History of the primacy of the Roman bishop: Early Christian Doctrines

How did Rome's bishop become number 1 in the early church. Here is JND Kelly's account in Early Church Doctrines. Previous posts on this book are here Mary, Trinity (a and b), and predestination.
The real framers and promotors of the tehory of the Roman primacy were the popes themselves. Men like Damasus (366-84), Siricius (384-99), Innocent (402-17) and their successors not only strove to advance it on the practical plane, but sketched out the theology on which it was based, viz. the doctrine that the unique position and authority assigned by Christ to St. Peter belonged equally tot he popes who followed him as bishop of Rome. Leo the Great (440-61) was responsible for gathering together and giving final shape to the various elements composing this thesis. His conception of the primacy is admirably set out in the letter which he sent to Anastasius, bishop of Thessalonica, in 446. 'Bishops indeed', he declared, 'have a common dignity, but they have not uniform rank, inasmuch as even among the blessed apostles, notwithstanding the similarity of their honourable estate, there was a certain distinction of power. While the election of all of them was equal, yet it was given to one [i.e. St. Peter] to take the lead of the rest. From this model has arisen a distinction of bishops also, and by an important ordinance it has been provided that everyone should not arrogate everything to himself, but that there should be in each province one whose opinion should have precedence among the brethren; and again that certain whose appointment is in the greater cities should should undertake a fuller responsibility, and that through them the care of the universal Church should converge towards Peter's one chair, and nothing anywhere should be separate from it head.' (419-20)


The minority report believed in authority based on merit instead of location/politics/or inheritance.
Other posts on theology, church, and book reports

Comments

Popular Posts