Monday, November 5, 2012

Habemus Papam

The election of a new Coptic Pope is a good reminder that Rome isn't the only ancient church claiming to be the one true church.  (link) Rome and Alexandria split over a bit of theology that would by today's standards look trivial.  Same with Rome and the East.  Makes you wonder, did they take theology more seriously back then?  Or were the theological issues only the pretext and the political autonomy was the real goal?  Probably both.  In any case,  the ancient church was not perfectly united in the idea that the Pope in Rome was the boss. 


Erik Mojica said...

Long time no talk Dan. I just wanted to mention that, if memory serves me, the Coptic Church - like the Eastern Orthodox - do not claim that they are the One True Church. The Catholic Church is more than just Rome mind you. The See of Peter just happens to be the seat where we find the Steward of the King (Isaiah 22:22; Matthew 16:18-19).

Also, important is the use of the word Pope which has its roots in the Greek and Latin word for father - thus the Pope is the spiritual father/leader, much like Abraham, Moses, Peter, etc.

So in the Coptic Christian Church, they may use the tile of Pope (Rome does not have it trademarked) as the Pope Benedict XVI is also referred to as the Patriarch of the West. Patriarch is the very same title given to those in the Eastern Orthodox Churches and even the Eastern Catholic Churches (in full communion with Rome). (On a side note there is the Coptic Catholic Church.)

These Churches all of the Four Marks except they remain in schism because unlike the Apostles, they refuse to recognize the primary authority of the Chair of Peter though they do acknowledge the Chair itself.

The ancient Church, i.e., the Apostles, did look to Peter as the designated head. This continues to this day as the Church of Christ AKA the Catholic Church is more than just Rome.

Check out:

Erik Mojica said...

Check out Against Heresies (St. Irenaeus) Book III, Chapter 3, paragraphs 2-3:

2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spoke with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.

Against Heresies

Godismyjudge said...

Hey Erik,

Hum... The EoC does claim to be the one true church. For example,

"Orthodox Christians claim that the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Chalcedonian Orthodox Church, is the one true Church of Christ. That’s the confession of faith that we make."

Likewise, my understanding is that Rome and Alexandria anathmatized each other over Chalcedon. Maybe that was later reversed, I don't know, but the point is the split was serious. Even if the RCC downplays these differences, that doesn't mean the East does.

Yep, the Coptic Pope, to my knowledge, doesn't claim infallibility. The EoC and Coptic churches have more in common with Protestant Churches than the RCC, because they didn't go through the Reformation, Trent and subsequent councils.

As for calling the Roman Catholic Church, just the "Catholic Church", the problem is that name means the universal church. Do you see why that name is problimatic? What if I changed my name to "Erikiswrongaboutchurch"? :-) See why that name would be a problem?

God be with you,

Godismyjudge said...


You may want to look at the inbound context on the Irenaeus quote. Heritics were rejecting scripture. You and I have scripture as common ground, but if you were debating, say, someone about why some book was in the bible, wouldn't you argue based on the history of the Church? The fact that a book was accepted by a church and passed down through the ages is strong evidence that it should be accepted.

God be with you,