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.

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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, 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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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 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, ]]

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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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

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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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Hunting Heresies in the Fathers

hyperekperissou: Hunting Heresies in the Fathers.

I am a biblical fundamentalist; I am an Economist, believing that Jesus Christ is God, according to the Economy of God. I do not believe in doctrinal development past the point of the Apostles. I do not believe in new revelations, historical Tradition, or the that tradition defines and develops Doctrine. I stand with Marcellus of Ancyra in appreciating the early Church Fathers, but finding the sole source of Doctrine as the Scriptures from the Apostles and Prophets. I do not give any doctrinal significance to the Councils, nor will I call anyone a Saint, except for the broader body of the Church. I see no greatness in Rome or the so-called Apostolic Church which she leads.

To be honest, I relish the thought of being a heretic hunter, of stamping out false doctrines where they arise, with a steady word and a heavy hand. The Church has no room to allow these cancers to grow. I have no problem, as many would read this blog, of stating that this one or that one is a false prophet and a heretic.

However, in my study of the Church Fathers, I have come to a deep appreciation of their writings and their tribute to biblical studies and would rarely use the word ‘heretic’ (except for maybe Origen). I have been criticized for my use of them, however, I will continue to use them and their quotes in my own development and maturity as a Christian.

John Chrysostom has become a favorite of mine, as has Irenaeus, Tertullian, and even Cyprian. Most of these men I would have disagree with in nearly every way, yet, they have measures of Truth. I fully recognize

“So, we see Justin Martyr accused of ditheism and/or subordinationism. Or, we see Gregory Nazianzus accused of proto-Nestorianism.”

However, in doing so, I also recognize that there was not a sudden shift from what I would consider orthodox doctrine (except maybe Origen), and these men still have a measure of contribution to every self-proclaimed theologian – or otherwise – not in refuting any doctrine, or building any doctrine, but in tracing what theological development took place and when and in understanding the Christian community in a historical viewpoint.

Let me say quickly that if you believe that Christianity suddenly ceased after Peter and Paul and that Rome immediately appeared, then you have no faith in Christ or His Church. If Christianity ceased after the Apostles, then Gamaliel was right, and we have all been wrong for nearly 2000 years.

I find that Irenaeus, who is roundly despised by biblical fundamentalists, must be understood as the defender of the faith against well-learned Gnostics, versed and steeped in the Bible. He defended the Faith as one would in these circumstances, and more often than not, stayed within the pattern established by Ignatius and Polycarp. We have Justin, who I find in error as a ditheist, who has great strength in defending the Church against the Jews and further in defending the Septuagint. Tertullian provides us with a rigorous approach to Christian living while Cyprian fought for Church unity against the rising power in Rome. This is not to say that I judge them Christian, as that is in God’s hands, but even the most radical anti-Catholic (which rarely makes any sense) can see that some measure of Truth existed in this learned men.

Personally, I agree that

“Tertullian’s extreme temperament led him to rigid views about asceticism and prophecy which drove him from the orthodox church.”

Except for the part about the prophecy and his Montanist days, I find little wrong in Tertullian’s rigidness. I do however, find a great deal wrong with Origen and the entire school from Alexandria. I find it a break from Orthodoxy, no matter the century and cannot rightly see him in any positive light.

Returning to the others, however, I realize that many of them do not share the doctrines that I might hold, in total; however, it does not erase their value. We have to remember that History is rarely kind to even Inspired Writings, much less the writings and thoughts of men, albeit inspired men. (Look at the war that history as waged on the epistles from Ignatius) Interpretation of these writings is the same way. Do not take them in the light of theologians 1800 years removed from them, but attempt to understand them in the world in which they wrote. Unlike the Bible, their words are not timeless, and must be understood against the world that they fought.

I agree with the writer of the above post when he says,

A second less innocent motive is heresy hunting in the context of inter-denominational apologetics and polemics. In this kind of heresy hunt, we see writers (often, but not always Protestant) search the Fathers in order to find something wrong in what they are saying. What they are doing in reading the Fathers isn’t reading them to understand them or to take insight from them, but rather they are reading them the way that a lawyer reads a hostile brief–they are looking for dirt and evidence to beat the other side with.

There a few things that I no longer like to see, and that is anyone on my ‘side’ calling the theologians of the 2nd and 3rd century, Roman Catholic. Most them would have rebelled against the idea of the Roman Church as we know it now. Instead, we must look at these as cousins, rather distant, and stop the labeling, often times done in error. We must not succumb to the ‘violence’ of apologetics, but instead place these people in their respective places, learning and valuing their input.

Finally, even Paul used non-Christians to highlight Christianity, and if we dismiss the entire corpus of post-Apostle’s writing simply because they might not agree with us in every way, then we do a great deservice to the Church.

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De Unitate Ecclesiae, pt 1

Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage during some of the most severe persecutions, left the world with a great deal of writings, himself being the most significant of the early Latin writers for Christendom. During and after the persecutions, Cyprian experienced a struggle with Rome, as other both before and after him, did one Roman primacy. Victor I had caused great controversy by assuming greater powers when he excommunicated Polycrates of Ephesus over the Quartodeciman controversy.

I will continue posting on Cyprian’s call for Church unity, as I find the subject intriguing. I believe that the Apostle had the idea that the Church must be united as he wrote Ephesians, and perhaps there is a tingle of apocalyptic thought in his words. I find it of historical interest as well, that Cyprian fought so strongly against Roman primacy while maintaining the position that he had on the Episcopate.

1. Since the Lord warns us, saying, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” (Matthew 5:13) and since He bids us to be simple to harmlessness, and yet with our simplicity to be prudent, what else, beloved brethren, befits us, than to use foresight and watching with an anxious heart, both to perceive and to beware of the wiles of the crafty foe, that we, who have put on Christ the wisdom of God the Father, may not seem to be wanting in wisdom in the matter of providing for our salvation? For it is not persecution alone that is to be feared; nor those things which advance by open attack to overwhelm and cast down the servants of God. Caution is more easy where danger is manifest, and the mind is prepared beforehand for the contest when the adversary avows himself. The enemy is more to be feared and to be guarded against, when he creeps on us secretly; when, deceiving by the appearance of peace, he steals forward by hidden approaches, whence also he has received the name of the Serpent. That is always his subtlety; that is his dark and stealthy artifice for circumventing man. Thus from the very beginning of the world he deceived; and flattering with lying words, he misled inexperienced souls by an incautious credulity. Thus he endeavoured to tempt the Lord Himself: he secretly approached Him, as if he would creep on Him again, and deceive; yet he was understood, and beaten back, and therefore prostrated, because he was recognised and detected.

2. From which an example is given us to avoid the way of the old man, to stand in the footsteps of a conquering Christ, that we may not again be incautiously turned back into the nets of death, but, foreseeing our danger, may possess the immortality that we have received. But how can we possess immortality, unless we keep those commands of Christ whereby death is driven out and overcome, when He Himself warns us, and says, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments?” (Matthew 19:17) And again: “If ye do the things that I command you, henceforth I call you not servants, but friends.” (John 14:15) Finally, these persons He calls strong and stedfast; these He declares to be founded in robust security upon the rock, established with immoveable and unshaken firmness, in opposition to all the tempests and hurricanes of the world. “Whosoever,” says He, “heareth my words, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, that built his house upon a rock: the rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew, and beat upon 422 that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” (Matthew 7:24) We ought therefore to stand fast on His words, to learn and do whatever He both taught and did. But how can a man say that he believes in Christ, who does not do what Christ commanded him to do? Or whence shall he attain to the reward of faith, who will not keep the faith of the commandment? He must of necessity waver and wander, and, caught away by a spirit of error, like dust which is shaken by the wind, be blown about; and he will make no advance in his walk towards salvation, because he does not keep the truth of the way of salvation.

3. But, beloved brethren, not only must we beware of what is open and manifest, but also of what deceives by the craft of subtle fraud. And what can be more crafty, or what more subtle, than for this enemy, detected and cast down by the advent of Christ, after light has come to the nations, and saving rays have shone for the preservation of men, that the deaf might receive the hearing of spiritual grace, the blind might open their eyes to God, the weak might grow strong again with eternal health, the lame might run to the church, the dumb might pray with clear voices and prayers – seeing his idols forsaken, and his lanes and his temples deserted by the numerous concourse of believers – to devise a new fraud, and under the very title of the Christian name to deceive the incautious? He has invented heresies and schisms, whereby he might subvert the faith, might corrupt the truth, might divide the unity. Those whom he cannot keep in the darkness of the old way, he circumvents and deceives by the error of a new way. He snatches men from the Church itself; and while they seem to themselves to have already approached to the light, and to have escaped the night of the world, he pours over them again, in their unconsciousness, new darkness; so that, although they do not stand firm with the Gospel of Christ, and with the observation and law of Christ, they still call themselves Christians, and, walking in darkness, they think that they have the light, while the adversary is flattering and deceiving, who, according to the apostle’s word, transforms himself into an angel of light, and equips his ministers as if they were the ministers of righteousness, who maintain night instead of day, death for salvation, despair under the offer of hope, perfidy under the pretext of faith, antichrist under the name of Christ; so that, while they feign things like the truth, they make void the truth by their subtlety. This happens, beloved brethren, so long as we do not return to the source of truth, as we do not seek the head nor keep the teaching of the heavenly Master.

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, 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)

5. And this unity we ought firmly to hold and assert, especially those of us that are bishops who preside in the Church, that we may 423 also prove the episcopate itself to be one and undivided. Let no one deceive the brotherhood by a falsehood: let no one corrupt the truth of the faith by perfidious prevarication. The episcopate is one, each part of which is held by each one for the whole. The Church also is one, which is spread abroad far and wide into a multitude by an increase of fruitfulness. 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. Her fruitful abundance spreads her branches over the whole world. She broadly expands her rivers, liberally flowing, yet her head is one, her source one; and she is one mother, plentiful in the results of fruitfulness: from her womb we are born, by her milk we are nourished, by her spirit we are animated.


(Schaff) Here note that our author’s entire ignorance of any Centre of Unity, of any one See as the test of communion; in short, of any one bishop as having more of Peter’s authority than others, – is a sufficient disproof of the existence of any such things. Otherwise, how could they have been overlooked in a treatise devoted to the subject of unity, its nature and its criteria? The effort to foist into the text something of the kind, by corruption, demonstrates how entirely unsatisfactory to the Middle-Age theorists and dogmatists is the unadulterated work, which they could not let alone.

Cyprian is known for placing the episcopate on a higher footing that it had enjoyed before, but he was careful to note that the Apostles were equal in authority, so that no one Apostle was above another. This was his argument against the Bishop of Rome, then Stephen, who sought to follow in Victor I’s footsteps in declaring Rome as the center of unity. The center of unity is the Doctrine universal and the Tradition.

Cyprian, many have stated, indicates that he sees the episcopate as one Chair, that of Peter, but that each Bishop holds a piece of it. Cyprian has to be commend, even by those that would not normally do so, for his fight against the encroachment of the papacy. For him, the Bishops were the Church universal, with each existing as a sunbeam from the Chair of Peter. His beam, though, was equal to that of Rome or Alexandria, or Antioch.

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The Church is Apostolic, pt 3

This is the first part in a series dealing with the word ‘apostolic’. This is a rough draft, as many of my personal writings on this blog are, but I intend to put them out there in order strengthen my arguments as well as to correct them. Invite criticism and opinion, negative and positive, as always. Warning: This is not complete in information, but complete in thought. It should be clear that I would oppose calling myself ‘Apostolic’.

Determining the correct meaning

Bob Scudieri serves as a mission executive with the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. The book, The Apostolic church: One, holy, catholic and missionary, is the result of research conducted at Yale University between 1990 and 1991. The purpose of Scudieri’s research was to conduct a historical study of the word “Apostolic,” to determine whether Apostolic meant “sent” (like an ambassador, sent on a specific mission with specific authority) or whether it meant “proclaiming the doctrines handed down by Jesus’ Apostles” (Peter, John, Paul, etc.). His conclusion is that Apostolic has carried both meanings, although, in modern theology, correct doctrine is emphasized over missions.

Scudieri’s argument is built on a foundation as he begins his analysis of the history of the word ‘apostolic’ from the period immediately preceding the birth of Christ when it was secular term, through the period of the early church, during the pre-Constantine persecutions such as the Decian Persecution which brought about Cyrpian’s use, and up through the Constantinian and post-Constantinian Arian controversy when the pressure to appeal to a more historic Tradition greatly increased. Before Constantine, apostolic primarily carried the meaning, “missionary;” however, it was the Tradition from North Africa (Cyprian, Athanasius) which introduced the ‘name’ aspect to the word, and thus the right of the Church to appeal to the Apostles. Note, this was not an instantaneous action, but a Tradition that developed and quickly spread as Alexandria gained in authority.

Conclusion

The Church is indeed apostolic, but not in the way that Cyprian formulated or the greater Catholic Church holds today or even in the vernacular of many ‘oneness’ believers. Too often, ‘oneness’ believers assume the mantle ‘Apostolic’ referring to the Apostles’ Doctrine. This name is a misnomer, as only after the strains of Catholicism started to appear in the third century did that word take on the meaning of the ‘Apostle’s Doctrine’. The first meaning of ‘apostolic’ was not doctrine or authority, but missional, and to attach another meaning to a word not found in the Holy Scriptures to create a paradox of intentions. Do you, my Apostolic friends, assume the authority of the Apostles as Rome has done? Do you assume their Doctrine which you would point to as being found only in Scripture and yet use a word unscriptural to describe yourself? Do you not know that having the correct Doctrine is more than having ‘it’ right on the Godhead?

The Church of Jesus Christ is indeed apostolic in her mission – to be sent to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world in the form and manner of the Apostles and nothing more. The adjective ‘apostolic’ derived a generation after the Apostles means not their doctrine and Tradition but their form and mission, which Ignatius – who first created the word – upheld vigorously. It become a name, a mark of four of the Church Catholic around the time of Cyprian who pressed for an equal brotherhood of bishops who seemingly followed in the footsteps of the Apostles, and now had the power to ‘confirm’ salvation by the laying of hands. He pointed to the Apostolic Tradition, to the Apostolic Doctrine, and to the Apostolic Church for his support, thus turning the character, mission and form of the Apostles into a name, a power, an authority, and a birthright, something that the Apostles would not have recognized.

The Church of Jesus Christ is not Apostolic but apostolic.

The question remains, my dear Apostolics, why do you call yourself after a Catholic title when you yourself abhor all things Catholic?

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