The Primacy of Peter and the Early Church Fathers

The primacy of Peter is one of the hardest of things for non-Catholic Christians to accept. Many of these people will tell you that that the Peter did not hold a primacy in the church at all. In this post, I will give some quotes from the Fathers of the Church that support the primacy of the Peter.

Clement of Alexandria

“[T]he blessed Peter, the chosen, the preeminent, the first among the disciples, for whom alone with himself the Savior paid the tribute [Matt. 17:27], quickly gasped and understood their meaning. And what does he say? ‘Behold, we have left all and have followed you’ [Matt. 19:27; Mark 10:28]” (Who Is the Rich Man That Is Saved? 21:3–5 [A.D. 200]).

Tertullian

“[T]he Lord said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. . . . Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys, not to the Church” (Modesty 21:9–10 [A.D. 220]).

The Letter of Clement to James

“Be it known to you, my lord, that Simon [Peter], who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus himself, with his truthful mouth, named Peter, the first fruits of our Lord, the first of the apostles; to whom first the Father revealed the Son; whom the Christ, with good reason, blessed; the called, and elect” (Letter of Clement to James 2 [A.D. 221]).

Pope Damasus I

“Likewise it is decreed . . . that it ought to be announced that . . . the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . . ’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it” (Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]).

Pope Leo I

“Although bishops have a common dignity, they are not all of the same rank. Even among the most blessed apostles, though they were alike in honor, there was a certain distinction of power. All were equal in being chosen, but it was given to one to be preeminent over the others. . . . [So today through the bishops] the care of the universal Church would converge in the one See of Peter, and nothing should ever be at odds with this head” (ibid., 14:11).

 

These are just a small amount of many quotes of the Church Fathers that support Peter’s Primacy over the other Apostles. These quotes clearly indicate that the primacy of the Pope was not invented as some say but was  held by the church since the beginning.

Thanks to churchfathers.org for the quotes.

-Jacob

 

 

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Divine Presence in the Eucharist & Its Inseparability from God’s Infinite Incomprehensibility

Photo Credit – SaintRose.org

The Eucharist; it is the source and the summit of the Christian life, yet it remains, and always shall remain, unable to be understood in its entirety. For some, the incomprehensible and inexplicable nature of the divine presence in the Eucharist is seen as a weakness in the Catholic faith. They claim that the Church’s lack of a full explanation on this sacrament proves the Church has no grounds for its stance on the divine presence of Christ. However, the incomprehensibility, in actuality, serves to further the Catholic understanding of God, which intern reaffirms the Church’s stance on the divine presence. This is not circular reasoning, though it may appear as such at a glance. The seemingly two facets of the faith reinforce each other because they are, in truth, one in the same.

God and His Infinite Complexity is Beyond Human Understanding

In the Old Testament, it is made clear the God is beyond human comprehension. In The Book of  Job, God is very clear that humans cannot understand, nor should attempt to understand or question, Him. Job is lectured in the way a parent lectures a young child whom questions their parent’s actions and authority.

“Where were you when I founded the earth?

Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its size? Surely you know?

Who stretched out the measuring line for it?

Into what were its pedestals sunk,

and who laid its cornerstone,

While the morning stars sang together

and all the sons of Godshouted for joy?

Who shut within doors the sea,

when it burst forth from the womb,

When I made the clouds its garment

and thick darkness its swaddling bands?” – Job 38, 4-9

God is, to understate it, beyond full human comprehension. This can be discovered through reason as well as scripture. Let’s examine this through reason, shall we?

Humans understand the universe through math and science. Let us define these terms. Mathematics is “the systematic treatment of magnitude, relationships between figures and forms, and relations between quantities expressed symbolically.” Science is “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation” or “any of the branches of natural or physical science.” Mathematics can not be used to understand how the universe works without the sciences (unless one follows the body of thought that numbers are part of the universe rather than an invention to describe facets of it). The sciences are used to study and understand natural phenomena through discovering and describing the physical laws to which they adhere. These two studies are the furthest extents of human knowledge, yet neither, by definition, holds the potential to understand what causes physical law to work.

The human consciousness simply fails in all attempts to understand physical law in any way other than through describing its effects. For example, we know how electromagnetism works, yet we don’t know why it works. We know certain electromagnetic wavelengths create a visible spectrum of light; we know how these wavelengths are seen, but we do not know exactly why the electromagnetic force works this way. In physics, electromagnetism just is. Now, consider how clearly the Bible states that God was able to create these laws, foreseeing all their future implications on how the universe would develop, without so much as giving it a moment’s worth of thought or planning.

“Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light.” – Genesis 1, 3

Now, I’m in no way saying Genesis should be read in a word for word literal sense, but this verse clearly shows God’s ability to create one of the most complex things in the physical world, electromagnetism, without so much as pausing to think it through. God has just created, in the time it took to speak a sentence, what humans have been attempting to understand for as long as the species has existed. This serves as an example for the infinite intellect of God. So, as a being cannot posses an infinite intellect (which by nature is also  incomprehensible) without themselves being infinitely incomprehensible, we know God is infinitely incomprehensible.

Here’s what we know so far: the human race in its entire history of existence has failed to even be able to create a field of study to begin to understand the nature of physical laws, in contrast, God was able to create those laws for the purpose of their implications billions of years after their initial creation by the use of a singe thought, and finally, we must assume that God is infinitely more  incomprehensible than theses laws as He possess an infinitely incomprehensible intellect. To say that humans attempting to fully understand God is like an ant attempting to fully understand a human would be a massive understatement.

What God Says, Is.

Throughout the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament, it  is apparent that what God says becomes reality. I’m going to borrowing this part of the explanation from Father Robert Barron, but going into greater detail with it than he did. First let’s look back at Genesis 1, 3.

“Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light.” – Genesis 1,3

This is the first, as well as one of the most well known, example of God’s word becoming truth. In fact, all of Genesis 1 serves as an example of this. Another example of God’s word becoming truth would be the story of Lazarus.

“And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’

The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” – John 11, 43-44

God’s power over truth, as a result of him creating truth, is showcased over and over again. One of the most important examples of this is in Mathew 26, 26-28.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’

Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you,

for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” -Mathew 26, 26-28

It is in this moment that the Eucharist first undergoes transubstantiation and metaphysically becomes the body and blood of Christ. It’s existence changes from the existence of bread and wine, into the existence of Christ.

The Eucharist Cannot be Fully Understood

As the Eucharist is literally God Himself in all of His infinite incomprehensibility, we, as beings of limited understanding, are unable to fully comprehend it’s existence. The dogma of God’s infinite incomprehensibility is inseparable from and one in the same with the dogma of God’s presence in the Eucharist. To attempt to fully understand the Eucharist is to attempt to fully understand the infinitely incomprehensible God.

The Value of Catholic Conversation

Should you find yourself becoming a regular reader of my posts here, you will no doubt notice the frequency in which I will include my friend Jacob in my posts. This is due to our conversations often becoming discussions on Christianity and its history. I find that it’s far too uncommon in today’s society that one finds themselves able to hold a good conversation on topics such as Church history and theology with their friends, family, and acquaintances. As such, I find myself only able to hold such conversations with Jacob (though I’m actively attempting to influence a Lutheran cousin of mine to convert).

Christian conversation, specifically Catholic conversation, remains a largely untapped gold mine of enriching subjects for discussion. I find that you can learn much more about the faith and its history through discussions between two or more well educated Catholics, than through simple research alone. It allows for the comparing and contrasting of how people understand and explain a single belief or facet of the faith and opens the possibility of modifying and improving upon the understanding with live feedback. Conversation regarding these topics will inevitably lead to some form of peer teaching every time one of the people in the conversation is more learned in a specific aspect of the faith or its history than the other.

In recent years, however, the explosion of social media such as Instagram and Facebook has granted us the ability to discuss these topics without the limitation of physical location. It’s apparent that social media is more often used for debates rather than chatting on these subjects, but debate itself is also a valuable asset to the learning mind as it exposes one to opposing viewpoints and forces one to thoroughly think through the positions of both their opponent’s as well as their own viewpoints. It’s not uncommon that upon reading through the comments under posts by Instagram accounts similar to RomanCatholicKnights or CatholicLegion that one finds debate among educated Catholics and Protestants (or, sadly more commonly, well educated Catholics and hateful protestants).

So, try to hold a Catholic conversation this week. Whether it be with those in your immediate location or those on social media, I’m certain you will find it enriching.

P.S.

Sorry for the short post. There isn’t much for me to say on this subject, but I feel it’s important.

The Benign Intentions of an Ignorant & Fanatical Society

Americans today live in what is a strange point in our nation’s history. Our society indulges in inaccuracy and lies, all the while assuring itself it follows only reason and objective thought. This will be one of the most, if not the most, controversial post that I will publish on this blog, but I see it as needing to be said. The topics explored here are all sensitive and controversial issues. I’ll be openly criticizing today’s United States.

The Good Intentions of an Ignorant Society

To begin with, I would like to make one thing clear: I truly believe that people holding views opposed to my own have only the best of intentions. However, this is not to say that I believe they are in any way justified in their resulting actions. Many societies over the years have held beliefs and practices they deemed acceptable which we have since deemed inhuman (EG: slavery).

Irrational Acceptance Culture

Today’s society is very much a part of what I will call here the “acceptance culture.” By “acceptance culture” I am referring to the current society’s tendency to accept abnormalities as normal. Of course, there is a line drawn where some abnormalities are simply deemed too abnormal to be considered normal. However, the fact of the matter is that, this line is based entirely on emotion, as it holds no water when examined for rationality.

Homosexuality & Bisexuality Vs. Consentual Pedophilia & Incest

Here is the first of the emotionally charged and controversial issues of which we will examine. Society’s acceptance of Homosexuality and Bisexuality cannot be held in congruence with its intolerance toward consentual pedophilia as well as incest. This is for one simple reason: any argument presented which is in favor of homosexuality and bisexuality is equally applicable to consentual incest and/or pedophilia. I will point out that, if you accept all four of these practices as acceptable, you should skip this part of the post, it is more in favor of your ideals than in opposition of them.

I have often heard the argument made that genetics plays a role in one’s sexual orientation. This has, however, proved dubious at best. Despite this, for the sake of the debate, let us assume the premise of sexual orientation being largely genetic is correct. If this serves as justification for homosexuality and bisexuality then it must serve as justification for incest as well. Incest can be caused by what is called “genetic sexual attraction.” Genetic sexual attraction occurs due to assortative mating in humans. Assortative mating is the name given to the trait exhibited by many humans in which we find ourselves attracted to people with similar traits as ourselves. As two genetically similar people will share physical traits, they will likely find each other attractive unless they were subject to the Westermarck Effect, which occurs in most relatives whom grow up together and which desensitizes their genetic sexual attraction for each other. Simply put, incest is genetic.

Psychologically speaking, homosexual tendencies hold many traits in common with pedophilia (not ephebophilia toward legal minors). The first of which is sexual attraction toward a partner whom, by evolutionary design, one cannot reproduce with. This differs from heterosexual sterile relationships due to the exact opposite traits being present in the psychology. Sterile heterosexuality is due to a hiccup in evolution while still maintaining the integrity of biological design purpose. The attraction is due to the human brain doing exactly what it was designed to do, attempting to reproduce with a mate of the opposing gender who has undergone sexual maturity. The only issue to be found here is that the sexual organs are in some way improperly working, an evolutionary hiccup, rather than design.

Are Homosexual Tendencies a Natural Response to Overpopulation?

It has been claimed by some that homosexuality is a natural evolutionary response to overpopulation. To put it simply, this is evolutionarily and genetically impossible. In order for any trait to continue within a species, it must firstly become beneficial and secondly be passed on into the gene pool. For this trait to even be encoded into the human genome, our ancestors must first have faced overpopulation, but, as far as we know, they did not. In fact, it is believed the initial human population was quite small. Now, if we are to assume humans or their evolutionary ancestors did face overpopulation, then next it would be required that the trait of homosexuality be passed on into the gene pool. Now, for this gene sequence to become a response to overpopulation, it would be required of it to cause a halt in reproduction. It is here where lies the central impossibility of this claim. The trait cannot both cause a halt in reproduction and still be passed on into the gene pool, that’s simply not how evolution or genetics work.

Should Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Incest, and Pedophilia be Acted On Consentualy?

Now if you’re not a Catholic, don’t worry, I’m not going to be using a religious base for my argument. My stance, that the before mentioned traits should not be acted on, shall be presented from evolution’s point of view.

Homosexual acts, incest, and pedophilic acts are all maladaptive evolutionary behaviors when occurring in homo sapiens. They negatively impact our biological purpose, to reproduce. It’s here that one finds that, in practical application for the continuation of a species, the usefulness of each of these acts is described as follows: Incest causes a slight increase in the chance of passing on genetic disorders, pedophilic acts lower the chance of reproduction to being almost nil (“almost” because some instances have shown natural reproduction is possible), homosexual acts cause the chance of reproduction to become nil.

The argument that homosexual acts should be allowed because of their nil possibility of the reproduction of progeny with genetic disorders is inherently an argument for eugenics, a human rights violation.

Some claim that if a trait is genetic, such as sexual attraction toward a relative, then acting upon this should be permitted because it is encoded in their DNA to do so. This argument holds equal validity toward acting on psychopathy, which has been proven to be genetic.

Why This is NOT a Modern Civil Rights Movement.

We’ve all heard them, people claiming the push for homosexual “marriage” is the modern Civil Rights Movement. There are many things in this statement that are simply wrong. To begin with, the Civil Rights Movement was a push to prevent something from happening, not a push for something to happen. The Civil Rights sought to end blatantly unconstitutional laws already put into place, not to put new laws into place. The Civil Rights Movement served to end persecution, real persecution. I have never once seen a sign that read “straights only” or “Gay section that way.” Now, this is not to say that these signs do not exist, but these signs are rare.  Homosexuals are not denied their legal rights. The fact of the matter is, the Civil Rights Movement fought for already existing legal rights as citizens to be protected. The push for homosexual “marriage” is a press for legal rights to be expanded. We all currently have equal rights under US law. We all have the right to marry the opposing gender.

Abortion and Euthanasia, Cracks in a Pillar of Civilization

Of the many things I specifically remember from my freshmen World History class, the most resonating statement my teacher had made during the year was that one of the greatest advancements made by the Ancient Greeks was their respect for human life and dignity. Obviously, this does not apply to all the Ancient Greeks, such as the Spartans, but the Spartans are not the Greeks whom we consider the founders of western civilization. She mentioned specifically that newborns were not euthanized for being week or sick. Think about that for a moment. The Greeks ended the closest thing they had to abortion, infant euthanasia, because they saw it as inhumane. There is no dignity found in ending a life, on the contrary, it is the greatest offense against it.

What Qualifies you as a Living Human Being?

Biologically speaking, one is an individual organism classified as Homo Sapiens, or human being, from conception. The fertilized egg meets all scientific standards for human life. It’s that simple. You are a human being from conception according to Biology.

When is someone called “dead” in medical terms? A person is considered dead when their heart stops beating, then declared dead when they cannot be revived; even the brain dead are considered to be medically alive. Now, medically speaking, when does a human become “alive?”  A human heart begins beating only eighteen days from conception, and after only twenty-one days the heart is already pumping blood through the circulatory system. Medically speaking, a human being is alive after only eighteen days.

Still, others say that for it to be considered human, it must be able to have thought. When does this begin? A human has a fully functioning brain after only six weeks from conception.

Why These Facts Are Ignored

Society is largely ignorant to these facts due to, once again, acceptance culture. It does not wish to have outside information presented unless if agrees with it’s irrational ideas. Our society values perverse self indulgence and blissful ignorance over intellectualism and reason.

Friends, Irrationality, and the Dangers of Repetative Sin

Just recently, I was conversing with my friend Jacob, a devout and well educated Catholic, on the many topics regarding Christianity when an interjection by another friend of mine turned the conversation quite awkward. This friend, whom shall remain unnamed, had just informed us that he no longer held belief in the Catholic Church, nor any church for that matter. He went on to say that he no longer believed that the Bible was the inspired word of God as well. When inquired why, it became apparent, at least to me, that his initial thought was that he simply did not know why he believed what he did. Yet, he responded, after a moment, with, forgive my paraphrasing: I feel like it’s a scam. Jacob then inquired further on his beliefs, asking what God he believed in. The answer was simply, “I believe in what I understand God to be.” Further questioning did not lead to an expansion on this answer, however we were led to believe that his understanding was based on some distortion of the God of Abraham.

To make matters more interesting, a week or two after this happened, I was visiting that same friend when I took notice that he wore a bracelet adorned with images of Catholic Saints. Let’s examine his statements and beliefs, shall we?

Is the Holy Bible a scam?

Q: Is the Catholic Bible, using the Catholic understanding of the books, a scam, historically speaking?

A: We know for a fact Jesus and the Apostles existed, any historian, Christian or not, will tell you they did.

The Apostles made their way through the world telling people a Jewish man was God. No sane person, or in this case twelve persons, would lie about a man being resurrected from the dead when it would lead only to their persecution and execution. If we are to be honest with ourselves, the chances that all of the men were delusional, that all of them shared an identical delusion, and all the while managed to gain more followers and run the Catholic Church successfully under the constant threat of death is essentially nil.

As for the Old Testament, archeologists and historians have more than confirmed the existence of the places and items mentioned within it. The rest is, admittedly, entirely up to faith. However, these books predate Catholicism and therefore could not be a scam created and perpetuated by the Church. Some of these books were written as historical accounts by the Hebrews, others had always been purely religious. However, the fact of the matter is that these books were written for the Hebrews by the Hebrews. They had no need to convince each other of what was already accepted by all of them as true. The Old Testament serves no purpose as a scam.

Q: Is the Catholic Bible a scam spiritually speaking?

A: If the Bible was created in its current form for the purpose of the Catholic Church to be deliberately placed as the one true faith, the books within it would have been modified to the point that there would be no questioning the Church’s authority which would lead to the need for Protestants and the Orthodox to disregard it in it’s entirety.

Believing in what one understands God to be without examination.

Q: What does “I believe in what I understand God to be” really mean?

A: in most cases, as with this one, it boils down to this: the person in question is projecting their own moral limitations onto God. To put it simply, their God will always agree with their actions unless they personally decide against it. For example: Joe hangs his cat for fun. His god is okay with this because, just like Joe, he doesn’t care for the animal. This is why holding a belief such as this, which can not be set in stone, holds dangers to one’s morality.

Q: Can this belief in God exist in rational thought?

A: This belief unavoidably leads to one’s irrationality in thought. If God is whomever you want Him to be, He fits into any illogical understanding of Him you can muster. This is apparent in that my friend still chooses to honor the Catholic Saints. The Saints… Let that sink in for a moment. He holds the belief that the Catholic Church, its faith, and its Bible are all illegitimate, yet its Saints are legitimate. The same Saints who would waste no time informing him that Catholicism is true.

I can think of only one reason for this contradiction to exist: comfort. Despite the blatant irrationality in honoring the Saints while rejecting nearly all they believed in and stood for, he still honors them because he finds comfort in it. Whether this comfort is through prayer or simple acknowledgement is unknown and irrelevant toward it’s lack of rationality.

Examination of Origin

Now that we have thoroughly examined and discredited these statements and beliefs, I’ll attempt to uncover their origin. I’m thoroughly convinced that this belief stems from, the cliche holding true, sinful behavior. Earlier this summer, my friend expressed his distaste for his own actions, lust, pride, and negligence of mass attendance. He clearly knew his actions were wrong, and wanted to improve. However, by the middle of the summer, it became apparent the willingness to improve had all but disappeared entirely. I’ll not go into details on this, out of respect for my friends privacy. Simply put, the sins of lust and pride have taken prominence in his mind. His new found irrational beliefs stem from the wanting of justification for his actions.