"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Friday, May 20, 2011

Uncomfortable quote for Protestants

St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon in 180 AD:
“It is incumbent to obey the priests who are in the Church—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate [bishops], have received the infallible charism of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth” (Against Heresies, 4:26:2)
If this quote makes you uncomfortable, you are not in the Church that Christ started. Repent and come to Jesus.


  1. "But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off."

  2. Charlie,
    I'm not sure what you are getting at with the scripture quotation, but I am interested to hear your explaination. Are you saying Protestants were broken off but then grafted back in? Or just Catholics were broken off? Or are you just admonishing me against pride (I can use it!)? Or worse (I hope this isnt it!) are you criticizing St. Irenaeus?

    St. Irenaeus is talking about sacramental apostolic succession as being how we know where the Church is, while St. Paul is talking about Gentiles not being prideful that they have been brought into the Church. So again, what are you saying?

    BTW, I am enjoying your conversation with Bryan on the "Doug Wilson says Catholics will go to Hell" thread.


    David Meyer

  3. David,

    Thanks for the opportunity to clarify here, and for hosting my conversation elsewhere on your blog.

    As I'm sure we'll agree, Paul is speaking to Gentiles, but corporately -- he's not talking to individual Christians who happen to be Gentile (or not); rather, he's speaking to Gentiles corporately, juxtaposed against Jews corporately. We know there were individual exceptions in both cases which Paul knew about -- some individual Jews were saved Christians, and some individual Gentiles were not grafted in -- but corporately, the Jews as God's covenant people were cut off, and Gentiles grafted in. Thus we know this isn't a conversation about individuals.

    So here's what I'm getting at. In light of this teaching about covenantal grafting and cutting, what is Paul's ultimate admonition and warning? It is for this church to be humble, *so that you not be cut off just like the Jews.* In this warning we must acknowledge the very real possibility of the thing warned against: a real cutting-off could occur.

    Of all the churches in all the world Paul could have written this letter to, he wrote it to Rome.

    "...God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off." Does Rome acknowledge this possibility, or does she rather declare it impossible? I hear it claimed by many RC apologists that Christ promised it would never occur; yet it seems Paul gave no such comfort, but rather the opposite.

  4. David,

    I was just reading Bryan's post about Optatus over at Called to Communion, in which he quotes Optatus:

    "You know what the Catholic Church is, and what that is cut off from the Vine; if there are any among you cautious, let them come; let them find life in the Root. Come, brethren, if you wish to be engrafted in the Vine: a grief it is when we see you lying thus cut off."

    I think it is interesting to compare this quote, or at least Rome's understanding of this quote, to the one I posted above of Paul from Romans 11, where Paul says to the church at Rome, "You are not the root." Consider these two options: One the one hand, maybe Optatus isn't really calling the church in Rome "the root;" on the other hand, if he is, he shouldn't have.

  5. My mistake -- the quote was from Augustine, not Optatus.

  6. So is Romans 9 all corporate as well? I always found that a bit tricky to explain as a Reformed guy.
    And like that passage, I think for your point here to work you really need it to be corporare in Romans 11. But I just dont see it. Like in corinthians where Paul warns against falling away and in lots of other spots, if anything it would seem more focused on the individual while of course having a covenantal context as well. (can't have one without the other).
    I'm no scholar, but when as Romans written, was Cephas even there yet? Obviously Paul has not been martyred there yet. So perhaps it has not been decided yet if that is the Petrine see? Just an off the cuff thought.

    Overall, good point, makes me think, ...but just not a slam dunk. Paul gives lots of warnings to individuals in his letters, no reason to see it different here, and certainly there is no reason to see it as SPECIFICALLY a corporate focus.

    Are you Reformed btw? If so, I bet you would say there are "warnings" given for apostacy that God knows could never apply to certain elect people that hear the warnings. But he warns them any way. Perhaps this is another option. (hows that for wiggling? ;-)

    your Augustine comment above I thought was special pleading (dont hold me to that I'm not trained in logic)

    But the two options you give are self serving and ignore what is actually said in the quote. He refers SPECIFICALLY to the Church at Rome as the "the rock against which the gates..." and in the context it is clearly lumped with "the root".

    Jesus and Peter are both/and not either/or.

  7. As far as the "he shouldn't have" possibility, enough other fathers say the same thing that I don't think one can honestly dismiss these comments like you propose. The evidence is just to much.

  8. I am pretty sure that Irenaeus circa 2011 would be a pretty comfortable heretic.

  9. What a usless comment anonymous. Zero content.