A Dialogue with A Protestant Apologist on

St. Cyprian of Carthage and His View of Scripture and Tradition.


The following is a dialogue that took place on an e-mail list some years ago.  What is contained here, is the response of a Protestant Apologist to some things I had posted about Tradition and Scripture, my first response, his counter response, and my final response.  The words of this Protestant apologists are presented in Blue Tahoma Type; my replies are in regular black type.


A while back I asked Deacon John [I was a Deacon at the time of this discussion] about the contradictions in some of the early Fathers.  I was looking through some materials a few days ago and ran across one of those contradictions, and since it was placed in the context of apostolic tradition, Scriptural authority, etc., I thought I would mention it here.  Besides, my main system is busy printing out the mid-term for my Church History class, and since I put five large graphics on the two pages (Ignatius, Cyprian, Augustine, Jerome, and the Council of Nicea!), I've got about half an hour or more to burn.  ;)


In Cyprian's letter to Pompey, written in or around A.D. 256, Cyprian castigates the bishop of Rome, Stephen, with whom he was in direct disagreement on a number of issues.  While Cyprian had supported Cornelius, bishop of Rome, a few years earlier, during the Novationist controversy, he now found himself up against an imperious prelate, one who meddled in the affairs of others, without their welcome.


And in fact, it was more his interference than anything else that prompted St.Cyprian's responses.  In this, St. Cyprian was completely justified and Pope Stephen in the wrong.


His epistle to Pompey provides us with a scathing denunciation of Stephen's ideas of what amounted to "tradition."


But not an Apostolic Tradition, which St. Cyprian makes clear at great length.


St. Firmilian makes this clear:


"But we join custom to truth, and to the Romans' custom we oppose custom, but the custom of Truth; holding from the beginning that which was delivered by Christ and the apostles.  Nor do we remember that this at any time began among us, since it has always been observed here, that we knew none but one Church of God, and accounted no baptism holy except that of the Holy Church" [St. Firmilian’s epistle to St. Cyprian, chapter 19, 395 ANF vol. 5].


Note, I do not have the Greek text for this, but would be willing to bet that the word here translated "delivered" is in all likelihood the verbal form of "paradosis", i.e. Tradition.


A few citations should suffice to give the readers a sense of the import of his letter:


...yet, since you have desired that what Stephen our brother replied to my letters should be brought to your knowledge, I have sent you a copy of his reply; on the reading of which, you will more and more observe his error in endeavouring to maintain the cause of heretics against Christians, and against the Church of God.(6) For among other matters, which were either haughtily assumed, or were not pertaining to the matter, or contradictory to his own view, which he unskilfully and without foresight wrote, he moreover added this saying: "If any one, therefore, come to you from any heresy whatever, let nothing be innovated (or done) which has not been handed down, to wit, that hands be imposed on him for repentance;(7) since the heretics themselves, in their own proper character, do not baptize such as come to them from one another, but only admit them to communion."


As St. Cyprian points out -- this is what is most outrageous about Pope Stephen's defense of his position -- he appeals to the practice of the heretics as support for his practice.  St. Cyprian justly shows the fallacy of this.


...And he charged that nothing should be innovated except what had been handed down; as if he were an innovator, who, holding the unity, claims for the one Church one baptism; and not manifestly he who, forgetful of unity, adopts the lies and the contagions of a profane washing. Let nothing be innovated, says he, nothing maintained, except what has been handed down. Whence is that tradition? Whether does it descend from the authority of the Lord and of the Gospel, or does it come from the commands and the epistles of the apostles?


On the point of whether this teaching of Pope Stephen was Apostolic, St. Firmilian makes a telling point:


"...no one is so foolish as to believe that the apostles delivered this, when it is even well known that these heresies themselves, execrable and detestable as they are, arose subsequently..." [Epistle of

St. Firmilian to St. Cyprian, ANF Vol 5, p. 391].


In other words, the question of whether to receive certain schismatics and heretics was not an issue during the Apostolic period, and thus there was no specific and direct Apostolic tradition on the question of how they should be received.


Pope Stephen was not totally in left field, but his explanation was. As the Church sorted through this question, "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us" (Acts 15:28) to allow for a pastoral application of economy (explained below) in receiving certain heretics and schismatics back into the Church.


However, the Scriptures and Tradition are clear on the question of there being only One True Baptism, and thus Pope Stephen was without a doubt in error when he said that heretics have true sacramental Baptism, and his basis for supporting his position (namely the practice of heretics, rather than the practice of the Church) was a flawed foundation.


Furthermore, it should be noted that the canon of the 7th council of Carthage, presided over by St. Cyprian, is received as being in an indirect and qualified way -- Ecumenical.  The Quinisext Council received this canon, within the understanding given by St. Basil's first canon (which was affirmed at the 4th, 6th, and 7th Ecumenical Council).  Here is what St. Basil says on the subject, and by virtue of its reception also what the Ecumenical Councils have to say:


So far as concerns the question of the Cathari, though it had been said previously you did well to mention the subject, since it is necessary to follow the custom obtaining in each particular country because of their treating baptism differently.


St. Basil makes an important observation here.  The actual practice of receiving converts from heresies and schism differed in various places, and thus each local Church had the right to follow the practice that they saw most appropriate given their pastoral needs and circumstances.  This is still true today.  St. Cyprians canon was considered to be 1) an accurate statement of the true theological nature of heretical baptism (i.e. that they are not true baptism), however the decision on how this was to actually be applied pastorally was only binding within the regional jurisdiction of that council.


Thus the issue at hand was not one definitively settled by the Apostles, or one which their are specific instructions from the Lord.  Instead the Church had to do exactly what the Apostles had to do on the question of how Gentiles should be received into the Church.  During Christ's earthly ministry, He had not given the Apostles any specific instruction on how they were to receive Gentile converts.  Instead they had to apply the principles that Christ had taught them, and furthermore they had to reach a Conciliar decision, guided by the Holy Spirit.


These controversies during the NT period are recorded for more than just the sakes of our curiosity.  They are recorded so that we would not be shocked by controversies that came later, and so that we would have a model to follow in resolving them.


At times the controversies in the NT period were very heated.


Consider Galatians Chapter 2 for a moment.  In verse 11ff. we see that certain men "came from James" -- most likely the same folks in Acts 15:1 who there are quoted as saying, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."  And note -- they had

Scripture on their side too!


Ss. Peter, the rest of the Jews, and even Barnabas were "carried away" with "hypocrisy".  But St. Paul says that he withstood St. Peter to his face "because he was to be blamed".  Not long after this event, St. Paul and St. Barnabas parted company because they disagreed so sharply about whether or not they should take St. Mark with them.


So clearly, disputes like the one we encounter between St. Cyprian and Pope Stephen were even found among the Apostles themselves.  But what did they do?


"...the apostles and the elders came together to consider this matter" (of how to receive Gentile converts) (Acts 15:6). 


The Apostles discussed the matter, and came to a consensus, which they described by saying "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us..." (15:28).


This is what Catholicity (or Conciliarity) are all about.  And note, this is exactly how the dispute in question was resolved.



[Returning to St. Basil’s 1st Canon] After having at that time threshed out the matter concerning these men, it seems to me that there is nothing further to say in regard to the Pepizeni [Montanists].  According I was mazed to find that the matter had appealed to great Dionysius in spite of his being canonical.  For the older authorities had judged that baptism acceptable which disregarded no point of the faith. 



The older authorities being specifically, St. Cyprian and the Fathers of that council.


Hence they have  called some of them heresies, and others schisms, and others again  parasynagogues.  Heresies is the name applied to those who have broken entirely and have become alienated from the faith itself.  Schisms is the name applied to those who on account of ecclesiastical causes and remediable questions have developed a quarrel amongst themselves. Parasynagogues is the name applied to gatherings held by insubordinate presbyters or bishops, and those held by uneducated laities.  As, for instance, when one has been arraigned for a misdemeanor held aloof from liturgy and refused to submit to the Canons, but laid claim to the presidency and liturgy for himself, and some other persons departed with him, leaving the catholic Church -- that is a parasynagogue.  Heresies, on the other hand, are such as those of the Manichees and Valentinians and Marcionists, and that of these Pepuzeni themselves; for the question is one involving a difference of faith in God itself. It therefore seemed best to those who dealt with the subject in the beginning to rule that the attitude of heretics should be set aside entirely; but as for those who have merely split apart as a schism, they were to be considered as still belonging to the Church; as for those, on the other hand, who were in parasynagogues, if they have been improved by considerable repentance and are willing to return, they are to be admitted again into the Church, so that often even those who departed in orders with the insubordinates, provided that they manifest regret, may be admitted again to the same rank.  As touching the Pepuzeni, therefore, it is obvious that they are heretics; for they have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, having illicitly and impudently blazoned Montanus and Priscilla with the appellation of the Paraclete. They deserve to be condemned, therefore, whether it be that they are wont to deify themselves or others as human beings, or that they have roundly insulted the Holy Spirit by comparing it to human being; according they thus liable to everlasting condemnation, because of the fact that blaspheny against the Holy Spirit is unpardonable.  What reason, then, is there for approving their baptism, when they are baptizing in [the name of] the Father, the Son, and Montanus and Priscilla?  For the persons have not been baptized who have been baptized in names that have not been handed down to by the traditional teaching; so that if this fact has escaped the notice of great Dionysius, it is nevertheless incumbent upon us to guard against imitating the mistake.  For the absurdity is self-evident and perspicuous to all who have any share at all of ability to reason even in a small way.  As for the Cathari, they are to be classed as schismatics.  Nevertheless, it seemed best to the ancient authorities  -- those, I mean, who form the party of Cyprian and our own Firmilian -- to class them all under one head, including Cathari and Encratites and Aquarians and Apotactites; because the beginning, true enough, ofthe separation resulted through a schism, but those who seceded from the Church has not the grace of the Holy Spirit upon them; for the impartation thereof ceased with the interruption of the service.  For although the ones who were the first to depart has been ordained by the Fathers and with the imposition of their hands they had obtained the gracious gift of the Spirit, yet after breaking away they became laymen, and had no authority either to baptize or to ordain anyone, nor could they impart the grace of the Spirit to others, after they themselves has forfeited it.  Wherefore they base that those baptized by them should be regarded as baptized by laymen, and that when they came to join the Church they should have to be repurified by the true baptism as prescribed by the Church.


In other words, strictly speaking, St. Cyprian was right.  Such baptisms are not true baptisms.


Inasmuch, however, as it has seemed best to some of those in the regions of Asia, for the sake of extraodinary economy to the many, to accept their baptism, let it be accepted.


Here St. Basil calls upon a key concept of Orthodox ecclesiology -- the principle of economy (oikonomia).  In short, the understanding of economy is that the Holy Spirit is able to fill up that which is lacking for the sake of the salvation of souls.  The Bishops, having the power to bind and loose, and having the charge to adhere to the Spirit rather than the letter of the law, have the power to apply economy for pastoral reasons as they see fit (of course within certain boundaries).  In some

cases, one might even argue that an application of economy is unwise -- however, the Faith of the Church is that the Holy Spirit nevertheless fills up that which is lacking.  However, the Bishops who apply economy are also answerable to God for their use of it.


Therefore, though the Baptism of heretics was not real sacramental Baptism, the Church could (and did) accept converts from the heresies without Baptising them in the Church.  The Faith of the Church being that the Holy Spirit thus takes the empty an lifeless baptism that they had previously received outside the Church, and creates grace where there was none (no Sacramental grace).


We find this principle in the canons of the Council of Nicea as well, btw.


St. Cyprian understood the idea of economy, as we see in his discussion of sprinkling the sick who cannot endure full immersion:


"You have asked, dearest son, what I thought of those who obtain God's grace in sickness and weakness, whether they are to be accounted legitimate Christians, for that they are not to be washed, but sprinkled, with the saving water....  ...when necessity compels, and God bestows His mercy, the divine methods confer the whole benefit on believers..." [St. Cyprians epistle to Magnus, chapter 12, ANF vol.5, p. 401].


To illustrate this further, there once was a Jew who was traveling through the desert with a small group of Christians.   He was converted while on this journey, but they ran out of all water, and were in fear of death.  His Christian companions baptized him with sand!  After all, however, they survived, and the bishop was asked what to do.  In this case, he said that the man should be  baptized in water (by thrice immersion), but he added that had they died, his baptism with sand would have been sufficient.  Thus this act would have gone under the category of extreme economy.


[Returning again to St. Basil’s 1st Canon] As for the case of the Encratites, however, it behooves us to look upon it as a crime, since as though to make themselves unacceptable to the Church they have attempted to anticipate the situation by advocating a baptism of their own; hence they themselves have run counter to their own custom.  I deem, therefore, that since there is nothing definitely prescribed as regards them, it was fitting that we should set their baptism aside, and if any of them appears to have left them, he shall be baptized upon joining the Church.  If, however, this is to become an obstacle in the general economy [of the Church], we must again adopt the custom and follow the Fathers who economically regulated the affairs of our Church.  For I am inclined to suspect that we may by the severity of the prescription actually prevent men from being saved because of their being too indolent in regard to baptism.


Again, St. Basil (St. Firmilian's successor, BTW) points out that the reason for the practice is pastoral -- not, as Pope Stephen had claimed, because their baptism was itself a true baptism.


It should be pointed out again though, that Pope Stephen's understanding was probably not so bad as his explanation.  St. Firmilian pointed out of Pope Stephen and his supporters that "among [the heretics in question] they themselves confess that the Holy Spirit is not" [ANF Vol. 5, 392].

That being the case, their baptism could not have sacramental grace. It seems to me that Pope Stephen, for all his errant explanation, was simply trying to make the case that since they baptized with the proper form, that such baptisms were capable of being received economically -- obviously, such baptism do not unite anyone to the Church of Christ. The same would go for St. Augustine's view [See his treatise On Baptism Against the Donatists, Book 1, Chapter1 (NPNF1, Vol 4, p.411ff.  As stated above, the Ecumenical consensus is voiced by St. Basil, which the canons of which were received by the Ecumenical Councils.


[Again, St. Basil’s 1st Canon] But if they keep our baptism, let this not deter us. For we are not obliged to return thanks to them, but to serve the Canons with exactitude.


If they keep the correct form of Baptism, we can apply economy – but we are not obliged to.


But let it be formally stated with every reason that those who join on top of their baptism must at all events be anointed by the faithful, that is to say, and thus be admitted to the Mysteries.


In any case, they should be chrismated.



But there is a brief way for religious and simple minds, both to put away error, and to find and to elicit truth. For if we return to the head and source of divine tradition, human error ceases….


So let us note, first of all, that St. Cyprian was not denying that Tradition was divine but rather calls it such, nor was he attacking the Tradition of the Church -- it is only the erroneous teachings of Pope Stephen that he takes issue with.


…and having seen the reason of the heavenly sacraments, whatever lay hid in obscurity under the gloom and cloud of darkness, is opened into the light of the truth. If a channel supplying water, which formerly flowed plentifully and freely, suddenly fail, do we not go to the fountain, that there the reason of the failure may be ascertained, whether from the drying up of the springs the water has failed at the fountainhead, or whether, flowing thence free and full, it has failed in the midst of its course; that so, if it has been caused by the fault of an interrupted or leaky channel…


Note here that the point being addressed is how one corrects an erroneous understanding of Tradition -- obviously St. Cyprian did not believe the entire Church had an erroneous view.


…that the constant stream does not flow uninterruptedly and continuously, then the channel being repaired and strengthened, the water collected may be supplied for the use and drink of the city, with the same fertility and plenty with which it issues from the spring? And this it behoves the priests of God to do now, if they would keep the divine precepts, that if in any respect the truth have wavered and vacillated, we should return to our original and Lord, and to the evangelical and apostolical tradition;  and thence may arise the ground of our action, whence has taken rise both our order and our origin.


Ad fontes!  To the source indeed, Cyprian!


Yes to the fountain -- but what is the fountain that St. Cyprian is speaking of?  You assume he is speaking of Scripture -- but you are only partly right.  Throughout this epistle as well as elsewhere, St. Cyprian clearly identifies the fountain he is speaking of.


I resume quoting the epistle at the point you ended:


"For it has been delivered to us, that there is one God, and one Christ, and one hope, and one Faith, and one Church, and one baptism ordained only in the one Church, from which unity whosoever will depart must needs be found with heretics; and while he upholds them against the Church, he impugns the sacrament of the divine Tradition.  The sacrament of unity we see expressed also in the Canticles, in the person of Christ, who says, "A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, A FOUNTAIN sealed, a well of living water, a garden with the fruit of apples." [St Cyprian to Pompey, ch. 11, ANF vol.5, p. 389.]


A very similar statement is also made in his LXXV Epistle to Magnus, Ch. 2 (ANF p. 397).  In fact, St. Cyprian continually alludes to this passage in the Song of Solomon (4:12) in referring to the Church as "the Spouse" of Christ.


In his Treatise on the Unity of the Church (Chapter 6, ANF,V:423), states:


"The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous, she is uncorrupted and pure, She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch.  She keeps us for God.  She appoints the sons whom she has born for the Kingdom.  Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ."


It is clear that St. Cyprian sees the FOUNTAIN as the Church, the Body of Christ, with Christ as Her Head.  He does not limit this Fountain to the Scriptures, though they are an inseparable part of Her.  The Fountain is the Church, her Apostolic purity, expressed in Her unity.  And specifically, "the sacrament of unity" is the Holy FOUNT of Baptism. Thus in the pure and united expression of the Church, i.e. Her Catholicity, we find the Truth expressed.


In Ch. 12 (ANF V:425) he says of schismatics who appeal to the promise that where two or three are gathered together, there is the Holy Spirit:


""If," He says, "two of you shall agree on earth:" He placed agreement first; He has made the concord of peace a prerequisite; He taught that we should agree firmly and faithfully.  But how can he agree with any one who does not agree with the body of the Church itself, and with the universal brotherhood?  How can two or three be assembled together in Christ's name, who, it is evident, are separated from Christ and from His Gospel?  For we have not withdrawn from them, but they from us; and since heresies and schisms have risen subsequently, from their establishment for themselves of diverse places of worship, they have forsaken the HEAD and SOURCE of the Truth."


In his epistle to Pompey he says:


"...who is not a son of the Church, so as that he should have God as his Father, before he has had the Church for his Mother?" (ANF V:388).


Seemingly many in our day would tell us that the stream *can't* become muddy, and *can't* become corrupt, hence why this constant cry to go to the fountain?


The FOUNTAIN cannot become muddied:


"For the faith of the sacred Scripture sets forth that the Church is not without, nor can be separated nor divided against itself, but maintains the unity of an inseparable and undivided house" (ANF V:398).


"God is one, and Christ is one, and His Church is one, and the Faith is one, and the people is joined into a substantial unity of body by the cement of concord.  Unity cannot be severed; nor can one body be separated by a division of its structure, nor torn into pieces, with its entrails wrenched asunder by laceration.  Whatever has proceeded from the womb cannot live and breathe in its detached condition, but looses the substance of health (ANF V:429).


The Protestant, seeing clearly the muddying of the waters, calls us to go to the fountain again and again, insisting that, in fact, it was an error to ever stray from it in the first place.


Ah... but St. Cyprian says of schismatics and heretics, separated from the organic unity of the Church, that they have no access to this sealed FOUNTAIN.  And let's not try to introduce the idea of a fuzzy invisible Church with doctrinal plurality -- because this is clearly a concept of the Church which is completely foreign to St. Cyprian.


Now, while Cyprian's statements are most interesting of themselves regarding tradition, Scriptural authority, Stephen (I note briefly for all interested: I do not say "Pope Stephen" because such is an anachronism.  In point of fact, the deacons of Rome called Cyprian "Pope" in Epistle XXX.  Often, using the term "Pope" of this early period introduces confusion and gives an impression that the bishop of Rome was viewed in a way that had not yet developed), and the like, my interest lies more in the direction of how Augustine handled this letter when it was used by his opponents more than a hundred years later.  You find him citing the work in the fifth book of his Against the Donatists, beginning in chapter 23.  The section cited above about going to the source---specifically where he identifies "tradition" as being found in Scripture is found in chapter 26. What I find especially interesting is just this: here we have one great bishop in disagreement on an important matter (baptism) with another great bishop of a previous generation.



He does not so limit the Tradition as you suggest.  This is an inference that you have drawn, but not one supported by the text.


“…there are many things which are observed by the whole Church, and therefore are fairly held to have been enjoined by the apostles, which yet are not mentioned in their writings” (St. Augustine, On Baptism, Book V, Chapter 23, NPNF1, Vol. 4, p. 475).


“…the admonition that [St.Cyprian] gives us, “that we should go back to the fountain, that is, to apostolic tradition, and thence turn the channel of truth to our times,” is most excellent, and should be followed without hesitation…” (St. Augustine, On Baptism, Book V, Chapter 26, NPNF1, Vol. 4, p. 476).



First of all, it should be understood that this entire issue was an "in-house" dispute.  Though some on both sides were a bit hot headed, unity was not breached at any point.  Ultimately the Church clarified this point in Her ecumenical councils.


Secondly, I think you have a higher view of St. Augustine's infallibility than I do.  In the Orthodox Church, St. Augustine is far from being considered the Patristic Primo that the West came to view him as. He is remembered as a refuter of Pelagius (though not without erring in his refutation on certain points) and as a great ascetic and spiritual writer.  His confessions, and his homilies have been prized by the Church.  He is however not considered to be the prime Patristic expounder of theology, as you seem to think.


His understanding of Orthodoxy was often better than his expression of it, and one must give a man who wrote so much plenty of room for error.


But in essence, He was not disagreeing at all with St. Cyprian’s view of baptism in principle.  Because he makes it clear that while baptism can formally be administered outside the Church, it is of no avail so long as one remains outside the Church.  Only when one unites with the Church through economy does his baptism gain its real significance.  He says that one may have possed baptism outside the Church, but that it  was possessed to no profit in exclusion from unity [with the Church]” (NPNF1, Vol 4, p.412).


How does Augustine handle this?  Well, does he first of all say that Cyprian was obviously in heresy and schism to have quarreled with Stephen?  No, not at all


Of course not.  Nor would I say that of Pope Stephen, though he was in error in his expression on this issue.


…(though I have had Roman Catholic opponents dismiss all such patristic evidence on the basis that, "Well, that early Father was in sin to have that attitude.")  Most importantly, does he disagree with Cyprian’s statement that one must go to the source?  No, he does not.


Of course not, he repeats the statement that a man cannot have God as his Father, who does not have the Church as his Mother.


He does not fault Cyprian’s insistence to go with the fountain---he simply disagrees that Cyprian has rightly understood that fountain.


He, like Pope Stephen, argued that heretical baptisms were "valid but illicit", a peculiarly  Latin and legal way of looking at the matter. He, like Pope Stephen, did not really believe such Baptism had the Grace of Orthodox Baptism, nor did they unite one to the Church.  He was simply defending the idea that such Baptisms could be received economically -- though his explanation is flawed.


Now, later generations, looking back upon such situations, have the luxury of saying, "Well, you see, Cyprian was just a ‘variant,’ a small bump in the progress of apostolic tradition.


St. Cyprian was not bump in the road.


We’ve figured out the truth about those issues, and the general consensus of the Church now determines this issue."


But this idea of Conciliarity is precisely the way St. Cyprian sought to address this dispute.  He faulted Pope Stephen for being dictatorial, and being unwilling to listen.  He called a council, which he began by saying:


"It remains that upon this same matter each of us should bring forward what we think, judging no man, nor rejecting any one from the right of communion, if he should think differently from us.  For neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops [!]. nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and  can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another.  But let us all wait for the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only one that has the power both of preferring us in the government of His Church, and of judging us in our conduct there" (Acts of the 7th Council of Carthage, ANF V:565).


What better picture could one find of the Apostolic principle of Conciliarity, aside from Acts 15 itself?


I can hardly imagine a better picture of the Orthodox understanding of Conciliarity -- but Conciliarity does not end here, in the council but is expressed as the Church reaches consensus on the decisions of such councils, and either accepts, corrects, or rejects these decisions.


How easily moderns can adopt such an attitude.  But if we follow the advice of both Cyprian and Augustine, and inquire into the true grounds of what is *alleged* to be "apostolic tradition," we find many things that we are told have been "decided" by "consensus" that are not, in fact, "apostolic" at all.


Consensus is exactly how St. Cyprian approached this issue – to the Fountain... the sealed Fountain, which cannot be corrupted.  The Spouse of Christ, which cannot be an adulteress, nor divided against herself.  The Church is one, just as Christ is one, and the Father is one.


Are we then being faithful to, or traitorous to, men like Cyprian and Augustine if, in fact, we simply close our eyes and believe whatever we are taught…


This is not what I have suggested.


…ignoring the testimony of the fountain itself?


It is precisely the testimony of the Fountain that I seek and follow.


That is the question.




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