Orthodox Claims


#1

I’ve been debating an Eastern Orthodox about the papacy. To support his position he cites these quotes from St. Augustine and St. Jerome:

In St. Augustine’s Retractions, he writes,

In one place I said… that the Church had been built on Peter as the Rock… but in fact it was not said to Peter, Thou art the Rock, but rather Thou art Peter. The Rock was Jesus Christ, Peter having confessed Him as all the Church confesses Him, He was then called Peter, the Rock …Between these two sentiments let the reader choose the most probable.(13th Sermon; Contra Julianum 1:13)

Again he says similarly in the same work,

Peter had not a primacy over the apostles, but among the apostles, and Christ said to them I will build upon Myself, I will not be built upon thee.

St. Jerome says,

Christ is the Rock Who granted to His apostles that they should be called rocks. God has founded His Church on this Rock, and it is from this Rock that Peter has been named. (6th book on Matthew)

and again,

The word Rock has only a denominative value-it signifies nothing but the steadfast and firm faith of the apostles. (Upon St. John, Book JJ, Chap. XII)

And again,

We must not believe that the city of Rome is a different church from that of the whole world. Gaul, Britain, Africa, Persia, the East, India, all the barbarous nations, adore Jesus Christ, and observe one and the same rule of truth. If one is looking for authority, the world is greater than one city. Wherever there is a Bishop, be he at Rome or at Eugubium, at Constantinople or at Rhegium, at Alexandria or at Tanis, he has the same authority, the same merit, because he has the same priesthood. The power that riches give, and the low estate to which poverty reduces, render a Bishop neither greater nor less.(St. Hieron. Epist. 146 ad Ev.)

How should I respond to these quotes?


#2

We must not believe that the city of Rome is a different church from that of the whole world. Gaul, Britain, Africa, Persia, the East, India, all the barbarous nations, adore Jesus Christ, and observe one and the same rule of truth. If one is looking for authority, the world is greater than one city. Wherever there is a Bishop, be he at Rome or at Eugubium, at Constantinople or at Rhegium, at Alexandria or at Tanis, he has the same authority, the same merit, because he has the same priesthood. The power that riches give, and the low estate to which poverty reduces, render a Bishop neither greater nor less**.(St. Hieron. Epist. 146 ad Ev.) **

**This one is excellent! :smiley: **


#3

And is this man orthodox? (Note that I did not capitalize it, as you lot, in fact, are not.)


#4

Well, as a linguist, I would be interested to see the original quote from St. Augustine, since Peter means Rock. That would make it a rather incomprehensible sentence.
What you can say is that these men were in the minority. Search these fora, you will find other quotes from other Early Church Fathers to support Petrine primacy.


#5

First, the real passage from the Retractationes, chapter 21 ( or 20 in other editions):

“I mentioned somewhere with reference to the apostle Peter that ‘the Church is founded upon him as upon a rock.’ This meaning is also sung by many lips in the lines of blessed Ambrose, where, speaking of the domestic cock, he says: ‘When it crows, he, the rock of the Church, absolves from sin.’ But I realize that I have since frequently explained the words of our Lord: ‘Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church’, to the effect that they should be understood as referring to him Peter confessed when he said: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’, and as meaning that Peter having been named after this rock, figured the person of the Church, which is built upon this rock and has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven. For what was said to him was not ‘Thou art rock’, but ‘Thou art Peter’. But the rock was Christ, having confessed whom(even as the whole Church confesses) Simon was named Peter. Which of these interpretations is more likely to be correct, let the reader choose.”

Allow me now a long quotation (New Advent translation), from Sermon 26 ( or 76, in other lists)

"The Gospel which has just been read touching the Lord Christ, who walked on the waters of the sea; and the Apostle Peter, who as he was walking, tottered through fear, and sinking in distrust, rose again by confession, gives us to understand that the sea is the present world, and the Apostle Peter the type of the One Church. For Peter in the order of Apostles first, and in the love of Christ most forward, answers oftentimes alone for all the rest. Again, when the Lord Jesus Christ asked, whom men said that He was, and when the disciples gave the various opinions of men, and the Lord asked again and said, “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” One for many gave the answer, Unity in many. Then said the Lord to Him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjonas: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but My Father which is in heaven.” Then He added, “and I say unto you.” As if He had said, “Because you have said unto Me, ‘You are the Christ the Son of the living God;’ I also say unto you, ‘You are Peter.’” For before he was called Simon. Now this name of Peter was given him by the Lord, and that in a figure, that he should signify the Church.

"For seeing that Christ is the rock (Petra), Peter is the Christian people. For the rock (Petra) is the original name. Therefore Peter is so called from the rock; not the rock from Peter; as Christ is not called Christ from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. ‘Therefore,’ he saith, ‘Thou art Peter; and upon this Rock’ which Thou hast confessed, upon this rock which Thou hast acknowledged, saying, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, will I build My Church;’ that is upon Myself, the Son of the living God, ‘will I build My Church.’ I will build thee upon Myself, not Myself upon Thee.
(

For men who wished to be built upon men, said, “I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas,” who is Peter. But others who did not wish to be built upon Peter, but upon the Rock, said, “But I am of Christ.” And when the Apostle Paul ascertained that he was chosen, and Christ despised, he said, “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” And, as not in the name of Paul, so neither in the name of Peter; but in the name of Christ: that Peter might be built upon the Rock, not the Rock upon Peter.

  1. This same Peter therefore who had been by the Rock pronounced “blessed,” bearing the figure of the Church, holding the chief place in the Apostleship, a very little while after that he had heard that he was “blessed,” a very little while after that he had heard that he was “Peter,” a very little while after that he had heard that he was to be “built upon the Rock,” displeased the Lord…

  2. …Yet see this Peter, who was then our figure; now he trusts, and now he totters; now he confesses the Undying, and now he fears lest He should die. Wherefore? because the Church of Christ has both strong and weak ones; and cannot be without either strong or weak; whence the Apostle Paul says, “Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.” In that Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” he represents the strong: but in that he totters, and would not that Christ should suffer, in fearing death for Him, and not acknowledging the Life, he represents the weak ones of the Church. In that one Apostle then, that is, Peter, in the order of Apostles first and chiefest, in whom the Church was figured, both sorts were to be represented, that is, both the strong and weak; because the Church does not exist without them both."

Now we have the context of the quotation in italics, often proposed by some non-catholic brothers, and we can see that:

  • precisely in teaching that Christ is to be considered the Petra and Petros is so called from Christ, and built on Christ ( which is beautiful BTW, IMHO)
  • precisely in teaching that Peter is the type of the One Church (same as above, IMHO) …
    Augustine teaches us here petrine primacy. Repeatedly and clearly.
    And teaches that it is a primacy in love.
    And that it is a very real primacy, not just a matter of place of honor. “Chief place” of New Advent translates “principatus”. This is a strong word for a primacy. It can look like “rule”, “supremacy”.

Unfortunately many people, seeing quoted out of context the central part of the passage, suppose and let suppose that this sermon by Augustine, or any passage of his about Christ being the Rock, …disproves petrine primacy !

I hope, therefore, that this contextualization can be useful to understand several things. :slight_smile:


#6

***This thread has has had one post split into a new thread.
MF

***SPLIT: The “god” P-T-A-H?


#7

Hi Padraig,

and now, what about

We must not believe that the city of Rome is a different church from that of the whole world. Gaul, Britain, Africa, Persia, the East, India, all the barbarous nations, adore Jesus Christ, and observe one and the same rule of truth. If one is looking for authority, the world is greater than one city. Wherever there is a Bishop, be he at Rome or at Eugubium, at Constantinople or at Rhegium, at Alexandria or at Tanis, he has the same authority, the same merit, because he has the same priesthood. The power that riches give, and the low estate to which poverty reduces, render a Bishop neither greater nor less**.(St. Hieron. Epist. 146 ad Ev.) ** ?

First let us consider this passage by Jerome, in a letter to Pope Damasus ( 15)
*

  1. 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, John 19:23 since the foxes are destroying the vineyard of Christ, Song of Songs 2:15 and since among the broken cisterns that hold no water it is hard to discover the sealed fountain and the garden inclosed, Song of Songs 4:12 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. …
    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!*

A reply to this could be that Jerome had changed his mind growing older. Nevertheless we should ask when and where Jerome, in his huge work, witnesses to and explains such a fundamental - if happened - U-turn in his ecclesiological vision.

( BTW The issue of this letter 146 is the essential distinction between presbyters ( “men through whose prayers the body and blood of Christ are produced”) and deacons. In the development of his exposition, Jerome complains about certain customs of deacons in Rome: we can note that nothing is said because of them against the bishop of Rome. )

If, anyway, he did have so radically changed his view as to
teach that every single bishop has exactly the same authority, and no distinction among them is possible or legitimate, than
that … would prove too much for out orthodox brothers. Why then patriarchs ? :shrug:

But, is he really saying that every bishop has the very same authority ?

Let’s see the translation of the relevant sentence in New Advent:

Wherever there is a bishop, whether it be at Rome or at Engubium, whether it be at Constantinople or at Rhegium, whether it be at Alexandria or at Zoan, his dignity is one and his priesthood is one.

Where is "same authority " ?

Another rendition: *he is of the same worth, and also of the same priesthood (ejusdem est meriti, ejusdem est et sacerdotii). *

Jerome is saying that all bishops share the same “sacerdotium”, not that their authorities ( or their jurisdictions ) are the same. :slight_smile:

I hope this can be helpful Padraig


#8

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