Thursday, March 1, 2012

Attempt to discredit papacy uses false history

In January, in an article appearing on the Huffington Post, Christian blogger Ben Stevens claimed to produce 3 "major defeaters" of the papacy. In his own words, he defines a defeater thusly:

[A] defeater is a belief which, if true, necessarily invalidates some other belief (e.g. "Jesus was not raised from the dead" is a defeater for Christianity). These "defeaters" take aim at papal history.
So remember that definition, because he believes that his "3 major defeaters" each "invalidate" the Papacy in some "major" way. He also goes into some "minor" defeaters, but in the interest of brevity, and to demonstrate the pattern of error in his self-proclaimed "major defeaters" alone, I'll go through the 3 major ones.

BEN STEVENS' "MAJOR DEFEATER" OF THE PAPACY #1
In virtually all the early citations used to say that Peter led the church in Rome, Paul is listed as co-leader of the church (cf. Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Lactantius, Cyril of Jerusalem and Athanasius). ... In all three letters to his disciples, Paul prescribes that there be multiple bishops (episkopoi) in every congregation. [This] is different from what papal historians might lead us to believe.
In response to this, let me first state the obvious miscalculation here. If I were to say the official leaders of the United States were once Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Marshall, would you be able to ascertain from that statement alone if one of them was higher up the hierarchy than the other? If I were to say the United States was founded by George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, could you determine if I thought one of them was President? The answer to both is no. That is, unless you knew your history, or unless you place some favor on who I list first.

Rome has had a history of a number of auxiliary bishops, which refutes Steven's claim that "papal historians" try to lead the public to some false sense of a single bishop only in any given major city.

But let's look at the individual Church Fathers Stevens cites. The reason he mentions Peter and Paul is because Catholics believe the Pope to be the successor of the Apostle Peter. Thus, according to Stevens, if the Early Church recognized Peter and Paul as leaders of the Roman Church, they must have thought them to be equal in authority, and a papacy deriving from Peter must apparently be a fiction. This is where Stevens derails historically and logically.

ST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH (ca 110 A.D.) - There's not a significant amount of mention of Peter and Paul in Ignatius' works. He does have a more submissive tone in his letter to the Romans than he does to other cities. He writes in that letter that the Church at Rome is "presiding over the brotherhood of love." Elsewhere in his letter, he writes:

I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you. They were apostles; I am but a condemned man.
Please note, Ignatius doesn't tell us anything about a hierarchical order or otherwise when referencing Peter and Paul. Stevens eisegetes equality into Ignatius' words even though no such qualifier exists. Ignatius merely says they were Apostles teaching in Rome, which is, of course, true, and which any good Catholic history book will describe. One thing you will notice in Ignatius' and others' early references to Peter and Paul in Rome is the order of Peter first. In studying other ECFs giving more detail, we can see this was so due to Peter's superior hierarchical rank. At any rate, Ignatius can hardly be considered a deal-breaker to support Stevens' claim.

ST. IRENAEUS (ca. 170 A.D.) - Irenaeus, like Ignatius, mentions Peter and Paul (in that order) in his texts without specifically naming a leader nor identify any equality in authority, even though Stevens reads the latter into his work. Irenaeus writes quite loftily of the office of Rome itself, consistent with Catholic theology:

...that very great and very ancient and universally known Church, which was founded and established at Rome, by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul: we point I say, to the tradition which this Church has from the Apostles, and to her faith proclaimed to men which comes down to our time through the succession of her bishops, and so we put to shame . . . all who assemble in unauthorized meetings. For with this Church, because of its superior authority, every Church must agree — that is the faithful everywhere — in communion with which Church the tradition of the Apostles has been always preserved by those who are everywhere. ... The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. (Against Heresies, 3.3.2-3)
Notice a couple things in Irenaeus' writing. He lists Peter first in the Church he says has "superior authority" in relation to "every Church." And he establishes a singular "episcopate" flowing from this foundation. Even if one were to grant Stevens (hypothetically of course, since to do so would be incorrect) that Peter and Paul were equally authoritative cofounders of Rome, Irenaeus describes a singular bishop's office flowing from that foundation. The idea of a Papacy, therefore, would not be so much discredited as supported!

TERTULLIAN (ca 210 A.D.) - Tertullian mentions Peter and Paul a few times. For instance, he refers to both of them suffering martyrdom in Rome (Prescription Against Heretics, 36). And he mentions again their bloody sacrifice in Rome (Against Marcion, 4.5). In another place, he mentions Peter alone as having ordained Clement (Prescription Against Heretics, 32).

For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter. In exactly the same way the other churches likewise exhibit (their several worthies), whom, as having been appointed to their episcopal places by apostles, they regard as transmitters of the apostolic seed.
If we refer back to Irenaeus, we see that Clement became the bishop of that superior episcopate. Though Tertullian does not specifically elevate Peter here, he does consistently mention him first when paired with Paul, and he verifies the Catholic concept of apostolic succession and a singular Roman office.

In another work (On Modesty, 21), Tertullian criticizes the Roman bishop, Pope Callistus, over the qualities of Peter passed on to successors. He admits the Pope sits "in the person of Peter," though he denies the power of the keys belonging to Peter alone. He writes:

If, because the Lord has said to Peter, Upon this rock will I build My Church, to you have I given the keys of the heavenly kingdom; or, Whatsoever you shall have bound or loosed in earth, shall be bound or loosed in the heavens, you therefore presume that the power of binding and loosing has derived to you, that is, to every Church akin to Peter, what sort of man are you, subverting and wholly changing the manifest intention of the Lord.
The skeptic of the papacy will note only Tertullian's opposition to the Pope in this text. Yet notice at least two other things from this work. Tertullian freely admits that the episcopate traces back to Peter. No mention of Paul is made here, repudiating Stevens' claim that Tertullian placed Peter and Paul as authoritative equals in Rome. Secondly, notice that in Tertullian's counter to the idea of Peter passing his "keys" onto his successors, Tertullian is revealing the argument presented by the other side. For more on this issue, see Mark Bonocore's The Title Pontifex Maximus.

LACTANTIUS (ca. 305 A.D.) - I was able to find a single mention of Peter and Paul in Lactantius' writings. It reads:

But He also opened to them all things which were about to happen, which Peter and Paul preached at Rome. (Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 4.21, ca 305 A.D.)
There is nothing, as Stevens' claims, in this example about diluted authority between the two men, although, once again, Peter is mentioned first, lending closer to the Catholic assertion.

ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM (ca. 360 A.D.) - This is probably Stevens' worst example of someone who supposedly claimed Peter and Paul had equal authority in Rome. I'll let Cyril's words speak for themselves.
And when they all became silent (for the matter was too high for man to learn), Peter, the foremost of the Apostles and chief herald of the Church, neither aided by cunning invention, nor persuaded by human reasoning, but enlightened in his mind from the Father, says to Him, You are the Christ, not only so, but the Son of the living God. (Catechetical Lectures, 11.3)

As the delusion was extending, Peter and Paul, a noble pair, chief rulers of the Church, arrived and set the error right. ... For Peter was there, who carries the keys of heaven: and nothing wonderful, for Paul was there , who was caught up to the third heaven, and into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful far a man to utter. (Catechetical Lectures, 6.15)

In the power of the same Holy Spirit Peter also, the chief of the Apostles and the bearer of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, healed ├ćneas the paralytic in the Name of Christ at Lydda, which is now Diospolis, and at Joppa raised from the dead Tabitha rich in good works. (Catechetical Lectures, 17.27)
Needless to say, Cyril of Jerusalem is a terrible example for Stevens to use to dilute Peter's authority.

ST. ATHANASIUS (ca 350 A.D.) - Athanasius makes statements similar to other ECFs regarding the historicity that Peter and Paul both were martyred in Rome:

And Peter, who had hid himself for fear of the Jews, and the Apostle Paul who was let down in a basket, and fled, when they were told, 'You must bear witness at Rome ,' deferred not the journey; yea, rather, they departed rejoicing ; the one as hastening to meet his friends, received his death with exultation; and the other shrunk not from the time when it came, but gloried in it, saying, 'For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. (Athanasius, Apologia de Fuga, 18)
In this example, as invariably consistent as other ECFs mentioning the two Apostles in tandem, Peter is listed first.

In the incident versus the Arians in the fourth century, Athanasius was a central figure in quelling the heresy that denied the eternal consubstantiality of the Son Jesus with the Father God. In more than one work, Athanasius quotes from the Pope:
"For what we have received from the blessed Apostle Peter, that I signify to you; and I should not have written this, as deeming that these things were manifest unto all men, had not these proceedings so disturbed us." ... Thus wrote the Council of Rome by Julius, Bishop of Rome. (Athanasius, Defense Against the Arians, quoting from Pope Julius' Letter, I.35.b, ca. 360 A.D.)
You see above, Athanasius quotes what the Pope had written about how what he "signified" came "from the blessed Apostle Peter." There is no objection from Athanasius along with this citation. Rather, Athanasius is using the letter as evidence for his position in his battle against the Arians. This supports the notion that Peter was the head of Rome through which the authority of the episcopate was passed.

Athanasius, quoting another Pope, shows again that the episcopate flowed through Peter:

The eunuch accordingly went to Rome, and first proposed to Liberius to subscribe against Athanasius ... But the Bishop endeavoured to convince him, reasoning with him thus: "How is it possible for me to do this against Athanasius? How can we condemn a man, whom not one Council only, but a second assembled from all parts of the world, has fairly acquitted, and whom the Church of the Romans dismissed in peace? Who will approve of our conduct, if we reject in his absence one, whose presence among us we gladly welcomed, and admitted him to our communion? This is no Ecclesiastical Canon; nor have we had transmitted to us any such tradition from the Fathers, who in their turn received from the great and blessed Apostle Peter." (Athanasius, quoting Pope Liberius, History of the Arians, V.36)1
Again, Athanasius quotes a Pope claiming succession back to Peter with no objection or comment on the matter. One might claim that these previous two quotes are arguments from silence, which to a certain extent may be true, although he does quote the Petrine sentiment explicitly. However, Stevens' claim that Athanasius equalized Peter and Paul's authority in Rome appears entirely devoid even of such semi-silent evidence.

But that's not all from Athanasius. In his commentary on the Psalms, Athanasius writes: "For Peter also is the leader in the praxis/practice for Christ..." For my part, I was able to find the Greek of this excerpt (at line 00874 in this documentacatholicaomnia.eu PDF). I had a university Greek professor provide my translation above. Other translations, such as at fisheaters.com, have listed the interpretation of his words as "The Chief, Peter."

This, too, damages Stevens' claim to deny the unique leadership position Peter held amidst the Apostles.

MORE ON "MAJOR DEFEATER #1"
Remember, Stevens claimed that the above ECFs made claims about the equality of Peter and Paul's authority in Rome, and yet not a single one supports his assertion. This is supposed to be one of his deal-breakers, one of his "major defeaters" against the Catholic idea of a papacy. Granted, Stevens did not provide any citations from these ECFs to support his claim, so if there is something he was able to locate that I was not, I am open to reviewing those quotations. In the meantime, not only do all these ECFs consistently list Peter first when mentioned with Paul, but on many occasions, they explicitly speak to Peter's headship.

Even though Stevens listed several ECFs, he also said "virtually all the early citations" regarding Peter's authority list Paul as a "co-leader," which Stevens uses to deny Peter as head. The range of ECFs he named spans from approximately 110 A.D. – 350 A.D. Here's a sampling from that range of what Stevens calls "virtually all" the ECFs who did not consider Peter the leader:

ST. CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (ca 195 A.D.) - St. Clement explicitly contradicts Stevens' claim:

On hearing these words, the blessed Peter, the chosen, the pre-eminent, the first among the disciples, for whom alone with Himself the Savior paid the tribute, quickly grasped and understood their meaning. And what does he say? "Behold, we have left all and have followed you!" (Clement of Alexandria, Homily on Mark 10:17-31 "Who is the rich man that is saved?")

ORIGEN (ca 230 A.D.) - Origen, and subsequently Cyprian below, echo the same sentiment that Peter is the foundation of the Church:
"Peter, upon whom is built the Church of Christ, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, left only one epistle of acknowledged genuinity. Let us concede also a second, which however is doubtful." (Origen, Commentaries on John 5,3)

"Look upon the great foundation of the Church, that most solid of rocks, upon whom Christ built the Church! And what does the Lord say to him? 'O you of little faith,' He says, 'why did you doubt!'" (Origen, Homilies on Exodus 5,4)
ST. CYPRIAN (ca 250 A.D.) - On the nature of unity in the Church, Cyprian writes:

If any one consider and examine these things, there is no need for lengthened discussion and arguments. There is easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth. The Lord speaks to Peter, saying, I say unto you, that you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt. 16:18) And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, Feed my sheep. And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, As the Father has sent me, even so send I you: Receive the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins you remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins you retain, they shall be retained; John 20:21 yet, that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity. Which one Church, also, the Holy Spirit in the Song of Songs designated in the person of our Lord, and says, My dove, my spotless one, is but one. She is the only one of her mother, elect of her that bare her. Song of Songs 6:9 Does he who does not hold this unity of the Church think that he holds the faith? (Cyprian, Treatise 1.4)
Above, Cyprian admits to a "like" power among all the Apostles, but he raises Peter up as the source of unity. The excerpt ends with him saying that one who does not hold to the "unity" beginning with Peter in Matt. 16:18, cannot be said to hold to the faith.

Cyprian repeats this teaching in an Epistle:

For first of all the Lord gave that power to Peter, upon whom He built the Church, and whence He appointed and showed the source of unity— the power, namely, that whatsoever he loosed on earth should be loosed in heaven. (Cyprian, Epistle 72.7, ca 250 A.D.)
In another work, Cyprian confirms that succession in Rome proceeded through Peter.

And [Cornelius] was made bishop by very many of our colleagues who were then present in the city of Rome ... Cornelius was made bishop ... when the place of Fabian, that is, when the place of Peter and the degree of the sacerdotal throne was vacant; which being occupied by the will of God, and established by the consent of all of us, whosoever now wishes to become a bishop, must needs be made from without; and he cannot have the ordination of the Church who does not hold the unity of the Church. (Cyprian, Epistle 51.8)
COUNCIL OF SARDICA (344 A.D.) - The council at Sardica debunks Stevens' claim both against the idea of Roman primacy and also that Peter was not the leader from whom succession flowed in Rome:

But if judgment have gone against a bishop in any cause, and he think that he has a good case, in order that the question may be reopened, let us, if it be your pleasure, honour the memory of St. Peter the Apostle, and let those who tried the case write to Julius, the bishop of Rome, and if he shall judge that the case should be retried, let that be done, and let him appoint judges; but if he shall find that the case is of such a sort that the former decision need not be disturbed, what he has decreed shall be confirmed. Is this the pleasure of all? The synod answered, It is our pleasure. (Council of Sardica, canon 3)
There are many other early Church writings that confirm Peter's position as leader of the Apostles and the original occupant of the chair in Rome, not Paul even though he was a revered Apostle himself.

From this sampling, I hope it is clear that Stevens' "major defeater #1" has been, itself, defeated.

BEN STEVENS' "MAJOR DEFEATER" OF THE PAPACY #2
Even though the founding of the papacy (if historical) would be the second most important event in all of history (after the Christ event itself), it has no place in the apostolic preaching (in Acts) or even in the writings of the apostolic fathers. The good news, if the papal narrative holds true, would have to be that Christ has come and that, in Peter, Christ remains. But there is not a trace or hint of this Petrine emphasis in the apostolic preaching. Nowhere do we hear it preached that "a human representative of Christ on earth will graciously continue on as Christ directs him." How could such a monumental component of the story be left out if in fact it was truly a part of the story?
The above is similar to the average atheist's challenge against God. Do a Google search sometime for phrases like: "If God is real why doesn't he show himself??" The challenger comes up with a criteria after the fact that they supposedly require before they submit to a belief. The problem is, the challenger ignores the extant evidence while coming up with some criteria for which he claims there is no evidence, and then parades that criteria as the ultimate rule.

That being said, Stevens' demands are actually met in the course of history. He simply does not acknowledge it, or perhaps has some degree of blindness, as we saw in the response to his "major defeater #1."

He says a Papacy has no place in the book of Acts. Before I provide evidence of Peter's primacy from the book of Acts, let me point out something of which Stevens indicates no knowledge or perhaps for which he has no respect. That is the doctrine of development. The books of the very Bible Stevens cites as his historical evidence had not been identified with clarity for a few hundred years following their penning. The most consistent canon began around 382 at the synod at Rome. Stevens does not seem to submit the canon of Scripture through the same gauntlet as he does the papacy, demanding evidence of the latter from the book of Acts, but not the former. Surely, Stevens considers the identification of the books of Scripture to be vitally important if they are to be a measure of other doctrines. Yet we have no such list from an Apostle. I could easily play the role of devil's advocate against his belief and demand he show me the canon of Scripture by using only the book of Acts. I could say as he did of the Papacy, "Surely such an 'important event in all of history' would be articulated by Jesus and the Apostles!" Of course, my demand would be just as specious as his demand to produce the fully developed doctrine of the papacy from the book of Acts.

Scripture itself identifies the Apostles and prophets as a foundation (Eph. 2:19-20), not as the end all, exhaustive communicators of all that will be understood by the Church in one shot. This is historically evident in the Church's behavior in discerning not only the canon of Scripture, but in understanding other widely held Christian doctrines such as the Trinity (formulated at Nicea in 325 A.D.) or the hypostatic union of the Incarnation (formulated at Chalcedon in 451 A.D.). Yet for the papacy, Stevens demands his own full blown 21st century definition from the 1st century book of Acts. But I digress.

In the book of Acts, it is Peter who assembles the Church leaders to choose a successor for Judas (Acts 1:15). It is Peter who first speaks after the Holy Spirit descends upon the Church at Pentecost (Acts 2:14). It is Peter who performs the first Apostolic miracle (Acts 3:6-7). Peter is the first to speak at the council of Jerusalem, resolving the first doctrinal conflict in the Church (Acts 15:7ff). The historical record shows James to have been the first bishop of Jerusalem (e.g. St. John Chrysostom, commentary on John 21:19, ca. 390 A.D.)––all the more significant that Peter stood and made the first pronouncement in his fellow Apostle's jurisdiction.

These are just a few examples from Acts regarding Peter's leadership. Other New Testament examples are quite common in Catholic apologetics. I won't give a lengthy treatment here since such examples are easy to find. Suffice it to say, Jesus changed Peter's name to "Rock," (Matt. 16:18) a term normally reserved in Scripture for God. The significance of that has been downplayed in occasions in history, particularly among those who attempt to discredit the papacy. But the symmetry of the passage demands Peter's himself to be called "Rock" by Christ. Peter starts with "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matt. 16:17) Notice he identifies Jesus' persona, followed by His identity in relation to his father. Jesus replies, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church." (Matt. 16:18-19) Notice how Jesus returns the symmetry by identifying Peter's persona (as Rock) and his identity in relation to his father "Jona." An abundance of well-known Protestant scholars admit to the necessity of this interpretation. Sometimes, you will find a historical Christian identifying Peter's confession of faith as the Rock. The Church has no problem with that understanding as can be seen in CCC#424. However, the Church does not posit a false dichotomy by saying if the Rock is Peter's confession, it therefore cannot be Peter himself. No, rather the Church, historically and today, acknowledges also Peter himself as the Rock (CCC#552) consistent with the structure of the Matthean text.

Another strong verse demonstrating Peter's primacy amongst the Apostles is in Luke. Notice the tense of the Greek terms in parentheses below:

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you (plural), that he might sift you (plural) like wheat, but I have prayed for you (singular) that your (singular) faith may not fail; and when you (singular) have turned again, strengthen your (singular) brethren." (Luke 22:31-32)
You have at least two elements of the idea of the papacy here. Peter is certainly charged with oversight of the other disciples, to be strength for them. As well, Jesus makes a personal prayer here for Peter's faith, the seed of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility (which is a charism, given by the Holy Spirit, protecting the Pope from teaching error on the faith when several teaching conditions are met).

There is a plethora of other evidence from Scripture speaking to Peter's primacy, including that from Matthew to Revelation, Peter is mentioned some 155 times versus a combined total of 130 for the other Apostles. Not only that, but the idea of Roman primacy was well-recognized in the first few centuries as articulated above, and even more forcefully in the 4th century and beyond. Even a 2008 joint statement by Catholics and Orthodox acknowledges the Petrine origin of the Roman see, and it's identity as the "prima sedes." The historical record belies Stevens' claim to belittle Peter's leadership in Rome and Roman primacy.

For more Scriptural info, see such pages as my debate on the Papacy from 2008, ScriptureCatholic.com, Catholic.com tracts on the papacy, PhilVaz.com's articles on the papacy, Dave Armstrong's Biblical apologetics for the papacy, and many other sites detailing what is a plethora of Petrine primacy in the Scriptures.

I must consider Stevens' "major defeater #2" the second of two failed attempts to discredit the papacy.

BEN STEVENS' "MAJOR DEFEATER" OF THE PAPACY #3
The medieval schism and Council of Constance not only severed what link there might have been to Petrine succession but, in fact, ground the true authority of all churches in Jesus Christ alone. In the papacy's darkest hour, the line of leaders which (is supposed to have) descended from Peter himself was broken, and the leaders of the church announced in their resolution to the schism that "everyone is subject to this ruling, even the pope. We draw our authority from Jesus Christ Himself." This is, in its essence, a Protestant understanding of authority, and it undercuts the whole Petrine office.
I must first point out Stevens' admission in the first sentence referring to "what link there might have been to Petrine succession" when his first "major defeater" denies that one existed through Peter alone, calling instead for the equation of authority in Rome between Peter and Paul. Whether this is subconscious evidence from Stevens that his first "major defeater" is not all that major, I cannot say.

At any rate, Stevens strangely places the utmost authority in the Council of Constance and, perhaps inadvertently, places his authority in the Council that penned the quotation in question while simultaneously claiming to place his authority only in Jesus Christ. Catholic thought believes the papacy draws its authority from none other than Christ, yet Stevens behaves as if he is unaware that such is Catholic teaching. Still, this point only speaks to Stevens' personal inconsistencies in analysis.

Stevens leaves out an important element in the Council of Constance –– the council submitted to Pope Gregory XII's demand that he formally convoke the council himself, thus placing it in some sense under his authority, certifying it in logical advancement. The council submitted. Once he convoked the council himself, Gregory then voluntarily abdicated so as to end the confusion of who was the authentic Pope by letting the council pick his successor. The historical record does not admit to the confusion claimed by Stevens that succession was broken. For the Church then recognized Martin V in 1417, preserving the succession of Popes that Stevens claims was broken. Those from the very council in which Stevens placed so much authority to make his point acknowledged the existence of Martin V as true Pope!

For more details and source material on this historical episode, see my earlier blog post Were there 3 popes at the same time?

And thus, Stevens' "major defeater #3" can neither be considered a defeater of the papacy.




1Sometimes, you will see among anti-Catholics the claim against the dogma of Papal Infallibility on the grounds that Pope Liberius caved in to the Arian Heresy and supposedly formally taught Arianism. However, if we read through paragraphs 36-41 of part V of his History of the Arians, we see even Athanasius defending the Pope at that time. Paragraph 41 culminates with: "But Liberius after he had been in banishment two years gave way, and from fear of threatened death subscribed." Not only was Liberius under known duress and threat of death at the time, he could not reasonably be considered to have met all the criteria for the protection of Papal Infallibility to have occurred and did not teach heresy for the faithful to hold as a function of his Petrine see. This is especially evidenced by the likes of a bishop like Athanasius detailing the external threats begetting Liberius' submission.

2 comments:

  1. You know, I am glad that I came to know the Catholic Church as the True Church of Christ by mystical experiences or better put--by the Guidance of the Holy Spirit. I was absolutely blinded to anything Catholic prior to those experiences. Thank God for that blindness, I can not imagine the darkness in that kind of man who would pervert the teaching of Jesus and led souls to hell while saying Lord, Lord.
    I like your blog. You write interesting things.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the nice comments, as always, Donald. :)

    ReplyDelete