Friday, June 9, 2017

The Historical Development Of Papal Authority

  • Introduction:
          -Primitive Christian churches were governed by pluralities of bishops, not by an individual head, as is the case with the Roman Catholic hierarchy. It is also important to note that the New Testament uses the terms "elder" and "bishop" interchangeably. The New American Bible Revised Edition has this excerpt on Titus 1:5-9 in regard to the meaning of such terms: "This instruction on the selection and appointment of presbyters, substantially identical with that in 1 Tm 3:1–7 on a bishop, was aimed at strengthening the authority of Titus by apostolic mandate; cf. Ti 2:15. In Ti 1:5, 7 and Acts 20:17, 28, the terms episkopos and presbyteros (“bishop” and “presbyter”) refer to the same persons." The Papal office as such was not established by Jesus Christ in the first century. 
  • Examples Of Early Extra-Biblical Writings That Speak Of Pluralities Of Elders In Congregations Rather Than Being Led By A Single Man Over The Rest: 
          -“And so, elect for yourselves bishops and deacons who are worthy of the Lord, gentle men who are not fond of money, who are true and approved.” (The Didache 15.1)
          -“And so, elect for yourselves bishops and deacons who are worthy of the Lord, gentle men who are not fond of money, who are true and approved.” (1 Clement 42:4)
  • The Benefits Of A Church Having Pluralities Of Elders:
          -The plurality of elders and the autonomy of each assembly was cemented doctrine before the end of the apostolic age. The weakness of the flesh always pursues efficiency, organization, and control in any group. God's plan for the government of the local assembly is nothing short of divine brilliance. It diffuses ambition, curtails pride, and distributes authority among the saints, with elders leading (never ruling) by example only.
  • Surveying The Development Of The Episcopacy In The Second Century:
          -In 150 AD, a difference was made between the offices of elder and bishop. This is when individual congregations started being governed by individual bishops. One bishop began to have authority over the other bishops, like a senior pastor amongst elders. This development was gradual in other churches and is attested to by Ignatius' epistles as first appearing in Asia Minor. 
          -"Caird notes that in the latter half of the first century three events occurred that altered the character of the church: (1) the final break between Christianity and Judaism, (2) the beginning of persecution by Rome, and (3) the death of many who had been principal leaders in the early church. The death of the apostles, the crumbling of the old covenant, outbreaks of persecution, and the prevalence of heresy and false prophecy led to the rise of the monarchical bishop. Caird suggests that the vigor with which Ignatius states his case for the bishop’s role implies that this new development had been “vigorously opposed” by many in the churches. In any case, the rise of the monarchical bishop is best understood as the expedient by which the early church asserted its right to condemn divergent views in the absence of the apostles. Cf. Caird, The Apostolic Age, 141–55 (esp. pp. 141, 151-52)." (Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 21)
  • Surveying The Development Of The Episcopacy In The Fourth Century:
          -Archbishops, who presided over a group of churches along with their respective assemblies of worship, moved up from the most prominent cities of their time. These men came to be known as the patriarchs. This excerpt from Canon Six of the Council Of Nicea shows that the Roman bishop had jurisdiction only over Rome at this point in time: "The Bishop of Alexandria shall have jurisdiction over Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis. As also the Roman bishop over those subject to Rome. So, too, the Bishop of Antioch and the rest over those who are under them." (cited by Philip Schaff)
  • Surveying The Development Of The Episcopacy In The Mid Fifth To Late Sixth Centuries:
          -We see the five patriarchs, which were Jerusalem (officially recognized as such in the fifth century), Antioch (officially recognized as such in the first century), Rome (officially recognized as such in the first century), Constantinople (officially recognized as such in the fourth century), and Alexandria (officially recognized as such in the first century). Each patriarch governed itself. Though Rome and Constantinople were perceived as having equal authority, the Church of Rome was viewed in highest regard. Constantinople was the leading patriarch of the East. But neither of the two competing patriarchs at the time possessed universal authority over the rest of Christendom.
  • Surveying The Development Of The Episcopacy In The Late Sixth Into The Early Seventh Centuries:
          -There was a major, final struggle between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches for the title of universal bishop. The two most powerful patriarchs fought for jurisdiction over the entire Christian church. Although Constantinople was first to appoint its head as being the universal bishop of Christianity, the Roman bishop Gregory condemned the usage of that title as being characteristic of an anti-Christ. He declared that no man, not even himself, was worthy of possessing such an title! In the end, the Church of Rome prevailed in this battle for supreme authority. Gregory's successor Boniface III reserved it for himself. Thus, we see the historic origin of the Papal office in its current organizational structure.

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

The development led to all sorts of contradictions as to papal authority, as well as abuse of selecting the new popes, etc: