Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tracing “the nonexistent early papacy” using evidence that we have

Andrew Preslar said:

You raise a new claim here, [that with respect to the early papacy and indeed with respect to the founding of the church], Catholics are the ones arguing from silence. I have no idea what this means, especially since the non-silence, in fact the explicit claims, of Ignatius and Irenaeus regarding bishops in the early church, and bishops of Rome in particular, factor so largely in Catholic (as well as Orthodox and some Anglican) arguments about early Roman Christianity.

I responded:

I’ve been following your discussion here out of the corner of my eye, and I can’t believe that you have no idea what this means.

Start from the beginning: 33 AD, and ask yourself “what did they know, and when did they know it? Where is genuine evidence for a “papacy” or anything like a “successor of Peter” that is any source that we have, that’s not the Newman “assumption” (discussed here:

Aside from the New Testament (where there’s specifically silence about a “successor of Peter”), you’ve got Ignatius saying something to the effect that “the church at Rome “presides in the district of the Romans”. It’s a big church. We know that Ignatius doesn’t mention a bishop there, and that the main thrust of his letter is that he’s afraid someone there will somehow save his life. We know that he’s given to exaggeration in his rhetoric. We know that he views himself (supposedly a bishop) as nowhere near having the status of the Apostles. There is specific silence about “successor of Peter” and “apostolic succession”.

First Clement is a peer-to-peer letter, that follows the formatting of a symbouletic correspondence in the first century – a letter of persuasion – to infer any hint of “giving orders” from that – especially a papacy – is specifically an “argument from silence”. Of course, the Apostles wanted godly men to lead the churches they planted, but there is specific silence about a “successor of Peter” as well as “apostolic succession”.

Shepherd of Hermas (135-150 AD): in this document, Clement is the secretary, and the “presbyters” fight among one another as to who is greatest. There is specific silence about “successor of Peter” and “apostolic succession”.

We are 150 years down the pike (before getting to Irenaeus in 180), and there has been a “Kingdom of Heaven” in place for 150 years without a whiff of anything like “succession” or “a successor of Peter”.

Irenaeus brings this up, but he is specifically talking about a succession of doctrine, and men who were faithful to hand on that doctrine. There is a “list” of these men, but Irenaeus has passed along such legends as Simon Magus as being the source of all heresies, that Jesus lived to old age, that Paul was a founder of the Roman church — he is demonstrably not a great reporter of the facts. We know as well that men like Irenaeus and Eusebius looked around at the world around them, and they had no comprehension that it was different 150 years ago, or 300 years ago.

If you don’t make Newman’s assumption, and if you look at genuine evidence, along the vector of “what they knew, and when they knew it”, and how we can demonstrate that”, there is clearly silence for a very long time, that Roman Catholics can’t fill.

Roman Catholicism’s story about its own authority is genuinely an argument from silence.

No comments:

Post a Comment