Authority and the Early Church Councils - Fr. Stephen Gauthier


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Authority and the Early Church Councils - Fr. Stephen Gauthier

  1. 1. Understanding the Sources of our Faith From the Bible through the Early Councils
  2. 2. Background
  3. 3. Where’s the continuity?  Old Covenant  Jesus  The Church
  4. 4. Luke: the Holy Spirit  Old covenant  The Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets  Continuing through John the Baptist  Jesus  Conceived by the action of the Holy Spirit  Anointed by the Holy Spirit (Messiah/Christ)  The Church  Filled with and led by the Holy Spirit throughout Acts of the Apostles
  5. 5. Old covenant: John  …for he [John] will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. (Luke 1:15)
  6. 6. Old covenant: Elizabeth  And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit… (Luke 1:41)
  7. 7. Old covenant: Zechariah  And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying… (Luke 1:67)
  8. 8. Old covenant: Simeon  Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple (Luke 2:25-27)
  9. 9. Jesus: conception  And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)
  10. 10. Jesus: baptism and temptation  …and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove…(Luke 3:22)  And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness (Luke 4:1)
  11. 11. Jesus: public ministry  And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee…(Luke 4:14)  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me…(Luke 4:18)  In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said… (Luke 10:21)
  12. 12. The Church  for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:12)  …until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. (Acts 1:2)
  13. 13. The Church (cont.)  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4)
  14. 14. The Church (cont.)  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them [the rulers, elders, and scribes]… (Acts 4:8)  And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32)
  15. 15. The Church (cont.)  …and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5)  But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. (Acts 6:10)  But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. (Acts 7:55)
  16. 16. The Church (cont.)  And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” (Acts 8:29)  the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away… (Acts 8:39)
  17. 17. The Church (cont.)  And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him…(Acts 10:19)  …the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. (Acts 10:44)  And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. (Acts 11:12)
  18. 18. The Church (cont.)  Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (Acts 11:28)  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)  So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. (Acts 13:4)
  19. 19. The Church (cont.)  For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: (Acts 15:28)  And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. (Acts 16:6)
  20. 20. The Church (cont.)  And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. (Acts 16:7)  Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” (Acts 19:21)
  21. 21. The Church (cont.)  And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.… (Acts 20:22-23)  Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (Acts 20:28)
  22. 22. The Church (cont.)  And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. (Acts 21:4)  “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” (Acts 21:11)
  23. 23. Authority
  24. 24. “Jesus is Lord”  Jesus is the source of all authority  Jesus exercises his authority by means of the Holy Spirit  Through the Apostles  Through the Church
  25. 25. Through the Apostles  Full remembrance  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)
  26. 26. Through the Apostles (cont.)  Full understanding  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13)
  27. 27. Through the apostles (cont.)  Full authority  Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me (Matt.10:40)  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19)
  28. 28. Apostolic tradition  What the apostles have “handed on” to us  Latin: tradere = “to hand on” => traditio
  29. 29.  Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. (2 Thessalonians 3:6)  Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. (1 Corinthians 11:2)
  30. 30.  For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,…(1 Corinthians 11:23)  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures… (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
  31. 31. Through the Church  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)  Church as guardian of the apostolic tradition  O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. (I Timothy 6:20)  …guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:14)  Sources of the apostolic tradition  Scripture  “Great Tradition”  As authentic and reliable interpretation of scripture
  32. 32. Scripture  For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them (Justin Martyr, Apology, 66)
  33. 33. Great tradition  The next generation  The visible witness of the Church  Across time (apostolic succession)  Across space (catholicity)
  34. 34. The next generation  Polycarp not only was instructed by apostles and conversed with many who had seen the Lord, but also was appointed by apostles in Asia as bishop of Smyrna. I also saw him in my childhood, for he lived a long time and passed away in extreme old age in glorious martyrdom. He continually taught the things he had learned from the apostles, the traditions of the church that alone are true. These facts are confirmed by all the churches of Asia and the successors of Polycarp to this day. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.3.4)
  35. 35.  I can even picture the place where the blessed Polycarp sat and conversed, his comings and goings, his character, his personal appearance, his discourses to the crowds, and how he reported his discussions with John and others who had seen the Lord. He recalled their very words, what they reported about the Lord and his miracles and his teachings – things that Polycarp had heard directly from eyewitnesses of the Word of life and reported in full harmony with Scripture. (Irenaeus of Lyons, Letter to Florinus)
  36. 36. Post-apostolic times  This is true Knowledge: the teaching of the apostles, and the ancient institution of the Church, spread throughout the entire world, and the distinctive mark of the body of Christ in accordance with the succession of bishops, to whom the apostles entrusted each local church, and the unfeigned preservation, coming down to us, of the scriptures, with a complete collection, allowing for neither addition nor subtraction; a reading without falsification and, in conformity with the scriptures, an interpretation that is legitimate, careful, without danger or blasphemy. (Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, IV.33.8)
  37. 37. “Vincentian Canon”  Vincent of Lérins  “What has been believed everywhere, always, and by everyone” (Latin: Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus)  How the Church has understood the scriptures
  38. 38. Great Tradition: sources  Liturgy  “How we pray is how we believe” (Latin: lex orandi lex credendi est)  General (ecumenical) councils  Nicaea I (325)  Constantinople (381)  Ephesus (431)  Chalcedon (451)  Preponderance of the early Church fathers
  39. 39. Great tradition: sources (cont.)  Historic creeds  Apostles’ Creed  Source = liturgy (baptismal creed)  Nicene Creed  Source = general councils (Nicaea and Constantinople)  Athanasian Creed  Source = early Fathers  Probably from a source other than Athanasius
  40. 40. Classic Anglican summary  One canon [Bible] reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period – the centuries that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith. -- Bp. Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)
  41. 41. Scripture and Great Tradition Praxis
  42. 42. Canon of scripture New Testament
  43. 43. Background  Practical problem  Challenge of heretical sects  Danger of sacrilege (during persecutions)  Canon = Greek: “measuring stick”
  44. 44. First century  Various books collected by individual churches  Several letters  One or two Gospels
  45. 45. Second century  General recognition  4 Gospels  Acts, 13 letters of Paul, 1 Peter, and 1 John  Disputed  Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation  Occasionally accepted  Letter of Barnabas, Shepherd of Hermas
  46. 46. Third and fourth centuries  Third century  Gradual acceptance of disputed books and elimination of books that were only occasionally accepted  Fourth century  Authoritative pronouncements (synods ands local councils)  St. Athanasius , “Festal Letter,” 367  First list of the 27 books of the New Testament
  47. 47. Underlying principles  Apostolic origin  Consistency with other scripture  Reception  Use in Liturgy
  48. 48. Canon of Scripture Old Testament
  49. 49. Process over time  Hebrew Bible = TaNaKh  Law (Torah)  Category closed c. 400 BC  Prophets (Neviim)  Category closed c. 200 BC  Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, The Twelve Writings  Writings (Ketuvim)  Category still open in apostolic times
  50. 50. Two canons  Reflect shift in Jewish population  Alexandria (Greek speaking) – c. 200 B.C.  Septuagint (LXX) = Greek version of Jewish Bible  Palestinian (Hebrew) canon – Late 1st century  Need  Transition to Rabbinic Judaism  Rise of Christianity  Criteria used:  Written in Hebrew or Aramaic  Written no later than Ezra
  51. 51. Difference = “writings”  Hebrew canon  Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra/Nehemiah, Chronicles  LXX  Hebrew canon + additional books found in LXX  Apocrypha/deuterocanonical books
  52. 52. Additional books  Group 1  Additions to Esther  Tobit  Judith  1 Maccabees & 2 Maccabees  Wisdom  Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)  Baruch (with Letter of Jeremiah)  Additions to Daniel
  53. 53. Additional books (cont.)  Group 2  1 Esdras & 2 Esdras  The Prayer of Manasseh  Group 3  3 Maccabees & 4 Maccabees  Psalm 151
  54. 54. Distinction  Eastern Church  Not readily apparent to Greek speakers  Their Bible is the LXX  Western Church  Jerome makes clear distinction in Latin Bible (Vulgate)  Establish doctrine vs. edification  Distinction ultimately lost  Issue raised at the time of the Reformation
  55. 55. Divergent positions  Orthodox and Roman Catholics  Scripture (Synod of Jerusalem/Council of Trent)  Protestants  Reject entirely
  56. 56. Divergent views (cont.)  Anglicans (following Jerome)  “And the other books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine…” (39 Articles of Religion)  Readings included in lectionary  “Here ends the reading”  Canticles included in Book of Common Prayer
  57. 57. General councils Defining doctrine and establishing practice
  58. 58. Model – Jerusalem Council (Acts 15)  The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter… (v. 6)  For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…(v. 28)
  59. 59. Clarifications  Defining doctrine:  Articulating what is already understood  Reception  Action validated by the recognition of the faithful
  60. 60. Nicaea I (325) and Constantinople (381)  What does it mean to say Jesus is God?  Begotten not made  Jesus is uncreated  Begotten before all ages  Jesus is eternal  Of one being/substance with the Father  Jesus in not just like God, he is God  Opposite of Arianism
  61. 61. Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451)  What does it mean to say Jesus is both God and man?  Human and divine natures are inseparable  Therefore, Mary is not just the mother of Jesus, but the mother of God  Opposite of Nestorianism  Human and divine natures remain distinct  The divine does not overwhelm the human  Opposite of monophysitism
  62. 62. Summary
  63. 63. Continuity in the Holy Spirit  Old Covenant  Jesus  The Church
  64. 64. Jesus is the source of authority  Exercised through the Holy Spirit  Through the Apostles  Remembrance  Understanding  Authority  Through the Church  Scripture  Great Tradition  As authentic and reliability interpretation of scripture
  65. 65. Great tradition  Apostolic tradition  The visible witness of the Church  Vincentian canon
  66. 66. Sources of great tradition  Liturgy  General councils  Consensus of early Church fathers  Historic creeds
  67. 67. Canon of scripture  New Testament  Practical exercise of great tradition  Old Testament  Alternatives  Hebrew canon  LXX  Anglican position  Hebrew canon = establish doctrine  LXX = edification
  68. 68. General councils  Modeled on council in Acts  Principles  Defining doctrine  Reception
  69. 69. Key definitions  What does it mean to say Jesus is God?  Uncreated/eternal/not simply like God  What does it mean to say Jesus is both God and man?  Human and divine distinct  Human and divine inseparable