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Treatise I: On the Unity of the Church
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Fathers of the Third Century > Cyprian: On the Unity of the Church

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message 1: by Luke (last edited Oct 05, 2017 12:22PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Book: Treatise I: On the Unity of the Church

Online version: Treatise I: On the Unity of the Church

Nemo wrote (in this other topic): "Hi Luke,

I've been meaning to ask you. Since you're interested in discussing the Church Fathers, and have written a 40-day devotional on a few of them. I'm wondering whether you would like to lead a discussion of Cyprian's "On the Unity of the Church" and draw from materials in your book?

For starters, you could share with the group what led you to write about these Fathers, what is your criteria for selecting those texts in general, and your interest in Cyprian's treatise in particular, etc."


For starters, my book isn't out yet (aiming for December release), but you can read some info and overview of it here if you're interested: fortydays.co.uk.

I first wrote the book on my blog during Lent this year, doing a post each day with a summary of what I'd read from the various Church Fathers. Those posts are now the book chapters which are divided up as "days".

I didn't actually choose the list of books/Fathers to include myself as I was following a Lenten reading plan I'd found online. In hindsight, if I'd known I was going to turn it into a book, I probably would have selected a few different texts to include (such as 1 Clement). But for the sake of time and ease, I used what I'd already wrote as the basis of the book and have fleshed it out some more and added a shed load of references and footnotes which I didn't get time to do on my blog version. As an aside, I may also do some companion books to include the other Church Fathers at a later date.

OK so, I'll use a similar format to my book, which begins every new text with a Who, What, Why and When to give a quick rundown of the writer, context and content. Due to the length of some texts, they are broken up in to chunks over a few chapters (the Cyprian chapter begins with ch.1-9), so I'm not sure how we'll handle that here so we can just see where it goes from here!


Who: Third century bishop of Carthage (in modern Tunisia), and martyr from Africa

What: A letter to encourage the unity of the church against schisms and heresy during massive Roman persecution.

Why: A disturbance had happened in the church because of a priest called Novatian — a schismatic of the third century, and founder of the sect of the Novatians. Cyprian wrote to counter this and argues that there can only be one united Church, and the Novatian breakaway was in fact a false church. He also argues that Novatian himself was also an antipope.

When: Around 249 - 251 AD during a period of time known as the Decian persecution.


This letter by Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, is apparently one of his greatest works. Written during a time when the new Roman Emperor Decius wanted to restore Rome to its former glory, he decreed that all Christian bishops be killed and any laity to be forced to recant in the face of death.

The thrust of this letter is about unity, but it has become an issue due to a priest called Novitian who broke away from the orthodox church to set himself up as a pope.

Novatian rose up as an “antipope” (someone who rejected the people's choice of pope) and caused a schism saying he wanted to restore the “true Church” and drew some people away. Cyprian is arguing for unity and that there is only one true Church and that is those who are all in unity with one another in the local congregation, and also with their Bishops, who by extension should be united in doctrine across all the churches, thus creating the unified Body of Christ. So with that in mind, much of what he writes here is speaking about how the true followers of Christ should act and what they should be doing if they are working out their salvation.

I'll leave this here to see how others respond etc and to kickstart the discussion :)


Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Here is the same text at CCEL:

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf05...


Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Thanks :) is CCEL the preferred source here? Or are you just providing alternatives?


Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Luke wrote: "Thanks :) is CCEL the preferred source here? Or are you just providing alternatives?"

They are the same text from the same ANF series. I'm just providing format and viewing alternatives. :)


Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments OK cool :) just checking as most of my quotes are taken from the new advent site


message 6: by Clark (new)

Clark Wilson | 586 comments For now I'm going to treat the "Argument" section as not by Cyprian.


message 7: by Luke (last edited Oct 05, 2017 01:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Clark wrote: "For now I'm going to treat the "Argument" section as not by Cyprian."

The argument section? Can you expand

Edit: never mind. I just realised what you are referring to! Yes, that does sound more like a foreword or introduction added by a translator.


Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments One more note on the online texts. Both the CCEL and the NewAdvent sites use the same source text. The CCEL site keeps the translator's notes, whereas the NewAdvent site provides its own notes and references. (CCEL is a Protestant site, and NewAdvent Catholic, just in case it isn't obvious.)


Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Luke,

What do we know about the lives of Cyprian and Novatian? When you researched for your book, did you find interesting facts about them?


message 10: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Well I know Cyprian came from a wealthy family background and became a bishop shortly after his conversion and baptism. He gave everything away to the poor as a catechumen.

This work of his is considered his greatest work, and until Jerome and Augustine came along, he was considered of the most influential theologians/leaders on the Latin side of the Church.

I don't know a whole lot about Novitian, other than he disagreed with the Church and possibly also the things Cyprian was preaching about admitting the "lapsed"back into the Church after sacrificing to the Roman gods to save their lives.

Novitian wanted to restore the "true Church", thinking the existing one was wrong


message 11: by Kerstin (last edited Oct 06, 2017 01:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kerstin | 317 comments Here is the link on Cyprian from Pope Benedict XVI and the series he did on the Church Fathers during his General Audiences.
http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict...

I probably mentioned somewhere before, I am attending a class at church on the early Church, and the primary text we are using Christianity in Ancient Rome: The First Three Centuries goes into quite some detail of Cyprian, the persecutions, etc. I skimmed over the pages last night. I haven't gotten this far yet. Once I do, I'll share more details.


message 12: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Thanks for the link!


message 13: by Susan (new)

Susan Kerstin wrote: "Here is the link on Cyprian from Pope Benedict XVI and the series he did on the Church Fathers during his General Audiences.
http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict......"


I liked the link too Kerstin. I also liked Luke's Treatise I. Now I will read Nemo's.


message 15: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Well now we know a little about who these guys are, I'll give some context for the background situation:

When Cyprus wrote this letter, it was a period of time known as the Decian persecution, although it's not clear whether it was targetting Christians specifically.

Around 249-250 AD, Emperor Decius issued an edict requiring everyone in the Roman Empire to sacrifice to the Roman gods and in return you would receive a certificate to prove you had done so. Refusal to sacrifice resulted in arrest and death.

Christians who refused, received the title of “confessors”, whilst those who complied with the edict were termed “lapsed” by the Church.


message 16: by Luke (last edited Oct 08, 2017 02:04AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Many Christians at this time were martyred, but there were also many who also abandoned their faith and sacrificed to the gods in exchange for their lives, or they bought a certificate to say they had sacrificed when they hadn't.

This was all considered sin and blasphemy by the Church, though many felt regret and wanted to be forgiven and restored afterwards.

“But how can a man say that he believes in Christ, who does not do what Christ commanded him to do?” Cyprian argues, since the faith of many had become weak.

It's in the midst of all of this that Novatian rose up as an “antipope” (someone who rejected the people's choice of pope) and caused a schism saying he wanted to restore the “true Church”, and actually drew some people away to join his new group.


message 17: by Luke (last edited Oct 08, 2017 02:04AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments PS— (sorry if it's weird to read, the formatting looks a little stage in my comments using the app, and there's no option to edit from here)

Edit: Fixed it now


message 18: by Nemo (last edited Oct 06, 2017 08:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments The word "pope" (in the notes at NewAdvent site) doesn't appear in the text itself, but "bishop" appears three times. We know from the historical background that Novatian was opposing the bishop of Rome, but Cyprian does not mention Rome in his treatise.


message 19: by Luke (last edited Oct 08, 2017 02:07AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Yeah I think the new advent notes is where I got that info from.

It's from this that Cyprian upholds the position of the bishops and really pushes their role and authority, and that they have the greater task and duty of keeping the unity of faith across all the churches.

They above all need to uphold this unity of faith, because they are “held by each one for the whole” so that they are undivided as the Church is undivided and one.

“Does he who does not hold this unity of the Church think that he holds the faith?” Cyprian asks, really hammering home the point of keeping unity within the Church and the faith; as Christ endowed the Twelve with power, but commissioned Peter to feed the sheep, in doing so Jesus arranged the “origin of that unity” for which the partnership of the Apostles began the Church. To strengthen his argument for unity within One Church, he quotes Paul in Ephesians 4:4-6 (There is one body and one Spirit...), calling it the “sacrament of unity” by which we know the true Church.

I like the analogy Cyprian uses to describe the unity and “oneness” of the Church, in comparing it to things in nature:

As there are many rays of the sun, but one light; and many branches of a tree, but one strength based in its
tenacious root; and since from one spring flow many streams, although the multiplicity seems diffused in the liberality of an overflowing abundance, yet the unity is still preserved in the source.

Separate a ray of the sun from its body of light, its unity does not allow a division of light; break a branch
from a tree,--when broken, it will not be able to bud; cut off the stream from its fountain, and that which is cut off dries up. Thus also the Church, shone over with the light of the Lord, sheds forth her rays over the whole world, yet it is one light which is everywhere diffused, nor is the unity of the body separated.



message 20: by Nemo (last edited Oct 07, 2017 12:33PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Here is what "many branches of a tree" might look like:



(From the Wikipedia article on Christian Denominations. I haven't verified the historical facts, but it is an interesting starting point for those who wish to dig deeper.)


message 21: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Hmm yeh thinking about it more, maybe this gives some legitimacy to the various denominations as long as there's some common ground or something that keeps us all on the same page, theologically speaking.

Often the amount of denominations is used as a reason against the Church by atheists (and sometimes Catholics and Orthodox).

This of one area that has made me interested in looking into the unity of the Church as it seemed to be presented in the early Church. From reading things it almost seems like they were all acting as one unit and were at least in touch with other churches to make sure everyone taught the same etc.

Now this type of unity only really occurs in individual Protestant denominations within their own group (eg. Anglicans, Baptists, Methodist etc), and then the RCC and EO will have their own networks of churches to keep in unity.

Can we ever be all in full unity again? Or are we already in unity if we affirm the pillars of the faith like the incarnation, trinity etc, regardless of denominations?


message 22: by Susan (new)

Susan Luke wrote: "Hmm yeh thinking about it more, maybe this gives some legitimacy to the various denominations as long as there's some common ground or something that keeps us all on the same page, theologically sp..."

There can only be one Truth it seems, so If the only areas of disagreement are small, rather insignificant things, than it seems > unity is possible, but some of the issues seem rather foundational...role of the priesthood/Sacraments, Purgatory, allowing same sex marriage (which I guess is still Sacraments/marriage), many are moving to more universalism..... we could really use unity as the numbers soar for the "nones" and atheism...there would be a much greater impact if we spoke with one voice...the world could use it it seems...12 people, with fidelity to Jesus' teachings, and the aid of the Holy Spirit changed the world; we are a much greater number and have far more resources...what ultimately causes the division? When I study Catholicism, I see seamless continuity in word and deed from the beginning, not only that, I see continuation/analogy with Judaism - it all fits/makes sense - it seems things changed when individual people thought they knew better and tried to change things...I would be fearful to follow something that started in that way, unless really, really convinced. I remain open to convincing however.


message 23: by Clark (last edited Oct 08, 2017 05:24AM) (new)

Clark Wilson | 586 comments Nemo said, "Here is what "many branches of a tree" might look like:"

Thank you for posting that. It is a useful diagram. The non-Protestant parts plus Anglicanism look reasonable to me. I have neither knowledge nor opinion of the Protestant parts other than Anglicanism.

The dotted lines labeled "union" I think are intended to show instances in which some communion has accepted the Pope (Bishop of Rome) as Christ's Vicar on Earth. Kerstin has written at length about that elsewhere in the group.

Caution! A digression begins here. Feel free to ignore it.

I will mention one particular point just because it came up yesterday in another topic here: the filioque.

"filioque" is Latin for "and the Son." The word and idea were inserted into the Creed in the West in the middle of the first millennium (the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son). Orthodox are really cranky about it. But Byzantine Rite (Eastern Rite) Catholic churches recite the Creed without the filioque and are in union with the Pope. So it seems that this level of "union" does not require the use of the filioque, but it does require recognition of the Bishop of Rome as Christ's Vicar on Earth. Hence I believe the filioque is not necessarily a deal breaker; Papal uniqueness is a deal breaker.


message 24: by Susan (last edited Oct 08, 2017 05:37AM) (new)

Susan Clark wrote: "Nemo said, "Here is what "many branches of a tree" might look like:"

Thank you for posting that. It is a useful diagram. The non-Protestant parts plus Anglicanism look reasonable to me. I have nei..."


Goodness knows I know very little, but although the Incarnation had a point in time, I thought the second Person of the Trinity was always....and the Trinity is so united to be One, how is it explained that the Holy Spirit did not come from the Father and the Son? I can't really visualize/grasp the Holy Spirit as well (as the first and second Persons) to be honest, but heard it expressed as the love expressed between the Father and Son...are you able to state how the Orthodox disagree with the filioque or how you see/understand the Holy Spirit? (just small questions.... :) )


message 25: by Nemo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments A few "branches" of the early Church were caused, at least in part, by different understandings of the Trinity and the nature of Jesus.

I'm not ready personally to discuss the doctrine of the Trinity, that's why I haven't created a topic for it so far, but feel free to create a Trinity thread, and discuss "filioque" more fully, if you're interested.


message 26: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Just curious Nemo, what "denomination" (for lack of better word) do you come from?


message 27: by Nemo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Luke wrote: "Just curious Nemo, what "denomination" (for lack of better word) do you come from?"

I attended evangelical/non-denominational churches, and would classify myself as Protestant for the sake of discussion. :)


message 28: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Ah OK :) I just wondered because you seemed vague on the issue of sola scriptura as how it's defined.

Also, attended past tense? Maybe I'm just being too nosey now though!


message 29: by Nemo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Luke wrote: " I just wondered because you seemed vague on the issue of sola scriptura as how it's defined. "

The pastors never talked about it specifically in their sermons. So I don't know any "official" teaching on it, having never read any catechisms. Most of my understanding of Christianity has come from personal readings, the Scriptures and Christian writings, including the Church Fathers.


message 30: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Luke wrote: " I just wondered because you seemed vague on the issue of sola scriptura as how it's defined. "

The pastors never talked about it specifically in their sermons. So I don't know any "o..."


So, no disrespect intended, but how do you know just based on personal reading how close you are to the Truth? Do you just base it on feeling? If you come across something in the Bible that is countered, how do you choose/place confidence in one argument over another if both can be backed up with Scripture?


message 31: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Same here Nemo. The only reason I really know about it is because we looked at it as part of my degree, and more recently, because I'm in various discussion groups on Facebook so I come across many different doctrine and ideas all the time


message 32: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments As for Susan's question, the truth would be what is taught and defined in the scriptures.


message 33: by Nemo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Susan wrote: "If you come across something in the Bible that is countered, how do you choose/place confidence in one argument over another if both can be backed up with Scripture? ."

I answered that question in the Sola Scriptura thread.


message 34: by Nemo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Luke wrote: "Also, attended past tense? Maybe I'm just being too nosey now though!"

I've been quite nosey myself, and it would be unfair to only ask and not answer questions. :)

I'm not attending any church at the moment, which is my loss no doubt, partly because it is difficult to find a church after moving to a new city (where the rainbow flag is everywhere), partly because I'm unsure which church I should attend.


Kerstin | 317 comments Nemo wrote: "The word "pope" (in the notes at NewAdvent site) doesn't appear in the text itself, but "bishop" appears three times. We know from the historical background that Novatian was opposing the bishop of..."

Mike Aquilina in his book The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers has what I find to be a helpful explanation of how the titles of clergy, i.e., father, pope, were used in the early Church.
" In the New Testament, the Apostles clearly see themselves as fathers to the newborn Church. St. Paul reminded the Christians of Corinth that he was their "father in Christ Jesus" (1 Cor 4:15), and he addressed both Timothy and Titus as his true children (1 Tim 1:2; Ti 1:4)...St. Peter explicitly referred to Christians of his own generation as "the fathers" (2 Pt 3:4)
The custom of calling bishops "Father" continued with the passing of the Apostles' generation. The word "pope" comes from Latin and Greek words meaning "father," and in the early centuries it was applied to diocesan bishops as well as the bishop of Rome. Eventually, common usage extended the application of the title "Father" to priests, too, as is today the custom in English speaking countries."



message 36: by Nemo (last edited Oct 08, 2017 09:24PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Kerstin wrote: "Nemo wrote: "The word "pope" (in the notes at NewAdvent site) doesn't appear in the text itself, but "bishop" appears three times. We know from the historical background that Novatian was opposing ..."

Many translations render 2 Peter 3:4 as "our ancestors", which is interchangeable with "fathers" in the Jewish Scriptures. It should be clear from the context as well that Peter is not referring to Christians of his own generation.

There seems to be a gap in Aquilina's narrative, going from Paul's Epistles to "custom".

I'd like to see historical documents that show such "a custom of calling bishops Father in the Apostles' generation".


message 37: by Susan (new)

Susan Re: 2 Peter 3:4, my Navarre Bible says, " 'The fathers' may mean the first generation of Christians, and may also mean Old Testament forebears."
My Ignatius Bible says, "the fathers: this title is normally given to the Patriarchs and Prophets of Israel (Jn 7:22, Heb 1:1). Others interpret this to mean the apostles and the first generation of the Church, though the expression is never used in this way in the earliest Christian literature."
However the Essential Catholic Survival Guide points out: "Perhaps the most pointed NT reference to the theology of the spiritual fatherhood of priests is Paul's statement that 'I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel' (1 Cor 4: 14-15.
Peter followed the same custom, referring to Mark as his son: 'She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark' (1 Pet. 5:13). The apostles sometimes referred to entire churches under their care as their children. Paul writes, 'Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you; for children ought not to lay up for their parents, but parents for their children' (2 Cor. 12:14) 'My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you!' (Gal. 4:19).
John said, 'My little children, I am writing this to you so that, you may not sin; but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' (1 John 2:1). 'No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth' (3 John 4). in fact, John also addresses men in his congregations as 'fathers' (1 John 2: 13-14).
By referring to these people as their spiritual sons and spiritual children, Peter, Paul and John imply their own roles as spiritual fathers. Since the Bible frequently speaks of this spiritual fatherhood, we Catholics acknowledge it and follow the custom of the apostles by calling priests 'father'. ...As members of a parish, they have been committed to a priests spiritual care...Priests, in turn, follow the apostles' biblical example by referring to members of their flock as 'my son' or 'my child' (Gal. 4:19, 1 Tim 1:18, 2 Tim 2:1, Philem 10, 1 Pet 5:13, 1 John 2:1, 3 John 4)
All of these passages were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and they express the infallibly recorded truth that Christ's ministers do have a role as spiritual fathers. Jesus is not against acknowledging that, It is he who gave these men their role for us in the pages of Scripture."


message 38: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Here is what "many branches of a tree" might look like:



(From the Wikipedia article on Christian Denominations. I haven't verified the historical facts, but it is an interesting starting point f..."


I think some of the difficulty that arises in some of these questions, regards language and meaning being used in different ways based on our own basic foundational premise...Just a thought activity here, theoretically, 'could' the line for Roman Catholicism be a straight line from the beginning of the early Church (where you bumped it up at the time of the Schism to bump down the Orthodox) meaning, it could have been one consistent entity with the Orthodox splitting off at that point...and if not, why not?


message 39: by Nemo (last edited Oct 09, 2017 06:26AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Susan wrote: "Nemo wrote: "Here is what "many branches of a tree" might look like:..."

Any one of those branches could conceivably be a straight line from the beginning. The fact is that they are all branches at the present time, and again, the burden of proof is on those who claim they are the same as the universal Church at the beginning.


message 40: by Susan (new)

Susan Just another quick thought...this thread (if that's the term) is on the unity of the Church...
so I think I grasp Nemo's idea of the universal /early Church as a Church instituted by Jesus that just involves each individual person, no hierarchy or anything? Please correct me if I am wrong....but if that is the case, and the Holy Spirit is there to lead each of them to the truth (but no Church structure that the Holy Spirit leads to truth and prevents from error as the Catholic Church says, I think...)....how does the other idea that Nemo has, which is there will always be discrepancies and contradictions in the Church involving his two reasons (our immaturity or "far from perfect understanding " and that we do not read the Scriptures correctly, projecting our own opinions into them, from message #...something, I forget what number...) comport with the fact that Jesus formed one Church that He always wanted to by one? Does not the personal interpretation (even if he gives valid reasons for dis-union) seem to ensure dis-union, even if the Holy Spirit is trying to lead us all individually to the truth? I am not wording this clearly I know, but why would Jesus work so hard to ensure His followers were taught, and kept teaching, the same exact truth He taught, only to institute a Church that if instituted the way Nemo seems to be expressing, ensures dis-union (until I guess we are all may be made perfect in all truth?)


message 41: by Nemo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Susan wrote: "Re: 2 Peter 3:4, my Navarre Bible says, " 'The fathers' may mean the first generation of Christians, and may also mean Old Testament forebears."
My Ignatius Bible says, "the fathers: this title is ..."


The apostles are spiritual fathers, yes. But bishops are not apostles.

I would like to see historical evidence for "a custom of calling bishops Father" in the Apostles' generation.


message 42: by Nemo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments I never said there will always be contradictions and disagreements among the Church, but I'm recognizing the fact of their existence, while believing that the Holy Spirit will lead believers into all truth and perfect unity. In the same vein, I recognize the fact of our fallen nature, while at the same time believing that God has prepared a blameless Church for Himself.


message 43: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments I think it was in Ignatius' letters where he expands on church hierarchy, that he says that the reason for bishops, elders, decons etc is because it imitates the model that Jesus used:

The bishop acts in place of Jesus, elders are to the bishop, what the apostles were to Jesus etc

So there may be some merit to bishops being referred to as "father", and maybe more so if they lead someone to salvation through their preaching


message 44: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Susan wrote: "Nemo wrote: "Here is what "many branches of a tree" might look like:..."

Any one of those branches could conceivably be a straight line from the beginning. The fact is that they are ..."


I guess I am confused because even from your own picture, Protestantism breaks off in the 16th century...do they say they were the universal Church?


message 45: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "Susan wrote: "Re: 2 Peter 3:4, my Navarre Bible says, " 'The fathers' may mean the first generation of Christians, and may also mean Old Testament forebears."
My Ignatius Bible says, "the fathers: ..."


I see,
I personally see what care the apostles took to ensure they raise up other Bishops to teach faithfully to the flock what they themselves were taught, so do not see how they (Bishops etc. and the flock) would not in turn feel similarly, that they are spiritual fathers/sons....I don't really get the issue or problem...it seems just logical, unless one was going out of their way to try to disprove something by saying they are not/or should not be called 'fathers'...do you not see a consistency in the spiritual fatherhood role?


message 46: by Susan (new)

Susan Nemo wrote: "I never said there will always be contradictions and disagreements among the Church, but I'm recognizing the fact of their existence, while believing that the Holy Spirit will lead believers into a..."

That seems somewhat contradictory to me, and sort of covering all bases, but I'm glad it brings clarity and peace to you. I'm possibly just understanding it wrong again. I don't know if that gets us any closer to answering Luke's initial question about if unity is even possible again.


message 47: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke J. Wilson (mrlewk) | 70 comments Personally, in some sense, I think the RCC and EO are probably closest to the original structure of the early Church hierarchy than other types of church branches.

But I wouldn't say either could claim they are THE one line to the apostles and early Church any more than the other.

For example, the whole reason there even was a Reformation was because the RCC had introduced doctrines and teaching contrary to scripture (indulgences?). If they were the purest form of church since the first century, this wouldn't be necessary.

That's just how I see it anyway.


message 48: by Nemo (last edited Oct 09, 2017 10:06AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Susan wrote: "Nemo wrote: "I never said there will always be contradictions and disagreements among the Church, but I'm recognizing the fact of their existence, while believing that the Holy Spirit will lead bel..."

IF you mean the fact seems contradictory to the ideal, yes, but it is not a logical contradiction in my statement. Cyprian is dealing with the same "contradictory" situation in this treatise. There are strifes and disagreements in the Church, and he exhorts the believers to keep the unity of the Spirit.

P.S., I'm not sure we mean the same thing by "logical", for apparently what is illogical to me is logical to you, and vice versa.


message 49: by Nemo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 1503 comments Susan wrote: "...one was going out of their way to try to disprove something by saying they are not/or should not be called 'fathers...."

Cyorian doesn't speak of the "spiritual fatherhood" of the bishops in this treatise on Church Unity. If that fatherhood was commonly recognized among the believers, Cyprian would have emphasized that point, wouldn't he? Just as Apostle Paul wrote to those Corinthians who challenged his spiritual authority.

Anyway, I was not going out of my way to prove or disprove the spiritual fatherhood of bishops. I was simply questioning the historical claim Aquilina made that there was such a "custom".


Kerstin | 317 comments Nemo wrote: "Kerstin wrote: "Nemo wrote: "The word "pope" (in the notes at NewAdvent site) doesn't appear in the text itself, but "bishop" appears three times. We know from the historical background that Novati..."

My intent was to be helpful.

I am aware of different biblical translations and I am not an expert on it. Yet I would never challenge whether a word was translated this way or that way, not knowing the what the original Greek intended. Maybe you need to find a source where this gets clarified for you.

Mike Aquilina is an expert on the Church Fathers, I have no reason to doubt him when he makes assessments on how the words of 'father' or 'pope' has been used in the early Church. I don't understand why you would challenge a mere peripheral point intended for context.

I must admit I am getting rather fatigued with the relentless challenges and getting caught up in them. There is never a resolution or recognition that a point makes sense as one would in a normal discussion. We simply go from one clash point to another.
I find no joy in this.


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