Review of East/West Debate (Part 1)


As many are aware, Reason and Theology hosted a debate on the origins of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic schism. Craig Truglia took the position to defend that Catholics are schismatics, and I took the opposite view. In my honest opinion, we barely scratched the surface. Craig understands that his case is proven by showing the 2nd liturgy, altar, and bishopric installed in Eastern sees during the Crusades shows that the Latins “punched” the Greeks in the face first, and therefore are the schismatics. A gross oversimplification if there ever was one, and a massive overlooking of prior facts.

Yes, there were many criminal activities performed by the Latin military/clergy during the Crusades (there is no doubt the Pope gets the blame for all of them). Yes, there were some decisions that the Pope, while not approving, afterwards went along with, and which further injured East-West relations.

But are we losing our memories?

What of the joint effort of the Eastern Patriarchs (Alex, Antioch, and Constantinople) in deposing St. John Chrysostom? It was Pope St. Innocent who overturned the Synod of Oaks which put St. John out of the Church, and made it mandatory for re-communion with the East that John’s name be put back into the diptycha of divine services. What about the insertion of canon 3/28 of the Constantinopolitan church, which caused a ruckus in the 5th century between herself and Alexandria, not least the Apostolic See for many more centuries to come? What about the kidnapping of Pope Vigilius during the Three Chapters of controversy by St. Justinian I, which the Eastern bishops co-operated with? What about Justinian’s deposing bishops (including the occupant of Alexandria) in North Africa because they would not subscribe to his Three Chapters controversy? What about the confiscation of the Illyricum jurisdiction (later Bulgarian) from the Apostolic See by Emperor Leo the Isaurian, which the Greek episcopate eventually went along with? What about the the many anti-Latin canons composed by the Greeks, and the subsequent violence threatened by the Byzantine Emperor on the successor of Peter for not accepting Trullo (692)? What about the slaughter of the Latins in 1182, thousands of which either died or were sold to the Turks as slaves? Craig wants to downplay that because it doesn’t really have to do with ecclesiology. Oh that’s right! Who would have thought ecclesiology had to do with human persons? What about the racial antagonism of the Byzantine people during the Crusades, before any hint of infringement was performed?

The list can go on, but I think Craig’s entire position falls flat on the ground for the simple reason that when the Greeks and Latins regrouped in reunion efforts, agreement on doctrine had been at least nominally reached where the content of that doctrine was both thoroughly Patristic and thoroughly coincident with the then Catholic Church. In other words, many years past the Crusades, the Byzantine episcopate entered into discussions with the Pope over healing the schism, and each time this occurred, the focus was not on “who punched who first”?, but rather “what say the Church fathers“? One of the foremost participants at the Council of Florence (1439), Bessarion, later Cardinal, former Archbishop of Nicaea had this to say about his experience sitting in as a Greek delegate:

They brought forward passages not only of the Western teachers but quite as many of the Eastern….to which we had no reply whatosever to make except that they were corrupt and corrupted by the Latins. They brought forward our own Epiphanius as in many places clearly declaring that the Spirit is from the Father and the Son; corrupt we said they were. .. They adduced the words of the Saints of the West: the whole of our answer was ‘corrupt’ and nothing more. We considered and consulted among ourselves for several days as to what answer we shall make, but find no other defense at all but that…we had no books that would prove the Latin texts to be corrupt, no Saints who spoke differently from those put forward. We found ourselves deprived of a just case in every direction. So we kept silent” (PG 161, 358; taken from Joseph Gill, S.J., Florence, 223-224)

And this is what it all boils down to. What is the faith of our fathers? As the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, along with their synods under them, have said in their famous Encyclical response to Pope Pius IX in 1848:

Who denies that the ancient Roman Church was Apostolic and Orthodox? None of us will question that it was a model of orthodoxy. We will specially add, for its greater praise, from the historian Sozomen, the passage, which his Holiness has overlooked, respecting the mode by which for a time she was enabled to preserve the orthodoxy which we praise:—’For, as everywhere,” saith Sozomen, “the Church throughout the West, being guided purely by the doctrines of the Fathers, was delivered from contention and deception concerning these things.'”

As I mentioned in the closing remarks, the Eastern Orthodox Church claims to be the doctrinal, spiritual, and and ecclesial successor of the true Church which reigned unerringly in the first 11 centuries of the Christian religion. However, Craig admits that the See of Rome had been corrupted with the falsehood of the Papist error so far back as Pope St. Victor I (189-99). On many occasions he has admitted of these Papal claims existing far before the schism. This would make for quite a catastrophe, for if the Eastern Orthodox are supposedly the continuation of first thousand years’ true Church, which was headed by Papalist Popes of elder Rome, then this would mean that the current Orthodox Church was founded and then subsequently re-founded with different beliefs when the schism occurred.

Despite this complete falsification of Craig’s position, I want to go through some of his arguments and claims to see how they match up with the facts. Before we can address his argument on the illegal parallelism of Peter’s chair in the Eastern sees conducted by the Latins during the crusades, we must address whether his comments on Peter’s chair is coherent with the Patristic understanding in the first place. In the below, I will show that (1) all the Fathers that he appealed to in order to extract his understanding of the nature of Peter’s chair understood to the See of Rome to have a unique function in the unity of the universal Church, thereby completely undercutting his attempt at circumscribing the locus of Peter’s chair to the bishop of the local diocese alone, and (2) because of this, his argument about Rome somehow creating parallel jurisdictions in the Eastern sees drops to the floor all the way.

You may not have caught the significance of my question to Craig about how the chair belonging to the Apostle Peter the man relates to the subjects over which his chair stands. If we are truly going to say that the Episcopal chair in a local diocese, i.e. the Bishop’s place of jurisdiction and sacramental font, is the Apostle Peter’s chair, then it would stand to reason that Peter was possessed of jurisdiction over some subject(s) in order for the meaning of “chair” to carry over from the Apostles’ own career to the career of Bishops. Without this carry over, the meaning and significance of “chair” no longer makes any sense. And this is why I asked Craig if Peter had jurisdiction over the Apostles, at least. Now, it is not typical for modern Eastern Orthodox theologians and ecclesiologists to say that Peter had any sort of binding authority over the other Apostles, especially in the sense in which a Bishop has authority over his diocese (for ex, the Bishop of Jerusalem over his diocese). However, I don’t know how Craig can admit that the Bishop’s chair is Peter’s chair and then deny Peter had jurisdiction over under-subjects. If he does, who would they be? Would it have been the Church of Jerusalem where the Christian mission began? Well, history shows us that this bishopric belonged to holy James. Was it then the Church of Antioch? Perhaps, since tradition has it that Peter “sat” (reference to the function of a chairman) in said Church. However, he left there and planted in Rome. Was it then in Rome? Yes, and that is the reality which the fathers understood when they associated Rome with the founding-chair of Peter. But then, is the Apostle Peter’s chairmanship limited to the diocese of Rome? There are explicit reasons from the Fathers why this cannot be.

Craig understands, the essential role of the chair of Peter is to be a principle or origin of unity, and since the Bishop is the origin of unity for the diocese, he stands in some level of primacy and jurisdiction, including some level of forceful and coercive control. In other words, to possess unifying force is to, in effect, stand as a symbol of authority and centralization. The many wills which can vary and go in diverse directions are calibrated to a single unit when there is a single origin point to which all must adhere. Now, the funny thing is that Cyprian singles out the Roman Church as carrying this sort of function of being the “origin” of unity for the whole priesthood. In letter 54, Cyprian wrote:

“After such things as these, moreover, they still dare — a false bishop having been appointed for them by, heretics— to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the chair of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access.” (Epistle 54)

Here it is unmistakable that Cyprian understands the Roman church to be a origin for the universal unity spread out in the whole priesthood. This is why he calls it the “chief church”. By designating the Roman church with “chief”, he posits a relationship between Rome to all the other churches, namely, in some sort of subordinate position. But most importantly, Cyprian calls the Roman Church the “chair of Peter” in relation to the other churches, which must have some parallel to the chair of Peter which is the local bishop’s throne in relation to his diocese. As I’ve said, this relationship is one of headship and authoritative jurisdiction. If the local bishop rules his diocese and deserves obedience because of his occupying the chair of Peter, then the Pope of Rome should rule the universal church and deserve obedience because of his occupying the chair of Peter likewise, the difference between the local chair of Peter is the principle of unity for the local setting, and the universal chair of Peter is the principle of unity for the universal setting. This reasoning is especially corroborated by where Cyprian believes schisms arise from:

For neither have heresies arisen, nor have schisms originated, from any other source than from this, that God’s priest is not obeyed; nor do they consider that there is one person for the time priest in the Church, and for the time judge in the stead of Christ; whom, if, according to divine teaching, the whole fraternity should obey” (ibid)

There it is. Schisms originate because God’s priest is not obeyed. But why does he deserve this obedience? Because the bishop sits on Peter’s chair. Now, if it were the case that Rome is the universal chair of Peter, as Cyprian indicates, how could it be that disobedience to the Pope is not the origin of schism on the grandest level? Now, it is therefore surprising how Cyprian can understand the force of unity to be one of coercive authority in the local diocese, but then seems to ignore the same kind of force when the prelate of Peter’s historical See imposes itself. We know this because Cyprian opposed the ruling of Pope Stephen during the rebaptism controversy. I have written about this inconsistency in my article St. Cyprian on the Roman See: Ecclesia Principalis Unde Unitas Sacerdotalis Exorta Estand which is corroborated by former Russian Orthodox professor of History at St. Sergius Institute in Paris, Fr. Nicolas Afanasssieff, who wrote:

“….according to his doctrine there should have really been one single Bishop at the head of the Universal Church. He was unwilling to place the Bishop of Rome outside the concors numerositas of bishops, and yet the place given by him to the Roman Church did raise it above the ‘harmonious multitude’. The ideal ‘Peter’s throne’ occupied by the whole episcopate became confused in Cyprian’s mind with the actual throne occupied by the Bishop of Rome. According to Cyprian, every Bishop occupies Peter’s throne (the Bishop of Rome among others), but the See of Peter is Peter’s throne par excellence. The Bishop of Rome is the direct heir of Peter, whereas the others are heirs only indirectly, and sometimes only by the mediation of Rome. Hence Cyprian’s insistence that the Church of Rome is the root and matrix of the Catholic Church. The subject is treated in so many of Cyprian’s passages that there is no doubt; to him, the See of Rome was ecclesia principalis unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est. But he does not proceed to draw any conclusions from his doctrine about the See of Rome. Cyprian could not deny that the See of Rome held a preponderant position: but he was intuitively in step with trends in the whole Church which did not allow him to make the Bishop of Rome head of the episcopate. The Bishop of Rome undertook to relive him, and drew the necessary conclusions himself. Logically it was inevitable…No wonder Cyprian’s system turned out to be a historical failure! In his declining years Cyprian was to see his system crash before his own eyes. He saw that the concors numerositas (concord of bishops) was only an ideal; in real life there is certainly numerositas, but not concord, since a concors numerostias cannot work without a Head.” (from “The Church Which Presides in Love” pp .98-99, in “Primacy of Peter” edited by Fr. John Meyendorff)

Next, Craig appeals to St. Optatus of Milevis, the 4th-century African Bishop who wrote Against the Donatists (7 books), as a supporter of this notion that each diocese is free to call itself the See of Peter, and wherein the principle of a 2nd altar or chair is proven to be the essence of schism. He is absolutely right in citing from Optatus to reason that way, but he ignores the fact that, for Optatus, the Roman bishopric is the “chair of Peter” in a way that is not common to all the bishops. In book II , Optatus proves to his interlocutor, Parmenian, that the Donatist episcopate lacks one of the essential adornments to the catholic unity of the church, namely:

You cannot then deny that you do know that upon Peter first in the city of Rome was bestowed the episcopal cathedra, on which sat Peter, the Head of all the apostles (for which reason he was called Cephas), that, in this on cathedra, unity should be preserved by all, lest the other apostles might claim — each for himself — separate cathedras, so that he who should set up a second cathedra against the unique cathedra would already be a schismatic and a sinner

Well, here you have what I said above. Peter occupies the cathedra in relation not just to the Roman city church, but also to the other Apostles, such that they were not given a cathedra of their own. By saying “that is in this one cathedra, unity should be preserved by all”, including the Apostles, there is no doubt what we have here being posited is a cathedra which universally impels unity to itself for all churches of the world. The same reasoning comes from Pope St. Boniface I (422), who would be, according to Craig, a precursor to the Latin-Byzantine schism of the Crusades:

“The universal ordering of the Church at its birth took its origin from the office of blessed Peter, in which is found both its directing power and its supreme authority. From him, as from a source, at the time when our religion was in the stage of growth, all churches received their common order. This much is shown by the injunctions of the council of Nicaea, since it did not venture to make a decree in his regard, recognizing that nothing could be added to his dignity: in fact it knew that all had been assigned to him by the word of the Lord. So it is clear that this church is to all churches throughout the world as the head is to the members, and that whoever separates himself from it becomes an exile from the Christian religion, since he ceases to belong to its fellowship (Pope St. Boniface, Epistle 14)

Now, Craig had mentioned that Optatus gives the same requirement of communion with the 7 churches of the East mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Well, in the first place, to equate the indispensibility of the Roman communion with that of the Asiatic communion would be to make up two cathedras which are indispensible for catholic unity, whereas Optatus made it clear that “in this one cathedra [in Rome], unity should be preserved by all“. But in any case, the communion of the whole world is the goal of communion with Rome, for it is through communion with Rome that one church has inter-connected communion with all the churches in the network of universal communion. Acting like a router, the see of Rome is established as the principle of unity and all the churches have access to that unity through their hooking up with Rome in ecclesiastical communion.

After this, Craig mentions St. Augustine, his comments on Peter’s chair, as well as the idea that the Donatists bishops were cited by him as being able to appeal against the judgment of a Pope to an Ecumenical Council, which itself would hold the Pope to account and subjection to its decision, whether to confirm or overturn the formal Papal decision (c.f. Letter 43.7). Augustine indeed says that the Donatists may have justly appealed the decision of the Pope to a “plenary council of the universal church” in order that if the judges at Rome “were convicted of mistake, their decisions might be reversed”. This is supposed to prove that, for Augustine, the Pope is inferior to a plenary Council of the whole Church, and that he, like all others, is held subject to its authority. However, that doesn’t really follow. It is entirely possible that Augustine has in mind that the judges in Rome would be forced upon by the evidence to re-verse their former erroneous opinion based on unforeseen evidence or an ill investigation, But that reasoning doesn’t work since even in the secular realm, the supreme court can re-open a case if need be, where the supreme court judges will once again be the ones nailing down the decision. Now, if someone were to say this is a dishonest tactic to get Augustine to be in direct support of the Papacy when he clearly isn’t, I would simply refer them to my article Yes, St. Augustine Really Did Mean “Roma Locuta, Causa Finita Est where I show that Augustine’s response to Pope St. Innocent’s letters during the Pelagian debates, all of which claim the sole prerogative of confirming or reversing synodal decisions, shows he agreed with Innocent on that precise point. For now, it would suffice to show that Augustine had the same idea as Optatus when he wrote:

Number the bishops from the See of Peter itself. And in that order of fathers see who succeeds whom; That is the rock against which the gates of hell do not prevail” ( Ps. c. Partes Don. str. 18)

If one takes a through examination of “chair of Peter” or “see of Peter” in Augustine, they will see of all his usages mandate only a reference to Rome’s bishopric.

Finally, I brought up to Craig the famous statement of St. Jerome to Pope St. Damasus I in his 15th letter. I read it aloud in the debate. It says:

Since the East, shattered as it is by the long-standing feuds, subsisting between its peoples, is bit by bit tearing into shreds the seamless vest of the Lord, woven from the top throughout, since the foxes are destroying the vineyard of Christ, and since among the broken cisterns that hold no water it is hard to discover the sealed fountain and the garden enclosed,  I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter….My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the church is built!  This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the Ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails.  But since by reason of my sins I have betaken myself to this desert which lies between Syria and the uncivilized waste, I cannot, owing to the great distance between us, always ask of your sanctity the holy thing of the Lord. Consequently I here follow the Egyptian confessors who share your faith, and anchor my frail craft under the shadow of their great argosies. I know nothing of Vitalis; I reject Meletius; I have nothing to do with Paulinus. He that gathers not with you scatters

Notice Jerome sees the Eastern bishoprics as being divided among themselves, but than claiming a universal principle of unity in the bishopric of Rome where the successor of Peter resides. But just see how the explicit rationale of what the See of Rome offers, according to Jerome, the universal church which is parallel to what Optatus and Augustine say above? The bishopric of Rome is the standard or principle of catholic communion, and therefore, only in communion with her is “the Lamb rightly eaten”. That is strong language.

When I brought this to Craig’s attention, he thought Jerome was simply mistaken. No big deal. However, he doesn’t have the benefit to be incorrect without being corrected. All the names he appeals to in order to establish his understanding of the nature and definition of schism (i.e. establishing a 2nd chair/altar to Peter’s only single altar/chair)  were those who, in some major way, supported Rome’s claims. Therefore, right from the get-go, Craig’s position is all out of gas before we pass the 5th century, let alone deal with the Crusades in the 2nd-millennium. In addition to this, it should be mentioned that if Craig’s ecclesiology were, as he puts it, the “ecclesiology of the fathers”, then why in the world are we reading such things from the saints I’ve quoted? We should not be seeing any shred of hint that somehow the Roman bishop has a headship of divine origin to govern the whole church, period. If Orthodoxy is true, and if the fathers are supposed to all be singing one great harmonious orchestra for Orthodoxy, we should not be reading anything like the above. And if Craig’s position is truly that of the “fathers”, then why does he have to come to the study of the fathers with a rag and Windex to wipe off from the table the Latin saints who clearly supported the ecclesiology of modern day Rome? And why does he then have to dance around the clear statements of the many Eastern/Greek saints who supported the divine institution of the Papal office? Finally, the handling of the agreement reached between East and West under the Pontificate of Pope St Hormisdas (519) cannot be ignored. Here, both East and West signed to the following :

The first condition of salvation is to keep the rule of the true faith and in no way to forsake the laws of the Fathers. And the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church’, cannot be passed over; they are proved by the facts, because in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion is always kept immaculate…Therefore I hope that I may deserve to be with you in that one communion taught by the Apostolic See, in which communion is the whole , real, and perfect solidity of the Christian religion. And I promise that in future I will not say in the holy mysteries the names of those who are banished from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who do not agree with the Apostolic See…”

This was signed by a significant portion of the Eastern clergy, including Epiphanius of Constantinople (520-536), St.  Mennas of Constantinople (536-552), and St. Justinian the Emperor. This formula was also signed by the bishops who attended the Council of Constantinople (869), which was accepted by St. Ignatius of Constantinople (798-877). What is even more significant to point out here, especially in light of Craig’s argument from the Crusades, is that the Eastern sees were during the time of Hormisdas under the confusion of Monophysitism, and many of them had removed Pope St. Leo from the diptychs, and removed the Council of Chalcedon (451) from the list of Synods. Rome held out the way of return for the East, and a great portion did return at this time, save for the Syriac and Egyptian Monophysites (and some others abroad). Why is this significant? Because Craig would say the Monophysites were heretics and schismatics, and yet the Easterners who signed the Formula of Hormisdas to return into communion with Rome were coming into union with Papists, which is just another heresy which, like Monophyitism, is condemned by modern Orthodoxy. Do you see the significance? This would mean that during the 6th century, the whole entire Church was engulfed into either the Monophysite heresy or the Roman Papalist heresy. But what if the Orthodox were to say, “Eh! They only tolerates the contents of the Formula, and didn’t really ingest it into their faith”. Well, that only makes matters slightly better, since that would entail dishonesty, and it would still entail they were willing to commune with Papists, which the modern East is unwilling to do.

In part II, I will be addressing the argument of the Crusades and the Latin episcopal installments which, according to Craig, marks the beginning of the definitive schism between East and West, as well as how the Roman Catholic deals with the evidence when the tables are turned, and those Saints who opposed Rome are brought to bear on the situation.


Before I could get to writing the 2nd part (which will come in the foreseeable future), Craig quickly responded to the above here.  I want to give some bullet point responses to this, but nothing to deep. A preliminary note, all things said with due respect to my interlocutor since his efforts make for an abundance of further probing into the truth, wherever this may lead. Everything said below, even if I get a bit bold, are said under that spirit. His comments are in read.

(1) Craig says: ” they caused the schism by overtly installing new Bishops and not recognizing the ones already there” – I would simply respond and say this is an oversimplification not just of the events being referred to, but also it ignores the fact that the East had rejected the Papal supremacy before all of this, and were thus already in violating of Apostolic tradition, i.e. heresy. That, of course, makes the whole debate a bit more complicated, and poses more questions than you’ve tried to simplify it to. This is why I mentioned the reunion Councils were not so much concerned with the attempt to bifurcate Peter’s chair in Eastern jurisdictions as much as “What is the the Holy Tradition”?

(2) Craig refers to Sardica on St. John Chrysostom – My intention was not to appeal to John’s reliance on Rome for help. I was merely pointing out that there were grievances from the East and West both in and through periods of union and excommunion. In other words, the big picture of the Latin vs. Byzantine schism will transcend the “who punched who first” question.

(3) On the confiscation of Illyricum – Craig basically admits it was an illegal action which both the Iconoclast Emperor and the Greek episcopate satisfied to keep for themselves, but that it could be healed through the agreement of all wills. Well, sure! But what if when there is not an agreement? Is it then simply up to the tolerance or intolerance of the be-grieved party to decide if it is an official schism or not? Rome did not wish to break communion over this, but nevertheless saw it as a violation of the church’s laws, and a gross abuse of the East, regardless of the “practical advantages” that the East continued to posit in that regard. Again, this all points to a larger and more complex question vis-a-vis the Latin vs. Byzantine schism.

(4)  On Trullo/Quini-Sexte 692 – The Church of Constantinople, being led by the Emperor Justinian II, decided to enforce its own liturgical uniformity, and implicating North African, Armenian, and Roman praxis as unworthy. In North Africa, the Eucharistic celebration followed immediately upon the repast (to be more exact with the historical Last Supper) on Maundy Thursday. The Armenians did not mix water in the chalice, nor did they refrain from eggs and cheese on Lenten Sundays. Also, their priests accepted joints of meat in church. The Roman church limited its diaconate to 7; mass was celebrated everyday during Lent; the Romans gave milk and honey to converts on Easter and Pentecost . Greek priests/deacons could live in the married state in Constantinople, which was not a privilege for Latin clergy. Excommunication was pronounced against Roman clergy if they fasted on Saturdays in Lent. If a priest refused to cohabit with his wife (recall Latin priests had to be perfectly continent), Trullo says he is deposed. If you want to see these canons, see 13, 16, 29, 30, 32, 33, 52, 55, 56, 57, and 99. When Justinian II confirmed this Council, he confronted the unwillingness of the Popes with acts of wrathful terrorism, or acts of clemency, neither of which succeeded in the end. As for the acceptance of the Trullan canons by the Popes, this much is clear, we could never say that Hadrian admitted all of the canons, for he qualified with – “quae jure ac divinitus ab ipsis promulgatae sunt” ( those alone which were lawfully and divinely promulgated). I can’t imagine how reasonable it would be to think the Trullan canons began to be enforced by either the East or the West insofar as the West was concerned. Even if it were the case that Hadrian accepted *all of these canons*, my commentary is with regard to the anti-Latin stance or the Bishops @ Trullo, and furthermore, the Council of Constantinople (879) permitted a shared tolerance of both Greek-Byzantine and Latin-Roman liturgical praxis. Perhaps this is another reason why the Orthodox have not numbered this as the Eighth council yet?

(5) Florence was never accepted – Well, again, this goes back to the whole question of whether the Latins were correct on their appeals to the Fathers, which only makes the question of who began the schism more complex than merely, “who punched who first” by setting up an altar against the original altar.

(6) Florence was about hammering out doctrine – Indeed, it was! And that is my point. And if we were to find out that the Byzantine-Greeks were in heresy prior to the Crusades, implicit in their rejection of Papal authority, then it takes the floor away from the 2nd-Chair argument that Craig’s whole position rests upon.

(7) On the nature and substance of the “Chair of Peter”, Craig says – “I personally do not feel obligated to address such speculation, I feel it better to remain grounded within Patristic and Biblical expositions on the matter“. Well, what is gratuitously asserted can be just as gratuitously denied. I deny Craig has adequately handled the meaning of Chair of Peter. Aside from my explanations in the above article, we know Craig’s understanding is at least deficient because there is nothing in Craig’s ecclesiology which would put any unique gravity of Peter’s chair to the locale of the Roman city-church. And yet, all of the fathers he appeals to in order to ascertain his argument on Peter’s chair does just that! So who is doing the speculation here? The Fathers or Craig?

(8) In response to my statements on the parallelism of the Episcopal throne vis-a-vis the local diocese and the Petrine throne vis-a-vis the Apostolic college, Craig says, “Without confirming or denying that Peter himself had jurisdiction over the other Apostles, or what that would even mean if he did, what I can confirm is the underlying idea behind Apostolic Canon 34“. But this is an evasion if there ever was one. The privileges of a metropolitan are not one-to-one with the privileges of bishop over his diocese, which only further begs the question of how the bishop’s chair is really Peter’s chair if the latter doesn’t have jurisdiction over any subjects. While thinking this evasion to AC34 is going to be successful in ducking this transparent discrepancy, he gratuitously asserts, “If Peter did, he was only able to exercise power from said Chair via consent. It cannot be unilateral”. Very well, the Bishop on Peter’s chair can exercise jurisdiction unliterally without consent, but Peter himself, the very one to whom the chair is named after, cannot. The inconsistency is loud enough to sufficiently show the discrepancy without further comment.

(9) Craig says: “Therefore, you cannot have the creation of second Chairs and have it be wrong in every respect other than ‘the Pope did it.'” – Here I presume he thinks to say that illegal activities of hierarchs just “cannot be done”. Well, sure! We do not believe that there is a green light for Popes do enact illegal or sinful decisions. The Pope does not rewrite the moral law, for example. He is bound by it as all are bound under God. However, there can be times when the duly ordained and representative authority of the Church, whether that by a Council of Bishops or a Pope, enacts something uncalled for or illegal but which their subjects have no further recourse than to the same authority itself. There is a tendency in our minds to think that ecclesial abuse of hierarchs has to always have an escape plan, or a potential for immediate modification. That is simply not true. Sometimes the laity will just need to sit under the abuse, and carry that cross to mimic our Lord. What is *not* endorsed thereby is the call to re-draw the blueprints of the Church’s government, or to wage an war of anarchy against the Episcopate.

(10) Craig then says he agrees that Cyprian understood Rome as the universal Chair of Peter, but ignores the discrepancy highlighted above. He then says that my gloss “contradicts Saint Cyprian’s own application. Well, that was part of my argument. Yes, I do contradict Cyprian’s application of it. As Fr Nicolas Afanasssieff put it well, Cyprian was not consistent with his own Petrine theory of the Church. Nor is Craig, since nothing in his definition of Peter’s chair, incorrectly drawn from Optatus/Augustine/Cyprian would ever lead him to find a center of gravity in Rome. How could he? He has effectively denied any parallelism between the Apostle Peter, whose ministry was left in Rome, and the chair given Peter’s name that exists in every bishopric. What Craig has is equal Apostles and equal bishops who all occupy a Chair named after Peter for reasons nobody knows why.

(11) Craig moves with , “Erick then writes on Saint Optatus. The problem with his interpretation is that it presumes that Rome may never go into schism” – Well, that is what is meant by “in this chair, unity should be preserved by all”. It is also what is meant when Augustine says, “number the bishops from the very chair of Peter…this is the rock upon which the Church is built”, and what Jerome himself said, “I consult the chair of Peter…for this I know is the rock upon which the Church is built”. More witnesses from both East and West could be brought to the table here, but I think all sides would admit that for Augustine and Jerome, at least, to identify the Chair of Peter in Rome with the rock of Matt 16 is to imply that the former is just as indestructible as the latter. So where do I “assume”? Craig may decide to *tune out* this statements as cartoon and fairy tale, but that would not furnish my position as an assumption since I’ve provided textual evidence, calling for his own dealing of it.

(12) Craig moves on with – ” The previous two examples, of Cyprian and Optatus, show the very danger of reading what the men write in isolation and then ignoring their own, and their contemporaries, actions.”. And I would never demote the actions of the fathers. However, actions are not always in concert with dogmatic theory. If actions themselves were to prove unmistakably the faith, then what of the actions of men who appealed to Rome over and against Ecumenical Councils? What of the actions of those who appealed to Rome in order to obtain a decree of condemnation upon Eastern heresiarchs? Well, then our interpretations all of the sudden get real plastic in order to conveniently downplay the significance as anything pertinent to the Papal narrative. Sure, they may have “said that”, and sure they may have “done that”, but all they were “really doing” was going to Rome because Rome was the last hope left (Etc, etc).

(13) On Augustine – Craig’s interpretation is within the range of reason. However, when you see Augustine’s exchanges on the Pelagian disputes, we see his viewpoints coming out with further clarity (c.f. my article above)

(14) On Jerome we hear, “But there are complications when interpreting Letter 15. When was Jerome writing it? Why? Was he in some respects a Papal diplomat at this point? Would not such language be expected in the Papal court and by his ministers?”. From my point of view, these are complications that are only in Craig’s mind. We have the writings of Cyprian, Augustine, and Optatus, all of whom speak of the “chair of Peter” as divinely constitutive of the Church’s very nature, and which has a peculiar relation to the fixed location of Peter’s historical ministry in the Roman city-church, and we are going to make Jerome’s comments complicated? They are simply another instrument in one single choir on the matter. Cyprian was no Papal diplomat. Optatus was no minister from the court of Rome. Augustine was not dispatched under Papal vicarship. All of these questions, while understandable, are invented from a point of view which already can’t tolerate the most obvious synthesis. If Craig were a 2nd or 3rd century writer, his understanding of Peter’s chair would never bring him to keep his finger on Rome. And yet, all of his witnesses from the Father did do. Again, the inconsistency is loud enough to show the discrepancy without further comment.

(15) From the noticeable Papalism in Jerome/Damasus, Craig then states: “The preceding is important, but also underscores (or in Erick’s mind concedes) that Rome had obvious Papal pretensions. I never deny this and never had in any of my debates. My view has always been that (1) Popes have relented when taking their pretensions to extremes before the schism and (2) Popes have understood (in practice) they did not have: (A) Universal jurisdiction (B)  The power to act apart from consent (3) The ability to supersede ecumenical canons.” This is a fair assessment. However, it should welcome due criticism. In the first place, what makes for “extreme” is a matter of debate. Certainly, the force with which the post-Chalcedonian Popes of Rome made inflexible demands on the Eastern sees for restoration of communion was seen by many as “extreme”. A perfect example is the name of Acacius scratched from the diptychs of the Eastern divine services. No negotiations were invited on the matter. In fact, the Eastern bishops thought that Pope St. Felix’s deposition of Acacius was illegal since it was done without a Council, and Pope St. Gelasius only stuck to the authority of Felix’s judgment when he wrote back and forth with the East. The instructions given to the legates @ Chalcedon (451) and Ephesus (431) were also devoid of inviting revision of Papal judgement. The best seats in the house to speak on this are the Coptic historians who understand what went down between Justinian I, the Greeks of the East, and the demands of the Popes. I would recommend both Craig and the readers to these three articles (including their comments) to see that what I am saying here is accurate (here here and here).

(16) On the Formula of St. Hormisdas , Craig says : “This sounds like hyperbole. I am not aware of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, for example, being “engulfed.” Elias (bishop to 518 AD) supported Chalcedon and experience grief for it, Patriarch John III was likewise a Chalcedonian (bishop to 524 AD). So, Erick is historically incorrect here.” A bit of a difficulty here. Elias of Jeru was a proponent of Chalcedon, and was deposed. John II, at one time repudiating Chalcedon, then turned Chalcedonian, became the Patriarch of Jerusalem (516-524), and he signed the Formula of Hormisdas at the Synod of Constantinople (518). Hence, “engulfed”. His successor, Peter of Jerusalem, I believe also signed the same formula at the deposition of Patriarch Anthimus of C’ple in 536.

(17) Lastly, “Erick ends his article saying he will address the Crusades themselves, something he conceded to during the debate that the West was wrong in every respect. Perhaps this was too much of a concession–one which will now be clarified to some degree. But, suffice it to say, it is clear that the Roman Catholics were wrong and very clearly installed second Chairs, thereby causing schism according to the Patristic definition”  – There were good and bad things, but I am far more a supporter of returning to the appellete structure of the pre-Schism church than I am of the hyper papal centralism characteristic of the post Gregorian reform. But I will touch on this as the opportunity comes. As for the Roman Catholics installing second chair – well, we need to know if someone was in heresy *first* , since that changes the whole question.


Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Craig appended rejoinders to the above in the same link of his article, and I appreciate his being brief. I will be even more brief , and invite one more response from him, and we will cause it a pause for now. Hopefully, this will only make clear where our differences are. Once again, his words in red.

(1) It is not an oversimplification if the Biblical and Patristic criteria is that simple – That is true

(2) I view this point as a concession, as it shows there is nothing important about Chrysostom appealing to Rome when wronged by Alexandria. – My reason to refer to Chrysostom was not to highlight an appeal to Rome, but that schisms/heresies launched from the East were an occurrence before the Crusades, and were usually resolved by a return to a shared faith and a willingness to dialogue. Point being, Lyons/Florence were such attempts, and I believe they carry more of the defining factors in the Latin-Byzantine schism, even if the Crusades is where we see the East giving totally upon the idea of being in “peace” with the Latins.

(3) Erick’s theoretical “what if” questions are irrelevant. We must stay within the realm of fact, not speculation. [on bulgaria/llyricum] – Well, is overtaking a jurisdiction, pretending to be its parent, and then refusing to give it up not the objective definition that Craig was working with? If it is the case that the offended party forgives, I don’t see how even that removes the objectivity of schism.

(4) Erick will have to cite what letter Pope Hadrian I qualified his acceptance of the Trullo canons. As I alluded to, there is a problem with Latin letters saying one thing and what is written to the Greeks saying another–which shows Rome did not publicly/officially teach supremacy and therefore consented to the eastern ecclesiology – The same letter that was originally cited.

(5) Erick (I think) now changed the point about Florence from whether the east accepted it (they did not) to whether their appeals to the fathers were correct (this is a different topic) – I think aspects are relevant.

(6) Accuses the Greeks of being in heresy and therefore being in schism. This is a lame argument – Well, not exactly. A portion of the universal common union which decides to jail itself into heresy cannot ignore that charge and then claim they are innocent in a future objective schism because it is only then where a rival hierarchy finds form and material. Being in formal heresy has always been grounds to , de facto, announce an already working schism. This is why Craig believes the “Orthodox Church” went into schism when only certain (and not all) sees were occupied with a parallel Latin ordinary.

(7) I think Erick employs, what James White calls, “Peter derangement syndrome” – Craig has admitted to not reading Optatus’s “Against the Donatists”. I would urge the readers (and Craig) to read the book entirely. You will notice that when Optatus brings the original Petrine chair in Rome up to Parmenian, it is during his opening about the general endowments given to the Church, and thereafter brings the attempt of the Donatists to procure their own original Roman cathedra w/ Victor of Garba. In other words, this is a difference in interpretation, and the reader will need to examine the text to decide for themselves. Craig’s interpretation would permit a random accident between Peter the Apostle, who was given the cathedra over and in relation to the Apostles, and the Roman chair of Peter, as if they had nothing uniquely to do with each other. The Chair of Peter in Carthage has the same significance as the Chair of Peter in Rome. I don’t believe an objective reading of Optatus can lead there. Essentially, Erick is presupposing an epistemology that truth cannot be known without an unwavering constant, that being Rome – I do not believe this at all. How truth can be known is a separate question from what Christ established to assist the Church in procuring the certainty of faith for all. A perfect example would be that Christ assumes that one could deduce a crucified and risen God-man as the Davidic King from the Law and the Prophets, and yet he stoops low to provide the clarified teaching in order to demonstrate that this is truly the case. In the same way, truth can be known by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (full stop). However, he established a visible teaching and missionary society in order to tie up possible loose ends. Nothing in this construction entails “truth cannot be known without an unwavering constant”. Romans themselves would have, as they never employed nor mentioned such an epistemology – When writing against the Byzantine Imperial policy unlawfully delving into ecclesial affairs, along with the complicit clergy from the same locale, Pope St. Gelasius (492-496) makes the Roman judgement as both vital and necessary to reflect the divine institution of the Lord for the Church when he wrote: “I will ask them [Easterners] this: the trial which they call for, where can it be held? With them (in the East), so that they may be the plaintiff, witnesses, and the judges all in one? Neither human affairs nor the integrity of the divine faith must be entrusted to such a tribunal. In matters of religion, the canons say that the ultimate judgment must come only from the Apostolic See. The powers of this world ? It is not for them to judge — rather they are to learn from the bishops — and above all from the vicar of blessed Peter about divine things” (Letter 10, To Faustus). Again, I would only re-iterate that Roman Catholic have no “right”, according to the Orthodox, to claim Gelasius as one of the men canonically venerated by our Church, since we are a creation of the Crusades, which post-dates Gelasius by nearly 800 years. By Eastern Orthodox standards, Gelasius is a branch stuck inside the Eastern Orthodox tree. 

(8) This shows Erick does not understand soteriology and imposes a Calvinist view of salvation onto the operations of the Church  – I admit, this one went over my head. I am unsure what he means here. I assume he is harkening back to ecclesiastical predestinarianism. But I don’t think he’s explained how that is.

(9) Erick’s idea, that there must be a point where people “have no further recourse than to the same authority itself” is irrational, as it places the Pope in the final position other than God Himself. Whether it is a council acting as the speaking of the Spirit, or the Pope himself, both would be logically equivalent–the one key difference being the Scriptures and ecumenical councils all in passing (and the fifth council explictly) endorse conciliar action as accomplishing this–while all do not endorse the Pope, in isolation, as such. Hence, Erick goes beyond the fathers in this. – It is not irrational because Christ entrusted the authority and stewardship of divine things to certain entrusted men. It is to these men alone, and to no heavenly tribunal, that the members of the Church have recourse to, other than prayer and fasting. How is that irrational? Craig already believes this because he would posit that Ecumenical Councils are what men have recourse to. And so if one Council rules something wrong, another Council is convened, and so on and so forth. These Councils could all rule incorrectly, and the process would continue. And so the conundrum is a problem common to Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Craig appeals to the 5th-Council, but one wonders how Apostolic Canon 34, which says that both Head and Members have to co-operate in Council would apply? The Eastern bishops, under the strong thumb of Justinian I, decided to finish their proceedings and close the Council without their Head. If one were to say that the Patriarch of Constantinople duly sufficed to be Head of said Council, it would only be a successful regional Council, and not an Ecumenical one. If one were to, thereafter, appeal to the 1st Council of Constantinople (381) as an example of Ecumenical Councils being able to be a merely regional council in production and process, then I would answer by saying Crete (2016) is potentially an Ecumenical Council, and yet the majority of Orthodox deny this on account of the lack of universal participation by the Patriarchs. But all of this is irrelevant when we see that Popes after the Gregorian reform , and after the Crusades continued to convoke Councils in order to manage the affairs of the Church. Recourse is always to be had to the Church, and sometimes this yields no immediate solution. We can pound sand, or pray to the Lord. Never is there an option to re-draw a new Church. The desire to modify what is wrong by a new ecclesiology is what led to the Protestant reform.

(10) Apparently, Saint Cyprian, whose holiness we may only wish to achieve in a thousand lifetimes, understands himself not as well as Erick does. I do not care who one cites as support for such an outrageous assertion. Its wrong. – I don’t know anyone who defended Cyprian in this, besides Firmilian (who was also corrected by later wisdom). St. Vincent of Lerins explains in his Commonitorium that Pope Stephen was in the right, not only on the subject of baptism, but on rising to the level of exercising jurisdiction.

(11) When Erick asks, “What is meant by ‘in this chair, unity should be preserved by all,’” my response is Optatus like Jerome is speaking of the founding of the Apostolic college having an “equal” power between all but a solitary origin–otherwise there would be limitless chairs as there are so many Apostles and successors after them. – Again, rendering Peter, Rome, and its lineal succession entirely superfluous to “Chair of Peter”, something which we find neither in Cyprian, Augustine, Optatus, nor Jerome.

(12) Erick asserts that “actions are not always in concert with dogmatic theory,” which is when I say theory must be thrown into the garbage pail if it contradicts the actions of the saints – Very well, then when Pope-Saints exercise universal jurisdiction should suffice to make it acceptable? (c.f. Pope’s St. Theodore and St. Martin in the revision of hierarchy in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Antioch)

(13) I think Erick’s response on Augustine pertaining to the Pelagians, as I pointed out in my comments on the first debate, are unsubstantiated – This is very simple. Innocent wrote letters to the African churches saying that Councils must refer to the Apotsolic See of Rome to obtain final and irreformable authority, on account of its Petrine supremacy. Augustine, commenting on this, said Innocent wrote appropriately as an occupant of the Apostolic See.

(14) Erick writes concerning my perception of complexities in interpreting Jerome’s 15th letter as “complications that are only in Craig’s mind.” This may be a fair statement, if it were not for the fact that Rome regularly had their own private/internal ecclesial dialogue; and yet another when they communicated to the world. Further, the fact the Jerome recognized zero bishops of Antioch in the letter seems to me that he was writing out of frustration pertaining to the obvious confusion around the situation, citing the Pope himself as a constant. Ironically, though this sounds very “pro-Papal,” this may be a high context way of actually disputing the Pope. How so? Because the Pope recognized Paulinus. Jerome, the “boots on the ground” so to say close to Antioch, responds “I don’t know if it is Paulinus or Meletius…who knows. That guy Meletius recognizes you too. All I know is that you really are Pope!” Its a little passive aggressive, but it sound to me that Jerome suspected Paulinus was wrong and was nudging the Pope a little bit to recognize Meletius, but if he did not, oh well. But, being that this letter is “not so complicated” according to Erick, I suppose Erick can accept this interpretation or simply say Jerome was making no sense in part of it and making sense only in the part that pertaining to Roman supremacy (which, ironically, is not what the letter is about). – Jerome did not know the details of Paulinus or anyone. Hence, the letter.

(15) Being the Erick really did not address my assertion that even Popes viewed themselves as below councils, which we have clear declarations from them to this effect, I have nothing else to add. – Popes today see themselves as below Councils. If, on the other hand, he means to say that Popes viewed themselves as an obedient subject during the process of a Council, then he would be wrong. I don’t know any evidence of this. I recall his attempt to put Vigilius’s letter appended to the “Sentence” of the Council of 553 as Vigilius’s statement that he is an obedient subject, but his reasoning was not compelling. We have examples of Popes saying that Councils are under their jurisdiction. So the debate would have to continue on from there.

(16) Erick saying that “John III, at one time repudiating Chalcedon, then turned Chalcedonian, became the Patriarch of Jerusalem” is besides the point. He was Chalcedonian before he was Bishop, as was the Bishop before him. So, what Erick cannot show, is the Jerusalem’s Bishop was in heresy as he alleges. – The point is that John II and Peter, both occupants of the bishopric in Jerusalem, signed the Formula of Hormisdas, and so they would be included in the “engulfement” into heresy by virtue of their adherence to the formula. Like I said, because Craig would say the Formula of Hormisdas contains heretical content, the whole Patriarchal church of East and West was either engulfed in the Papalist heresy via the FoHormisdas, or in the anti-Chalcedonian error in Syria and Egypt (and other places). If, on the other hand, Craig wishes to say that the 2500 Eastern clerics (that’s larger than any number of bishops in the 7 ecumenical councils put together, I think) who signed the FoH were just forbearing or tolerating the Papalist-error, then what does that say about the “actions of the saints” which he said obtains a stronger hermeneutic with which to know what they believed rather than what they theorized? 

17 thoughts on “Review of East/West Debate (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: Ybarra’s East/West Debate Review–A Response – Orthodox Christian Theology

  2. Erick,

    I watched the debate and appreciated your knowledge and the overall friendly nature of the discussion. I myself am in the process of being received into Holy Orthodoxy and just have a couple of questions I hoped you might be able to clarify.

    1) When you talked about the validity of Orthodox sacraments, you said that although they transmit grace in themselves, the Orthodox do not receive benefit from them because of their schism and thus they are not truly life-giving. I was just curious if you are unaware of the vast, rich Orthodox hagiography of the last thousand years where it seems this claim would be very clearly proven false. Countless saints through the centuries have been sanctified through the Mysteries of the Orthodox East, attaining holiness, working miracles both during their life on earth and after their repose. Their stories have been told in great detail throughout history and their own writings on the spiritual life are available to us today. I’d urge you to study the hagiography of the post Schism East yourself if you haven’t done so. Your position also does not seem to line up with the current Catholic teaching on this, as Byzantine Catholics liturgically celebrate the feasts of post Schism Eastern saints like St. Gregory Palamas and St. Seraphim of Sarov among others.

    2) You mentioned that Antioch was a Petrine See, but didn’t retain the universal primacy (Orthodox would agree), and then spoke briefly about Alexandria. My question is how do you explain the fact that Alexandria ranked higher than Antioch or even Jerusalem among the Patriarchates? It seems very clear from Church history and from the Councils that it was because of Alexandria’s secular/political importance and standing within the Empire, which is also the same reason Constantinople was raised to the second rank over the other Sees. In the 28th canon of Chalcedon, it’s clear Rome retained its first position because of its doubly apostolic foundation of Peter and Paul, and also because of its standing as the reigning city. Nothing at all is mentioned about Divine Right or a Divinely ordered supremacy. You would think that during this Council when the fathers focused on the very important matter of clearly establishing these ranks, this would have been at least mentioned, especially if it was necessary for salvation to believe Rome was the head over the others. Yet this canon was disputed by the Pope merely because of what it said about Constantinople being second, and the fact of it not being an apostolic see. The Pope makes no mention of Rome’s position being by Divine appointment, and regardless of his protest, the Council accepted the 28th canon.

    Anyway, once again great debate and would love to see a rematch at some point!

    God bless.

    • (1) I never said any such thing about the Orthodox

      (2) The answer to your question about Alexandria and Antioch is a good one, and the fathers never answer the question for us. However, it is quite possible that the secular pre-eminence of Alexandria played a role in this, even within the life of the Apostles or their immediate successors. What we know *for sure* is that the See of Rome’s universal primacy was not due to its secular pre-eminence but because of it being the successor to Peter’s primacy given to him by the Lord. The bishops who assembled at Chalcedon themselves admitted this quite easily. On the other hand, Rome held to a supra-metropolitical primacy , which is a different kind of primacy, and this was held over a large portion of Western territory comprising central and southern Italy, and some other territory. Supra-metropolitical primacy over the peninsula of Illyria also came to be included in this scope. In this smaller regional form of primacy, Rome had a large territory due to its being the 1st city in the Roman Empire. Constantinople wanted to obtain a similar rendering in the East so that they could obtain larger metropolitical authority in said areas.

      The way we know that the bishops of Chalcedon did not object to the Petrine foundatio of the Roman See is seen most clearly in the very letter that the bishops of the last session wrote to Pope St. Leo requesting an official acceptance of the 28th canon. This letter also shows what C’ple was after in terms of Eastern territory. You can access that letter here below, and I bid you read it entirely.

      As for the acceptance of this canon. As you know, St Leo annulled this canon, and Patriarch St. Anatolius as well as the Emperor St. Marcian conceded to Leo’s annulment. This canon also does not show up in any Byzantine canonical collections until the 6th century. St. Leo claimed to have anulled this canon on “the authority of St. Peter”. Very clearly, Leo, who is a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church (the Roman catholic being born in the 2nd millennium) believed that Peter’s primacy was retained in the Roman episcopate and could exercise veto power over canons of Councils. You can read the letter wherein he claims this sort of direct and immediate jurisdiction over Eastern councils.

  3. Erick,

    Thank you for taking time to reply, I appreciate it…

    1) I apologize if I misunderstood you. It was at the 2:03:30 mark in the debate where you paraphrase St. Augustine’s thoughts on sacramental grace among schismatics.

    2) I’m not sure how you’re concluding that the 150 bishops of Chalcedon “admit quite easily” that Rome’s rank had nothing to do with it being the reigning city, when that’s precisely what canon 28 stated word for word: “For the Fathers rightly granted privileges to the throne of old Rome, because it was the royal city”. Yes, the legates rejected the canon, but the fact that the 150 fathers of the council composed it in the first place suggests it was very much their understanding.

    Thank you for the links, I will check them out. Speaking of New Advent, it’s interesting that canon 28 is published there in the Chalcedon documents without even a footnote.

    God bless.

  4. Sorry, just wanted to clarify one thing above. I wasn’t trying to imply that I think Rome’s primacy was ONLY due its secular standing. Obviously it was revered for being doubly apostolic and the place of martyrdom of Peter and Paul. And I do realize the bishop of Rome was seen as a successor of Peter in a special way because of that. I didn’t want you to think I was denying that.

    What I’m saying is that the way the other Sees were ranked only makes sense based on secular standing. Otherwise Constantinople would have been firmly denied second place, and Jerusalem where Christ Himself suffered, died, and rose again would not be ranked last out of five.

    Thanks again for the discussion.

    • Yes, I understand what you are saying, but you would be incorrect in saying so. On what basis do you assert this? You have Church Fathers who say otherwise. So who are you going to be swayed by ? The Church Fathers, or Fr. John Meyendorff?

      As for the secular basis for Rome’s primacy stated in the 28th Canon – Like I said, read the very letter from the Council to Pope Leo, and see what they were asking for. They were asking for equal prerogatives in the East , and they name the locations. Therefore, the “primacy” that they are referring to is the primacy of Patriarch that Rome had in Italy over several provinces.

  5. I read the letter, thanks again for that link. It’s definitely interesting. I’d actually like to get Craig’s take on it. I might even ask him about it on his blog. Thanks again for your time.

    • Also, recall that Antioch obtained primacy because of its heritage of St. Peter. The Apostle was Bishop there before leaving off to Rome. By the time Peter settled in Rome, Mark was sent to rule over Alexandria/Egypt. It would make sense that Rome would be #1, where Peter stationed his office, Alexandria #2 where his disciple Mark could continue to govern affairs in the East, and Antioch #3 because of its brief association with Peter in the beginning of the Christian mission.

      • Far be it from me to be skeptical (in general) about traditional accounts, but ever since a reading in the late 1970s of the late J. A. T. Robinson’s Redating the New Testament (1977) led me to search out a forgotten book to which he gave high praise, George Edmundson’s The Church in Rome in the First Century: An examination of various controverted questions relating to its history, chronology, literature and traditions (The Bampton Lectures for 1913) (London, 1913) I have found myself persuaded that St. Peter went to Rome first, after his “disappearance” at Acts 12:17 (when he “departed and went to another place”), and only later visited Antioch (cf. Edmundson, Lecture II, pp. 41-58).

        Edmundson convinced Robinson – a wildly heterodox theologian but a careful historically-minded scholar – that the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, “traditionally” (there is no internal evidence) dated to ca. 95 AD, was much more likely to have been written in early 70 AD, that is, between the terrible sacking of Rome in December 69, the climactic episode of the struggle that erected and then cast down Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, and which finally raised Vespasian to power, and the capture of Jerusalem and the destruction of its Temple in September 70.

        Edmundson (1848-1930) was an immensely learned polymath: a clergyman of the Church of England, a mathematics don at Oxford, an explorer of the Amazon basin, one of the surveyors of the then uncertain boundaries between British Guiana and Brazil and Venezuela, and a parish clergyman. His 1913 Bampton Lectures suffered the strange fate (given the prestigeous nature of these lectures) of being almost totally ignored by reviewers after they appeared in book form, perhaps because Edmundson was not a member of the “guild” of academic Scripture scholars and because so many of his conclusions departed from those accepted by the members of that guild as constituting “the assured results of modern critical scholarship.”

    • I wrote a little too soon, for in his Lecture III Edmundson makes it clear that he thinks that St. Peter sojourned in Rome from ca. 42 to 45, then (after a visit to Jerusalem) in Antioch from ca. 47 to 54, then in Rome a second time from ca. 54 to 56 (during which sojourn he thinks he made Linus, Cletus and Clement bishops to serve as his vicars in his absence), and then in Rome a third time from ca. 63 to his martyrdom in ca. 65. His arguments are thoughtful, careful, and ingenious.

      • Thank you for this reference.

        As you know, St. Optatus of Milevis (377-ish), who is hundreds of years after the Apostolic times (mind you), said the following:

        “You cannot then deny that you do know that upon Peter first in the City of Rome was bestowed the Episcopal Cathedra,” (Contra the Donatists)

        He spoke of it as if it were assumed by everyone. I’ve always been curious of this. Why not Jerusalem? This is where the Apostles were stationed. As tradition bears, the Jerusalem city-church was under the Chair of James (even Augustine , so late, corroborates this). It would appear than that Peter, in the mind of some fathers, really did station his Cathedra in Rome.

  6. After reading it several more times, I believe the Orthodox opinion on this letter would be basically what Craig articulated in the debate regarding the various papal adulations found among the fathers. For the popes (as for any hierarch), their holding of the Orthodox faith is always what preceded any high praise or glorious titles they received. This is obvious when you consider that there were other Popes who were condemned, or even anathematized by Councils.

    In other words, the Pope is not “head” only by the mere virtue of his office, but also by his holding of the Orthodox faith. Which is why if the current Pope were to return to Orthodoxy, he would resume that role and so the praises would resume as well. The fathers would not have written such a letter to a heretic pope, calling him their “head” or the “mouthpiece of Peter”. For a heretic to be a Catholic Pope in good standing is simply not Orthodox. Nor does it even make logical sense that a heretic can be “head” of the Church, or that it is necessary for salvation to be in communion with a heretic. I believe Catholics are in the process of realizing these truths thanks to the bizarre utterings of Pope Francis and hopefully will make some adjustments and refinements to their theology of the papacy.

    Anyway, that’s just my best guess of the Orthodox position, but I still intend to bring this up to others and get their input. I think you are doing a good job of working through these issues fairly and in good faith. Good talking with you and thanks again.

    God bless.

  7. Pingback: Review of East/West Debate (Part 2): Crusades and the Greek-Latin Schism | Erick Ybarra

  8. Pingback: Saint Optatus on Schism : A Critique of an Eastern Orthodox Interpretation | Erick Ybarra

  9. Pingback: The Council of Trullo (the Quinisext) was Ecumenical in the West – Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia

  10. I honestly don’t understand 21st century western men who become “orthodox” and start complaining about the crusades as if theyre 13th century Greeks…
    Imagine wasting your time complaining about modern day Catholics who have done nothing to you, instead of the Mohammedans who are massacring Christians to this day.
    The weird obsession orthodox have for past issues is really off putting to be quite frank. They act like the victim who has done nothing wrong. How many people has the Byzantine empire killed?
    Who could ever count?
    I honestly don’t get it from modern day Greeks, but a western male it’s even worse. He is basically role-playing as a Greek when he is not lol. The constant “the west bad” is really tiring coming from an American male and makes my eyes roll to the back of my head.
    I honestly don’t know how you keep your cool when someone brings up such petulant arguments, Erick.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s