Chris' Rebuttal #2
Some have criticized the length of my opening statement. The reason it
is lengthy was that I desired to address all the standard slogans
before they came up.
For this reason I am saddened that Scott seems to be treating this as
merely an opportunity to state his position without bothering to
interact with the opposing position, which has been fully documented.
Case in Point #1 - Honorius
Scott has trotted out the old chestnut that Honorius wasn't condemned
for teaching heresy, but rather for failing to proclaim the truth.
Astonishingly, he somehow sees milage from Honorius for his side!
But Scott doesn't have enough respect for the debate to interact with
the documentation given. Here are a few excerpts from the text of my
Honorius, who did not attempt to sanctify this apostolic Church with
the teaching of apostolical tradition but by profane treachery tried to
subvert its spotless faith" ~ Pope Leo II
How can merely failing to teaching the truth be regarded as "treachery" and "trying to subvert the faith"?
"St Leo II accepted the Holy Sixth Council wherein were condemned
Cyrus, Sergius, Honorius, Pyrrhus who asserted or preached one will and
operation in our Lord Jesus Christ". ~Roman Breviary
Honorius "asserted or preached one will". How much clearer does it get?
"Anathema to the heretic Sergius! Anathema to the heretic Honorius" ~Sixth Council
You don't get anathemetized a heretic for merely failing to do something.
"We anathematize and reject those also who are the heretical promoters
and patrons of the superfluous and new dogmas" Among these "Honorius,
who was Pope of old Rome, who in all things promoted and cooperated
with and confirmed their heresy". ~Sixth Council
It just doesn't get any clearer than this. Honorius was regarded as promoting and cooperating with the heresy in ALL things.
Remember, the issue is not whether you think Honorius taught the
heresy, the issue is that the Church has always believed that he did.
And never did anyone till the 19th century feel compelled to come up
with the theory that Honorius didn't teach heresy. These 12 or so
centuries where the Church believed Honorius taught heresy is what is
devestating to Scott's position. If Scott wants to be taken seriously,
he MUST document this opinion from the first millenium.
But the sad thing is that Scott hasn't even bothered to address it.
Case in Point #2 - Second Council
Scott challenges me to document that the second council taught that
they didn't need the consent of Rome. But I already documented this,
and yet again Scott doesn't bother to interact with it:
"To the right honourable lords our right reverend brethren and
colleagues, Damasus, Ambrosius, Britton, Valerianus, Ascholius,
Anemius, Basilius and the rest of the holy bishops assembled in the
great city of Rome, the holy synod of the orthodox bishops assembled at
the great city of Constantinople sends greeting in the Lord.... "We
beseech your reverence to rejoice at what has thus been rightly and
canonically settled by us, by the intervention of spiritual love and by
the influence of the fear of the Lord, compelling the feelings of men,
and making the edification of churches of more importance than
individual grace or favour." ~Bishops of Constantinople to the Pope.
The council of Constantinople I, which drew up dogmatic canons
concerning the Christian faith, considered the issues "settled" and
done so "canonically", prior to the Pope having given his approval.
How is an off-hand comment from Augustine that "the case is
closed", more significant than an ecumenical council of the world's
bishops stating that "it is canonically settled"? This so clearly shows
the complete hypocrisy of the Roman position.
Case in point #3 - Third Council
Scott tries to make hay out of the Pope's attempt to "make
decisions beyond his geographical jurisdiction". Firstly, Scott doesn't
seem to be at all bothered that this attempt was completely rebuffed.
But even worse, he doesn't interact with the quote I gave showing
that this extra-jurisdictional judgement was also taken by the
Patriarch of Alexandria:
"the authority of our See, having been combined with yours, and
acting authoritatively in our stead will carry out this sentence with
due severity" ~Pope to Cyril, Patriarch of Jerusalem
The authority the Pope calls on is the combination of two
Patriarchal sees, not the keys of Peter. And Cyril calls a local
council and issues an anathema in his own name. If the Roman Pope's
dabbling in events outside Rome is significant, then we could say the
same of the Pope of Alexandria. However, both of them were ignored by
the authority of the ecumenical council.
Again, where is Scott's interaction with the evidence presented? He
claims that a council revisiting the decision of a Pope is not a matter
of concern for this debate. However it very much is a concern, since
now the papacy considers its decisions to be irreformable. "No mortal
may presume to reprehend him, forasmuch as he is judge of all, and is
judged of no one."
Case in point #4 - Peter and the Keys
Scott continues to trott out the party line about Matthew 16:19
giving Peter alone power to bind and loose, and the "college of
bishops" only the power to bind as a group.
However, there is nothing whatsoever in the text of Mt 18 that
would indicate excercising the power as a group. It's a simple
grammatical fact that addressing people in the plural does not show the
action is to be taken in a group sense. An example is only a few verses
later in 18:35: "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you
(plural), if each of you (plural) does not forgive his brother from
your heart." Obviously the intention is not about what God will do to
them as a group, but what God will do to each individual of the group
to whom the words apply.
But again, one doesn't have to believe me, since I quoted the
interpretation of the Fathers concerning the power of binding and
loosing. I'll just quote one of the many again:
Saint Jerome: "Elsewhere the same is attributed to all the apostles,
and they all receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the
strength of the church depends on them all alike" - Epistle 146.1
Now if all the apostles received the same promise as individuals, then the Church would naturally believe they had equal power:
To all the apostles after His resurrection He gives equal power
(parem potestatem) and says "As the Father hath sent me, even so I send
you: " ~Cyprian, De Unitate 4.
"But you say that the Church is founded upon Peter although the
same thing is done in another place upon all the apostles, and all
receive the kingdom of heaven, and the solidity of the Church is
established equally upon all" ~Jerome, Adv. Jovianum, 1:26
Where is Scott's interaction with these facts? All he seems to be
able to do is re-parrot a theory about Mt 16 which is contrary to the
Fathers. Either each apostle has the same power as Peter, or they do
not. The Fathers say they have the same power. If Scott wants to be
taken seriously, he MUST come up with a quote where a father says the
pope of Rome has the greater power of binding and loosing by himself.
Where is the quote from the first millenium presenting the theory that
the apostles can only bind and loose as a group? It doesn't exist. The
foundation of Scott's whole position, and his whole ecclesiology is
unknown to the fathers.
The other major problem with Scott's interpretation, is that he
hasn't proven the relationship between his interpretation and reality.
He hasn't proven that the Bishop of Rome is primate because he succeeds
from Peter. I showed from Chalcedon that this was not the understanding
of the Church, rather he is primate because of Rome's secular status. I
showed that Leo considered the ranking of Rome to be based on Nicea,
not Mt 16. Furthermore, whatever apostolic authority Rome had, I showed
that the Fathers consider to be equally derived from Peter and Paul
(recall Leo's sermon LXXXII). And I showed that other sees were
regarded as inheriting Peter's throne.
In other words, even if we accepted Scott's anachronistic
interpretation, lock, stock and barrel, it wouldn't prove that the
Roman bishop is the sole inheritor of such powers, as opposed to also
bishops of Antioch, all bishops, or even all believers, depending on
which fathers you want to listen to.
And since Rome wan't considered primate because of Peter, as I
documented, Scott can't show that whatever rights Rome had as primate,
aren't now vested in the Bishop of Constantinople as first bishop. As I
documented from the fifth council, only orthodox bishops can be
In other words, this theory is chock full of holes.
Head of the Church?
Scott claims I didn't deal with his church father quotes which
allegedly consider Peter and his successors as "head" of the church.
But as I pointed out, discussing Peter isn't the same as discussing the
bishop of Rome. The earliest quote from a Church Father that Scott has
presented calling the Bishop of Rome as "head" of the church is from
the 7th century. As I pointed out, to assume that Chrysostom's mention
of Peter as head of the apostles, also applies to bishops of Rome,
ignores the major contradiction that Chrysostom spent most of his life
out of communion with Rome and only came into communion by accident
when he was tricked and kidnapped by imperial troops and taken to
Constantinople and appointed Patriarch. Chrysostom never mentions the
kind of relationship between Peter and the Papacy that Scott needs to
prove his point.
But even then, it's acceptable I suppose to call the primate as a
kind of "head" of the church. Despite Scott's claim that my recognizing
that the Pope of Rome as having held position of first bishop is some
act of "conceding the debate", it is nothing of the kind.
The issue is not whether the Pope once held position of first
bishop, the issue is what it means to be first bishop. Currently the
first bishop in the Orthodox Church is the Bishop of Constantinople. If
Scott is happy for the Pope to have the same rights as the Bishop of
Constantinople now enjoys, then we would have come to agreement.
However the Bishop of Constantinople has never made the kind of claims
that the Bishop of Rome has, claiming individual infallibility and
immediate jurisdiction over the whole Church. Clearly, being first
bishop does not prove having unlimited jurisdictional power.
The Fourth Council
It continues to astound me how much of a slave to sound bites and
slogans Scott is. Again with the "Peter has spoken through Leo" slogan.
Who actually cares about this? The real issue is that the council
scrutinized the statements of Leo and Cyril and AFTER finding them in
agreement with the traditions they received, THEN proclaimed them to be
But with all this sloganing, has Scott even begun to address the
issues raised by the fourth council? No he hasn't. He hasn't refuted
the fact that the Chalcedon bishops stated that Rome was first see
because it was the capital of the empire, not because of Peter. He
hasn't refuted that Apostolic sees can be demoted in the rankings, and
thus Rome can be demoted. He hasn't interacted with the fact that when
Leo objected to the 28th canon of Chalcedon giving equal rights to
Constantinople, his analysis of patriarchal rankings was based on the
canons of Nicea, NOT on the basis of Peter and Mt 16. Nobody thought at
this time that Rome's first position was due to Peter. Rome is not the
only Petrene see. For Scott to be taken seriously, he MUST present a
quote from the fathers expressing the later argument that Rome is the
unique Petrene see because it was the last one Peter was supposedly
stationed at. This idea is a much later development.
The Fifth Council
Scott seems to be actually denying what the fifth council said. Let's revise it:
From the Fifth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople II, Session VII
(553): "But we bishops answered him (Pope Vigilius): "If your
blessedness is willing to meet together with us and the holy
Patriarchs, and the most religious bishops, and to treat of the Three
Chapters and to give, in unison with us all, a suitable form of the
orthodox faith, as the Holy Apostles and the holy Fathers and the four
councils have done, we will hold thee as our head, as a father and
This quote can be found in standard reference works such as Volume XIV
of the Post-Nicene Fathers by Philip Schaff. Scott says he can't see
anything about primacy, but it's right there. Being considered
"primate" is having primacy. And it's conditional on his orthodoxy.
Scott makes the counter claim that an unorthodox pope doesn't
change the status of the primacy of the see. But what does change the
status? Well, the decision of the Church can do it, said Chalcedon. But
the topic of the debate is not what to do with the Roman see but what
to do with unorthodox popes, and the answer is that they are not
primates according to the fifth council. To claim that any pope is
primate, one has to establish that they are orthodox. And as we have
seen, the Church reserves the right to make that judgement.
It has never been at issue that the Pope was first bishop, primate
or even "head" bishop, to use a term that cropped up in the 6th or 7th
century. The issue at hand is what rights the first bishop may hold,
and whether the first bishop must always be the one from Rome.
Scott is treating the readers with disdain by ignoring the evidence that has been presented to him.
Scott hasn't shown why we should ignore all the canons saying Rome
should keep to its own jurisdiction. Rome along with Alexandria
anathemetizing people around the time of the third council has nothing
whatsoever to do with the Pope of Rome's jurisdiction, and Scott is
hoping to distract the reader's attention from the canons of Nicea and
the Synod of Carthage.
Scott hasn't given us any reason to believe the Bishop of Rome is
essential to an authoritative dogmatic council, given that the second
council wrote to Rome saying that they had already canonically settled
the issues. He also ignores all the other data, such as Nicea I's
acceptance prior to Rome's approval, the fact the East couldn't be
bothered inviting the West to the 2nd council, the East's ambivilence
to the West in the 5th/6th council of Trullo, the East's ignoring the
West's procrastination around the 7th council, and the West's ignoring
the Pope's judgement on the 7th council also.
Scott hasn't shown how the third council's decision to revisit the
declaration of a Pope of Rome can be compatibile with the modern Roman
idea that the decisions of a Pope are irreformable and that the Pope
can be judged by no-one.
Scott has ignored the issues of the 4th council, that it declared
Rome's status to be due to its secular position (not Peter), that Leo's
objection to changing the rankings was based on Nicea, and not Mt 16 or
apostolic tradition and that sees can be promoted and demoted. Thus
Scott hasn't established that the Roman see's status has not been
demoted by agreement of the Church.
Scott has ignored the statements of the fifth council. Whatever the
position of the Roman see, they were only willing to consider the Roman
pope as primate if he gave an orthodox confession. If primacy depends
on orthodoxy, then Scott can't be sure of the Pope's primacy right now.
Scott hasn't shown us why we should believe that Honorius didn't teach
heresy as the extremely clear statements of the Church through history
show. And again, whether he taught heresy is secondary to the fact that
the Church believed that he taught heresy. Nor has he interacted with
other cases of heretical popes such as Vigilius who was anathemetized
by the Fifth Council.
Scott hasn't shown that his "college of bishops" interpretation of Mt
16/18 has either any grammatical basis, nor any patristic basis among
the Fathers. He hasn't shown that Peter is the only holder of the
Apostolic Chair of Peter and has ignored the information given about
Antioch. He has ignored all the patristic interpretation of the
equality of the apostles and their power and their receipt of the keys.
And he has ignored that the patristic interpretation of Peter's primacy
is chronological, not of power of jurisdiction. (St Ambrose said, Peter
was "first in confession, not in honor, first in belief, not in rank").
Scott hasn't documented the antiquity of the theory that Rome had
primacy because Peter was there last.
Scott has not seriously interacted with the points I made about St
Vincent of Lerin's Commonitorium, which presents an alternative theory
of catholic unity. Scott's pointing out that Vincent "supported" the
bishop of Rome of the time is disingenious and irrelevant.
Scott has not explained to us why we would accept Chrysostom's comments
about Peter as being transferrable to bishops of Rome, given that
Chrysostom only came into communion with Rome against his wishes and
never links Peter and bishops of Rome the way Scott does.
Scott doesn't explain to us why we should think other Church fathers
are supporters of his concept of the Papacy. e.g. Athanasius who said
that the true church is defined by adherance to Tradition, never
mentioning Rome. Or Augustine who wrote volumes on the unity of the
Church to the Donatists while never mentioning Rome. Mentioning that
Athanasius was in communion with Rome is irrelevant.
And most of all, Scott hasn't even attempted to interact with the
anachronism of infallibility, beyond giving his anachronistic
interpretation of Mt 16. He can't afford to let the reader take his
focus off the rote interpretation of Mt 16 and notice the total absence
of the discussion of this dogma throughout history. Without the Roman
revision of history about the meaning of the keys and the binding and
loosing, Scott has nowhere to stand.
In short, Scott is still not interacting with the evidence. Some people
will no doubt be content in Scott's repeating the meaningless slogans
of "Peter spoke through Leo" and "Rome has spoken, the case is closed"
(which is a false quote), instead of doing the hard work of cutting
through the slogans to the fullness of what the early Church Fathers
taught. Why would "the case is closed" be more convincing than the "it
is canonically settled" statement of the second council? The question
is whether the reader is willing to accept all the Fathers wrote, and
not just a part.