St. John Chrysostom used against us


#1

I have had St. john quoted against me in a discussion as follows: -

on Confession (Penance)
“We do not request you to go to confess your sins to any of your fellow-men, but only to God!” (Crhysostom, Homily on 50th Psalm)
“We do not ask you to go and confess your iniquities to a sinful man for pardon - but only to God.” (Ibid.)
“You need no witness of your confession. Secretly acknowledge your sins and let God alone hear you.” (Chrysostom, De Paenitentia, Volume IV, Col. 901)
“Therefore, I beseech you, always confess your sins to God! I, in no way, ask you to confess them to me. To God alone should you expose the wounds of your soul, and from him alone expect the cure. Go to Him, then, and you shall not be cast off, but healed. For, before you utter a single word, God knows your prayer.” (Chrysostom, De Incomprehensibili, Volume I, Homily V)
on Scriptures
"All things are plain and simple in the Holy Scriptures; all things necessary are evident." (2 Thessalonians, Homily III, Volume xi, 528)
Does St. Chrysostom clearly state that all things that are necessary (i.e., for salvation, for doctrine, etc.) are already present and evident in Scripture?
Yes No
Does the Roman Catholic Church teach that all things that are necessary (i.e., for salvation, for doctrine, etc.) are not already present and evident in Scripture, but that her traditions are equally necessary, and of equal value to Scripture?
Yes No
Since it is impossible to answer both the above questions “yes,” (they are mutually contradictory and mutually exclusive), which one is teaching doctrinal error?

(1) St. Chrysostom was teaching error.

(2) Rome is teaching error.

on Peter as the “ROCK” or first Pope of Rome

St. John Chrysostom, one of the greatest theologian of the early Church, says of Peter:
First Citation: “‘And I say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church;’ that is, on the faith of his confession.” (A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Oxford: Parker, 1844; Homilies of S. John Chrysostom on the Gospel of Matthew, Homily 54.3)
Second Citation: “’ And I say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church;’ that is, on the faith of his confession. Hereby He signifies that many were now on the point of believing, and raises his spirit and makes him a shepherd, ‘And the gates of hell’ shall not prevail against it.” (Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series: Volume X (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.)
Third Citation: “What then saith Christ? ‘Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas.’ “Thus since thou hast proclaimed my Father, I too name him that begat thee;” all but saying, “As thou art son of Jonas, even so am I of my Father.” Else it were superfluous to say, “Thou art Son of Jonas;” but since he had said, “Son of God,” to point out that He is so Son of God, as the other son of Jonas, of the same substance with Him that begat Him, therefore He added this, “And I say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church;” that is, on the faith of his confession. Hereby He signifies that many were now on the point of believing, and raises his spirit, and makes him a shepherd. “And the gates of hell” shall not prevail against it.” (Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series: Volume X, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.)
Who does St. John Chrysostom identify as the ROCK upon which the true Church will be built - Peter or Christ Himself via Peter’s confession of faith?
Jesus is the Rock Peter is the Rock
**Does Rome enjoy the “Unanimous consent of the Fathers” on this topic? **
Yes No
Since St. Chrysostom says Jesus is the ROCK, and Rome says the Peter is the ROCK, both cannot be right. One of the two is teaching doctrinal error; which one?

St. Chrysostom is teaching error Rome is teaching error


#2

I’ve been digging around for info and found this book review findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3818/is_200001/ai_n8879148 which seems relevant, but hardly contains enough info to mount a suitable defence. The best I found was Catholic Encylopedia
newadvent.org/cathen/08452b.htm which states-

It is true that Chrysostom has some strange passages on our Blessed Lady (see Newman, “Certain difficulties felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teachings”, London, 1876, pp. 130 sqq.), that he seems to ignore private confession to a priest, that there is no clear and any direct passage in favour of the primacy of the pope. But it must be remembered that all the respective passages contain nothing positive against the actual Catholic doctrine. On the other side Chrysostom explicitly acknowledges as a rule of faith tradition (XI, 488), as laid down by the authoritative teaching of the Church (I, 813). This Church, he says, is but one, by the unity of her doctrine (V, 244; XI, 554); she is spread over the whole world, she is the one Bride of Christ (III, 229, 403; V, 62; VIII, 170).

Anyone got any ideas on the best way to handle these accusations or links to sites with more information?


#3

The argument for Christ as the rock is futhered by my friend thus-

Cyril on Peter as ‘the Rock’

Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444 A.D.) wrote: “Now by the word ‘rock,’ Jesus indicated I think the immovable faith of the disciple.” (Commentary on Isaiah IV.2, M.P.G., Vol. 70, Col 940.)

Does Father of the Church Cyril of Alexandria agree with St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom that it is Jesus, not Peter, who is the Rock upon which the true Church will be built?

Yes No

Do we now have several Fathers of the Church who identify the “Rock” as Jesus, and not as Peter?

Yes No

Which is more reasonable - to found the Church of Christ on a fallible, sinful man, or on the perfect Son of God?


#4

John Chapman dealt with St. John Chrysostom on Peter exhaustively. He rounded up about 90 quotes. Peter’s faith and Peter are connected. Here are some good ones:

“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])

“The first of the apostles, the foundation of the Church, the coryphaeus of the choir of the disciples.” (Ad eos qui scandalizati sunt, 17, vol III, 517[504])

“See the unanimity of the apostles,” he says, on Acts 2:4: “they give up to Peter the office of preaching, for it would not do for all to preach.” “Hear how this same John, who now comes forward (to ask for a seat at Christ’s right hand) in the Acts of the Apostles, always gives up the first place to Peter both in preaching and in working miracles. Afterwards James and John were not thus. Everywhere they gave up the first place to Peter, and in preaching they set him first, though he seemed of rougher manners than the others.”

Again, he remarks how St. Paul “gives up to Peter the first place.” (Hom 4 in Acta 3, vol IX, 46[37]; Hom 65[66] in Matt 4, vol VII, 622[648], ibid Hom 50[51], 506[515]; Hom 35 in 1 Cor 5, vol X, 303[329]; Hom 8 in Acta 1, vol IX, 71-72[64-65]).

"Do you see how He Himself leads Peter to a high consideration of Himself, and reveals Himself and shows Himself to be the Son of God by these two promises? For what is proper to God alone, that is, to forgive sins, and to make the Church in so great an onset of waves, and to cause a fisherman to be stronger than any rock, when the whole world wars against him, this He Himself promises to give; as the Father said, speaking to Jeremias, that He would set him as a column of brass and as a wall; but Jeremias to a single nation, Peter to the whole world.

“I would willing ask those who wish to lessen the dignity of the Son: Which are the greater gifts, those which the Father gave to Peter, or those which the Son gave him? The Father gave to Peter the revelation of the Son, but the Son gave to him to spread that of the Father and of Himself throughout the world, and to a mortal man He entrusted the power over all that is in heaven, in giving the keys to him who extended the Church throughout the world, and showed it stronger than the world.” (Hom 54[55] in Matt VII, 531[546] seq)

I have something on this Father and confession also, but it is at home. I remember those quotes floating around in my old FidoNet days (mid 1990s). Chrysostom has a whole book on The Priesthood where he talks a little about priests. :rolleyes:

Phil P


#5

Time to post this again, argue from Matthew 16 itself thus:

Let’s summarize what all the Protestant scholars are saying in their commentaries on Matthew 16:18 –

(A) Peter is the Rock, the foundation stone of Jesus’ Church, the Church would be built on Peter personally;

(B) Peter’s name means Rock (petros or petra in Greek, Kepha or Cephas in Aramaic);

© The slight distinction in meaning for the Greek words for Rock (petros, petra) was largely confined to poetry before the time of Jesus and therefore has no special importance;

(D) The Greek words for Rock (petros, petra) by Jesus’ day were interchangeable in meaning;

(E) The underlying Aramaic Kepha-kepha of Jesus’ words makes the Rock-rock identification certain;

(F) The Greek word petra, being a feminine noun, could not be used for a man’s name, so Petros was used;

(G) Only because of past “Protestant bias” was the Peter is Rock identification denied;

(H) The pun or play on words makes sense only if Peter is the Rock;

(I) Jesus says “and on this rock” not “but on this rock” – the referent is therefore Peter personally;

(J) Verse 19 and the immediate context (singular “you”) shows Peter is the Rock of verse 18;

(K) Peter’s revelation and confession of Jesus as the Christ parallels Jesus’ declaration and identification of Peter as the Rock;

(L) Peter is paralleled to Abraham who also had his name changed, was a Father to God’s people, and was called the Rock (Isaiah 51:1-2; cf. Gen 17:5ff).

and on Keys

In summarizing the above scholars, the authority of the “keys” and the power of “binding and loosing” stand for the following –

(A) The keys of the kingdom represent authoritative teaching, and Peter’s role as holder of the keys is fulfilled now on earth as Christ’s chief teacher;

(B) The keeper of the keys, according to the background of Matthew 16:19, has authority within the house as administrator and teacher (cf. Isaiah 22);

© The authority of the keys is likened to that of the teachers of the Law in Jesus’ day, and the correct interpretation of the Law given by Jesus is accessible to the early community (the Church) through the tradition of Peter;

(D) The authority of the keys of the kingdom (Matt 16:19) are not different from the key of David (Isaiah 22:22; Rev 3:7), since Jesus controls and is in possession of both;

(E) Therefore, the keys (or “key” singular) represent FULL authorization, FULL authority, PLENARY authority, SUPREME authority;

(F) The keys of the kingdom are NOT to be understood as merely entrance keys (or “opening the door of faith” to the Gentiles), but rather to the bundle of keys carried by the chief steward who regulated the affairs of the entire household (cf. Isaiah 22), which in the New Covenant is Christ’s universal Church (cf. Matt 16:18; 1 Tim 3:15);

(G) Peter, as holder of the keys, is not merely the “gatekeeper of heaven” or “doorkeeper” but is therefore the Chief Steward of the Kingdom of Heaven (the Church) on earth;

(H) Further, the power of the keys can represent baptismal or penitential discipline, excommunication, exclusion from the Eucharist, legislative powers or the power of governing the affairs of the Church;

(I) The language of “binding” and “loosing” is Rabbinic terminology for authoritative teaching or a teaching function (or “Halakhic” pronouncements), denoting the authoritative declaration that an action is permitted or forbidden by the law of Moses, and in the Church the authority to pronounce judgment on unbelievers and promise forgiveness to believers;

(J) The “binding” and “loosing” refers to the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the early community, which Jesus was establishing through His apostles in His Church) to declare a commandment or teaching binding or not binding, forbidden or allowed, and God in heaven will ratify, seal, or confirm that decision made on earth (cf. Matthew 16:19; 18:18).

From here, my unfinished reply to James G. McCarthy

Phil P


#6

It is very simple. So blindingly simple that it is easy to miss:

Catholicism believes in a triple correct interpretation of “rock” in this passage as BOTH Peter AND his confession of Jesus as Christ AND Jesus himself is the rock. All these interpretations are correct and don’t negate each other.

The mail posted shows that Chrysostom said that Jesus was the rock. We don’t have to dispute that. The mail is correct on this point.

The mail posted also claims that Chrystostom denied that Peter was the rock. Now that’s something worth disputing. The mail is incorrect on this point, ignoring other things Chrysostom wrote.

Here we go, another quotation from Chrystostom:

“Peter himself the chief of the Apostles, the first in the Church, the friend of Christ, who received a revelation not from man, but from the Father, as the Lord bears witness to him, saying, ‘Blessed are thou, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and bone hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven’; this very Peter, - and when I name Peter, the great Apostles, I name that unbroken rock, that firm foundation, the great Apostle, the first of the disciples, the first called and the first who obeyed.” (Homily 3 de Poenit. 4)

The mail closes with a question: “Since St. Chrysostom says Jesus is the ROCK, and Rome says the Peter is the ROCK, both cannot be right. One of the two is teaching doctrinal error; which one?”

The answer, is that neither teach error. There is more than one correct interpretation. Peter is the Rock. Jesus is also the Rock. So is the truth of the confession of Peter.

My quote was found on this page which looks good (but I haven’t read it all yet). It even has a link back to catholic.com!

catholicsource.net/articles/petertherock.html


#7

“We do not request you to go to confess your sins to any of your fellow-men, but only to God!” (Crhysostom, Homily on 50th Psalm)<<<

This is his opinion. St. Chrysostom was not authorized to declare dogma. His statement, narrowed to a single sentence, is most likely out of context as it contradicts scripture that we should confess our sins to one another. (James 5:16) This is why we need a Magesterium and a Pope guided by the Holy Spirit. Simply because a person is a saint, that does not mean they have a divine understanding of all doctrine. Even St. Jerome, who penned the first Bible, changed his mind and opinions at times regarding which books are canonical.

“All things are plain and simple in the Holy Scriptures; all things necessary are evident.” (2 Thessalonians, Homily III, Volume xi, 528)<<<

If this is true, (sola scriptura) not only to say that all things are there but also that they are evident or obvious, then there would not be over 60,000 Protestant denominations in the World.

St. John Chrysostom, one of the greatest theologian of the early Church, says…<<<

That’s funny, I thought Protestants didn’t accept anything outside of the Bible!

**Does Rome enjoy the “Unanimous consent of the Fathers” on this topic? **<<<

The doctrines of the church, the “deposit of faith,” were never based on the unanimity of the early church fathers. They were “once for all delivered to the saints” by the Apostles through the Holy Spirit, and they are preserved in the church by the Holy Spirit with the Bishop of Rome, the successor to the see of Peter as final authority.

Protestants have no authority, they have broken from the seat of Peter, they have no final authoritative person on earth, therefore, they have disunity and disagreement.

One doesn’t have to go to the church fathers to see that.

Thal59


#8

A further look (I’m actually looking for things about Chrysostom and confession) has brought me a page that’s excellent. But I find it’s already been posted here.

PhilVaz - that’s an excellent homepage. I haven’t looked at it before so have just bookmarked you for a lot of further reading.


#9

Another quick reply. The mail suggests that Chrysostom didn’t believe in any way in the Sacrament of confession/ reconciliation.

This page has a few quotations from him that show this isn’t the case:

matt1618.freeyellow.com/fathersconfess.html


#10

someone who is better versed than I in church history might be able to answer: STJC was an Eastern Father, writing in what century? the practice of confession in his day and time was what? public confession and penance? the practice of confession to an individual priest or spiritual director began among the Irish monks in what century? the practice spread to the universal church when? Fr. Ambrose may know how the practice of confession evolved in the Eastern Church. the Fathers, like scripture, must be interpreted in their context. To whom was he writing, for what purpose, when and where.


#11

Here are excerpts of an online discussion I had with James White in the old days of FidoNet…

Date: 05-04-95 From: PHIL PORVAZNIK To: JAMES WHITE
Subj: Great Chrysostom Debate Conf: Open_Bible

=====

PP> Patrick did say he had many quotes of the Church Fathers ready but I’m disappointed he didn’t quote them. It would have been a more decisive defeat of the Protestant team. Marshner referred to Chrysostom on 2 Thess which was good.

JW> < chuckle > You are a very poor debate judge, Phil. The comment on 2 Thessalonians was not good, if you are the slightest bit familiar with Chrysostom, that is.

If I am the slightest bit familiar with Chrysostom? Who is this Saint John Chrysostom dude? He lived from 344/354 to 407 A.D. and some say is matched only by St. Augustine. He was preacher in the main church in Antioch and in 398 became Bishop of Constantinople.

First, we have this curious statement from The King James Only Controversy by one James White – (endnote #24, p. 50-51)

“Indeed, it might be difficult for them to find ANYONE in the ancient church, even around Antioch and Byzantium, who would LOOK a whole lot like a modern fundamentalist Baptist. Even the most conservative of the ancient Fathers, like John Chrysostom, would provide KJV Only advocates with numerous reasons to object to his theology, beliefs, and practices.”

=====

CHRYSOSTOM on the Power of Priests

"They who inhabit the earth, they who make their abode among men, are entrusted with the dispensation of the things of heaven! Priests have received a power which God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. It was said to them: ‘Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose, shall be loosed’ [Matt 18:18]. Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding; but they can bind only the body. Priests, however, can bind with a bond which pertains to the soul itself, and transcends the very heavens.

“Whatever priests do here on earth, GOD will confirm in heaven, just as the master ratifies the decision of his servants. Did He not give them all the powers of heaven? ‘Whose sins you shall forgive,’ He says, ‘they are forgiven them: whose sins you shall retain, they are retained’ [John 20:23]. What greater power is there than this? The Father has given all the judgment to the Son. And now I see the Son placing all this power in the hands of MEN. They are raised to this dignity as if they were already gathered up to heaven, elevated above human nature, and freed of its limitations.” (The Priesthood 3:5:182-4)

"The priests of Judaism had power to cleanse the body from leprosy – or rather, not to cleanse it at all, but to declare a person as having been cleansed. And you know how much contention there was even in those times to obtain the priestly office. Our priests have received the power not of treating with the leprosy of the body, but with SPIRITUAL uncleanness; not of declaring cleansed, but of ACTUALLY CLEANSING…What mean-souled wretch is there who would despise so great a good? NONE, I dare say, unless he be urged on by a devilish impulse.

“God has given to priests powers greater than those given to our parents; and the differences between the powers of these two is as great as the difference between the future life and the present. Our parents begot us to temporal existence; priests beget us to the eternal. The former are not able to ward off from their children the sting of death, nor prevent the attack of disease; yet the latter often save the sick and perishing soul – sometimes by imposing a
lighter penance, sometimes by preventing the fall. Priests accomplish this not only by teaching and admonishing, but also by the help of prayer. Not only at the time of our regeneration [at Baptism], but even aftward they have the authority to FORGIVE SINS. ‘Is there anyone among you sick? Let him call in the priests of the church, and let us pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins, he shall be forgiven’ [James 5:14-16].” (The Priesthood 3:6:190-6)

“Great is the dignity of priests. ‘Whose sins you forgive,’ He says, ‘they are forgiven them’ [John 20:23]…The things that are placed in the hands of the priest, it belongs to God alone to give…Neither angel nor archangel is able to do anything in respect to what is given by God; rather, Father and Son and Holy Spirit manage it all; but the priest lends his own tongue and presents his own hand. Nor would it be just, if those who draw near in faith to the symbols of our salvation were to be harmed by the wickedness of another.” (Homilies on John 86:4)

Phil P


#12

Brilliant! Thanks! Some brilliant stuff there and loads of great reading material! Thank you all so much!!

:slight_smile:


#13

asquared << the practice of confession in his day and time was what? public confession and penance? the practice of confession to an individual priest or spiritual director began among the Irish monks in what century? the practice spread to the universal church when? >>

Best book answering these questions is the two-volume massive work by Oscar Watkins A History of Penance (out of print). I found it at USF library a number of years ago, and copied many pages. His book is like Anglican Darwell Stone’s complete two-volume on the history of the Eucharist.

From another old FidoNet debate, Goforth is citing from Watkins pages which I personally mailed him.

Date: 10-30-95 From: PHIL PORVAZNIK To: DAVID GOFORTH
Subj: Great Penance Debate

Here you attempted to quote from Watkins’ summary which I mailed you –

DG << “In citing these instances of confession as the preliminary of Penance, it is important to bear in mind that there was no thought of admitting Penance more than once in the whole term of life.” >>

Granted, the PRACTICE of Penance was more strict in the early Church. That does not mean the DOCTRINE did not exist or was invented out of thin air. Yes, it appears the earliest Christians – Tertullian (200), Origen (220), Cyprian (250) – had allowed for the sacrament to be administered only ONCE in life for serious sin, as Baptism is given once. The early Christians were quite holy. Most were martyred and became Saints of the Church. Here is the context of what you quoted –

“This Penance is characterized (a) by the showing of the SIN TO THE PRIEST of the Lord, and the receiving from him the remedy, with (b) the penitential exercise of tears and lamentation, of fasting and abstinence. This early use of confession to the priest may be compared with the confession to the bishop mentioned by Cyprian. In each case it forms part of RECOGNIZED AND ORDINARY USAGE: and in each case it is PRIVATE CONFESSION to one person, and NOT to the whole congregation. In citing these instances of confession as the preliminary of Penance it is important to bear in mind that there was no thought of admitting Penance more than once in the whole term of life.” (Watkins, volume 1, page 471)

This sounds very much like the current Catholic teaching although admittedly the practice of allowing the sacrament for serious sin more than once in life has changed. That is not a change in the DOCTRINE but rather the PRACTICE of Penance. The Church still has the same commission and authority to forgive sins through Christ.

DG << "The system of graded penance, thus introduced in Pontus, appears to have spread rapidly to the neighboring provinces of Cappadocia and Galatia. The Council of Ancyra in Galatia, which was held in A.D. 314, alludes to the grades as “the defined grades.” >>

This shows a development in the practice – brought in by the great missionary bishop St. Gregory the Wonderworker of Neo-Caesarea in Pontus – the five grades being the Mourners, the Hearers, the Fallers, the Bystanders, and the Restored or Faithful. Again, this has to do with how the sacrament should be practiced in the Church, and does not deny the doctrine. Christ still gave the Church the authority to forgive sins. That does not change. What changes is how this should be implemented. The paragraph continues where you left off –

“The system [of the defined grades of Penance] is an accepted system: and is acquiring a technical terminology. The length of the penance in the several grades is not by S. Gregory indicated with any precision. In the fourth century the terms of penance come to be exactly indicated.” (Watkins, volume 1, page 472)

DG << “In the Spanish peninsula the Council of Illiberris (c. A.D. 306), as already noticed, shows the Spanish churches still solid for the pre-Decian rigorism fifty years after the rest of the Church had moved.” (i.e. the once only type). >>

The quote continues – sorry, there isn’t a period but a colon –

" : but the Council of Arles (A.D. 314) some eight years later is on the side of the measure of indulgence now generally conceded, and among its signatories are found reprentatives of the Spanish churches. At about the same date (A.D. 306) Peter, archbishop of Alexandria, in his -Canonical Epistle- admits to penance those who had lapsed. He distinguishes the measures of their fault. To those who had lapsed under torments he assigned forty days of penance. To those whose lapse had occurred in time of imprisonment a year is given. To those who had failed in sheer cowardice three or four years are assigned. Thus the punishments are real and definite in duration: but they are not excessive." (Watkins, volume 1, page 473)

=====

Good stuff from my FidoNet days…I need to put all this online.

Phil P


#14

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