Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus

Archive for the ‘Cyprian’ Category

June 30th, 2016 by Joel Watts

St Cyprian on the heresy of ecclesiastical disobedience 

Disobedience is a doorway to more sins. We can call it rebellion or secession or nonconformity, but it brings in scheming, deception, and rivalry. Scripture and Tradition warned repeatedly against such things.

April 19th, 2011 by Joel Watts

The Rock of My Existence

Greek icon of the Twelve Apostles (in the fron...

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Both Dr. Barber and Fr. Chaplin have weighed in on my previous post dealing with examining Matthew 16.17-19 through the Catholic hermeneutic. This was a class assignment and I admit that I chose this because I thought it would be easy. It isn’t.

My struggles are varied, but I  begin here with John, where Christ meets the Apostles, all of them,

Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (Joh 20:21-23 NLT)

Here is John’s version of Matthew 16.17-19, but the power is given equally to all the Apostles. Yet, even in John, Peter is singled out to ‘feed my sheep.’ We cannot deny that in the Gospels, Peter has a certain role which others did not.

But, I look at Cyprian who, in his treatise On Church Unity maintains that Peter stands for the whole of the Episcopate, that all the Bishops of the Church are equal and act as one:

4. If any one consider and examine these things, there is no need for lengthened discussion and arguments. There is easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth. The Lord speaks to Peter, saying, “I say unto thee, that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And 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 shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mathew 16:18-19) And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, “Feed my sheep.” And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power[2], and says, “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you: Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins ye retain, they shall be retained;” (John 20:21) yet, that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity. Which one Church, also, the Holy Spirit in the Song of Songs designated in the person of our Lord, and says, “My dove, my spotless one, is but one. She is the only one of her mother, elect of her that bare her.” (Song of Songs 6:9) Does he who does not hold this unity of the Church think that he holds the faith? Does he who strives against and resists the Church trust that he is in the Church, when moreover the blessed Apostle Paul teaches the same thing, and sets forth the sacrament of unity, saying, “There is one body and one spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God?” (Ephesians 4:4)

One should note that had it not been for Rome in the West, then the West and Christianity in the West would have fallen during the Dark Ages.

I admit, my views on the early Christian voices have changed considerably, as have my views on the Roman Catholic Church – especially in the short time of the existence of this blog. I rather enjoy this fact. I enjoy the fact that I am no long an anti-Catholic bigot, but that I can admit that they in fact may be correct on the reading of Matthew 16.17-19. I encourage you to read the above linked posts and examine for yourselves if you are in the faith.


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October 16th, 2010 by Joel Watts

Ignatius of Antioch and Cyprian on the false demand of a profession of faith

Portrait of Ulrich Zwingli after his death 1531
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None of these things is hid from you, if ye perfectly possess that faith and love towards Christ Jesus10 which are the beginning and the end of life. For the beginning is faith, and the end is love. Now these two, being inseparably connected together, are of God, while all other things which are requisite for a holy life follow after them. No man [truly] making a profession of faith sinneth; nor does he that possesses love hate any one. The tree is made manifest by its fruit; so those that profess themselves to be Christians shall be recognised by their conduct. For there is not now a demand for mere profession, but that a man be found continuing in the power of faith to the end. (To the Ephesians 14)

And from Cyprian –

Through the presumption of thsoe who beguile with false promises of salvation, the true hope of salvation is destroyed – Cyprian, To the Lapsed, 34

(HT – James R. Payton’s, Getting the Reformation Wrong

I especially enjoyed Payton’s summation of the Reformation Doctrine of Sola Fide, which is wholly different than the easy beliefism touted by so many today. And yet, so many of these ‘just walk the isle’ style preachers believe that they can lay claim to Luther, Zwingli, Bucer and Calvin, when it seems, at least through Payton’s eyes, that these men believed that one had to start with faith and go on to sanctification by works. As Wesley said, religion is not solitary and as Payton points out, faith alone is not the Gospel.

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September 11th, 2009 by Joel Watts

Cyprian of Carthage on Baptismal Regeneration

For it has been delivered to us, that there is one God, and one Christ, and one hope, and one faith, and one Church, and one baptism ordained only in the one Church, from which unity whosoever will depart must needs be found with heretics; and while he upholds them against the Church, he impugns the sacrament of the divine tradition. The sacrament of which unity we see expressed also in the Canticles, in the person of Christ, who says, A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a fountain sealed, a well of living water, a garden with the fruit of apples.But if His Church is a garden enclosed, and a fountain sealed, how can he who is not in the Church enter into the same garden, or drink from its fountain? Moreover, Peter himself, showing and vindicating the unity, has commanded and warned us that we cannot be saved, except by the one only baptism of one Church. In the ark, says he, of Noah, few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water, as also baptism shall in like manner save you.” In how short and spiritual a summary has he set forth the sacrament of unity! For as, in that baptism of the world in which its ancient iniquity was purged away, he who was not in the ark of Noah could not be saved by water, so neither can he appear to be saved by baptism who has not been baptized in the Church which is established in the unity of the Lord according to the sacrament of the one ark. (Epistle LXXIII)

For Cyprian, it was clear that baptism was a unifying measure for the Saint to the Church

March 19th, 2009 by Joel Watts

Creeds: Third Century

Cyprian, Bishop of Catharge, writing about 250, stated his creed as this:

I believe in God the Father,
In His Son Jesus Christ,
In the Holy Spirit.
I believe in the forgiveness of sins,
And Eternal Life
Through the Holy Church

It is found Epistle to Magnus (Ep. 69, al. 76), the other in his synodical Epistle to Januarius and other Numidian bishops (Ep. 70). Both are in form interrogative, in answer to the question Credis? put to the baptismal candidate. ‘No salvation outside the church’, or in Latin, ‘Nullus salus extra ecclesiam’, is the doctrine accredited to Cyprian. It should be understand, however, that at this time, Cyprian was seeing fractions develop around him, generally associated with the lapsed of the persecutions and other heretics.

Cyprian’s counterpart, Novatian a schismatic of Rome, writing about the same time, writes,

The rule of truth demands that, first of all,
we believe in God the Father and Almighty Lord,
that is, the most perfect Maker of all things.…
The same rule of truth teaches us to believe, after the Father,
also in the Son of God, Christ Jesus,
our Lord God, but the Son of God.…
Moreover, the order of reason and the authority of faith, in due consideration of the words and Scriptures of the Lord, admonishes us, after this, to believe also
in the Holy Ghost
promised of old to the Church, but granted in the appointed and fitting time.

It is found in his writings (De Trinitate s. De Regula Fidei (Bibl. PP. ed. Gallandi, Tom. III. pp. 287 sqq.), but we have to note that Novatian was another of the long lines of schismatics that would later be called upon to support developed doctrine.

Immediately, we see Novatian, unlike Cyprian places the title of Lord God on the Son as well as the Father, calling Him the Son of God (as of yet, the phrase God the Son has not been found). Also seen is Novatian, unlike the others that preceded him, and many that came after him, actually gave more diligence to the holy Spirit. It was during this, it must be remembered, that Montanism was raging which focused more securely on the Spirit than it did anything else. The Spirit, for the followers of Montanus, was just now being given to the Church. Here, the echoes that doctrine is seen in Novatian.

Writings 20 years from Cyprian of Catharge and Novatian of Rome was Origen of Alexandria.His creed is preserved for us by Rufinius

The form of those things which are manifestly delivered by the preaching of the Apostles is this:

First, that there is one God, who created and framed every thing, and who, when nothing was, brought all things into being,—God from the first creation and forming of the world, the God of all the just—Adam, Abel, Seth, Enos, Enoch, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve Patriarchs, Moses, and the Prophets: and that this God, in the last days, as he had before promised through his Prophets, sent our Lord Jesus Christ, to all Israel first, and then, after the unbelief of Israel, also to the Gentiles. This just and good God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, himself gave the Law and the Prophets and the Gospels, and he also is the God of the Apostles, and of the Old and New Testaments.

Then, secondly, that Jesus Christ himself, who came, was born of the Father before all creation. And when in the formation of all things he had served the Father (for by him all things were made), in these last times, emptying himself, he became man incarnate, while he was God, and though made man, remained God as he was before. He took a body like our body, differing in this point only, that it was born of the Virgin and the Holy Ghost. And since this Jesus Christ was born and suffered in truth, and not in appearance, he bore the death common to all men and truly died; for he truly rose from the dead, and after his resurrection, having conversed with his disciples, he was taken up.

They also delivered that the Holy Ghost was associated in honor and dignity with the Father and the Son.

Schaff writes,

Origen then goes on to say that ‘such questions, as to whether the Holy Spirit was born or unborn ( natus an innatus), whether he was also to be regarded as a Son of God or not, are left for inquiry and investigation out of the holy Scriptures, according to the best of our ability; but it was most clearly preached in the churches that the Holy Spirit inspired every one of the saints and prophets and apostles, and that there was not one Spirit given to the ancients and another to the Christians.’ Then he mentions (§ 5) as part of apostolic preaching ( ecclesiastica prædicatio) the future resurrection and judgment, the freedom of will ( omnem animam rationabilem esse liberi arbitrii et voluntatis), the struggle of the soul with the devil and his angels, the inspiration of the Scriptures, and their deeper meaning known only to those to whom the Holy Spirit gives wisdom and understanding.

Throughout this passage Origen makes an important distinction between ecclesiastical preaching and theological science, and confines the former to fundamental facts, while to the latter belongs the investigation of the why and wherefore, and the deeper mysteries.

Origen speaks plainly – Christ was not eternal, but a creature of the creation by the Father. Further, while Origen could not assign the same statements to the Spirit, he thought that the Spirit was associated with the Father and Son a symphonia of wills.

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