A Second Exchange on the Papacy and Early Church History
A Second Exchange on the Papacy
and Early Church History

By: Matt1618

This is the second response that I had on a Message Board with a person who went by the name of Shammah, and his comments are in Green. My response is in Blue. The first exchange can be found here

Shammah, Before I respond, (and this will be my last response on this issue because it has ended up being time consuming) I would like to say, I have noticed that you are right on one thing, Sola Fide is false, and the once saved always saved idea is bunk. That is something we agree on. The only thing that you should do now, is acknowledge the other pillar of the so-called Reformation, Sola Scriptura, is also false, leave your 20th century sect, and come to the Church that Christ found.

Like I said before, if anyone wants to see an extensive debate on the Papacy and early Church History, pleaseclick here.
The earlier twisting of history that you attempted I exposed. But you try, try, again. The texts that I gave earlier, and the dancing that you did to avoid the clear meaning of the texts are examples of people who want to avoid the clear meaning of what the Fathers said, in order to hold on to their man-made tradition, Be it 16th Century ďReformationĒ or 20th Century sects from Tennessee that will come and go. I ask those who read what you wrote to read what I wrote, go to the original sources themselves (the web has the Schaff collection), and one will see the spin that you put on the texts reminds me of the Protestants who say James 2:24 has no contradiction to their Sola Fide theology, when James says one is not justified by Faith alone.

If you do, then why donít you hold to the faith that they expressed?

I do. The same Spirit inspires the same things, not different things. Thus, that the bread and wine of Christ's supper should indeed be the medicine of immortality to the righteous, as Ignatius called it, is no surprise. Paul said that the true fellowship (communion) or thanksgiving (Eucharist) meal can kill the unworthy. Thus it is no surprise it can give life to the worthy. However, when was the last time someone died or was sick from taking the Eucharist unworthily in the RCC? Considering the purely nominal state of most Catholics, one would expect the hospitals to be very busy right after Easter.

For those nominal Catholics, partaking of Christís Body and Blood outside a state of grace is indeed death to their soul, even now. What did these early Church Fathers believe that you claim to hold in common? They believed Eucharist was the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ, and was valid only if done with the approval of the Bishop. That the Eucharist was a sacrifice. Apostolic Succession that was binding on all believers. Infant Baptism. Baptismal Regeneration. Purgatory. In the 1st -3rd century tombs we have numerous prayer enscripted both to saints Peter and Paul, and for those who have died in his grace, showing a belief in both purgatory and prayers to saints. We see no belief in Sola Scriptura, but a binding tradition. If anyone doubts that tradition was binding, see this debate here on the Church Fathers and authority.
Your evasions donít make the quotes from such people as Irenaeus and papal authority go away.

Ignatius in his letter wrote to the church in Rome that "Presides in Love."

This is one of those dishonest parts. The quote, from Lightfoot's translation is, "to the church...which also presides in the place of the district of the Romans...worthy of sanctification, and presiding over love, observing the law of Christ." The ANF series reads almost word for word the same, also using the words "presiding over love." Even if it were "presiding in love," it would only be in the place of the district of the Romans.

He gives the location of the See, not the extent of its dominion. His focus there is on the place. However, nowhere does he write that his dominion is only in that location. After all, I have already shown you Pope Clement earlier settling an issue way outside of that location.

Irenaeus did say that about the church at Rome. In fact, Irenaeus (c. 185) said that every church ought to check with Rome to make sure they were headed in the right direction, because this ancient and venerable church held tightly to the traditions of the apostles. That hardly justifies a system of corrupt popes ruling where they never ruled before, usurping the authority of Christ, evolving their own doctrines and defending a corrupt institution that killed rather than supported the lambs of Christ.

Yes, and all the traditions of the apostles that Ireneaus refers to are specifically Catholic, and Roman Catholic at that. Remember, Christ gave to Peter the keys of the kingdom (Mt. 16:19), and to no other apostle. The Bible clearly shows Peterís unique authority (for example, Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5). Those in Rome succeeded Peter and can trace it as Irenaeius did, as he did for no other Church. Your strawmen caricatures of history and corruption prove nothing. The fact that people are imperfect within Christís church only reflects how the Church represents the kingdom of God (Mt. 13:47-50).

Anyone has the authority to pass down truth. However, the bishops and elders were the ones charged with that responsibility so that the faith would continue unchanged from generation to generation. If any set of bishops failed at that, it's the Roman ones.

I never saw the quote from either Irenaeus or Ignatius ďAnyone has the authority to pass down truth.Ē I would love to see that citation. Actually, they write that only those who are successors of the Apostles have that authority, and those are the Bishops. It is not for anybody out of that succession to pass on truth, otherwise it is a man-made tradition, be it the so-called ďReformersĒ of the 16th century or a 20th century sect in Tennessee. It has passed down successfully basically because of Christís promise to Peter (Mt. 16:18-19) and that he would be with his church until the end of the world (Mt. 28:20). While all the Eastern sees were falling into errors of Arianism, Monophsytes, Nestorianism, etc., the Roman church stayed faithful throughout (although Liberius, a faithful defender of Athanasius did temporarily lapse only at the point of gun, which of course he can not be held accountable for). Any Christian of any stripe will admit that doctrine does develop, as the history of the understanding of Christology demonstrates. The Church has kept Christís promise. Apparently you believe that Christ let the gates of hell prevail.

As far as Ignatius' comments about only having the Eucharist with the bishop present, they prove exactly the opposite of what you claim they prove. It was not necessary in Ignatius' time for the bishop to be present at the Eucharist. However, in light of the fact that gnostic false teachers were still in the church teaching, baptizing and eating the thanksgiving meal, drawing away disciples after themselves, Ignatius charged church members to hold fast to the bishop and only to eat Christ's supper where the bishop or one of his authorized representatives was present.

Actually, there is nothing what you said that I disagree with. When I said through the Bishop, I meant with his authority, as Ignatius himself writes. Only those in communion with the Bishops in line with Apostolic succession can celebrate a valid Eucharist.

True enough. I don't agree that has anything to do with transsubstantiation, but they did say speak of eating the flesh and blood of Christ and did call it a sacrifice, even as they called praise a sacrifice.

One of the foundational characteristics of transubstantiation is in fact the real presence of Christ, and to deny that link is dishonest. They termed the Eucharist as a sacrifice, in the way the Roman Catholic church sees it as a fulfillment of Malachi 1:11, as Protestant historian Darwell Stone affirms. Not merely as a sacrifice of praise.

As Ignatius wrote, outside the authority of the Bishops, there was no Catholic Church.

That doesn't sound totally outside something Ignatius would write. Can you tell me where he wrote that?

He didnít use those words exactly but you put the inferences together, and it is a fair conclusion.

Letter to the Traillans

2. Surely, when you submit to the bishop as representing Jesus Christ, it is clear to me that you are not living the life of men, but that of Jesus Christ, who died for us, that through faith in His death you might escape dying. It is needful, then--and such is your practice--that you do nothing without your bishop;

3. Likewise, let all respect the deacons as representing Jesus Christ, the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as God's high council and as the Apostolic college. Apart from these, no church deserves the name.

Letter to the Smyrneans

7. From Eucharist and prayer they hold aloof, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father in His loving-kindness raised from the dead. And so, those who question the gift of God perish in their contentiousness. It would be better for them to have love, so as to share in the resurrection. It is proper, therefore, to avoid associating with such people and not to speak about them either in private or in public, but to study the Prophets attentively and, especially, the Gospel, in which the Passion is revealed to us and the Resurrection shown in its fulfillment. Shun division as the beginning of evil.

8. You must all follow the lead of the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed that of the Father; follow the presbytery as you would the Apostles; reverence the deacons as you would God's commandment. Let no one do anything touching the Church, apart from the bishop. Let that celebration of the Eucharist be considered valid which is held under the bishop or anyone to whom he has committed it. Where the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church..

Jesus Christ could not be separated from that Church.

I agree completely! However, a church that has been spewed out of his mouth or has had their candlestick removed is not "that church." (see Rev 3 for Yahshua threatening both those things)

Jesus does not spew out the very Church that he promised to guard the gates of hell from. See Matt. 16:18 for that promise. See Matt. 28:20 for the promise that will not happen.

After reading your ranting about the Trinity, I have no idea what you believe. Confusing. You said you agreed with the Nicene Creed, but not the Athanasius Creed. Do you believe that there is One God in Three personís or not? Or did the gates of hell prevail as well on the issue of the very essence of who God is? That would make the Jesus you claim to follow a liar.

If Rome had no universal authority, why was this letter written, and warned that anybody who disobeyed what was written in this letter by the Pope, was committing a grave sin?

Excuse me, but no pope existed at that time, so there could have been no such warning. Can you produce a quote or reference for this statement of yours?

Yes, the actual quote is at the end of the following quotation but for background here goes the context of it as well. I take nothing out of context, unlike you, whose twisting of Gregory was an unbelievable distortion. 1st century Pope Clement writes:


Ye therefore, who laid the foundation of this sedition, submit yourselves to the presbyters, and receive correction so as to repent, bending the knees of your hearts. Learn to be subject, laying aside the proud and arrogant self-confidence of your tongue. For it is better for you that ye should occupy(13) a humble but honourable place in the flock of Christ, than that, being highly exalted, ye should be cast out from the hope of His people.(14) For thus speaketh all-virtuous Wisdom: "Behold, I will bring forth to you the words of my Spirit, and I will teach you my speech. Since I called, and ye did not hear; I held forth my words, and ye regarded not, but set at naught my counsels, and yielded not at my reproofs; therefore I too will laugh at your destruction; yea, I will rejoice when rum cometh upon you, and when sudden confusion overtakes you, when overturning presents itself like a tempest, or when tribulation and oppression(15) fall upon you. For it shall come to pass, that when ye call upon me, I will not hear you; the wicked shall seek me, and they shall not find me. For they hated wisdom, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; nor would they listen to my counsels, but despised my reproofs. Wherefore they shall eat the fruits of their own way, and they shall be filled(16) with their own ungodliness.(17) . . . For, in punishment for the wrongs which they practised upon babes, shall they be slain, and inquiry will be death to the ungodly; but he that heareth me shah rest in hope and be undisturbed by the fear of any evil."


Let us, therefore, flee from the warning threats pronounced by Wisdom on the disobedient, and yield submission to His all-holy and glorious name, that we may stay our trust upon the most hallowed name of His majesty. Receive our counsel, and ye shall be without repentance. For, as God liveth, and as the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost live,--both the faith and hope of the elect, he who in lowliness of mind, with instant gentleness, and without repentance hath observed the ordinances and appointments given by God--the same shall obtain a place and name in the number of those who are being saved through Jesus Christ, through whom is glory to Him for ever and ever. Amen.


If, however, any shall disobey the words spoken by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and serious danger;

How in the world this is not authoritative I havenít the slightest idea. He tells the founders of this sedition to submit. What gall this Church has, to say, that Godís word is spoken through Rome!!! If they donít submit, they involve themselves in sin. But hey, Rome has no authority, and only presides in Rome? As they say, give me a break!!!

Why was this letter from Corinth referred to Rome at all, if there was no such authority?

What letter from Corinth? This letter was from Rome to Corinth, of their own free will, because they had heard of Corinth's problems and wanted to exhort them.

You are right on one thing, It was written from Rome to Corinth, but it is not a mere cheering them on. It is a binding decree. Obviously it had been referred to Rome, and this was Romeís response.

Why was a living apostle, John, ignored, who actually lived closer to the Church in Corinth?

He wasn't ignored. What are you talking about? Rome didn't need permission from John to write a letter to Corinth. Did John also write a letter to Corinth, if and when he heard about their problems? Who knows? If he didn't, there are numerous reasons why he might not have. He might have been in exile on Patmos. It might have been so early a time period that he might not even have been in Ephesus yet. Or maybe Clement's letter was later than we thought and John had already died. Maybe John was busy with some other situation and didn't have time to take care of every church's problem in the Roman empire. Maybe the Spirit of God spoke to him not to write a letter, because Clement's would be enough. Who knows? Maybe he did write a letter and we don't have it. I can tell you what wasn't so. What wasn't so was what you said happened, which is utterly impossible and would require rewriting history.

Translation - Lots of meandering and hopeful suppositions to avoid the clear authority that Pope Clement showed here in which he commanded obedience over somebody else while the Apostle John was still alive. No credible scholar has ever ventured that John was already dead, and there is credible supposition from some (like William Juergens) that it was written earlier (while still more Apostles were alive).

Correction - So you admit that only those in communion with the Bishops are those fully in union with Christ. Do you have Bishops in your 20th century sect that can be traced to these successors, as our Church can?

Besides that, the apostolic succession of the early fathers was a succession they used to prove that they had received the truth handed down from the apostles, not a succession of authority, which you will never find defended in the fathers, except insofar that authority lies with the truth.

Pope Clement, as I earlier showed, wrote. If, however, any shall disobey the words spoken by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and serious danger; God speaks through Pope Clement and if you donít listen to him you are in serious sin and grave danger. If that does not sound like the same authority as the apostles had, I donít know what is. He earlier acknowledged the Apostles unique position as the original messengers of Christ, but showed here a wielding of authority similar to the apostles.

I earlier gave a quote from Ignatius in which he wrote: 3. Likewise, let all respect the deacons as representing Jesus Christ, the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as God's high council and as the Apostolic college. Apart from these, no church deserves the name.

Ignatius also wrote (Letter to the Magnesians 6:1), ďTake care to do all things in harmony with God, with the Bishop presiding in the place of God and with the presbyters in the place of the ApostlesĒ, etc. Sounds like authority to me.

He even calls the assembly of Bishops and presbyters as Godís high Council and as the Apostolic college. I think that Godís High Council and Apostolic college has the authority of the apostles, donít you? Ignatius surely thinks so. Whenever later Church Fathers would refer to the successors of Peter, and successors to the bishops they would refer to them as well as having this binding authority over believers.

Paul said, "I don't want to hear the words of those who are puffed up. I want to see their power." For all those that would like to examine our fruit and power as possessors of the Gospel of Christ which sets men free, I invite you to our web site at www.bethelsprings.com or to come visit us in Bethel Springs, Tn, halfway between Memphis and Nashville.

Wow, a 20th century sect that apparently springs up from itself is the place to get the Gospel of Christ and set men free? Sounds kind of puffed up to me. Iíll keep in line with the promises of Christ and stay with the Church, imperfect it may be, that gives the graces that Christ promised to give (the Eucharist John 6:51-67, 1 Cor. 11, Confession (John 20:22-23, Mt. 18:18), etc.).

Correction - Cyprian specifically referred to the Chair only of Peter.

To all visitors Grace of Christ to you!

Page created by: Matt1618.
Send email with questions or comments on this writing to Matt1618 matt16182@yahoo.com


Return to Matt's Papacy Page


Return to Matt's Catholic Apologetics Page

©1998 A Second Exchange on the Papacy and Early Church History....by Matt1618... This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

Changes last made, June 27, 1998