Monday, August 18, 2003

My pal, James, is posting, piece by piece a rebuttal to the essay of some anonymous person against the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

I have a few thoughts of my own on the matter...

A couple of annoying things in the essay are repeated mention that things like pilgrimages, having vestiments and physical articles of worship, etc. didn't exist until fairly late.

I guess what annoys me about the essay is that it takes for granted that since something wasn't explicitly taught about in the early Chuch Fathers, it didn't exist. That's totally ridiculous. In fact, we can prove how ridiculous that is simply by reading the early Church Fathers for ourselves. Why? Because even though these things were not explicitly preached, they were mentioned from time to time in passing. And the manner in which they were mentioned shows that they were normal, everyday practices of the Church that were so common that it would have been absurd for any of the Early Church Fathers to write explicitly about them. They didn't need explanation because everyone knew. As a general rule, things were not explained explicitly in treaties in the Early Church until heritics arose that disputed them.

So, here are some examples:
* in Eusebius, he refers to some sort of staff or mitre, and some sort of liturgical vestments worn by the Holy Apostle John at Patmos. He mentions that John was widely recognized as a "High Priest" in the Church, pointing to his liturgical vestments as evidence of that. (I forget the date, but well before Constantine came to power.)

* another reference in Eusebius mentions that at one time in the early persecutions, one of the Emperors was ordered for a time to stop the persecutions, and all the Churches property and land that had been confiscated was returned to the Christians. (I don't remember which persecution, but it was fairly early, like between 150 and 200). This implies, indisputably, that the Church owned "things" (and these things are mentioned separately from land.) Obviously they used "things" in their worship.

* in St. Cyprian of Carthage (c. 250), numerous times the practice of receiving communion is described. It is received on a spoon and out of a chalice. And, it is given to the infants.

Pilgrimages: The apostle Paul went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the book of Acts. Remember that? It was the time that he was saying good bye to everyone, thinking he would be arrested and go to his death... but it didn't happen yet.

Later, there is the very famous early Pilgrimage of Etheria to The Holy Land. I couldn't remember the dates of the Etheria pilgrimage, but I've found it: c. 400.

Anyway, the historical information is all out there if someone with an open mind wishes to read it. Numerous scholars have compiled various treaties on different topics that we find in the Early Church Fathers and those writings are available to be read. Or a person can read the Early Church Fathers for himself.