question for the Orthodox

Hello,
here is a question for our Orthodox brothers, i think i might have found a logical argument against your position on how truth is derived in the Church. Correct me if i am wrong, but does the EO Church not hold that the Holy Spirit speaks through a majority within the Church either among it as a whole or within the episcopal college, and do you also not hold that all Bishops are fundamental equal in authority. if this is the case then there is major hole in your ecclesiology, because prior to the Schism (lets just say 1000AD)correct me if i am wrong, there had been for some time many more Christians in the Latin Church than in the Eastern Churches combined and more Bishops as well. here’s the argument:

P1. the Holy Spirit speaks through a majority within the Church.
P2. the majority of Christians and bishops in 1000AD did not think that the spirit speaks through a Majority
Ergo: the Holy Spirit does not speak through a majority

i am sure you see the self-referential incoherence in this. how do you refute this?

Nobody believes in P1.

My argument would be this:

Is Jesus our king? Did He re-establish the office of the Royal Steward?

In ancient times, a king might choose a second in command (known as the royal steward or prime minister) who literally wore a large key as a symbol of his office and who spoke with the authority of the king. The prophet Isaiah confirms this:

Isaiah 22:20-22
"In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”

In the passage above, God is speaking, and He confirms the existence of the office, the key, and the continuation of the office despite the change of office holder. In other words, the office of the royal steward continued even when the man who held the office died or was replaced by someone else. God Himself passes the key from one steward to the next.

In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus inherits the throne of his father, David.

Luke 1:31–33
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.

We also read the following:

Matthew 16:13-19
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

The passage quoted above from Matthew tells us that Jesus named Peter as His royal steward and gave him the “keys to the kingdom of heaven" as the symbol of his authority to speak in His name. Since Jesus is an eternal king, the office of royal steward in His kingdom will never end. Peter died as a martyr as Jesus foretold, but the successors of Peter have taken his place in the perpetual office that Jesus established in His royal court.

In addition to the reference to a key or keys, note the following parallels:

"What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” (Is. 22:22)
"Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Mt. 16:19)

Jesus specifically referenced the passage from Isaiah when He appointed Peter, and Peter received authority from Jesus to speak universally in His name. To do so faithfully, Peter must not teach error; therefore, Peter (and his successors who hold the office of the Royal Steward - also known as the Bishop of Rome) are protected by God through the charism of infallibility.

The existence of the Royal Steward does not preclude the existence of other stewards in the household, but doesn’t the office of the Royal Steward suggest both supremacy and universality? Who, other than the king, is above him? :shrug:

I don’t think that’s a very good argument, primarily because of weakness in the premises.

Heresy was rampant in the early Church. Ever heard the saying Athanasius contra mundum?

Your premises are seriously flawed, so we cannot properly address them.

Your argument isn’t valid.

To simplify it:
(P1) X
(P2) People at T1 did not believe X
Therefore not X.

With that supposed logical argument, you could “disprove” any X.
E.g.:
(P1) The earth is round
(P2) People in the 10th century did not believe the earth is round.
Therefore the earth is not round.

Aside from an invalid argument, I assume you mean to say the Orthodox believe the Holy Spirit uses popular will to state truth and so people pre-Schism didn’t believe the majority could speak the truth, then the former fact is false because they would’ve known because they must know the Spirit is speaking through them. Firstly, that adds a bunch of implicit premises, secondly no Orthodox person would say that.

Aw, don’t make me choose. :slight_smile:

God will reveal the truth as he likes, though I can’t say I can think of a time where we hold it has ever been done through popular opinion. That tends to be Satan’s realm.

I think it’s important to remember there is no such thing as an external organ of infallibility such as a pope or a council constructed in a certain way. Only the Church is infallible. No single bishop or group of bishops or group of laity can say that they are.

I think the quintessential example of refutation for p1 is Maximos the confessor who had the church of the east against him, at least its leadership anyways. Athanasius and the iconodules were also hard pressed. It seems to me the way the holy spirit works is not in a circumscribed manner, he works with patience over the whole body eventually bringing it into conformity even if parts rebelled at certain times in history.

It has been pointed out by Fr Thomas Hopko that even if an eccumenical council were to gather together and all the Bishops were in agreement on whatever statement they saw fit to make, that would not automatically make it a universally accepted council. It might take years for the council to be recognised by not only the Bishops in attendance but the bishops not in attendance, the presbyters, deacons and then lay people. The first council lest we forget was on a little effective in rebutting heresies and its authority was limited.

Hi Ignatian Philo: I think you are correct in what you say.

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