Apologetics 2.4: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary the Theotokos

(1). The “brothers and sisters” of the Lord in scripture are not Jesus’ biological siblings, but cousins and close relatives considering that the word cousin was not used in the ancient Aramaic spoken by the Jews in the ancient world.

(2). Being that Jesus Christ is the First – Born of the Theotokos (Matt 1:25), it would obviously mean that He is the oldest of all His “siblings”. Had this been the case, it would be against the ancient Palestinian tradition for the younger to correct and rebuke one’s elders, as we see His “brothers” do in John 7:3-5.

(3). In John 19:26, Jesus gives His Mother to the Apostle John. Had Jesus had siblings, He would have passed that care to the next oldest sibling. This was the ancient law of the Jews.

(4). Protestants and other heterodox sects use Matt 13:55 as one of the scripture verses to argue against Mary’s virginity considering that there is a list of “brothers” of Jesus by name; that being James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude. This was an argument used by the ancient Helvidius and Antidicomarianite heretics.

Yet, it must be taken into account that James, the “brother of the Lord” in Acts 9:27 is the Son of Alphesus, whereas the Martyred James of Acts 15:6 was the son of Zebedee. (See Matt 10:3, Mark 3:18). Jude, being the brother of James the Less (Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13) would have to also be the son of Alphesus.

St. Simon (not to be confused with Simon Peter), was known by the early church to be Simon, Son of Cleopas, in whom succeeded James the Apostle as Bishop of Jerusalem. On comparing John 19:25 with Matthew 27:56, and Mark 15:40 (cf. Mark 15:47; 16:1), we find that Mary of Cleophas, or more correctly Clopas (Klopas), the sister of Mary the Mother of Christ, is the same as Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joseph (Joses). That being said, St. Simon of Jerusalem was also the son of Mary of Cleopas, along with Joseph. (Not to be confused with the adoptive earthly father of Jesus).

Note: Cleopas and Alphaeus are the same person. Papias of Hierapolis, who lived c. 70–163 AD, teaches: “Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphaeus, who was the mother of James the bishop and apostle, and of Simon and Thaddeus, and of one Joseph.”

(5). “Until” in Matt 1:24-25 is a idiomatic expression not to be taken literal, as 1 Sam 6:23 also expresses that Saul’s daughter didn’t have children until her death. Does that mean that she had children after her death? Of course not! In 1 Cor 15:25, it states that Jesus must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. Would that mean that His reign would eventually end? Absolutely not. (Luke 1:33).

Hilary of Poitiers: “If they [the brethren of the Lord] had been Mary’s sons and not those taken from Joseph’s former marriage, she would never have been given over in the moment of the passion [crucifixion] to the apostle John as his mother, the Lord saying to each, ‘Woman, behold your son,’ and to John, ‘Behold your mother’ [John 19:26–27), as he bequeathed filial love to a disciple as a consolation to the one desolate” (Commentary on Matthew 1:4 [A.D. 354]).

Athanasius: “Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to his essence deny also that he took true human flesh from the ever-virgin Mary” (Discourses Against the Arians 2:70 [A.D. 360]).

Augustine: “In being born of a Virgin who chose to remain a Virgin even before she knew who was to be born of her, Christ wanted to approve virginity rather than to impose it. And he wanted virginity to be of free choice even in that woman in whom he took upon himself the form of a slave” (Holy Virginity 4:4 [A.D. 401]).

Cyril of Alexandria: “[T]he Word himself, coming into the Blessed Virgin herself, assumed for himself his own temple from the substance of the Virgin and came forth from her a man in all that could be externally discerned, while interiorly he was true God. Therefore he kept his Mother a virgin even after her childbearing” (Against Those Who Do Not Wish to Confess That the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God 4 [A.D. 430]).

Pope Leo I: “His [Christ’s] origin is different, but his [human] nature is the same. Human usage and custom were lacking, but by divine power a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and Virgin she remained” (Sermons 22:2 [A.D. 450]).

Therefore, being that Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit, it is clear by scripture and by the teachings of the Early Christians that Mary remained a Virgin all the days of her life.

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Apologetics 2.3: Iconography Pt.2

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In the words of my priest: “If you deny the use of icons, you deny the Incarnation of Christ.” How is this so? Because Jesus Christ, in the flesh, is the perfect Icon of the Father. 

Proof:
John 12:45 – “He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me”
John 14:6-10 – “‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?’”

Hebrews 1:3 – “the brightness of His glory and the express image [eikon] of His person, upholding all things by the word of His power” 


Collisions 1:15 – “He is the image [eikon] of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

The holy father St. John of Damascus teaches the following: “If the Word of God truly took flesh, He could be depicted in images … In the old days, the incorporeal and infinite God was never depicted. Now, however, when God has been seen clothed in flesh and talking with mortals, I make an image of the God whom I see. I do not worship matter; I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake, and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. I will not cease from honoring that matter which works my salvation.”

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The following Anathemas are taken from an 1111 edition of the Synodikon by a monk of the Monastery of Oleni in Moroea. “On every innovation and action contrary to the tradition of the Church, and the teaching and pattern of the holy and celebrated Fathers, or anything that shall be done after this: Anathema!… On those who accept with their reason the incarnate economy of God the Word, but will not allow that this can be beheld through images, and therefore affect to receive our salvation in words, but deny it in reality: Anathema!

Those who apply the sayings of the divine Scripture that are directed against idols to the august icons of Christ our God and his saints: Anathema!

Those who share the opinion of those who mock and dishonor the august icons: Anathema!

Those who say that Christians treat the icons like gods: Anathema!

Those who dare to say that the Catholic Church has accepted idols, thus over-throwing the whole mystery and mocking the faith of Christians: Anathema!”

Thus, one cannot be a Christian and reject iconography, otherwise, one would have to reject the Incarnation in which is a heretical conclusion.

Is the priest ‘turning his back’ on the people?

There is a common myth that has spread throughout the Latin Church, and unfortunately in Latinized Eastern Catholic Churches, that claims that the reason why the priest used to pray “facing away from the people” was so that the congregation would not feel worthy to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice. Therefore, Vatican 2 came to change that in order to fulfill its request to have “active participation.”

While we will not cover the details of what “active participation” truly meant in its proper context, we will give details in regards to why the Church originally prays facing Eastward.

It is Biblical: All throughout scripture, it is suggested that we pray towards the East. Examples from the Old Testament include Ezekiel 43:4 in where he saw the glory of God coming from the East:

“And the glory of the Lord came into the house, by the way of the gate looking eastward:”

In ancient Jewish worship of the New Testament, it was commanded that the ancient liturgy which prefigured the eternal Divine Liturgy of the New Testament face East:

“And if the prince should prepare as a thanksgiving a whole-burnt-peace-offering to the Lord, and should open for himself the gate looking eastward, and offer his whole-burnt-offering, and his peace-offerings, as he does on the sabbath-day; then shall he go out, and shall shut the doors after he has gone out.” (Eze 46:12).

Therefore, the Church is continuing in the practices of it’s Jewish heritage. Not only that, it is also facing East to face Christ Himself.

“For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:27)

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Mat 2:1-2)

“…Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11) Note: Christ Ascended on the Mount of Olives, and when He returns, He will be on a cloud coming from the East. (Luke 21:27).

You may be asking: “But didn’t Jesus face the apostles during the Last Supper, the very first Divine Liturgy?” In response, the ancient Jewish tables all had dinner on the same exact side to provide access for the servers, therefore Jesus sat on the same side as the Apostles.

St. John Damascus further explains in Book IV, Chapter 12 why we pray towards the East:

“It is not without reason or by chance that we worship towards the East. But seeing that we are composed of a visible and an invisible nature, that is to say, of a nature partly of spirit and partly of sense, we render also a twofold worship to the Creator; just as we sing both with our spirit and our bodily lips, and are baptized with both water and Spirit, and are united with the Lord in a twofold manner, being sharers in the Mysteries and in the grace of the Spirit.

Since, therefore, God is spiritual light, and Christ is called in the Scriptures Sun of Righteousness and Dayspring, the East is the direction that must be assigned to His worship. For everything good must be assigned to Him from Whom every good thing arises. Indeed the divine David also says, Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth: O sing praises unto the Lord: to Him that rideth upon the Heavens of heavens towards the East. Moreover the Scripture also says, And God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed: and when he had transgressed His command He expelled him and made him to dwell over against the delights of Paradise, which clearly is the West.

So, then, we worship God seeking and striving after our old fatherland.

Moreover the tent of Moses had its veil and mercy seat towards the East.

Also the tribe of Judah as the most precious pitched their camp on the East.

Also in the celebrated temple of Solomon, the Gate of the Lord was placed eastward.

Moreover Christ, when He hung on the Cross, had His face turned towards the West, and so we worship, striving after Him.

And when He was received again into Heaven He was borne towards the East, and thus His apostles worship Him, and thus He will come again in the way in which they beheld Him going towards Heaven; as the Lord Himself said, As the lightning cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be.

So, then, in expectation of His coming we worship towards the East. But this tradition of the apostles is unwritten. For much that has been handed down to us by tradition is unwritten.”

Apologetics 2:2 – Matthew 6:5-8 and Prayer.

Disclaimer: The commentary below was inspired by the Orthodox Study Bible.

When examining this scripture verse, here are some things that must be taken into account.

1. The Hypocrites miss the spirit of prayer, which is an intimate, personal communion with God that leads to the vision of His Glory. ( 1 Co 2:9).

2. Christ does not condemn the use of many words per se, but teaches that the words must express desire for communion with God. Therefore, it is vain repetition (pointless prayers without with the intention of having true communion with God) that are useless. Had repetition of prayer been condemned itself, Jesus would have not instructed us to repeat the Lord’s Prayer, nor would Luke 18:1 suggest to pray always; in addition to 1 Thess 5:17 demanding that we must “pray without ceasing.” In fact, the Book of psalms has many phrases in which we’re very repetitious! For example:

In Psalm 108 (109) King David continuously asks God for mercy. Verse 21: “Bless You, O Lord, O Lord, deal mercifully with me for your name’s sake, For Your Mercy is good.” He continues in verse 26: “Help me, O Lord my God; save me according to Your Mercy!” These are just a couple verses of the many examples of true repetitious prayer! (In fact, the continuous calling upon God’s mercy is exactly what we do when we pray the Jesus Prayer in the Eastern Churches).

3. True prayer is not telling God what He already knows and then telling Him what to do about it (a common practice we all unfortunately have done or continue to do), nor is it praying in-front of others to look pious. (I.E. worldly praise, the “reward” that the Pharisees got.) Rather, true prayer is (1) Humble. (I.E. “Go into your room” in Verse 6), (2) Personal. (“Pray to your Father”, Verse 6.) (3) Sincere. (“Do not use vain repetitions, Verse 7).

Apologetics 2:1 – Biblical Proof for the Liturgy

The Divine Liturgy of the Church is absolutely identical to the liturgy celebrated by the Old Testament Jews. Considering that the Old Testament was a prefiguration of the Church, it shouldn’t be surprising to see many corresponding elements.

For example, when comparing the Divine Liturgy to the Liturgy of the ancient Hebrews, it is evident by its nature that both liturgies have a Priest to celebrate a sacrifice for the remission of sins. In Leviticus 5, the Bible says:

“And he shall give them to the priest: who shall offer the first for sin, and twist back the head of it to the little pinions, so that it stick to the neck, and be not altogether broken off. And of its blood he shall sprinkle the side of the altar, and whatsoever is left, he shall let it drop at the bottom thereof, because it is for sin. And the other he shall burn for a holocaust, as is wont to be done: and the priest shall pray for him, and for his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.”

As stated above, the Old Testament was a prefiguration of the New Testament since Christ the Messiah has not yet come. This is why St Augustine, in his holy wisdom, explained it best when he stated: “The New Testament is hidden in the old, and the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New.”

Given that Jesus Christ has come to fulfill the law, (Matt 5:17) the sacrifice of animals are no longer necessary. Instead, we celebrate the sacrifice that Jesus has done for us on the Cross for the remission of our sins (Hebrews 9:12), in addition to also celebrating His Resurrection. This explains why we have an altar in our churches. The sacrifice is done when the priest says the words of consecration to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus; also known as the Holy Eucharist. (John 6:52 , Luke 22:19-20). This was celebrated every Sunday in the early Christian Church. (Acts 20:7).

Not only do we see the continuation of a sacrifice in the New Testament Church, but we also see the continuation of the use of Incense. The use of incense symbolizes both the presence of the Holy Spirit and the rising of our prayers to heaven. (Rev 5:8, Rev 8:1-5, Psalms 141:2). This can be seen within ancient Jewish worship as well.

Leviticus 2: 1-13 mentions how one must properly make a grain offering when it says: “Now if a soul should offer a gift for a grain offering to the Lord, his gift shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense of it. He shall bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests, one of whom shall take it from his handful of fine flour and oil with all the frankincense. Then the priest shall put it on the altar as a memorial (emphasis added), a sacrifice of sweet aroma to the Lord … and when it is presented to the priest, he shall bring it to the altar …”

Other examples of this can be seen in Num 17:3-15, Tobit 8:2-4 , Songs of Solomon 4:6, WSir 39:14, Mal 1:11, & Isiah 6:1-6. Being that Jesus Christ, our Lord, is also a priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), this explains why the Magi have offered Jesus Incense as a symbol of His Divine Priesthood. (Matt 2:11).

In conclusion, we can see that the New Testament Church is the continuation of the ancient Jewish religion since Christ the Messiah has come! May Christ our Lord be Glorified unto ages of ages, amen!

Apologetics 2:2 – Apostolic Succession

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Minor Mysteries (or sacramentals to Latin Catholics) are known to be outward signs of inward graces. Being that vestments express these graces in different degrees depending on the rank of the individual cleric, it’s quite evident why these Apostolic Crowns are worn by Popes, Patriarchs, & Bishops; in addition to also being decorated the way that they are – to show the importance of the role that Bishop has; that being the authority to guide the church and to teach the flock.

 

Catholic Teaching on Apostolic succession:

 

CCC 77: “In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority. Indeed, the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.”

 

Biblical proof for Apostolic Succession:

 

• 2 Timothy 2:2: “And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.”

 

• Acts 14:23: “They [the Apostles] appointed presbyters for them in each church.”

 

• Acts 1:16- 20: “My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry.  He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. This became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem, so that the parcel of land was called in their language ‘Akeldama,’ that is, Field of Blood. For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it.’ And: ‘May another take his office.'(Emphasis)

 

Acts 1:25-26 Concerning the replacement of Judas:

 

To take the place of this ministry and apostleship , from which Judas hath by transgression fallen, that he might go to his own place. And they gave them lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

 

Paul is succeeded by Timothy, who will be succeeded by “faithful people”, who will be succeeded by “others as well’.

 

Titus 1:5: “For this reason I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you.”

Note: Titus is instructed to guide the flock, to teach, and to silence heresies from those outside of the true church that lack Apostolic Succession. (See Titus 1:10-11)

 

• Titus 1-10-11 “For there are also many rebels, idle talkers and deceivers, especially the Jewish Christians. It is imperative to silence them, as they are upsetting whole families by teaching for sordid gain what they should not.”

 

Note: the silencing of heretics is what you find within the Catholic Church by the magisterium, that being the Apostolic Tradition to anathematize heresies and individual heretics that do not recant their heterodoxy.

 

•2 Peter 1:3-4 bares witness to the teaching that Jesus Christ has promised the apostles and their successors guidance to teach truth by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.”

Early Church Fathers on Apostolic Succession:

 

Pope Clement I

“Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier. . . . Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry” (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4–5, 44:1–3 [A.D. 80]).

Hegesippus

“When I had come to Rome, I [visited] Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And after Anicetus [died], Soter succeeded, and after him Eleutherus. In each succession and in each city there is a continuance of that which is proclaimed by the law, the prophets, and the Lord” (Memoirs, cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4:22 [A.D. 180]).

Irenaeus

“It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about” (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [A.D. 189]).

“[T]he Church is one, and as she is one, cannot be both within and without. For if she is with [the heretic] Novatian, she was not with [Pope] Cornelius. But if she was with Cornelius, who succeeded the bishop [of Rome], Fabian, by lawful ordination, and whom, beside the honor of the priesthood the Lord glorified also with martyrdom, Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and despising the evangelical and apostolic tradition, sprang from himself. For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way” (Letters 69[75]:3 [A.D. 253]).

St. Jerome

“Far be it from me to speak adversely of any of these clergy who, in succession from the apostles, confect by their sacred word the Body of Christ and through whose efforts also it is that we are Christians” (Letters 14:8 [A.D. 396]).

A common question by non Catholics: “Who and how does one gain Apostolic Succession?”

Answer: Apostolic Succession is given to men alone. These are men that were given formation in the faith and have been ordained via the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Orders. These apply to deacons, priests, and Bishops.

In laymen terms, these are clerics that were ordained by a Bishop in whom passes on this Apostolic Succession through the laying on of hands (Ordination) . Ordination must come from Bishops in whom were ordained validly and can trace their succession back to the apostles. This can be found only in the Catholic Church – with the exception of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Assyrian Church of the East.

CCC 1536 – Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.

Biblical Support for Holy Orders:

•Acts 13:2-3 – “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off.”

•Acts 14:23 – They appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.

Paul and Barnabas appointed presbyters (priests).

• 2 Tim 1:6,9 – For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. … He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.

Apologetics 2.1: Addressing the Heresy of Sola Fide

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Since Protestants confidently proclaim that faith alone is the solution to being saved, the question remains; why does scripture oppose this heretical and unbiblical doctrine?

It’s quite evident within the scriptures that we are to do good works in response to having faith in Christ. This is called cooperating with God’s Grace. The scriptures state that we are to imitate Christ in all things (Eph 5:1-2) and that we are to keep His Commandments (Rev 22:14) in order to be saved. 1 Peter 2:12 says that we are to be an example to the gentiles by our good deeds in order that they may glorify the True God. Matthew 5:16 reaffirms this same request, since our good works “shine before men.”

This is why Matthew 16:27 makes it absolutely clear that we will be judged by all the good works we have done to glorify God, for it states: “For the Son of Man is to come with His Angels in the Glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man for what he has done.”

Bear in mind that later in Matthew 25:31-46; Jesus speaks of separating the sheep from the goats in accordance to how they served God, the sheeps being the saved and the goats being the damned. The Protestant position of faith has no room within this scripture, for Jesus makes it clear that these good works, in absolute union with faith, are necessary for salvation as mentioned above.

Remember that even the Devils have faith in God, thus if we are to have faith alone and not do what God requests in this regards (Obeying the commandments, feeding the hungry etc.) we would only be cast away into Hell as “sinful and slothful servents.” (Matt 25:23-30) Did I forget to mention that the book of 2nd Corinthians 5:10 makes it absolutely clear that “all will be made manifest.. so that each one may receive what is due to him for the THINGS DONE while in the body, whether good or bad”?
Sounds like good works are necessary here for salvation. To reject this is to simply to be in self denial and pride. Had this not been true, the rich man would have not been damned. (Luke 16:22)

In conclusion, faith without works is dead. “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man say he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?” (Luther would say yes… continuing… ) “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to him “Go in peace, be warned and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17) Lets not forget James 2:26: “For as the Body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.”

Fun fact: Martin Luther, the founder of the heresy of Protestantism, desired to remove the book of James from the Bible because of this very key doctrine in which he invented. It’s ironic considering that not only had he removed 7 books from the Old Testament, but also accused the Catholic Church for being unbiblical and twisting scripture in which he has edited in order for it to fit his doctrines.

Apologetics 1.9: EARLY CHURCH PAPACY

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“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Said our beloved Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the Apostle Peter. It was from this very moment that Christ established not only his church, but the authoritative voice of his church. In modern times, there is this misconception of papal authority being an intrusive theology and practice to the Christian faith, this is no modern phenomenon. Starting from the creation of the church we’ve seen the authority of Saint Peter.

Peter was the one who generally spoke for the apostles as seen in all four gospels. It is Peter’s faith that guided his brothers (Luke 22:32) and Peter was given Christ’s flock to rule (John 21:16). He elected Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:13-26), and inflicted the first punishment (Acts 5:1-11), and excommunicated the first heretic (Acts 8:18-23). It was to Peter that received revelation that Gentiles were to be baptized and accepted as Christians (Acts 10:46-48), and announced the first dogmatic decision (Acts 15:7-11).

Now we move into the post apostolic era of the church. It is standard fare in the theology of Protestants and Eastern Orthodox to assert that the doctrine of the primacy of the See of Rome was an invention of the Middle Ages. The false claim of this assertion is the belief that, in the patristic era, the bishops patriarchal sees all interacted as equals with no concept of a papal primacy until the early medieval era, or during the 7-9th centuries. Many are even Unaware of the Rock Solid Proof of papal authority not only in scriptures but also in church history, papal infallibility and supremacy being acted out on in early church, and the acknowledgement of the divine authority the office holds.

In the post apostolic era we see the Pope forcing Dionysius of Alexandria to explain his Trinitarian teachings, forced the patriarch of Antioch to not support Novationism, as Pope Clement did to force Corinth to reinstate its priests and bishops. It was the pope who overruled the Second Council of Ephesus and the Arian council of Rimini, even when a majority of bishops supported these heresies and much more.

Alluding to councils let’s say all bishops were equal, and orthodoxy was dependent on a “synodical democracy” that would mean the councils of: Antioch in 341, where about 100 Eastern bishops approved of straight Arianism, Sirmium in 351, where another 100 or so Eastern bishops espoused semi-Arianism, the Robber Council of Ephesus in 449-450 which declared Monophysitism to be orthodox doctrine, the numerous “councils” in Constantinople which included the patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, which declared Monophysitism to be orthodox) and the councils of Constantinople of 638 and 639 which approved of the Ecthesis, embracing Monothelitism. All these Councils would have been defined historically as “Ecumenical,” if it were not for Rome’s refusal to cooperate with them.

Which also leads what makes a council ecumenical, this also plays into the part of Papal infallibility. After each councils, the sessions would be recorded and the canons and decrees listed then, the bishops would sign it and then the Emperor proceeding. Subsequently, if the council maintained Orthodoxy then he’d accept it and elevated it to ecumenical status. In the words of St. Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople (758-828) :


“Without whom (the Romans presiding in the seventh Council) a doctrine
brought forward in the Church could not, even though confirmed by
canonical decrees and by ecclesiastical usage
, ever obtain full approval
or currency. For it is they (the Popes of Rome) who have had assigned
to them the rule in sacred things, and who have received into their
hands the dignity of Headship among the Apostles.” (Nicephorus,
Niceph. Cpl. pro. s. imag. c 25 [Mai N. Bibl. pp. ii. 30]).

Interesting isn’t it? Countless church fathers and councils understood the authority of the pope having not only jurisdictional authority when abuses were being committed but also in deciding orthodoxy using his papal infallibility.

In the council of Chalcedon, the bishops gathered begged the Pope to accept their decrees as the head, and that they needed to be in agreement with him:

Knowing that every success of the children rebounds to the parents, we therefore beg you to honor our decision by your assent, and as we have yielded agreement to the Head in noble things, so may the Head also fulfill what is fitting for the children. — Chalcedon to Pope Leo, Ep 98

Then came the concern of canon 28 and even with the ratification of the 28th canon it was never accepted by the Pope. Pope Leo refused to aceept this canon and putting a “line of veto,” ordered it off from the Council documents. In this, Bishop Anatolius of Constantinople writes to Pope Leo, apologizing and explaining how the canon came to be, saying …

As for those things which the universal Council of Chalcedon recently ordained in favor of the church of Constantinople, let Your Holiness be sure that there was no fault in me, who from my youth have always loved peace and quiet, keeping myself in humility. It was the most reverend clergy of the church of Constantinople who were eager about it, and they were equally supported by the most reverend priests of those parts, who agreed about it.

Even so, the whole force of confirmation of the acts was reserved for the authority of Your Blessedness. Therefore, let Your Holiness know for certain that I did nothing to further the matter, knowing always that I held myself bound to avoid the lusts of pride and covetousness. — Patriarch Anatolius of Constantinople to Pope Leo, Ep 132 (on the subject of canon 28 of Chalcedon).

So, the matter was settled and, for the next 6 centuries all Eastern churches speak of only 27 canons of Chalcedon the 28th Canon being rendered null and void by Rome’s “line item veto.” This is supported by all the Greek historians, such as Theodore the Lector, John Skolastikas, Dionysius, etc.

 St. Theodore the Studite of Constantinople (759-826) says, writing to Pope
Leo III:


Since to great Peter Christ our Lord gave the office of Chief Shepherd
after entrusting him with the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, to Peter or
his successor must of necessity every novelty in the Catholic Church
be referred.”
 (Theodore, Bk. I. Ep. 23)


…and ….


“Let him (Patriarch Nicephorus of Constantinople) assemble a synod of
those with whom he has been at variance, if it is impossible that
representatives of the other patriarchs should be present, a thing which
might certainly be if the Emperor should wish the Western Patriarch (the
Roman Pope) to be present, to whom is given authority over an
ecumenical synod
; but let him make peace and union by sending his
synodical letters to the prelate of the First See.” (Theodore the Studite,
Patr. Graec. 99, 1420)

Also, during Photius’ own time, his Byzantine contempory St. Methodius, the brother of
St. Cyril and Apostle to the Slavs (865), clearly testifies to the belief that the authority
of an Ecumenical Council depends on the authority of Rome:
“Because of his primacy, the Pontiff of Rome is not required to attend an
Ecumenical Council; but without his participation, manifested by
sending some subordinates, every Ecumenical Council is as nonexistent,
for it is he who presides over the Council.
” (Methodius, in N.
Brianchaninov, The Russian Church (1931), 46; cited by Butler, Church
and Infallibility, 210) (Upon This Rock (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1999), p.
177).

It is clearly Rome’s teaching authority the very thing “Saint” Photius denied so as to foster Byzantine primacy through an untraditional bid to make the Patriarch of Constantinople “Ecumenical Patriarch” But, getting back to my point, the Orthodox have bought into a non-Ecclesial, very imperial notion of what determines orthodoxy via magisterium. Their idea that “all bishops are equal” is really rooted in the Imperial idea of polling bishops so as to see what is taught everywhere.

However, while this is sometimes a useful tool it is no replacement for a magisterium. The very non-representational Greek Democracy in other words, it doesn’t work. If it did, we would not have had all those illicit “ecumenical councils” I referred to above. And in this, we see a simple rule for defining orthodoxy:

With Rome = Legitimate Ecumenical Council

Without Rome = Illicit, Heretical Council.

Apologetics 1.8: Call no man ‘Father’?

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If you have ever come across a Protestant, one common argument that you may have heard is “The Bible says to not call anyone father.” The scripture passage that they are  referencing is Matthew 23:9 in where Jesus says to not call anybody on earth your father. However, this must be taken in its proper context from the understanding of that time period and from Jewish lenses. In that time period, the Roman kings would identify themselves as “Father God” to replace the True Creator. Considering that this is blasphemy and outright idolatrous, Christ warned to not identify anybody on earth as “Father” in the context of “Father God”, for such would be idolatrous.

If Christ implied to not use the term “father” within itself, then we’d have to conclude that He and the scriptures have contradicted itself. Since Christ is God and cannot do so, nor can scripture since its inerrant and inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself, that’s impossible. All throughout scripture, the term Father is used by God Himself or His disciples.
Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, and yes, even his own life, he is not able to be my disciple.” Note, Christ clearly used the word father to refer to the earthly male parents of our life on earth. Christ is clearly not against the use of the term, for even the fourth commandment says to “honor your father and your mother.” Would this mean that God is contradicting Himself? Absolutely not. Again, context needs to be considered.

Later, in the book of Luke chapter 16:24, Jesus says the following when giving a parable: “And crying out, he said: ‘Father Abraham, take pity on me and send Lazarus, so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water to refresh my tongue. For I am tortured in this fire.’ ” This is also why in the book of Romans, Paul calls Abraham the “Father of us all.” (Romans 4:16-17)

Therefore, the reason we identify deacons and priests as ‘Father’ is because of their pastoral role as spiritual fathers in whom tend the flock, us as the spiritual children. This is the very continuation of how the ancient Jews identified the priests of their time period, thus St. Stephen the martyred deacon’s identification of the Jewish elders and priests as “fathers.” (See Acts 6:14)