Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Victor Potapov's Bogus Arguments Against the Papacy

Fr. Victor Potapov, in his arguments against the papacy, argues with an hermeneutic that is totally contrary to that of the Fathers prior to the Schism, and also displays an illogical either/or mindset.

Potapov 1: "The Roman bishop was always considered one of the members of the council, and he submitted to its decisions."
Response 1:

Potapov 2: "The teaching on the supremacy of the pope arose in the ninth century and is the main dogma of the Roman confession and its main difference with Orthodoxy."
Response 2:

Potapov 3:
The Orthodox Church teaches that the twelve apostles were completely equal among themselves according to their dignity, authority and grace. In a certain sense, it is possible to call the Apostle Peter the first, but the first among equals. This teaching is confirmed by the whole history of the apostles, as it is set forth in the books of the New Testament, where the full equality of the apostles among themselves is demonstrated indisputably (for example, Matthew 4:18-19; 10:1, 40; 19:28; 20:24-27; 23:8-11; Mark 10:35-37, 16:15; Luke 22:22-30 and many others); many passages demonstrate that the apostles received not only the grace of apostleship, but also the right to act by this grace in the Church, directly from Christ the Saviour, and not from the Apostle Peter (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 9:1-6, John 20:21-23, and many others), and that all the apostles without exception are liable to a higher court - the Church (for example, Matthew 18:17).
Response 3:

Potapov 4: "The fact that Peter, according to the testimony of Sacred Scripture, is sent by the apostles (Acts 8:14), gives an account of his actions to the apostles and the faithful (Acts 11:4-18) and listens to their objections and even denunciations (Gal. 2:11-14), which of course, could not be if Peter were the prince of the apostles and head of the Church, also speaks against the Catholic teaching."
Response 4:

Potapov 5:
Orthodox theology strictly differentiates between the grace-filled service of the apostles and that of bishops. Bishop Alexander (Semenov-Tian-Shansky) writes of this: "The significance of the apostles was exceptional and in many ways exceeded the significance of bishops. Bishops head local churches, while the apostles were wandering preachers of the Gospel. An apostle, having founded a new local Church in some locale, would ordain a bishop for it and would himself go to another place to preach. In consequence of this, the Orthodox Church does not honor the Apostle Peter as the first bishop of Rome."
Response 5:

Potapov 6:
Nonetheless, the Holy Church always allowed that among the bishops one is recognized as first in honor, but concerning his infallibility there is no discussion. "In the first ages, the primacy of honor belonged to the Roman bishop, while after his falling away into schism, it passed to the Patriarch of Constantinople" (Orthodox Catechism, Paris, 181, page 160).
Response 6:

Potapov 7:
The teaching on the infallibility of the pope, which was completely unknown to the ancient, undivided Church, appeared in the Middle Ages, just like the teaching on the supremacy of the pope; but for a long time it met opposition on the part of the more enlightened, honest and independent members of the Catholic Church. Only in the year 1870, at the First Vatican Council, did Pope Pius IX succeed in turning this teaching into a dogma, in spite of the protest of many Catholics, who even preferred to leave this church and found their own community (of the Old Catholics) than to accept so absurd a dogma.
Response 7: On the contrary, many of the ecumenical conciliar and Patristic bases for the eventual explicit, specific dogmatic definition of papal infallibility can be found in "Seeds of Papal Infallibility Dogma Pre-Vatican I." The Banana Republican. 9 Sept. 2008 <>. The Old Catholics made a sinful move by splitting off that is just as self-defeating/inconsistent/contradictory as sedevacantism, so their decision cannot be given any weight.

Potapov 8: "The nebulous expression ex cathedra is not understood in the same way by all Catholic theologians; but, no matter how one understands it, the Catholic dogma contradicts the whole spirit of Christ's teaching, which rejects the possibility of infallibility for an individual man, no matter what position he might occupy. "
Response 8:

Potapov 9: "For example, Pope Sixtus V, in concert with the bishops, issued a Latin translation of the Bible corrected by him and, under threat of anathema, required it to be accepted as the most authentic. There proved to be major mistakes in this translation, and subsequent popes withdrew it from church use. Which of the popes was infallible, Sixtus or his successor?"
Response 9:

Potapov 10: "Pope Leo III not only refused to insert the filioque, the addition 'and the Son,' into the Symbol of Faith, but even commanded that the intact Symbol be engraved on tablets and set up in church. Within two hundred years, Pope Benedict VIII inserted this addition into the Symbol of Faith. Which of them was infallible?"
Response 10: Pope St. Leo III made a pastoral, not dogmatic, decision to keep the tablets with the original Creed. This is not an immutable, irrevocable move because it was pastoral, and Pope Benedict thus had every right to insert the doctrine, long defended by Fathers and local councils and tacitly accepted in ecumenical councils, in 1014. It doesn't help your case that Pope St. Leo III believed Filioque is true and orthodox.

Potapov 11: "Out of the numerous instances of the dogmatic errors of the Roman bishops, it is sufficient to mention Pope Honorius (625-638), who fell into the Monothelite heresy (the false teaching, according to which Christ has only one will - the Divine) and was excommunicated from the Church by the Sixth Ecumenical Council. At this council, the delegates of the Roman bishop, Agathon, also were present and signed its decisions."
Response 11: See "Enough About Honorius." The Banana Republican. 3 Sept. 2008 <>. In the latter post, the myth that Honorius, who was in fact condemned as a heretic in the softer sense of negligence resulting in the spread of heterodoxy, was condemned as heterodox or specifically as a Monothelite is destroyed once and for all.

Potapov 12:
As for the Saviour’s words to Peter: "Feed my lambs; feed my sheep", the word 'feed' does not at all signify the supreme authority of pastorship, as Catholic theologians assert, but simply the authority and responsibilities of pastorship proper to all the apostles and their successors. And there is no necessity to understand the words 'sheep' and 'lambs' in the sense of flock and pastors, understanding by the latter the very apostles themselves, as the Catholics would like, but more simply, following the Holy Fathers of the Church, to see in the sheep and the lambs two groups of the faithful - the less perfect and the more perfect, the infants in the faith and the adults.
Response 12:

Potapov 13:
The Saviour’s words, recorded in the Gospel according to John, were uttered shortly after the resurrection, that is, when the Apostle Peter was still found under the heavy oppression of his faintheartedness and renunciation of Christ. It was essential not only for him, but for the other disciples as well, to restore him to his previous apostolic dignity. This restoration was accomplished in this conversation. The words, 'lovest thou me more than these?', serve as a reminder of Peter’s self-confident words, 'Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended' (Matthew 26:33-35), and, 'Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death' (Luke 22:33). The threefold question, 'lovest thou me?', corresponds to the threefold renunciation by Peter, whom at this point the Lord no longer calls 'Peter', but 'Simon', his former name. The fact that Peter was grieved, was saddened after the Lord’s third question would be completely inexplicable if we are to allow that the discussion here is about granting the supremacy and vicariate to Peter. And, to the contrary, this sadness is fully understandable if the Apostle Peter had seen in the Lord's words a reminder of his renunciation. And it is hard to reconcile the Saviour's further words with the supremacy of the Apostle Peter. While following after the Teacher, the Apostle Peter, having seen John, asked: 'And what about this man?', and in reply he heard: 'If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me' (John 21:22). It is hard to suppose that the Saviour would speak thus to him whom He had assigned as His vicar and as the prince of the Apostles.
Response 13:

Potapov 14:
As for the mention of the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and the right to bind and loose, here, in the person of the Apostle Peter, the Lord is giving a promise to all the apostles - especially since He repeats the very same promise and in the same expressions with regard to all the disciples in the same Gospel according to Matthew, slightly later (8:18); and after His resurrection, Christ fulfilled this promise, having said to all the disciples: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained" (John 20:22-23)."
Response 14:

Potapov 15:
In the Lord’s words, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church", Catholics regard the words "Peter" and "rock" as identical and draw the conclusion that allegedly the Saviour wanted to found the Church on Peter himself, as on an individual, and on him alone. But here is a confusion of terms - the proper name is confused with the appellative. The proper name of this apostle in Hebrew is Simon. The Saviour, seeing the firmness of his faith, gives him a new name, or, more precisely, a nickname (as He also did with regard to James and John, calling them "Boanerges", that is, "sons of thunder" [Mark 3:17]) - Cephas in Hebrew, Petros in Greek. Here is a kind of play on words, which Catholic scholasticism also utilizes.
Response 15:

Potapov 16:
In the Saviour’s words quoted above [Mt 16:18-19], nothing is said about the supremacy of the Apostle Peter or in general about his relationship to the other apostles. Here, Christ is speaking about the founding of the Church. But the Church is founded not on Peter alone. In the Epistle to the Ephesians (2:20), the Apostle Paul, addressing the Christians, says: "[Ye] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone"; while in the First Epistle to the Corinthians (3:10-11), the Apostle Paul, speaking about the creation of Christ’s Church, expresses it thus: "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no may lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." In the Apocalypse, where the Church is compared to a city, it says: "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb' (Revelation 21:14)."
Response 16:


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