Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism’s Infallibility Problem

 Dionisius, Irene and Constantine at the Seventh Ecumenical Council (15th c.)
Dionisius, Irene and Constantine at the Seventh Ecumenical Council (15th c.)

2016 is gearing up to be a huge year for the Eastern Orthodox Church. In a few days, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill will be meeting with Pope Francis. This is a meeting that the last few popes have fought hard for, and a meeting that is a thousand years overdue. Closely tied to this is a different meeting, scheduled for a few months from now: this summer, the leaders of the 14 independent Orthodox Churches are scheduled to meet in a “Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church,” the likes of which Orthodoxy hasn’t seen in over a millennium.

It looks like the Eastern Orthodox are trying to hold an Ecumenical Council.  There’s a problem with this, though: they don’t know how. It turns out, Eastern Orthodoxy has an ‘infallibility problem’ very similar to the one facing modern Protestantism. Let’s look at each problem briefly.

I. Protestantism’s Fallible Set of Infallible Books

The Protestant idea: The Church is governed by inspired Scripture. The authority of the Bible is something all Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants should be able to get behind. Yet Catholics and Orthodox, with their arrogant insistence on an infallible Church, have created a rival authority to that of Sacred Scripture. Rather, we should join Martin Luther in rejecting popes and Councils to preserve the unrivaled authority of the Bible: “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God.”

The reality: Without Church infallibility, there’s no way to know for sure which Books are Scripture, or why.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s R.C. Sproul describing the problem from a Protestant perspective:

The historic Protestant position shared by Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and so on, has been that the canon of Scripture is a fallible collection of infallible books. This is the reasoning: At the time of the Reformation, one of the most important issues in the sixteenth century was the issue of authority. We’ve seen the central issue of justification by faith alone, which was captured by the slogan the Reformers used: sola fide, “by faith alone [we are justified].” Also there was the issue of authority, and the principle that emerged among Protestants was that of sola scriptura, which means that Scripture alone has the authority to bind our conscience. Scripture alone is infallible because God is infallible. The church receives the Scripture as God’s Word, and the church is not infallible. That is the view of all Protestant churches.

So unless the Church is infallible, it’s possible that the early Christians selected the wrong books to comprise the Bible. Worse, Protestants actually believe that the early Christians did select the wrong books. None of the early Christians used the 66-book Protestant canon. Within a few centuries, there was a general consensus on which books belonged in the Bible, but that consensus was in favor of the 73-book Catholic canon (the Bible explicitly affirmed by the Third Council of Carthage in North Africa, and the Bible advocated by St. Augustine).

Martin Luther (along with modern Protestants) rejected 7 of the Books in this Old Testament, and (unlike most modern Protestants) rejected the inspiration of four New Testament Books: James (which he rightly recognized as denying sola fide), Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation. John Calvin, on the other hand, accepted James, Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation… but (unlike modern Protestants) also accepted the Old Testament Book of Baruch as Scripture.  So it’s not just the early Christians who didn’t have the 66-Book list that most Protestants assume is the Bible: Calvin and Luther didn’t hold to such a thing.

So the problem isn’t merely theoretical. Although there’s a general consensus (that there are 66 Books in the Protestant Bible), there have been prominent figures rejecting this consensus (like Augustine, Luther and Calvin) and there’s no clear reason why the modern consensus should be trusted. It’s a fallible collection of infallible Books, and a shaky one at that.

This problem is well enough known, so let’s look at its sister problem in Eastern Orthodoxy…

II. Orthodoxy’s Fallible Set of Infallible Councils

The Orthodox idea: The Church is governed by infallible Ecumenical Councils. We see this in the early Church, with the Seven Ecumenical Councils recognized by Catholics, Orthodox, and some Protestants. Eventually, as the Eastern Orthodox priest Fr. Viktor Potapov has claimed, “the pope of Rome began to attribute the privilege of ecclesiastical infallibility to himself alone,” stealing the authority of Ecumenical Councils. Catholics, with their arrogant insistence on an infallible pope, have created a rival authority to that of Church Councils.

The reality: Without papal infallibility, there’s no way to know for sure which Ecumenical Councils are Ecumenical Councils, or why.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s Bishop Kallistos Ware describing the problem from an Orthodox perspective:

How then can one be certain that a particular gathering is truly an Ecumenical Council and therefore that its decrees are infallible? Many councils have considered themselves ecumenical and have claimed to speak in the name of the whole Church, and yet the Church has rejected them as heretical: [Second] Ephesus in 449, for example, or the Iconoclast Council of Hieria in 754, or Florence in 1438-9. Yet these councils seem in no way different in outward appearance from the Ecumenical Councils. What, then, is the criterion for determining whether a council is ecumenical?

A quick aside: there’s an easy answer to this question in papal acceptance. The Catholic claim isn’t that the pope convened every Ecumenical Council, but that papal acceptance was a crucial component in a Council being an accepted (and therefore, authoritative and binding) Council. This is most clearly seen with the so-called Robber Council, “Second Ephesus” in 449. Formally, it looks like an Ecumenical Council, but it was rejected with a single word by the papal legate (contradicitur!). As a result, it was never accepted as a Council. And given that it was heretical, both Catholics and Orthodox should be grateful to God for this.

But if you can’t use papal acceptance/rejection as a criterion, what are you left with? Ware considers:

This is a more difficult question to answer than might at first appear, and though  it has been much discussed by Orthodox during the past hundred years, it cannot be said that the solutions suggested are entirely satisfactory. All Orthodox know which are the seven councils that their Church accepts as ecumenical, but precisely what it is that makes a council ecumenical is not so clear.

Ware rejects certain obvious possibilities: a Council doesn’t automatically become Ecumenical by virtue of having a certain number of bishops, for example (some of the rejected Councils were larger than some of the accepted ones). Most intriguingly, Ware considers the idea, proposed by the 19th century theologian Aleksey Khomyakov, that “a council cannot be considered ecumenical unless its decrees are accepted by the whole Church.” He immediately recognizes two problems with this. One is that it suggests the kind of democratic ecclesiology more at home in Protestantism than in Orthodoxy or Catholicism. This problem is not insurmountable in Ware’s view, provided that the role of the laity was understood in a nuanced way, as guardians of the faith, rather than teachers of the faith.

But that leaves a bigger problem unsolved: “What about Chalcedon? It was rejected by Syria and Egypt – can we say, then, that it was ‘accepted by the Church at large’?” The Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) is accepted by both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox as the Fourth Ecumenical Council. It was a critically-important Council for defining the Hypostatic Union of Christ. Yet the Oriental Orthodox (including the Copts) actually broke away from the Church over this Council, refusing to accept its decrees. By Khomyakov’s standard, it would seem that Chalcedon wouldn’t be an Ecumenical Council. Worse, it would seem that no Ecumenical Council could ever settle a major doctrinal dispute: the “losing” faction need only to reject the Council to deprive it of infallible authority.

So we’re left with Ware’s statement that “precisely what it is that makes a council ecumenical is not so clear.” But the situation is actually worse than he describes. He says that “All Orthodox know which are the seven councils that their Church accepts as ecumenical,” but it’s not quite that simple:

  • Some Orthodox treat the Council of Trullo (692) as amongst of the Seven Ecumenical Councils [it’s sometimes called the Quinisext, or Fifth-Sixth, Council because it falls in between the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils].
  • Some Orthodox believe that there was an Eighth Ecumenical Council, “Fourth Constantinople” of 879. This was a rival Council to the Fourth Constantinople accepted by the Catholic Church (869). It’s explicitly cited as the Eighth Ecumenical Council (twice) in the Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs (1848), addressed to Pope Pius IX by the bishops of the Synods of Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem.
  • Some Orthodox accept a Ninth Ecumenical Council in what are really a series of 14th century councils sometimes called “Fifth Constantinople” (1341-51).
  • The Great Council of 2016 currently planned for this summer is already raising questions about whether or not it’s going to be an Ecumenical Council. Currently, the Orthodox can’t answer that confidently, because they don’t know how Ecumenical Councils happen. (For example, can Ecumenical Councils happen after the Great Schism of 1054 has occurred? Can they happen after the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire?)

So the problem isn’t merely theoretical. Although there’s a general consensus (that there were seven Ecumenical Councils), there have been prominent figures rejecting this consensus (like the 19th century Patriarchs of Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem), and there’s no clear reason why the modern consensus should be trusted. It’s a fallible collection of infallible Councils, and a shaky one at that.

Conclusion

To be sure, Protestants are right to respect the authority of Sacred Scripture, and Orthodox are right to respect the authority of both Scripture and Church Councils. But trying to hold to either Scripture in isolation from the Church, or Councils in isolation from the papacy, and the end result isn’t the elevation of Biblical or conciliar authority. Rather, it’s the exact opposite: by reducing the Bible to a fallible collection or the Ecumenical Councils to a fallible list, they’re stripped of true authority.

None of this is to suggest that everything is always crystal clear in Roman Catholicism. Of course, that’s not the case. But unlike Protestantism, Catholicism has a living infallible authority capable of settling doctrinal disputes and clarifying teachings when the situation dictates. If there’s a question about how to interpret the Bible, there’s a way of finding out the right answer. And unlike Orthodoxy, Catholics have a way of identifying what this infallible authority is.

Imagine if I gave you a list of 20 teachings. Some of them, I explain, are inspired by the Holy Spirit. Others might not be: indeed, some of the teachings might be false, for all you know. If I don’t tell you which sentences are and aren’t inspired, and don’t leave you with any way of figuring it out on your own, what good does inspiration do? Not much. Having a fallible list containing a mix of infallible and false teachings defeats the whole point of infallibility.

For revelation to work, it must actually be revealed. If there’s no way of knowing when God has spoken through Sacred Scripture (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15-16), or when the Holy Spirit has taught through the Church at Council (cf. Acts 15:28), then there’s no way to reliably receive His revelation or to be led into the fullness of truth.

The infallibility of the Church isn’t a threat to the authority of Sacred Scripture. On the contrary, when the infallible Church clarifies which Books of the Bible are inspired, that brings the revelation of God into focus. So, too, the infallibility of the pope serves the Church collective, rather than undermining or supplanting it. It’s through papal infallibility (and the particular role of the pope in accepting or rejecting Councils) that Catholics can know whether or not a particular Council is valid and infallible.

169 Comments

  1. Wow – what an enlightening and beautiful article.
    Through the Prayers of the Mother of God (and the teaching authority of the Church) may our Savior save us!
    Rick

  2. Infallibility rests with God. Not with man, popes, Bishops, synodf, councils, or even Scripture. The closest we come to infallibility on the earth is the agreed declarations of the Univcersal Church, very very small indeed…IMO. God bless.

    1. Father,

      Of which church are you a priest? And are you saying that the Scriptures aren’t inerrant, but Church Councils are? I know of no Church that holds to that position.

      Finally, how do you know which dogmatic definitions are the “agreed definitions of the Universal Church”?

      If an Ecumenical Council condemns Arianism, and the Arians don’t accept it, is it still an Ecumenical Council?

      I.X.,

      Joe

  3. Assuming there is a God. I do not have the capacity to prove or disprove the existence of God. No one has that capacity. No one can put themself in the position of authority in respect of my relarionship with God. God will chose how to communicate with me. The discussions about scriptures and infallibilty are really people trying to claim authority status to control the way people think.

    1. Martin,

      What’s your religious affiliation, if you don’t mind my asking?

      The question of Scripture and of infallibility isn’t about forcing God to communicate with us in a particular way, but of determining with certainty (in the light of faith, of course) when are where He has communicated.

      I.X.,

      Joe

  4. Hi Joe,

    First, I have some words that may come across as harsh, but I feel they need to be said. I ask your forgiveness if what I say causes offense. Your tactic here seems disingenuous and lazy. In the past, you and other apologists like Devin Rose have received thoughtful rebuttals from Orthodox Christians (such as Isa Almisry and Perry Robinson) that pose a serious challenge to your approach, yet you fail to consider and don’t even mention them in this post. Additionally, as usual, you have presented a polemical argument without having discussed the issue with the best minds on the other side of this issue. Do you think brilliant historians and theological scholars like Rev. Dr. John Behr, Rev. Dr. John Louth, et al. haven’t heard such arguments before or thought of these challenges themselves? I would understand and respect your arguments if they were a rebuttal to the best scholarship and arguments on the other side of the issue, but you proceed as though you have discovered a silver bullet without researching whether the bullet will actually do the job.

    Now, onto your post itself. Your first mistake is stating that “It looks like the Eastern Orthodox are trying to hold an Ecumenical Council. “ While there may be some Orthodox Christians out there who make this claim, it has never been the position of the leaders planning the council itself since, as I am sure you are aware, Orthodox Christians do not believe a council can be declared authoritative until after the fact.

    You then state that the Eastern Orthodox Church doesn’t know how to hold an Ecumenical Council, but fail to acknowledge that there are two different issues at play in this statement, being 1) the mere holding of a council that may or may not end up being authoritative and 2) declaring a council authoritative and binding upon the Universal Church. I am sure that we can both agree that a church council can be held without ultimately becoming authoritative, which means that, in a sense, there is an element of mystery for both Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians alike. We also agree that it is the working of the Holy Spirit that leads the Church into knowing whether a council is authoritative or not. Where we disagree is on how one comes to know that such a council is or is not authoritative.

    Further on, you state “Without papal infallibility, there’s no way to know for sure which Ecumenical Councils are Ecumenical Councils, or why.” The reality, however, is that the Papacy, while it makes things seem more efficient and streamlined (what Western Capitalist doesn’t like that?), doesn’t solve the epistemological problem, since one might still ask how we can know the pope has such authority. While the Orthodox model doesn’t appeal to those who have to have neat, organized answers, it remains possible that the way God works in the Church and its councils is just more complicated and mysterious than we would prefer.

    In either case, an element of mystery remains. It is indeed difficult to determine exactly how a council becomes doctrinally authoritative in Eastern Orthodoxy, but this difficulty alone does not disprove the faith’s veracity. There are deeper questions of epistemology need to be addressed.

    I am short on time right now, but I will be back to address the idea that the Bishop of Rome’s approval is what divides authoritative councils from the rest.

    1. Cam,

      No offense taken, but I do disagree with you.

      1) First, to the idea that my approach is “disingenuous and lazy” for not interacting with “the best scholarship and arguments on the other side of the issue.” I could hardly disagree more. I cited Bishop Kallistos Ware, easily the most prominent and one of the most well-respected living Eastern Orthodox theologians. He, in turn, was reviewing (from an Orthodox perspective!) the general theological field, and finding it lacking.

      The post shows that (a) the Eastern Orthodox don’t have a way of knowing which Councils are Ecumenical, as Bishop Ware acknowledges; (b) the most popular solution, Aleksey Khomyakov’s, doesn’t work, for reason that Ware spells out; and (c) the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem wrote to the pope in the 19th century and claimed to believe in an Eighth Ecumenical Council, one that Orthodox today tend not to accept (although without a clear rubric for why). In each case, my arguments are taken directly from prominent bishops within the Eastern Orthodox Church.

      This is literally what you’re asking for when you want me to interact with “the best scholarship and arguments on the other side of the issue.” Your answer seems to be that I should have instead argued against a couple of guys from the Internet,* or else a pair of lesser-known theologians. I wholeheartedly disagree. If I had gone with the approach you’re suggesting, I would have had only myself to blame when someone complained in the comments that I had ignored +Ware, the various Patriarchs, etc.

      2) To your second point, this just isn’t a real argument. You mentioned intellectual laziness, but your argument here amounts to “maybe Rev. Dr. John Behr, Rev. Dr. [Andrew] Louth, et al. have an answer to this somewhere?” That’s a phantom argument at best. If you think that they have found a solution that I (and Bishop Ware) missed, go ahead and present the theory so that I can respond to it. I appreciate that you were short on time when you wrote this, but a bibliography isn’t an argument.

      (Alternative, tongue-in-cheek answer: Cardinal Ratzinger is a smart guy. Maybe he answered whatever critique Behr and Louth have. Go read all of his works, and then let me know.)

      3) You said that my “first mistake” was in stating that “It looks like the Eastern Orthodox are trying to hold an Ecumenical Council. “ Your correction to this was that as I’m surely aware, “Orthodox Christians do not believe a council can be declared authoritative until after the fact.” I am indeed aware of that fact, and agree that not every attempted or putative Council is, in fact, an Ecumenical Council.

      But that doesn’t change the fact that the Orthodox leaders are trying to convene an Ecumenical Council. The last link I included in the post is from Archdeacon John Chryssavgis (a theological advisor to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew) who wrote in First Things that “Time will show just how much the Orthodox want to realize the Great Council of 2016 and how the status of this council will be received by the Orthodox Churches themselves.” So my description was entirely fair. They just don’t know if it will be one… partly because they don’t know what makes a Council an Ecumenical Council.

      4) Your claim about the papacy [“The reality, however, is that the Papacy, while it makes things seem more efficient and streamlined (what Western Capitalist [???] doesn’t like that?), doesn’t solve the epistemological problem, since one might still ask how we can know the pope has such authority”] is at best a tu quoque, but is actually less than that.

      A tu quoque would say that the problem I’ve pointed out in you is also a problem that exists in me. Even at its best, it’s a logical fallacy. Me saying “you’re wrong, too!” doesn’t make me right. But in this case, it’s worse than a tu quoque, because these aren’t parallel situations.

      If I, in faith, accept the claims of Orthodoxy as true, I still have no way of knowing how many Ecumenical Councils there are, or who determines that fact, or how that fact is determined, or whether it’s even possible for there to be Ecumenical Councils in the future. If I, in faith, accept the claims of Catholicism as true, none of these problems exist. My point is that Eastern Orthodoxy can’t even provide an account of which Ecumenical Councils are authoritative and binding upon believers. That’s a seemingly basic burden, and there’s just not a parallel problem within Catholicism.

      5) Finally, you objected to me going for a “silver bullet,” without doing adequate research. This again appeals to your phantom argument (there’s an Orthodox answer to this problem somewhere, we just don’t know where!), but it also suggests a bias against simplicity. Sometimes, there really is a clear and simple reason that a particular position is wrong. Sometimes, there really are evident and easy-to-explain problems. When someone says that Baptism doesn’t do anything, it really is a silver bullet answer to show them the numerous Biblical passages that say the opposite. They might not accept these passages, but that doesn’t mean that the answer was too simple.

      You speak of the possibility that God’s ways may just be complicated and mysterious. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that idea (although it would be a strange position to say that as Christians, we are bound to follow the Councils, but incapable of knowing which ones). But I want to suggest the opposite possibility: maybe the Catholic side isn’t over-simplifying it. Maybe it really is that simple, and the infallibility problem really is as bad a problem for Orthodoxy as it appears to be.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      *For what it’s worth, I don’t recall anything that Isa Almisry has said to me that would be on-point here, and you can follow my ongoing discussion with Perry Robinson on Facebook. So far, his position is that “I think Ware is wrong and I have yet to see you demonstrate that there isn’t a position that *could* work.”

      1. 1.Prominence and respectability do not make one an expert on a topic. Ware is not an historian specializing in church councils. He has written some great introductory works, but his works that you quote lack the academic rigor one finds in historical works that focus on this subject. Furthermore, as Perry highlights, you fail to mention that Ware also states that the Orthodox Church is capable of calling such a council.

        “This is literally what you’re asking for when you want me to interact with “the best scholarship and arguments on the other side of the issue.” Your answer seems to be that I should have instead argued against a couple of guys from the Internet,* or else a pair of lesser-known theologians.”

        This is a blatant caricature of my actual argument. When I recommended you actually engage the best scholarship on the subject I meant just that. Seek out the most prominent historians and theological scholars on this specific subject and engage their work. For instance, you might read Archbishop Stylianos Harkianakis Infallibility of the Church in Orthodox Theology.

        My mention of Perry and Isa was a completely separate issue than my claim that you should engage with the experts. I mentioned them to highlight that you and Devin Rose skirted their arguments from previous conversations, although Devin isn’t guilty of rehashing the same arguments.
        2.“…this just isn’t a real argument.”
        Nor did I intend it as such. I asked the question to provoke thought. Why do you think it is that these brilliant historians and theological scholars who are likely better versed in church ecclesiology than either of us maintains their allegiance to the Orthodox faith? Do you think that they just don’t get your arguments? Do you think they are in a state of denial or cognitive dissonance?

        “Cardinal Ratzinger is a smart guy. Maybe he answered whatever critique Behr and Louth have. Go read all of his works, and then let me know.”

        The difference is that I have never presented an argument with such a conclusive tone against the Roman Catholic position because I can understand why Roman Catholics find their position persuasive.

      2. “*For what it’s worth, I don’t recall anything that Isa Almisry has said to me that would be on-point here,”
        For what it’s worth, I say a lot to a lot of people so I’d have to go to an archive to check.

        But now that I’m here (and already posted below some thoughts on point), just a few thoughts (and in the interest of full disclosure, I’m more of a fan of Khomiakov than Dr. Robinson, and less a fan of Met. Kallistos now, although HE, like any Orthodox bishop, ipso facto sits on an Apostolic throne):

        “This is most clearly seen with the so-called Robber Council, “Second Ephesus” in 449. Formally, it looks like an Ecumenical Council, but it was rejected with a single word by the papal legate (contradicitur!). As a result, it was never accepted as a Council. ”

        Not quite: the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon had to be called to nullify it, as its Acts make clear (see for instance the ratification of the elevation of Jerusalem back to a Patriarchate and the division between it and Antioch-contrary to the Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium). It convened when called by the Emperor, not the archbishop of Old Rome (who had been demanding one for two years by then), was held in the East, not the West (as Old Rome wanted) and not only issued its own Definition instead of adopting the Tome of the archbishop of Old Rome (as he wanted), but subjected said Tome to scrutiny to a committee of Fathers to be examined for Orthodoxy-i.e. that it was issued ex cathedra Romae didn’t validate its contents. Which brings me to your prior assertion in the same paragraph:

        “papal acceptance was a crucial component in a Council being an accepted (and therefore, authoritative and binding) Council.”

        And so the claim that the Second Ecumenical Council-presided over by St. Meletius of Antioch and not the rival supported by Old Rome, Paulinus (whose line died out, and isn’t claimed even by the “patriarchates”-all 4 o them-the Vatican has claimed for Antioch)-didn’t become Ecumenical until Chalcedon. This presents the problem that Eutyches was condemned for denying the Creed as the Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council set their seal on it. If Constantinople II lacks Ecumenical character, then Pope Dioscoros and his Ephesus II stood in the right. However, the legate of Old Rome
        “Paschasinus the most devout bishop said: ‘Look, in accordance with the will of God [and the Second Ecumenical Council, canon III] we give first place to the lord [Archbishop St.] Anatolius [of Constantinople, New Rome]. But they [Pope Dioscoros and the council of Ephesus II] put the blessed [Archbishop St.] Flavian [of Constantinople, New Rome] fifth.’”

        Evidently he didn’t get your memo and spilled the beans that Constantinople I had already been received.

        Duty calls, but briefly for now-there is no dispute that ALL Orthodox accept Trullo as Ecumenical and accept the other Pan-Orthodox Councils you list, even if not Ecumenical. We don’t have your problem of trying to both accept and reject the council of Constance, haggle over the status of Siena and Basel vs. Ferrara/Florence, not to mention the about face of the Vatican on your eighth council when it proved too convenient. These all too fallible ex post factor revisionism over those councils of yours does not make your case for Pastor Aeternus in the slightest.

        And yes, it is theoretical. As we haven’t had a problem.

      3. “But that doesn’t change the fact that the Orthodox leaders are trying to convene an Ecumenical Council.”

        Since it is not a fact, it can’t be changed.

        In fact, those involved pushing this “Great Council” are at pains to say it is not an Ecumenical Council. The accusation of it being so comes loudest from those opposed to it. (I’m against it, although I acknowledge Ecumenical isn’t what is planned).

        Now it could, like the Second and Sixth, end up Ecumenical. But that would not change the fact that those organizing it did not so intend (except, of course, the Holy Spirit, who gets the final word).

        I don’t have time to go through the rest now, but I have to quickly note (again) that the problems of the councils Pisa, Constance, Siena and Basel (vs. Florence) with 3 lines of “supreme pontiffs” (and colleges of cardinals, Latin titular patriarchs of the East, etc.) makes it more than tu quoque, and the infallibility problem really is as bad a problem for the Vatican as it appears to be, despite claims that none of these problems exist.

        If one, in faith, accepts the claims of Orthodoxy as true, that includes her Lord’s claim that “I know My Own and My Own know me.”

  5. 1. Ware is prominent, but the question is regarding the best representative of a Conciliarist viewpoint. How do you get from prominent to that? Besides, Ware says lots of things on say Universalism and Women’s ordination that fall afoul of Orthodoxy. There is no inference from prominent to representative.

    How do you get from Ware, to what all Orthodox know?

    Khomiakov was a layman and not a well respected theologian. In fact, not a theologian at all.

    That some reject the patriarchial letter’s designation for the 879 Council is no more informative of individual Catholics who reject Catholic teaching on any given point. What is more, Western canonists referred to 879 as the 8th council up till the 11th century.

    Maybe you should be arguing with the best advocates for conciliarism?

    2.. If you want a solution, you need to clearly state what the problem is. So far, it seems like a jumble of epistemological and metaphysical issues.

    3. As to the 2016 synod, the patarichates seem to have fairly obviously stated that it is not their intent to hold an ecumenical council. Secondly, Ware says that the Orthodox could do so if they wanted to. Curious that you make no mention of that from Ware’s book.

    If you know what makes a council ecumenical, why isn’t the Lateran Synod of 649 an Ecumenical council? What necessary and sufficient condition did it lack?

    4. The fallaciousness of tu quo que is in drawing the conclusion that the objection has no purchase because it applies to others making it. But pointing out that other positions fall victim to the same objection doesn’t show that it isn’t a forceful objection for that position as well. That has to be done on independent grounds. So how do you know “for sure” when the Pope speaks ex cathedra? Or if confirmation of a council isn’t an ex cathedra judgment, isn’t it only infallible in conjunction with the bishops? If so, is the pope’s ratification a sole sufficient condition or not?

    So as far as parallel problems go, how do you know which papal statements are ex cathedra? Is Leo’s Tome? Why not? How about Agatho’s Letter? Why not? Why don’t Catholics know which papal statements are Ex Cathedra and which are not, especially prior to the 19th century?

    It might help to actually do some research on what the patristic and conciliar tradition has to say as to what it takes for a council to be infallible. Maybe you’ve done that work already but I am not seeing any of it in your post. It would then be better to argue from a demonstration of those patristic and conciliarist criteria as to what it takes to produce an ecumenical council and then show that the Orthodox account fails to map those criteria and conditions.

    1. Perry,

      1. I’m not going from Ware to “what all Orthodox know.” In a spirit of fairness, I avoided using Catholic sources to explain these problems within Protestantism and Orthodoxy. Instead, I used a prominent Protestant (R.C. Sproul) to explain the fallibility problem that Protestants are facing on the canon, and a prominent Orthodox (Bishop Kallistos Ware) to explain the fallibility problem that Orthodox are facing on Councils.

      It’s not an answer for a Protestant to say that they disagree with Sproul on some other theological position: that’s irrelevant. Likewise, it’s not an answer for you to say that you disagree with Ware on women’s ordination. Irrelevant. He’s describing a real problem: it’s not clear what makes a council an Ecumenical Council, and it’s not even clear how many Ecumenical Councils there have been.

      Moreover, my treatment analyzed the most popular attempted solution to this problem: Aleksey Khomyakov’s. So, as I said to Cam, if there is a particular solution that you think that I (and +Ware) overlooked that solves this, raise the argument. But don’t just insist that I find better arguments for the Orthodox side and then answer them. That’s a phantom argument. You can always say, “Yeah, well you haven’t specifically addressed every theologian I happen to like, maybe one of them has a solution to this problem!”

      2. How am I conflating metaphysical and epistemological questions? The individual believer has a right and a duty to know whether a putative Council is binding upon them, and worthy of belief. Orthodoxy doesn’t appear to be able to fulfill this, which (I think you must agree) undermines the whole point of infallibility.

      3. Where have the Patriarchates made it clear that they’re not trying to create an Ecumenical Council? And (acknowledging that +Ware thinks it’s possible), how would the Eastern Orthodox Church convene a binding Ecumenical Council?

      4. In doubling down on the tu quoque, are you admitting that Orthodoxy has an insoluble fallibility problem? I’ll grant, as a matter of principle, that it’s possible both that Orthodoxy has this problem and that Catholicism doesn’t have the solution. But that’s hardly an argument for Orthodoxy. In any case, it’s not true that Catholicism doesn’t have the solution, even though (as I mentioned in the original post) I’m certainly not embracing the polar opposite position, that there’s never ambiguity in Catholic history or theology.

      Here, there’s another important distinction that needs to be made here: within Catholicism, there’s an actual mechanism for clearing up this confusion when it arises. If Catholics are unsure whether a particular Church teaching is dogmatically defined or binding, the Magisterium can and does intervene to clarify (as was the case with Pope St. John Paul II and women’s ordination). Within Orthodoxy, there’s no apparent mechanism by which this problem can be resolved. Even if a putative Council declares itself an Ecumenical Council and announces some kind of solution (perhaps revealing the content of your phantom argument), Orthodox believers would have no way of knowing whether or not this Council was a true and binding Council.

      1. Ok, so what we need then is a source that speaks for Orthodoxy, right? An individual bishop on a conciliarist model can’t do that. Right?

        Protestants face that problem because they have the Doctrine of the Right of Private Judgment. That is not an Orthodox doctrine.

        As I pointed out, Ware says all kinds of things that fall afoul of Orthodox teaching. Is the possibility of Women’s ordination now in principle possible because Ware says so? No. He doesn’t even sit on an Apostolic throne.

        If an individual Protestant can supply a better answer, it is quite relevant. Second if there is no demonstrated principled problem on the table, that too is also relevant.

        I grant that Ware thinks he is describing a real problem. So what? How do we get from what he thinks to it being so? That requires a real argument. Reporting what is or isn’t in Ware’s head is not that.

        Popular attempts are often bad. So what? The point is you assess an entire tradition on the basis of “popular” attempts. That’s a bad idea from the start.

        If the problem is not clearly stated and there is no proof of your first premise, why do I bear any burden here? If you can’t engage the best that a position has to offer, that isn’t a phantom argument, especially if you are admitting that you are only engaging “popular” profferings. The phantom shoe is on the other foot, as it were.

        2. I indicted how you were conflating metaphysical and epistemological issues on FB. I will do so again. What it takes for something to produce X is different from what it takes to know X. Your statements mix claims that the Orthodox can’t produce infallible judgments with claims that Orthodox can’t know about them. Conditions on producing something are different than the conditions on knowledge. You need to get clear on your objection first.

        That it “seems” that it doesn’t “appear” to do so is not an argument. You need an argument to prove it.

        3. There was a recent public statement to the effect. To know how the Orthodox would convene an ecumenical council, one would need to look at the patristic and conciliar tradition for what it takes for a council to be ecumenical. So far, as I have asked, you haven’t produced any of those documented criteria. Where does the tradition say what those conditions are?

        4. I am not doubling down on the tu quo que. I deny your unsupported charge. Second, a non-theist could make the same objection against the papal theory as I gave the objection. There is no tu quo que there. So again, what is your answer to the objection as I posed it?

        I never claimed that since Catholicism has the same problem that this implies the truth of Orthodoxy. I am pointing out that you are being selectively skeptical and hence there is some special pleading going on.

        If you have a solution, then please tell me because prominent Catholic theologians and cardinals never seem to agree on the answer. How do Catholics know which papal statements are ex cathedra? Why isn’t Lateran 649 an ecumenical council?

        As to the actual mechanism, that is simply question begging, since you are assuming the truth of your first premise, namely that the Orthodox have no mechanism.

        Second, we can run skeptical problems on what you proffer. Perhaps JP2 lied. Perhaps evil cardinals issued it without him ever being able to find out. Epistemology admits of all kinds of skeptical problems. Having a mechanism doesn’t get you out of skepticism because public mechanisms are just as epistemically defeasible as internal ones.

        Besides, I think there is an apparent mechanism. What is or isn’t apparent to you is not the measure of whether the Orthodox in fact have such a thing. And besides, when you don’t have doctrinal development, there is a lot less work for a referee to do.

        Lastly, what you proffer doesn’t address a point I already made. How do Catholics know which judgments are ex cathedra since in history there are a lot of them? There is a lot of disagreement among Catholics, and for a long time which ones are. What do you propose that we get another papal statement to clear up the confusion? Why isn’t that circular? And second, up till after Trent, Catholics were divided on whether papal judgments were of themselves infallible or in a conciliarist way, infallible by the consent of the church. So basically, your position boils down to, the Orthodox have this problem. We had this problem for over 1500 years, but we don’t have it anymore. Uhm, that doesn’t solve the implicit problem that you seem to try to raise.

  6. “So unless the Church is infallible, it’s possible that the early Christians selected the wrong books to comprise the Bible.”

    Ironically, Joe or any other Catholic would be hard pressed to find a Christian who held an identical 73 book Canon until the 4th century.

    Obviously, the Canon was not something known infallibly for centuries. We can all agree with that. Yet, Christianity survived. They quoted Scripture. The Christian religion lived on without an epistemological crisis.

    It is a question I tackled in a recent article of mine concerning Protestant Myths About the Deuterocanon: http://christianreformedtheology.com/2016/02/04/protestant-myths-about-the-deuterocanon/

    I wrote:

    “[W]e are not 100 percent sure if we are missing a book or two from the Bible. And, if you want to be ultra critical, whether or not Esther really even belongs in the Canon.

    “But wait!,” some will object. “Almost every Christian for two thousand years thought Esther was Scripture!”

    Of course. And almost just as many would have had a more expansive Old Testament than the one Protestants have today. So, we need to be very gracious with our view of the Scripture, because in the end of the day we don’t have hard facts to go by. We simply know subjectively where we hear God speaking and where we do not hear Him speaking. “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10:27). That is hardly an iron-clad criteria …”

    The problem inherently with both the Catholic’s and EO’s position is that the Bishops who took part in the Ecumenical Councils did not ascribe infallibility to the councils, nor did early Bishops of Rome ascribe infallibility to themselves. Further, we have Second Nicea and letters from Saint Gregory the Great which say that Simony invalidates orders. So, being that Simony permeated the Church in the middle ages, neither the EO or RCC can even lay claim to Apostolic Succession by their own definition.

    So, there is a profound epistemological crisis for both the EO and the RCC, because they ascribe infallibility to councils and statements that refute their present positions. Yet, for the Protestants whose view of the Scripture is that of the early church (the fallible collection of infallible books), they don’t find themselves in this conundrum.

    God bless,
    Craig

    1. Actually, it is Protestants who are the worse off. Both Catholics and Orthodox have a predominantly standard set of beliefs. Even between Catholic and Orthodox, there are very few significant issues.

      But, Protestants don’t just differ with Catholic and Orthodox, they differ with each other to the point that there is no absolute truth amongst them.

    2. Craig: “Obviously, the Canon was not something known infallibly for centuries. We can all agree with that. Yet, Christianity survived. They quoted Scripture. The Christian religion lived on without an epistemological crisis.”

      Which Christianity survived? There’s a whole bunch of Protestants out there who can tell you from the Bible that the Church was bound to fall away and disappear from the earth. If they can quote the Bible, how do you know they are mistaken?

      Because they don’t agree with you?

    3. Craig Truglia says:
      February 10, 2016 at 1:41 am

      Ironically, Joe or any other Catholic would be hard pressed to find a Christian who held an identical 73 book Canon until the 4th century.

      True. But even during that time, they held to the very same Sacred Traditions.

      Obviously, the Canon was not something known infallibly for centuries. We can all agree with that. Yet, Christianity survived. They quoted Scripture. The Christian religion lived on without an epistemological crisis.

      Because they had one authority. The Catholic Church. Therefore they didn’t need the Scriptures. They passed down the Doctrines of Christ, by word.

      “[W]e are not 100 percent sure if we are missing a book or two from the Bible. And, if you want to be ultra critical, whether or not Esther really even belongs in the Canon.

      In other words, you’ve got a fallible list of infallible books.

      “But wait!,” some will object. “Almost every Christian for two thousand years thought Esther was Scripture!”

      Of course. And almost just as many would have had a more expansive Old Testament than the one Protestants have today. So, we need to be very gracious with our view of the Scripture, because in the end of the day we don’t have hard facts to go by. We simply know subjectively where we hear God speaking and where we do not hear Him speaking. “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10:27). That is hardly an iron-clad criteria …”

      That is the Protestant dilemma. Because you rely upon your own understanding. But we rely upon the Church which Jesus Christ established.

      The problem inherently with both the Catholic’s and EO’s position is that the Bishops who took part in the Ecumenical Councils did not ascribe infallibility to the councils, nor did early Bishops of Rome ascribe infallibility to themselves.

      Yes, they did. It is only you, reading your Protestant doctrines into the Early Church writings, which denies what is evident to Catholics. That the Catholic Church has held these Doctrines from day one.

      Further, we have Second Nicea and letters from Saint Gregory the Great which say that Simony invalidates orders. So, being that Simony permeated the Church in the middle ages, neither the EO or RCC can even lay claim to Apostolic Succession by their own definition.

      Says Craig. But you have no faith in Jesus Christ. Because it is Jesus Christ who said that His Church would stand forever. Therefore, Simony would never permeate the Church. That is a fantasy which Protestants exaggerate in order to support their anti-Catholic agenda.

      So, there is a profound epistemological crisis for both the EO and the RCC, because they ascribe infallibility to councils and statements that refute their present positions.

      On the contrary, the most profound epistemological crisis is in the Protestant arena. Protestantism is a veritable Tower of Babble.

      Yet, for the Protestants whose view of the Scripture is that of the early church

      That’s a fantasy. There is no such animal. Protestants hold beliefs which were invented in the middle ages.

      (the fallible collection of infallible books), they don’t find themselves in this conundrum.

      Uh, the fallible collection of infallible books is a conundrum which the Catholic Church resolved centuries ago. It is obviously a conundrum which you embrace. Along with the conundrum of lack of authority. Errr, except your own, of course.

      God bless,
      Craig

      You too

      1. DeMaria,

        “True. But even during that time, they held to the very same Sacred Traditions.”

        Actually, they didn’t. As you already conceded, they did not have the same traditions regarding the Canon until the late 4th, early 5th centuries. Even then, it was not universal. Baptism was practiced differently in the early church (usually be full immersion even until the days of Thomas Aquinas, on adult believers and not their infants, they tasted milk and honey afterwards while Catholics don’t do that today). Sacramental theology was different. Penance was based upon Biblical precepts in Cyprian On the Lapsed, not the arbitrary whims of a priest. Further, it was not necessary for salvation. Ambrosiaster (Erasamus’ name for a writer that was either Ambrose or Hilary):

        Obviously they are blessed whose iniquities are forgiven without labor or work of any kind and whose sins are covered without any work of penitence being required of them, as long as they believe. How can these words apply to a penitent, when we know that penitents obtain the forgiveness of sin with much struggle and groaning?…[T]heir sins are forgiven, covered and not reckoned to them, and this without labor or work of any kind (quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scripture, New Testament VI, p. 113)

        So, perhaps Catholics tell themselves that whenever the Church disagreed with them early on, they really somehow agreed all the more, but this is not a consistent position logically and it is demonstrably wrong.

        “Simony would never permeate the Church.”

        I suggest you do a little digging in the history, it was a widespread problem even by Gregory the Great’s time.

        “Uh, the fallible collection of infallible books is a conundrum which the Catholic Church resolved …”

        Actually, it cannot be a conundrum, because to say that it is would thrust the Church in its earliest days in epistemological crisis when the Canon was in flux. So again, your position does not make sense and it is ahistorical.

        I ask anyone following these replies weigh what is said on their merits. I don’t mind replying back, but you have a way of conveying your opinions which is so nasty, that I do not quite feel to continue on–especially when what you write is so demonstrably inaccurate. It doesn’t have to be that way, but it is right now.

        God bless,
        Craig

        1. Craig,

          You asserted that Christianity survived even though the early Christians did not agree with the canon of scriptures. And you asserted too that they escaped an epistemological crisis just by being sola scripturians (sorry, but it seems that this is what you want to say).

          The problem of course is that there are Protestants out there today who do not share your assertions. They believe the early Church apostatized and disappeared from the earth, and they have Biblical texts to prove their claims. So now you have an epistemological problem:

          How do you KNOW they are wrong?

          I think you should not dodge this question because neither you nor them can both be right. And I’d like to know why you think you are right… 🙂

        2. Craig Truglia says:
          February 10, 2016 at 11:56 am

          Actually, they didn’t.

          Actually, they did.

          As you already conceded, they did not have the same traditions regarding the Canon until the late 4th, early 5th centuries.

          It remains the same Tradition, Craig. The discerning of the Canon is merely an example of:

          John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:

          The Tradition in question is the Authority and inerrancy of Scripture. Discernment of the documents which fall under the title, “Holy Scripture”, does not affect the Tradition that Scripture is authoritative and inerrant.

          Even then, it was not universal.

          Certainly, it was.

          Baptism was practiced differently in the early church (usually be full immersion even until the days of Thomas Aquinas, on adult believers and not their infants, they tasted milk and honey afterwards while Catholics don’t do that today).

          But Baptism was practiced. And that is the Tradition. The rest is fluff.

          Oh, and let me pre-empt your tedious argument that someone in the early Church said that the tasting of honey was infallible, Apostolic Teaching. As you’ve been told, over and over again, we don’t believe that individual Bishops are infallible. Even if they have been canonized Saints. We believe the Catholic Church is infallible.

          Can we agree that you’ve been told this a thousand times and we don’t need to revisit that argument?

          Sacramental theology was different.

          Sacramental Theology remains the same. If there is a difference, it is in the depth of understanding. We understand it much more deeply today than it was understood then.

          Penance was based upon Biblical precepts in Cyprian On the Lapsed, not the arbitrary whims of a priest.

          Biblical precepts are based upon Sacred Tradition, not the arbitrary whims of Protestant onlookers.

          Further, it was not necessary for salvation. Ambrosiaster (Erasamus’ name for a writer that was either Ambrose or Hilary):

          Obviously they are blessed whose iniquities are forgiven without labor or work of any kind and whose sins are covered without any work of penitence being required of them, as long as they believe. How can these words apply to a penitent, when we know that penitents obtain the forgiveness of sin with much struggle and groaning?…[T]heir sins are forgiven, covered and not reckoned to them, and this without labor or work of any kind (quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scripture, New Testament VI, p. 113)

          Lol! And from that, you get the idea that St. Ambrosiaster did not believe that Baptism was necessary for salvation. You and your anti-Catholic buddies, are really reaching.

          In his “anthropology on law and grace”, St. Ambrosiaster teaches that we receive the Holy Spirit in Baptism. Does that not give you a hint that he considers it necessary for salvation? Here’s what he said:

          “Whoever thinks that baptism takes place according to carnal reasoning, he is not spiritual; nor will he be able to obtain the heavenly gift, who himself, not through water, but through faith, would not believe to be changed. For water is seen, but the Spirit who is not seen is at work, so that there might be faith in him, because just as water cleanses bodily dirt, thus the spirit cleanses the soul from sin, so that in the same way, the visible profits the visible, thus also the spirit profits the spiritual. And through this, the spiritual reason is changed in baptism. For more is there that is heard than seen.” (QNV 59.1; St. Ambrosiaster’s anthropology on law and grace, page 142)
          https://books.google.com/books?id=L5tDRC9ia0EC&pg=PA140&lpg=PA140&dq=st.+ambrosiaster+commentary+on+baptism&source=bl&ots=jCdZY9AQHU&sig=4-KDS4yoSfpLRpHx6nkHb0S6iOE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj18fa7zu3KAhVByYMKHYHyBXcQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=st.%20ambrosiaster%20commentary%20on%20baptism&f=false

          So, perhaps Catholics tell themselves that whenever the Church disagreed with them early on, they really somehow agreed all the more, but this is not a consistent position logically and it is demonstrably wrong.

          Perhaps you ought to take your Protestant glasses off and read the Early Church in context of the Early Church, rather than in context of Luther.

          I suggest you do a little digging in the history, it was a widespread problem even by Gregory the Great’s time.

          A widespread problem does not make it permeate the Church. It certainly doesn’t invalidate every Holy Order which was never affected by it.

          “Uh, the fallible collection of infallible books is a conundrum which the Catholic Church resolved …”

          Actually, it cannot be a conundrum,

          Thank you! Because of the infallibility of the Church. Not because of the inerrancy of Scripture.

          because to say that it is would thrust the Church in its earliest days in epistemological crisis when the Canon was in flux. So again, your position does not make sense and it is ahistorical.

          I doubt that you even understand what I’m saying. Your natural way of thinking will never understand the Doctrines of Jesus Christ. Until you humble yourself, you’ll continue to hold man’s traditions in high esteem and simultaneously, reject the Traditions of Jesus Christ.

          I ask anyone following these replies weigh what is said on their merits.

          As do I.

          I don’t mind replying back, but you have a way of conveying your opinions which is so nasty, that I do not quite feel to continue on–

          All I’m doing is contradicting you, Craig.

          Your style of writing can be reduced to one thing, “argument from personal authority”. That is why someone else asked you earlier, “Why are they wrong? Because they disagree with you?”

          That’s your entire basis of right and wrong. Whether anyone agrees with or disagrees with, Craig Truglia.

          And it irks you no end that our standard is the Catholic Church.

          especially when what you write is so demonstrably inaccurate.

          That’s a laugh. Throughout your sojourns to this forum, Catholics have proven you wrong on the basis of your own inconsistencies, your own logical errors and on the basis of the very evidence you provide. It is you who have have been demonstrably proven inaccurate, over and over again. But you are apparently blind to this fact. Since you continue to insist that you are correct, when you have been proven wrong. Just as you’ve been proven wrong on your twist of St. Ambrosiaster, above.

          It doesn’t have to be that way, but it is right now.

          No, it doesn’t. Let me give you an example:

          You said:
          Penance was based upon Biblical precepts in Cyprian On the Lapsed, not the arbitrary whims of a priest.

          You speak very crassly and insultingly about the men whom we believe walk in Christ’s footsteps. Yet, you do this as a matter of course. Now, when I respond and say:

          Biblical precepts are based upon Sacred Tradition, not the arbitrary whims of Protestant onlookers.

          I’m sure this will get your, “Oh, you’re so nasty”, complaint.

          God bless,
          Craig

          And you, as well.

        3. usually be [sic] full immersion even until the days of Thomas Aquinas, on adult believers and not their infants
          The “not their infants” part requires your proof. You can read on this blog that there is plenty of evidence for infant baptism and not a lot (I’m being generous here, maybe there’s no evidence at all) for your supposed post-Luther, post-Calvin rule that “children are excluded”.
          And who is your authority to say that the efficacy of immersion is greater than pouring? And which Catholic would claim that one form is better than the other?

          And by the way, as said below, derision goes both ways. If you think Catholics depend on the “arbitrary whims of a priest”, I might as well say that you depend on the arbitrary whims of your Protestant Bible-interpreter/community/your head.

        4. How do you know whether you’re the kind of Christian whose sins are “forgiven without labor of any kind” or one whose return to God should be accompanied by fasting, weeping, and praying?

        5. Craig

          YOU SAID: I ask anyone following these replies weigh what is said on their merits. I don’t mind replying back, but you have a way of conveying your opinions which is so nasty, that I do not quite feel to continue on–especially when what you write is so demonstrably inaccurate. It doesn’t have to be that way, but it is right now.

          RESPONSE: Well, to be honest, wouldn’t you get a little bit terse if you kept hearing the same old rants and false claims about your faith all the time, ESPECIALLY when they keep coming from the same person? You don’t think that your manner of insulting our Faith is wrong, but it’s fine for you to get a little bit uptight when someone decides to take off the silk gloves and tell you for the hundredth time the answer to something you just keep repeating only dressed up with a different flavor.

          I’ve been following this blog for over two years now, posting the occasional comment and all I can say is that it saddens me when you have been generously given multiple opportunities to learn and discover the beauty of our Catholic Faith with a great many bloggers here demonstrating charity, only for you to make false and slanderous remarks about our practices and beliefs. Let me ask you something: How many times would you allow a man to insult your wife to your face before you slugged him?

          What you continue to do here is not only disingenuous but down right scandelous. When you falsely present the Teachings of the Catholic Faith in a different light, along with distorting the writings of Her Great Saints, you are committing a sin – bearing false witness against your neighbor.

          You simply assert your opinion as “fact” and then practically demand that we Catholics defend against your strawman and red herring arguments. You show almost no charity nor mannerisms when you do so. You dodge questions, you attempt to deviate from the main topic and you POUNCE at any opportunity that presents itself whereby you THINK you can slam the Catholic Church because of disagreements that arise between my Catholic Brothers of the West and my Catholic Brothers of the East.

          I for one, really thought Joe presented an article that needed to be addressed in light of the upcoming meeting between our Pope and the Russian Patriarch. I wanted to hear the arguments and defenses from BOTH sides – East and West because I really do think it is IMMENSELY important to hear this. Because I for one consider the Eastern Catholics my true brothers in Christ.

          But instead of getting to hear and read a bit more of the arguments and defenses from my Eastern Brotheren, allowing me to better understand their position and belief in this matter, I have to come here and see more of your ranting garbage and your slanderous posting that are TOTALLY off topic from the subject at hand!

          You wanted feedback, Craig? There’s your feedback from a fellow reader of this blog.

    4. I won’t rehash De Maria’s arguments here, but it’s evidently weird that for a habitué of Catholic forums, Craig still believes that the problems he imputes to Catholics are the problems Catholics believe they have and/or that they indeed have. The proposition that Ecumenical councils didn’t believe they were infallibly defining doctrine is laughable. Imagine the bishops at Nicaea stating something like, “Our council is fallible; therefore, Arius may be right, but for the time being we believe we are right”. All those anathemas wouldn’t make sense, would they? On the other hand, there is a virtual impossibility for any Protestant church to convene a Council, if that has ever happened. After all, they don’t believe their own Church’s position to be dogmatically binding on the individual believer.

      they ascribe infallibility to councils and statements that refute their present positions.
      I have yet to see which councils and statements “refute” present positions of the Catholic Church. You have shown us none.

      About the issue of “simony”, you were responded to in a previous thread, and as far as I can remember, you failed to provide much historical evidence to your claim that it “permeated” the clergy, that it was so widespread that it was a real plague that infested Christendom and that nobody cared about it.

      You talk about “epistemological crisis”, but that is nowhere to be seen. Protestants don’t usually have epistemological crises because they don’t believe that knowledge bears upon one’s salvation, and because they separate faith from knowledge. Weak epistemology is most often seen among Protestants, who feel like gabbling in the dark to define their doctrines beyond a distilled, anemic version of “basic truths” and a few traditions added in the mix (yes, sola scriptura etc are traditions). It is clearly evinced from presuppositionist pronouncements that degrade human knowledge, separate knowledge from faith and faith from reason, and claim that the Church Christ founded was wrong for more than 1400 years, and so on. One example:


      “But wait!,” some will object. “Almost every Christian for two thousand years thought Esther was Scripture!”
      Of course. And almost just as many would have had a more expansive Old Testament than the one Protestants have today. So, we need to be very gracious with our view of the Scripture, because in the end of the day we don’t have hard facts to go by. We simply know subjectively where we hear God speaking and where we do not hear Him speaking. “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10:27). That is hardly an iron-clad criteria to go by.
      Hence, because Protestants have the minority historical position on Scripture, it is all the more reason that we display humility. Further, we should respect those who hold to the dominant historical position of the Church over the centuries.

      That’s a very weak argument, almost as foolish and relativistic as presuppositionalism. The four criteria for canonicity (apostolic origin, universal acceptance, liturgical use and consistent message) don’t matter: “We don’t have hard facts”.

      In the end, it’s all subjective! If I hear God speaking in the Sutra of Lotus, that’s scripture. The same for the Bhagavad-Gita. If some books disagree with my own personal theology, they’re not really scripture (Luther); if other books agree with my theology, they’re scripture (Mormons, Gnostics). It doesn’t really matter if “Almost every Christian for two thousand years thought Esther [or the Maccabees, or Sirach] was Scripture”…, for what in the end differs Maccabbees from the Songs of Solomon in terms of sound doctrine? In the end, all that those Protestants who reject those books have to claim in their defense is a supposed Jewish post-Christian gathering or teacher (Rabbi Akiva’s condemnation of the Septuagint for anti-Christian reasons, and “Jamnia” — see http://shamelesspopery.com/can-protestants-rely-upon-the-council-of-jamnia-for-their-bible/) that regarded some man as Messiah and rejected some books as non-canonical, or else this subjective claim — “We simply know subjectively”, that is, “I have a hunch, my intuition tells me so, even if I can’t rationalize it”. But everyone knows that “I feel it’s right” is just not an argument, specially when confronted with more than 1500 years (at least) of nearly unanimous, worldwide Christian acceptance.

    5. “Ironically, Joe or any other Catholic would be hard pressed to find a Christian who held an identical 73 book Canon until the 4th century.

      Obviously, the Canon was not something known infallibly for centuries. We can all agree with that. Yet, Christianity survived. They quoted Scripture. The Christian religion lived on without an epistemological crisis.”

      This actually supports, rather than refutes, Joe’s point.

      1) “A Christian” is not the same as “the Church.” You use this line of reasoning in many debates with Joe. However, as much as the Church uses St. Augustine’s teachings, the Church isn’t simply “the compendia of teachings of St. Augustine.” Likewise for St. Jerome, or St. John Chrysostom, or St. Thomas, etc. The authority of the Church is broader and works differently. Therefore, your frequent points of “but St. John Chrysostom didn’t…”, or whomever, aren’t exactly a death knell for Joe’s arguments. This leads to point 2).

      2) It is in a sense _because_ Christians and communities had varying canons that conciliar workings ended up creating canons, particularly as heresy and schism arose. Again, this means that what you point out actually supports what Joe is trying to say in this regard.

      1. Rico,

        Sorry, I am not trying to ignore you. I am very busy. Hopefully I answer to your satisfaction:

        “You asserted that Christianity survived even though the early Christians did not agree with the canon of scriptures…The problem of course is that there are Protestants out there today who do not share your assertions. They believe the early Church apostatized and disappeared from the earth, and they have Biblical texts to prove their claims. So now you have an epistemological problem: How do you KNOW they are wrong?”

        I believe I am defending a historical and logical position. I don’t feel like I need to defend anyone else’s position. If my position is shown to be ahistorical, then I will recant. Further, not every Protestant thinks the early church Apostatized, just like not every Catholic agrees upon all sorts of periphery ideas such as the incorruptibility of certain saints’ bodies. So, unless you can demonstrate that the Protestants have some sort of established dogma that the early Christians apostatized, I really do not have to respond to the notion because it hasn’t been shown to me that it is a real issue.

        KO,

        “The “not their infants” part requires your proof. You can read on this blog that there is plenty of evidence for infant baptism and not a lot (I’m being generous here, maybe there’s no evidence at all) for your supposed post-Luther, post-Calvin rule that “children are excluded”.”

        Infant baptism did not become the norm until the late 4th, early 5th centuries. My proof? Not one church father was baptized as an infant. We have A LOT of church fathers that had Christian parents: Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine are all 4th century fathers with Christian parents, all of which baptized as adults.

        The baptism of infants did exist. Cyprian wrote about it, and Tertullian wrote against it. However, if failed to be the majority practice or otherwise, we would have had a church father baptized as an infant recorded before the 5th century, instead of several notable fathers NOT baptized as infants.

        “And who is your authority to say that the efficacy of immersion is greater than pouring?”

        Thomas Aquinas says so in the Summa. Affusion was used in areas where water was not plentiful.

        “And which Catholic would claim that one form is better than the other?”

        The Didache speaks of pouring in the event where water is not plentiful. So, it was not intended that full immersion would be abandoned.

        “The proposition that Ecumenical councils didn’t believe they were infallibly defining doctrine is laughable.”

        Not really. Augustine wrote in his second book against the donatists that ecumenical councils ARE fallible. So, we have contemporaries that oppose your present day position, and none that support it.

        “I have yet to see which councils and statements “refute” present positions of the Catholic Church. You have shown us none.”

        I mentioned the issue of SImony in both Second Nicea and Pope Gregory the Great’s letters. So, I did show you one, not none.

        “About the issue of “simony”, you were responded to in a previous thread, and as far as I can remember, you failed to provide much historical evidence to your claim…”

        You remembered wrong. I honestly don’t find it profitable to even be getting into this sort of debate, because I think you are simply not doing your research. The practice was prevalent. The Catholic Encyclopedia writes, “To uproot the evil of simony so prevalent during the Middle Ages, the Church decreed the severest penalties against its perpetrators.” There were more than a few child and teenage bishops. We also have the investiture controversy. So, you would have a string of Bishops, appointed by Bishops (or even worse, kings) that do not have valid orders.

        “That’s a very weak argument, almost as foolish and relativistic as presuppositionalism. The four criteria for canonicity (apostolic origin, universal acceptance, liturgical use and consistent message) don’t matter: “We don’t have hard facts”.”

        I find it laughable when someone religious objects presuppositionalism outright, as all faith-based religions have their central presuppositons.

        As for the part you quoted from my writing, I stated a simple fact–the early Church did not have a consistent Canon. They did not have an epistemological crisis as a result. It’s a simple point.

        “for what in the end differs Maccabbees from the Songs of Solomon in terms of sound doctrine?”

        I don’t think anything, Maccabbees isn’t really a theological treatise.

        “But everyone knows that “I feel it’s right” is just not an argument, specially when confronted with more than 1500 years (at least) of nearly unanimous, worldwide Christian acceptance.”

        I agree, but in the end of the day you accept that the Council of Trent “settled” the matter, not because of any hard empirical evidence, but because “it feels right” to you. You’re only kicking the can down the road.

        God bless,

        Craig

        Taylor,

        “This actually supports, rather than refutes, Joe’s point.”

        Ok, let’s see how that’s the case.

        “1) “A Christian” is not the same as “the Church.” ”

        I presume the point you are making is that the Church as a whole had a different position than all the individuals who made up the early church, who all had widely different Canons. However, the Church at this time did not have a Canon, and even after the Council of Carthage, the Eastern Orthodox never accepted this council, so the Church as a whole did not weigh in on the position even by your own standards until more than 1,000 years later.

        So, I think this actually undercuts Joe’s point. He argues that because Protestants lack a firm Canon and a means to declare one, this thrusts them into epistemological crisis. However, he cuts himself at the knees with this point, as he would thrust Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy into epistemological crisis for the first 1500 years of their existence.

        “2) It is in a sense _because_ Christians and communities had varying canons that conciliar workings ended up creating canons…”

        I don’t see how this point answers to the simple contention that the Church, before hammering out a Canon, got along fine without it.

        God bless,

        Craig

        1. Craig Truglia says:
          February 10, 2016 at 11:02 pm

          I believe I am defending a historical and logical position.

          Which you are not.

          I don’t feel like I need to defend anyone else’s position. If my position is shown to be ahistorical, then I will recant.

          Your position has been proven ahistorical many times. Yet, you have not recanted.

          Further, not every Protestant thinks the early church Apostatized, just like not every Catholic agrees upon all sorts of periphery ideas such as the incorruptibility of certain saints’ bodies. So, unless you can demonstrate that the Protestants have some sort of established dogma that the early Christians apostatized, I really do not have to respond to the notion because it hasn’t been shown to me that it is a real issue.

          We’re not talking to every Protestant. It would be difficult to find two separate Protestants that agree about anything. However, a significant number of Protestants have declared that they believe the early Church apostatized. Since you deny this, all you have to do is declare whether you are one of those or not. Do you believe that the early Church apostatized? Yes or no?

          Infant baptism did not become the norm

          The norm? I don’t know what you mean by that. But it was taught by the Church and those very same men which you produce as evidence against it, taught that it was beneficial.

          until the late 4th, early 5th centuries. My proof? Not one church father was baptized as an infant. We have A LOT of church fathers that had Christian parents: Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine are all 4th century fathers with Christian parents, all of which baptized as adults.

          Right off the top of my head, you’re wrong about St. Augustine. His father was a pagan opposed to Christianity. He would not allow his children to become Christians. That is why St. Augustine converted to Christianity as an adult.
          http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.aspx?id=1120

          Its ironic that you would use St. Ambrose’s personal experience rather than his teaching. Because he was a great advocate of infant baptism.

          “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. No one is excepted, not [even] the infant.”  St. Ambrose, “Concerning Repentance,” c. 387 A.D. 

          St. Jerome did not write about it, but there is no sign that he opposed it.

          And several other Church Fathers wrote in favor of it:

          “He came to save all persons by means of Himself – all, I say, who through Him are born again to God – infants, children, boys, youth, and old men.”  St. Irenaeus, “Against All Heresies,” c. 180 A.D.

          “Baptize first the children; and if they can speak for themselves, let them do so.  Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them.”  Hippolytus 215 A.D.

          “In respect of the case of infants, you say that they should not be baptized within the second or third day after their birth – that the law of circumcision should be regarded.  So you think that one who has just been born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day.  However, we all thought very differently in our council….  Rather, we all believe that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to anyone born of man….  As far as we can, we must strive that no soul be lost, if at all possible.  For what is lacking to him who has once been formed in the womb by the hand of God?”  St. Cyprian of Carthage, “Epistle 58,” c. 250 A.D.

          The baptism of infants did exist. Cyprian wrote about it, and Tertullian wrote against it. However, if failed to be the majority practice or otherwise, we would have had a church father baptized as an infant recorded before the 5th century, instead of several notable fathers NOT baptized as infants.

          The question is, was it taught by the Catholic Church? Yes or no?

          Thomas Aquinas says so in the Summa. Affusion was used in areas where water was not plentiful.

          Please provide the quote so that we can prove your error, again.

          The Didache speaks of pouring in the event where water is not plentiful. So, it was not intended that full immersion would be abandoned.

          Has full immersion been abandoned? I just attended a full immersion Baptism this past summer. So, who abandoned full immersion? If the Catholic Church has not, why are you bringing that up?

          Not really. Augustine wrote in his second book against the donatists that ecumenical councils ARE fallible.

          No, he didn’t. That’s another one of those cases where your error has been proven to you but you refuse to recant.

          So, we have contemporaries that oppose your present day position, and none that support it.

          All that you have is your errors which you refuse to recant in the face of overwhelming evidence against you.

          I mentioned the issue of SImony in both Second Nicea and Pope Gregory the Great’s letters. So, I did show you one, not none.

          The answer is still, none.

          You remembered wrong. I honestly don’t find it profitable to even be getting into this sort of debate, because I think you are simply not doing your research….

          And we come back to your authority. Your own opinion.

          The practice was prevalent. The Catholic Encyclopedia writes, “To uproot the evil of simony so prevalent during the Middle Ages, the Church decreed the severest penalties against its perpetrators.” There were more than a few child and teenage bishops. We also have the investiture controversy. So, you would have a string of Bishops, appointed by Bishops (or even worse, kings) that do not have valid orders.

          Your assumption is that the Church did not resolve any such problems. Your assumptions are false.

          I find it laughable when someone religious objects presuppositionalism outright, as all faith-based religions have their central presuppositons.

          That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. I’ve been comparing the source of our presuppositions. Yours can be traced back to Luther. Ours are traced back to Jesus Christ.

          As for the part you quoted from my writing, I stated a simple fact–the early Church did not have a consistent Canon.

          And if the Church were Protestant, relying on Sola Scriptura, it would have been lost. But, the Catholic Church is fully capable of continuing in a Scriptureless environment. Because we learn our faith, from the Church.

          They did not have an epistemological crisis as a result. It’s a simple point.

          A point which absolutely devastates Protestantism. But your lack of logic fails to recognize this.

          By the way, even with the presence of an agreed upon Canon, Protestantism continues to undergo an epistomological crisis.

          I don’t think anything, Maccabbees isn’t really a theological treatise.

          Biblical books which are theological treatises are few and far between. List those books which you consider theological treatises.

          I agree,

          You do? That is really strange when you seem to be arguing against it, all the time.

          but in the end of the day you accept that the Council of Trent “settled” the matter, not because of any hard empirical evidence, but because “it feels right” to you. You’re only kicking the can down the road.

          No, Craig. It is you who goes by the “it feels right to me” criteria. We accept the Teaching of the Catholic Church, whether it feels right to us or not.

          I accepted the infallibility of the Catholic Church long before I considered the Real Presence to be a true Doctrine. I came to realize that God speaks through the Catholic Church and therefore I accepted all that She teaches, whether I understand it or not.

          Ok, let’s see how that’s the case.

          “1) “A Christian” is not the same as “the Church.” ”

          I presume the point you are making is that the Church as a whole had a different position than all the individuals who made up the early church,

          On the contrary, it is you making that point. We have proved that the Catholic Church has consistently taught the same Doctrines.

          who all had widely different Canons.

          No, our point is that the Church did not fall apart when there was confusion over the canon. The Church continued to thrive where the Protestant Sola Scriptura crowd would have sunk.

          However, the Church at this time did not have a Canon, and even after the Council of Carthage, the Eastern Orthodox never accepted this council, so the Church as a whole did not weigh in on the position even by your own standards until more than 1,000 years later.

          All that is besides the point. The Catholic Church adopted the Latin Vulgate in the 4th century and it was the Bible predominantly used in the Church for 1,000 years. There was no confusion. Everyone obediently accepted the Church’s authority and adopted the Vulgate.

          So, I think this actually undercuts Joe’s point. He argues that because Protestants lack a firm Canon and a means to declare one, this thrusts them into epistemological crisis. However, he cuts himself at the knees with this point, as he would thrust Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy into epistemological crisis for the first 1500 years of their existence.

          a. Protestants are in epistemological crisis with the existence of the Bible or without it.
          b. Their epistemological crisis would heighten exponentially without the Bible because they claim to believe in Scripture alone.
          c. The Catholic Church survived without the Bible for 400 years.
          d. Because the Catholic Church does not rely upon the Bible to pass on the Faith.

          I don’t see how this point answers to the simple contention that the Church, before hammering out a Canon, got along fine without it.

          The Church didn’t fall apart without one agreed upon canon. The Church responded to the challenge and convened to discern which books were inspired.

          In the same situation, Protestantism would have fallen apart. Look at them now. Even with a Bible, they can’t agree upon anything, except that they hate the Catholic Church.

          God bless,

          Craig

          And you, as well.

          1. I honestly don’t want to debate with you De Maria, but I think you might find the following interesting:

            “Right off the top of my head, you’re wrong about St. Augustine. His father was a pagan opposed to Christianity. He would not allow his children to become Christians. That is why St. Augustine converted to Christianity as an adult.”

            I have read that more than a few times, but I disagree.

            For one, Augustine was sick when he was around 8 years old and his mother almost had him baptized (Book II of Confessions, I believe). Second, nowhere in the Confessions calls Augustine’s father a pagan.

            The last sentence of Book V reads: “I resolved, therefore, to be a catechumen in the Catholic Church, which my parents had commended to me, until something settled should manifest itself to me whither I might steer my course.”

            Augustine’s father was baptized before death, but the fact that both him and his wife commended Augustine to be a Christian shows that he at least considered himself a Catholic, not a pagan.

            I suppose he was not a very good one.

            The challenge still stands if you can find a church father, with christian parents, to be baptized as a child. Also, if you disagree with the above, I would appreciate if you can find anything contemporary with Augustine that actually shows his father was a pagan.

            God bless,
            Craig

          2. De Maria,

            I did some more digging and I spoke too soon. Chapter 1, Chapter 11-12 of COnfessions:

            Thus I at that time believed with my mother and the whole house, except my father; yet he did not overcome the influence of my mother’s piety in me so as to prevent my believing in Christ, as he had not yet believed in Him. For she was desirous that You, O my God, should be my Father rather than he; and in this You aided her to overcome her husband, to whom, though the better of the two, she yielded obedience, because in this she yielded obedience to You, who so commands.

            18. I beseech You, my God, I would gladly know, if it be Your will, to what end my baptism was then deferred? Was it for my good that the reins were slackened, as it were, upon me for me to sin? Or were they not slackened? If not, whence comes it that it is still dinned into our ears on all sides, Let him alone, let him act as he likes, for he is not yet baptized? But as regards bodily health, no one exclaims, Let him be more seriously wounded, for he is not yet cured! How much better, then, had it been for me to have been cured at once; and then, by my own and my friends’ diligence, my soul’s restored health had been kept safe in Your keeping, who gavest it! Better, in truth. But how numerous and great waves of temptation appeared to hang over me after my childhood! These were foreseen by my mother; and she preferred that the unformed clay should be exposed to them rather than the image itself.

            ___

            In short, it appears Augustine’s father was not yet a Christian, but he did not oppose Augustine’s religion instruction. And, his mother appeared to delay Augustine’s baptism as she foresaw he would sin and wanted him to focus on his studies.

            God bless,
            Craig

          3. Craig Truglia says:
            February 11, 2016 at 2:33 am
            I honestly don’t want to debate with you De Maria, but I think you might find the following interesting:

            Here’s what I see. St. Monica understood that it was within Catholic Doctrine to baptize St. Augustine as an infant. There is no indication that she would have opposed the Baptism of St. Augustine as an infant on doctrinal grounds.

            The fact that she decided not to have it done on,

            a. medical grounds
            b. and later, on grounds of letting him sow his oats

            doesn’t disprove the existence of the Doctrine of infant Baptism. It proves it.

            The challenge still stands if you can find a church father, with christian parents, to be baptized as a child.

            What challenge? I could care less if not even one Church Father were found who was baptized as an infant. Even St. Augustine, whom you are holding up as an example against infant Baptism, can be shown to be a witness to and a supporter of the practice:

            Augustine

            “What the universal Church holds, not as instituted [invented] by councils but as something always held, is most correctly believed to have been handed down by apostolic authority. Since others respond for children, so that the celebration of the sacrament may be complete for them, it is certainly availing to them for their consecration, because they themselves are not able to respond” (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 4:24:31 [A.D. 400]). 
            “The custom of Mother Church in baptizing infants is certainly not to be scorned, nor is it to be regarded in any way as superfluous, nor is it to be believed that its tradition is anything except apostolic” (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 10:23:39 [A.D. 408]). 

            The fact is, however, that you can’t overcome the fact that the Doctrine of infant Baptism existed from Apostolic times. So, now you’re trying to steer the issue away into something else.

            Also, if you disagree with the above, I would appreciate if you can find anything contemporary with Augustine that actually shows his father was a pagan.

            As usual, you are proven wrong and you want to change the subject. The point of this discussion is whether infant Baptism is a valid Doctrine which was recognized and taught by the Early Church. That has been proven true.

            God bless,
            Craig

            You too.

          4. De Maria, I wouldn’t add to your thoughtful reply, except that the more some Protestant tells me to “do my research” (usually in the internet just like them, and usually only in English) the more I spend time going to the texts he (usually “he”) quotes or cites, the more I see that the texts or the history tells a very different story.

          5. KO says:
            February 11, 2016 at 11:35 pm
            De Maria, I wouldn’t add to your thoughtful reply, except that the more some Protestant tells me to “do my research” (usually in the internet just like them, and usually only in English) the more I spend time going to the texts he (usually “he”) quotes or cites, the more I see that the texts or the history tells a very different story.

            I get the same result. The question is, why? I would like to be able to say that it is a mistake committed in good faith. But it happens so often, that I had to discard that theory, a long time ago.

        2. Craig,

          Nineteenth century upstate New York had a notorious hotbed of babbling Protestants called the “Burned Over District”. From here, many Christian primitivist and restorationist movements arose. Famous among these was the Campellite movement:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restorationism#Groups_arising_during_the_Second_Great_Awakening

          Out of these primitivists evolved the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Adventists, and all sorts of weird Christians who believe the true Church was corrupted and lost, and therefore had to be restored. And they have the Bible to back up their claims:

          “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock .” (Acts20:29). See??? The flock will not be spared!!!

          And how do you KNOW that they are wrong? According to you:

          “I believe I am defending a historical and logical position. I don’t feel like I need to defend anyone else’s position.”

          Well, you are not being asked to defend anyone else’s claims other than yours. It was you claimed that the early Church did not suffer an epistemological crisis by simply by quoting scriptures. Some primitivist/restorationist Protestants don’t share your phantastic views on early church history. You have no choice but to defend your assertions.

          In short, what you’re really saying is that they are wrong because you are right. How is this any different from saying they are wrong because they are wrong, or you are right because you are right?

          Craig, this is circular reasoning…. 🙂

          If you ask me, a Catholic, why I think those Protestants are wrong, the answer is simple. Let me quote St. Irenaeus who gave the best answer to refute the ancient Christian heresies:

          “Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. (Against Heresies, book 3 chap 3:2)

          In short, me says those Protestants are wrong because St Irenaeus says all churches, ie, all Christians must agree with the Church in Rome, and those Protestants don’t. Now that’s not circular reasoning.

          In fact, St Ireaeus just blasted away your phantastic claim that the early Christian churches survived simply by quoting scriptures. No, they didn’t. They survived by agreeing with the Church in Rome.

          That means I can sleep well at night knowing I don’t have an epistemological problem… 🙂

        3. Again, you run in circles. Religion is not a scientific environment in which a “discovery” is true only until proven wrong, and all propositions are (indeed, must be) falsifiable.

          Imagine the bishops at Nicaea stating something like, “Our council is fallible; therefore, Arius may be right, but for the time being we believe we are right”. All those anathemas wouldn’t make sense, would they? On the other hand, there is a virtual impossibility for any Protestant church to convene a Council, if that has ever happened. After all, they don’t believe their own Church’s position to be dogmatically binding on the individual believer.

          All those bishops and patriarchs didn’t think they were wrong at all. I doubt they even considered the possibility that they could be wrong, or that their doctrines were fallible, that is, possibly false. Why would you define something and say is possibly false? That’s why many Protestants don’t define anything.

        4. the Eastern Orthodox never accepted this council
          Strangely, they come up with the same list of books, how come???

          but in the end of the day you accept that the Council of Trent “settled” the matter, not because of any hard empirical evidence, but because “it feels right” to you. You’re only kicking the can down the road.

          Always assuming things your interlocutor supposedly holds, just to make a straw man. I don’t “accept” Trent “because it feels good”. Instead, Pelagianism or Buddhism or Spiritualism or Liberal Protestantism would make me feel much better. Anyway, there’s much empirical evidence that Trent wasn’t creating doctrine (ie, the Canon) ex nihilo, just confirming some 1000-old+ canon.

          I don’t think Joe would argue that this epistemological crisis is something that would endanger Protestantism, it’s something that exists on the margins and from the outside. There is no epistemological crisis within Protestantism because of the motives I cited before: no dogma, the tradition of individualism and presuppositionalism, etc.

        5. Hi Craig,

          You said:


          Infant baptism did not become the norm until the late 4th, early 5th centuries. My proof? Not one church father was baptized as an infant.We have A LOT of church fathers that had Christian parents: Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine are all 4th century fathers with Christian parents, all of which baptized as adults.

          I give you one of the earliest Church Fathers, St. Polycarp, in his words:

          “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me injury. How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?” (Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp 9 c. AD 156)

          Now, it is well documented that “The Martyrdom of Polycarp” was written the year after the saint’s execution; and so the quote above is extremely reliable. It is also well documented that Polycarp was 86 years old at the time of his death. Therefore, if the saint claims to have served Jesus for 86 years, it therefore follows that he was Baptized as an infant. And, in another place, we are told that Polycarp was Baptized by none other than the Apostle John.

          God bless,

          Duane

    6. Further, we have Second Nicea and letters from Saint Gregory the Great which say that Simony invalidates orders. So, being that Simony permeated the Church in the middle ages, neither the EO or RCC can even lay claim to Apostolic Succession by their own definition.

      Hi Craig,

      Nowhere does the Second Council of Nicaea state that ordinations performed by bishops before they have been suspended would be invalid. In other words, even if a bishop were guilty of simony, all ordinations he performed before he was suspended, would be valid.

      And as I have not seen Gregory’s letters, it would have to be determined if he was making an infallible pronouncement to which all Catholics must adhere concerning invalidation of orders. I doubt he was doing that.

      So AS can easily be seen to continue.

      God Bless

      Duane

    7. Hi Craig,

      You wrote:

      The problem inherently with both the Catholic’s and EO’s position is that the Bishops who took part in the Ecumenical Councils did not ascribe infallibility to the councils, nor did early Bishops of Rome ascribe infallibility to themselves.

      Do we have writings from those bishops saying this?

      Do we have writings from the early Bishops of Rome saying they are not infallible?

      God Bless,

      Duane

  7. If someone really wants to get into the weeds here without committing to reading an entire library–and believe me, Perry has read and is always ready to recommend an entire library lol–I recommend the following to be a ‘one day’ primer as background to the Orthodox perspective to the tangential topics that plug into the issue raised in the OP:

    1) An expansion of Metropolitan Kallistos’s quotation, available here: http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/history_timothy_ware_2.htm

    2) Perry Robinson’s critique of Khomiakov’s version of receptionism: https://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/against-khomiakov/

    3) Fr Florovsky and his comments on tradition in part I here: http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english/florovski_palamas.html

    4) Dr. Daniel Lattimer’s highly nuanced article on Orthodoxy’s thoughts on doctrinal development in which he proposes that carefully parsing Behr, Louth, et al’s statements rejecting “development of doctrine” actually shows that their articulation *is compatible* with the doctrinal development articulated by John Henry Newman . https://www.academia.edu/1121332/_The_Orthodox_Rejection_of_Doctrinal_Development_

    <>
    ― Jaroslav Pelikan

    We seem to be talking about two issues here, and I think it’s helpful to differentiate them clearly. One is what *ontologically* makes a council of bishops a Great and Holy Ecumenical Council? The other is a question of epistemology: how does an Orthodox Christian know whether or not a council is an Ecumenical Council in the Orthodox tradition?

    I would like to posit that an Ecumenical Council is a council of bishops in which the dogma articulated therein is true, normative, and authoritatively binding on the ‘he oikoumene ge’ (the whole world). The power of an Ecumenical Council comes from the truth of the claim being articulated: every person is bound to follow the truth that resides in the Deposit of Faith given “once and for all.”

    That immediately prompts the question: how do we know that a given proposition is true?

    I’ll pause here as I let my thoughts stew about what I want to say in response to that.

    1. It seems my Pelikan quote was eaten alive by the html monster. I’ll try again:

      “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.”

  8. You seem to have forgotten the Vatican’s fallible listS (plural-there is no agreement on them) of ex cathedra pronouncements.

    And, for that matter, lists of “supreme pontiffs” making those lists. Pope Alexander VI took the name and number validating his predecessor Pope Alexander V of the Pisan line, whose immediate successor Pope John XXIII called the council of Constance. Alexander did that after Pope Sixtus claimed to have annulled the council of Constance, upon which his authority rested. But then Alexander’s successor John who closed the Vatican I council and closed the Vatican II council, took Pope John’s number in attempt to annull the latter’s papacy.

    It makes quite a visual.
    http://wps.ablongman.com/wps/media/objects/262/268312/art/figures/KISH219.jpg

    1. Jesus the Egyptian, aka Isa el-Misry (I thought Isa was a typical Muslim name for Jesus, instead of Yasu’a, but nevermind),
      Can you point those supposed lists of ex cathedra pronouncements? Never heard of them.

      1. “Can you point those supposed lists of ex cathedra pronouncements? Never heard of them.”

        Exactly the point: the Vatican claims that it is infallible when it speaks ex cathedra, but never says when it claims it has spoken ex cathedra, leaving its followers to wonder and guess about are these alleged ex cathedra statements.
        There is no shortage of the lists they have come up with of when they supposed that their/your “supreme pontiff” has spoken ex cathedra.

        1. Isa Almisry says:
          February 10, 2016 at 7:45 pm

          Exactly the point: the Vatican claims that it is infallible when it speaks ex cathedra, but never says when it claims it has spoken ex cathedra, leaving its followers to wonder and guess about are these alleged ex cathedra statements.
          There is no shortage of the lists they have come up with of when they supposed that their/your “supreme pontiff” has spoken ex cathedra.

          Yours is the typical attitude of a Protestant or non-Catholic. So many of you want this or that list from the Catholic Church. But, for what reason? In order to challenge it, deny it or reject it.

          But the Catholic Church is the Teacher of the Wisdom of God. She doesn’t wield this Wisdom for nothing. She also applies it. Therefore, she does not fix things that are not broken. The Catholic Church addresses those things which need to be addressed.

          For example, when the Arian heresy was rampant, She convened the Nicene Council and fixed that error. When the Protestant problem was rampant, She convened the Tridentine Council and addressed that problem. Clearing up exactly what the Church taught vis a vis the Protestant errors.

          When the lack of “lists” are a problem in the Magisterium’s opinion, She will speak out and address the problem. Until then, I suppose that anti-Catholics of every flavor will continue to object and complain.

          C’est la vie.

          1. “Yours is the typical attitude of a Protestant or non-Catholic. So many of you want this or that list from the Catholic Church. But, for what reason? In order to challenge it, deny it or reject it.”

            The proof of the pudding comes in the tasting, not in the boasting of the baker in claims of a superior recipe.

            Claims were made here. Since I know they’re bluffing, I’m calling the cards. That’s how the chips fall.

            I’m not interested in your Protestant kin and your sibling rivalry. When you ask me on what the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church teaches, both sides of 1517 have no relevance. I’m only asking the Vatican for what its flock claims it has.

            “But the Catholic Church is the Teacher of the Wisdom of God. She doesn’t wield this Wisdom for nothing. She also applies it. Therefore, she does not fix things that are not broken. The Catholic Church addresses those things which need to be addressed.”

            That she does, but the Vatican dawdles a bit, with “Apostolic” teaching emerging nearly two thousand years after the last Apostolic went to his rest. The delay can have interesting, and amusing, results: the Anglo-Irish Catechism of 1870-note the date-with imprematur and nihil obstat, dismissed papal infallibility as a “Prostestant invention.” Pius IX and his flock. Later editions, like Abp. Hefele’s magnus opus on the Councils, were appropriately edited to get up to date with the latest ancient “truth.”

            One declaration that all believers in Pastor Aeternus hold as infallible, “Munificentissimus Deus,” what did it fix and what did it address, as no one to whom it was intended denied the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

            “For example, when the Arian heresy was rampant, She convened the Nicene Council and fixed that error. ”

            She did, but not by the Archbishop of Rome, nor did she confirm through him. The Church set her seal on the Nicene Council at Constantinople I, where the Archbishop of Rome was not represented, and where someone opposed by him, St. Meletius of Antioch, presided.
            Issuing the Definition at Nicea I was the easy part. The “fixing” came in the decades leading up to Constantinople, with the victory achieved in the East. It wouldn’t be “fixed” in the West for centuries.

            But of course, the Church neither first learned nor first taught nor first confessed Christ God in 325.

            “When the Protestant problem was rampant, She convened the Tridentine Council and addressed that problem. Clearing up exactly what the Church taught vis a vis the Protestant errors.”
            She did that in 1672 at Jerusalem. Protestantism was hardly rampant-at least in our parts-but knocking at the door. So a “go away” to those outside the Church trying to get in, and a “don’t open the door” to Christ’s flock.

            “When the lack of “lists” are a problem in the Magisterium’s opinion, She will speak out and address the problem. Until then, I suppose that anti-Catholics of every flavor will continue to object and complain.”

            Ah, yes, the “Magisterium,” another modern “ancient” tradition of the Apostles made up nearly millenia after them.
            Keep your martyr-complex in check: you can’t complain if you make claims when you are called on them. Your co-religionsts, for instance dismiss Humanae Vitae because “it’s not ex cathedra,” and they’re not limited to the bishops of the Winnipeg Statement. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis barred the ordination of women, but since of the Vatican’s theologians say-JP II took the secret of its status to his grave-that it isn’t “ex cathedra,” so what…and the dissenters go on.

            C’est la Vérité.

            The Vatican has reduced, as only it can, its conciliarity to a papal pronouncement. Nothing more. Hence any promotion of his judgement on any council fails unless it can sort out his claims on the Vatican’s own criteria.

          2. Isa Almisry says:
            February 11, 2016 at 3:56 am

            The proof of the pudding comes in the tasting, not in the boasting of the baker in claims of a superior recipe.

            Claims were made here. Since I know they’re bluffing, I’m calling the cards. That’s how the chips fall.

            All you’re doing is posturing. I’ll recall you back to the discussion. Here’s what was said:

            Here’s the problem as Joe stated it:

            II. Orthodoxy’s Fallible Set of Infallible Councils

            The Orthodox idea: The Church is governed by infallible Ecumenical Councils. We see this in the early Church, with the Seven Ecumenical Councils recognized by Catholics, Orthodox, and some Protestants. Eventually, as the Eastern Orthodox priest Fr. Viktor Potapov has claimed, “the pope of Rome began to attribute the privilege of ecclesiastical infallibility to himself alone,” stealing the authority of Ecumenical Councils. Catholics, with their arrogant insistence on an infallible pope, have created a rival authority to that of Church Councils.

            The reality: Without papal infallibility, there’s no way to know for sure which Ecumenical Councils are Ecumenical Councils, or why.

            Now, do you know the exact number of Orthodox infallible Ecumenical Councils? If not, the Joe is right.

            Do you? Yes or no.

            Next, can you provide proof that the Catholic Church has issued varying lists of infallible councils? If not, then you have nothing upon which to base your accusation except your desire to justify your position.

            That she does, but the Vatican dawdles a bit, with “Apostolic” teaching emerging nearly two thousand years after the last Apostolic went to his rest. The delay can have interesting, and amusing, results: the Anglo-Irish Catechism of 1870-note the date-with imprematur and nihil obstat, dismissed papal infallibility as a “Prostestant invention.” Pius IX and his flock. Later editions, like Abp. Hefele’s magnus opus on the Councils, were appropriately edited to get up to date with the latest ancient “truth.”

            Anglo-Irish? Is that the Anglican Church? They don’t submit to the Catholic Church.

            One declaration that all believers in Pastor Aeternus hold as infallible, “Munificentissimus Deus,” what did it fix and what did it address,

            It was obviously meant to address the Protestant adversity towards the Doctrines of Mary.

            as no one to whom it was intended denied the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

            It was obviously meant to reassure Catholics that the Catholic Church continued to uphold the Doctrines of Mary in the face of Protestant opposition.

            She did, but not by the Archbishop of Rome, nor did she confirm through him. The Church set her seal on the Nicene Council at Constantinople I, where the Archbishop of Rome was not represented, and where someone opposed by him, St. Meletius of Antioch, presided.
            Issuing the Definition at Nicea I was the easy part. The “fixing” came in the decades leading up to Constantinople, with the victory achieved in the East. It wouldn’t be “fixed” in the West for centuries.

            That’s your twist. But I have been taught that it was convened by Pope Sylvester in agreement with the emperor, St. Constantine.

            But of course, the Church neither first learned nor first taught nor first confessed Christ God in 325.

            But she addressed the heresy being promoted within her ranks and ousted it.

            Ah, yes, the “Magisterium,” another modern “ancient” tradition of the Apostles made up nearly millenia after them.

            Ah, yes, another bit of posturing which is all that you can muster for argument.

            Keep your martyr-complex in check:

            Where’d you learn your debate style? In an elementary school playground?

            you can’t complain if you make claims when you are called on them.

            But, apparently, that is all that you do.

            Your co-religionsts, …

            You’re talking to me. And we are talking about the ability of the Orthodox to know which of their councils are infallible. Stick to the subject.

            C’est la Vérité.

            The Vatican has reduced, as only it can, its conciliarity to a papal pronouncement. Nothing more. Hence any promotion of his judgement on any council fails unless it can sort out his claims on the Vatican’s own criteria.

            Still trying to change the subject. That means that Joe must be correct. Without papal infallibility, there’s no way for the Orthodox to know for sure which Ecumenical Councils are Ecumenical Councils, or why.

          3. I have to be going, but this just caught my eye, and I thought since I could easily respond-
            I “That she does, but the Vatican dawdles a bit, with “Apostolic” teaching emerging nearly two thousand years after the last Apostolic went to his rest. The delay can have interesting, and amusing, results: the Anglo-Irish Catechism of 1870-note the date-with imprematur and nihil obstat, dismissed papal infallibility as a “Prostestant invention” [to calumniate] Pius IX and his flock”
            De Maria “Anglo-Irish? Is that the Anglican Church? They don’t submit to the Catholic Church.”

            Anglo-Irish means Irish speaking English (the Irish speaking Irish had little contact with Protestants, and hence lesser need for the work), in which the catechism was published, with the full title “Controversial Catechism or Protestantism Refuted and Catholicism Established [sic] by an Appeal to the Holy Scriptures, the Testimony of the Holy Fathers and the Dictates of Reason,” by Rev. Stephen Keenan. He revised it a couple times, and it was in widespread use in Ireland, Scotland, England and even in parts of the US.

          4. Isa Almisry says:
            February 11, 2016 at 6:49 pm

            Anglo-Irish means Irish speaking English (the Irish speaking Irish had little contact with Protestants, and hence lesser need for the work), in which the catechism was published, with the full title “Controversial Catechism or Protestantism Refuted and Catholicism Established [sic] by an Appeal to the Holy Scriptures, the Testimony of the Holy Fathers and the Dictates of Reason,” by Rev. Stephen Keenan. He revised it a couple times, and it was in widespread use in Ireland, Scotland, England and even in parts of the US.

            According to Wikipedia:

            Anglo-Irish people
            From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
            “Anglo-Irish” redirects here. For the bank, see Anglo Irish Bank. For Anglo-Irish poetry, see Irish poetry.
            Anglo-Irish people
            Arthur Guinness.jpgWilliam Butler Yeats by George Charles Beresford.jpgWilliam Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse photo.jpgJohn Smibert – Bishop George Berkeley – Google Art Project.jpg
            Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.pngShackletonhead.jpgDouglas Hyde.jpgThe Shannon Portrait of the Hon Robert Boyle.jpg
            Jonathan Swift by Charles Jervas.jpgOliver Goldsmith by Sir Joshua Reynolds.jpgOscar Wilde portrait.jpgEdmundBurke1771.jpg

            Arthur Guinness • W. B. Yeats • The 3rd Earl of Rosse • George Berkeley • The 1st Duke of Wellington • Ernest Shackleton • Douglas Hyde • Robert Boyle • Jonathan Swift • Oliver Goldsmith • Oscar Wilde • Edmund Burke
            Regions with significant populations
            Ireland
            Languages
            Standard English, Hiberno-English, Irish
            Religion
            Anglicanism
            (see also Religion in Ireland)
            Related ethnic groups
            English, Irish, Ulster Scots, Welsh, Scots
            Anglo-Irish (Irish: Angla-Éireannach) was a term used primarily in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify a privileged social class in Ireland, whose members were mostly the descendants and successors of the Protestant Ascendancy.[1] They mostly belonged to the Anglican Church of Ireland, which was the established church of Ireland until 1871, or to a lesser extent one of the English dissenting churches, such as the Methodist church. Its members tended to follow English practices in matters of culture, science, law, agriculture and politics. Many became eminent as administrators in the British Empire and as senior army and naval officers.

            1. So, unless you can prove that they aren’t Anglican, I will function under that assumption.

            2. Even if you prove that they are not Anglican, at best, they are simply a group in dissent against the Catholic Church.

            Groups like that have existed throughout the life of the Church. Even the Orthodox fall under that category. But St. Matthew said:

            Matthew 16:18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

            And again:

            Matthew 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.[a] If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

            So, all you’ve proven is that there exist groups, in the Catholic Church, who do not always obey the Pope or the Magisterium. How does this affect the topic at hand? Did I make the claim that every Catholic accepted every Catholic Doctrine?

          1. De Maria and KO,

            When Roman Catholics such as Joe argue that they have a method of determining infallible statements/doctrines, they are burdened to demonstrate this claim. Isa has raised a challenge by highlighting that there is dispute in the Roman Catholic Church about how many ex cathedra, infallible statements there have been and how to determine what is and isn’t an infallible statement.

            If Isa is correct, then Roman Catholicism has a similar problem to the one Joe has argued is ailing Eastern Orthodoxy. They have merely added a middle step by positing supposed Papal Infallibility that hasn’t actually solved the problem, just as positing the multiverse theory still doesn’t answer the question “why is there something rather than nothing?” It just pushes the problem back a step.

            The proper argumentative response to Isa’s challenge would be to demonstrate that his claim is false by showing that there is indeed a conclusive method for determining what papal statements have and have not been infallible decrees.

          2. Cameron Davis says:
            February 10, 2016 at 10:16 pm
            De Maria and KO,

            When Roman Catholics such as Joe argue that they have a method of determining infallible statements/doctrines, they are burdened to demonstrate this claim.

            He has. In the very same breath that he argued that Protestants and Orthodox do not. He said:

            The reality: Without papal infallibility, there’s no way to know for sure which Ecumenical Councils are Ecumenical Councils, or why.

            Isa has raised a challenge by highlighting that there is dispute in the Roman Catholic Church about how many ex cathedra, infallible statements there have been and how to determine what is and isn’t an infallible statement.

            And Isa has been asked to provide proof of this, so-called, “dispute”.

            If Isa is correct,

            Which he isn’t.

            then Roman Catholicism has a similar problem to the one Joe has argued is ailing Eastern Orthodoxy. They have merely added a middle step by positing supposed Papal Infallibility that hasn’t actually solved the problem, just as positing the multiverse theory still doesn’t answer the question “why is there something rather than nothing?” It just pushes the problem back a step.

            The problem is, that you simply don’t like the answer which Joe has provided.

            The proper argumentative response to Isa’s challenge would be to demonstrate that his claim is false by showing that there is indeed a conclusive method for determining what papal statements have and have not been infallible decrees.

            On the contrary, the proper argumentative response is to get you back to the topic.

            Here’s the problem as Joe stated it:

            II. Orthodoxy’s Fallible Set of Infallible Councils

            The Orthodox idea: The Church is governed by infallible Ecumenical Councils. We see this in the early Church, with the Seven Ecumenical Councils recognized by Catholics, Orthodox, and some Protestants. Eventually, as the Eastern Orthodox priest Fr. Viktor Potapov has claimed, “the pope of Rome began to attribute the privilege of ecclesiastical infallibility to himself alone,” stealing the authority of Ecumenical Councils. Catholics, with their arrogant insistence on an infallible pope, have created a rival authority to that of Church Councils.

            The reality: Without papal infallibility, there’s no way to know for sure which Ecumenical Councils are Ecumenical Councils, or why.

            Now, do you know the exact number of Orthodox infallible Ecumenical Councils? If not, the Joe is right.

            Do you? Yes or no.

            Next, can you or Isa provide proof that the Catholic Church has issued varying lists of infallible councils? If not, then you have nothing upon which to base your accusation except your desire to justify your position.

          3. Cameron,

            Just a quick point. You’ve said: “When Roman Catholics such as Joe argue that they have a method of determining infallible statements/doctrines, they are burdened to demonstrate this claim.”

            While this is the clearest articulation of your view, it seems to be the foundation for several of your other comments, as well. The problem with it is that it gets things backwards.

            Although I believe it to be true, I did not set out to prove in this post that the Catholic Church is capable of infallibly determining the number of Councils, or Books of the Bible, or anything else. And I certainly didn’t set out to show that individual Catholics “have a method of determining infallible statements/doctrines.”

            Rather, this post focused on the converse: that lacking infallible papal authority, the Orthodox Church has been and is incapable of having anything more than a fallible collection of infallible Councils.

            That’s why the title of the post is “Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism’s Infallibility Problem” rather than “Catholicism’s Infallibility Solution.” To be sure, the solution is implicit, and briefly referenced, throughout the article. But my goal wasn’t to show that we can fix the problem: only that the problem exists within Orthodoxy and Protestantism.

            That’s why a tu quoque is logically fallacious. You don’t have to be a Catholic to realize that the Orthodox have an insoluble problem here. The Reformed author Keith Mathison, in his (deeply flawed) book The Shape of Sola Scriptura, makes the same point. A sufficiently well-read non-believer could recognize it as well. So saying (wrong, in my view) that Catholics also have this problem just isn’t responsive to the actual argument.

            It’s also why your burden-shifting is invalid. Your objection here is that I haven’t met a burden (demonstrating that individual Catholics can know the total number of ex cathedra statements) that I never set out to prove in the first place, and one that I don’t need to prove to prove my (actual) argument.

            This is also true of several of Isa’s arguments as well — they’re not about showing that there’s a solution to this problem, but that Catholics have a problem of their own. I deny this, and think it misunderstands the Catholic position on that question, but more to the point, it’s just not what I’m arguing for here.

            I.X.,

            Joe

          4. “I even heard that, technically, there were only two times when the pope has spoken infallibly ex cathedra, in part because the dogma of papal infallibility wasn’t put on paper until the 19th century:
            So, there you have it.”

            Here you have a discussion in the 19th century after the dogma of papal infallibility was put on paper on the infallibility of Unam Sanctam, with differing conclusions
            https://books.google.com/books?id=m1YVAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA182&dq=%22Fessler%27s+treatise+on+infallibility+has+been+passed+by+a+committee+of+theologians+and+complimented+by+the+Holy+Father%22+Unam+Sanctam&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjmm_GqkPDKAhVH6CYKHUXoCaIQ6AEIHzAA#v=onepage&q=%22Fessler's%20treatise%20on%20infallibility%20has%20been%20passed%20by%20a%20committee%20of%20theologians%20and%20complimented%20by%20the%20Holy%20Father%22%20Unam%20Sanctam&f=false
            So, there you have it.

          5. Isa,

            All I see is a discussion about a something a “Bishop Fessler” had written. As you know, singular Bishops, except for the Pope, do not carry the charism of infallibility. So, the page at the link you provided says nothing to the point of this discussion. I didn’t see the sense in searching the entire booklet for whatever point it is you are trying to make. Could you do us the favor of quoting the part you had in mind, specifically?

          6. “That’s why a tu quoque is logically fallacious. You don’t have to be a Catholic to realize that the Orthodox have an insoluble problem here. ”

            Perhaps you have to NOT be Orthodox to think we have.

            EVERY Orthodox bishop must confess the 7 Ecumenical Councils and swear loyalty to the same (as does any convert claiming the name “Christian”) before consecration, and in every Triumph of Orthodoxy EACH AND EVERY Orthodox celebrate the same.

            “This is also true of several of Isa’s arguments as well — they’re not about showing that there’s a solution to this problem, but that Catholics have a problem of their own.”
            No, it is making the contrast that while we don’t have a problem, the Vatican’s “solution” is nothing more than a problem in disguise. In fact, the Vatican-without admitting it, of course-takes the Orthodox solution to “solve”-at least in appearance-the problem of the councils of Pisa, Constance, Siena and Basel. The theory of the “easy answer to this question in papal acceptance” doesn’t help at all: besides the lack of an infallible list of infallible pontiffs (Imagine if I gave you a list of 20 popes. Some of them, I explain, are inspired by the Holy Spirit. Others might not be…Having a fallible list containing a mix of infallible and false popes-anti-popes, if you will-defeats the whole point of infallibility), several listed now by the Annuario Pontificio (Alexander VI, Clement VI, Bennedict XIII (who changed his mind) John XXIII etc. ) disagree.

            I’m not familiar with Keith Mathison’s “deeply flawed” argument. Should I?

          7. Isa Almisry says:
            February 11, 2016 at 6:20 pm

            Perhaps you have to NOT be Orthodox to think we have.

            Didn’t Joe quote an Orthodox Bishop who had verbalized this problem? He said:

            1) First, to the idea that my approach is “disingenuous and lazy” for not interacting with “the best scholarship and arguments on the other side of the issue.” I could hardly disagree more. I cited Bishop Kallistos Ware, easily the most prominent and one of the most well-respected living Eastern Orthodox theologians. He, in turn, was reviewing (from an Orthodox perspective!) the general theological field, and finding it lacking.

          8. “All I see is a discussion about a something a “Bishop Fessler””
            who was personally picked by Pius IX as Secretary of the first Vatican council.

            “had written. As you know, singular Bishops, except for the Pope, do not carry the charism of infallibility. ”
            actually, in fact not excepting him, but to continue

            “So, the page at the link you provided says nothing to the point of this discussion.”
            Your Vatican fathers thought otherwise. On the work in question:
            “after the council he replied in a masterly brochure to the attack on the council by Dr. Schulte, professor of canon law and German law at Prague. Dr. Schulte’s pamphlet on the power of the Roman popes over princes, countries, peoples, and individuals, in the light of their acts since the reign of Gregory VII, was very similar in character to the Vaticanism pamphlet of Mr. Gladstone, and rested on just the same fundamental misunderstanding of the dogma of Papal Infallibility as defined by the Vatican Council. The Prussian Government promptly appointed Dr. Schute to a professorship at Bonn, while it imprisoned Catholic priests and bishops. Fessler’s reply, “Die wahre und die falsche Unfehlbarkeit der Päpste” (Vienna, 1871), was translated into French by Cosquin editor of “Le Français”, and into English by Father Ambrose St. John, of the Birmingham Oratory (The True and False Infallibility of the Popes, London, 1875). It is still an exceedingly valuable explanation of the true doctrine of Infallibility as taught by the great Italian “Ultramontane” theologians, such as Bellarmine in the sixteenth century, P. Ballerini in the eighteenth, and Perrone in the nineteenth. But it was difficult for those who had been fighting against the definition to realize that the Infallibilists “had wanted no more than this. Bishop Hefele of Rottenburg, who had strongly opposed the definition and afterwards loyally accepted it, said he entirely agree with the moderate view taken by Bishop Fessler, but doubted whether such views would be accepted as sound in Rome. It was clear, one would have thought, that the secretary of the council was likely to know; and the hesitations of the pious and learned Hefele were removed by the warm Brief of approbation which Pius IX addressed to the author.”
            Nihil Obstat. September 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
            Can a warm (or cold) Brief of approbation come ex cathedra to “carry the charisma of infallibility”? No one can tell us.

            “I didn’t see the sense in searching the entire booklet for whatever point it is you are trying to make. Could you do us the favor of quoting the part you had in mind, specifically?”
            The part I quoted was enough to bring the debate to your attention, in which Cardinal Newman disagreed with Bishop Fessler-who held only the last sentence of Unam Sanctam was “infallible”-and others accepted it all and others who rejected it all. See for instance Newman here
            https://books.google.com/books?id=hExFAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA376&lpg=PA376&dq=%22Fessler%27s+statement+that+only+the+last+sentences+of+Boniface%27s+Unam+Sanctam+are+%22&source=bl&ots=LVVPmM-6B-&sig=d_F8MnElLwm7O4MTEow9DLANYl0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiBhcfzqPDKAhUJLB4KHYWkAHEQ6AEIIzAC#v=onepage&q=%22Fessler's%20statement%20that%20only%20the%20last%20sentences%20of%20Boniface's%20Unam%20Sanctam%20are%20%22&f=false
            and here
            https://books.google.com/books?id=qGgVAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA93&lpg=PA93&dq=Newman+Unam+Sanctam+Fessler&source=bl&ots=5V8_hD9_DD&sig=k8isAcfgg_zG14x5LV8UgEn–qI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwimnOa9qvDKAhUF1R4KHYFEDkMQ6AEINDAF#v=onepage&q=Newman%20Unam%20Sanctam%20Fessler&f=false
            (and on to the next page).

            You can ferret through all that debate, but I’ll summarize it: some thought (and think) the final sentence of Unam Sanctam, while others the whole Bull, and others rejected (as we should) the whole thing, and Unam Sanctam is NEITHER of the cases that KO “heard that, technically, there were only two times when the pope has spoken infallibly ex cathedra.” Such examples, as the author of the Relatio to Pastor Aeternus quoted here (below or above, depending where this posts ends up) admitted, can be multiplied ad infinitum, e.g. the debate now on whether Humanae Vitae was “ex cathedra.”

          9. Isa Almisry says:
            February 11, 2016 at 7:31 pm

            You can ferret through all that debate, but I’ll summarize it:

            Thank you.

            some thought (and think) the final sentence of Unam Sanctam, while others the whole Bull, and others rejected (as we should) the whole thing, and Unam Sanctam is NEITHER of the cases that KO “heard that, technically, there were only two times when the pope has spoken infallibly ex cathedra.”

            And some Catholics reject the Doctrine of Transubstantiation. So?

            Are you aware that a Pope may speak infallibly without speaking ex cathedra?

            Such examples, as the author of the Relatio to Pastor Aeternus quoted here (below or above, depending where this posts ends up) admitted, can be multiplied ad infinitum, e.g. the debate now on whether Humanae Vitae was “ex cathedra.”

            I get it. It seems as though you interpret debate, amongst Catholics, as invalidating the Doctrine of Papal infallibility, is that correct?

            I think, also, you are questioning the infalliblity of both of those documents (i.e Unam Sanctum, Humanae Vitae). No. Catholics accept both as infallible. Not as ex-Cathedra writings, but as writings from the Pope which are consistent with prior infallible Catholic Teaching.

            I think, perhaps, you are also having a problem with the re-formulation of the “No Salvation outside the Church” Doctrine.

            Perhaps you don’t think the Church has the authority to “re-formulate” Doctrine. But the Catholic Church Teaches with the authority of Christ. And Christ is the first one who re-formulated Teachings:

            St. Matthew 5:Teaching About Anger.[o] 21 “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’[p] 22 [q]But I say to you, whoever is angry[r] with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. 23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

            Teaching About Adultery. 27 [s]“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 [t]If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

            And finally, all this is besides the point, since none of it touches at all upon the question of the Orthodox problem as illustrated by Joe, in the OP.

          10. Isa Almisry says:
            February 11, 2016 at 6:20 pm
            Perhaps you have to NOT be Orthodox to think we have.”

            De Maria says: “Didn’t Joe quote an Orthodox Bishop who had verbalized this problem?….

            Somewhere here someone just said “As you know, singular Bishops do not carry the charism of infallibility.” (;)

            Here, said bishop (Metropolitan, actually. Well, as actual as titular bishops can be) expresses his personal opinion that doesn’t even rise to theologoumena.

            The part of the quote of said Metropolitan leaped over-“All Orthodox know which are the seven councils that their Church accepts as ecumenical”

            As I’ve shown elsewhere, HE’s doubts express by ““What about Chalcedon? It was rejected by Syria and Egypt…” are unfounded, as neither “Syria” nor “Egypt” rejected Chalcedon. HE’s faith in receptionism is better placed than HE thinks.

            Dr. Robinson has already posted some caveats about said Metropolitan, relieving me of the trouble.

            It’s not an issue, burning or otherwise. That might change after May-though I doubt it. We’ll deal with it then if it does.

  9. Btw, on my name, Yasu’ is only for Christ God. I AM not He. Isa is what you name you kid, e.g. Isa Daud al Isa, the founder and editor of the most influential Palestinian newspaper before 1948, “Filastin,” which he founded to fight the cause of the Arab Orthodox-of which he was one-in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Issa_El-Issa

  10. Isa Almisry, welcome! I look forward to hearing what you have to say. For the sake of clarity, can I ask both you and Perry (and anyone else who would like) a few questions? It might make it easier to figure out who’s arguing for what:

    1) How many Ecumenical Councils are there?
    2) What determines if something is or isn’t an Ecumenical Council?
    3) Is it possible for the Orthodox Church to hold an Ecumenical Council? (and if so, how?)
    4) Are your views on 1-3 the views of the Orthodox Church, or are they theologoumena?

    I’m not trying to trap you or anything, just determine your actual positions. Isa and Perry, it sounds like the two of you disagree on 2: is that right?

    I.X.,

    Joe

    1. Since you asked so nice (and its your dime)

      1) How many Ecumenical Councils are there? 7
      2) What determines if something is or isn’t an Ecumenical Council? Reception of the Church as such. “I know My Own and My Own know Me.” She hears His voice in Ecumenical Council as “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”
      3) Is it possible for the Orthodox Church to hold an Ecumenical Council? (and if so, how?) Of course she can. As she makes any Pan-Orthodox Synod, such as the Synod Jerusalem in 1672.
      4) Are your views on 1-3 the views of the Orthodox Church, or are they theologoumena? AFAIK no Orthodox who thinks there are 8, 9 or more EC has anathematized those who count 7, so that would be dogma. To say the Church can hold a Council as the Apostles would mean she was less than the Church they passed on from Christ. Given that we celebrate every Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy that we have neither added nor subtracted to nor from what we received, but receive His Body intact as He left her, 3) would be dogma as well.
      As to 2), I only report how she did it 7 times. I approach it from history, whereas I think Perry (if I may) approaches it from the philosophy/theology/theory of the matter. If she can do it differently, I haven’t commented on that. If you like, I could paste a summary comparable to his summary of his views.

      1. “To say the Church can hold a Council as the Apostles would mean she was less than the Church they passed on from Christ.”

        OOOOpps!

        To say the Church canNOT hold a Council as the Apostles would mean she was less than the Church they passed on from Christ.

      2. Isa, what do you mean by “reception of the Church as such”. This point has already been highlighted before: if a council is “true”, of universal validity, but not recognized by part of the church (say, Chalcedon by the Copts and Oriental Orthodox), that wouldn’t make this council ecumenical according to your view. So:
        1) An ecumenical council is determined by reception/acceptance of the Church.
        2) Chalcedon wasn’t accepted by the Copts, Syriacs etc.
        3) Therefore, Chalcedon wasn’t ecumenical, according to your reasoning.

        1. “This point has already been highlighted before: if a council is “true”, of universal validity, but not recognized by part of the church ”

          What happens when a part of the body ceases to act in concert with the rest of the body? It falls off.

          The Fathers of a Council set up a landmark, to indicate a fork in the road where you have to go with us, or away from us.

          The Miaphysites are a bad example (though I know why the apologists of the Vatican are so fond of it, as Fr. Romanides of blessed memory indicated in the OO-EO talks) as
          1) They already had their anti-council before Chalcedon.
          2) They ended up abandoning said council, and do not count it as Ecumenical.
          3) They ended up reversing themselves on their council’s decree and had to condemn Eutyches (which is what Chalcedon did in its definition).
          4) What they did keep of what happened at Ephesus II Chalcedon and Constantinople II kept as well.
          5) The Patriarchate of Alexandria replaced Dioscoros at Chalcedon and the new Pope and the Alexandrian hierarchy signed on to Chalcedon, as Antioch already had. A minority of Alexandria, a majority of Antioch and all of Jerusalem accepted that.

          A better example would be the Maronites, who clung to their Monotheletism rather than the Sixth Council. They went their separate way until the coming of the Vatican’s Crusades.

          Heretics and schismatics don’t get a vote, so the Monothelites neither annulled the Sixth Ecumenical Council, nor needed to take any part in the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

          1. Well, the Maronites staunchly deny that they were ever apart from union with Rome, although characterizing the crusades as “Vatican’s Crusades” would seem somewhat offensive to them and many others.

            Anyway, acceptance of the Church isn’t a mark of an ecumenical council then, unless you mean that the Church means only the Church that accepted it….

          2. And yes, I guess nobody has ever said this here, but I am Maronite, if any of this matters at all (just like you being named ” Jesus the Orthodox Egyptian” doesn’t matter much.

          3. “Well, the Maronites staunchly deny that they were ever apart from union with Rome”

            Yeah, well, their history belies that. The Chroniclers of the Crusades record the Maronites coming to convert, and the decrees of Florence also records the submission of the Maronites in Cyprus.
            http://www.legionofmarytidewater.com/faith/ECUM17.HTM#8

            I could also quote a plethora of Maronites manuscripts of their rites, hagiography etc. containing their Monotheletism. Indeed, some places the editors still missed a reference or two. My favorite is the hit piece they wrote on St. Maximos the Confessor, which starts “‘The history concerning the wicked Maximus of Palestine who blasphemed against his creator, and whose tongue was cut out'”
            https://books.google.com/books?id=JSlyBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA62&dq=Maronite+%27The+history+concerning+the+wicked+Maximus+of+Palestine+who+blasphemed+against+his+creator,+and+whose+tongue+was+cut+out%27&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi_u6elgvHKAhXEsh4KHb2PBtcQ6AEIHzAA#v=onepage&q=Maronite%20'The%20history%20concerning%20the%20wicked%20Maximus%20of%20Palestine%20who%20blasphemed%20against%20his%20creator%2C%20and%20whose%20tongue%20was%20cut%20out'&f=false

            IOW their jumping ship at the Sixth Council didn’t sink the Ark of the Church. They’re getting on board with the Vatican’s Crusaders-who occupied Cyprus at the time-doesn’t change that.

          4. Augustine, that’s exactly what I said.

            That’s the position I’ve seen over and over by Maronites themselves:

            “For a church or a community of believers to be guilty of heresy, they must make the teaching a public position of their church. It must be taught by their patriarch and bishops. To be guilty of formal heresy in the Catholic Church one must be condemned officially by the Church and persist in the teaching once condemned. There is no indication that the Maronite church as a church ever taught monothelitism.”

            Another way to put it:
            “With regard to the Maronites and communion with Rome my research when I was writing my book on the Eastern Catholic Churches suggests that they never broke communion with Rome in the sense of a formal separation. Rather, they retreated into the mountains where, by virtue of isolation, they neither broke nor retained communion with Rome. When they were “rediscovered” they claimed that they had never broken communion (a true statement, if somewhat misleading). Patriarch Jeremiah restored “communication” if not communion and attended the Lateran Council in 1215.” (http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=236688).

            Anyway, I was just answering Jesus the Egyptian here because he said that the Constantinople III (6th Ecumenical Council) was a “better example” of divisions within the church than the Council of Chalcedon. I don’t know how one example is better than the other, regardless of the veracity of the (doubtful) claim that the Maronites had “converted” to Catholicism.

          5. Augustine “I’m curious about this statement on the Maronite Church. This is certainly not how the Maronites understand it:”
            “Augustine, that’s exactly what I said.”

            Evidently the link to your own “ecumenical” council of Florence where the bishop of the Maronites of Crusader Cyprus had to renounce “the one will” does not suffice for you to desist.

            “That’s the position I’ve seen over and over by Maronites themselves:
            “For a church or a community of believers to be guilty of heresy, they must make the teaching a public position of their church. It must be taught by their patriarch and bishops. To be guilty of formal heresy in the Catholic Church one must be condemned officially by the Church and persist in the teaching once condemned. There is no indication that the Maronite church as a church ever taught monothelitism.”

            Closing their eyes to the facts does not make them go away.

            The records come in abundance that the Maronite bishops taught Monotheletism: if you can read French, this article provides a summary of some early ancient witnesses to that fact (though many more can be added)
            https://books.google.com/books?id=mJQQAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA91&dq=%22Le+monoth%C3%A9lisme+des+Maronites+d%27apr%C3%A8s+les+auteurs+melchites%22+Nous+n%27avons+pas+but&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwirsMrl5_LKAhUFKB4KHQkjAg4Q6AEIHjAA#v=onepage&q=%22Le%20monoth%C3%A9lisme%20des%20Maronites%20d'apr%C3%A8s%20les%20auteurs%20melchites%22%20Nous%20n'avons%20pas%20but&f=false
            so much so that even the Muslims were aware of the difference, and that the Maronites were not in communion with Rome.

            “Anyway, I was just answering Jesus the Egyptian here because he said that the Constantinople III (6th Ecumenical Council) was a “better example” of divisions within the church than the Council of Chalcedon. I don’t know how one example is better than the other”

            already explained above. To which I’ll add the problem of the Henotikon and Acadian schism (and the refusal of Eastern bishops to rubber stamp the Roman “solution” offered in the “Formula of [Pope] Hormisdas”), and the meeting of the Chalcedonian Orthodox with the non-Chalcedonians in the lead up to the Fifth Ecumenical Council, etc.

            When the Maronites refused the Sixth Ecumenical Council-as the record shows they did-they had no further contact with the Church, like an amputated arm (unlike the Miaphysites, who still hang like an arm dangled from a wound but not fully detached up until today). The epitome of “clear cut.”

            “regardless of the veracity of the (doubtful) claim that the Maronites had “converted” to Catholicism.”
            They submitted to the Vatican.

            As to the veracity of their Monothelete past, there is no doubt about it, fierce denials notwithstanding. For an example Bishop Theodore Abu Qurra of Harran (d. c. 820)’s denial of the Maronite creed:”Unlike the Maronites, I do not divest His human nature of a natural will and a natural energy.”
            https://books.google.com/books?id=6aPZAAAAMAAJ&q=%22Unlike+the+Maronites,+I+do+not+divest+His+human+nature+of+a+natural+will+and+a+natural+energy.%22&dq=%22Unlike+the+Maronites,+I+do+not+divest+His+human+nature+of+a+natural+will+and+a+natural+energy.%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiAjfaT8PLKAhXIpB4KHcx3DH0Q6AEIHDAA
            which is interesting, in that his work On the Councils (in which he excoriates the Maronites for rejecting the Sixth Council) he insists (in what is called “suqi” “marketplace” polemic,” i.e. not authoritative theological discussion) that only Councils called by the bishops of Rome are Ecumenical (committing the same violence required to history to make that assertion).

          6. KO “Anyway, acceptance of the Church isn’t a mark of an ecumenical council then, unless you mean that the Church means only the Church that accepted it…”

            That would be a given, and an obvious one at that.

  11. Actually, Papal acclamation of a particular council’s ecumenical status doesn’t make it much clearer, either. Pope Honorius I approved of III Constantinople which taught the heresy of Monothelitism.

    1. Michael,

      Three things:

      1) The Third Council of Constantinople didn’t teach monothelitism. It condemned it.

      2) Both the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox acknowledge the validity of this Council. It’s the Sixth Ecumenical Council.

      3) It couldn’t have been approved or denied by Pope Honorius († 638), as he was long dead by the time of the Council (680-81).

      I.X,.

      Joe

  12. During the First Vatican Council, the great Bishop Vincent Gasser delivered the Relatio, the official church view on Infallibility and during that lengthy intervention he made this observation which very few Catholics know about and fewer understand:

    Some will persist and say: there remains, therefore, the duty of the Pontiff – indeed most grave in its kind – of adhering to the means apt for discerning the truth, and, although this matter is not strictly dogmatic, it is, nevertheless, intimately connected with dogma. For we define: the dogmatic judgments of the Roman Pontiff are infallible. Therefore let us also define the form to be used by the Pontiff in such a judgment. It seems to me that this was the mind of some of the most reverend fathers as they spoke from this podium. But, most eminent and reverend fathers,this proposal simply cannot be accepted because we are not dealing with something new here. Already thousands and thousands of dogmatic judgments have gone forth from the Apostolic See; where is the law which prescribed the form to be observed in such judgments? [19]

    Thousands and thousands of infallible judgments…that is something to be considered by Catholics this Lent

    O, ABS does have a link to the entirety of the Relatio but that is for another day 🙂

    Dear Joe. Kudos on your presentation

  13. Another interesting canon to come out of Chalcedon was to the effect that Constantinople should have the same rank and prerogatives as Rome. Pope Leo obviously refused to confirm it, despite the preponderance of Eastern Bishops and the presence of the Emperor and Empress.

    I’m reading Volume 10 History of the Chuch edited by Hubert Jedin. Vatican II puzzles me. In the early Middle Age it was unclear whether the Pope was above the council or council above the Pope. By the High Middle Age the Pope was de facto infallible; Vatican I declared it a dogma of the church. I suppose it could be argued that the dogma added nothing to the Papacy it did not already possess, but why would Vatican II declare “the holders of the highest powers in the Universal Church are not only the Pope but also the College of Bishops acting in agreement with the Pope.”?

    1. Jeff,

      Because papal infallibility isn’t the only way that the Church acts infallibly. She can act infallibly in four ways:

      1) Papal ex cathedra statements, when the pope defines some matter of faith and morals in his capacity as pope;
      2) The bishops in union with the pope, dogmatically defining some matter of faith or morals at Council [extraordinary];
      3) The bishops in union with the pope, in their universal teaching [ordinary; that is, when the Catholic bishops of the world unanimously teach a particular doctrine, we can be assured that they aren’t all teaching heresy]; and
      4) The sensus fidelium, in which the orthodox faithful (the so-called ecclesia discens, or “listening Church”) universally hold to a particular teaching. The clearest examples of this would probably be the Marian doctrines, which were believed throughout the Church by the laity long before they were ever dogmatically defined by the “teaching Church” (ecclesia docens).

      While each of the four are infallible, the degree of clarity is listed in descending order.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      1. “Because papal infallibility isn’t the only way that the Church acts infallibly. She can act infallibly in four ways:

        1) Papal ex cathedra statements, when the pope defines some matter of faith and morals in his capacity as pope;
        2) The bishops in union with the pope…
        3) The bishops in union with the pope…”

        1-3 are pretty much the same. Case in point, Pius’ “Apostolic Constitution” Pastor Aeternus issued as the decree of the council Vatican I, to which all bishops were forced to conform (Abp. Hefele being the most famous example).

        We would agree with 4), in union with the Orthodox episcopate.

        As for the Vatican II declaration, it contradicts Pastor Aeternus, which states no appeal to a council is to be had from the “supreme pontiff,” who in fact in the words of Pastor Aeternus holds “the highest powers.” Hence the problem here of the inability of the Vatican to point to an infallible list of those infallible pontiffs.

        1. Isa,

          As for the Vatican II declaration, it contradicts Pastor Aeternus, …

          Says you. But, what authority have you to explain Catholic Doctrine? None.

          The problem with non-Catholics, is that they try to usurp the authority which Christ gave the Catholic Church. Now, let me guess, you think that the Vatican II contradicted Pastor Aeternus where it says:

          VII:…The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter…

          As opposed to:

          PA:…Therefore, if anyone says … that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy: let him be anathema.

          But unlike those who oppose the Church, she never forgets that Jesus said:

          Matthew 12:31 Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

          Therefore, Vatican II is merely reminding people, that even sin against the Pope, may be forgiven, if God, in His mercy, so wills.

          1. “Says you. But, what authority have you to explain Catholic Doctrine? None.”

            Are you suggesting that no one can possibly understand Catholic teachings unless they themselves are Catholic? If so, that’s a highly irrational belief. How would you even gain converts? If a non-Catholic cannot understand Catholic teaching, then how may they then even assent to it? Additionally, if you really believe what you are espousing, then why are you bothering to correct non-Catholic’s beliefs about Catholicism since apparently they can never hope to understand?

            What a ridiculous belief to hold.

          2. “Says you. But, what authority have you to explain Catholic Doctrine? None.”
            The chrism of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which anointed me.

            As for the dogmas of the Vatican, I can read the plain Latin. Not knowing if you can, I’ll quote the plain-and official-English.

            “Now, let me guess….”

            Guess again.

            Or better, don’t.

            You didn’t have to guess, just read. But with comprehension. Vatican II was quoted “the holders of the highest powers in the Universal Church are not only the Pope but also the College of Bishops acting in agreement with the Pope.”

            I’ll leave it to you to try to reconcile that with PA’s “The sentence of the Apostolic See (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an ecumenical council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman Pontiff.”

            “The problem with non-Catholics, is that they try to usurp the authority which Christ gave the Catholic Church.”
            Are you confessing?

          3. Rohzek says:
            February 12, 2016 at 7:42 pm
            “Says you. But, what authority have you to explain Catholic Doctrine? None.”

            Are you suggesting that no one can possibly understand Catholic teachings unless they themselves are Catholic?

            No.

            If so, that’s a highly irrational belief.

            But that’s not what I suggested.

            How would you even gain converts? ….What a ridiculous belief to hold.

            All that amounts to is straw man argumentation. It is in fact, your straw man which is ridiculous.

            What I said, in unequivocal terms, is that he does not understand Catholicism and therefore, can not explain it.

            The message was specifically addressing him and no one else. Therefore, your extrapolation to the whole world, is, to use your terminology, ridiculous.

          4. Isa Almisry says:
            February 12, 2016 at 8:32 pm

            The chrism of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which anointed me.

            I guess the grace didn’t take. Because you are certainly mangling Catholic Doctrine on this website.

            As for the dogmas of the Vatican, I can read the plain Latin.

            Reading them and understanding them are two different things.

            Not knowing if you can, I’ll quote the plain-and official-English.

            Ok.

            “Now, let me guess….”

            Guess again.

            Or better, don’t.

            You didn’t have to guess, just read. But with comprehension. Vatican II was quoted “the holders of the highest powers in the Universal Church are not only the Pope but also the College of Bishops acting in agreement with the Pope.”

            I’ll leave it to you to try to reconcile that with PA’s “The sentence of the Apostolic See (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an ecumenical council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman Pontiff.”

            I’ve already reconciled them for you. Your response amounts to bravado and posturing. Try again when you’ve got something of substance.

          5. Maria, you challenged him on a case of authority and made a huge bravado about how he opposes the Catholic Church, as though that somehow affects the merits of an objective argument. None of what you said was about how Isa was wrong. You just assumed that because he was non-Catholic, he therefore was predetermined to not understand.

            So no, I didn’t make up a strawman. Back track all you want (as happy as I am that you are), but your poorly thought out arguments are open for all to see. Covering it up though just makes matters worse.

          6. Rohzek says:
            February 12, 2016 at 10:53 pm
            Maria, you challenged him on a case of authority and made a huge bravado about how he opposes the Catholic Church,

            Correct. I think I matched his bravado, though.

            as though that somehow affects the merits of an objective argument.

            I don’t consider his opinion an objective argument.

            None of what you said was about how Isa was wrong. You just assumed that because he was non-Catholic, he therefore was predetermined to not understand.

            Just as he assumed that he understood simply because he had read it. However, if you read my rebuttal, I added the necessary context to correct his error.

            So no, I didn’t make up a strawman.

            Yeah, you did. Because you went on to accuse me of saying that no one could understand Catholicism if they weren’t already Catholic. If that is what I said, you should be able to quote my words to that effect. But I didn’t say that. You merely spun and twisted my words to forge a false argument.

            Back track all you want (as happy as I am that you are), but your poorly thought out arguments are open for all to see. Covering it up though just makes matters worse.

            If you say so. All you need to do now is prove that you didn’t twist my words. You can do that by providing a quote. That should be very simple.

      2. Thanks Joe
        Don’t all four require the ascent of the Pope? I realize that elevating the status of the College of Bishops does not contradict Church teaching, but it does seem to muddy the waters. The recent Synod on the family caused anxiety among some Catholics because the Pope did not appear to wish to lead the synod, but rather be led by it. For my own part I trust assemblies less than individuals.
        By the way what happened with the Lex Ecclesiae Fundamentalist?
        Jeff

  14. Joe,

    I concede that your last rebuttal was on point, and my statement was beyond this article’s scope. That said, I realize now that the major problem with this article isn’t its argument itself, but that you have skipped assessment of a few questions that would have better served both you and your interlocutors, such as :

    1. What is an Ecumenical Council and what is its purpose (i.e. what are the bishops accomplishing ?)?

    2. Is it necessary (and not merely helpful or important) to know how many Ecumenical Councils there have been?

    3. How does a council become authoritative? (Which segues perfectly into your article)

    Questions like these are important because their answers provide an important context for the argument you have presented here, and the answers have a potential to highlight where the crucial differences lie between Catholic and Orthodox Christian views of Ecumenical Councils. In other words, I don’t think we can have a proper discussion about Orthodoxy’s infallibility problem until we have discussed the above questions.

    1. I should also note that I did not take the time to see if you had already written articles addressing these questions. If you have, it would be helpful to provide links to them in this article.

  15. “The reality: Without papal infallibility, there’s no way to know for sure which Ecumenical Councils are Ecumenical Councils, or why.”

    Can someone please explain to me how the quoted statement above is less circular than the Orthodox position? Couldn’t I just as easily retort, “Without Jesus giving me a personal phone call, how can I know the pope is right in declaring such and such a council to be ecumenical?” Generally, the Catholic response is to scriptural references of Petrine primacy, etc. But this begs the question, what then makes the Catholic different from the Protestant?

    1. Rohzek says:
      February 12, 2016 at 2:48 am
      “The reality: Without papal infallibility, there’s no way to know for sure which Ecumenical Councils are Ecumenical Councils, or why.”

      …. But this begs the question, what then makes the Catholic different from the Protestant?

      You’re comparing fresh apples to spoiled fruit.

      Even the Orthodox theological system is far superior to the Protestant. Protestants have no authority to speak of, except their own opinions and presuppositions. I doubt that they have authority to convene any inter-denominational council. And even if they did, they wouldn’t be able to resolve anything, since there is no form of authority to carry out any decisions across denominational lines.

      1. Who does have absolute authority to convene inter-denominational councils? I know of no such person or institution. And any who do claim to have such authority lack the power to enforce those claims, so its meaningless.

        1. Rohzek says:
          February 12, 2016 at 6:28 am
          Who does have absolute authority to convene inter-denominational councils? I know of no such person or institution. And any who do claim to have such authority lack the power to enforce those claims, so its meaningless.

          I meant Protestant councils. The Pope has the authority to convene Catholic Councils and Catholics outnumber Protestants 2-1.

          What’s eating you though? It sounds as though you have some other problem. You don’t like the authority of the Pope? Or the authority of the Catholic Church?

  16. Rohzek says:
    February 12, 2016 at 2:48 am
    “The reality: Without papal infallibility, there’s no way to know for sure which Ecumenical Councils are Ecumenical Councils, or why.”

    Can someone please explain to me how the quoted statement above is less circular than the Orthodox position? Couldn’t I just as easily retort, “Without Jesus giving me a personal phone call, how can I know the pope is right in declaring such and such a council to be ecumenical?” Generally, the Catholic response is to scriptural references of Petrine primacy, etc. But this begs the question, what then makes the Catholic different from the Protestant?

    In the Catholic Church, the infallibility of the Ecumenical Council resides in the Church. Whereas, although I’m no expert on the Orthodox position, it appears that the infallibility of each Council depends upon the Council, itself.

    In other words, let’s say that a Council declares itself infallible. In the Catholic Church it requires the authority of the Bishop of Rome to confirm this infallibility. That is why, it is called, “in union with the Pope and the Bishops”.

    Whereas, in the Orthodox, there is no such confirmation.

    The Catholic position is not circular. The Orthodox, is.

    1. Actually, no council itself, if I recall, ever declared itself to be infallible. They only gradually became accepted as such over a period of time, at least for a number of them. In other words, it is an honorific, not some positivist badge of honor.

      And yes, it is circular. It is just as circular as ours of any Protestant’s. Let me ask you, according to Catholicism, who says that the pope holds this power of infallibility? The scriptures and some sort of tradition, of course. Now turn to Orthodoxy. We make a claim for a council to be infallible. Okay, so now where do we get this authority from? Well, we point to traditions and scriptures too. Same thing for many Protestant councils. Now then how do all three of these groups then justify our respective scriptural canons? We point to the traditions. But then how do we justify the traditions? Well we use traditions themselves or the scriptures. The circle is never ending. So to make the claim that somehow Catholics are no less circular than Orthodox or Protestants is quite the unwarranted claim. At best, they just kick the can down the road. It’s not rocket science. It is basic elementary logic.

      The only way someone knows the fullness of truth is through the grace of the Holy Spirit, which defies empirical testing due to it being Spirit. So it is quite strange to see any Christian trying to justify their system as inherently superior via any methodology that resembles logical positivism.

      1. Rohzek,

        To avoid circularity, always remember:

        1. God sent Jesus
        2. Jesus sent the Apostles to build his Church
        3. The Apostles ordained Bishops to rule the Church

        Were the churches meant to be independent of one another, or were they meant to be ruled by one principle of unity? What did the Church Fathers say?

        St Irenaeus: “Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. (Against Heresies, book 3 chap 3:2)

        St. Clement of Alexandria, as Bishop of Rome, commanded the seditionists in the Church of Corinth to repent and “yield submission” to their Presbyters, emphasizing the hierarchical order of the command structure of the Church:

        “Chapter 37. Christ is Our Leader, and We His Soldiers.

        Let us then, men and brethren, with all energy act the part of soldiers, in accordance with His holy commandments. Let us consider those who serve under our generals, with what order, obedience, and submissiveness they perform the things which are commanded them. All are not prefects, nor commanders of a thousand, nor of a hundred, nor of fifty, nor the like, but each one in his own rank performs the things commanded by the king and the generals. The great cannot subsist without the small, nor the small without the great. There is a kind of mixture in all things, and thence arises mutual advantage. Let us take our body for an example. The head is nothing without the feet, and the feet are nothing without the head; yea, the very smallest members of our body are necessary and useful to the whole body. But all work harmoniously together, and are under ONE COMMON RULE for the preservation of the whole body.” (First Clement 37)

        St Augustine: “For if the lineal succession of bishops is to be taken into account, with how much more certainty and benefit to the Church do we reckon back till we reach Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: Upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it! The successor of Peter was Linus, and his successors in unbroken continuity were these:— Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zephirinus, Calixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Antherus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephanus, Xystus, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychianus, Gaius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Marcus, Julius, Liberius, Damasus, and Siricius, whose successor is the present Bishop Anastasius. In this ORDER OF SUCCESSION no Donatist bishop is found.” (Letter 53 chap 1:2)

        St Jerome: “Since THE EAST, shattered as it is by the long-standing feuds, subsisting between its peoples, is bit by bit tearing into shreds the seamless vest of the Lord, woven from the top throughout, since the foxes are destroying the vineyard of Christ, and since among the broken cisterns that hold no water it is hard to discover the sealed fountain and the garden inclosed, I think it my duty to consult the CHAIR OF PETER, and to turn to a church whose faith has been praised by Paul. I appeal for spiritual food to the church whence I have received the garb of Christ. The wide space of sea and land that lies between us cannot deter me from searching for the pearl of great price. Wheresoever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Evil children have squandered their patrimony; you alone keep your heritage intact. The fruitful SOIL OF ROME, when it receives the pure seed of the Lord, bears fruit an hundredfold; but here the seed grain is choked in the furrows and nothing grows but darnel or oats. In THE WEST the Sun of righteousness is even now rising; in THE EAST, LUCIFER, who fell from heaven, has once more set his throne above the stars. You are the light of the world, you are the salt of the earth, you are vessels of gold and of silver. Here are vessels of wood or of earth, which wait for the rod of iron, and eternal fire… My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the CHAIR OF PETER. For this, I know, is the rock on which the church is built! This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. ” (Letter to Pope Damasus, AD 376 or 377)

        On the other hand, “Bible-based” Protestantism is circular. Their church is true because the Bible is true. The Bible is true because it is the word of God. But how do they know it is the word of God? Did God give it to them? No. For them it is the word of God because they believe it is the word of God. They will never admit that it is the word of God because God himself preserved it through the Catholic Church. Had they done so, they could break circularity.

        “The only way someone knows the fullness of truth is through the grace of the Holy Spirit, which defies empirical testing due to it being Spirit.” This sentence sounds like some self-refuting positivist statement to me… :-). Even Mormons can testify to you their Book of Mormon is true because of the “promptings of the Spirit” in their heart. How then are you to declare them in error?

        Jesus is the Truth. In this life, without a beatific vision, it is nearly impossible to behold the fulness of the Truth. What is possible in this life is to ascertain some of its form and shape as though looking through a glass darkly. That’s all we can really hope for.

        To sum up:

        1. Jesus established a visible Church by sending his Apostles as envoys and witnesses of his gospel to build his Church.
        2. Pre-eminent among the churches these Apostles established is the Church of Rome.
        3. The Chair of Peter is the rock upon which the entire Church is built.
        4. It is by establishing communion with this Church that ensures peace and stability among the churches.

        1. In response to the St. Irenaeus quote, it isn’t enough to pull a excerpt from a larger work and accept what it says at face value. How accurate is the translation? Why was St. Irenaeus writing this statement? Understanding its context can completely alter its meaning.

          The Chair of Peter isn’t in Rome alone. Other bishops are referred to or refer to themselves as occupying this chair. Additionally, there are several instances throughout Christian history in which a bishop is referred to as a successor of Peter.

          The Orthodox position is that all bishops occupy the Chair of Peter, and this is supported by history.

          “Our Lord, whose precepts and warnings we ought to observe, determining the honour of a Bishop and to the ordering of His own Church, speaks in the Gospel, and says to Peter, I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matt. 16:18-19). Thence the ordination of Bishops, and the ordering of the Church, runs down along the course of time and line of succession, so that the Church is settled upon her Bishops; and every act of the Church is regulated by these same Prelates.” St. Cyprian, 33rd Epistle.

          St. Cyprian directly ties the promise of Christ to St. Peter to the office of the episcopacy.

          “66. Priests Britain has, but foolish ones; a great number of ministers, but shameless; clergy, but crafty plunderers; pastors, so to say, but wolves ready for the slaughter of souls, certainly not providing what is of benefit for the people, but seeking the filling of their own belly. They have church edifices, but enter them for the sake of filthy lucre; they teach the people, but by furnishing the worst examples, teach vice and evil morals; they seldom sacrifice, and never stand among the altars with pure heart; they |165 do not reprove the people on account of their sins, nay, in fact, they commit the same; they despise the commandments of Christ, and are careful to satisfy their own lusts with all their prayers: they get possession of the seat of the apostle Peter61 with unclean feet, but, by the desert of cupidity,62 fall into the unwholesome chair of the traitor Judas.”

          -St Gildas, De Excidio Britanniae

          “I beseech our common father Ambrose, that, after the scanty dew of my discourse, he may pour abundantly into your hearts the mysteries of the divine writings. Let him speak from that Holy Spirit with which he is filled, and ‘from his belly shall flow rivers of living water;’ and, as a successor of Peter, he shall be the mouth of all the surrounding priests. For when the Lord Jesus asked of the apostles, ‘Whom do you say that I am?’ Peter alone replies, with the mouth of all believers, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ What reward did that confession at once receive? Blessedness indeed, and the most glorious power of the heavenly kingdom.” -St. Gaudentius of Brescia (Tract. 16, De Ordin. Ipsius. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), pp. 105-107).

          1. Cameron Davis says:
            February 12, 2016 at 6:31 pm
            In response to the St. Irenaeus quote, it isn’t enough to pull a excerpt from a larger work and accept what it says at face value. How accurate is the translation? Why was St. Irenaeus writing this statement? Understanding its context can completely alter its meaning.

            Who says that you understand the context better than we?

            The Chair of Peter isn’t in Rome alone.

            There’s a shred of truth in that statement, but the Orthodox have taken the proverbial inch and tried to grab a thousand miles more.

            Other bishops are referred to or refer to themselves as occupying this chair.

            But they are wrong. Other Bishops of the Catholic Church share in that charism. But do not occupy that chair.

            Additionally, there are several instances throughout Christian history in which a bishop is referred to as a successor of Peter.

            Only the Bishops of Rome are successors of Peter.

            The Orthodox position is that all bishops occupy the Chair of Peter, and this is supported by history.

            “Our Lord, whose precepts and warnings we ought to observe, determining the honour of a Bishop and to the ordering of His own Church, speaks in the Gospel, and says to Peter, I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matt. 16:18-19). Thence the ordination of Bishops, and the ordering of the Church, runs down along the course of time and line of succession, so that the Church is settled upon her Bishops; and every act of the Church is regulated by these same Prelates.” St. Cyprian, 33rd Epistle.

            But what did he mean? Here’s some context:

            St. Cyprian also says:
            “[After quoting Matthew 16:18f; John 21:15ff]…On him [Peter] He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep; and although He assigned a like power to all the Apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was; but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one Chair. So too, all are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the Apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?” (Cyprian, The Unity of the Catholic Church [first edition] 4, c. AD 251)

            St. Cyprian directly ties the promise of Christ to St. Peter to the office of the episcopacy.

            “66. Priests Britain has, but foolish ones; a great number of ministers, but shameless; clergy, but crafty plunderers; pastors, so to say, but wolves ready for the slaughter of souls, certainly not providing what is of benefit for the people, but seeking the filling of their own belly. They have church edifices, but enter them for the sake of filthy lucre; they teach the people, but by furnishing the worst examples, teach vice and evil morals; they seldom sacrifice, and never stand among the altars with pure heart; they |165 do not reprove the people on account of their sins, nay, in fact, they commit the same; they despise the commandments of Christ, and are careful to satisfy their own lusts with all their prayers: they get possession of the seat of the apostle Peter61 with unclean feet, but, by the desert of cupidity,62 fall into the unwholesome chair of the traitor Judas.”

            -St Gildas, De Excidio Britanniae

            Again, understood in light of that which St. Cyprian said above, they received a “like power” to that which was assigned to Peter. But they did not receive the Primacy. That is what you are twisting out of the historical and Traditional, context.

            “I beseech our common father Ambrose, that, after the scanty dew of my discourse, he may pour abundantly into your hearts the mysteries of the divine writings. Let him speak from that Holy Spirit with which he is filled, and ‘from his belly shall flow rivers of living water;’ and, as a successor of Peter, he shall be the mouth of all the surrounding priests. For when the Lord Jesus asked of the apostles, ‘Whom do you say that I am?’ Peter alone replies, with the mouth of all believers, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ What reward did that confession at once receive? Blessedness indeed, and the most glorious power of the heavenly kingdom.” -St. Gaudentius of Brescia (Tract. 16, De Ordin. Ipsius. Cited by J. Waterworth S.J., A Commentary (London: Thomas Richardson, 1871), pp. 105-107).

            The same here.

            Now, do you deny that St. Cyprian said that the primacy was given to St. Peter? Yes or no?
            Do you deny that St. Cyprian said that the other Apostles only received a “like power”? Yes or no?

            That’s the basis of this argument. The Orthodox want to take what they want and toss out the rest.

            St. Chrysostom on the primacy of Peter:
            “Peter, that head of the Apostles, the first in the Church, the friend of Christ, who received the revelation not from man but from the Father….this Peter, and when I say Peter, I mean the unbroken Rock, the unshaken foundation, the great apostle, the first of the disciples, the first called, the first to obey.” (De Eleemos III, 4, vol II, 298[300])

            St. Maximus the Confessor (c. 650) 
A celebrated theologian and a native of Constantinople
            The extremities of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the inspired and holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High. (Maximus, Opuscula theologica et polemica, Migne, Patr. Graec. vol. 90)

          2. Cameron,

            Since you began your response with a comment on the quote from St. Irenaeus, I would presume you agree that:

            “God is not the Author of Confusion, but of Peace”

            However, when we look at the present state of Christianity, we do not see a state of peace, but confusion, especially among the Protestants. Therefore, this is not the way things ought to be.

            How then are the churches supposed to be ruled? Is it by one common rule, or by many conflicting rules? These are the primary questions that need to be addressed.

            And did the Church Fathers say anything about this issue?

            Before I continue, let me interrupt myself with this breaking newsflash:

            ===============================
            Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia
            http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/joint-declaration-of-pope-francis-and-patriarch-kirill-of-moscow-and-all-ru/
            ===============================

            In the citations you gave, none of them addressed the question on how the different churches are to behave towards the Church in Rome. They do not say whether there should be one common rule or many.

            But St. Clement of Alexandria does. He describes the Church as one army that follows the King and his generals. An army can only be ruled by one command structure. Do we now reject St. Clement because you are not happy with the translation?

            The entire book 3 of St Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies” ought to be read because there he mentions St. Clement’s “powerful letter” addressing the sedition in Corinth. Look at the map. Are there no bishops in Asia Minor like nearby Ephesus or Smyrna who are capable of telling the Corinthian seditionists to repent? Why did the issue go all the way to faraway Rome?

            In fact, if the Apostle John was still alive in Ephesus, why not he instead of the Bishop of Rome? Isn’t an apostle greater than a bishop?

            In a sad bit of irony, St Jerome describes how the Sun (of Righteousness) rises in the West, while in the East, the dark Star of Lucifer asserts itself fomenting schism everywhere. There are several bishops near him, but he singles out Pope Damasus in Rome as the one with whom he must subject himself. Do we now reject St. Jerome because you are not happy with the translation?

            And what of St. Augustine who finds a reason to reject Donatism by pointing a straight line of succession in the Roman Bishops that lead back to St. Peter? Do we now reject him on the grounds of a translation you don’t like?

            If the Early Church Fathers believed that subjection to the Church in Rome is optional, or unnecessary, I think that belief should be explicitly said or cited. If you want, you may even cite from your favorite translation.

          3. De Maria,

            “Who says that you understand the context better than we?”

            This isn’t a response, but rather an attempt to dodge engaging with the actual claim.

            “But they are wrong. Other Bishops of the Catholic Church share in that charism. But do not occupy that chair.”

            There is the claim, now substantiate it with evidence.

            Your quote, which begins ““[After quoting Matthew 16:18f; John 21:15ff]…On him [Peter] He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep…” at no point ties the Chair of Peter to Rome alone, so it does nothing to undermine my claims or further your case.

            “Now, do you deny that St. Cyprian said that the primacy was given to St. Peter? Yes or no?
            Do you deny that St. Cyprian said that the other Apostles only received a “like power”? Yes or no?
            That’s the basis of this argument. The Orthodox want to take what they want and toss out the rest.”

            You do realize that by answering in the affirmative I do nothing to harm my original argument because I stated that all bishops are successors of St. Peter. Peter has primacy, and so too do bishops in their respective jurisdictions.

            “St. Chrysostom on the primacy of Peter:
            “Peter, that head of the Apostles, the first in the Church, the friend of Christ, who received the revelation not from man but from the Father….this Peter, and when I say Peter, I mean the unbroken Rock, the unshaken foundation, the great apostle, the first of the disciples, the first called, the first to obey.” (De Eleemos III, 4, vol II, 298[300])”

            Once again… this does nothing to undermine my argument. Nowhere does this quote state that only Rome is the successor of Peter. On the other hand, you failed to offer any real response to examples I provided from saints of the church wherein bishops other than that of Rome are referred to as holding the Chair of Peter.

            “St. Maximus the Confessor (c. 650) 
A celebrated theologian and a native of Constantinople
            The extremities of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the inspired and holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High. (Maximus, Opuscula theologica et polemica, Migne, Patr. Graec. vol. 90)”

            Once again, what is missing here is any notion that Rome alone is Peter’s successor or that its preeminence is based upon this sole inheritance. In fact, there is nothing at all in St. Maximus’ quote that shakes my Orthodox faith because I am aware of the context in which it was stated. Rome is being praised for its orthodoxy and preservation of the faith, not because it holds some infallible charism that can never be taken away.

            I sincerely want to have a conversation here, but your tone suggests you aren’t interested in a respective dialogue.

          4. Cameron Davis says:
            February 14, 2016 at 12:38 am

            This isn’t a response, but rather an attempt to dodge engaging with the actual claim.

            On the contrary, you are insinuating that we don’t understand the context. Therefore, the question is valid. What makes you the expert on the context?

            There is the claim, now substantiate it with evidence.

            I substantiated it with St. Cyprian’s testimony, below.

            You do realize that by answering in the affirmative I do nothing to harm my original argument because I stated that all bishops are successors of St. Peter. Peter has primacy, and so too do bishops in their respective jurisdictions.

            Only if you also ignore St. Maximus’ teaching.

            Once again… this does nothing to undermine my argument.

            It demolishes your argument. St. Peter established his See, in Rome.

            Nowhere does this quote state that only Rome is the successor of Peter.

            Its not as though St. Cyprian was arguing against you. He is teaching the Doctrine of the Catholic Church which you simply deny because it isn’t convenient for you.

            On the other hand, you failed to offer any real response to examples I provided from saints of the church wherein bishops other than that of Rome are referred to as holding the Chair of Peter.

            I don’t need to. St. Cyprian taught the Doctrine which still holds in the Catholic Church and they did not deny it.

            “St. Maximus the Confessor (c. 650) 
A celebrated theologian and a native of Constantinople
            The extremities of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the inspired and holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High. (Maximus, Opuscula theologica et polemica, Migne, Patr. Graec. vol. 90)”

            Once again, what is missing here is any notion that Rome alone is Peter’s successor or that its preeminence is based upon this sole inheritance.

            There is nothing missing. Everyone knows that the Rome is the See of Peter. You’re just grasping at straws.

            In fact, there is nothing at all in St. Maximus’ quote that shakes my Orthodox faith because I am aware of the context in which it was stated.

            No. You’re simply twisting the true meaning to justify your bias.

            Rome is being praised for its orthodoxy and preservation of the faith,

            For its infallibility and primacy.

            not because it holds some infallible charism that can never be taken away.

            Precisely for that.

            I sincerely want to have a conversation here, but your tone suggests you aren’t interested in a respective dialogue.

            My tone is reflective of yours. You insinuate that we don’t understand the context. I beg to differ. I know that we do. What’s disrespectful about that?

          5. RICO: “The entire book 3 of St Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies” ought to be read because there he mentions St. Clement’s “powerful letter” addressing the sedition in Corinth. Look at the map. Are there no bishops in Asia Minor like nearby Ephesus or Smyrna who are capable of telling the Corinthian seditionists to repent? Why did the issue go all the way to faraway Rome?”

            Look at the map: it’s not that far, and on one of the main trade routes.
            http://image.slidesharecdn.com/trade-routes-maps-1231190639789417-1/95/trade-routes-maps-4-728.jpg?cb=1231169311
            it’s claim to fame being on the crossroads going East-West, how it got the riches (and the temptations that came with them) that St. Paul had to warn them about.

            At the time Corinth was a Roman colony, refounded by Julius Caesar less than a century and a half before as such, and within the patriarchate of the West until the 8th century at the earliest. The Church in Asia Minor was busy at the time with the Domitan persecution: St. John the Evangelist in exile and imprisoned on Patmos, St. Timothy soon to be martyred…St. Polycarp not yet consecrated.

            The distance between Rome and Corinth comes around the same distance between Antioch and Ephesus, Smyrna etc. and yet St. Ignatius of Antioch spoken on intimate terms with them. Something the Mediterranean facilitated.

            IOW your argument from silence is drowned out by the roar of the seawaves that carried the ships.

            St. Irenaeus book 3 you mentioned starts out:”It is within the power of ALL, therefore, in EVERY Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the WHOLE world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the ChurchES [plural], and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times”

            I’d like to know what quote you are referring to here (and is it Clement of Alexandria, or Rome):”But St. Clement of Alexandria does. He describes the Church as one army that follows the King and his generals. An army can only be ruled by one command structure.”

            As for this:”In a sad bit of irony, St Jerome describes how the Sun (of Righteousness) rises in the West, while in the East, the dark Star of Lucifer asserts itself fomenting schism everywhere. There are several bishops near him, but he singles out Pope Damasus in Rome as the one with whom he must subject himself. Do we now reject St. Jerome because you are not happy with the translation?”

            It is sad irony that in fact in the East literally Lucifer of Syracuse came from the Wests and formented schism by “consecrating” Paulinus, whose episcopal lineage died out, that not even the patriarchates-all four of them-that the Vatican claims to have in Antioch will claim him, instead claiming St. Meletius and St. Flavian, both of whom St. Damasus opposed; but not before he ordained St. Jerome. That he received ordination from a schismatic is not the only reason why we should reject St. Jerome.
            St. Jerome never made it to the office he coveted, to succeed St. Damasus. Thus not even PA binds you to his opinion.

            “In fact, if the Apostle John was still alive in Ephesus, why not he instead of the Bishop of Rome? Isn’t an apostle greater than a bishop?”

            He was, as indicated above, in Patmos in prison (see Rev.). A free bishop is more useful than an imprisoned Apostle, but that is besides the point. St. Peter in Acts 1 says that another should take Judas’ epsicopate to be enrolled with the Apostles, and the two have formed a seamless whole, one which each one holds the whole for all, as St. Cyprian pointed out.

            “And what of St. Augustine who finds a reason to reject Donatism by pointing a straight line of succession in the Roman Bishops that lead back to St. Peter? Do we now reject him on the grounds of a translation you don’t like?”
            Are you thinking of St. Optimus, who does cite a straight line of succession of Roman bishops that lead back to St. Peter, but unfortunately did not agree with the list in Rome itself, either then nor now?

            “If the Early Church Fathers believed that subjection to the Church in Rome is optional, or unnecessary, I think that belief should be explicitly said or cited.”
            Not if they ever dreamed of it, which is the case.

            That said, it’s all besides the point here, as all the Ecumenical Councils were held far from Rome, depended on the Tradition as passed on from ALL the Apostles down through ALL the bishops in ALL the Churches, gathered around a throne upon which sat the Gospels to represent the King of that episcopal army, rejecting for instance subjugation to St. Damasus and assembling over Pope Vigilius express objection, and nowhere used the episcopal line of Old Rome as a basis for its decision.

            Let’s get back to the OP.

          6. Isa,

            I doubt that you had actually looked at your map. Rome is much farther up north from Corinth than Ephesus. In fact, Ephesus would be much faster to reach by boat only. The shortest route to Rome would require a land trip which would slow things down, and it’s still longer by miles than Ephesus. I’m not even sure why you want to drag Antioch into the discussion.

            If the churches in Asia Minor were busy during Domitian’s persecution, why only them? Why not include the churches in Rome too? They’re easiest to target because they’re nearer to Domitian. I guess you want persecutions only where you want them to be because they make your speculations believable. Nonsense! There’s no compelling reason to believe that a nearer bishop in Asia Minor could not address Corinth because of persecution, thus a “free Bishop” far in Rome had to intervene.

            If John the Apostle was banished in Patmos, there’s always means to smuggle out letters. That’s not a problem. That applies to every Christian bishop in prison.

            Why not deal with the inconvenient fact? Here, let me repeat it….

            St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies, book 3 chap 3):

            “In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles…” (v.3)

            And why did the Bishop of Rome address the sedition in Corinth? Why not the nearer leaders of Ephesus or Smyrna?

            “Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.” (v.2)

            St. Clement the Bishop of Rome commanded the seditionists to repent and yield to authority because all churches must agree with the Church in Rome. It was the faraway Church of Rome that had preeminence, not the nearer churches in Asia Minor. That’s the brutal fact.

            That is why Cameron is not happy with the translation.

            Add to that “First Clement” chap. 37 and you see why St. Clement is talking of an army under ONE COMMON RULE. All churches must agree with the Church in Rome. St. Irenaeus and St. Clement agree with each other. They don’t agree with you.

            Therefore, in the light of the known facts, all your silly speculations about Christian bishops too busy to write a letter because they were being persecuted are full of holes. Better throw them to the sea.

          7. RICO “Why not deal with the inconvenient fact?”
            You mean your irrelevant speculation.

            You’ll have to deal eventually with the inconvenient facts that not only did I look at the map (and, since I linked one, anyone can), but have been to Rome, Corinth, Ephesus and Smyrna.

            “The shortest route to Rome would require a land trip which would slow things down, and it’s still longer by miles than Ephesus. ”
            Longer, but not even extreme. One could go from Corinth to Rome via its port Actium, but the land trip would go (we have Philo’s description of his trip this route) down the Appian Way THE main road of the Empire leading to Rome, and THE main route between Rome and the East.

            “I’m not even sure why you want to drag Antioch into the discussion.”
            I’m aware that context is never your friend. To add to Antioch, Caesarea in Cappodocia lay far, FAR further from Carthage than Rome from Corinth, and yet St. Cyprian wrote St. Firmillian there for aid against Old Rome. Are we to conclude from that Cappodocia had universal jurisdiction, or just over Africa, a continent away?

            “If the churches in Asia Minor were busy during Domitian’s persecution, why only them? Why not include the churches in Rome too? They’re easiest to target because they’re nearer to Domitian. I guess you want persecutions only where you want them to be because they make your speculations believable.”
            Unlike you, I don’t indulge in speculation.
            The sources detail the persecution in Asia (see the Apocalypse of St. John). Unlike you, I can’t make things up.

            The Emperors had to take it easy on imposing the Imperial Cult worshipping them in Rome. The same reason why they could not use the title “king” there. Not so in the East, and Asia was the center, not Rome, of the deification of Emperor, which plays so large a role in Revelation, and a role in the persecution.

            “There’s no compelling reason to believe that a nearer bishop in Asia Minor could not address Corinth because of persecution, thus a “free Bishop” far in Rome had to intervene.”

            Again, you are the one speculating. Not I.

            I notice that you did not address the status of Corinth of the time as the colony of Rome, nor that it was not translated from the jurisdiction of Old Rome to New Rome until almost a millenium after St. Clement. Duly noted.

            “If John the Apostle was banished in Patmos, there’s always means to smuggle out letters. That’s not a problem. That applies to every Christian bishop in prison.”
            Again, your speculation. Patmos was the Devil’s Island or Alcatraz of Asia. Not like being in prison a major city like Ephesus, from which St. John was exiled for imprisonment.

            As to St. Irenaeus, why not deal with the inconvenient fact? Here, let me repeat it….Your own selection (Against Heresies, book 3 chap 3) starts [emphasis added]:”It is within the power of ALL, therefore, in EVERY Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the WHOLE world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the ChurchES [plural], and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times””

            “why did the Bishop of Rome address the sedition in Corinth? Why not the nearer leaders of Ephesus or Smyrna?”
            St. John, the Apostle at Ephesus, is the only question, although answered. Smyrna’s bishop, St. Polycarp, was under 30 if he had even yet been consecrated.

            But more to the point, St. Clement himself addressed the sedition in Corinth because some Corinthians asked him:”we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which YOU consulted us; and especially to that shameful and detestable sedition.”

            So the question is why they consulted St. Clement, as he did not interject himself. Your response, not surprisingly, doesn’t answer it-““Since, however, it would be very tedious….the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.”

            “Exist everywhere.” Not just in Rome. Just as he begins this Chapter with the introduction, quoted above, that you keep jumping over.

            And you-or your quote mine-never reached the end of the same Chapter, for, although he stated “it would be very tedious,” St. Irenaeus does go on to “to reckon up the successions of [other] Churches”: “But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time…There is also a very powerful Epistle of Polycarp written to the Philippians, from which those who choose to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his faith, and the preaching of the truth. Then, again, the Church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the times of Trajan, is a true witness of the Tradition of the Apostles.”

            [St. Polycarp tells us, btw, why he wrote that very powerful Epistle to the Philippians:”Both you and Ignatius wrote to me, that if any one went [from this] into Syria, he should carry your letter with him; which request I will attend to if I find a fitting opportunity, either personally, or through some other acting for me, that your desire may be fulfilled. The Epistles of Ignatius written by him to us, and all the rest [of his Epistles] which we have by us, we have sent to you, as you requested. They are subjoined to this Epistle, and by them you may be greatly profited; for they treat of faith and patience, and all things that tend to edification in our Lord. Any more certain information you may have obtained respecting both Ignatius himself, and those that were with him, have the goodness to make known to us.

            Antioch, Syria-Phillippi, Macedonia. Further than Rome-Corinth. Should we conclude that Smyrna had universal jurisdiction over Asia and Europe?]

            But back to the tangent on St. Clement. As you may, or may not know, St. Irenaeus’ original Greek of this chapter does not survive, but only a Latin translation. The reconstruction of the underlying Greek posits “archaiotes” (the Latin potentior principalitas), which is connected to the idea of being tied to a source. Hence the confusion between the translation “superior origin” or “superior authority,” just underlining the problem of the faulty Latin translation on which we must try to figure out what St. Iranaeus said. And of course, the problem with the Vatican interpretation is that a) St. Iranaeus explicitely couples the origin with St. Paul, not just St. Peter, b) Rome didn’t have a superior origin to Antioch nor Jerusalem in this. And Iranaeus explicitly speaks of taking recourse to the most ancient Churches. In the West this was Rome, but in the East it was not, and in the Chapter in question, as seen above, St. Irenaeus goes on to mention those other “most ancient Churches.”

            Which clears up the picture, but is besides the point, as you are off point in your answer to your question. For although St. Irenaeus does mention the letter of Clement, and Rome’s archaiotes, he does not make the latter the raison d’etre of the former, as you tried. If anything, he attributes it to the fact that St. Clement “as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles.” Worse, from your perspective, St. Irenaeus states its contents of the “proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the ChurchES [plural], and may also understand the Tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things.” I.e. nothing about the authority of Rome or an alleged “supreme pontiff.”

            Which belies your assertion “St. Clement the Bishop of Rome commanded the seditionists to repent and yield to authority because all churches must agree with the Church in Rome,” as St. Clement said no such thing. In fact, he doesn’t even tell them to yield to his authority or to Rome’s, much less any dogma that “all churches must agree with the Church in Rome.”

            St. Clement makes no appeal to any special chrism due to him as bishop or Rome, nor as successor to St. Peter (something he doesn’t claim either). No mention of St. Matthew 16. No allusion to John 21.

            “It was the faraway Church of Rome that had preeminence, not the nearer churches in Asia Minor. That’s the brutal fact.”
            No, your twisted fantasy.

            St. Clement makes no comparison between Rome and the Churches in Asia Minor, and St. Irenaeus by implication does-as its equal. See him quoted above, and in the same context you quote. That’s the brutal fact. As brutal as the fact that St. Clement makes no use or allusion to your spooftexts for papal supremacy.

            No mention of a papacy or even an allusion to one-despite the fact that the whole letter speaks of Apostolic succession, the episcopate and the obedience to it.

            “Add to that “First Clement” chap. 37 and you see why St. Clement is talking of an army under ONE COMMON RULE.”
            Yes, Christ’s, as chap. 36 says , and the heading of chap. 37 on Newadvent says “Christ is Our Leader, and We His Soldiers.”

            St. Clement makes no claim to being the generalissimo.

            “That is why Cameron is not happy with the translation.”
            Since the Greek original is lost, we have to get along with the Latin translation. No matter how bad it is.

            “St. Irenaeus and St. Clement agree with each other. They don’t agree with you.”
            I agree with St. Irenaeus and St. Clement, whom I’ve read.

            You agree with your quote mine.

            “Therefore, in the light of the known facts, all your silly speculations about Christian bishops too busy to write a letter because they were being persecuted are full of holes. Better throw them to the sea.”
            The holes in St. Irenaus’s and St. Clement’s testimony you-or your quote mine-have made I’ve filled above. Facts are stubborn things, and “your silly speculations” can’t poke a hole in them.

            Throw your digressions to the sea, and get back on the OP.

            But one digression of my own, if I may: Schaeff’s translation, which Newadvent depends on, explains Old Rome’s place in St. Clement and St. Irenaeus’s day, in the note on your boldfaced quote:”Here it is obvious that the faith was kept at Rome, by those who resort there from all quarters. She was a mirror of the Catholic World, owing here orthodoxy to them; not the Sun, dispensing her own light to others, but the glass bringing their rays into a focus.” It was the Suns of Orthodoxy spreading their rays to Rome-to which all roads (especially the Appian Way) lead-that made it into a crucible in which the heresies that gathered in Rome from around the world were burned off as dross. She no longer provided that place when the time of the Ecumenical Councils came, hence why none were held in or near her, but by or in the new capital Constantinople, New Rome instead.

        2. That doesn’t avoid circular reasoning. All you’ve done is make my case. You start with the pope, but then justify the pope using tradition and scriptures, whose interpretation is then justified by the pope. That’s circular reasoning. What don’t you get?

          1. Actually, he started with Christ.

            Christ established what we call a “spiral” system with three sources of authority.

            Magisterium, Tradition and Scripture.

          2. Yes, Maria. But who says that Christ appointed the pope? The pope himself, who claims authority over interpretations of scriptures and traditions. Okay, so now we are back in the circle, which we never actually left. Unless Jesus literally comes down to us and says: “Yo dawgs, I just wanted to clear somethin’ up. The pope is my homeboy and is the dudebro in charge. Ya know what I’m sayin’?” then the circular reasoning remains.

          3. Rohzek says:
            February 12, 2016 at 7:51 pm
            Yes, Maria. But who says that Christ appointed the pope?

            Christ.

            The pope himself, who claims authority over interpretations of scriptures and traditions.

            Yeah. And those things are easy to verify.

            Okay, so now we are back in the circle, which we never actually left.

            You’re calling our argument circular. But our argument is based on authority. The authority of Christ.

            However, it is true, that basically, all arguments based upon authority, are circular. But circular reasoning is not wrong by default. In order to prove an argument false, you need to do so on the merits.

            Unless Jesus literally comes down to us and says: “Yo dawgs, I just wanted to clear somethin’ up. The pope is my homeboy and is the dudebro in charge. Ya know what I’m sayin’?” then the circular reasoning remains.

            I’ll rely upon the Wisdom of Jesus Christ, always.

            Do you rely upon the Teachings of Jesus Christ? yes or no?

            If you do, then your arguments are also circular. If you don’t, then upon whom are you relying? Did you invent Christianity?

            Christ.

            And with you.

          4. Rozhek,

            Is God the Author of Confusion? If not, then…

            How are the different churches supposed to be ruled? With one common rule or with many conflicting rules?

            Take a look at the entire Protestant movement, does that look like a house of order? How do you know there isn’t a Donatist bishop among them?

            Let’s take your positivist logic on the Spirit: How do you exactly tell that Mormons are wrong when they testify to you they know their Book of Mormon is true through the Spirit? Show me a method that uses your logic and tell me why it does not refute itself.

            The Early Church Fathers are the men who directly inherited the Apostolic teachings. They do not see Christ through the thick lens of 500-years of schismatic Protestantism. You do.

            If you want to answer the questions on how churces must be ruled, do not use yourself as authority. Show it through the ECFs. Otherwise, repeating your assertions just begs the question.

          5. De Maria says:
            February 13, 2016 at 1:09 am
            Rohzek says:
            February 12, 2016 at 7:51 pm

            ….Unless Jesus literally comes down to us and says: “Yo dawgs, I just wanted to clear somethin’ up. The pope is my homeboy and is the dudebro in charge. Ya know what I’m sayin’?”….

            Actually, Jesus did precisely, that. And it’s recorded in Scripture. Matt 16:18-19.

            The fact that you don’t believe it, is not our problem. Is it?

            I’ll rely upon the Wisdom of Jesus Christ, always.

            Do you rely upon the Teachings of Jesus Christ? yes or no?

            If you do, then your arguments are also circular. If you don’t, then upon whom are you relying? Did you invent Christianity?

            Christ.

            And with you.

      2. Rohzek says:
        February 12, 2016 at 7:01 am
        Actually, no council itself, if I recall, ever declared itself to be infallible. …

        Doesn’t that put them in an even worse position, logically? If they claim to derive their doctrines from councils, but the councils don’t declare themselves infallible, then they are stuck in the proverbial creek without a paddle, aren’t they?

    2. “The Catholic position is not circular. The Orthodox, is.”
      The Vatican’s position is circular, as you have to a) figure out who the right pope is (And the revisions of the lists doesn’t help) b) figure out if what councils he confirm (the lack of an undisputed record of confirmation on the first Two throws the rest in doubt) c) figure out what part of the council he confirmed (as the Vatican’s apologists on several claim that your infallible pontiff cherry picked from among the Acts).

      If you claim everyone knows who the “pope” is, history will call you a liar.
      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mg57_k8UNuo/UGpiiyH5YLI/AAAAAAAACBQ/o-l8NKfspFQ/s640/111ab003e40b4e576f736692d6e28c63.png

      The Vatican “requires the authority of the Bishop of Rome to confirm this infallibility. That is why, it is called, “in union with the Pope and the Bishops,” which runs in circularity, as only bishops “in union with the pope” get to hold a council. In fact, the Vatican mandates that “It is for the Roman Pontiff alone to convoke an ecumenical council, preside offer it personally or through others, transfer, suspend, or dissolve a council, and to approve its decrees. It is for the Roman Pontiff to determine the matters to be treated in a council and establish the order to be observed in a council. To the questions proposed by the Roman Pontiff, the council fathers can add others which are to be approved by the Roman Pontiff. All the bishops and only the bishops who are members of the college of bishops”
      i.e. those “in union with the pope”
      “have the right and duty to take part in an ecumenical council with a deliberative vote.” If the Apostolic See [i.e. the Vatican] becomes vacant during the celebration of a council, the council is interrupted by the law itself until the new Supreme Pontiff orders it to be continued or dissolves it. The decrees of an ecumenical council do not have obligatory force unless they have been approved by the Roman Pontiff together with the council fathers, confirmed by him, and promulgated at his order.”

      In fine, such “ecumenical” councils are councils of the “supreme pontiff,” by the “supreme pontiff,” for the “supreme pontiff.”

      It doesn’t get more circular than that: “the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff…insofar as it is assembled under one head, it expresses the unity of the flock of Christ. In it, the bishops, faithfully recognizing the primacy and pre-eminence of their head, exercise their own authority…The supreme power in the universal Church, which this college enjoys, is exercised in a solemn way in an ecumenical council. A council is never ecumenical unless it is confirmed or at least accepted as such by the successor of Peter; and it is prerogative of the Roman Pontiff to convoke these councils, to preside over them and to confirm them…[b]It is clear throughout that it is a question of the bishops acting in conjunction with their head, never of the bishops acting independently of the Pope.[/b] In the latter instance, without the action of the head, the bishops are not able to act as a College: this is clear from the concept of “College.” This hierarchical communion of all the bishops with the Supreme Pontiff is certainly firmly established in Tradition.” VII LG

      None of the Seven Ecumenical Councils meet those “criteria.”

      1. Isa Almisry says:
        February 14, 2016 at 7:07 am
        “The Catholic position is not circular. The Orthodox, is.”
        The Vatican’s position is circular,

        No, it’s not.

        as you have to a) figure out who the right pope is

        Non sequitur. You’re confusing the state of the system with the type of system. Our system is not circular, as proven.

        (And the revisions of the lists doesn’t help)…. b) figure out if what councils he confirm (the lack of an undisputed record of confirmation on the first Two throws the rest in doubt)

        Wrong Isa. You’re changing the subject. A glitch in the system, does not prove the system is bad. For example, the existence of heresy in Church, does not prove that the Church has failed. The existence of heresy drove the Church to muster together to oust the error. The same with any confusion over which is the true Pope. The Church also overcame that problem.

        So, you’ve wasted many words supporting your false premise.

        1. Isa Almisry says:
          February 14, 2016 at 7:07 am
          “The Catholic position is not circular. The Orthodox, is.”
          The Vatican’s position is circular,

          De Maria: No, it’s not.

          Are you speaking ex cathedra?

          “Isa: as you have to a) figure out who the right pope is

          Non sequitur. You’re confusing the state of the system with the type of system. Our system is not circular, as proven.”
          LOL.
          In the “type of system” where “Ecumenical” councils are of the pope, by the pope for the pope, you need the right pope.

          You still haven’t extricated yourself from this state
          http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mg57_k8UNuo/UGpiiyH5YLI/AAAAAAAACBQ/o-l8NKfspFQ/s640/111ab003e40b4e576f736692d6e28c63.png
          http://wps.ablongman.com/wps/media/objects/262/268312/art/figures/KISH219.jpg

          “Isa: (And the revisions of the lists doesn’t help)…. b) figure out if what councils he confirm (the lack of an undisputed record of confirmation on the first Two throws the rest in doubt)
          Wrong Isa. You’re changing the subject. A glitch in the system, does not prove the system is bad. For example, the existence of heresy in Church, does not prove that the Church has failed. The existence of heresy drove the Church to muster together to oust the error. The same with any confusion over which is the true Pope. The Church also overcame that problem.”

          The Church doesn’t have that problem.

          But the Vatican…”the church has the true supreme pontiff because the supreme pontiff that it chose says it is the true church.”
          LOL.
          OK….

          “So, you’ve wasted many words supporting your false premise.”
          It’s the Vatican’s words I’ve quoted in its support of its false premise.

    3. De Maria “In other words, let’s say that a Council declares itself infallible. In the Catholic Church it requires the authority of the Bishop of Rome to confirm this infallibility. That is why, it is called, “in union with the Pope and the Bishops”.

      Whereas, in the Orthodox, there is no such confirmation.

      The Catholic position is not circular. The Orthodox, is.”

      The Orthodox have the Catholic position, as it is the one that fulfills the Vincentian canon. The criteria that the Ecumenical Councils fit.

      As I’ve quoted the Vatican, your bishop of Rome has to call what you call an ecumenical council, which can only be made up of bishops in union with your bishop of Rome, who has the sole authority to preside over it, set its agenda, determine its content and approve its conclusions. If your bishop of Rome dies during it, the council is suspended by operation of law and must be reconvened by his successor as bishop or Rome etc.

      So a council called by your bishop of Rome of bishops in union with him to follow his agenda and declares itself infallible.

      And said bishop of Rome confirming it as infallible is not circular.

      OK.

      Of the pope, by the pope, and for the pope. The epitome of circularity.

      Worse yet, none of the Ecumenical Councils fit those criteria the Vatican has set up.

  17. Back to the OP:”The reality: Without papal infallibility, there’s no way to know for sure which Ecumenical Councils are Ecumenical Councils, or why.”

    The facts of history really say otherwise.

    On Nicea I, for instance:”At an early date legend brings him into close relationship wtih the first Christian emperor, but in a way that is contrary to historical fact. These legends were introduced especially into the “Vita beati Sylvestri” (Duchesne, loc. cit., Introd., cix sq.) which appeared in the East and has been preserved in Greek, Syriac, and Latin in the “Constitutum Sylvestri”—an apocryphal account of an alleged Roman council which belongs to the Symmachian forgeries and appeared between 501 and 508, and also in the “Donatio Constantini”. The accounts given in all these writings concerning the persecution of Sylvester, the healing and baptism of Constantine, the emperor’s gift to the pope, the rights granted to the latter, and the council of 275 bishops at Rome, are entirely legendary. The pope, however, took part in the negotiations concerning Arianism and the Council of Nicæa, and the expression ‘omooúsion was probably agreed upon with him before the council. The pontiff also sent legates to the first æcumenical council. Still it is not certain whether Constantine had arranged beforehand with Sylvester concerning the actual convening of the council, nor whether there was an express papal confirmation of the decrees beyond the signatures of the papal legates.”
    Nihil Obstat. July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14370a.htm

    Pope St. Athanasius the Great doesn’t mention any such confirmation, although he defended the Council as beyond question contra mundi. The archbishops of Rome subscribed to it in the decades following-even with the question of Liberius’ faltering-but at the same time that didn’t stop the convening of councils to replace it and the rewriting of creeds. You can see them here:
    http://www.fourthcentury.com/index.php/conciliar-creeds-of-the-fourth-century/
    Pope St. Athanasius points out in his “On the Decree of Nicea” points out that the Arians he was fighting had subscribed to Nicea, and “On Councils” points out that the Arians “seem ignorant, or to pretend ignorance, that even before Nicea that heresy was held in detestation,” while the Fathers of Nicea “about the Faith they wrote…’Thus believes the Catholic Church;’ and thereupon they confessed how they believed, in order to show that their own sentiments were not novel, but Apostolical; and what they wrote down was no discovery of theirs, but is the same as was taught by the Apostles.” And in his synodal letter with the bishops of the Patriarchate of Alexandria c. 370 to the bishops of Africa (then in the Patriarchate of the West, under Old Rome), he remarks on Nicea that “To that council, accordingly, the whole world has long ago agreed, and now, many synods having been held, all men have been put in mind, both in Dalmatia and Dardania, Macedonia, Epirus and Greece, Crete, and the other islands, Sicily, Cyprus, Pamphylia, Lycia, and Isauria, all Egypt and the Libyas, and most of the Arabians have come to know it, and marvelled at those who signed it, inasmuch as even if there were left among them any bitterness springing up from the root of the Arians; we mean Auxentius, Ursacius, Valens and their fellows, by these letters they have been cut off and isolated…It is full of piety, beloved; and has filled the whole world with it. Indians have acknowledged it, and all Christians of other barbarous nations,” referring to the process of reception of the Council of Nicea as Ecumenical by actions of the synods across the Ecumene (the last, perhaps, being the Council of Seleucia in 410)[the letter is also interesting in that it tells that Alexandria told Rome to expel Auxentius, the heresiarch of the Arians, from his see in Milan]. No mentions of any bishop of Rome settling the matter.

    The dust of the matter did not settle until the Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople I, without the bishop of Old Rome-indeed, being led by St. Meletius, whom Old Rome opposed to the point of sponsoring a usurper Paulinus (who ordained St. Jerome) to replace him, and refusing to recognize St. Flavian, consecrated by the Council as St. Meletius’ true successor-set their seal on the Nicean definition in the form it is henceforth confessed, with the mandate that “The Faith of the Three Hundred and Eighteen Fathers assembled at Nicea in Bithynia shall not be set aside, but shall remain firm,” making sure the Council’s Ecumenical status. All without “papal infallibility.”

    One example suffices to disprove the principle of the OP, but to dispel any doubt about “an exception makes the rule” skimming over the rest:

    The claim is made that Constantinople I did not become Ecumenical until Chalcedon. As I’ve already shown, the legate of Old Rome to Chalcedon belied that. Not to mention that its acts and definitions are followed 381-451 in several instances recorded in the Church’s history of that time (e.g. the Council of Constantinople of 394, Theodore of Mospuestia’s (d. 428) “Exposition of the faith of the three hundred and eighteen (Fathers of the Ecumenical Council of Nicea I)” which actually expounds on the wording of Constantinople I, the Patriarchate of St. Flavian, etc.)

    Ephesus’ status was recognized by Antioch in the signing of Pope St. Cyril of Alexandria’s Letter to the Easterners by John of Antioch. The lack of involvement of Old Rome in this process of receiving the Ecumenical status of the Council of Ephesus should be noted. At Chalcedon, everyone claimed to follow Pope St. Cyril and Ephesus I, not II (although II claimed I as well).

    Pope St. Leo’s whining to the Empress complaining that his own suffragans followed canon 28 of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon despite his claim to not only confirm it but annul it favors the Orthodox interpretation of reception, not the Vatican’s.

    There is an embarrassment of riches for the Orthodox in the Fifth Ecumenical Council, held over the express objection of the bishop of Rome, whom it struck from the diptychs and restored only after he submitted to its Decrees.

    Dr. Robison has already brought up the problem of why the Lateran Council, convened by Pope St. Theodore I and presided over by Pope St. Martin I as an Ecumenical Council, and referred to as such by St. Maximus the Confessor as the “Sixth Ecumenical Council”….and yet it is not regarded as such. To that I add Pope St. Agathos reposed shortly after the Sixth Ecumenical Council was convened, and his successor, although elected shortly after, was not consecrated until almost a year after the Council had closed and its decrees and Definition promulgated. Pope St. Leo received, not confirmed them. Of the letters he sent to his Patriarchate of the West to the bishops to accept the acts of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, the letter to the King of the Visigoths and the Metropolitan of Toledo to call a general council (which was done in Toledo in 684) to confirm the decisions in Spain survives.

    Dr. Robinson has already mentioned the discussion at the Seventh Ecumenical Councils as to its confirmation-and the Fathers make no mention of “papal infallibilty.” To that IIRC Dvornik had a lot to say, and Pope Hadrian had a lot to say when the local council of Frankurt failed not only to receive the Seventh Ecumenical Council, but rejected it, even though his representative attended.

    Sorry to rush, but duty calls. Lord willing I’ll return to this but in the meantime, I’d like to quote Khomiakov himself as his ideas (which I more or less share) are the main under attack:”The unity of the Church follows of necessity from the unity of God: for the Church is not a multitude of persons in their separate individuality, but a unity of the grace of God, living in a multitude of rational creatures, submitting themselves willingly to grace.”

    Hardly “suggest[ing] the kind of democratic ecclesiology more at home in Protestantism than in Orthodox[] Catholicism.”

  18. Joe asked: “How do you determine which Council is ecumenical?”
    Jesus the Egyptian answered: “By the acceptance of the Church”.

    I said: “1) An ecumenical council is determined by reception/acceptance of the Church.
    2) Chalcedon wasn’t accepted by the Copts, Syriacs etc.
    3) Therefore, Chalcedon wasn’t ecumenical, according to your reasoning.”

    Jesus the Egyptian answered:

    KO “Anyway, acceptance of the Church isn’t a mark of an ecumenical council then, unless you mean that the Church means only the Church that accepted it…

    That would be a given, and an obvious one at that.

    That begs the question. If you’re right, you can’t call heretic/schismatic churches, churches (Nestorians, Monophysites, Arians, Protestants…). They are just “a bunch of heretics” for you. What you’re arguing is that, before the council, there were folks who were part of the church because they would in the future accept this council, and there were folks who were preemptively not part of the church because in the future they would reject that council. You say: “No, the part of the church who rejected it was not part of the church at all!” But that defies logic. They were part of the church at the time of the council. They rejected the council as a part of the church; they separated from the Church because of that. So the Coptic Church was not part of the Church when they rejected Chalcedon? That’s absurd.

    Let us see:

    1) A Church is only a Church if it has accepted an ecumenical council.
    2) An ecumenical Council is ecumenical because it was accepted by the Church.
    3) A Church accepted the council because it will only be a Church if it accepts the council.
    3.1 A Church accepted the council because it is a church (redundant).
    3.2 A Church accepted the council because the council is ecumenical (circular: remember you said “a council is ecumenical because it was accepted by the Church”).

    Much of the Church was happy enough to accept heretic councils. Hieria was attended by 333 bishops. So what? Second Ephesus by 130 — backed up by a huge population of Christians who follow(ed) Monophysitism.

    If 1) is wrong, all the others are. I have no reason (sociological, historical) to believe that 1) is right. That would even be uncharitable, I think.

    1. Jesus the Egyptian answered:
      KO “Anyway, acceptance of the Church isn’t a mark of an ecumenical council then, unless you mean that the Church means only the Church that accepted it…
      That would be a given, and an obvious one at that.
      “That begs the question.”

      Not at all. It states an obvious fact.

      “If you’re right, you can’t call heretic/schismatic churches, churches (Nestorians, Monophysites, Arians, Protestants…). They are just “a bunch of heretics” for you. ”

      And?

      “What you’re arguing is that, before the council, there were folks who were part of the church because they would in the future accept this council, and there were folks who were preemptively not part of the church because in the future they would reject that council. You say: “No, the part of the church who rejected it was not part of the church at all!” But that defies logic.”
      No, it states an obvious fact.

      If some of an armada want to stay the course, and another wants to chart another and does so-and ends up sinking, that neither obviates that they left port together, nor does it sink the faithful fleet.

      “For there must be also heresies: that they also, who are approved, may be made manifest among you.”
      “And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
      “They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us; but that they may be manifest, that they are not all of us.”

      “They were part of the church at the time of the council. They rejected the council as a part of the church; they separated from the Church because of that.”
      Duh. That’s what an Ecumenical Council is, an amputation. A fork in the road, where one has to choose which road he will take, the straight and narrow, or the wide and broad to perdition.

      See the quoted verses above.

      “So the Coptic Church was not part of the Church when they rejected Chalcedon? That’s absurd.”
      No, history. The non-Chalcedonians (Coptic isn’t accurate, for a variety of reason) had accepted Ephesus II, and left the Church then.

      A particularly bad example, given the chronology, for you to pick.

      Pope St. Alexander and the Holy Synod of Alexandria had already deposed Arius before Nicea, and Pope St. Cyril and the same Holy Synod had already anathematized Nestorius’ views. The Fathers of Constantinople I had already ousted the Semi-Arians, e.g. St. Gregory of Nazianzus vs. Demophilus in Constantinople, before Constantinople I. Patriarch Sophronius and his patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Lateran Council of St. Martin of Rome had already repudiated Monotheletism, long before the Sixth Council. The Seventh Council met long after the iconoclasts confirmed themselves in heresy and left the Church at the headless council of Hiera-so called because no Patriarch would have anything to do with it.

      “Let us see:
      1) A Church is only a Church if it has accepted an ecumenical council.”
      You’re blind.
      The Church had no Ecumenical Council for nearly 3 centuries. It still was not “a” Church, but the One Church.

      “2) An ecumenical Council is ecumenical because it was accepted by the Church.”
      You have to be more specific here, as many Councils are accepted by the Church-for instance, the Synod of Jerusalem in 1672.
      So not all Councils accepted by the Church are Ecumenical, but all Ecumenical Councils are accepted by the Church. Which is axiomatic-who else would approve them, heretics?

      You’re chasing your tails in the rest of 3).

      If heretics had a vote, they would never vote for truth, and no Ecumenical Council would ever be possible.

      No Church Father or bishop is infallible: only Christ is infallible, and the Church’s infallibility flows from her being His Body. But that flows only when she acts as a Body, like in Ecumenical Council. Any individual member cannot act infallibility, so why the claim of the alleged “visible head” to speak infallibly cannot be accepted. So too, no one should expect every word of an individual Father to be infallible. It is only in as much as they reflect the common Faith, between us and them and lived in the Church now, that they constitute the Consensus Patrum. They served as a witness between us and heretics, so when they claim that confessing Christ as consubstantial with us and with God the Father is an innovation, the Fathers of Chalcedon (and we) point to the words of Pope St. Cyril and those before him: they witenss to the Faith as we witness to the Faith. We believe that Christ has two natures not because Pope St. Cyril said so, but we can point out to the Eutychians (who, btw, have died out. The Miaphysites ended up having to anathematize him too) how they contradict him, and so the Faith he testified to.

      So too the Dogmatic Definitions of the Ecumenical Councils. The Faith cannot be added too. No development of doctrine, if it was not in the Apostles’ preaching it cannot be in the Dogma of the Church. When heresy infected the Body of Christ, the Body of Christ, as a Body, mustered its antibodies, the Fathers, and developed an immunity, the Dogmatic Definitions, to the heresy. They did not add to the Faith: as the body already has the antibody proteins but only puts them to work to form a defense against the foreign pathogen, so too the Fathers only erect from pre-existing materials a boundary marker which the Orthodox may not move. The Fathers confessed the same Faith, but in different words to ensure it remained the same Faith. The expression of Faith changes only so that the Faith can remain the same, something litrugists should keep in mind.

      “Much of the Church was happy enough to accept heretic councils. Hieria was attended by 333 bishops. So what?”
      I don’t know-you brought them up and count heretics as “Church.”

      “Second Ephesus by 130 — backed up by a huge population of Christians who follow(ed) Monophysitism.”
      And the Faithful Christians, true to the Scriptures quoted above, overcame them in Chalcedon.

      “If 1) is wrong, all the others are. I have no reason (sociological, historical) to believe that 1) is right. That would even be uncharitable, I think.”
      “Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints….my dearly beloved, be mindful of the words which have been spoken before by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who told you, that in the last time there should come mockers, walking according to their own desires in ungodlinesses. These are they, who separate themselves, sensual men, having not the Spirit. But you, my beloved, building yourselves upon you most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto life everlasting. And some indeed reprove, being judged: But others save, pulling them out of the fire. And on others have mercy, in fear, hating also the spotted garment which is carnal.”

      1. Jesus, so you define what is a church, and you say that heretic churches (Nestorian, Arian, Presbyterian, Coptic) are not churches. Go along with your happy definition of “church”, cite all the scriptures you want when those heretics can cite the same scriptures against you.

        “1) A Church is only a Church if it has accepted an ecumenical council.”
        You’re blind.
        The Church had no Ecumenical Council for nearly 3 centuries. It still was not “a” Church, but the One Church.”

        Whatever. I’m just quoting you. You said that. No you say I’m blind? How curious! What a charitable response from a fellow Christian, and one named Jesus at that! What are “obvious facts” for you are not obvious for those you call “heretics”. Indeed, if I counted the population of “heretics” and the population of “orthodox” at that moment, I doubt that demographics would tilt to your (our) side. You said an ecumenical council is defined by its acceptance. When I point how flawed that position is, you say that those that didn’t accept didn’t belong to the church. When I say they did belong to the church until they rejected the council and went their separate ways you cry foul, saying they didn’t belong to the church before they separated from the church, which is absurd. When I say I have no reason to believe that 1) is right, you say heretic/schismatic churches are not churches at all, and cite a long Bible passage that only you can interpret as bearing upon the subject.

        1. KO “Jesus, so you define what is a church, and you say that heretic churches (Nestorian, Arian, Presbyterian, Coptic) are not churches. Go along with your happy definition of “church”, cite all the scriptures you want when those heretics can cite the same scriptures against you.”

          Fine by me.

          Satan quoted lots of the same Scriptures to the Lord in the wilderness, and this servant ( العبد لله) is not greater than His Master.

          He said “if they have kept My Word, they will keep yours also.” I have full Faith in Him on that.

          “Whatever. I’m just quoting you. You said that.”
          No, I did not. Next time quote. You can cut and paste without scrambling in between.

          “No you say I’m blind? How curious! What a charitable response from a fellow Christian, and one named Jesus at that! What are “obvious facts” for you are not obvious for those you call “heretics”.”
          You said “Let us see” while demonstrating your were not seeing what was there.

          ” Indeed, if I counted the population of “heretics” and the population of “orthodox” at that moment, I doubt that demographics would tilt to your (our) side.”
          Our Lord told us “Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom” and “Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it! Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that saith to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of My Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to Me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in Thy Name, and cast out devils in Thy Name, and done many miracles in Thy Name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity.”

          So I fear not, stay on the path marked by the landmarks my Fathers set up in the 7 Ecumenical Councils, and stay on a strict diet of their good fruit. The hoards of error do not worry me.

          “You said an ecumenical council is defined by its acceptance. When I point how flawed that position is, you say that those that didn’t accept didn’t belong to the church. ”

          No, they don’t belong to the Church. By their choice. Your flawed points do not change their position.

          “When I say they did belong to the church until they rejected the council and went their separate ways you cry foul”

          I did no such thing. You happened to use the worse example for your flawed point, and I just pointed that out to you.

          “saying they didn’t belong to the church before they separated from the church, which is absurd.”
          Not my problem that you put yourself in the absurb position of upholding Ephesus II as Ecumenical, a position the Miaphysites don’t hold up.

          “When I say I have no reason to believe that 1) is right, you say heretic/schismatic churches are not churches at all, and cite a long Bible passage that only you can interpret as bearing upon the subject.”
          Can you name it?

          1. Who said I upheld Ephesus II as ecumenical? I wasn’t even talking about Ephesus II. And your defense of Miaphysites has surpassed the understandable. If they rejected Chalcedon, by your principles, they rejected an ecumenical council and they don’t count as a “church”, just a “bunch of heretics”. You say my example is bad because… they refused Ephesus II and also Chalcedon?

            Can you name it?
            Are you joking? Here it is:
            “If 1) is wrong, all the others are. I have no reason (sociological, historical) to believe that 1) is right. That would even be uncharitable, I think.”

            “Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints….my dearly beloved, be mindful of the words which have been spoken before by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who told you, that in the last time there should come mockers, walking according to their own desires in ungodlinesses. These are they, who separate themselves, sensual men, having not the Spirit. But you, my beloved, building yourselves upon you most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto life everlasting. And some indeed reprove, being judged: But others save, pulling them out of the fire. And on others have mercy, in fear, hating also the spotted garment which is carnal.”

            ME: 1) A Church is only a Church if it has accepted an ecumenical council.”
            YOU: You’re blind.The Church had no Ecumenical Council for nearly 3 centuries. It still was not “a” Church, but the One Church.

            I didn’t say a church is defined by holding ecumenical councils; I said that you said that, to be defined as such, the Church must recognize those councils. Those councils define the church, the church defines those councils, and on and on. Now you call me names? “Blind”?

  19. There are some smart and well-read people on this site and I may be out of my league but here goes. I have not read all 113 comments (as of this writing) but I would like to focus in on the conversation begun between Cameron Davis and Joe Heschmeyer.

    Cameron appealed to EO scholars who surely have answered these questions. Joe showed that he did, in fact, appeal to EO scholars like Kallistos Ware. Cameron then basically said Ware is not as scholarly as other scholars.

    Cameron’s appeal to the “best scholarship and arguments” is exactly the sort of thing that led me into the Roman Catholic Church. This tactic seems to be the “ace high kicker” for many people when faced with difficult questions. During my conversion I would talk with non-Catholics about Catholicism. Often when I presented a scholar that I’ve read they would often reply that he is not a “real scholar” or a “pop scholar” or some other flippant disregard. It felt like an adult version of a playground argument; “My scholar can beat up your scholar.” A fine riposte, indeed.

    In addition, I also realized even their own need to appeal to an authority higher than themselves. They consider Catholics intellectually lazy for accepting papal and magisterial authority, but then they must appeal to their “scholars.” Are the scholars infallible? How do we know which scholar has the “best scholarship” and which doesn’t? This is all still an appeal to something other than Scripture alone and to a higher authority than ourselves.

    And of course I consider the “religion of the plain man” as Robert Hugh Benson titled his book. “This man in the street, like myself, is entirely unable to discourse profoundly upon the Fathers, or to decide where scholars disagree in matters of simple scholarship.” When the plain man is asked whether he has considered the opinion of such-and-such a scholar who “has studied these questions far more deeply than you ever could or can study” the plain man is frustrated: “‘I am a simple man,’ he cries, ‘whom Christ came to save. It is utterly and ridiculously impossible that salvation can depend upon profound scholarship. Some of those difficulties you mention I have considered; others I am going to consider; others I am not going to be such a fool as to consider at all, for, as you say, I am incompetent to do so.’”

    Laymen such as myself, as well as the illiterate, do not have the time nor ability to research the depths of all these questions. I am not capable by myself of defining the Trinity (or whether one even exists) or determining the proper canon, etc, etc, etc. I need a proper authority to help me along. If that authority is not infallible, then what’s the point of following it at all costs? Appealing to the “best scholarship” does not solve the problem of authority but rather highlights the problem all the more.

    At least that is my unscholarly opinion.

    1. Daniel,

      “Cameron then basically said Ware is not as scholarly as other scholars.”

      Actually, what I said was that there are Orthodox scholars that were more knowledgeable in the area of church ecclesiology. Your critique is a caricature of the statement I actually made. Do you not agree that we should look to the experts in a field when considering arguments?

      I admit that just because one is an expert in a field does not necessarily mean they offer the best explanations and arguments regarding the subject matter in said field, but it seems silly to criticize someone for suggesting that a person start with and rely upon those who have actually dedicated their academic careers to studying the subject in question. If someone wanted to study modern Thomism, would it not be best to send them to the works scholars of modern Thomism?

      I humbly request that you avoid falsely representing the arguments of others in the future. It benefits neither party in a conversation.

      1. “Actually, what I said was that there are Orthodox scholars that were more knowledgeable in the area of church ecclesiology.”
        That begs the questions why they are more knowledgeable and why you consider them to be so, and what they bring to the question at hand. You tell people to read X, but you don’t tell what X says! You are not a teacher and we’re not your pupils; it’s not like you are a thesis advisor or something. Please tell us what these great scholars have to say; otherwise, I’ll just take for granted that you’re either lazy or presumptuous, or both.
        And your affirmation is no different from Daniel’s interpretation thereof. Daniel’s criticism was not about you citing authorities; it was about you implying that we should know what these authorities think without you even bothering to tell us that.

        I humbly request that you avoid falsely representing the arguments of others in the future.

        No, that is not a false representation:

        Daniel: ““Cameron then basically said Ware is not as scholarly as other scholars.”
        You (Cameron): “what I said was that there are Orthodox scholars that were more knowledgeable in the area of church ecclesiology.”

        How doesn’t that amount to the same thing? Please have some common sense and don’t be so pedantic. That was exactly Daniel’s point: he (or most of us) couldn’t care less whether there are some “more knowledgeable” Orthodox scholars out there we never heard about and probably just by citing them (you didn’t even quote them!!!) will make a hitherto unheard-of name no more than a empty name. What do these great scholars say? Please enlighten us? Why should we care?

        I make Daniel’s words mine:

        Laymen such as myself, as well as the illiterate, do not have the time nor ability to research the depths of all these questions. I am not capable by myself of defining the Trinity (or whether one even exists) or determining the proper canon, etc, etc, etc. I need a proper authority to help me along. If that authority is not infallible, then what’s the point of following it at all costs? Appealing to the “best scholarship” does not solve the problem of authority but rather highlights the problem all the more.

        At least that is my unscholarly opinion.

        My own unscholarly opinion is that you or Jesus the Egyptian or the Presbyterian/Baptist Craig did not answer this at all, except claiming that “we don’t know”, “it’s just faith”, etc., thus rendering any discussion here futile and hollow.

        1. You are turning my reasonable claims of probability and suggestions into matter-of-fact truth claims, which was never my intent. Furthermore, by criticizing them you are implicitly saying that it isn’t important to consult the experts in a field, which I don’t think is a terribly controversial suggestion. Would you not criticize my argument if I claimed that one thinker outside of the topic of interest was the best resource on the matter, or was representative of the matter ans built my argument upon one brief excerpt from his work? Tell me, what is wrong with recommending that someone rely upon the best scholars and works in a field to formulate their arguments?

          “…it was about you implying that we should know what these authorities think without you even bothering to tell us that.”

          That is an unfair assessment, since what my statements imply is that if someone is going to make an argument against something they should, for the sake of intellectual honesty, familiarize themselves with the best arguments available on the subject. A brief quotation from someone who spends little time on matters of church ecclesiology is hardly fair to one’s interlocutor(s). This is standard debate and scholarship etiquette. If a person isn’t willing to do the heavy lifting, then there is no shame in not speaking in the first place.

          Finally, I am not telling all of you to do anything. My statement was directed at Joe. If a person wants to rely on the Pope as their source of infallibility, then so be it. However, if a person wants to criticize the legitimacy of other faith traditions, they themselves open themselves to methodological criticisms.

          Cheers.

          1. Cameron Davis says:
            February 14, 2016 at 1:16 am

            You are turning my reasonable claims of probability and suggestions into matter-of-fact truth claims, which was never my intent.

            So, you’re contradicting our matter of fact truth claims with your probabilities and suggestions?

            Here’s what you don’t get, Cameron. We believe that God speaks through the Catholic Church. Therefore, your probabilities and suggestions which contradict the Teaching of the Catholic Church… let me rephrase, your doctrines which contradict the Teaching of God through the Catholic Church, are moot points.

            Let me ask you. If you believed that God spoke through your Church, would you haggle about it with anyone else?

          2. There it is, you just rendered all your talk hollow. You never answered what these so-called great scholars have to say. You never told us what your so-called “best arguments are”. I never said it’s wrong to cite authorities, it’s wrong to flaunt a name in the air as if it meant something, and then act as if you’d said something meaningful. I could tell you to do your research on Hans Urs von Balthasar, and so what?

            “A brief quotation from someone who spends little time on matters of church ecclesiology [you, us] is hardly fair to one’s interlocutor(s).” [you, us]
            Go tell that to Craig here. At least you are humble enough, yet Craig believes he can copy-paste James White-style Presbyterian-Baptist anti-catholic propaganda and get away with it.

            But that doesn’t get you anywhere. You are not an authority, neither are we. Are you being fair telling us there is guy somewhere that has all the answers, and you don’t bother to tell us what the answers are?

            Oh, your statement was directed at Joe? OK, send him a personal message, then. But no: you wanted to make it public, and didn’t bother answering his (or our) position, which amount to the same thin: in his words:

            If you think that they have found a solution that I (and Bishop Ware) missed, go ahead and present the theory so that I can respond to it. I appreciate that you were short on time when you wrote this, but a bibliography isn’t an argument.

            (Alternative, tongue-in-cheek answer: Cardinal Ratzinger is a smart guy. Maybe he answered whatever critique Behr and Louth have. Go read all of his works, and then let me know.)

            So we should just stop answering each other, when I have read your gurus and you have read mine, we’ll gladly come back and debate.

          3. Isa Almisry says:
            February 19, 2016 at 6:42 pm

            Here, yet again, you are putting words in both my mouth and more grievously, St. Basil.

            Neh. That would be you.

            St. Basil didn’t say a word, either in praise or in condemnation, about any “infallible Pope of Rome,” a fantasy he never would have dreamed of.

            I quoted the praise. You purported to quote something which you claimed St. Basil said against the Pope. Obviously, you’re now backing up, since you’ve been proven wrong.

            As for twisting, I twisted the same way that a surgeon twists

            But you twisted. Thanks for the admission.

            a severed limb back on, while your treatment resembles those who hacked off limbs in hobbing and, since-as I pointed out-your quote mine mixes letters together, Dr. Frankenstein.

            Neh. I didn’t hack or twist. But you just admitted that you did.

            St. Basil told the truth as it was.

            Yeah. He said, and I quote:

            that the illustrious and blessed bishop [Pope] Dionysius, conspicuous in your see as well for soundness of faith as for all other virtues, visited by letter my Church of Caesarea,

            The inconsistency was on Rome’s part. …. I understand your need to try to prop up “papal infallibility” to hold up the OP’s thesis,

            I don’t need to prop up anything. It’s obvious that all you’re doing is muddying the waters in order to advance your errors.

            Isa Almisry says:
            February 19, 2016 at 7:24 pm
            Btw, another letter of St. Basil’s for you:

            “To his brethren truly God-beloved and very dear, and fellow ministers of like mind, the bishops of Gaul and Italy, Basil, bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia. ….

            I.e. Gratian, who unlike Valens in the East, supported the Catholic Church which confessed the Orthodox Faith and opposed the Arians.

            Notice the address to the espiscopate of the West, not the Patriarch of the West, i.e. the bishop of Old Rome.

            Sooo? Where he says, “Bishops of Italy”, you assume he’s addressing also the Bishop of Rome?

            and again, the part you like, minus the context and the explicit address:
            “If this is difficult, we beseech you to send envoys to visit and comfort us in our affliction, that you may have the evidence of eyewitnesses of those sufferings of the East which cannot be told by word of mouth, because language is inadequate to give a clear report of our condition.”

            There is more, which you can see here
            http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf208.ix.ccxliv.html
            but on your “infallible Pope of Rome,”
            “The plague of heresy is spreading, and there is ground of apprehension lest, when it has devoured our Churches, it may afterwards creep on even so far as to the sound portion of your district.”
            Doesn’t seem St. Basil knew of him.

            St. Basil was neither a Protestant nor a faithless Orthodox, as you have proven to be. He believed God’s promise that the Church would stand forever. If he thought that heresy would overtake the Church, he would have hardly been canonized a Saint.

            Here. Let me explain something to you. If, the Orthodox were so, uh, what’s the word, so independent of the West, why didn’t they resolve their own affairs without asking the West for help?

            If St. Basil didn’t believe the Pope in Rome had any authority, why did he write to Pope Athanasius to inform him that he was going to write to the Pope in Rome for help?

            St. Basil. True Catholic. That’s why we revere him in the West.

        2. “My own unscholarly opinion is that you or Jesus the Egyptian or the Presbyterian/Baptist Craig did not answer this at all, except claiming that “we don’t know”, “it’s just faith”, etc., thus rendering any discussion here futile and hollow.”

          If your faith is “futile and hollow,” don’t preach it to us.

          You have been answered. That you don’t like the answer doesn’t change that.

          Take it up with they-and He-w/Who said:
          “For there must be also heresies: that they also, who are approved, may be made manifest among you.”
          “And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
          “They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us; but that they may be manifest, that they are not all of us.”

          We Orthodox know to put our Faith in those words. And in Him Who said “I know Mine, and Mine know Me.

          1. Isa Almisry says:
            February 15, 2016 at 5:51 am

            We ….know to put our Faith in those words. And in Him Who said “I know Mine, and Mine know Me.

            If you knew that, you’d be Catholic. All you’ve demonstrated here is that you know how to twist the facts to support your fallacies.

          2. Jesus the Egyptian, I didn’t suppose you’d get to that point. In no way was I preaching my faith to anyone, I was just exposing what I understand to the my Catholic faith (someone please correct me if I ever said anything contrary to Catholic doctrine), so that I can also understand “the other side”, so to speak. I am no preacher, no doctor of the church, no priest. And I have no haughty vision of my own faith and failings. I only come to this space so I can improve my faith and my understanding of doctrine. Nowhere did I say or suggest that your faith is futile and hollow. What I said is that this dialogue has become so, when Cameron flaunts scholars that “we” are supposed to know, scholars who are supposed to “know better”, and then refuses over and over to present a single thought those great scholars had. So, when you suggest that my faith is hollow and that I should stop “preaching to you” because of that, you’re mistaken on both grounds: you don’t know my faith, and I’m not preaching. I’ll let aside your veiled innuendo/analogy in your quotations, unless you yourself want to say what you mean.

            Your quoting the Bible and has the same effect of anyone quoting the Bible: it’s the same argument we hear over and over, “we believe the Bible and you don’t”. Some Protestants recognize this problem and try to overcome that conundrum (see http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/we-believe-bible-and-you-do-not/), to no avail (http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/solo-scriptura-sola-scriptura-and-the-question-of-interpretive-authority/).

            Anyway, we Catholics also put faith in those words. We don’t believe in them any less than you do.

          3. “Isa Almisry says:
            February 15, 2016 at 5:51 am
            We ….know to put our Faith in those words. And in Him Who said “I know Mine, and Mine know Me.

            De Maria If you knew that, you’d be Catholic.”

            I am, as I not only know, but believe them.

            “All you’ve demonstrated here is that you know how to twist the facts to support your fallacies.”
            You are just demonstrating bitterness here that the facts cannot be twisted to support your fallacies, based on the false syllogism that the Eastern Patriarchates, mentioned in the OP, pointed out:
            “For all this we have esteemed it our paternal and brotherly need, and a sacred duty, by our present admonition to confirm you in the Orthodoxy you hold from your forefathers, and at the same time point out the emptiness of the syllogisms of the Bishop of Rome, of which he is manifestly himself aware. For not from his Apostolic Confession does he glorify his Throne, but from his Apostolic Throne seeks to establish his dignity, and from his dignity, his Confession. The truth is the other way.
            The Throne of Rome is esteemed that of St. Peter by a single tradition, but not from Holy Scripture, where the claim is in favor of Antioch, whose Church is therefore witnessed by the great Basil (Ep. 48 Athan.) to be “the most venerable of all the Churches in the world.”
            Still more, the second Ecumenical Council, writing to a Council of the West (to the most honorable and religious brethren and fellow-servants, Damasus, Ambrose, Britto, Valerian, and others), witnesseth, saying: “The oldest and truly Apostolic Church of Antioch, in Syria, where first the honored name of Christians was used.”
            We say then that the Apostolic Church of Antioch had no right of exemption from being judged according to divine Scripture and synodical declarations, though truly venerated for the throne of St. Peter. But what do we say? The blessed Peter, even in his own person, was judged before all for the truth of the Gospel, and, as Scripture declares, was found blamable and not walking uprightly. What opinion is to be formed of those who glory and pride themselves solely in the possession of his Throne, so great in their eyes? ”
            The same St. Basil the Great also writes ( ) “If the anger of the Lord lasts on, what help can come to us from the frown of the West? Men who do not know the truth, and do not wish to learn it, but are prejudiced by false suspicions, are doing now as they did in the case of Marcellus, when they quarreled with men who told them the truth, and by their own action strengthened the cause of heresy. Apart from the common document, I should like to have written to their Coryphaeus [check your Vatican apologetics for this term] – nothing, indeed, about ecclesiastical affairs, except gently to suggest that they know nothing of what is going on here, and will not accept the only means whereby they might learn it….”

            And the same St. Basil the Great tells us, in reference to Antioch, and St. Abp. Damasus of Old Rome’s refusal to recognize St. Meletius (who opened the Second Ecumenical Council), writing to Pope St. Athanasius the Great of Alexandria “No one knows better than you do, that, like all wise physicians, you ought to begin your treatment in the most vital parts, and what part is more vital to the Churches throughout the world than Antioch? Only let Antioch be restored to harmony, and nothing will stand in the way of her supplying, as a healthy head, soundness to all the body. Truly the diseases of that city, which has not only been cut asunder by heretics, but is torn in pieces by men who say that they are of one mind with one another, stand in need of your wisdom and evangelic sympathy. ”
            It would seem that Pope St. Athanasius agreed, as he hastend to commune with St. Meletius of Antioch, although Old Rome did not, the former following up on the advice the latter ignored from St. Basil in a letter reiterating to Pope St. Athanasius the Great:”In my former letter it seemed to me sufficient to point out to your excellency, that all that portion of the people of the holy Church of Antioch who are sound in the faith, ought to be brought to concord and unity. My object was to make it plain that the sections, now divided into several parts, ought to be united under the God-beloved bishop Meletius…it is the prayer of the whole East, and the earnest desire of one who, like myself, is so wholly united to him, to see him in authority over the Churches of the Lord. He is a man of unimpeachable faith; his manner of life is incomparably excellent, he stands at the head, so to say, of the whole body of the Church, and all else are mere disjointed members. On every ground, then, it is necessary as well as advantageous, that the rest should be united with him, just as smaller streams with great ones.”

          4. Isa Almisry says:
            February 15, 2016 at 8:08 pm
            “Isa Almisry says:
            February 15, 2016 at 5:51 am

            We ….know to put our Faith in those words. And in Him Who said “I know Mine, and Mine know Me.

            De Maria If you knew that, you’d be Catholic.”

            I am, as I not only know, but believe them.

            You haven’t shown that here.

            “All you’ve demonstrated here is that you know how to twist the facts to support your fallacies.”
            You are just demonstrating bitterness here that the facts cannot be twisted to support your fallacies,

            The facts fit the Truth of Catholic Teaching, precisely. Therefore we need twist nothing. But you do.

            based on the false syllogism that the Eastern Patriarchates, mentioned in the OP, pointed out:

            A multiplication of words does not an argument make. What’s your point, man? You write and quote swathes of text and say nothing.

            Here is one of the many things you left out:

            St. Basil, letter 69 to St. Athanasius:

            ….It has seemed to me to be desirable to send a letter to the bishop of Rome, begging him to examine our condition, and since there are difficulties in the way of representatives being sent from the West by a general synodical decree, to advise him to exercise his own personal authority in the matter by choosing suitable persons to sustain the labours of a journey—suitable, too, by gentleness and firmness of character, to correct the unruly among us here; able to speak with proper reserve and appropriateness, and thoroughly well acquainted with all that has been effected after Ariminum to undo the violent measures adopted there. I should advise that, without any one knowing anything about it, they should travel hither, attracting as little attention as possible, by the sea, with the object of escaping the notice of the enemies of peace.

            2. A point also that is insisted upon by some of those in these parts, very necessarily, as is plain even to myself, is that they should drive away the heresy of Marcellus, as grievous and injurious and opposed to the sound faith.

            So, it seems that St. Basil wanted the Pope, in Rome, to settle the East’s problems.

            Furthermore, the fact that he says that the Pope can be judged is of no consequence to infallibility. Since the things of which he can be judged have nothing to do with the requirements for infallibility. Thus, when St. Paul objected about St. Peter’s behaviour (you do know the Biblical reference, I hope, but in case you don’t, its in the 2nd chapter of Galatians.) The matter was an admonition of behaviour. Whereas, no one has ever claimed that the Pope was inpeccable.

            So, do some more homework and write more swathes of nothingness. You are still wrong.

          5. Isa,

            Thanks to Mark, here’s another quote from St. Basil the great of which I wasn’t aware.

            “It is these [heretics] that we implore your diligence3 to denounce publicly to all the churches of the East. . . . I am constrained to mention them by name, in order that you may yourselves recognize those who are stirring up disturbance here, and may make them known to our Churches. . . . You, however, have all the more credit with the people, in proportion to the distance that separates your home from theirs, besides the fact that you are gifted with God’s grace to help4 those who are distresses.”…“Nearly all the East (I include under this name all the regions from Illyricum to Egypt) is being agitated, right honorable father [Pope Damasus], by a terrible storm and tempest. The old heresy, sown by Arius the enemy of the truth, has now boldly and unblushingly reappeared. Like some sour root, it is producing its deadly fruit and is prevailing. The reason of this is that in every district the champions of right doctrine have been exiled from their Churches by calumny and outrage, and the control of affairs has been handed over to men who are leading captive the souls of the simpler brethren. I have looked upon the visit of your mercifulness as the only possible solution of our difficulties. . . . [I have] been constrained to beseech you by letter to be moved to help us. . . . In this I am by no means making any novel request, but am only asking what has been customary in the case of men who, before our own day, were blessed and dear to God, and conspicuously in your own case. For I well remember learning from the answers made by our fathers when asked, and from documents still preserved among us, that the illustrious and blessed bishop [Pope] Dionysius, conspicuous in your see as well for soundness of faith as for all other virtues, visited by letter my Church of Caesarea, and by letter exhorted our fathers, and sent men to ransom our brethren from captivity.”
            Letter #263

            Start your twisting, again.

          6. “Isa Almisry says:
            February 15, 2016 at 5:51 am
            We ….know to put our Faith in those words. And in Him Who said “I know Mine, and Mine know Me.

            De Maria If you knew that, you’d be Catholic.”

            Isa:”I am, as I not only know, but believe them.”

            De Maria “You haven’t shown that here.”
            Sic dixit De Maria 2-16-16 –
            Is that de cathedra? or just the religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to….what exactly is your claim to “magisterium” to speak for the Catholic Church again. I haven’t seen it stated.

            “The facts fit the Truth of Catholic Teaching, precisely. Therefore we need twist nothing. But you do.”
            You editing shows otherwise, to wit

            “Here is one of the many things you left out:

            St. Basil, letter 69 to St. Athanasius:…
            ….So, it seems that St. Basil wanted the Pope, in Rome, to settle the East’s problems.”

            You had to cut the beginning and end of the letter to make way for you acrobatics. St. Basil starts:
            ” As time moves on, it continually confirms the opinion which I have long held of your holiness; or rather that opinion is strengthened by the daily course of events. Most men are indeed satisfied with observing, each one, what lies especially within his own province; not thus is it with you, but your anxiety for all the Churches is no less than that which you feel for the Church that has been especially entrusted to you by our common Lord”

            That’s to Pope St. Athansius the Great of ALEXANDRIA. Not Rome.

            and you cut off here:
            “For up to this time, in all the letters which they write, they are constant in thoroughly anathematizing the ill-famed Arius and in repudiating him from the Churches. But they attach no blame to Marcellus, who propounded a heresy diametrically opposite to that of Arius, and impiously attacked the very existence of the Only begotten Godhead, and erroneously understood the term “Word…Nevertheless they nowhere openly condemned him, and are to this extent culpable that, being from the first in ignorance of the truth, they received him into the communion of the Church. The present state of affairs makes it specially necessary that attention should be called to him, so that those who seek for their opportunity, may be prevented from getting it, from the fact of sound men being united to your holiness, and all who are lame in the true faith may be openly known; that so we may know who are on our side, and may not struggle, as in a night battle, without being able to distinguish between friends and foes. ”

            IOW St. Basil is not entreating the Pope to solve a problem, but telling him to stop creating them by coddling heretics like Marcellus, and Rome’s bishop Lucifer ordaining schismatics like Paulinus in the East. In contrast to Pope St. Athanasius, whose universal solicitude St. Basil praises.

            I also note your contortions in not addressing what St. Basil wrote in my previous quotes. Nothing on him calling Antioch the head of the Churches and the most vital part making sound the Body of Christ, “all else are mere disjointed members.” Nothing on his hope of all the Churches of the Lord being under its bishop St. Meletius. Nothing on his rebuke of the Coryphaeus [again, check your Vatican apologetics for this term] of the West.

            As for the rest of your jesuitry on judging your supreme pontiff, you said nothing original, just repeated failed assertions. Do some more homework and write more swathes of nothingness. You are still wrong.

          7. De Mario Basil letter CCLXIII
            “Start your twisting, again.”

            No twisting, just filling the gaping holes your acrobatics need, to wit:
            As to whether there is anything objectionable about the conversation of Paulinus, you can say yourselves. What distresses me is that he should shew an inclination for the doctrine of Marcellus, and unreservedly admit his followers to communion. You know, most honourable brethren, that the reversal of all our hope is involved in the doctrine of Marcellus, for it does not confess the Son in His proper hypostasis, but represents Him as having been sent forth, and as having again returned to Him from Whom He came; neither does it admit that the Paraclete has His own subsistence. It follows that no one could be wrong in declaring this heresy to be all at variance with Christianity, and in styling it a corrupt Judaism. Of these things I implore you to take due heed. This will be the case if you will consent to write to all the Churches of the East that those who have perverted these doctrines are in communion with you, if they amend; but that if they contentiously determine to abide by their innovations, you are separated from them. I am myself well aware, that it had been fitting for me to treat of these matters, sitting in synod with you in common deliberation. But this the time does not allow. Delay is dangerous, for the mischief they have caused has taken root. I have therefore been constrained to dispatch these brethren, that you may learn from them all that has been omitted in my letter, and that they may rouse you to afford the succour which we pray for to the Churches of the East.”

            IOW the Westerners-to whom the letter is addressed, not Pontiff St. Damasus of Old Rome-stop aiding and abetting heretics and schismatics in causing problems in the East. I gott go now, but Lord willing if I have the time I’ll go over the snippets you tried to squeeze into your Ultramontanist mould. Because, as always, context is never your friend and ally.

          8. Isa Almisry says:
            February 17, 2016 at 5:05 pm

            Sic dixit De Maria 2-16-16 –
            Is that de cathedra?

            No need to be. Its obvious. All you do is twist the truth in accordance with your presuppositions.

            You had to cut the beginning and end of the letter to make way for you acrobatics. St. Basil starts:

            No, I just went to the gist.

            ” As time moves on, it continually confirms the opinion which I have long held of your holiness; or rather that opinion is strengthened by the daily course of events. Most men are indeed satisfied with observing, each one, what lies especially within his own province; not thus is it with you, but your anxiety for all the Churches is no less than that which you feel for the Church that has been especially entrusted to you by our common Lord”

            That’s to Pope St. Athansius the Great of ALEXANDRIA. Not Rome.

            Yeah. He wrote to the Pope of the East. You were aware that the title, Pope, is not restricted to the Pope in Rome, I hope? But even if you weren’t, he wrote to the Pope in Alexandria to tell him that he was going to write to the Pope in Rome for help.

            and you cut off here:

            If you read that in context, you’ll see that there is no problem there, either.

            “For up to this time, in all the letters which they write, they are constant in thoroughly anathematizing the ill-famed Arius and in repudiating him from the Churches.

            He’s not talking about the Pope. But about his envoys. Read with care.

            Here is what he said about the Pope of Rome, in the very same letter:

            that the illustrious and blessed bishop [Pope] Dionysius, conspicuous in your see as well for soundness of faith as for all other virtues,

            So, try your twist again. In one breath he extolls the Pope and in another he degrades him. Then what type of moral character do you claim for St. Basil the Great?

            There’s no need for me to continue. From your own words you have condemned yourself as a twister of truth. A person who is more concerned with advancing your agenda than in advancing God’s Truth.

            Its time for you to do your impersonation of Chubby Checker and “Twist again”.

          9. De Maria “No need to be. Its obvious. All you do is twist the truth in accordance with your presuppositions.”
            All I did was put back the parts of the letter you that wretched out so your presuppositions could do their contortions. That is obvious to anyone who reads the unmultilated letter.

            So the only twist was…sic dixit De Maria 2/19/16-

            “The facts fit the Truth of Catholic Teaching, precisely. Therefore we need twist nothing. But you do.”

            Your mantra doesn’t accrue any veracity with every repetition. Sure you are not Hindu?

            “No, I just went to the gist.”

            No, you hacked away to grind your axe.

            “Yeah. He wrote to the Pope of the East. You were aware that the title, Pope, is not restricted to the Pope in Rome, I hope?”

            Not in Orthodoxy it is not. The Vatican is another matter. Neither of the two patriarchs (and third suppressed) that the Vatican claims for Alexandria, neither is allowed the title “pope,” the title of the archbishop of Alexandria from before the peace of Constantine, in contradiction to the usual practice of the Vatican’s “sui juris” ersatz substitutions for Eastern Patriarchates. Old Rome didn’t arrogate the title to itself until the sixth century or so, and did not restrict it to the Vatican until 1073 by your supreme pontiff Gregory VII.

            “But even if you weren’t, he wrote to the Pope in Alexandria to tell him that he was going to write to the Pope in Rome for help.”

            If telling him to stop causing problems counts as “help,”…sort like the Mafia “it’d be a shame if something happened to your store window. Mind if we watch it for you?”

            His complaints against Rome are in the same letter…too bad your quote mine cut it off too soon for you.

            “He’s not talking about the Pope. But about his envoys. Read with care.”
            LOL. IOW “call your goons off.”

            The OP quotes the erroneous line that the legate of Old Rome nullified by his single word an purported ecumenical council.

            You going to argue that deacons have that power?

            “Here is what he said about the Pope of Rome, in the very same letter:
            that the illustrious and blessed bishop [Pope] Dionysius, conspicuous in your see as well for soundness of faith as for all other virtues,”

            St. Dionysius had gone to his reward over a century before, and wasn’t causing any trouble in the East or elsewhere. You might want to revise your ideas about the Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council and Pope St. Leo anathematizing Pope Honorius.

            “There’s no need for me to continue. From your own words you have condemned yourself as a twister of truth. A person who is more concerned with advancing your agenda than in advancing God’s Truth.”

            Again, all I’ve done is restore what you twisted and wretched out of God’s Truth as written in the letters of the Fathers.

            As for your faulty judgement, caveat lector.

            “So, try your twist again. In one breath he extolls the Pope and in another he degrades him. Then what type of moral character do you claim for St. Basil the Great?”

            For one, he could-and obviously you could not-distinguish between two men who lived over a century apart.
            St. Basil the Great’s words stand on their own-unless you start cutting out the parts you don’t like.

            “Its time for you to do your impersonation of Chubby Checker and “Twist again”.”
            It is the dizziness from your going in circles to the tune of your agenda that is making the Twist ring in your ears in your echo chamber.

            Btw, your quote mine has mixed up a number of lettters. The letter you cite as #263, is #70, after “by letter exhorted our fathers, and sent men to ransom our brethren from captivity” it goes on “But now our condition is yet more painful and gloomy and needs more careful treatment. We are lamenting no mere overthrow of earthly buildings, but the capture of Churches; what we see
            167
            before us is no mere bodily slavery, but a carrying away of souls into captivity, perpetrated day by day by the champions of heresy. Should you not, even now, be moved to succour us, ere long all will have fallen under the dominion of the heresy, and you will find none left to whom you may hold out your hand.” As Schaeff notes (removed, of course, not only by your quote mine but New Advent):” The Ben. Ed. points out that what is related by Basil, of the kindness of the bishops of Rome to other churches, is confirmed by the evidence both of Dionysius, bishop of Corinth (cf. Eusebius, Hist. Ecc. iv. 23), of Dionysius of Alexandria (Dionysius to Sixtus II. Apud Euseb., Ecc. Hist. vii. 5), and of Eusebius himself who in his history speaks of the practice having been continued down to the persecution in his own day. The troubles referred to by Basil took place in the time of Gallienus, when the Scythians ravaged Cappadocia and the neighbouring countries. (cf. Sozomen, ii. 6.) Dionysius succeeded Sixtus II. at Rome in 259″
            IOW, we are in large part speaking of physical, not spiritual cavity-the Emperor of West upholding Nicea while the Emperor of the East was supporting the Arians.

            Between you parts twisted out of context “[I have] been constrained to beseech you by letter to be moved to help us. . . . In this I am by no means making any novel request”
            In those dots come this:”and to send some of those, who are like minded with us, either to conciliate the dissentient and bring back the Churches of God into friendly union, or at all events to make you see more plainly who are responsible for the unsettled state in which we are, that it may be obvious to you for the future with whom it befits YOU to be in communion.”

            IOW, it benefits Rome not to be in communion with heretics.

          10. Isa Almisry says:
            February 19, 2016 at 7:15 am

            All I did was put back the parts of the letter you that wretched out so your presuppositions could do their contortions. That is obvious to anyone who reads the unmultilated letter.

            All that you did was twist the letter. As mentioned above, your twisting puts St. Basil in the guise of a hypocrite. In one breath praising the infallible Pope of Rome. In the other, your words, degrading him.

            So the only twist was…sic dixit De Maria 2/19/16-

            Nope. It was Isa.

            “Yeah. He wrote to the Pope of the East. You were aware that the title, Pope, is not restricted to the Pope in Rome, I hope?”

            Not in Orthodoxy it is not.

            That’s what I said. So, again you are trying to twist that which is being discussed.

            The Vatican is another matter. Neither of the two patriarchs (and third suppressed) that the Vatican claims for Alexandria, neither is allowed the title “pope,” the title of the archbishop of Alexandria from before the peace of Constantine, in contradiction to the usual practice of the Vatican’s “sui juris” ersatz substitutions for Eastern Patriarchates. Old Rome didn’t arrogate the title to itself until the sixth century or so, and did not restrict it to the Vatican until 1073 by your supreme pontiff Gregory VII.

            You’re a card. Really? You want now to change the subject to when the title Pope was first used and by whom?

            Here’s your problem. Regardless of who used the title first, the Pope in Rome remains infallible.

            Put that in your moussaka and eat it.

            You’re desperate man. You’re just desperate. It’s sad to see.

          11. De Maria “All that you did was twist the letter. As mentioned above, your twisting puts St. Basil in the guise of a hypocrite. In one breath praising the infallible Pope of Rome. In the other, your words, degrading him.”

            Here, yet again, you are putting words in both my mouth and more grievously, St. Basil.

            St. Basil didn’t say a word, either in praise or in condemnation, about any “infallible Pope of Rome,” a fantasy he never would have dreamed of.

            As for twisting, I twisted the same way that a surgeon twists a severed limb back on, while your treatment resembles those who hacked off limbs in hobbing and, since-as I pointed out-your quote mine mixes letters together, Dr. Frankenstein.

            St. Basil told the truth as it was. The inconsistency was on Rome’s part. Not what you need for the council theory of the OP.

            “Nope. It was Isa.” sic dixit De Maria 2/19/16 –

            “That’s what I said. So, again you are trying to twist that which is being discussed…You’re a card. Really? You want now to change the subject to when the title Pope was first used and by whom?”

            Just snapping the straw you were grasping at.

            The title pope was not given to Old Rome but it arrogated the title to itself, just as Christ did not give infallibility to Old Rome but it arrogated the claim to itself, and no bishop of Old Rome-apart from the rest of the Patriarchs and Orthodox episcopate of the Catholic Church-ever made a Council Ecumenical, but it has arrogated the assertion of that power to itself.

            “Here’s your problem. Regardless of who used the title first, the Pope in Rome remains infallible.”
            Don’t you mean Avignon?

            You cannot remain what you never were. And the history of the Seven Ecumenical Councils shows that they never drew their ecumenical character from the bishop of Old Rome-the First, Second, Fifth and Sixth only being the most obvious of that fact.

            “Put that in your moussaka and eat it.”

            I don’t eat moussaka-I’m not Greek for one-and though I know your fondness for putting things in the mouths of others, I have to pass on that and your Kool-Aid.

            “You’re desperate man. You’re just desperate. It’s sad to see.”
            Ah, the projections of desperation, so sad to see…

            I understand your need to try to prop up “papal infallibility” to hold up the OP’s thesis, but have you ever addressed the absence of “papal infallibility” on the Seven Ecumenical Councils, and the confusion caused by its presence at the councils of Pisa, Constance, Siena and Basel (vs. Florence) here, instead of all your dead end digressions?

          12. Btw, another letter of St. Basil’s for you:

            “To his brethren truly God-beloved and very dear, and fellow ministers of like mind, the bishops of Gaul and Italy, Basil, bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia. Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has deigned to style the universal Church of God His body, and has made us individually members one of another, has moreover granted to all of us to live in intimate association with one another, as befits the agreement of the members. Wherefore, although we dwell far away from one another, yet, as regards our close conjunction, we are very near. Since, then, the head cannot say to the feet, I have no need of you, you will not, I am sure, endure to reject us; you will, on the contrary, sympathize with us in the troubles to which, for our sins, we have been given over, in proportion as we rejoice together with you in your glorying in the peace which the Lord has bestowed on you. Ere now we have also at another time invoked your charity to send us succour and sympathy; but our punishment was not full, and you were not suffered to rise up to succour us. One chief object of our desire is that through you the state of confusion in which we are situated should be made known to the emperor of your part of the world.”

            I.e. Gratian, who unlike Valens in the East, supported the Catholic Church which confessed the Orthodox Faith and opposed the Arians.

            Notice the address to the espiscopate of the West, not the Patriarch of the West, i.e. the bishop of Old Rome.

            and again, the part you like, minus the context and the explicit address:
            “If this is difficult, we beseech you to send envoys to visit and comfort us in our affliction, that you may have the evidence of eyewitnesses of those sufferings of the East which cannot be told by word of mouth, because language is inadequate to give a clear report of our condition.”

            There is more, which you can see here
            http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf208.ix.ccxliv.html
            but on your “infallible Pope of Rome,”
            “The plague of heresy is spreading, and there is ground of apprehension lest, when it has devoured our Churches, it may afterwards creep on even so far as to the sound portion of your district.”
            Doesn’t seem St. Basil knew of him.

  20. Hello Joe,

    Can I ask you about this comment: “The reality: Without Church infallibility, there’s no way to know for sure which Books are Scripture, or why.”

    I take this to mean that you are arguing thus: In order to know a proposition P (in this case, which books are scripture), you must first have infallible knowledge K (“know for sure.”). So here it seems that you’re equating infallible knowledge with absolute certitude. My first question would be, why does the epistemic bar need to be set that high?

    Second, if K = P above is true, then wouldn’t a second application of that logic be equally true (thus KK = P)? In other words, If in order to “know for sure” which books are scripture, don’t we first have to “know for sure,” that we “know for sure?” Applied to the claims of Rome, if knowledge of the canon requires an infallible church definition, then wouldn’t we also have to have infallible knowledge that the church is itself infallible? It would not be enough to simply have a “pretty good idea” that the church is infallible. No. For once we set the epistemic bar as high has you have (that knowledge of the Biblical canon requires infallibility), then all such theological knowledge claims must be held to that same standard, including the claim that Rome is infallible in the first place.

    And therein lies the problem for Rome. It has no infallible way to demonstrate its own infallibility. So if Protestantism is weakened by the claim that it only has a fallible collection of infallible books, it seems to me that Rome would be equally weakened by the fact that it only has a fallible case for its own infallibility.

    The great appeal the Roman Catholic system its alleged ability to put an end to theological disputes whenever it chooses. That’s the theory, anyway. But what does Roman Catholicism look like in reality? It hasn’t splintered into “40 thousand” denominations, or whatever that over-the-top figure is now, but it does polarize rather severely between liberals and conservatives. Further, what is and what isn’t infallible teaching isn’t always agreed upon by Rome. Third, the so-called “infallible interpreter” seems to have done precious little interpreting with the added stamp of infallibility to safeguard its exegetical claims. Rome’s theologians do not always agree among themselves which texts of scripture have been infallible defined and which have not.

    I do believe they all agree that Matthew 16:18 has been infallibly defined with respect to its role in establishing the papacy. But that sounds to me like one big vicious circle. How do we know there’s an infallible papacy? (Because of Matthew 16:18 among other texts). And how do we know Matthew 16:18 is inspired? (Because the infallible papacy says it is).

    So for all the alleged epistemic advantage Rome’s infallibility seems to have over Protestant fallibilism, it seems that at the end of the day that the arguments put forth for Rome’s infallibility are either themselves fallible (but possibly true) or that they beg the question (and are therefore false).

    You also said: >>So unless the Church is infallible, it’s possible that the early Christians selected the wrong books to comprise the Bible.<<

    Again, I think this needlessly sets the epistemic bar too high. I could just as easily argue, "So unless Rome has an infallible proof of its own infallibility that does not beg the question, Rome itself cannot be certain that it is infallible, and therefore would be in no better position to know what the canon is than anyone else."

    Also, is it at all conceivable to you that God could reveal the canon of scripture to the church through ordinary, fallible means and that God may never have intended for us to have an infallible teacher, but rather only an inerrant source of truth?

    It seems to me that what actually took place in history is much different than what you seem to be arguing for. The people of God knew the extent of the canon long before 1546 (the first time Rome dogmatically defined the canon for the universal church). And so knowledge of the Bible precedes the official definition of the canon and not the other way around.

    As for what should/should not be the canon, I think the Protestant position is the safest. Since the three major branches concur on the NT, it is really the extent of the OT that divides us. To me, the question is this: Did Jesus and the Apostles pass on a particular OT canon to the church? If so, which books did it contain? I think the answer to the first question is yes. As for the second question, I believe the evidence more plausibly suggests that Jesus and the Apostles inherited a closed canon from Palestinian judaism that corresponds to the 66-book canon. Given Jesus' personal use of this canon and his own views of that canon, it seems to me that the church is on the thickest ice when it relies on the same OT canon that Jesus and the Apostles did.

    In any event, while I think it would be just lovely if there were such an infallible institution out there that could infallibly define the canon once and for all, I have no evidence for the existence of such an entity. But what I do have are 66 inspired books that all of Christendom agrees upon. Those books are sufficient to equip us for belief and practice and because they have God himself standing behind them, they need no other authentication than that. While I am happy that Rome gives those same 66 books its seal of approval, I don't need Rome's seal to hear the Shepherd's voice contained within them, and apparently neither did the rest of Christendom prior to Rome's dogmatic definition at Trent.

    1. Michael Taylor commented on Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism’s Infallibility Problem.

      in response to joeheschmeyer:

      The “infallibility problem” in Eastern Orthodoxy is more similar to the infallibility problem in Protestantism than you may realize. In each case, rejection of centralized infallibility leaves them with fallible (and hazy) collections of infallible teachings.

      Hello Joe,

      Can I ask you about this comment: “The reality: Without Church infallibility, there’s no way to know for sure which Books are Scripture, or why.”

      I take this to mean that you are arguing thus:

      In order to know a proposition P (in this case, which books are scripture),

      you must first have infallible knowledge K (“know for sure.”).

      False. You must have the charism of infallibility. That means that you have the security of knowing that all your decisions are guided and protected by the Holy Spirit.

      Your premise is wrong, therefore the rest of your argument is wrong.

      1. Lol. How do we know the pope is infallible? Because a church council said so. How do we know that church council was correct? Because the pope ratified it. How do we know the pope has the authority to ratify a council? Because the church says so. How do we know the church is right? Because pope! Lol. Circles are fun.

        1. That’s not a circle, that’s a spiral. A circle would be, “How do we know that a council is infallible?” Because the council says so.

          Do you see the difference?

        2. “How do we know the pope is infallible? Because a church council said so.”
          Wrong. The pope is (limitedly) infallible because he is the head of the Church, which was established by Jesus Christ with an authority He possessed as infallible (Jesus’ authority accepted as a given because you believe so, for starters).

          “How do we know that church council was correct? Because the pope ratified it.”
          No, you’re inverting the order. The pope ratified it because it was correct. If it were incorrect, the pope would be a heretic. How many popes taught heresy? (No, don’t come with that old canard: the answer is *none*. Now, how many patriarchs taught heresy? Hum…)

          “How do we know the church is right? Because pope!”
          No, because of Jesus. If he left us with a bunch of “guessers” blindly discussing with another bunch of “guessers”, he was inefficient, he was a failure (to create an organization that would faithfully follow his teachings), and in the end he didn’t create a church at all, just guided individual believers (and just a few of them, too). If you take the Protestant logic to the end, there is no end going to church, you just go to “feel good”, for companionship, etc.

  21. Michael Taylor,

    The claim that the Catholic Church has the charism of infallibility relies on Jesus Himself. Just as Jesus cannot show infallibly that He is infallible, (e.g. Buddhists reject Jesus, Satan rejects the infallible God) so too we believe by faith that the Catholic Church, as founded by Jesus, must also have this gift so as not to leave His sheep in confusion (since the Devil loves confusion). The Catholic Church, in its pronouncements of dogmas, is infallible, just as we expect when Jesus will pronounce the same dogmas. This follows from the fact that the Church is Christ’s mouth on Earth. And to avoid confusion in the Body of Christ, one must hold that power of being an arbiter. That’s the role of Peter and his successors.

    1. Hello Kristian,

      I like when you say that Jesus “cannot show infallibly that He is infallible.” I don’t agree with you, but I like this because you’re seeing the inconsistency in saying, on the one hand that the Protestant “fallible collection of infallible books” is a downside, but that on the other hand, it’s not a downside that Rome only has a “fallible argument for its own fallibility.”

      In a way, you’re playing the nuclear option here by saying that even Jesus himself can only fallibly prove his own fallibility. But if you’re right about this, then we’re all in the same epistemic boat. Neither one of us, not you Catholics, not we Protestants and not even Jesus, has anything like a fool proof (infallible) argument for infallibility.

      Fair enough. At least you’re being consistent, which is much more than I can say for the author of this post.

      By the way, I think the infallible proof for Jesus’ infallibility is his intrinsic authority as the Word of God. When he says, “my sheep hear my voice,” it is not we the sheep who give authority to his voice, but rather it is the intrinsic authority of his voice that is efficacious among his sheep. The reason why the Buddhists et alia don’t hear his voice, is because they aren’t his sheep. If it were his intention to effectually draw them, they would hear his voice, which in turn would disclose the fact that they are among his sheep, and hence we could safely conclude that his voice is infallible.

  22. The system in the Catholic Church works as if Jesus is physically present on Earth today. If Jesus is physically present today (in his resurrected physical body), we would expect that he will pronounce dogmas and will clarify things when Satan tries tp bring up questions regarding our faith. Satan has been unceasingly doing this in entire history of the Church. He did it when he tried to infuse confusion regarding Christ’s nature, etc etc. And the cleverness of the devil in bringing out supposed “holes” in the faith cannot be solved by having Apostles without a supreme leader (because Apostles could be in disagreement) just as the Supreme Court needs a Supreme Justice.

  23. I decided to create this blog and named it after another blog titled “Shameless Popery,” a Catholic apologetics blog that deeply misunderstands Orthodoxy and Protestantism. At present, the purpose of this blog is two-fold:

    1.) To help non-Orthodox understand Orthodoxy and its take on Christian history.

    2.) To help my fellow Orthodox further appreciate Latin theology and writers prior to the Fourth Crusade.”
    https://shamelessorthodoxy.wordpress.com/about/

    Aside from regarding the Fourth Crusade as a historical reason for a theological preference, which I can comprehend but whose shallowness does not permit me to agree with [and with which later Byzantine theologians wouldn’t agree with either], this initiative is based on false premises: 1) that somehow “we” don’t understand Orthodoxy and Protestantism as they should supposedly be understood (as if the Orthodox at OrthodoxWiki and those referred to therein weren’t supposedly Orthodox enough for agreeing with us, as if we didn’t appreciate/respect/understand the Orthodox), 2) that the Orthodox should somehow defend Protestantism, and finally 3) that the author poses himself as a sort of official speaker for the Orthodox position.

    Yes, the Melkites and Byzantine Catholics in general should be the ones you should supposedly be talking with. As if they cared much about “Western” “Orthodoxy”.

    1. KO, I see that you have several misunderstandings. First off, I chose the Fourth Crusade because it is a relatively safe demarcation point for the completion of a definitive split. As to why I say this, I suggest reading Sir Steven Runciman’s book, “The Eastern Schism: A Study of the Papacy and the Eastern Churches During the XIth and XIIth Centuries.” In short the argument is that the split was not made at some exact moment but took centuries to develop and to recognize. While Runciman did take his argument too far in that he did not think that theological issues were the major driving force for the split, his argument that the split occurred over a long period of time as a process rather than at the exact moment of 1054 has held water within the historical community. The Fourth Crusade is arguably the final serious moment of this long process, for better and for worse. As such, Orthodox and Catholics both share for the most part the same holy writers prior to the Fourth Crusade. If that is somehow shallow, then might I suggest that you give an alternative. It is easy to criticize, but not so easy to form an affirmative argument.

      As for the so-called false premises, yeah you obviously don’t understand Orthodoxy at all. If you would rather quote Orthodox Wiki (of all things) instead of reading Orthodox scholars or even talking to Orthodox people themselves, then why should anyone bother taking you seriously? Even if you just read the few excerpts of Ware’s book, which Heschmeyer was kind enough to include, you would realize that there are a variety of Orthodox opinions on what is considered ecumenical and thereby infallible. Additionally, Alexei Stepanovich Khomiakov, which is what Orthodox Wiki primarily concerns itself with, is far from accepted uncritically by Orthodox (see: https://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/against-khomiakov/ and Ware’s book ). You should realize that just like Catholics who can’t make up their minds on the proper criteria for infallible statements of popes, which is why there are so many different and conflicting lists tossed about by theologians, Orthodox themselves don’t have a set criteria for what is an ecumenical council. I don’t see the issue with the latter problem, which was the subject of my blog reply.

      As a former Protestant, I obviously do have my fair share of criticisms concerning it. However, I base these criticisms not upon so much its “circular logic,” which effects all Christians, but rather focus on things that are much more substantial such as history or logical coherency.

      As for the third point, I never claimed any official title. However, I will claim that I do know what I am talking about, unlike yourself. I find it amazing that you have no problem imbibing the “official representativeness” of Orthodox Wiki for all of Orthodoxy, but the minute when an Orthodox writer presents an alternative viewpoint that throws a wrench in your gears, that said writer is somehow illegitimate and implicitly arrogant.

      As for who my intended audience should be, keep your advice to yourself. I do what I want and I address whomever I please.

      P.S. I am not Western Rite Orthodox.

      1. I am not Western Rite Orthodox.
        No one ever said you were. But I supposed you were Western, that you lived in the West, or something like that.

        As for who my intended audience should be, keep your advice to yourself. I do what I want and I address whomever I please.
        As for my “advice”, I won’t keep it to myself. I do what I want and I advice whomever I please. Sounds childish, right?

        just like Catholics who can’t make up their minds on the proper criteria for infallible statements of popes
        Says you, the scholar on Catholic dogma.

        Orthodox themselves don’t have a set criteria for what is an ecumenical council.
        At least you acknowledge that (Jesus the Egyptian doesn’t); at least it’s clear that the Orthodox don’t even know how many councils there were. The whole Komiakov thing is a bit misleading, although Isa here espouses Komiakov’s receptionist thesis, which, needless to say, many Orthodox (and Catholic) disapprove. There were clearly many people here who made the same arguments presented in your link, which is very useful by the way: https://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/against-khomiakov/.

        To quote on comment there:

        In the end, it really is a matter of faith. There is no rational, logical way to know for sure. What makes the Ecumenical Councils trustworthy is that they are true, not that they have been “received” by anyone (pope, populace, etc.). They conform to the Scriptures, to the rule of faith (regula fidei, a concept found most prominently in the writings of St. Irenaeus of Lyons)—in short, the tradition of the Church.
        […]

        I know that this answer—namely, that all of this really is a matter of faith—will not satisfy those who want an airtight system granting epistemological certainty. Such folks would probably be better off becoming Latins. But, once they do, if they ever find out the dirty little secret about no one agreeing on when papal infallibility really is occurring […]

        Apart from the slight confusion (I’m not “Latin”, but I’m a Roman Catholic…), the real problem is that there is no “dirty little secret” hidden, waiting for Catholics to find it. I’m no theologian, but it suffices me as a layman (just as Webb above) to know that all this “you Catholics have a problem because you don’t know when the pope has spoken infallibly” is a straw man argument. A five minute reading of this — http://catholicexchange.com/the-pope-and-infallibility — which I already cited, proves that we know pretty well when the pope (and/or the Church) has spoken infallibly, so please stop making the claim that we don’t.

        1. Just to point out a flaw in your linked blog on infallible proclamations, there are also those who argue that Humanae Vitae and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis are infallible statements as well. While every Catholic accepts the Immaculate Conception as an infallible proclamation, these positions are debated. For an example concerning the latter, see here: http://www.womenpriests.org/teaching/mag_con2.asp#cathol%20Theologians%20Assess%20%E2%80%98Ordinatio%20Sacerdotalis%E2%80%99%20Theologians%20Assess%20%E2%80%98Ordinatio%20Sacerdotalis%E2%80%99

          Also, there is a big difference between Orthodox not knowing how many councils there were, and Orthodox not knowing how many councils there were indubitably. For example, both Isa and myself would say that we know of 7 ecumenical councils. But if one rejects four of them, because they are not indubitable, then they become Oriental Orthodox. It is not complicated.

          1. There is a kind of a sophism in the argument that the pronunciation itself (Humanae Vitae) is not legally infallible, but that the content of the pronunciation is part of the magisterium and the tradition and therefore it is infallible. There are those who say the encyclical is not itself infallible but nevertheless are binding. I’ve just read a justification about Humanae Vitae to the effect that, even though the pope acted against all recommendations of the commission he himself set up, we should suppose that the Holy Spirit guided him in that:

            “It is strange to find fault with the Pope for not accepting the advice of the majority of the commission. It was up to the Pope to decide. In this task, the Holy Spirit helps him and he alone assumes the incommunicable responsibility for this decision, since it was on him that Christ conferred the authority to do so and the mission to guide the faithful to life everlasting.[…] As in this commission there was a majority in favour of an opinion never before held by the Church, it was urgently important to hear these learned and loyal men who had thought it possible to depart from the Church’s traditional position. ”
            https://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/AUTHUMVT.HTM

            I, for one, like 90% of Catholics, couldn’t care less. I cannot see why “natural planning” is less cheating nature (or God) than a condom or a pill. And I cannot see how infertile couples can go on living together as husband and wife without going against the ultimate goal of reproduction set forth by Latin tradition.

            If you go on and tell me then that I’m not a perfect Catholic and that I should consider becoming an Orthodox, all I have to answer is that these ones also have issues that really bother me and are so sectarian, ethnically-based and pesky as to turn me off completely.

          2. First KO, I am not interested in your views on sex.

            Additionally, although I didn’t say it, I find it strange that you call me shallow for holding a grudge about the Fourth Crusade and thereby holding it as a reason for division over theology, yet at the next moment you reject anything I might say out of hand because of petty ethnic squabbles within Orthodoxy. The irony is not lost on me.

            Go back to winning YouTube comment wars, champ.

    2. Might I also add that I am a bit disappointed in the fact that rather than the merits of my argument being debated, you have instead focused solely on my motives and About page. Even if my character was terrible, it hardly effects the merits of my argument.

      1. Rohzek,

        Sorry if you took it that way, but I didn’t make a single remark on your character. Your motives are also arguments, by the way.

        1. Sorry, but that is incorrect. Motives are not arguments. And yes, you implied that I was too big for my britches for supposedly posing as some sort of official speaker. That is a direct commentary on my character, not my arguments.

          1. Motives are justifications. Justifications are reasons. Reasons are arguments. Explanations are arguments. Affirmations and syllogisms are arguments. Sorry.

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