The Witness of the Church Fathers With Regard to Catholic Distinctives

Friday, November 10, 2006


With Examples of Protestant Corroboration of Catholic Doctrines or Clear Contradiction of Patristic Consensus

*** Copiously Documented with 315 Footnotes *** 


I. History of the Doctrines of Tradition and Scripture

II. History of the Doctrine of Justification

III. History of the Idea of Development of Doctrine

IV. History of the Doctrine of the Eucharist

V. History of the Doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass

VI. History of the Doctrine of the Communion of Saints

VII. History of the Doctrine of Purgatory

VIII. History of the Doctrine of Penance

IX. History of Mariology

X. The Early Church and the Bishop of Rome


I. History of the Doctrines of Tradition and Scripture

Many prominent Protestant scholars and historians agree that, for the early Church, Scripture and Tradition freely coexisted and were not in the least mutually exclusive. (0) While the early Church Fathers constantly assert the supreme authority of the Bible, they do not oppose the Scriptures to the Church, which had for them a necessary practical priority. In this way they are much nearer in spirit to the continuous Catholic view than to the classic Protestant outlook. Protestant polemicists tend to impose upon the early Church categories of thought which have only been prevalent from the 16th century to the present time. This is a common error, since everyone has their preconceived notions which they would like to see substantiated.

In the late first century, the Didache speaks of Tradition as something "received," reflecting the biblical language of St. Paul. (1)

In the second century St. Polycarp (2) and St. Irenaeus (3) reiterate this teaching more explicitly, and speak of apostolic succession.

Tertullian (4) and St. Hippolytus (5) expand upon this understanding in the early third century. And Origen states,

That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with ecclesiastical and Apostolic Tradition. (6)

In the fourth century, St. Basil the Great, (7) St. Gregory of Nyssa, (8) and St. Epiphanius inform us that dogmas of the Church are received both from written and oral sources, or the "tradition of the Apostles," and that, as in St. Epiphanius' words, "not everything can be gotten from Sacred Scripture." (9)

In the early fifth century, St. John Chrysostom, whom many consider the greatest preacher who ever lived, cites 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (examined above) and concludes from it that,

. . . there was much also that was not written. Like that which is written, the unwritten too is worthy of belief. So let us regard the Tradition of the Church also as worthy of belief. (10)

In the same period, St. Augustine - the greatest of all the Fathers and highly regarded by Luther, Calvin and most Protestants - clearly teaches that there exists a Tradition of the Church which is extrascriptural (11) and, in some cases, not even yet dealt with in ecumenical Councils. (12) For example, he mentions the rebaptism of heretics and schismatics as a practice which is contrary to apostolic Tradition, even though the matter had not been written about. He opposes rebaptism (over against the Donatist heresy) because it is not in accordance with the practice "kept by the whole Church everywhere and handed down by the Apostles themselves." (13) Thus, for St. Augustine, the authority of the Church, derived from apostolic Tradition, is normative and final. This is exactly the opposite of the Protestant view, which regards Scripture as somehow the final arbiter (even though it still has to be interpreted by someone authoritatively).

St. Vincent of Lerins, writing c.434, soon after St. Augustine's death, makes the same point about the necessity of Church authority and interpretation, since,

. . . quite plainly, Sacred Scripture, by reason of its own depth, is not accepted by everyone as having one and the same meaning . . . it can almost appear as if there are as many opinions as there are men. (14)

Thus, all the essential components of the Catholic view of Scripture and Tradition are in place within the first 400 years of the Church's existence, and this was the unanimous Christian view until the time of the rise of Protestantism in the 16th century. The constant Catholic teaching was strongly reaffirmed and presented even more explicitly in the Council of Trent in 1546 (15) and the Second Vatican Council in 1965. (16)

Martin Luther, who essentially originated the notion of sola Scriptura, did so somewhat reluctantly and gradually, as dictated by unfortunate circumstances (viewed from his perspective). In his examination at Augsburg in October, 1518 he placed the Bible (that is, his interpretation of it) above the pope, but still admitted the equal authority of Councils. In the Leipzig Disputation with Catholic apologist Johann Eck in July, 1519, he was more or less forced in the heat of debate to place the authority of Scripture above that of Councils as well. Even in this instance he tried in vain to evade the consequences of the inner logic of his own theological position. This evolution is well-documented in many Protestant biographies of Luther.

In the final analysis, both Luther and Calvin espoused a radically subjective and experiential method of determining Christian truth which is somewhat contradictory and not even strictly in harmony with a sola Scriptura perspective, since the interpretational supremacy of the individual (itself an unbiblical notion) is accepted as an unproven axiom. This overly-idealistic assumption was shown to be evidently false in Luther's own lifetime, and all the more so since. In 1522 Luther said that Christians must not regard the "opinion of all Christendom," but that "each one for himself alone" must believe the Scriptures. (17) Later, however, he set up a State Church which operated on markedly authoritarian principles diametrically opposed to his earlier, more radical and subjective stance.

In theory, then, for Luther Scripture was both supreme and self-interpreting for all honest and sincere Protestant inquirers. In practice, however, since this Protestant "axiom" is demonstrably false, Luther's own theology simply became the substitute for traditional Catholic theology. The sheer arbitrariness of such a position is apparent upon fair-minded reflection.

Likewise, John Calvin, a much more logical and systematic thinker than Luther, wound up in the same logical conundrum, a foundational flaw in Protestantism's sola Scriptura not often dealt with by Protestant scholars and clergymen. In his Institutes he writes, "God bestows the actual knowledge of himself upon us only in the Scriptures." (18) Yet in the very next chapter, Calvin becomes radically subjective, not seeming to notice the contradiction involved:

Scripture indeed is self-authenticated; hence it is not right to subject it to proof and reasoning . . . Illumined by his power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else's judgment that Scripture is from God . . . We seek no proofs, . . . Such, then, is a conviction that requires no reasons . . . I speak of nothing other than what each believer experiences within himself. (19)

This perspective, if taken to its logical conclusion, would dispose of reason, Christian apologetics, authoritative interpretation by some ecclesiastical body (as opposed to the mere individual under the illumination of the Holy Spirit), and even the nature of the biblical Canon itself. Calvin seems to think that every Christian (that is, the predestined elect) would know what books constituted Scripture even if the Canon had never been authoritatively determined by the Council of Carthage in 397 (this Canon also contained the books which Protestants call theApocrypha, which they removed from their Bibles). Yet this is clearly not the case. We know from the actual history of the establishment of the Canon that sincere, godly, and learned Christians had great disagreements about what books were biblical, (20) and it is quite unrealistic and fanciful to think that Christians of any period (especially many years later) would be any different.

Calvin's system, then, is every bit as self-defeating as the Mormon belief, where one "knows" the truth of the Book of Mormon by means of a "burning in the bosom." He himself constantly employs highly complex reasoning and hermeneutical arguments, and even appeals to Church history, where it suits his purpose. Such a methodology is contrary to the above citation.

Calvin's extremely influential theological schema (and Protestantism, generally speaking) might be self-consistent once certain axioms are accepted uncritically, and presuppositional flaws overlooked, but when these are examined objectively, the Achilles' Heel of Protestantism, sola Scriptura, is revealed to be a very weak pillar indeed.

FOOTNOTES (Scripture and Tradition)

0. Oberman, Heiko, The Harvest of Medieval Theology, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, rev. ed., 1967, 366-371; Pelikan, Jaroslav, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1971, 115-119 (both Lutheran sources).
1. Didache, 4:13. (cf. Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32).
2. 2nd Letter to the Philippians, 7,2.
3. Against Heresies, 1,10,1-2; 2,9,1; 3,3,4; 4,33,8.
4. Demurrer Against the Heretics, 19,3; 21:2-4; 37,1.
5. Against the Heresy of Noetus, 17.
6. The Fundamental Doctrines, 1, Preface, 2. From Jurgens, William A., ed. and tr., The Faith of the Early Fathers (FEF), 3 volumes, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970, vol. 1, 190.
7. The Holy Spirit, 27,66.
8. Against Eunomius, Bk. 3 (4).
9. Panacea Against All Heresies, 61,6. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 73.
10. Homilies on 2 Thess 4:2. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 124.
11. Letter to Januarius, 54,1,1.
12. Baptism, 4,24,31.
13. Ibid., 2,7,12. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 66.
14. The Notebooks, 2,2. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 262-263.
15. "Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures," Council of Trent, Session IV, April 8, 1546. All Trent citations are taken from Dogmatic Canons and Decrees, Rockford, IL: TAN Books & Publishers, 1977 (orig. 1912).
16. "Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation," Nov. 18, 1965.
17. From: Grisar, Hartmann, Luther, tr. E.M. Lamond, ed. Luigi Cappadelta, 6 volumes, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1917, vol. 4, 391-392; Von Menschen leren tzu meyden, 1522.
18. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1559 ed., Book I, ch. 6, sec. 1, emphasis added (this is the title of the section). From tr. of Ford L. Battles, ed. John T. McNeill, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, two volumes, 1960, vol. 1, 69.
19. Ibid., Book I, ch. 7, sec. 5. Battles/McNeill, ibid., vol. 1, 80-81; emphasis added.
20. See, e.g., Westcott, Brooke Foss, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1980 (orig. 6th ed., 1889); Bruce, F.F., The Canon of Scripture, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988 (both Protestant sources).

II. History of the Doctrine of Justification

No theologian or Christian figure of any note believed in forensic, imputed justification until Luther and Calvin came onto the scene of Church history in the 16th century. It is simply implausible and incredible (and unbiblical: Matthew 16:18, John 14:26) to think that a theological concept considered so absolutely crucial by Protestants could have been lost immediately after the Apostles and for fifteen centuries thereafter. We have seen how Protestant notions of justification, absolute assurance of a salvation which can't be lost, eradication of free will, double predestination, and so forth, are unbiblical. Now we shall establish that the unbroken Tradition of Catholic Christianity up until Luther's time also bears witness to the above outlined view of soteriology.

In the late first century and early second, St. Clement of Rome speaks of "being justified by works and not by words," (21) just as St. James does. Likewise, St. Ignatius of Antioch warns against "desertion" and describes works as "deposited withholdings" which will accumulate "back-pay." (22) Thus, the concepts of merit and loss of salvation are delineated very early on.

In the second century, St. Justin Martyr refers to "the merit of each man's actions," upholds free will, (23) and directly denies imputed justification. (24) St. Theophilus (25) and St. Irenaeus (26) discuss merit and good works with regard to salvation, as does Tertullian, around 204 A.D. (27)

In the third century, St. Clement of Alexandria defines baptism as "a washing by which we are cleansed of sins," (28) and denies "faith alone." (29) Origen (30) and St. Cyprian (31) espouse good works and merit, and the latter expressly affirms baptismal regeneration. (32)

In the fourth century, St. Gregory of Nyssa writes, "Faith without works of justice is not sufficient for salvation." (33) St. John Chrysostom makes the same denial of "faith alone" (34) and teaches infused justification: "He has not only delivered us from sins, but has made us lovable." (35) St. Ambrose makes works (and merit) the scale upon which our eternal destiny will be weighed. (36) St. Jerome condemns "faith alone." (37)

In the early fifth century, St. Augustine repudiates the Calvinist ideas of Unconditional Election and Irresistible Grace: "He does not justify you without your willing it." (38) He teaches an initial justification (39) which enables the Christian to perform meritorious good works, (40) in order to work out their salvation, as St. Paul taught. Around 421, he elaborated his view of infused justification:

Grace makes a man entirely new . . . it even renews a man perfectly, to the extent that it achieves his deliverance from absolutely all sins. (41)

And a few years before his death, he warned of the possible loss of one's salvation:

If someone already regenerate and justified should, of his own will, relapse into his evil life, certainly that man cannot say: 'I have not received'; because he lost the grace he received from God and by his own free choice went to evil. (42)

This utterly contradicts Calvinism's Perseverance of the Saints as well as Irresistible Grace. St. Augustine was no Protestant, and most assuredly not a Calvinist!

The Second Council of Orange in 529 (43) condemned the heresies of Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism (which St. Augustine had already done a century earlier). Pelagianism denied Original Sin and regarded grace as within man's natural capacities. Semi-Pelagianism made man primarily responsible for his own salvation and denigrated the necessity of God's enabling grace. The Council made many binding definitions of grace and salvation which may be quite surprising to many Protestants, who are wont to accuse the Catholic Church of the same heresies which it anathematized fourteen centuries ago. The Catholic Church fully agrees with Holy Scripture that faith, the subjective condition of justification, is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8 ff., John 6:66, Hebrews 12:12, Philippians 1:6, 1:29, 1 Corinthians 4:7). This was the emphasis of 2nd Orange. (44)

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) reiterated the decrees of a thousand years earlier, developing them further, and emphasizing man's free will (in opposition to Protestantism) but adding nothing essential. Some of the more notable portions of the Decree on Justification (January 13, 1547) follow:

Chapter 5: . . . The beginning of the said justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God through Jesus Christ; that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they who by sins were alienated from God may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace to convert themselves to their own justification by freely assenting to and cooperating with that said grace: in such sort that, while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, for as much as he is also able to reject it; yet he is not able, by his own free-will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight.

Canon I: If anyone saith that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema. (45)

Canon IV: If anyone saith that man's free-will, moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, no wise cooperates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.

Canon VI: If anyone saith that it is not in man's power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God worketh as well as those that are good, not permissibly only, but properly and of Himself, in such wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul; let him be anathema.

Canon XI: If anyone saith that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

Canon XXIV: If anyone saith that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

Canon XXVI: If anyone saith that the just ought not, for their good works done in God, to expect and hope for an eternal recompense from God, through His mercy and the merit of Jesus Christ, if so be that they persevere to the end in well-doing and in keeping the commandments; let him be anathema.

Canon XXVII: If anyone saith that there is no mortal sin but that of infidelity (unbelief); or that grace once received is not lost by any other sin, however grievous and enormous, save by that of infidelity; let him be anathema.

Canon XXX: If anyone saith that, after the grace of justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.

Martin Luther exhibited unorthodox tendencies as early as his Commentary on Romans (1516), where he wrote that even when we "do good, we sin, [bene operando peccamus in Latin] but Christ covers over what is wanting and does not impute it." He denies merit and the existence of venial sin. For Luther, all sins, even the smallest, are mortal. He even goes so far as to say that those who determine that they are predestined to hell should resign themselves to their fate, since it is God's will - this knowledge being a source of "ineffable joy." Even Jesus Christ "offered Himself to the eternal Father to be consigned to eternal damnation for us." Luther thus was at variance with the Catholic Church on soteriological and christological issues at least a year before he critiqued the doctrine of Indulgences, which is commonly considered his first departure-point. (46)

In the Heidelberg Disputation in 1518, Luther stated: "God . . . graciously accepts our works and our life notwithstanding their complete worthlessness . . . All that a man does is the work of the devil, of sin, of darkness and foolishness." (47)

Luther biographer Hartmann Grisar concludes:

It was only in 1518-1519 that he developed the doctrine of the so-called "special faith," by which the individual assures himself of pardon and secures salvation. Thereby he transformed faith into trust, for what he termed fiducial faith partook more of the nature of a strong, artificially stimulated hope; it really amounted to an intense confidence that the merits of Christ obliterated every sin. (48)

The radical subjectivity and inadequacy of Luther's views on "assurance" of salvation are evident in his revised Commentary on Galatians:

We must day by day struggle towards greater and greater certainty . . . Everyone should therefore accustom himself resolutely to the persuasion that he is in a state of grace . . . Should he feel a doubt, then let him exercise faith; he must beat down his doubts and acquire certainty . . . And even when we have fought very hard for this, it will still cost us much sweat . . . The matter of justification is difficult and delicate, not indeed in itself, for in itself it is as certain as can be, but in our regard; of this I have frequent experience. (49)

Therefore, Luther's assurance of salvation amounts to the following: in order to possess assurance of salvation you must believe - despite doubts - that you have salvation. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this is reasoning in a vicious circle. (50)

Cardinal Newman critiqued Luther's views on faith and assurance when he was still an Anglican:

A system of doctrine has risen up during the last three centuries, in which faith or spiritual-mindedness is contemplated and rested on as the end of religion instead of Christ . . . And in this way religion is made to consist in contemplating ourselves instead of Christ; not simply in looking to Christ, but in ascertaining that we look to Christ, not in His Divinity and Atonement, but in our conversion and our faith in those truths . . . What! is this the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and wherein we stand, the home of our own thoughts, the prison of our own sensations, the province of self? . . . No wonder that where the thought of self obscures the thought of God, prayer and praise languish, and only preaching flourishes . . . To look at Christ is to be justified by faith; to think of being justified by faith is to look from Christ and to fall from grace . . . [Luther] found Christians in bondage to their works and observances; he released them by his doctrine of faith; and he left them in bondage to their feelings . . . Whereas he preached against reliance on self, he introduced it in a more subtle shape; whereas he professed to make the written word all in all, he sacrificed it in its length and breadth to the doctrine which he had wrested from a few texts. (51)

FOOTNOTES (Justification)

21. 1st Clement (to the Corinthians), 30:3, 31:2, 32:3-4, 33:1-2,7, 34:1-3. From Lightfoot, Joseph B. & J.R. Harmer, tr., The Apostolic Fathers, 2nd ed., ed. & rev. by Michael W. Holmes, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989 (1st ed. 1891), 45.
22. Letter to Polycarp, 6,2. From Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 26.
23. First Apology, 43. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 53.
24. Dialogue With Trypho the Jew, 141. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 62-63.
25. To Autolycus, 1,14.
26. Against Heresies, 4,37,7.
27. Repentance, 2,11j 6,4.
28. The Instructor of Children, 1,6,26,1-2. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 178.
29. Miscellanies (Stromateis), 6,14,108,4-5. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 184.
30. Commentaries on John, 19,6.
31. Works and Almsgiving, 14.
32. To Donatus, 4.
33. Homilies on Ecclesiastes, 8. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 46.
34. Homilies on the Gospel of John, 31,1.
35. Homilies on Ephesians, 1,3. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 120.
36. Letter to Constantius, a Bishop, 2,16; The Duties of the Clergy, 1,15,57.
37. Commentaries on Galatians, 2,3,11.
38. Sermons, 169,13. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 29.
39. Various Questions to Simplician, 1,2,2.
40. Ibid., 1,2,21.
41. Against Julian, Defender of Pelagianism, 6,13,40. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 146.
42. Admonition and Grace, 6,9. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 157.
43. The Second Council of Orange was not an ecumenical, or General Council, but is solemnly authoritative for all Catholics due to the confirmation of Pope Boniface II (Papal Bull: Per Filium Nostrum, January 25, 531).
44. Some of the more important decrees of the Second Council of Orange in 529:

Canon 3: If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred in answer to man's petition, but that the petition itself is not due to the action of grace, he contradicts the prophet Isaiah and the Apostle, who both say: 'I was found by them that did not seek me, I appeared openly to them that ask not after me' (Romans 10:20, Isaiah 15:1).

{In Bouyer, Louis, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, tr. A.V. Littledale, London: Harvill Press, 1956, 67}.

Canon 4: If anyone contends that God waits for our will so we may be cleansed from sin - and does not admit that the very fact that we even will to be cleansed comes in us by the infusion and work of the Holy Spirit, he resists the same Holy Spirit. {In Most, William G., Catholic Apologetics Today, Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1986, 110}.

Canon 5: If anybody says that the . . . beginning of Faith and the Act of Faith itself . . . is in us naturally and not by a gift of grace that is by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, he is opposed to Apostolic teaching. {In Ott, Ludwig,Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, tr. Patrick Lynch, Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1974 {orig. 1952 in German}, 230}.

Canon 6: If anyone says that God has mercy on us when, without his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, work, watch, study, ask, seek, knock, and does not confess that we believe, will, and are enabled to do all this in the way we ought, by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us; or makes the help of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man, rather than ascribing such humility and obedience to the free gift of grace; he goes counter to the Apostle, who says, 'What hast thou that thou hast not received?' and 'By the grace of God I am what I am' (1 Corinthians 4:7 and 15:10). {Bouyer, 67-68}.

Canon 7: If anyone asserts that we can, by our natural powers, think as we ought, or choose any good pertaining to the salvation of eternal life, that is, consent to salvation or to the message of the Gospel, without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit . . . he is misled by a heretical spirit, not understanding what the voice of God says in the Gospel, 'Without me you can do nothing' (John 15:5), nor the words of the Apostle, 'Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God' (2 Corinthians 3:5). {Bouyer, 68}.

Canon 9: As often as we do good God operates in us and with us, so that we may operate. {Ott, 229}.

Canon 13: Free will, weakened in the person of the first man, can be repaired only by the grace of Baptism . . . [cites Jn 8:36]. {Bouyer, 68}.

Canon 20: Man does no good except that which God brings about that man performs . . . {Ott, 229}.

Canon 25: In a word, to love God is a gift of God. He, yet unloved, loves us and gave us the power to love . . . Through the sin of the first man, the free will is so weakened and warped, that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought, or believe in God, or do good for the sake of God, unless moved, previously, by the grace of the divine mercy . . . In every good work that we do, it is not we who have the initiative, aided, subsequently, by the mercy of God, but that he begins by inspiring faith and love towards him, without any prior merit of ours. {Bouyer, 69}.

45. Anathema: A condemnation used by the Church to declare that a position or viewpoint is contrary to Catholic faith or doctrine, derived from Galatians 1:9. It means, literally, "let him be excommunicated," or barred from the sacraments, not damned, as many mistakenly suppose.
46. Information derived from Hartmann Grisar, Luther, tr. E.M. Lamond, ed. Luigi Cappadelta, 6 vols., London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1917, vol. 1, 216-217,221-222,238-240; Grisar in turn cites Luther himself from the edition of Commentary on Romans by J. Ficker (Leipzig: 1908).
47. Grisar, ibid., vol. 1, 319.
48. Ibid., vol. 4, 432, 456-457.
49. Ibid., vol. 4, 437-443.
50. The Council of Trent, in its Decree on Justification (chapters 9, 12, 15), rejected Protestantism's notion of subjective assurance of salvation:

But, although it is necessary to believe that sins neither are remitted, nor ever were remitted save gratuitously by the mercy of God for Christ's sake, yet it is not to be said that sins are forgiven, or have been forgiven, to any one who boasts of his confidence and certainty of the remission of sins, and rests on that alone; seeing that it may exist, yea does in our day exist, amongst heretics and schismatics; and with great vehemence is this vain confidence, and one alien from all godliness, preached up in opposition to the Catholic Church. But neither is this to be asserted, that they who are truly justified must needs, without any doubting whatever, settle within themselves that they are justified, and that no one is absolved from sins and justified but he that believes for certain that he is absolved and justified; and that absolution and justification are effected by this faith alone; as though whoso has not this belief doubts of the promises of God and of the efficacy of the death and resurrection of Christ. For even as no pious person ought to doubt of the mercy of God, of the merit of Christ, and of the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, even so each one, when he regards himself and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension touching his own grace; seeing that no one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God.

No one, moreover, so long as he is in this mortal life, ought so far to presume as regards the secret mystery of divine predestination as to determine for certain that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; as if it were true that he that is justified either cannot sin any more, or, if he do sin, that he ought to promise himself an assured repentance; for except by special revelation it cannot be known whom God hath chosen unto Himself.

. . . It is to be maintained that the received grace of justification is lost not only by infidelity, whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin whatever, though faith be not lost . . .

51. Newman, John Henry, Lectures on Justification, 1838, (Newman's Works, London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1881), 323-8,330,336-7,339-41.

III. History of the Idea of Development of Doctrine

In the late second century, St. Irenaeus speaks of Christian doctrine as "everywhere the same." Yet he goes on to assert that:

. . . constantly it has its youth renewed by the Spirit of God, as if it were some precious deposit in an excellent vessel; and it causes the vessel containing it also to be rejuvenated." (52)

Tertullian, writing c.206, states that "the grace of God works and perfects up to the end." (53)

St. Vincent of Lerins, writing around 434, gave the classic exposition found in the Church Fathers:

In the Catholic Church herself every care must be taken that we may hold fast to that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all. For this is, then truly and properly Catholic . . . (54)

Will there, then, be no progress of religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly there is, and the greatest . . . But it is truly progress and not a change of faith. What is meant by progress is that something is brought to an advancement within itself; by change, something is transformed from one thing into another. It is necessary, therefore, that understanding, knowledge and wisdom grow and advance strongly and mightily . . . and this must take place precisely within its own kind, that is, in the same teaching, in the same meaning, and in the same opinion. The progress of religion in souls is like the growth of bodies, which, in the course of years, evolve and develop, but still remain what they were . . . Although in the course of time something evolved from those first seeds and has now expanded under careful cultivation, nothing of the characteristics of the seeds is changed. Granted that appearance, beauty and distinction has been added, still, the same nature of each kind remains. (55)

Dogma . . . may be consolidated in the course of years, developed in the sequence of time, and sublimated by age - yet remain incorrupt and unimpaired . . . so that it does not allow of any change, or any loss of its specific character, or any variation of its inherent form. (56)

It should flourish and ripen; it should develop and become perfect . . . but it is sinful to change them . . . or mutilate them. They may take on more evidence, clarity, and distinctness, but it is absolutely necessary that they retain their plenitude, integrity, and basic character . . .

The Church of Christ is a faithful and ever watchful guardian of the dogmas which have been committed to her charge. In this sacred deposit she changes nothing, she takes nothing . . ., she adds nothing to it. (57)

Here we have almost all the elements outlined by Newman fourteen centuries later, yet Protestant controversialists such as George Salmon claim that Newman's views were a radical departure from Catholic precedent! (58)

Cardinal Newman points out the relative development of two doctrines in the early Church, as an example:

Some notion of suffering . . . or other vague forms of the doctrine of Purgatory, has in its favour almost a consensus of the first four ages of the Church . . . Whereas no one will say that there is a testimony of the Fathers, equally strong, for the doctrine of Original Sin . . . In spite of the forcible teaching of St. Paul on the subject, the doctrine of Original Sin appears neither in the Apostles' nor the Nicene Creed. (59)

Finally, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) commented:

Regarding its substance, then, faith does not grow with the passage of time, for whatever has been believed since was contained from the start in the faith of the ancient fathers. As regards its explication, however, the number of articles has increased, for we moderns explicitly believe what they believed implicitly. (60)

Development of doctrine, then, has been the constant teaching of the Catholic Church from the beginning, and all through its history. Only a misunderstanding of what development entails, or ignorance of the history of Christian doctrine, could cause anyone to doubt this. Nor is the concept hostile in any way to the considerable amount of biblical data which can be brought to bear on the subject.

Development is not necessarily corruption, as so many evangelical Protestants casually assume. Rather, it is novel innovation, according to Scripture, the early Church, the Fathers, the Councils, and continuous Catholic Tradition, which is certainly a corruption of true apostolic Christianity (see Acts 2:42, 1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Galatians 1:9,12, Jude 3).

FOOTNOTES (Development of Doctrine)

52. Against Heresies, 3,24,1. In Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 94.
53. The Veiling of Virgins, 1,3. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 137.
54. Notebooks, 2,3. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 263.
55. Ibid., 23:28-30. Emphasis added. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 265.
56. Ibid., 23. From Chapin, John, ed., The Book of Catholic Quotations, NY: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1956, 271.
57. Ibid., 23/23:30 ff. From Chapin, ibid., 271; Gibbons, James Cardinal, The Faith of Our Fathers, NY: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, rev. ed., 1917, 12.
58. Salmon, George, The Infallibility of the Church, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House (orig. 1888), 31-35.
59. Newman, John Henry Cardinal, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845; revised 1878), edition published by Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1989, 21,23. Introduction, nos. 15-16.
60. Aquinas, St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, 2-2,2,7. In Chapin, ibid., 271.

IV. History of the Doctrine of the Eucharist

In the early second century (before 110 A.D.), St. Ignatius of Antioch held that "the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ." (61) In the middle of the same century, St. Justin Martyr distinguishes the Eucharist from "common" bread and drink and calls it "both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus." (62) A little later, St. Irenaeus writes, "The bread over which thanks have been given is the Body of (the) Lord, and the cup His Blood." (63)

In the third century, Tertullian says that Jesus at the Last Supper took bread "and made it into His body by saying: 'This is My body.'" (64) Origen speaks of "receiving the Body of the Lord" and taking care "lest a particle of it fall." (65) St. Cyprian believed that "Christ is our bread, we who touch His Body." (66) Also, already in this period, ancient Christian liturgies, inscriptions and art (both eastern and western) bear plain witness to the Real Presence and even (in some fashion) transubstantiation.

St. Athanasius, in the fourth century, maintained that:

after the great and wonderful prayers have been completed, then the bread is become the Body, and the wine the Blood, of our Lord Jesus Christ. (67)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem makes an almost identical statement (68) and rebukes those who question the Real Presence "even though the senses suggest to you the other." (69) St. Hilary of Poitiers deems the Eucharist "truly" Flesh and Blood, and suggests a connection between the denial of this and the rejection of the very Incarnation of Christ. (70) St. Basil the Great regards Communion as a "partaking" in the Body and Blood of Christ. (71) St. Gregory of Nyssa holds that
"The bread . . . has been made over into the Body of God the Word," and that Christ in the Eucharist is "blending Himself with the bodies of believers." (72) St. John Chrysostom speaks of the priest as the representative of God in the Mass, exercising solely His power and grace, in order to "transform the gifts" which "become the Body and Blood of Christ." (73) Elsewhere he equates the Eucharist with Christ's "blood-stained" Body, "pierced by a lance." (74) St. Ambrose of Milan concurs in all these beliefs and refers to a transformation in which "even nature itself is changed." (75)

In the early fifth century, St. Cyril of Alexandria likewise denies that the Eucharist is a "figure" (76) or "solely intellectual." (77) Lastly, St. Augustine, the greatest of the Fathers, writes that "Christ was carried in His own hands, when, referring to His own Body, He said 'This is My Body.'" (78) He expressly sanctions adoration of the consecrated Host:

He took flesh from the flesh of Mary . . . and gave us the same flesh to be eaten unto salvation. But no one eats that flesh unless first he adores it . . . we do sin by not adoring. (79)

St. Augustine repeatedly affirms the Real Presence and transubstantiation. (80)

Often, Protestants cite St. Augustine's references to the Eucharist as a "sign," thinking that thereby he denied the Real Presence. But this is merely a weak false dichotomy, as the quotes above prove. It is entirely possible for something to be both a sign and reality simultaneously, and this is most emphatically the case with the Eucharist, just as, for instance, Jesus referred to His actual Resurrection as the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:38-40), or His Second Coming as the sign of the Son of man in heaven (Matthew 24:29-31). St. Augustine, understanding the richness of biblical and Catholic symbolic imagery as few have before or since, alluded to this with regard to the Eucharist, never for a moment denying or doubting the Real Presence. This "double significance" is fully in accord with Catholic teaching and biblical norms.

The first Christians of any note who denied the Real Presence were two French monks: Ratramnus (d.868), who deviated somewhat but not totally, and Berengarius (d.1088), who adopted a symbolic view which he later retracted. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Cathari and Albigensians, - heretical sects influenced by the earlier Gnostics, Manichaeans and Docetists, repudiated it. In response to this threat, the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 officially formulated dogmatically the fully-developed doctrines of transubstantiation, Real Presence, and the exclusive sacramental power of validly-ordained priests. John Wycliffe (d.1384) maintained a position on the Eucharist akin to that of Calvin - a "dynamic," or "spiritual" presence only (known as the remanence theory).

Eastern Orthodoxy maintains a firm belief in the Real Presence, although it is reluctant to attempt any explanation of the manner of the change, thinking that this is impious and unnecessary. (81) Likewise, many Anglicans (such as C.S. Lewis) accept the Real Presence, especially those who call themselves "high church" Anglicans or "Anglo-Catholics." (82)

Martin Luther, while rejecting the Sacrifice of the Mass, nevertheless held tenaciously to the Real Presence in the form of "consubstantiation," in which the two substances of bread and Christ's Body are present simultaneously, rather than one substantially changing into the other. In fact, he regarded those who denied the Real Presence (such as Zwingli) as heretics and non-Christians, "out of the Church," and applied to them some of the most graphic and scathing rebukes in his colorful linguistic repertoire. Even so, in his early period, around 1520, he himself was tempted to discard this view in opposition to Catholic dogma, (83) but found both the biblical evidence and the unanimity of Christian Tradition too unavoidable:

I am caught; I cannot escape, the text is too forcible . . . I wrestled and struggled and would gladly have escaped. (84)

It is very dangerous to assume that the Church which had existed for so many centuries, and had been the instructor of the whole of Christendom, should not have taught the true doctrine of the sacraments. (85)

As late as 1543, Luther did not forbid anyone who believed in transubstantiation from joining his movement. (86) And, when asked whether Lutherans should do away with the Elevation of the Host in the liturgy, Luther consistently replied in 1544 (two years before he died):

By no means, for such abrogation would tend to diminish respect for the Sacrament and cause it to be undervalued . . . If Christ is truly present in the Bread, why should He not be treated with the utmost respect and even be adored?

Joachim, one of Luther's friends, added:

We saw how Luther bowed low at the Elevation with great devotion and reverently worshiped Christ. (87)

For these beliefs, Luther was accused by fellow Reformer John Calvin of being "half-papist" and of committing idolatry:

He has sinned . . . from ignorance and the grossest extravagance. For what absurdities he pawned upon us . . . when he said the bread is the very body! . . . a very foul error. (88)

Zwingli, Bucer, Oecolampadius, and Carlstadt (all Protestant Reformers) jettisoned the doctrine of Real Presence, and adopted a purely symbolic, commemorative view. John Calvin (and eventually Luther's right-hand man Philip Melanchthon) took an intermediate position, in which Christ is present in the Eucharist in some sort of profoundly spiritual and "dynamic" fashion, but not substantially, with Communion being efficacious only for the truly faithful, the elect, or the "predestined." At times, however, Calvin sounds (like Luther) almost Catholic:

The Lord's body was once for all so sacrificed for us that we may now feed upon it, and by feeding feel in ourselves the working of that unique sacrifice . . . We are therefore bidden to take and eat the body which was once for all offered for our salvation . . .

In this Sacrament we have such full witness of all these things . . . as if Christ here present were himself set before our eyes and touched by our hands . . .

The Lord intended, by calling himself the "bread of life" . . . to teach . . . that, by true partaking of him, his life passes into us and is made ours . . .

Nothing remains but to break forth in wonder at this mystery, which plainly neither the mind is able to conceive nor the tongue to express . . . Christ's flesh, separated from us by such great distance, penetrates to us, so that it becomes our food . . . the Spirit truly unites things separated in space . . .

If the Lord truly represents the participation in his body through the breaking of bread . . . he truly presents and shows his body . . . By the showing of the symbol the thing itself is also shown . . . When we have received the symbol of the body . . . the body itself is also given to us . . . (89)

It is remarkable and curious (from a Catholic perspective) that Calvin can conceive of and strongly espouse an ethereal supernatural impartation of Christ's "flesh" to us, which supercedes natural laws of space, yet feel compelled to go to the greatest lengths to denounce transubstantiation - whereby God transcends (primarily) natural laws of substance and matter - as inherently "monstrous" and absurd. From a purely rational, theoretical standpoint, neither concept is a priori any more difficult to believe than the other. Either scenario is perfectly possible for an omnipotent God.

Calvin's theory is no more plausible, all things considered, than the traditional Catholic view. Yet at the same time Calvin (consciously or not) approximates many of the same dynamics of thought. His position might legitimately be regarded as inconsistent and illogical (especially given the above biblical proofs), yet whatever one thinks of it, the praiseworthy reverence and awesomeness which Calvin clearly retains must be respectfully acknowledged.

Most Protestants today, especially evangelicals, pentecostals, and non-denominationalists, are inclined to accept the symbolic view, as first expounded by Zwingli, while many others (particularly Anglicans and Lutherans) fail to comprehend or accept the ostensible official creedal teaching of their own denominations. Thus, it is helpful for all Christians to freshly approach the Scriptures in order to objectively determine our Lord's teaching on this very important matter, which Catholics regard as the central purpose of Christians gathering together, the "Blessed Sacrament."

FOOTNOTES (Eucharist)

61. Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 7,1. From Jurgens, William A., ed. and tr., The Faith of the Early Fathers (FEF), 3 volumes, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970, vol. 1, 25.
62. First Apology, 66,2. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 55.
63. Against Heresies, 4,18,4 / 4,33,2; cf. 4,18,5. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 95,97.
64. Against Marcion, 4,40,3. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 141.
65. Homilies on Exodus, 13,3. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 205-206.
66. De dominica orat., 18. From Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, tr. Patrick Lynch, Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1974 (orig. 1952 in German), 377.
67. Sermon to the Newly Baptized. From Keating, Karl, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988, 238.
68. Catechetical Lectures, 19,7.
69. Ibid., 22,1; 22,2; 22,6. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 360-361.
70. The Trinity, 8,14.
71. Letter to a Patrician Lady Caesaria, 93; Liturgy of St. Basil the Great.
72. The Great Catechism, 37. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 49.
73. Homilies on Judas, 1,6. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 104-105.
74. Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 24,4. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 118.
75. The Mysteries, 9,50-51; cf. The Sacraments, 4,4,14. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 174-176.
76. Commentary on Matthew (26:27). Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 220.
77. Commentary on John, 10,2 (15:1). Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 223.
78. Explanations of the Psalms, 33,1,10. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 16.
79. Ibid., 98,9. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 20.
80. E.g., Sermons, 227; 234,2; 272.
81. See Ware, Timothy (Kallistos), The Orthodox Church, NY: Penguin Books, rev. 1980, 290.
82. See F.C. Cross & E.A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 1983, 476; Johnstone, Verney, The Anglican Way, London: Mowbray, 1948, 30-31.
83. Original Luther source: Letter to the Christians of Strassburg, December 14, 1524. Luther states with characteristic brashness: "I could thus have given a great smack in the face to Popery." From Grisar, Hartmann,
, tr. E.M. Lamond, ed. Luigi Cappadelta, 6 volumes, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1917, vol. 4, 492.
84. Ibid.
85. De Wette, M., Letters of Luther, Berlin: 1828, 5 vols., vol. 4, 559-60 / Letter to Philip Melanchthon in 1536.
., vol. 5, 568 / Letter to the Evangelicals at Venice, June 13, 1543. From Grisar, ibid., vol. 3, 382.
87. Luther, Martin, Table Talk, ed. Mathesius, (Leipzig ed., 1903), 341. From Grisar, ibid., vol. 4, 239-240.
88. Letter of Calvin to Martin Bucer, January 12, 1538. From John Calvin: Selections From His Writings, ed. John Dillenberger, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1971, 47.
89. Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 4: chapter 17, sections 1, 3, 5, 7, 10.
From tr. of Ford L. Battles, ed. John T. McNeill, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 2 volumes, 1960, vol. 2, 1361-2, 1365, 1367, 1370-1371.

V. History of the Doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass

From the earliest times, Christians freely applied the Old Testament terminology of sacrifice and gift to their Eucharistically-centered gatherings, and from the beginning, this language was established in the ecclesiastically-sanctioned liturgies.

St. Clement of Rome, writing around 80 A.D., refers to those in the priesthood "who blamelessly and holily have offered its Sacrifices." (90) The Didache, an apostolic writing which has been dated as early as 60 to 80 A.D., or, in the most critical estimates, not much later than 150, cites Malachi 1:11,14 and instructs Christians to "gather together, break bread and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure." (91)

In the second century, St. Justin Martyr, commenting on the same passage, refers to "the sacrifices offered to Him in every place by us, the gentiles, that is, of the Bread of the Eucharist." (92) Likewise, St. Irenaeus believed that "He [Jesus] taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachias . . . had signified beforehand," (93) and says, "There are sacrifices now, sacrifices in the Church." (94)

In the third century, Tertullian alludes to "participation in the Sacrifice . . . when you receive the Body of the Lord." (95) And St. Cyprian states very forthrightly:

In the priest Melchisedech we see the Sacrament of the Sacrifice of the Lord prefigured . . .

Nor is the sacrifice of the Lord celebrated with a legitimate consecration unless our offering and sacrifice corresponds to the passion . . .

If Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, is Himself the Chief Priest of God the Father, and has first offered Himself a Sacrifice to the Father, and has commanded this to be done in commemoration of Himself, surely that priest discharges the office of Christ who imitates what Christ did; and he then offers a true and full Sacrifice to God the Father . . . The Lord's Passion is the sacrifice which we offer. (96)

In the fourth century, St. Cyril of Jerusalem speaks of "the spiritual Sacrifice, the bloodless worship," and the "propitiatory victim." (97) St. Ambrose believed that "It is He Himself that is offered in sacrifice here on earth when the Body of Christ is offered." (98) And later in that century, and early in the fifth, St. John Chrysostom writes:

Have reverence before this table, of which we all participate, before Christ, who was slain for us, before the sacrifice, which lies on the table. (99)

Do we not offer daily? Yes, we offer, but making remembrance of His death; and this remembrance is one and not many . . . Since the Sacrifice is offered everywhere, are there, then, a multiplicity of Christs? By no means! Christ is one everywhere . . . So too is there one Sacrifice. (100)

The venerable St. Augustine taught that "Christ is both the Priest, offering Himself, and Himself the Victim." (101) He applies Malachi 1:11 to the Mass, calling it the "Sacrifice of Christians," and also cites the precedent of Melchizedek. (102) Referring to this priest-king of Salem in his famous work, The City of God (16, 22), he writes: "The sacrifice appeared for the first time there which is now offered to God by Christians throughout the whole world."

And so the doctrine of the Catholic Church has remained down to our present time. The first serious challenge to it was put forth by Martin Luther, the Founder of Protestantism, who, although accepting a weakened form of the Real Presence, relegated the Mass (somewhat inconsistently) to the status of a mere memorial. As usual, he made a number of polemical remarks on the subject, calling the Mass "idolatry and a shameful abuse . . . twofold impiety and abomination," (103) and "the abomination standing in the Holy Place." (104) Luther's successor Philip Melanchthon felt certain that "the cruel raging of the Turks is inflicted now as a punishment for the idolatry in the Mass." (105)

John Calvin, arguably more influential for later Protestantism than Luther himself, unleashed his full fury against this long-standing Christian belief, and it is instructive to quote him at length in order to understand the historical background of the Reformation and the great repugnance with which many Protestants (largely out of miscomprehension) regard the Mass:

The height of frightful abomination was when the devil . . . blinded nearly the whole world with a most pestilential error - the belief that the Mass is a sacrifice . . . It is most clearly proved by the Word of God that this Mass . . . inflicts signal dishonor upon Christ, buries and oppresses his cross, consigns his death to oblivion, takes away the benefit which came to us from it . . .

This perversity was unknown to the purer Church . . . It is very certain that the whole of antiquity is against them . . . Augustine himself in many passages interprets it as nothing but a sacrifice of praise . . . Chrysostom also speaks in the same sense . . .

But I observe that the ancient writers also misinterpreted this memorial . . . because their Supper displayed some appearance of repeated or at least renewed sacrifice . . . I cannot bring myself to condemn them for any impiety; still, I think they cannot be excused for having sinned somewhat in acting as they did. For they have followed the Jewish manner of sacrificing more closely than either Christ had ordained or the nature of the gospel allowed . . .

The Mass . . . from root to top, swarms with every sort of impiety, blasphemy, idolatry, and sacrilege. (106)

It was to be expected, therefore, that anti-Catholicism is now (and always has been) so scandalously and tragically prevalent among so many Protestants (but not all, by any means). How can one consider another a Christian "brother" when that person's weekly worship is regarded as "abomination," "blasphemy," and "idolatry"? The Catholic cannot help but be frustrated over the abysmal disinformation which so often circulates among non-Catholics. Calvin even errs on the plain facts of early Church history, as indisputably demonstrated in the proofs from the Fathers just presented above. With all due respect to Protestants and Calvin, the evidence of Scripture and the facts of Christian history, once revealed and discovered, strongly contradict the Genevan Reformer.

Some Anglicans (mostly "Anglo-Catholics" or "High Churchmen"), contrary to the norm in Protestantism, believe in the Sacrifice of the Mass. (107) Most Anglicans, however, probably regard the Catholic Mass in the same way as does Article 31 of the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles (its creed):

. . . The sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits. (108)

The view of Eastern Orthodoxy regarding the sacrificial nature of the Mass ("Divine Liturgy"), is in all essentials identical to that of the Catholic Church. (109)

FOOTNOTES (Sacrifice of the Mass)

90. Letter to the Corinthians, 44, 4. From Jurgens, William A., ed. and tr., The Faith of the Early Fathers (FEF), 3 volumes, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970, vol. 1, 11.
91. Didache, 14:1,3. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 4.
92. Dialogue with Trypho, 41. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 60.
93. Against Heresies, 4, 17, 5. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 95.
94. Ibid., 4,18,2. Jurgens, ibid. In the same context (4,18,4-5; 4,33,2), St. Irenaeus discusses the Eucharist, thus making clear the meaning of his talk of "sacrifice."
95. De Oratione, 19. From Conway, Bertrand L., The Question Box, NY: Paulist Press, 1929, 267.
96. Letter to Cecil, 63:4,9. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 232; Conway, ibid., 268.
97. Catechetical Lectures, 23,8,10. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 363.
98. Commentaries on Twelve of David's Psalms, 38,25. Jurgens, FEF, v. 2, 150.
99. Homilies on Romans, 8,8. In Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, tr. Patrick Lynch, Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1974 (orig. 1952 in German), 406.
100. Homilies on Hebrews, 17,3. See also The Priesthood, 3,4,177; Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 24,2. Citation from Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 125.
101. City of God, 10,20. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 99.
102. Sermon Against the Jews, 9,13. See also Questions of the Hepateuch, 3,57. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 168. City of God citation from Ott, ibid., 403.
103. From Grisar, Hartmann, Luther, tr. E.M. Lamond, ed. Luigi Cappadelta, 6 volumes, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1917, vol. 4, 507.
104. Against Henry VIII, (1522); referring to Daniel 9:27. Grisar, ibid., v. 4, 511.
105. Melanchthon, Philip, Loci Communes, 1555 ed., chapter 22. From tr. of Clyde L. Manschreck, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1982 (from Oxford Univ. Press ed. of 1965), 221.
106. Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1559 ed., Book 4, chapter 18, sections 1, 9-11, 18. From tr. of Ford L. Battles (ed. John T. McNeill), Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 2 volumes, 1960, vol. 2, 1429-30, 1437, 1439-40, 1446.
107. See Johnstone, Verney, The Anglican Way, London: Mowbray, 1948, 30-31.
The Book of Common Prayer
, (1801 American ed.), NY: Seabury Press, 1979 ed., 874.
109. Ware, Timothy (Kallistos), The Orthodox Church, NY: Penguin Books, rev. 1980, 292-294.

VI. History of the Doctrine of the Communion of Saints

In the Catacombs underneath Rome (which date back to the earliest Christian period), inscriptions are frequently found on tombs which appeal to dead Christians, such as: "Ask for us in thy prayers, for we know thou art with Christ." Even the eminent Protestant church historian Philip Schaff, who is openly hostile to such practices, admits this. (110)

The oldest testimony in the Fathers for the veneration of saints occurs around 156 in The Martyrdom of Polycarp (17:3):

[Christ] we worship as the Son of God; but the Martyrs we love as disciples and imitators of the Lord; and rightly so, because of their unsurpassable devotion to their own King and Teacher.

In the same work (18:2), it is recounted how the Christians of Smyrna collected the bones of St. Polycarp, "more precious than the richest jewels and more tried than gold." (111)

St. Jerome later defended the veneration of relics against the charge of idolatry, (112) and St. Augustine, (113) Theodoret of Cyr, (114) Pope St. Gregory the Great, (115) and St. John Damascene (116) also sanctioned this practice.

Around 204, St. Hippolytus, commenting on Daniel 11:30, addresses Daniel's three companions with the invocation, "Think of me, I beseech you, so that I may achieve with you the same fate of martyrdom." (117) This is the first attestation of invocation of the saints among the Fathers. Origen (d.c.254), believed that "the angels and the souls of the pious who sleep pray." (118)

By the fourth century, the testimony is practically universal. St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote concerning "the patriarchs, prophets, Apostles, and martyrs" that "through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition." (119) St. Hilary of Poitiers refers to "the guardianship of the saints," and "the protection of the angels." (120) St. John Chrysostom, in a sermon on two saints, Bernice and Prosdoce, said that, in their martyrdom, "they now bear the stigmata of Christ, and when they show these, they can persuade the King to anything." (121) St. Basil the Great calls the forty soldiers who suffered martyrdom under Licinius in Sebaste around 320, "helpers of our prayers and most mighty intercessors with God." (122)

St. Ephraem addresses the saints in general thusly:

Remember me, ye heirs of God, ye brethren of Christ, pray to the Saviour for me, that I through Christ may be delivered . . . (123)

St. Gregory of Nyssa invokes this same Ephraim:

Thou who standest at the holy altar, . . . remember us all, and implore for us the forgiveness of sins and the enjoyment of the eternal kingdom. (124)

St. Gregory Nazianzen addresses St. Cyprian as present and implores his favor. (125) St. Ambrose believed that:

The angels, who are appointed to guard us, must be invoked for us; the martyrs, to whose intercession we have claim by the pledge of their bodies, must be invoked. They who have washed away their sins by their own blood, may pray for our sins . . . We need not blush to use them as intercessors. (126)

In the fifth century (406), St. Jerome asked:

If Apostles and martyrs, whilst still in the flesh, and still needing to care for themselves, can pray for others, how much more will they pray for others after they have won their crowns, their victories, their triumphs? Moses, one man, obtains God's pardon for six hundred thousand armed men, and Stephen prays for his persecutors. When they are with Christ will they be less powerful? . . . Shall [St. Paul] close his lips after death, and not mutter a syllable for those who throughout the world have believed in his gospel? (127)

St. Augustine, writing around 400, asserts:

We, the Christian community, assemble to celebrate the memory of the martyrs with ritual solemnity because we want to be inspired to follow their example, share in their merits, and be helped by their prayers. Yet we erect no altars to any of the martyrs . . . but to God himself, the God of those martyrs . . . What is offered is offered always to God, who crowned the martyrs . . .

So we venerate the martyrs with the same veneration of love and fellowship that we give to the holy men of God still with us . . . But the veneration strictly called worship, or latria that is, the special homage belonging only to the divinity, is something we give and teach others to give to God alone. The offering of a sacrifice belongs to worship in this sense (that is why those who sacrifice to idols are called idol-worshippers), and we neither make nor tell others to make any such offering to any martyr, any holy soul, or any angel . . .

The saints themselves forbid anyone to offer them the worship they know is reserved for God, as is clear from the case of Paul and Barnabas (see Acts 14:8-18). (128)

St. Augustine inferred from the concern of the rich man in Sheol for his brothers (Luke 16:27), that those in heaven must have much more interest in human affairs, (129) and calls the saints our "intercessors." (130) In a sermon he begs St. Stephen and St. Paul for their petitions, (131) and attributes miracles, even the raising of the dead, to Stephen's prayers. (132) Pope St. Leo the Great stressed in his sermons the powerful intercession of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and also the Roman martyr Laurentius. (133) Pope St. Gregory the Great, at the end of the next century, upheld these doctrines to an even greater extent. (134)

Whatever one thinks about such practices, it is clearly not the case that those who developed and defended these views intended to lessen the veneration of God. The Protestant accusation of "idolatry" and so forth, betrays an utter noncomprehension of the rationale behind the communion of saints. Whenever and wherever truly idolatrous excesses occur among the common people, these are not in accord with the teaching of the Catholic Church, and must be thought of as aberrations, rather than sanctioned practices of Catholicism.

Except for a sizable minority faction within Anglicanism (and perhaps tiny factions here and there), the communion of the saints, as understood in the Catholic Tradition, has been rejected outright by Protestantism, on grounds that it is either idolatrous, unbiblical, unnecessary, or quasi-occultic. But even in recent times, an "icon" of sorts among evangelical Protestants, C.S. Lewis, maintained that the invocation of saints had a legitimate theological rationale behind it, even though he himself did not completely agree with this viewpoint. (135)

In doctrine and practice, Eastern Orthodoxy entirely concurs with the Catholic Church with regard to the communion of saints. (136)

FOOTNOTES (The Communion of Saints)

110. Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1976 (orig. 5th ed., 1889), vol. 2, chapter 7, section 86, 302-3. In his treatment of patristic views on the saints, Schaff writes:

In the numerous memorial discourses of the fathers, the martyrs are loaded with eulogies, addressed as present, and besought for their protection. The universal tone of those productions is offensive to the Protestant taste, and can hardly be reconciled with evangelical ideas of the exclusive and all-sufficient mediation of Christ and of justification by pure grace without the merit of works. But . . . the best church fathers, too, never separated the merits of the saints from the merits of Christ, but considered the former as flowing out of the latter.

(vol. 3, chapter 7, section 84, 438; emphasis added).

This is a very valuable testimony from a decidedly hostile witness. Concerning the Fathers' views on relics, Schaff concludes forlornly:

The most and the best of the church teachers of our period, Hilary, the two Gregories, Basil, Chrysostom, Isidore of Pelusium, Theodoret, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Leo, . . . gave the weight of their countenance to the worship [i.e., veneration] of relics, which thus became an essential constituent of the Greek and Roman Catholic religion. They went quite as far as the Council of Trent.

(vol. 3, chapter 7, section 87, 456; emphasis added)

111. From Jurgens, William A., ed. and tr., The Faith of the Early Fathers (FEF), 3 volumes, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970, vol. 1, 31 (17:3), and Schaff, ibid., vol. 3, ch. 7, sec. 87, 453 (18:2).
112. Epistle 109, 1.
113. City of God (c.426), 1:13.
114. The Cure of Pagan Maladies (b.449), 8.
115. Letter to Empress Constantina Augusta (June, 594), 4:30.
116. The Source of Knowledge (c.743), 4:15.
117. In Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, tr. Patrick Lynch, Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1974 (orig. 1952 in German), 319.
118. Ott, ibid.
119. Catechetical Lectures, 23:9-10. In the immediate context he also condones prayer for those in purgatory, and the Sacrifice of the Mass. From Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 363.
120. Commentaries on the Psalms, 124. From Conway, Bertrand L., The Question Box, NY: Paulist Press, 1929, 370.
121. Opp. tom., 2, 770. See also Orat., 8, Adv. Jus., 6. Citation from Schaff, ibid., vol. 3, ch. 7, sec. 84, 439.
122. M. Hom. 19 in Forty Martyrs. From Schaff, ibid., vol. 3, ch. 7, sec. 84, 438.
123. In Schaff, ibid., vol. 3, ch. 7, sec. 84, 438.
124. The Life of St. Ephraem, tom. 3. From Schaff, ibid., 439.
125. In Schaff, ibid., 439.
126. De viduis, c.9. Schaff, ibid., 440. Schaff comments on the same page that in this passage, "Ambrose goes farther than the Council of Trent, which does not command the invocation of saints, but only commends it, and represents it not as duty, but only as privilege."
127. Against Vigilantius, 6. From Conway, ibid., 369.
128. Against Faustus, 20-21. From Schreck, Alan, Catholic and Christian, Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1984, 157-158.
129. Epistle 259. Schaff, ibid., 441.
130. Sermon 285. Schaff, ibid.
131. Sermon 317. Schaff, ibid.
132. Sermon 324. Schaff, ibid.
133. Sermon 85. Schaff, ibid., 442.
134. In Schaff, ibid., 442.
135. Lewis, C.S., Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly On Prayer, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1964, 15-16. This is one of Lewis' last works. He also makes an overt reference to the communion of saints in his famous Screwtape Letters, NY: Macmillan, 1961, 12. Other notable Protestants who stressed a sense of the "aliveness" of the saints in heaven and their inclusion in the Body of Christ (excluding their invocation) include John Wesley, the founder of Methodism (Letter to a Roman Catholic, Dublin: 1749), and A.W. Tozer ("The Communion of Saints," in A Treasury of A.W. Tozer, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1980, 168-70). The Lutheran creedal Augsburg Confession (1530), which was sanctioned by Luther himself, in its Article 21, recommends that "saints should be kept in remembrance so that our faith may be strengthened . . . Moreover, their good works are to be an example for us" (From Leith, John H., ed., Creeds of the Churches, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1963, 77). Luther, although eschewing invocation of saints, certainly venerated the Blessed Virgin Mary, since he held to virtually all the Catholic Marian dogmas, including the Immaculate Conception.
136. See Ware, Timothy (Archbishop Kallistos), The Orthodox Church, NY: Penguin, rev. ed., 1980, 258,261.

VII. History of the Doctrine of Purgatory

In the Catacombs, Christian burial caves which extend for hundreds of miles underneath Rome, and date from the beginning of Christianity, there are numerous examples of inscriptions representing prayers for the dead (which only make sense given some conception of purgatory, however vague), for blessings, peace, and refreshment upon these souls. Among these inscriptions are the following sayings: "Refresh, O God, the soul of . . .," "Peace to thy soul," "Thy spirit in peace," "May you live in the Holy Spirit." (137)

With regard to ancient Christian liturgies, James Cardinal Gibbons summarizes the evidence:

A Liturgy is the established formulary of public worship, containing the authorized prayers of the Church . . . The principal Liturgies are the Liturgy of St. James the Apostle, who founded the Church of Jerusalem; the Liturgy of St. Mark the Evangelist, founder of the Church of Alexandria, and the Liturgy of St. Peter, who established the Church in Rome. These Liturgies are called after the Apostles who compiled them. There are, besides, the Liturgies of St. Chrysostom and St. Basil, which are chiefly based on the model of that of St. James . . . all these Liturgies, without exception, have prayers for the dead. (138)

In the late 2nd century, in the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla (28 ff.), Thecla prays: "Thou God of the Heavens, Son of the All-Highest grant to her (to the Mother Tryphaena), according to her wish, that her daughter Falconilla may live in eternity." (139) In the same period, the epitaph of Abercius, bishop of Hierapolis in central Turkey, reads: ". . . May everyone who is in accord with this and who understands it pray for Abercius . . ." (140)

In the third century, Tertullian, writing around 210, asserts that:

There are already punishments and rewards there [in Hades]; and there you have a poor man and a rich one [Luke 16:22 ff.] . . . In short, if we understand that prison of which the Gospel speaks to be Hades, and if we interpret the last farthing [Matthew 5:25-6] to be the light offense which is to be expiated there before the resurrection, no one will doubt that the soul undergoes some punishments in Hades, without prejudice to the fullness of the resurrection, after which recompense will be made through the flesh also. (141)

Tertullian also speaks of offering "sacrifices for the dead on their birthday anniversaries," (142) and of a widow praying for here deceased husband and offering this yearly sacrifice. (143) Shortly after this, Origen taught that those dead who hadn't performed penance commensurate with their sins, would be purified by a "purgatorial fire" after death. (144) Origen had developed this view following St. Clement of Alexandria's teaching. (145) St. Cyprian, in the middle of the century, spoke of being "tormented in long pains and . . . cleansed and purified from one's sins by continuous fire," (146) and condoned "oblations" and "sacrifices" for the dead. (147)

The Protestant church historian Philip Schaff, who can definitely be considered a "hostile witness" as pertains this topic, summarized the belief of the Christian Church in its first three centuries:

These views of the middle state in connection with prayers for the dead show a strong tendency to the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory . . . there are traces of the purgatorial idea of suffering the temporal consequences of sin, and a painful struggle after holiness . . . The common people and most of the fathers understood it of a material fire; but this is not a matter of faith . . . A material fire would be very harmless without a material body. (148)

In the fourth century, Lactantius asserted around 307 that: "When God will judge the just, it is likewise in fire that he will try them." (149) The first Christian historian, Eusebius, recounts that at the death of the emperor Constantine (337), a vast crowd, led by priests, offered prayers for his soul with great lamentation. (150) St. Ephraim believed that "the dead are benefited by the prayers of living Saints." (151) St. Cyril of Jerusalem chronicles how the Christians "offer prayers to Him for those who have fallen asleep, though they be sinners." (152) St. Gregory of Nyssa is of the opinion that : "After his departure out of the body, he . . . finds that he is not able to partake of divinity until he has been purged of the filthy contagion in his soul by the purifying fire." (153) St. Epiphanius held that, concerning the dead, "useful too is the prayer fashioned on their behalf, . . . begging God's mercy for them . . ." (154) St. Ambrose prayed for emperors who had died in the following fashion:

[On the death of Emperors Gratian and Valentinian] Blessed shall both of you be, if my prayers can avail anything . . . No night shall hurry by without bestowing on you a mention in my prayers . . . [On the death of Emperor Theodosius] Give perfect rest to Thy servant Theodosius, that rest which Thou hast prepared for Thy Saints. May his soul return thither whence it descended . . . Nor will I leave him until, by tears and prayers, I shall lead him . . . unto the holy mountain of the Lord . . . (155)

In the early fifth century, St. John Chrysostom, citing Job 1:5 as an example, enjoins Christians to "assist" the dead who had neglected their souls, "by praying for them and by entreating others to pray for them, by constantly giving alms to the poor on their behalf." (156) St. Augustine, the greatest of the Fathers, expressed a number of clear statements on these beliefs:

By the prayers of the Holy Church, and by the salvific sacrifice, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided . . . For the whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers . . . If, then, works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death. (157)

The man who perhaps has not cultivated the land and has allowed it to be overrun with brambles has in this life the curse of his land on all his works, and after this life he will have either purgatorial fire or eternal punishment. (158)

Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter; but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment. (159)

The prayer . . . is heard on behalf of certain of the dead; but it is heard for those who, having been regenerated in Christ, did not for the rest of their life in the body do such wickedness that they might be judged unworthy of such mercy, nor who yet lived so well that it might be supposed they have no need of such mercy. (160)

That there should be some such fire even after this life is not incredible, and it can be inquired into and either be discovered or left hidden whether some of the faithful may be saved, some more slowly and some more quickly in the greater or lesser degree in which they loved the good things that perish, - through a certain purgatorial fire. (161)

Thus undeniably taught the early Church, and the Catholic Church through the centuries has only developed (not invented) the belief which was present in its essentials from the beginning, indeed, that which it authoritatively received right from the mouths of Christ and the Apostle Paul, as has been illustrated above.

Protestantism rejected the beliefs in purgatory and prayers for the dead, with the exception of Anglicans, many of whom have retained some form of these tenets, especially since the 19th century. (162)

C. S. Lewis was one of these traditional Anglicans. In a late work, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, (163) he stated that he prayed for the dead, among whom were many of his loved ones (he was in his sixties at the time), and that he believed in purgatory, comparing it to an intense rinsing of the mouth at the dentist's office. He thought no one would want to enter heaven unclean, as this would be downright embarrassing.

John Calvin, on the other hand, expresses, with characteristic vehemence, the much more prevalent Protestant antipathy to this ancient belief of the Church:

Purgatory is constructed out of many blasphemies . . . it was devised apart from God's Word in curious and bold rashness (164) . . . some passages of Scripture were ignorantly distorted to confirm it . . .

When expiation of sins is sought elsewhere than in the blood of Christ, when satisfaction is transferred elsewhere, (165) silence is very dangerous . . . Purgatory is a deadly fiction of Satan, which nullifies the cross of Christ, inflicts unbearable contempt upon God's mercy, and overturns and destroys our faith (166) . . . When the notion of satisfaction is destroyed, purgatory itself is straightway torn up by the very roots. But if it is perfectly clear . . . that the blood of Christ is the sole satisfaction for the sins of believers, the sole expiation, the sole purgation, what remains but to say that purgatory is simply a dreadful blasphemy against Christ? (167) . . . . .

Surely, any man endowed with a modicum of wisdom easily recognizes that whatever he reads among the ancient writers concerning this matter was allowed because of public custom and common ignorance. I admit that the fathers themselves were also carried off into error. For heedless credulity commonly deprives men's minds of judgment (168) . . .

Though I concede to the ancient writers of the church that it seemed a pious act to help the dead, we ought ever to keep the rule that cannot deceive: that it is not lawful to interject anything of our own in our prayers. But our requests ought to be subjected to the Word of God (169) . . .

The ancients rarely and only perfunctorily commended their dead to God in the communion of the Sacred Supper. (170)

Eastern Orthodoxy (broadly speaking) concurs with Catholic Tradition on this matter, but it refrains from defining the exact nature of the intermediate state, preferring a more mystical view. A majority faction holds that these departed do not suffer, while others believe that they do in some undetermined sense. A third group takes an agnostic position on suffering, while still accepting the intermediate state. (171)

FOOTNOTES (Purgatory)

137. Examples found in Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, vol. 2, "Ante-Nicene Christianity: A.D. 100-325," 5th ed., NY: 1889; rep. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1976, chapter 7, section 86, 303-304. See also The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Anglican), Cross, F.L., and E.A. Livingstone, eds., Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 1983, 381.
138. Gibbons, James Cardinal, The Faith of Our Fathers, NY: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, rev. ed., 1917, 179. See also Cross, ibid., 381; Schaff, ibid., ch. 12, sec. 156, 604.
139. In Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, tr. Patrick Lynch, Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1974 (orig. 1952 in German), 321.
140. In Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 78.
141. The Soul, 58:1,8. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 144-145.
142. The Crown, 3:3. The "birthday anniversary" is a commemoration of the date of their death, their birthday into eternal life. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 151.
143. Monogamy, 10:1,4.
144. Numbers, Hom. 15 (Migne, Greek Fathers, vol. 12, 169 ff.).
145. Stromateis, 7,6.
146. Epistle 55,20. From Ott, ibid., 484.
147. Epistle 46. In Conway, Bertrand L., The Question Box, NY: Paulist Press, 1929, 395.
148. Schaff, ibid., ch. 12, sec. 156, 604-606.
149. The Divine Institutions, 7,21,6. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 269.
150. Life of Constantine, 4,71. Schaff, ibid., 603.
151. In Gibbons, ibid., 177.
152. Catechetical Lectures, 23:5,9-10. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 363.
153. Sermon on the Dead. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 58.
154. Panacea Against All Heresies, 75, 8. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 75-76.
155. Obituary for Theodosius, 36-7 (2nd Excerpt). In Gibbons, ibid., 177.
156. Homilies on Philippians, 3,4; also Hom. in 1 Cor, 41, 5. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 121-122.
157. Sermons: 172, 2. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 29-30.
158. Genesis Defended Against the Manicheans, 2, 20, 30. Jurgens, FEF, vol.3, 38.
159. City of God, 21, 13. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 105.
160. Ibid., 21, 24, 2. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 106.
161. Enchiridion of Faith, Hope & Love, 18,69, Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 149. See also (in the same work): 29,109-110; The Care That Should be Taken of the Dead, 1,3.
162. See Cross, ibid., 381, 1145.
163. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1964, 107-109.
164. Twenty-five broad biblical arguments are presented in this chapter, most quite multi-faceted and copiously cross-referenced. Calvin deals with five in his diatribe against purgatory.
165. This is a false dichotomy, which is explicitly and adequately repudiated in Catholic theology and apologetics.
166. One wonders where Calvin's "faith" was for the 1500 years before the advent of Protestantism. The historical task of finding such a "faith" is absolutely impossible, since such a (Protestant) "Church" simply didn't exist during the whole of this period, as most Protestan historians will readily admit.
167. It indeed would be blasphemous if it required or entailed the false dichotomy that Calvin attributes to it, i.e., isolating our meritorious acts from God's grace which always and necessarily precedes and engulfs them.
168. Calvin's severe, judgmental verdict on the intellectual and theological capabilities of all the Church Fathers just examined in our survey, can only be characterized (by any reasonably objective criteria) as exceedingly arrogant. One can see how the usual tone of 16th century polemics was not conducive to theological or ecclesiastical reconciliation (Catholics, too, fell prey to such inflammatory rhetoric - it being a general tendency). Here, however, Calvin's factual errors are inexcusable for a man of his learning and erudition, and amount to slander and misrepresentation of the Catholic position.
169. In other words, Calvin's interpretation of it, over against the universal Christian Tradition up to his own time.
170. Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559 ed.), tr. Ford L. Battles (ed. John T. McNeill), two volumes, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960, Book 3, chapter 5, sections 6, 10, vol. 1, 676, 682-683.
171. Ware, Timothy (Archbishop Kallistos), The Orthodox Church, NY: Penguin Books, rev. ed., 1980, 259.

VIII. History of the Doctrine of Penance

The doctrine of penance was indisputably believed and practiced by the early Church, as reputable Protestant Church history reference works admit. (172) Even before the end of the first century, St. Clement of Rome advised his followers to "be subject to the presbyters and . . . accept discipline to penance, bending the knee of the heart." (173)

In the early second century, St. Ignatius of Antioch expresses the concept of the expiatory offering of himself, as in St. Paul's teaching (Philippians 2:17, 2 Timothy 4:6): "I am a humble sacrifice for you and I dedicate myself to you Ephesians," (174) "May I be a ransom on your behalf in every respect, . . ." (175) In the middle of the century, St. Justin Martyr pleads: "Whoever is convinced and believes that what they are taught and told by us is the truth, . . . is instructed to pray and to beseech God in fasting for the remission of their former sins." (176) Around 190, St. Irenaeus writes of many cases of lapsed Catholics being reconciled to their Church and community after public confession and acts of penance. (177)

In the early third century, Tertullian states:

In regard to this second and single repentance, then: . . . It is not conducted before the conscience alone, but it is to be carried out by some external act . . . by which we confess our sin to the Lord, not indeed as if He did not know it, but because satisfaction is arranged by confession, of confession is repentance born, and by repentance is God appeased.

Tertullian goes on to speak of various forms of penance, which he calls "temporal mortification," such as fasting, prayer, kneeling, and outward displays of mourning for one's own sins, "before the presbyters." He believed these acts would "stand in place of God's indignation" and lessen punishments. (178) About forty years later, Origen refers to:

. . . the remission of sins through penance, when the sinner washes his pillow in tears, when his tears are day and night his nourishment, and when he does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine. (179)

In the same period, St. Cyprian rebukes lapsed Catholics:

They spurn and despise all these warnings; and before their sins are expiated, before they have made a confession of their crime, before their conscience has been purged in the ceremony and at the hand of the priest, before the offense against an angry and threatening Lord has been appeased, they do violence to His Body and Blood . . . Certainly we believe that the merits of the martyrs and the works of the just will be of great avail with the Judge. (180)

Elsewhere he writes, "When once you have departed this life, there is no longer any place for repentance, no way of making satisfaction," (181) and:

Our colleague Therapius had rashly granted peace to him after an insufficient time and in headlong haste, before he had done full penance and before he had made satisfaction to the Lord God, against whom he had sinned. (182)

In the fourth century, St. Ambrose makes two very clear and explicit statements on penance:

He is purged as if by certain works of the whole people, and is washed in the tears of the multitude; by the prayers and tears of the multitude he is redeemed from sin, and is cleansed in the inner man. For Christ granted to His Church that one should be redeemed through all, just as His Church was found worthy of the coming of the Lord Jesus so that all might be redeemed through one. (183)

Just as those who pay money absolve a debt, nor are they free of the name of debtor until the whole amount, even to the last penny, is absolved by some kind of payment, so too by the compensation of love and of other virtuous actions, or by some kind of satisfaction, the penalty of sin is removed. (184)

In the late fourth and early fifth centuries, the brilliant St. Augustine elaborates:

Those whom you see doing penance have committed crimes, either adultery or some other enormities: that is why they are doing penance. If their sins were light, daily prayer would suffice to blot them out . . . In the Church, therefore, there are three ways in which sins are forgiven: in Baptism, in prayer, and in the greater humility of penance. (185)

After they have been released from your severe sentence we separate from association at the altar those whose crimes are public, so that by repenting and by punishing themselves they may be able to placate Him for whom, by their sinning, they showed their contempt. (186)

A man is compelled to endure [this miserable life] even when his sins are forgiven, because the first sin was the cause of his falling into such misery. For the penalty is more protracted than the guilt, lest the guilt be thought of as being small, if the penalty were to end with it. And this is why, either to demonstrate the misery he deserves, or for the amendment of his disgraceful life, or for the exercise of needful patience, a man is detained temporally in punishment even when by his guilt he is no longer held liable to eternal damnation. (187)

The doctrine of penance, then, was essentially established in the early Church, and did not substantially change in the Middle Ages, but was only developed, like all Catholic doctrines. The theology of penance was the subject of much reasoned speculation and discussion among the Scholastics (such as St. Thomas Aquinas), but it was neither invented nor distorted at this time, as the above citations (and biblical evidence) prove conclusively.

Yet Protestantism discarded penance, in the mistaken belief that it detracted from the complete efficacy of the work of Christ on mankind's behalf (and also due to the denial of the necessity of priestly mediation). Protestant Reformer John Calvin, for example, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, rails at great length against the very possibility of penance, with liberal use of (often slanderous) insults and false dichotomies, then goes on to deny that, generally speaking, the Fathers agreed with his Catholic opponents: "If we must contend by the authority of the fathers, what fathers, good God, do these men thrust upon us?" (188)

The reader is left to pass judgment on the merit and adequacy of the Catholic biblical and historical case, as presented above.


172. Cross, F.L. & E.A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 1983, 1059; Douglas, J.D., ed., The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, rev. ed., 1978, 762.
173. Letter to the Corinthians, 57,1. In Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, tr. Patrick Lynch, Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1974 (orig. 1952 in German) , 419.
174. Letter to the Ephesians, 8,1. In Lightfoot, Joseph B. & J.R. Harmer, trs., The Apostolic Fathers, 2nd ed., ed. & rev. by Michael W. Holmes, Grand rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989 (1st ed. 1891), 89.
175. Letter to Polycarp, 2,3 and 6,1. Lightfoot, ibid., 116-117.
176. First Apology, 61. From Jurgens, William A., ed. and tr., The Faith of the Early Fathers (FEF), 3 volumes, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970, vol. 1, 54.
177. Against Heresies, I,6,3 / I,13,5 / IV,40,1. From Ott, ibid., 420.
178. Repentance, 9,1-5. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 130-131.
179. Homilies on Leviticus, 2,4. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 207.
180. The Lapsed, 16-17. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 218.
181. Letter to Demetrian, 25. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 223.
182. Letter of Cyprian & His Colleagues in Council to the Number of 66: To Fidus, 64 (59),1. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 233.
183. Penance, 1,15,80. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 160-161.
184. Commentary on Luke, 7,156. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 163.
185. Sermon to Catechumens, On the Creed, 7,15 / 8,16. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 35.
186. Letter to Macedonius, Imperial Vicar of Africa, 153,3,6. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 7.
187. Homilies on John, 124,5. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 123.
188. Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559 ed.), Book 3, chapter 4, section 39. From tr. of Ford L. Battles (ed. John T. McNeill), Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 2 volumes, 1960, vol. 1, 669

IX. History of Mariology

In the second century, St. Justin Martyr is already expounding the "New Eve" teaching, which Cardinal Newman regards as a starting-point for much later Marian dogmatic development:

Christ became man by the Virgin so that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might be destroyed in the same way it originated. For Eve, being a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word from the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. The Virgin Mary, however, having received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced to her the good tidings . . . answered: Be it done to me according to thy word. (189)

St. Irenaeus, a little later, takes up the same theme: "What the virgin Eve had tied up by unbelief, this the virgin Mary loosened by faith." (190) He also views her as the preeminent intercessor for mankind. (191)

In the third century, Origen taught the perpetual virginity (192), Mary as the second-Eve (193), and was the first Father to use the termTheotokos. (194) He expressly affirms the spiritual motherhood of Mary: "No one may understand the meaning of the Gospel [of John], if he has not rested on the breast of Jesus and received Mary from Jesus, to be his mother also." (195)

By the fourth century, the designation "Mother of God" was in general use, since the Roman emperor Julian (the Apostate) taunted Christians,saying: "You never stop calling Mary Theotokos." (196) Eusebius, the first Church historian, calls her panagia, or "all-holy." (197) St. Athanasius calls Mary "ever-virgin," (198) arguing from the fact that Jesus gave His mother to St. John's care. (199) St. Hilary of Poitiers also affirmed the perpetual virginity. (200) St. Ephraem is thought to be the first Father to hold to the Immaculate Conception: "You alone and your Mother are good in every way; for there is no blemish in thee, my Lord, and no stain in thy Mother." (201) He invokes the Blessed Virgin in very "Catholic" fashion:

O virgin lady, immaculate Mother of God, my lady most glorious, most gracious, higher than heaven, much purer than the sun's splendor, rays or light . . . you bore God and the Word according to the flesh, preserving your virginity before childbirth, a virgin after childbirth. (202)

St. Gregory Nazianzen, still in the same century, frequently refers to Mary as "undefiled." (203) He warns that "if anyone does not accept the holy Mary as Theotokos, he is without the Godhead." (204) This is an instance of Mariological doctrine representing a test of orthodoxy. St. Gregory cites an invocation of Mary by a woman tempted by the devil, to "the Virgin Mary, imploring her to help a virgin in danger." (205) St. Gregory of Nyssa often refers to Mary's perpetual virginity, calls her "undefiled," (206) and develops the Mary-Eve theme. (207) He infers a vow of virginity on Mary's part, based on Luke 1:34. (208)

St. Epiphanius regards Mary as aeiparthenos, ever-virgin (209), using the argument of John's care of Mary after the Crucifixion. (210). Like all the Fathers, he places Mariology under the category of Christology: "He who honours the Lord honours also the holy vessel; he who dishonours the holy vessel, also dishonours his Lord." (211) St. Epiphanius also teaches the parallelism of Eve and Mary (which was the common belief of Eastern, Greek Christianity, and concludes that Mary is "the mother of the living." (212) He identifies the Woman of Revelation 12 with Mary and suggests that she may have been assumed bodily into heaven (213), and makes a clear distinction between veneration and worship:

Honour Mary, but let the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be worshipped. Let no one worship Mary . . . even though Mary is most beautiful and holy and venerable, yet she is not to be worshipped. (214)

St. John Chrysostom upholds Mary's perpetual virginity (215) and calls her the New Eve. (216) St. Ambrose contended that Mary's virginity before, during, and after the birth of Christ was the authoritative doctrine of the Church from the beginning (217), and that she was sinless. (218) He speaks of her role as Mediatrix (219) and "type of the Church." (220) But he is also careful to distinguish between veneration and adoration: "Mary was the temple of God, not the God of the temple. And therefore he alone is to be adored, who worked in the temple." (221)

St. Jerome, in the late fourth and early fifth century, continued the Second Eve motif, and vigorously defended Mary's perpetual virginity:

The Virgin Mary . . . remained a virgin before as well as after the birth . . . after he was born, she remained ever-virgin. (222)

We . . . take the brethren of the Lord to have been, not the sons of Joseph, but cousins of the Saviour, the children of Mary, the maternal aunt of the Lord . . . For all Scripture shows that cousins are called brethren. (223)

St. Augustine, like other Latin Fathers, avoids the title "Mother of God," on grounds that it might give rise to misunderstandings, but he clearly holds the doctrine, which was defined as dogma at the Council of Ephesus a year after his death. He often stresses Mary's perpetual virginity and assumes that Mary had made a vow of celibacy. (224) Like St. Ambrose, he expounds the teaching of Mary's role as Mediatrix and Spiritual Mother:

How do you not also belong to the childbirth of the Virgin, when you are members of Christ? (225)

Just as death comes to us through a woman, Life is born to us through a woman; that the devil, defeated, would be tormented by each nature, feminine and masculine, since he had taken delight in the defection of both. (226)

St. Augustine affirms the sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

The holy Virgin Mary, about whom, for the honour of the Lord, I want there to be no question where sin is mentioned, for concerning her we know that more grace for conquering sin in every way was given to her who merited to conceive and give birth to him, who certainly had no sin whatsoever - this virgin excepted, if we could . . . ask all saints, whether they were without sin, what, do we think, would they answer? (227)

The feast day for Mary's Conception was celebrated in the east from the seventh century onwards, and in the west from the ninth century. The Byzantine feast of the Assumption appears to have been introduced in the late seventh century, and by the end of the next century it was observed everywhere in the west on August 15th. (228)

In the Middle Ages, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception underwent much development, as Ludwig Ott and Cardinal Newman recount:

Under the influence of St. Bernard, the leading theologians of the 12th and 13th centuries (Peter Lombard, St. Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure, St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas), rejected the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Their difficulty was that they had not yet found the way to bring Mary's freedom from original sin into consonance with the universality of original sin, and with the necessity of all men for redemption.

The correct approach to the final solution of the problem was first achieved by the Franciscan theologian, William of Ware, and this was perfected by his great pupil John Duns Scotus (d. 1308). The latter taught that the animation need not precede the sanctification in order of time but only in order of concept. Through the introduction of the concept of preredemption, he succeeded in reconciling Mary's freedom from original sin with her necessity for redemption. The preservation from original sin, is, according to Scotus, the most perfect kind of redemption. Thus, it was fitting that Christ should redeem His mother in this manner . . .

The Council of Trent, in its Decree on original sin, makes the significant declaration "that it was not its intention to involve Mary, the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin and Mother of God in this Decree." (229)

As to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, it was implied in early times, and never denied. In the Middle Ages it was denied by St. Thomas and by St. Bernard, but they took the phrase in a different sense from that in which the Church now takes it. They understood it with reference to our Lady's mother, and thought it contradicted the text, In sin hath my mother conceived me - whereas we do not speak of the Immaculate Conception except as relating to Mary; and the other doctrine (which St. Thomas and St. Bernard did oppose) is really heretical. (230)

Eastern Orthodoxy

The Mariology of Eastern Orthodoxy is in many respects identical to that of the Catholic Church. The Orthodox greatly venerate the Blessed Virgin in the same sense as in Catholicism, call her Theotokos, Aeiparthenos, (Ever-Virgin), and Panagia (All-Holy), regard her as the New Eve, and hold firmly to her bodily Assumption. Although they maintain that Mary was free from actual sin, the great majority of Orthodox reject the Immaculate Conception. Some Catholic theologians, such as Louis Bouyer (231), have argued that Orthodox theologians (like St. Thomas Aquinas himself) often misunderstand the precise meaning of this dogma, as clarified by Duns Scotus and others, and finally defined in 1854. (232) Nevertheless, the feast of the Immaculate Conception first originated in the east, and individual Orthodox Christians are free to believe in this doctrine without being deemed heretical..

The Founders of Protestantism

The Founders of Protestantism, or Reformers, as they are known, who believed in Scripture Alone as the highest Christian authority, nevertheless continued in the sixteenth century to retain a surprising number of Marian dogmas (particularly the perpetual virginity and the use of Theotokos). In many respects they were closer in belief to their Catholic opponents than they are to present-day Protestants. Martin Luther himself was startlingly "Catholic" in this regard. The views of these men are of considerable historical interest and deserve to be detailed at some length.

Martin Luther taught the traditional understanding of the title "Mother of God" in the following passage:

God did not derive his divinity from Mary; but it does not follow that it is therefore wrong to say that God was born of Mary, that God is Mary's Son, and that Mary is God's mother . . . She is the true mother of God and bearer of God . . . Mary suckled God, rocked God to sleep, prepared broth and soup for God, etc. For God and man are one person, one Christ, one Son, one Jesus, not two Christs . . . just as your son is not two sons . . . even though he has two natures, body and soul, the body from you, the soul from God alone. (233)

Luther also thought it altogether proper to venerate Mary:

The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart. (234)

She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures. (235)

The perpetual virginity of Mary is expressly upheld:

Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb . . . This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that. (236)

Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . I am inclined to agree with those who declare that "brothers" really mean "cousins" here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers. (237)

Most remarkably, Luther even accepted the Immaculate Conception:

It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God's gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin. (238)

She is full of grace; so that she may be recognized as without any sin. That is a high and great thing, for God's grace fills her with all gifts and frees her from all evil. (239)

The Lutheran scholar Arthur Carl Piepkorn (1907-73), of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, after intense study, confirmed Luther's lifelong (barring two "lapses") acceptance of the Immaculate Conception. (240) Though he made no unequivocal statements concerning it, Luther never denied the Assumption. (241) Additionally, he upheld the spiritual motherhood of Mary, the usefulness of the Rosary, and the propriety of the phrase "Queen of Heaven.":

Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us . . . If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother. (242)

Our prayer should include the Mother of God . . . What the Hail Mary says is that all glory should be given to God, using these words: Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ. Amen! (243) You see that these words are not concerned with prayer but purely with giving praise and honor . . . We can use the Hail Mary as a meditation in which we recite what grace God has given her. Second, we should add a wish that everyone may know and respect her . . . He who has no faith is advised to refrain from saying the Hail Mary . . . (244)

Though she was without sin, yet that grace was far too great for her to deserve it in any way. How should a creature deserve to become the Mother of God? . . . It is necessary also to keep within bounds and not to make too much of calling her "Queen of Heaven," which is a true-enough name . . . (245)

Even John Calvin, much less traditional than Luther in many ways, makes several "Catholic-sounding" comments about Mary:

We cannot give praise for the blessing which Christ has given to us without remembering at the same time the glorious privilege which God bestowed on Mary by choosing her to be the mother of his only Son . . . Now she is called Blessed because, receiving by faith the blessing which is offered to her, she opened the way for God to accomplish his work. (246)

Let us learn to praise the holy Virgin. When we confess with her that we are nothing . . . and that we owe all to the pure goodness of God, see how we will be disciples of the Virgin Mary? (247)

There has been some ignorance in that they have reproved this fashion of speaking of the Virgin Mary as the mother of God. (248)

Helvidius displayed excessive ignorance in concluding that Mary must have had many sons, because Christ's "brothers" are sometimes mentioned. (249)

[On Matthew 1:25:] The inference he [Helvidius] drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband . . . No just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words . . . as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called "first-born"; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin . . . What took place afterwards the historian does not inform us . . . No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation. (250)

Heinrich Bullinger, another historically significant Protestant Reformer, made an extraordinary proclamation which appears to uphold virtually all of the Catholic Marian dogmas:

Elijah was transported body and soul in a chariot of fire; he was not buried in any Church bearing his name, but mounted up to heaven, so that . . . we might know what immortality and recompense God prepares for his faithful prophets and for his most outstanding and incomparable creatures . . . It is for this reason, we believe, that the pure and immaculate embodiment of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, that is to say her saintly body, was carried up to heaven by the angels. (251)

Within Anglicanism, many of the "high-church" or "Anglo-Catholic" faction believe in a Mariology not unlike that of the Catholic Church, both doctrinally and devotionally. (252)


189. Dialogue with Trypho, 100:5, in Graef, Hilda, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, combined ed. of vols. 1 & 2, London: Sheed & Ward, 1965 - as are all patristic quotes following unless otherwise noted.
190. Against Heresies, 3,21,10.
191. Ibid., 4,33,11.
192. Homily 7 on Luke.
193. Homily 1 on Matthew 5.
194. Two Fragments on Luke, nos. 41 and 80 in the Berlin ed.
195. In John, 1,6.
196. Quoted by Cyril in his work against Julian.
197. Ecclesiastica Theologia.
198. Discourse Against the Arians, 2,70.
199. Letter to the Virgins.
200. Commentary on Matthew, 1,4 / 1,20.
201. Nisibene Hymns, 27,8.
202. "Prayer to the Most Holy Mother of God".
203. Carmina, 1,2,1.
204. To Cledonius the Priest, Against Apollinaris, 101.
205. Oratio, 24,11.
206. E.g., Against Appolinaris, 6.
207. Homily 13 on the Canticle / On the Birth of Christ.
208. Ibid.
209. Panarion, 78,1 / 78,5.
210. Ibid., 78,10.
211. Ibid., 78,21.
212. Ibid., 78,18.
213. Ibid., 78,11.
214. Ibid., 79,7.
215. Homilies on Matthew.
216. Commentary 7 in Psalms 44.
217. Epistle 42, 4-6.
218. Commentary on Luke, 2,17 / Commentary on Psalms 118, 22,30.
219. Epistle 63,33 / Epistle 49,2.
220. Commentary on Luke, 2,7.
221. The Holy Spirit, 3,79 ff.
222. Commentary on Ezekiel, 13,44,1 ff.
223. Comm. on Matt., 12.50.
224. See Graef, ibid., 95-100 / Heresies, 56.
225. Sermon 188,4.
226. Christian Combat, 22,24. From Jurgens, William A., ed. and tr., The Faith of the Early Fathers, 3 volumes, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970, vol. 3, 50.
227. Nature and Grace, 36,42
228. Cross, F.L. & E.A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1983, 692,99.
229. Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, tr. Patrick Lynch, Rockford, IL: TAN Books & Publishers, 1974 (orig. 1952 in German), 201-202.
230. Newman, Meditations and Devotions, Harrison, NY: Roman Catholic Books, n.d. (orig. 1893), 153.
231. Bouyer, Louis, The Seat of Wisdom, tr. A.V. Littledale, Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1965 (orig. 1960), 104.
232. Ware, Timothy (Archbishop Kallistos), The Orthodox Church, NY: Penguin Books, Rev. ed., 1980, 261-4.
233. On the Councils and the Church (1539). From Pelikan, Jaroslav & Helmut T. Lehmann, eds., Luther's Works, St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House (vols. 1-30), Philadelphia: Fortress Press (vols. 31-55): 1955, vol. 41, 99-100.
234. From Cole, William J., "Was Luther a Devotee of Mary?", Marian Studies, vol. 21, 1970, 94-202; quote from 131 / Sermon, Sep. 1, 1522.
235. Ibid., 131 / Christmas sermon, 1531.
236. "Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4" (1537-39). In Pelikan, ibid., vol. 22, 23.
237. Luther, ibid. In Pelikan, ibid., Luther's Works, vol. 22, 214-215. Pelikan asserts that this was Luther's lifelong belief (vol. 22, 214-215).
238. Sermon: "On the Day of the Conception of Mary the Mother of God" (Dec. 8?, 1527). From Grisar, Hartmann, Luther, tr. E.M. Lamond, ed. Luigi Cappadelta, 6 volumes, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1917, vol. 4, 238 (emphasis added). See also e.g., House sermon for Christmas, 1533; About the Jews and Their Lies, 1543; The Papacy; an Institution of the Devil, 1545.
239. Cole, ibid., 185 / Little Prayer Book (1522).
240. "Mary's Place Within the People of God According to Non-Roman Catholics," Marian Studies, vol. 18, 1967, 46-83 (see p. 76).
241. Cole, ibid., 123-124.
242. Ibid., 128 / Sermon, Christmas, 1529. Emphasis added.
243. I.e., the first part of the "Hail Mary", as it is said today, particularly in the Rosary. The last part continues: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen".
244. Little Prayer Book (1522). In Pelikan, ibid., vol. 43, 39-41.
245. "Magnificat" (1521). In Pelikan, ibid., vol. 21, 327. Emphasis added.
246. Commentary on Luke 1:42,45. In Thurian, Max, Mary: Mother of all Christians, tr. Neville B. Cryer, NY: Herder & Herder, 1963 (orig. 1962), 186.
247. MacKenzie, Ross, "Mariology as an Ecumenical Problem", Marian Studies, vol.26, 1975, 204-20; quote from pp. 206-207 / Harmony of Matthew, Mark & Luke, sec. 39 (Geneva, 1562).
248. Letter to French community in London, Sep. 27, 1552 / In Thurian, ibid., 77.
249. Calvin, Harmony, vol.2 / From Calvin's Commentaries, tr. William Pringle, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949, 215; on Matthew 13:55.
250. Ibid., (Pringle), vol. I, 107. Calvin, in his commentary on Luke 1:34 in his Harmony, affirms the perpetual virginity of Mary, while at the same time denying that Mary had made a vow of celibacy.
251. From Thurian, ibid., 197-8 / written in 1568, De Origine Erroris, 16.
252. Cross, ibid., 883, 99.

X. The Early Church and the Bishop of Rome

St. Peter in Rome

The final residence of St. Peter in Rome has been questioned, but on inadequate grounds. Babylon, as used in 1 Peter 5:13, is regarded by the early Church and the majority of biblical scholars as a code name (in light of the political situation) for Rome itself, from which this epistle was almost certainly written. Some have also thought that Romans 15:20-22 indicates the presence of another Apostle in Rome before St. Paul wrote to that church.

The Apostolic writing 1 Clement (5), written around 96 A.D. by St. Clement of Rome, implied that St. Peter, like St. Paul, was executed in the Neronian persecution in Rome. St. Ignatius of Antioch, in writing to the Romans around 110 A.D., states, "I do not give you orders like Peter and Paul . . ." (Letter to the Romans, 4,3), and St. Irenaeus, in his Against Heresies (c.199 - 3:1:2, 3:3:1), expressly affirms that these two Apostles founded the Roman church and commenced its apostolic succession.

Finally, the existence and location of the actual tomb of St. Peter and his bones - under the present St. Peter's cathedral in the Vatican - have been strongly confirmed by archaeological excavation. (253)

St. Peter as Bishop of Rome and First Pope

It would seem to follow as a matter of course that St. Peter was the first bishop of Rome, but this particular is not as well attested in ancient documents as the fact that he was simply there, hence it is not as widely acknowledged by Protestants. Nevertheless, we possess fairly early and quite reliable evidence of Peter's bishopric at Rome, from St. Irenaeus (already cited), St. Cyprian, c.252, who calls Rome "the Chair of Peter" (Letter to Pope Cornelius, 55), and the first Church historian, Eusebius, c.315, who writes in his History (4:1) that "Linus was the first after Peter that obtained the Episcopate of the Church of the Romans."

Moreover, the very fact of the later strong traditions of apostolic succession and the papacy arising out of Rome, and the early cultus of veneration of Peter and Paul there, provide further quite strong proofs of what is now the Catholic position, held as dogma. For historical traditions, as a rule, do not arise out of sheer myths or hearsay, but as a result of actual historical events, considered unassailable by the early proponents (for example, Moses receiving the Commandments and Jesus' Resurrection).

Given the accepted fact that Peter was in Rome, and granting his general extraordinary preeminence in the early Church, it does not require too great of a leap to deduce Peter's bishopric in Rome (that is, a primitive papacy which later developed with his successors). So certain was the early Church on this score that no one denied Peter's Episcopate in Rome until the heretical Waldenses in the fourteenth century (a strong proof in and of itself). None of the Eastern Orthodox churches or various heretical groups such as the Nestorians and Monophysites, which seceded from Rome up through the eleventh century ever denied it (doing so would have provided a feasible theological justification for their separation, but they knew it was an impossible argument to carry off).

The General Notion of the Primacy of the Church of Rome

Rome almost immediately acquired a leading position among the first churches at the dawn of Christianity, especially after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army in 70 A.D. It was the only western church to receive a letter from an Apostle (St. Paul), and both Peter and Paul were martyred there, thus bringing about shrines and pilgrimages, and the perception of Rome as "holy ground." Most of the earliest prominent Christians went there (Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, etc.).

Christians everywhere soon came to believe that the apostolic tradition preserved at Rome was particularly trustworthy, and could not be disagreed with by conflicting traditions. Rome had far and away the best record of avoiding the numerous heresies which constantly arose (especially with hindsight), and eventually it came to be widely acknowledged that Rome's singular orthodoxy was the result of a divine protection accorded the pope and his see, as derived from Jesus' commission to St. Peter. (254) It was also probably the largest Christian congregation by the year 100, and was renowned for its generosity (see Romans 1:8). It soon became customary to refer to Rome as the "apostolic see."

Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930), the theologically liberal Church historian and theologian, regarded by some as the most outstanding authority of his generation on the Church Fathers and early Christian literature (255), wrote in his famous treatise History of Dogma, concerning the first letter of St. Clement, bishop of Rome, written to the Corinthians, that it:

. . . proves that, by the end of the first century, the Roman Church had already drawn up fixed rules for her own guidance, that she watched with motherly care over outlying communities, and that she then knew how to use language that was at once an expression of duty, love, and authority. (256)

St. Francis de Sales, who was vigorously engaged in an effort to win back the Calvinists and other Protestants to the Catholic faith at the end of the 16th century, summarized the evidences for the primacy of the pope and Rome in early Christianity:

St. Peter died Bishop of Rome - therefore the diocese of Rome was the last seat of the head of the Church: therefore the Bishop of Rome who came after the death of St. Peter, succeeded to the head of the Church, and consequently was head of the Church. Some one might say that he succeeded the head of the Church as to the bishopric of Rome, but not as to the kingship of the world. But such a one must show that St. Peter had two sees, of which one was for Rome, the other for the universe, which was not the case . . . Hence, the Bishop of Rome remained general lieutenant in the Church, and successor of St. Peter . . .

At the Council of Nicea, at those of Constantinople and Chalcedon, it is not seen that any bishop usurps the primacy for himself: it is attributed, according to ancient custom, to the Pope; no other is named in equal degree. In short, never was it said, either certainly or doubtfully, of any bishop in the first five hundred years that he was head or superior over the rest, except of the Bishop of Rome; about him indeed it was never doubted, but was held as settled that he was such. On what ground, then, after fifteen hundred years passed, would one cast doubt on this ancient tradition? I should never end were I to try to catalogue all the assurances and repetitions of this truth which we have in the Ancients' writings. (257)

Finally, James Cardinal Gibbons catalogues the impressive and undeniably preeminent record of Rome and the popes in the early centuries of the Catholic Church:

The Popes have always, from the days of the Apostles, continued to exercise supreme jurisdiction not only in the Western Church till the Reformation, but also throughout the Eastern Church till the great schism of the ninth century.

First - Take the question of appeals. An appeal is never made from a superior to an inferior court . . . Now, if we find the See of Rome from the foundation of Christianity entertaining and deciding cases of appeal from the Oriental churches; if we find that her decision was final and irrevocable, we must conclude that the supremacy of Rome over all the churches is an undeniable fact.

Let me give you a few illustrations: . . .

About the year 190 the question regarding the proper day for celebrating Easter was agitated in the East, and referred to Pope St. Victor I . . . St. Victor directs the Eastern churches, for the sake of uniformity, to conform to the practice of the West, and his instructions are universally followed . . .

Dionysius, Bishop of Rome, about the middle of the third century, having heard that the Patriarch of Alexandria erred on some points of faith, demands an explanation of the suspected Prelate, who, in obedience to his superior, promptly vindicates his own orthodoxy.

St. Athanasius, the great patriarch of Alexandria, appeals in the fourth century to Pope Julius I, from an unjust decision rendered against him by the Oriental Bishops, and the Pope reverses the sentence of the Eastern Council.

St. Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea, in the same century has recourse in his afflictions to the protection of Pope Damasus.

St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, appeals in the beginning of the fifth century to Pope Innocent I for a redress of grievances inflicted on him by several Eastern Prelates, and by the Empress Eudoxia of Constantinople.

St. Cyril appeals to Pope Celestine against Nestorius; Nestorius, also, appeals to the same Pontiff, who takes the side of Cyril . . .

We see Prelates most eminent for their sanctity and learning occupying the highest position in the Eastern Church, and consequently far removed from the local influences of Rome, appealing in every period of the early Church from the decisions of their own Bishops and their Councils to the supreme arbitration of the Holy See. If this does not constitute superior jurisdiction, I have yet to learn what superior authority means . . .

[Finally] I shall refer to one more historical point in support of the Pope's jurisdiction over the whole Church. It is a most remarkable fact that every nation hitherto converted from Paganism to Christianity since the days of the Apostles, has received the light of faith from missionaries who were either especially commissioned by the See of Rome, or sent by Bishops in open communion with that See. This historical fact admits of no exception. Let me particularize.

Ireland's Apostle is St. Patrick. Who commissioned him? Pope St. Celestine, in the fifth century.

St. Palladius is the Apostle of Scotland. Who sent him? The same Pontiff, Celestine.

The Anglo-Saxons received the faith from St. Augustine, a Benedictine monk, as all historians, Catholic and non-Catholic, testify. Who empowered Augustine to preach? Pope Gregory I, at the end of the sixth century.

St. Remigius established the faith in France, at the close of the fifth century. He was in active communion with the See of Peter.

Flanders received the Gospel in the seventh century from St. Eligius, who acknowledged the supremacy of the reigning Pope.

Germany and Bavaria venerate as their Apostle St. Boniface, who is popularly known in his native England by his baptismal name of Winfrid. He was commissioned by Pope Gregory II, in the beginning of the eighth century, and was consecrated Bishop by the same Pontiff.

In the ninth century two saintly brothers, Cyril and Methodius, evangelized Russia, Sclavonia, Moravia and other parts of Northern Europe. They recognized the supreme authority of Pope Nicholas I and of his successors, Adrian II and John VIII.

All the other nations of Europe, having been converted before the Reformation, received likewise the light of faith from Roman Catholic Missionaries , because Europe then recognized only one Christian Chief . . . (258)

Western Church Fathers (Generally Latin-Speaking) and the Papacy

St. Clement of Rome, in his Letter to the Corinthians, dated at about 80 A.D.,
makes a remarkably "authoritative" statement:

We have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the matters in dispute among you . . . If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger. (259)

Max Lackmann, a Lutheran, comments on this letter of St. Clement:

Clement, as the spokesman of the whole People of God . . . admonishes the Church of Corinth in serious, authoritative and brotherly tones to correct the internal abuses of their ecclesiastical community. He censures, exhorts, cautions, entreats . . .

The use of the expression send back in the statement: Send back speedily unto us our messengers (1 Clement 65,1), is not merely a special kind of biblical phrase but also a form of Roman imperial command. The Roman judge in a province of the empire sent back a messenger or a packet of documents to the imperial capital or to the court of the emperor (Acts 25:21). Clement of Rome doubtless also knew this administrative terminology of the imperial government and used it effectively. (260)

St. Irenaeus, writing between 180 and 199, makes a very influential and well-known proclamation:

. . . Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church . . . the greatest and most ancient Church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, that Church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the Apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all Churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world; and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic tradition.

The blessed Apostles, having founded and built up the Church, they handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus. Paul makes mention of this Linus in the Epistle to Timothy [2 Timothy 4:21]. To him succeeded Anencletus; and after him, in the third place from the Apostles, Clement was chosen for the episcopate . . .

In the time of Clement, no small dissension having arisen among the brethren in Corinth, the Church in Rome sent a very strong letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace and renewing their faith. (261)

St. Cyprian, writing in the middle of the third century, strongly affirms the papacy and Roman primacy:

It is on one man that He builds the Church . . . In order that unity might be clearly shown, He established by His own authority a source for that unity, which takes its beginning from one man alone. Indeed, the other Apostles were that also which Peter was, being endowed with an equal portion of dignity and power; but the origin is grounded in unity, so that it may be made clear that there is but one Church of Christ. (262)

With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal Church, in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy [that is, faithlessness] to have entrance. (263)

In the fourth century, still up to a hundred years before many Protestants contend that the papacy even existed, Pope St. Julius I and Pope St. Damasus I express themselves in the following eminently "papal" terms:

If, then, any such suspicion rested upon the bishop there [that is, St. Athanasius, in Alexandria], notice of it ought to have been written to the Church here. But now, after they have done as they pleased, they want to obtain our concurrence, although we never condemned him. Not thus are the constitutions of Paul, not thus the traditions of the Fathers. This is another form of procedure, and a novel practice. I beseech you, bear with me willingly: what I write about this is for the common good. For what we have received from the blessed Apostle Peter, these things I signify to you. (264)

The holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other Churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church . . . (265)

In the same century, St. Optatus of Milevis testifies:

You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head . . . of all the Apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all. Neither do other Apostles proceed individually on their own; and anyone who would set up another chair in opposition to that single chair would, by that very fact, be a schismatic and a sinner. (266)

St. Ambrose likewise approves of this state of affairs:

We recognized in the letter of your holiness the vigilance of the good shepherd. You faithfully watch over the gate entrusted to you, and with pious solicitude you guard Christ's sheepfold, you that are worthy to have the Lord's sheep hear and follow you. Since you know the sheep of Christ you will easily catch the wolves and confront them like a wary shepherd. (267)

Where Peter is, there is the Church. And where the Church, no death is there, but life eternal. (268)

St. Jerome, the greatest biblical scholar of his time, concurs also:

The Church depends equally on all [the Apostles] . . . but one among the twelve is chosen to be their head in order to remove any occasion for division. (269)

Since the East tears into pieces the Lord's coat . . . therefore by me is the chair of Peter to be consulted, and that faith which is praised by the Apostle's mouth . . . From the Priest I ask the salvation of the victim, from the Shepherd the protection of the sheep . . . I court not the Roman height: I speak with the succesor of the Fisherman and the disciple of the Cross. I, who follow none as my chief but Christ, am associated in communion with thy blessedness, that is, with the See of Peter. On that rock the Church is built, I know. (270)

If any be joined to Peter's chair he is mine. (271)

St. Augustine, generally regarded by Catholics and Protestants alike as the greatest Church Father, writing in the late fourth and early fifth century, leaves no doubt as to his position on this matter:

If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said: Upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it. Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement, Clement by Anacletus, Anacletus by Evaristus . . . (272)

[On this matter of the Pelagians] two Councils have already been sent to the Apostolic See [Rome]; and from there rescripts too have come. The matter is at an end; would that the error too might sometime be at an end. (273)

The succession of priests, from the very see of the Apostle Peter, to whom our Lord, after His resurrection, gave the charge of feeding His sheep, up to the present episcopate, keeps me here [in the Catholic Church]. And at last, the very name of Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called Catholic, when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house. (274)

In the fifth century, Pope St. Innocent I decrees:

Following the examples of ancient tradition, . . . you have acknowledged that judgment is to be referred to us, and have shown that you know what is owed to the Apostolic See . . .The Fathers . . . did not regard anything as finished, even though it was the concern of distant and remote provinces, until it had come to the notice of this See, so that what was a just pronouncement might be confirmed by the total authority of this See, and thence other Churches - just as all waters proceed from their own natal source and . . . remain pure liquids of an incorrupted head - might take up what they ought to teach. (275)

Pope St. Celestine I, writing in 431 to his legates (representatives or ambassadors) at the ecumenical Council of Ephesus held that year, commands them:

We enjoin upon you the necessary task of guarding the authority of the Apostolic See. And if the instructions handed you have to mention this and if you have to be present in the assembly, if it comes to controversy, it is not yours to join the fight, but to judge of their opinions. (276)

In his Third Letter to Illyrian Bishops, he declares:

We have special anxiety about all persons because on us, in the holy apostle Peter, Christ conferred the necessity of making all men our care, when he gave him the keys of opening and shutting. (277)

Finally, Pope St. Leo the Great, who reigned from 440 to 461, considered by many Protestant and secular historians as the first pope, spoke perhaps more clearly than anyone up to that time concerning Roman primacy and papal duties, prerogatives, and supremacy, yet - as we have seen - his views were merely the culmination and more advanced development of what had been the essential beliefs of the universal (that is, Catholic) Church from the beginning:

The Lord . . . wanted His gifts to flow into the entire body from Peter himself, as if from the head, in such a way that anyone who had dared to separate himself from the solidarity of Peter would realize that he was himself no longer a sharer in the divine mystery . . .

The Apostolic See . . . has on countless occasions been reported to in consultation by bishops . . . And through the appeal of various cases to this see, decisions already made have been either revoked or confirmed, as dictated by longstanding custom. (278)

Although bishops have a common dignity, they are not all of the same rank. Even among the most blessed Apostles, though they were alike in honor, there was a certain distinction of power. All were equal in being chosen, but it was given to one to be preeminent over the others . . .

The care of the universal Church would converge one See of Peter, and nothing should ever be at odds with this head. (279)

From the whole world only one, Peter, is chosen to preside over the calling of all nations, and over all the other Apostles, and over the Fathers of the Church . . . Peter . . . rules them all, of whom, too, it is Christ who is their chief ruler. (280)

Eastern Church Fathers (Generally Greek-Speaking) and the Papacy

St. Ignatius of Antioch, writing to the Roman church around 110 A.D., asserts:

You have envied no one; but others you have taught. I desire only that what you have enjoined in your instructions may remain in force. (281)

Origen, writing in the first half of the third century, also acknowledges the preeminence of St. Peter:

Peter, upon whom is built the Church of Christ . . . (282)

Look at the great foundation of the Church, that most solid of rocks, upon whom Christ built the Church! (283)

In the fourth century, St. Ephraim exclaims:

Simon, My follower, I have made you the foundation of the holy Church. I betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its buildings. You are the inspector of those who will build on earth a Church for Me. If they should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them. You are the head of the fountain from which My teaching flows, you are the chief of My disciples. Through you I will give drink to all peoples . . . I have chosen you to be, as it were, the first-born in My institution, and so that, as the heir, you may be executor of my treasures. I have given you the keys of my kingdom. Behold, I have given you authority over all my treasures! (284)

Kephas . . . the head of the Apostles who received the power of the keys and is taken for the shepherd of the flock . . . (285)

St. Basil the Great, one of the most revered Fathers in the east among the Eastern Orthodox, asked Pope Damasus I (reigned 366-384) to arbitrate between the churches in present-day Turkey (Asia Minor), and decide which side would be in communion with the pope:

We are in no wise asking anything new, but what was customary with blessed and religious men of former times, and especially with yourself. For we know, by tradition of our fathers . . . that Dionysius [a pope who reigned from 259-269], that most blessed Bishop, while he was eminent among you for orthodoxy and other virtues, sent letters of visitation to our Church at Caesarea, and of consolation to our fathers, with ransomers of our brethren from captivity. (286)

St. Gregory Nazianzen affirms:

The faith [of Rome] was of old, and still is now, right, binding the whole West by the saving word: as is just in her who presides over all, reverencing the whole harmony of God. (287)

St. Epiphanius has full confidence in the primacy of St. Peter and the popes:

[It is my] prayer to unite myself to you [the pope] and to embrace the divine dogmas that had been handed down by tradition from the blessed and holy disciples and apostles of God, especially from Peter the chief of the apostles, to your holy see. (288)

In 342 and 343, the Council of Sardica (Sofia, Bulgaria) was held in order to solve disputes between east and west, such as that concerning St. Athanasius. About 90 western bishops and 80 eastern bishops were present. In its Canons 3, 4, and 5, it expressly sanctioned the right to appeal to Rome and the pope for judgment. Canon 4 reads in part:

If some bishop be deposed by the judgment of the bishops sitting in the neighborhood, and if he declare that he will seek further redress, another should not be appointed to his see until the bishop of Rome can be acquainted with the case and render a judgment. (289)

St. John Chrysostom (c.344-407) was not only the greatest preacher in the history of eastern Christianity, and perhaps revered above any other Church Father by the Eastern Orthodox, who utilize exclusively his liturgy in their worship, but also the most eloquent and vociferous witness in the east for the divinely-ordained papacy. He called St. Peter the "mouth of the apostles," the "conductor of the apostolic choir," and the "ruler of the entire world." St. Peter was designated by Christ to preside over "the see of the world because he entrusted him with the care of the whole world." Peter was to "receive the government of the world." As to why Jesus questioned Peter three times whether he loved Him, and commanded him to feed and tend His sheep (John 21:15-17), Chrysostom states:

The master asked those questions so that he might teach us how much at heart he has the headship over these sheep. (290)

In the fifth century, Socrates, a Greek Church historian from Constantinople, gives the following telling testimony in his Church History:

The ecclesiastical canon forbids the churches to make ordinances against the mind of the bishop of Rome. (291)

Likewise, fellow eastern Church historian Sozomen , who was from Palestine and later settled in Constantinople, wrote about Pope Julius I, that ". . .he has the solicitude for all because of the dignity of his see," and cites "a priestly law, annulling whatever is done against the mind of the bishop of Rome." (292)

Theodoret of Cyrrhus confesses:

For that holy see has precedence of all churches in the world for many reasons; and above all for this, that it is free of all taint of heresy, and that no bishop of false opinions has ever sat upon its throne, but it has kept the grace of the apostles undefiled. (293)

In the seventh century, St. Maximus the Confessor (c.580-662), arguably the greatest mystical and ascetic theologian of the eastern Christian tradition (and venerated as such by the Orthodox), echoes the same beliefs about papal and Roman supremacy:

All in every part . . . who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the most holy Roman Church and its confession and faith, as it were to a sun of unfailing light, awaiting from it the bright radiance of our fathers . . . For from the coming down of the Incarnate Word among us, all the churches in every part of the world have possessed that greatest church alone as their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell do never prevail against it, that it possesses the Keys of right confession and faith in Him, that it opens the true and only religion to such as approach with piety, and shuts up and locks every heretical mouth that speaks injustice against the Most High. (294)

St. Theodore of Studios (759-826), one of the most influential and highly-regarded monastic reformers in the east, entirely concurs with St. Maximus:

I witness before God and men that the iconoclasts departed from the body of Christ and from the supreme heavenward throne in which Christ placed the keys of the faith, against which the gates of hell, that is, the mouths of heretics, have not so far prevailed and shall not prevail because the promise was made by the One who does not deceive. Let therefore the most blessed and apostolic [Pope] Paschal, worthy of his name, rejoice because he had fulfilled the function of the office of Peter. (295)

Despite all of this overwhelming, compelling evidence of the Fathers' and the Christian Church's views on the nature and function of the papacy (east and west alike), Eastern Orthodoxy continues to maintain that the pope possesses only a "primacy of honor," as opposed to supremacy and headship over the Church universal (not to mention infallibility). (296) And, of course, Protestantism, with few exceptions, denies even papal primacy. That this was not the view of the early Church (nor of the Bible itself) has been amply demonstrated. Therefore, it must be respectfully maintained that Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism - not Catholicism - have departed from ancient, apostolic Tradition in this matter.

Yet more corroboration of Catholic papal claims is to be found in the record of the ecumenical Councils of the Church, the first seven of which are fully accepted by the Eastern Orthodox as authoritative, indeed "infallible." (297) Many Protestants (especially Anglicans and Lutherans) acknowledge at least the first four as having some sort of authority or importance for the development of Christian theology. It is to these Councils which we now turn in our historical survey:

Ecumenical Councils and the Papacy

James Cardinal Gibbons and the eminent British Church historian Philip Hughes summarize the relationship of popes to ecumenical Councils:

Ecumenical Councils afford another eloquent vindication of Papal supremacy. An Ecumenical or General Council is an assemblage of Prelates representing the whole Catholic Church . . .

I shall speak briefly of the important influence which the Holy See exercised in the eight Oriental Councils [that is, the first eight] . . .

The Bishops of Rome convoked these assemblages, or at least consented to their convocation; they presided by their legates over all of them, except the first and second Councils of Constantinople, and they confirmed all these eight by their authority. Before becoming a law the Acts of the Councils required the Pope's signature . . .

Is not this a striking illustration of the Primacy? The Pope convenes, rules and sanctions the Synods, not by courtesy, but by right. A dignitary who calls an assembly together, who presides over its deliberations, whose signature is essential for confirming its Acts has surely a higher authority than the other members. (298)

In no council has it been moved that the bishop of X be promoted to the place of the Bishop of Rome, or that the Bishop of Rome's views be disregarded, and held of no more account than those of the bishop of any other major see . . . The mist of antiquity, at times, no doubt obscures our view, but through the mist at its worst the general shape is ever discernible of a Roman Primacy universally recognised, and submitted to, albeit (at times) unwillingly - recognised and submitted to because, so the bishops believed, it was set up by God Himself . . .

The suggestion that an emperor has, or ever had, a role to play is incredible, save to the ecclesiastical archaeologist. But the pope was always all-important in the General Council, from the beginning. From the time of the first council whose history is at all really known to us in detail - Ephesus - although the emperor may call the council, and the pope assent to and support his initiative, it is the pope who, before the council meets, decides the point of belief, who directs the bishops of the council that this is the truth, and that it is not to be called into question: Celestine I in 431, Leo I in 451, Agatho in 680. (299)

Council of Nicaea (325)

Canon Six of this Council suggests a papal primacy, since Roman "custom" appears to be regarded as normative for the Church as a whole:

Let the ancient custom which is followed in Egypt and Libya and the Pentapolis remain in force, by which the Bishop of Alexandria has the supervision of all those places, since this is also the custom of the Bishop of Rome. (300)

Council of Constantinople (381)

This Council was neither originally planned as, nor regarded as, an ecumenical Council, since it consisted of 150 eastern bishops and no Latin bishops, and was intended to straighten out problems in the east. In its Canon 4, the Council proclaimed: "The Bishop of Constantinople shall have the primacy of honor after the Bishop of Rome, because his city is New Rome." (301) Pope Leo the Great later rejected this Canon (after it was confirmed illegitimately by eastern Fathers at the Council of Chalcedon in 451) on grounds that it was contrary to the "principle of apostolicity" (as Constantinople had no apostolic background whatsoever), and was compromised by the "principle of accommodation" (whereby political happenstance and expedience were placed in an inordinately lofty position vis-a-vis the Church - a tendency often known as "caesaropapism," under the spell of which eastern Christianity has constantly fallen prey). Constantinople was the seat of the Byzantine Emperor, but this, reasoned Leo and the Catholic Church, had little to do with apostolic or ecclesiastical preeminence. Nevertheless, at least this all-eastern Council still acknowledged the "primacy" of the pope. It was later acknowledged as an ecumenical Council by Pope Gregory the Great (who reigned from 590-604), although the Canons continued to be rejected by Rome.

Council of Ephesus (431)

St. Cyril of Alexandria, as noted in the Council records, was "taking the place of Celestine, the most holy and most reverend chief-bishop of the church of the Romans." (302) The other bishops are merely mentioned by name and see (Celestine / Cyril was at the head of the list). Cyril had already consulted the pope for his verdict on the Nestorian heresy. Pope Celestine's legates declared at the Council without opposition:

There is no doubt, it has been known to all centuries, that the holy and blessed Apostle Peter, the prince and head and pillar of the faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ . . . He [Peter] lives even to this time, and always in his successors gives judgment. (303)

The Council of Ephesus, in its sentence of deposition against the heresiarch Nestorius, declares:

Whereas . . . we being necessarily compelled by the sacred canons and by the letter of our most holy Father and colleague, Bishop Celestine, Bishop of the Roman Church, with many tears, have arrived at this sad sentence against him. (304)

The Council Fathers then proclaimed:

Celestine is the new Paul. Cyril is the new Paul. Celestine is the guardian of the faith. Celestine agrees with the council. There is one Celestine, one Cyril, one faith of the council, one faith of the world-wide church. (305)

Council of Chalcedon (451)

In this Council, it has been said that the east gave its greatest recognition ever to papal supremacy, for Pope Leo the Great was acknowledged by all parties as the "pillar of orthodoxy" and upholder of the true Christian faith. John Henry Cardinal Newman gives an overview of its proceedings:

The Council . . . was attended by the largest number of Bishops of any Council before or since; some say as many as six hundred and thirty. Of these, only four came from the West, two Roman Legates and two Africans.

Its proceedings were opened by the Pope's Legates, who said that they had it in charge from the Bishop of Rome, which is the head of all the Churches, to demand that Dioscorus should not sit, on the ground that he had presumed to hold a Council without the authority of the Apostolic See, which had never been done nor was lawful to do. This was immediately allowed them.

The next act of the Council was to give admission to Theodoret, who had been deposed at the Latrocinium. The Imperial officers present urged his admission, on the ground that the most holy Archbishop Leo hath restored him to the Episcopal office, and the most pious Emperor hath ordered that he should assist at the holy Council . . .

In the second Session . . . the Creed of Nicaea and Constantinople was read; then some of the Epistles of St. Cyril; lastly, St. Leo's Tome . . . At length the Bishops cried out, This is the faith of the Fathers; this is the faith of the Apostles: we all believe thus; the orthodox believe thus; anathema to him who does not believe thus. Peter has spoken through Leo; the Apostles taught thus. . .

Dioscorus was tried and condemned; sentence was pronounced against him by the Pope's Legates, and ran thus: The most holy Archbishop of Rome, Leo, through us and this present Council, with the Apostle St. Peter, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church and of the orthodox faith, deprives him of the Episcopal dignity and every sacerdotal ministry . . .

The Council, after its termination, addressed a letter to St. Leo; in it the Fathers acknowledge him as constituted interpreter of the voice of Blessed Peter, (with an allusion to St. Peter's Confession in Matthew 16) and speak of him as the very one commissioned with the guardianship of the Vine by the Saviour. (306)

After the Council had completed its work, Pope Leo received two extraordinary letters: The Letter of the Patriarchs to Pope Leo the Great reads in part:

You have indeed preserved the faith, which has come down to us like a golden stream flowing at the command of our divine Teacher . . . You have poured forth upon the universe the blessings he [Peter] elicited by his faith. Hence we have looked to you as to the leader of our religion to our great advantage. You indeed, as the head among the members, presided here in the person of your representatives, who led the way by their correct counsel. (307)

Likewise, the Letter of Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople, to Leo:

This decree the holy synod and we have referred to your Holiness in order to obtain from you approval and confirmation . . . For the throne of Constantinople has your apostolic throne as its father. (308)

Third Council of Constantinople (680-681)

Historian Philip Hughes describes the proceedings of this Council:

It was the [papal] legates who opened the proceedings. Beginning with a reference to the dissensions of the last forty-six years [the Monothelite heresy] . . ., all these, they said, had been due to the acts of various patriarchs of Constantinople [Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul and Peter; also Cyrus of Alexandria] . . .

At . . . the fourth session [November 15, 680] the patriarch of Constantinople asked that the letter of Pope Agatho to the emperor be read, and the profession of faith which the 125 bishops had signed. This was assented to, these bulky treatises were read out, and Agatho's authoritative statement of the traditional faith, modelled on the Tome of St. Leo, was greeted with shouts that recall the triumphs of 451: It is Peter who is speaking through Agatho . . .

[In the] eighth session, March 7 [681], The emperor put the question point-blank to the patriarch of Constantinople, whether the doctrine of the passages, as actually found in the Fathers and in the General Councils [concerning the wills of Christ], tallied with the letter of Agatho and the profession of faith of the western bishops. The patriarch answered that all this mass of testimony did indeed bear out that what Agatho taught was the truth of the matter, and so I profess and believe, he said. And all the bishops present, save a handful, assented likewise . . . The schism of recent years . . . was ended. (309)

In a letter to Emperor Constantine IV afterwards, the bishops described Pope Agatho in many ways which suggest that they believed in his supremacy, using terms like "our most blessed father, and most high pope, the Prince of the Apostles . . . his imitator and the successor to his chair." They concluded that "through Agatho it was Peter who was speaking." (310) They also wrote to the pope himself, addressing him as occupying "the first see of the universal Church," and "the chiefest head of the Apostles." (311) The emperor, in his edict to the people, declared that the true faith had "been preserved untainted by Peter, the rock of the faith, the head of the Apostles; in this faith we live and reign." (312) Lastly, the emperor wrote to Pope Leo II, Agatho's sucessor:

With the eyes of our understanding we saw it as if it were the very ruler of the Apostolic choir, the first chair, Peter himself, declaring the mystery of the whole dispensation, and addressing Christ by this letter . . . for his holy letter described in word for us the whole Christ. We all received it willingly and sincerely, and embraced it, as though the letter were Peter himself . . . Glory be to God, who does wondrous things, Who has kept safe the faith among you unharmed. For how should He not do so [with regard to] that rock on which He founded His church, and prophesied that the gates of hell, all the ambushes of heretics, should not prevail against it? From it, as from the vault of heaven, the word of the true confession flashed forth, and . . . brought warmth to frozen orthodoxy . . . (313)

Fourth Council of Constantinople (869-70)

This Council adopted, almost verbatim, the Formula of Pope Hormisdas, a statement which had been signed by some 250 Eastern bishops in 519, thus putting to an end the Acacian schism (484-519). The Formula states, among other things:

Since we cannot pass over the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who says, Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, what was said is confirmed by facts, because in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved immaculate, and holy doctrine has been proclaimed. Not wishing, then, to be separated from this faith and doctrine, we hope to merit to be in the one communion which the Apostolic See preaches, in which See is the full and true solidity of the Christian religion. (314)

Thoughts on the Myth of Mass Patristic "Apostasy"

The virtual universality of patristic views on doctrines like infused justification, regenerative baptism and an "ultra-realistic" or literal Eucharist would suggest, I think, that perhaps the so-called "Catholic"-type views were present in kernel or explicitly in the apostolic deposit itself, so that there would then not be a scenario of "throwing biblical / apostolic doctrines out the window."

The Protestant habitually assumes (oftentimes without having examined both sides of a debate) that certain things are "not biblical"; therefore not "apostolic" - which supposedly "proves" that they were much later additions (corruptions). So when they see "Catholic" notions held en masse by Fathers, they immediately conclude, based on their erroneous premise, that the Fathers committed mass (albeit mysterious and inexplicable) apostasy from the original pure apostolic teaching. Hence the existence of "mass apostasy myths" in groups such as the anti-Catholic wings of the Reformed and Anglicanism, Church of Christ, Landmark Baptists, 7th-Day Adventists, etc. (as well as in cults like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses).

The Catholic response is development, development, and development, in that order. Some things are present implicitly in Scripture only, but they are there, and we don't totally know all the oral parts of the Tradition which were passed down. But we know there was a lot, based on biblical verses such as Mark 6:34 (where the "many things" Jesus taught were not recorded), John 16:12, John 20:30, and 21:25.

In just one day, the amount of teaching one could have heard from Jesus or Paul would have been enormous, sometimes perhaps more lengthy in number of words than the entire New Testament. I think of, e.g., Jesus' talk with the disciples on the road to Emmaus - see esp. Luke 24:27 - oh, to have been there! So there could have been much teaching of that sort which was part of the apostolic deposit, which could later be developed along with everything else in Christianity, and could easily account for "Catholic stuff" appearing seemingly full-blown in the early Fathers, while not so explicit in Holy Scripture.

Those who believe in the Big Apostasy either right after the Bible or in 313 or with Leo the Great in 440 (or whatever arbitrary date they choose) have to come up with some scenario to explain how the Fathers thought and viewed things and became so rapidly "unbiblical" and "unProtestant" (Protestantism being identical to "biblical," of course). None of these scenarios are very plausible at all.

FOOTNOTES (The Papacy)

253. See Walsh, John Evangelist, The Bones of St. Peter, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1985.
254. Jaroslav Pelikan, a prominent Lutheran historian of Christian doctrine, calls Rome's record of orthodoxy "spotless (or nearly spotless)" (inThe Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700), Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1974, 148).
255. Cross, F.L. & E.A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (ODC), Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2nd ed., 1983, 620.
256. von Harnack, Adolf, History of Dogma, tr. N. Buchanan, London: Williams & Norgate, 1896, 2nd ed., vol.2, 1556.
257. St. Francis de Sales, The Catholic Controversy, tr. Henry B. Mackey, Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1989 (orig. 1596), 279,284.
258. Gibbons, James Cardinal, The Faith of Our Fathers, NY: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, rev. ed., 1917, 90-91,93-95.
259. Letter to Corinthians, 1,1; 59,1. From: Jurgens, William A., ed. and tr., The Faith of the Early Fathers (FEF), 3 volumes, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970, vol. 1, 7,12.
260. In Asmussen, Hans, et al, The Unfinished Reformation, tr. Robert J. Olsen, Notre Dame, IN: Fides Publishers Assoc., 1961, 84-85.
261. Against Heresies, 3,1,1; 3,3,2-3; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 89-90.
262. The Unity of the Catholic Church, 4; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 220-221.
263. Letter to Pope Cornelius, 59 (55), 14; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 232.
264. Letter to Eusebian Bishops of Antioch, 22; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 346.
265. Decree of Damasus, (From Council of Rome in 382), 3; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 406.
266. The Schism of the Donatists, 2,2; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 140.
267. Synodal Letter of Ambrose, Sabinus, Bassian & Others to Pope Siricius, 42,1; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 148.
268. Commentaries on Twelve of David's Psalms, 40,30; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 150.
269. Against Jovinian, 1,26; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 2, 199.
270. Epistle 15 (writing to Pope Damasus); cited from Newman, John Henry, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845; rev. 1878), Part 2, ch. 6, sec. 3, no. 8.
271. Epistle 16; Newman, ibid.
272. Letter to Generosus, 53,1,2 (c.400); Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 2.
273. Sermon 131,10; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 28 (emphasis added). The two Councils were held at Carthage and Milevis. The rescripts came from Pope Innocent I.
274. Against the Letter of Mani Called The Foundation, 4,5 (written in 397); Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 51.
275. Letter to the Council of Carthage, 29,1; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 181-182.
276. Letter to the Papal Legates, 17; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 184.
277. Third Letter to Illyrian Bishops, in Migne, Latin Fathers, 50:428; cited in Jaki, Stanley, The Keys of the Kingdom, Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1986, 190.
278. Letter to the Bishops of Vienne, 10,1-2; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 269.
279. Letter to Bishop Anastasius of Thessalonica, 14,11; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 270.
280. Sermons, 4,2; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, 275.
281. Letter to the Romans, 3,1; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 21.
282. Commentaries on John, 5,3; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 202.
283. Homilies on Exodus, 5,4; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 205.
284. Homilies, 4,1; Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 311.
285. Against Heresies, Sermo 56; in Jaki, ibid., 85.
286. Cited in Newman, ibid., Part 1, ch. 4, sec. 3, no. 12.
287. Carmen de vita sua, 568-72; cited in Benson, Robert Hugh, The Religion of the Plain Man, Long Prairie, MN: Neumann Press, 1906, 113.
288. Avellan Collection, 195,3; cited in Pelikan, ibid., Vol. 2 of 5: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, [Lutheran], 150.
289. In Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 308.
290. All Chrysostom quotes and information from: Chapman, Dom John, Studies
on the Early Papacy, London: Sheed & Ward, 1928, ch. 4: "St. Chrysostom on St. Peter."
291. Socrates' Church History, from Migne, Greek Fathers, 67:196. Socrates was describing the Synod of Antioch in 341, and noted that it had no representatives of the Roman see. Cited in Empie, Paul C. & T. Austin Murphy, Papal Primacy & the Universal Church, Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House, 1974, 236. This book is the result of a joint official project of Lutheran and Catholic scholars.
292. Sozomen's Church History (3,10); from Empie, ibid., 236.
293. Epistle 116 of Theodoret, from Migne, Greek Fathers, 83:1324-5; cited in Empie, Paul C., T. Austin Murphy & Joseph A. Burgess, Teaching Authority and Infallibility in the Church, Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House, 1980, 349 (another of the series of fruitful Lutheran-Catholic dialogues).
294. Cited by James Likoudis in Baram, Robert, Spiritual Journeys, Boston: St. Paul Books & Media, rev. ed., 1988, 206-207; primary source from Migne, Greek Fathers, 91,137 ff.
295. Letter to Naveratius (Ep. 63), from Migne, Greek Fathers, 98:1281; cited in Jaki, ibid., 171.
296. See, e.g., Ware, Timothy (Archbishop Kallistos), The Orthodox Church, NY: Penguin Books, rev. ed., 1980, 35-36,55,57. Perhaps the best Orthodox treatment of St. Peter and the papacy is The Primacy of Peter, ed. John Meyendorff, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, rev. ed., 1992. Yet the historical data here outlined is scarcely taken into account in this book.
297. Ware, ibid., 43, 210.
298. Gibbons, ibid., 93-94.
299. Hughes, Philip, The Church ln Crisis: A History of the General Councils: 325-1870 (HGC), Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1961, 16-17, 154.
300. Jurgens, FEF, vol. 1, 283.
301. Ibid., 400.
302. Hughes, HGC, 70.
303. In Most, William G., Catholic Apologetics Today, Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1986, 92.
304. Cited in Benson, ibid. , 116; from Mansi, 4, 1212.
305. Hughes, HGC, 71.
306. Newman, ibid., Part 2, ch. 6, sec. 3, nos. 11-12,14.
307. In Englert, Clement C., Catholics and Orthodox: Can They Unite?, NY: Paulist Press, 1961, 99.
308. Works of St. Leo, Ep.101,5; cited in Benson, ibid., 117.
309. Hughes, HGC, 148-150.
310. Ibid., 154-155.
311. Ibid., 155.
312. Ibid., 156.
313. Ibid., 156.
314. In Gibbons, ibid., 104.

Edited, very slightly revised and expanded, and uploaded on 7 June 2001 by Dave Armstrong, from research originally completed by May 1996(intended for my book A Biblical Defense of Catholicism). Typesetting revised on 22 August 2006. Added to blog on 10 November 2006.