraid of a peace, as being likely to lift the veil from their secret infamy.

 

“All the while unbelievers laugh; men of weak faith are shaken; faith is uncertain; souls are drenched in ignorance, because adulterators of the word imitate the truth. The mouths of true believers are dumb, while every blasphemous tongue wags free; holy things are trodden under foot; the better laity shun the churches as schools of impiety; and lift their hands in the deserts with sighs and tears to their Lord in heaven. Even you must have heard what is going on in most of our cities, how our people with wives and children and even our old men stream out before the walls, and offer their prayers in the open air, putting up with all the inconvenience of the weather with great patience, and waiting for help from the Lord.”
+ St. Basil the Great, Letter #92, “To the Italians and Gauls”

Of course, the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church. We know this as certain since Christ our Lord promised so, and He cannot lie. However, ever since the beginning of the Christ-mission with the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost, the Church has seen massive ups and downs, and perhaps very few ups. Therefore, we should not be so shaken at devastating times in the Church. That the Gates of Hell shall not prevail does not mean the Church cannot be dwindled down to a few who hold to the Apostolic faith in comparison to the Masses. It does not mean the Church will always be numerous, rich, convincing, seen as credible, or filled with morally virtuous members. It means that Christ will sustain the root and shoot of the Everlasting Covenant as He instituted it, with all its means to be sanctified and glorified in her holy sacraments, for the sake of the “remnant” or the “elect” which have not been hardened to the truth. The Church survived 4th century Arianism, despite how St. Basil describes it. The Church has survived every other oncoming onslaught. It is always the story of Job, even if corporately applied to the New Israel, over and over again. Stay strong. Don’t expect every question to be answered. Focus on dying a happy death, and He who works His oxen with a light yoke and an easy burden will soon give you eternal rest.

Eastern Orthodox Pope of Elder Rome, St. Gelasius I and Papal Supremacy (A.D. 492-496)

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No student of Church history underestimates the important place of the Council of Chalcedon 451, held in modern day Kadıköy (district of Istanbul). This Council established the 2-in-1 [2 natures in 1 Person] doctrine of Christ as opposed to the followers of Eutyches and Dioscorus who wanted to say Christ had 1 single nature [Mono-physite]. Following the Council, there was relative peace between Rome and Constantinople due to Patriarch Anatolius’ obedience to Pope St. Leo I’s annulment of the 28th canon, but soon enough things were destined to change because the Monophysites had been, with relatively strong arguments, pressing for a new Council to overturn Chalcedon. In an attempt to conciliate the Monophysites and the Chalcedonians, Emperor Zeno issued his “henoticon”, a document of Christology sought to pave the way for union. The henoticon would be accepted by Acacius, Patriarch of Constantinople, Peter Mongus, Patriarch of Alexandria, and Peter the Fuller, Patriarch of Alexandria. This brought about what is known as the Acacian Schism, and lasted from 484 to 519, a total of 35 years. When Pope St. Gelasius entered Papal office in 492, this schism had been operating for already 8 years. Not only was the “reform” on Chalcedon in Zeno’s henoticon an issue of dispute between Rome and the East, but also the assumption that Constantinople should occupy 2nd place in Christendom, which is what Canons 3/28 of Constantinople 381 and Chalcedon had attempted to pass as an ecumenical canon. Acacius must have not taken seriously the words of his predecessor Anatolius who wrote the following to Pope Leo I on this – “the whole force of confirmation of the acts was reserved for the authority of Your Blessedness.” (Patrologia Latina 54.1082B). Concerning the same canons, Pope St. Leo claimed that “by the blessed Apostle Peter’s authority we absolutely dis-annul in comprehensive terms” (Ep. 105). No doubt, therefore, Chalcedon is completed by the recognition of Petrine supremacy over the field of an Ecumenical Council. Acacius, however, was of a different mind on this. Though St. Gelasius, as well as his successors  Anastasius II and St. Symmachus, attempted to bring the East back into the fold of Christ, it was not until Pope St. Hormisdas that re-union was established through his Formula of Reunion which required a recognition of much of what St. Gelasius had already been writing on.  Below, I will be posting material found in the letters of Pope St. Gelasius,  drawing from three sources: (1) his letter to the Bishops of Dardania (495), (2) his instructions to a Papal legate Magister Faustus, and (3) his letter to the Emperor Anastasius.
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