Hadrian of Rome: A Pre-Reformed Pope?

Pope Paul IIIPope Hadrian of Rome & Augustinian Predestination Soteriology

During the reign of Pope Hadrian of Rome (772-795) the Church in Spain was going through internal and extremely fascinating controversies. One of the controversies concentrated on what was the proper way of understanding God’s divine choice and predestination. Two major traditions crossed swords. Those who held the Augustinian predestination soteriology led by Elipandus of Toledo and those who rejected it led by Migetius. The clanks and clangs of their swords reached Pope Hadrian of Rome.

In a nutshell Augustinian predestination soteriology stressed the sovereignty of God in electing in Christ Jesus some fallen humans who are in bondage of sin (Jn. 8:34) and hostile towards God (Ro. 8:7) to receive his mercy and compassion while passing over other equally fallen humans to receive his righteous justice (Ro. 9-11). Those whom God the Father elected are given to His Son and they are kept to the end of time (Jn. 6) We, the Church, choose Christ because He chose us first (Jn. 15:16, Acts 13:48, Eph. 1:3-11). Faith is thus not the cause of our election but its effect (Jn. 10:26-28). Augustine expounded:

Let us, then, understand the calling by which they become the chosen, not those who are chosen because they believed, but those who are chosen in order that they may believe. ‘You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you’ (Jn. 15:16). For, if they were chosen because they believed, they would, of course, have first chosen Him by believing in Him in order that they might merit to be chosen.(PS 17.34)

Elsewhere Augustine wrote: Continue reading

Cyprian Contra Rome’s Mathew 16:18 Exposition

Church Fathers

In The Catholic Layman William Geraghty noted what he deemed to be Cyprian of Carthage’s doctrines:

First, that St. Peter’s person, and not his faith, was the rock upon which our Saviour promised to build His Church – epis. lxx. Ad episc. Numid., &c., &c.

Secondly, that St. Peter was the head of the Church under Christ, and the principle of unity to all the faithful – epist. lxxi., lxxiii. Et lib. De Unitat. Eccles.

Thirdly, that Bishops of Rome are his successors – ep. lii., lv.

Fourthly, that his successors are the principle of Christian unity – ep. xlv – or that they hold the principal see – ep. lv. – the root and matrice (or mother) ep. xlv. – not in the order of time, for that belonged to Jerusalem, but in the order of government of the Catholic Church – ep. lxvii. ; and that to be in their communion is to be in the communion of the Church of Christ – ep. lxvii., xlv. lii., xlii; and xl.?

Fifthly, that , consequently, to be separated from St. Peter’s successors is to be in schism? (Geraghty 1858:93)

Cyprian, like Origen, held the primacy of honor given to St. Peter, but not primacy of authority over other disciples. In this article I agreed with Geraghty’s first, second, fourth and fifth articles as correctly representing the doctrine of Cyprian, but quite the contrary to many Roman Catholic apologists who are unaware of the Church history, the third article is not entirely the doctrine of Cyprian.

De unitate ecclesiae is the treatise of this Northern African bishop that Rome has cited as a testimony for papal primacy exposition of Matthew 16. There are two versions of this treatise that are now widely accepted by Roman and Protestant scholars to be penned by Cyprian. One without what I italicized below and one with:

There Lord saith unto Peter, ‘ I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ And to the same (apostle) He says after His resurrection ‘Feed my sheep’. He builds His Church upon that one, and to him entrusts His sheep to be fed. And although after His resurrection He assigns equal power to all His apostles, and says ‘ As the Father sent me even so send I you, receive ye the Holy Ghost; whosesoever sins ye remit they shall be remitted unto him, and whosesoever sins ye retain they shall be retained,’ nevertheless in order to make the unity manifest, He established one Chair, and by His own authority appointed the origin of the same unity beginning from one. Certainly the rest of the apostles were that which Peter also was, endued with equal partnership both of honour and office, but the beginning set out from unity, and Primacy is given to Peter, that one Church of Christ and one Chair may be pointed out; and all are pastors and one flock is shown, to be fed by all the apostles with one-hearted accord, that one Church of Christ may be pointed out. It is this one Church the Holy Spirit in the Person of the Lord speaks of in the Song of Songs, saying ‘ My dove is one, my perfect one, one is she to her mother, elect to her who brought her forth.’ He that holds not this unity of the Church, does he believe that he holds the Faith? He who strives and rebels again the Church, he who deserts the Chair of Peter on which the Church was founded, does he truth that he is in the Church? (Cyprian Treatise I: On the Unity of the Church)

Regardless of which version one holds, contrary to Rome, Cyprian held that all the apostles had equal power. They, according to Cyprian, “as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power”. He understood that Peter, in Matthew 16, as representative of the episcopate as a whole. In the Epistles 33.1, Cyprian contended,

Our Lord whose precepts and warnings we ought to observe, determining the honour of a Bishop and the ordering of His own Church, speaks in the Gospel and says to Peter [quoting Matt. 16:18-19] Thence the ordination of Bishops, and the ordering of the Church, runs down along the course of time and line of succession, so that the Church is settled upon her Bishops; and every act of the Church is regulated by these same Prelates (Cyprian 1844: Ep. 33.1)

Thus contrary to Rome, Peter alone is not the rock on which the Church is built, according to Cyprian, but a paradigm of the principle of unity. For Cyprian, the whole episcopate is the rock on which Christ built His church. Peter was the first to receive the keys that all the bishops as one also now have. He held that “the Church is established in the bishop and the clergy, and all who stand fast in the faith.”(Epistle xxvi.1).

The case that Cyprian held that all the disciple had equal honour and office/authority as Peter, makes it impossible to attribute a view that Peter had authority over other apostles as his teaching since the bishop in Rome, according to Cyprian, had equal honour and authority as bishop in Carthage and other bishops.

Robert Eno, Roman Catholic historian, agreed that Cyprian did view all bishops as equal and it is far from his theology to think he understood the bishop of Rome to have had higher authority over him or other African bishops. Expounding the two versions of Cyprian’s De unitate ecclesiae Eno wrote,

Given what we have said above, it is clear that he [Cyprian] did not see the bishop of Rome as his superior, except by way of honor, even though the lawful bishop of Rome also held the chair of Peter in an historical sense (Ep. 52.2). Another term frequently used by the Africans in speaking of the Church was ‘the root’ (radix). Cyprian sometimes used the term in connection with Rome, leading some to assert that he regarded the Roman church as the ‘root.’ But in fact, in Cyprian’s teaching, the Catholic Church as a whole is the root. (Eno 1990: 57-60)

“It is clear that in Cyprian’s mind”, concluded Eno, “one theological conclusion he does not draw that the bishop of Rome has authority which is superior to that of the African bishops”(ibid). Eno was not alone. Another Roman Catholic historian, Michael Winter, had earlier drew the same conclusion. Winter argued,

Cyprian used the Petrine text of Matthew to defend episcopal authority, but many later theologians, influenced by the papal connexions of the text, have interpreted Cyprian in a propapal sense which was alien to his thought. […] Cyprian would have used Matthew 16 to defend the authority of any bishop, but since he happened to employ it for the sake of the Bishop of Rome, it created the impression that he understood it as referring to papal authority”(Winter 1960: 47-48)

Winter went even further to claim that both Catholics and Protestants “now generally agreed that Cyprian did not attribute a superior authority to Peter”(ibid 48)

Contrary to Rome, Cyprian, as Origen, believed that all bishops in accordance to the true faith have the honor and authority of Peter. Cyprian viewed all bishops as Peter’s successors. Thus Cyprian understanding of Matthew 16:18 is contrary to Rome. He indeed contended that Peter is the rock to which Christ built his Church, thus affirming his primacy of honour but quite the contrary to the doctrines of Rome, he neither view Peter as the only rock nor understood him to be the one of true and proper jurisdiction.

Question: Contrary to Roman Catholic, Cyprian did not recognized Peter alone to posses primacy of honour and authority. Should we let Cyprian, on this view, be an anathema?

Next: Tertullian Contra Roman Catholic’s Mathew 16:18 Exposition

Previous: Origen Contra Roman Catholic’s Mathew 16:18 Exposition

Bibliography:

Cyprian (1844) The Epistles of S. Cyprian, Ep. 33.1 in A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church. Oxford: Parker

Eno, Robert (1990). The Rise of the Papacy. Wilmington: Michael Glazier.

Geraghty, William (1858). What St. Cyprian Thought of St. Peter’s and the Pope’s Supremacy. The Catholic Layman, Vol. 7, No. 80: 92-95

Winter, Michael (1960). St. Peter and the Popes. Baltimore: Helikon.

Cover Image: Archidiocese Of Washington

Origen Contra Rome’s Matthew 16:18 Exposition

Vatican Council 1869 Granger

Eminent Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott contended that Matthews 16:18-19’s blessing words, which are perceived by the Church in Rome to be the promised primacy of honour and jurisdiction, “are addressed solely and immediately to Peter.”(Ott 1954: 280)

The Vatican Council anathematized anyone who denies that “the blessed apostle Peter was not constituted, by Christ Our Lord, Prince of all the Apostles and visible head of all the Church Militant; or that he (Peter) directly and immediately received from Our Lord Jesus Christ a primacy of honour only and not one of true and proper jurisdiction”(ibid 279).

In the previous article, Contra Rome and Protestant: A Plausible Reading Of Matthew 16:18, I showed that both Rome’s and some of Protestant’s understanding of Matthew 16:18 are inadequate. I proposed the Peter of faith as one who is the foundation to which Christ built his Church. This position is what we find in the testimony of the Fathers when read in their proper context.

Contrary to William Jürgen and Karl Keating, I showed that the Fathers did indeed contended that Peter is the rock to which Christ built his Church, thus affirming his primacy of honour but quite the contrary to the doctrines of Rome, they neither view Peter as the only rock nor understood him to be the one of true and proper jurisdiction.

Thus reformers like John Calvin were correct in observing that, Peter truly possessed preeminence, but “still there is a great difference between the honour of rank and the possession of power.” (Calvin 1997: n.p) I began with Origen because he is among the early Fathers to give a robust exegesis of Matthew 16:13-23.

Origen’s Understanding of Matthew 16:13-23

Origen affirmed that Peter is the one “on whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail”(Origen 1897: 346). “What sense it is said to Peter,[in Matt. 16:18-19]” wrote Origen in his exposition of Matthew 16:19, “ and to every Peter?”(Origen 1897b: 458 emp. added)

Origen believed that this passage applies to every one who joins in Peter’s confession.  He contented:

“And if we too have said like Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” not as if flesh and blood had revealed it unto us, but by light from the Father in heaven having shone in our heart, we become a Peter, and to us there might be said by the Word, “Thou art Peter,” etc. For a rock is every disciple of Christ of whom those drank who drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, and upon every such rock is built every word of the church, and the polity in accordance with it; for in each of the perfect, who have the combination of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the blessedness, is the church built by God.”(ibid 456)

Origen contended that it is not Peter alone who received these blessings. He paused a series of rhetorical questions:

But if you suppose that upon that one Peter only the whole church is built by God, what would you say about John the son of thunder or each one of the Apostles? Shall we otherwise dare to say, that against Peter in particular the gates of Hades shall not prevail, but that they shall prevail against the other Apostles and the perfect? Does not the saying previously made, “The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it,” hold in regard to all and in the case of each of them? And also the saying, “Upon this rock I will build My church”? Are the keys of the kingdom of heaven given by the Lord to Peter only, and will no other of the blessed receive them?(Ibid 456–457)

Origen noted that even though in the Gospel according to Matthew Peter is promised the keys of the kingdom, in the Gospel according to John Jesus promised the same to all disciples. Many then, not only Peter, who confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, through the Spirit of God, will become Peters.

All who join Peter in his confession, according to Origen, “will obtain the things that were spoken according to the letter of the Gospel to that Peter, but, as the spirit of the Gospel teaches, to every one who becomes such as that Peter was.” (Ibid)

In Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue James F. McCue thus correctly observed that “[w]hen Origen is commenting directly on Matthew 16:18f, he carefully puts aside any interpretation of the passage that would make Peter anything other than what every Christian should be”(McCue 1974: 60)

Question: Contrary to Roman Catholic, Origen recognized Peter’s primacy of honour only. Should we let Origen, on this view, be an anathema?

Next: Cyprian Contra Roman Catholic’s Mathew 16:18 Exposition

Bibliography:

Calvin, John (1997). Institutes of the Christian religion. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

McCue, James F. (1974) “Papal Primacy in the Universal Church” in Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue V. Ed. Paul Empie & Austin Murphy, ed at. Minneapolis: Augsburg.

Ott, Ludwig (1954) Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Ed. James Canon Bastible, Trans. from Germany: Patrick Lynch. Roman Catholic Books. Fort Collins.

Origen. (1897). Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of John (A. Menzies, Trans.) In A. Menzies (Ed.), (346). New York: Christian Literature Company.

Origen. (1897b). Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (J. Patrick, Trans.) New York: Christian Literature Company.

Questioning Rome’s Catholic Understanding of Matthew 16:18-20

Keys Given To Peter

When Christ said: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (verse 18), did He mean Peter or Peter’s confession, was the rock to which He built His church?

Leo the Great(c. 400-461 A.D.), the first Roman Catholic Pope, understood that it was Peter. This passage shows, according to Leo I, the ordination of Peter before the rest of Apostles. He wrote,

For he was ordained before the rest in such a way that from his being called the Rock, from his being pronounced the Foundation, from his being constituted the Doorkeeper of the kingdom of heaven, from his being set as the Umpire to bind and to loose, whose judgments shall retain their validity in heaven, from all these mystical titles we might know the nature of his association with Christ. (Leo 1895: 117)

An eminent Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott, following Roman Catholicism perspective, contended that it was Peter whom Christ buildt His church. As proof from Scripture, Ott quoted this passage to argue that, “Christ appointed the Apostle Peter to be the first of all the Apostles and to be the visible Head of the whole Church by appointing him immediately and personally to the primacy of jurisdiction.”(Ott 1954: 279 bold removed). He contended,

The primacy was promised on the occasion of the solemn confession of the Messiahship in the house of Caesarea Philippi (Mt. 16, 17-19)[…] These words are addressed solely and immediately to Peter. In them Christ promise to confer on him a threefold supreme power in the new religious community […] which He is to found.(ibid 280)

Contrary to Rome Catholic view Origen (c.185–254 A.D.), Aurelius Augustine (c.354–430 A.D.) and John Chrysostom (c.347-407) believed that it was Peter’s confession, and not Peter to be the rock which Jesus would build his Church.

Chrysostom expounded that it was “on the faith of his [Peter’s] confession.”(Chrysostom 1888: 333) to which Christ promised to build his Church. Augustine also contended,

Peter is so called from the rock; not the rock from Peter; as Christ is not called Christ from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. “Therefore,” he saith, “Thou art Peter; and upon this Rock” which thou hast confessed, upon this Rock which thou hast acknowledged, saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, will I build My Church;” that is upon Myself, the Son of the living God, “will I build My Church.” I will build thee upon Myself, not Myself upon thee. (Augustine 1888: 340)

Augustine, as Chrysostom, rightly concluded: “On this rock, therefore, He said, which thou hast confessed. I will build my Church. For the Rock (Petra) was Christ; and on this foundation was Peter himself also built.”(Augustine 1888b: 450)

If any disciple of Christ, according to Origen, confesses like Peter, then he or she “ become a Peter […] For a rock is every disciple of Christ of whom those drank who drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, and upon every such rock is built every word of the church, and the polity in accordance with it; for in each of the perfect, who have the combination of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the blessedness, is the church built by God.”(Origen 1897: 456)

Question: Which reading, the Roman Catholic or Origen-Augustine-Chrysostom, which reformers picked up, is correct? I welcome a positive comment exchange giving reasons for or against these views. I am persuaded that Origen, Augustine and Chrysostom are correct. But before I share my reasons I want to hear from both sides, mostly from my Catholic brothers and sisters.

Bibliography:

Augustine of Hippo. (1888). Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament R. G. MacMullen, Trans.). In P. Schaff (Ed.), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume VI: Saint Augustin: Sermon on the Mount, Harmony of the Gospels, Homilies on the Gospels (P. Schaff, Ed.). New York: Christian Literature Company.

____________________ (1888b). Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel according to St. John J. Gibb & J. Innes, Trans.). In P. Schaff (Ed.), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume VII: St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies (P. Schaff, Ed.) New York: Christian Literature Company.

Chrysostom, John (1888). Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople on the Gospel according to St. Matthew G. Prevost & M. B. Riddle, Trans.). In P. Schaff (Ed.), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume X: Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew (P. Schaff, Ed.) New York: Christian Literature Company.

Leo the Great. (1895). Sermons C. L. Feltoe, Trans.). In P. Schaff & H. Wace (Eds.)Vol. 12a: A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, Volume XII: Leo the Great, Gregory the Great (P. Schaff & H. Wace, Ed.) New York: Christian Literature Company.

Origen. (1897). Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew J. Patrick, Trans.). In A. Menzies (Ed.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume IX: The Gospel of Peter, the Diatessaron of Tatian, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Visio Pauli, the Apocalypses of the Virgil and Sedrach, the Testament of Abraham, the Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena, the Narrative of Zosimus, the Apology of Aristides, the Epistles of Clement (Complete Text), Origen’s Commentary on John, Books I-X, and Commentary on Matthew, Books I, II, and X-XIV (A. Menzies, Ed.) New York: Christian Literature Company.

Ott, Ludwig (1954) Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Ed. James Canon Bastible, Trans. from Germany: Patrick Lynch. Roman Catholic Books. Fort Collins.