Church early ecclesiology essay in peter primacy

While there is an ample NT cumulative witness to theprimacy of the Apostle Peter among the original twelve, it was not as muchto the Apostles as to those who would succeed them that this promise wasmade.

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The Primacy of Peter: Essays in Ecclesiology and the Early Church edited by John Meyendorff

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29. The challenge posed by the 16th century Reformers required renewed attention to the , and the first systematic treatment of it was worked out as a result. The Reformers emphasised the primacy of the word of God in Sacred Scripture () and the priesthood of the faithful. In their view, the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit gives all of the baptised the ability to interpret, by themselves, God’s word; this conviction did not discourage them, however, from teaching in synods and producing catechisms for the instruction of the faithful. Their doctrines called into question, among other things, the role and status of Tradition, the authority of the pope and the bishops to teach, and the inerrancy of councils. In response to their claim that the promise of Christ’s presence and the guidance of the Holy Spirit was given to the whole Church, not only to the Twelve but also to every believer, Catholic theologians were led to explain more fully how the pastors serve the faith of the people. In the process, they gave increasing attention to the teaching authority of the hierarchy.

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The normal Catholic party line is that Peter was infallible by himself, whereas the rest of the apostles were infallible only together as a group. However, weren't all the apostles infallible as individuals when writing scripture? Nobody can seriously claim that all the apostles checked their scripture with Peter before promulgating it. And if the apostles were infallible as individuals, and we're going to assume that everything about the apostles is passed on, then we have to assume that all bishops are infallible.

church early ecclesiology essay in peter primacy

While we might consider the above as facetious, it does serve to pointout that if we are looking to find a primacy and who it was bequeathedto, there is no evidence that it neatly comes down through bishops ofRome. We could easily form a view that it started with Peter, then wasbequeathed to James when the twelve were broken up, then came to Paulas he became apostle to the gentiles, and then fell to John as lastsurviving apostle. After that we might say the bishop of Rome took theposition because it was the Imperial city, as Chalcedon says. But allof this would be conjecture, because the early church was notdiscussing primacy. When the apostles brought it up in Luke 22:24-26,Jesus rebuked them for arguing about who is the greatest.

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In 381, Emperor Theodosius I summoned a council without the knowledgeof the Pope. This became known as the First Council of Constantinople,or Second Ecumenical Council. The first president of this council wasSt Meletius, Bishop of Antioch, who was not in communion withRome. The third canon of this council gave the Bishop ofConstantinople precedence of honour over all bishops except that ofRome "because Constantinople is the new Rome". Of this canon, LeoDonald Davis in his book "The First Seven Ecumenical Councils" saysthat "Though the canon was not directed against Rome, no notice wastaken of the claim of its bishop to a primacy among bishops based onhis succession from Peter". (p 128).

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How certain can we be that Peter retained any kind of primacy? How dowe know the primacy didn't pass to another apostle? Some have somewhatfacetiously listed reasons why either James or Paul had the primacy, at least later on.