Sunday, July 6, 2008

St. Gregory of Nyssa Against Rome

I just read this quote in "The Life of Moses" by the Church Father St. Gregory of Nyssa. I'm supposed to find this universal affirmation of Roman Catholicism everywhere in the church fathers, but I don't see it much outside St. Augustine and Ambrose. Here's the quote:

"The Church is also called Christ by Paul (1 Cor 12:12, Eph 1:23), it would be well to regard the names "apostles, teachers, and prophets" as referring to those servants of the divine mystery whom Scripture also calls pillars of the Church. (1 Cor 12:28f, Gal 2:9) For it is not only Peter and John and James who are pillars of the Church, nor was only John the Baptist a burning light,(Jn 5:35 but all those who themselves support the Church and become lights through their own works (Phil 2:15) are called "pillars" and "lights." You are the light of the world, (Matt 5:14) says the Lord of the Apostles. And again the divine Apostle bids others to be pillars, saying Be steadfast and unmovable (1 Cor 15:58). And he made Timothy an excellent pillar, when he made him (as he says in his own words) a pillar and ground of truth. (1 Tim 3:15)" - St. Gregory of Nyssa, "The Life of Moses" (bk.2 , pt.184)

So strangely, St. Gregory says that all who are members of the church are pillars, all who work out their salvation and are called to be apostles, or teachers or prophets. This is hardly an endorsement of a Monarchical Papacy. Of course you could also interpret it that since all of the characters listed were Bishops/Apostles that Bishops are the pillars of truth, and as Ignatius says "where there is the Bishop let the multitude of believers be, even as where is Jesus Christ there is the Catholic church" or something to that effect. But this just says Bishops, and Anglicans, and all the Orthodox Churches, and Old Catholics, and Porvoo communion Lutherans, all have Bishops in the line of the apostles.

So it seems the Papacy's monopoly on Apostolicity is less and less likely to me. Though this quote certainly doesn't endorse groups like the Baptists and other Congregationalists.

1 comment:

  1. This comment by St. Gregory does not negate anything the Catholic Church claims for the papacy. No Catholic ever said that the Pope has a monopoly on anything. The Church affirms the priestfood of all believers and the ability of all Christians to act in the power of the Holy Spirit. This does not negate the Catholic priesthood, however, nor does it negate the papacy. They work together, not in opposition. To dichotomize these realities is to impose an arbitrary tension that exists only in the mind of the skeptic of Catholicism.

    Not a personal accusation, Andrew. You are doing all you can to find out the truth, and I admire that. But these "difficulties" you are finding in the fathers are not at all threatening to the Church.

    God bless, my brother. My prayers are with you.