Rebuttal #3

From the beginning, this was debate always required some subtlety to navigate. Rome wants to take a principle we both agree on, that there is a first bishop, and take that thought to the extreme. Its kind of like considering the early discussions about the person of Christ. One wouldn't want to emphasise the humanity of Jesus to the detriment of his divinity and be Arian, nor to emphasise his divinity over his humanity and be a modalist. Not to emphasise his two natures such that we become Nestorian nor his one personhood such that we be monophysite.

In the same way, we should not emphasise the status of the 1st bishop, to the detriment of the collegiality of the church. And the challenge for Scott was to show that Rome's current beliefs about the papacy are a legitimate development in opposition to Orthodoxy's beliefs. Showing quotes about the Pope as first bishop does not win this debate for Scott, any more than proving Christ's humanity wins the debate for an Arian.

We have seen in the canon law of the Eastern Catholic Churches: "In virtue of his office he enjoys supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church which he can always freely exercise." and "There is neither appeal nor recourse against a sentence or decree of the Roman Pontiff."

Its been shown very clearly the early church did not function this way. Nicea told Rome that in accordance with the apostolic tradition, it was to keep to its own area, which is not the same as full immediate universal power. Decrees of Pope Vigilius were ignored by ecumenical councils. The early church shows no evidence that that ratifiction of anything by the Pope was a pressing concern for the legitimacy of the dogmas of the faith.

In short, Scott hasn't addressed any of the actual issues. All the Church father quoting about Peter doesn't address this. Scott accuses me of ignoring all his church father quotes. In fact I addressed quite a lot of them, and it would have been helpful if he at least conceded these problems so that perhaps we could focus on any points he might disagree with.

For example, Epistle CXIII to Leo I pointed out that in context the quote is all about the secular position of Rome, and not about Papal primacy. Does Scott admit that any of these quotes were actually off topic? We aren't told.

Let's take a look then at the last quote list contained in Scott's first rebuttal.

"They [the Novatian heretics] have not the succession of Peter, who hold not the chair of Peter, which they rend by wicked schism; and this, too, they do, wickedly denying that sins can be forgiven [by the sacrament of confession] even in the Church, whereas it was said to Peter: 'I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven'" [Matt. 16:19] (Penance 1:7:33 [A.D. 388]).

Recall that I pointed out that there are at least three levels of succession from Peter found in the Fathers. Succession by anyone, succession by bishops, and succession by the Petrine sees of Antioch, Rome and Alexandria. Which level are we dealing with in this quote from Ambrose? Well, his complaint is that the Novations don't have the succession of Peter. And this is because they wickedly deny the sacrament of confession by which "whatever you bind on earth" etc.

Is succession from Peter here the papacy? How could Ambrose object that the Novations don't have the papal succession? After all most churches don't have that. That's not much of an objection, if it were his objection. But notice that Ambrose interprets the keys of the kingdom and the binding and loosing to be the power to forgive sins in the sacrament of confession. That's what the Novations were denying, the power of every bishop to forgive sins by way of the keys and binding and loosing power. Far from being helpful for Rome, this quote is actually a major problem for Rome in that it describes the succession from Peter as the sacramental power of all priests. This is what I've been saying all along that all priests have succession from Peter and the keys.

Scott gives us the Cyprian quote where "he assigns a like power to all the apostles". Recall the Canon law where the pope has "supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church". Does that sound like the same power as all the apostles? Of course not.

Scott gives us a quote from Cyprian about Cornelius. Not really sure of the point of that one. He then gives a quote about "the principal church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source"

But lets look at more widespread Schaff translation: "to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source". Is Cyprian saying that Rome IS the chief church, and that from it comes sacerdotal unity? Or is he saying that Rome is the most important of the churches from which sacerdotal unity comes? Is "sacerdotal unity" saying any more than Rome is the first see? If not, it hasn't helped Scott.

What about this one from Optatus of Milevis about "the one chair in which unity is maintained by all". I guess this quote is ok for Scott in a vague sort of way, although it seems that Scott has abandoned his pre-commitment to stick with Eastern Fathers. But it still doesn't address most of the issues to do with the current claims of Rome. But what about the rest of what he writes?

"in your pride, you strive to claim some special holiness for yourselves, so that the Church may be where it pleases you, and may not be where it pleases you not. And so, in order that she may be with you in a little piece of Africa, in a corner of one small region, is she not to be with us in another part of Africa? Is she not to be in Spain, in Gaul, in Italy, where you are not? ..since on this very account was the Church called Catholic, because she is in accordance with reason, and is scattered all over the world? For if you limit the Church just as it may please you, into a narrow corner, if you withdraw whole peoples from her communion, where will that be which the Son of God has merited".

While Optatus' comments about Rome could be interpreted as a precursor to theories about Rome as the centre of unity, by the same token his comments about the Catholicity of the Church being manifest in its unity in the whole world could be interpreted as a criticism of any one Patriarchate who would pridefully wrench themselves from the unity of the whole by claiming a special holiness for themselves.

Scott then gives a few quotes from Augustine and Ephesus about how Rome is a Petrene see. Nothing here that is in dispute, so nothing to comment on.

Scott says I didn't deal with the quotes where "Fathers and the Early Church considered Peter and his successors to be the "coryphaeus" or "head" of the Church". But of course I did deal with it, since I can point out what I had to say about that: (1) Recall that I pointed out the first Church Father to call a Pope "head" of the church was in the 7th century. (2) Recall that none of his quotes equate that position with Peter, or being a successor to Peter, and that I pointed out the Church believed Rome's position was due to its secular status. (3) Being a "head", primate, or otherwise first bishop is not the issue. The term "head" is a title that crops up quite late, and I'm happy to interpret that term in light of the overall picture of Rome as first bishop, and not to read back Vatican I into a mere term. In short, nothing in these quotes establishes any points of dispute for him.

Scott twists my words to say I conceded that there is a subset of Fathers who believed as he believes. No that is not what I said. What I said is that he believes a subset of what the Fathers taught without taking their full counsel into account. He believes them when they say the Pope was first bishop, but he doesn't believe them when they say he has equal power and authority to other bishops. He believes them when the Pope interferes outside his jurisdiction, but he doesn't believe them when those interferences are rebuffed. He believes them when they say Rome's faith is unblemished, but he doesn't believe them when Rome falls into heresy. In short, he takes the bits that can be squeezed into a Vatican I framework, and he rejects the bits that can't. I don't have to reject any of it, because I can allow the Pope to have been first bishop without ignoring that he can teach heresy and be deposed. I can allow Rome's faith to be unblemished when that is in fact the case, and I can allow Popes to be heretics when that is the case. I can allow any bishop to attempt to poke his nose outside his own affairs without making that his God-given right.

Scott then tries to claim I ceded the debate because I said in my opening statement that the Pope was first Patriarch and that he, like other Patriarchs took a hand in resolving disputes. Were that all the papacy claimed, I would be happy to cede the debate! But have we forgotten so soon all that the Papacy now claims? Have we forgotten Vatican I's claim that the Pope cannot teach heresy, in comparison to Honorius whom the Council at least believed "tried to subvert its spotless faith" and "promoted and cooperated with and confirmed their heresy"? Have we forgotten the canons of the Eastern Catholic churches which give the Pope "supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church which he can always freely exercise." compared to Nicea which says the Pope should stick to his own jurisdiction? And I never agreed that Rome "is" the first bishop, only that he "was" the first.

If the Roman see can be in heresy, and we've shown from the case of Honorius that the Church considered this to be the case, then it would beg the question to assume that the novelties of the modern Roman Papacy are a legitimate development. If a valid Pope depends on an orthodox confession, as the 5th ecumenical council taught, then it would beg the question to assume that modern Popes are an orthodox development, when the rest of the church says otherwise.

Scott challenges me to document that the 2nd council taught that the papacy was non-essential to a canonical ecumenical council. I did that in my opening statement, I referred to it in my first rebuttal, and I quoted it again in my 2nd rebuttal. Here's the snippet: ""We beseech your reverence to rejoice at what has thus been rightly and canonically settled by us". Go back to my last rebuttal for the rest of the quote. The council taught that what they decided was canonically settled before the Pope got a chance to take a look at it.

What other option does Scott give us? That the Pope approved it a couple of hundred years later? Remember the Emperor called the council to settle a pressing theological dispute concerning some off-shoots of the Arian heresy, that were tearing the empire apart. Do you think the Emperor or anyone else would have been satisifed to say "Ok, now all we have to do is wait a few hundred years to see if we are right or not, when some Pope might possibly sign off on this"?

But this is the sillyness that Scott is proposing. Bishops travelled far and wide across the empire to discuss this issue at a council as a matter of urgency, and they believed it wouldn't be settled till the Pope signed off, but then the Pope didn't sign off for a few hundred years because it didn't matter? Either it mattered for the Pope to sign off or it didn't, and clearly it didn't. Even if I didn't have the quote that states "these things are canonically settled", this would be obvious, but we have the statement right there in black and white.

Scott claims that ecumenical councils reconsidering the decisions of Popes actually helps him because supposedly this shows Popes making decisions beyond their jurisdiction. The problem is, the dispute in the Third Council was theological which is not a concern purely outside his jurisdiction, and everything the Pope did is paralleled by what Cyril of Alexandria did in his condemnation of this heresy. So either it proves Cyril of Alexandria also had universal jurisdiction, or it proves nothing.

Scott tries to make hay (again) out of what happened at the 3rd council. I'm not going to repeat what I said in my 2nd rebuttal since Scott has yet to deal with that.

Scott doesn't tell us why Rome might not be demoted, instead seeks refuge in his "Peter spoke through Leo" quote, which of course doesn't answer the question.

Scott still fails to realise that primacy and being primate are the same thing, and thus fails to tell us why the Pope shouldn't be not considered primate (i.e. to have primacy), as the fifth ecumenical council did, if his confession is not considered orthodox.

Scott again trotts out the claim that Honorius is not condemned for teaching heresy, but for failing to teach orthodoxy. How many times must we quote before Scott will acknowledge the facts? " "Honorius.. who asserted or preached one will and operation in our Lord Jesus Christ" - Roman Brevery. "by profane treachery tried to subvert its spotless faith" - Leo II. "Anathema to the heretic Honorius" ~Sixth Council "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

Scott once more trots out the "Peter alone" interpretation of Matthew 16 versus the "college of bishops" interpretation of Matthew 18. But again, he has yet to to tell us why the Fathers who say that all the bishops hold the keys equally to Peter are wrong. And he has yet to document his "college of bishops" interpretation from the Fathers. As I said, there is nothing grammatically in Matthew 18 to indicate that this binding and loosing power is something that is exercised as a group, as opposed to all bishops exercising as individuals. I documented the latter interpretation from the fathers, and Scott is yet to document his college of bishops theory from any fathers.

In his conclusion, Scott says "why is Constantinople raised to this level? Because it is also referred to as "New ROME!"". I'm tempted here to suggest Scott has ceded the debate. Constantinople is elevated because it is the "New Rome", by which of course they meant is was the new capital. Is Scott conceding Rome as first see because it was the old capital? It sounds like it, but he'll probably back pedal on this one. He says "equal treatment considered to Constantinople and Rome - which Rome does not deny and never has." Scott uses the benign term "treatment", but of course what the council actually says is that Constantinople has the same "level in ecclesiastical affairs" and "equal prerogatives". Would having a unique role in approving an ecumenical council be considered a prerogative? Of course it would. What about the canons of the modern Eastern Churches saying that Rome has supreme authority over all churches, including Constantinople? Does that sound like an equal level in ecclesiastical affairs? Scott is trying to defend a completely uneven level for Rome at the same time as pretending Rome is treated equally, but it just doesn't fly.


Roman Catholicism has come up with a bunch of new ideas in the last few hundred years, and I feel a bit sorry for Scott here because he has been left holding the bag having to defend them. So when he has no response to the obvious problems, its not so surprising because there is no response.

Scott has to accuse me of misrepresenting the Sixth Council which he claims did not condemn Honorius for teaching heresy. Does he refer to the words of the Council in making this claim? Nope. Can he respond to the Council's statement that Honorius "promoted" this heresy, or the Roman Brevery that he "preached one will"? Nope. If the Church was under the impression Honorius "preached one will", then it was also believing the Pope could teach error.

One thing Scott hasn't disputed is that if Honorius taught heresy, it destroys his position, so I guess we can take that as undisputed. Read the above quotes, if the church thought Honorius was a heretic, Scott loses this debate.

What we should consider here is what would happen if the Eastern Church did now what it always did, who would Scott side with?

If the Eastern Churches held a council reiterating Nicea and told the Pope to keep to his jurisdiction, would Scott side with us, or with the laws foisted on the uniates to say the Pope has universal jurisdiction?

If the Eastern Orthodox churches held a council and decided papal infallibility was a heresy, and sent a letter to the Pope saying that they have "canonically settled" this matter like they did at the 2nd council, would Scott side with us?

If the Pope said he is infallible as he did at Vatican I, would it be ok with Scott if the Eastern Orthodox Churches held a council to reconsider this opinion as they did at the 3rd council?

If the Eastern Orthodox churches held a council and said they are demoting the position of Rome, as they did for Antioch at the 4th council, would that be ok with Scott?

If the government of Greece took the Pope captive, and said he needs to abandon the doctrine of papal infallibility, would that be ok with Scott? And if the Eastern Orthodox churches then held a council informing the Pope that they would hold him as primate IF he would repent of the teaching of papal infallibility and thereby give an orthodox confession, would that be ok with Scott?

If the Eastern Orthodox Churches held a council today and condemned Pope Benedict as a heretic, as they did at the 6th council, because he tried to pervert the spotless faith of the church by teaching papal infallibility, would that be ok with Scott?

In all these historical disputes, Scott would be on the losing side if he had lived back then taking the approach he does today. Scott's objection to the Eastern Churches is that they are doing what they have always done: condemning heresy wherever they find it, including in the papacy, without waiting for the Pope to sign off on it.

Today the Eastern churches are condemning a heresy called papal infallibility, and certainly the Pope of Rome can't be considered primate until he gives an orthodox confession about that, no more so than Vigilius who wasn't allowed to be considered primate until he repented. Scott can't tell us why this stance is wrong without begging the question and appropriating 1000 years of so-called "developement" that happened in the West due to the forged Isidorian decretals and Donation of Constantine, but which the East knows nothing about.

Brand new interpretations of Matthew 16 and Matthew 18 about "college of bishops" theories, and theories that Matthew 16 instituted a Roman Papacy, don't make the grade, because they don't have patristic support. I realise it's easy to take a mixing bowl, throw in a few Peter quotes, throw in some quotes about Peter as head of the disciples, throw in some quotes about the Bishop of Rome as the 1st see, turn on the blender and confound all the subtlties and distinctions that are important in this debate, but we must resist this temptation. Not a single quote from the Fathers says that Matthew 16 institutes a Roman Papacy, and the silence is deafening. Nothing in the early church leads us to believe that Matthew 16 institutes supreme power or dogmatic authority in one man, and hundreds of incidents lead us to believe it does not. Scott is left to promote his personal interpretation of Matthew 16 in a way that defies the Fathers and defies the entire history of the Church.

Remember, in disputing Scott's modern interpretation of Matthew 16, I don't have to restrict myself to the Fathers. I can appeal to Roman Catholic Archbishop Kenrick of Saint Louis who I quoted in my opening statement, who said "If we are bound to follow the greater number of Fathers in this matter, then we must hold for certain that the word "Petra" means not Peter professing the Faith, but the faith professed by Peter.

And we saw how deeply engrained it is in the Tradition that the Eastern funeral service, which was said over the body of Pope John Paul II said that the Apostles "received the Keys of the Kingdom". Every time Scott claims only Peter received the keys he makes mince meat of the entire tradition, from the Fathers down to the liturgies. And we believe in Lex orandi, lex credendi (how we worship is how we believe). And the liturgies say all the apostles received the keys.

And remember the thesis of this debate. It is not whether there is a bishop of Rome, or even if he should be 1st bishop, but rather whether the prejogatives he claims are a legitimate development from the early Church. But if we take all the claims of the Roman Bishop seriously, they would overturn the seven ecumenical councils had they been applied by the people at the time.

That's why these developments can in no wise be considered a legitimate development, because they would have led to different results in the seven ecumenical councils, and if we apply the methodology of the seven councils consistently through to today, it leads us to conclude that the the Roman bishop is again in heresy.

Scott is hoping some of the quotes he lifted from will save the day for his position. I think we have shown that almost all of them don't help him at all, and even ones which might help him a bit don't really defend all the developments that have taken place since then.

We are still not told why St Vincent's criteria for the true church shouldn't be applied to conclude that Rome is outside of the true church rather than within it. Not one of his criteria for the true church consists of looking to the papacy, and in fact the Roman position only allows for but one criteria - communion with Rome. St Vincent is superfluous to Roman thinking. Even if Scott finds a quote that he thinks helps him, we aren't told why it should trump St Vincent's criteria. Rome's thinking continues to centre around the proposition that "we are of Peter" and the power claimed to act without the concent of the church (non autem ex consensu ecclesiae), whereas we believe that all agreeing together is the apostolic teaching.

1 Cor. 1:10-13 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I am of Apollos," and "I am of Peter," and "I am of Christ." Has Christ been divided?
Last modified: Fri Jan 29 15:25:31 EST 2010