This post is part of an ongoing series examining Women in the Apostolic Fathers.
Ignatius’s Epistle to Polycarp 5.2
|εἴ τις δύναται ἐν ἁγνείᾳ μένειν εἰς τιμὴν τῆς σαρκὸς τοῦ κυρίου, ἐν ἀκαυχησίᾳ μενέτω. ἐὰν καυχήσηται, ἀπώλετο, καὶ ἐὰν γνωσθῇ πλέον τοῦ ἐπισκόπου, ἔφθαρται. πρέπει δὲ τοῖς γαμοῦσι καὶ ταῖς γαμουμέναις μετὰ γνώμης τοῦ ἐπισκόπου τὴν ἕνωσιν ποιεῖσθαι, ἵνα ὁ γάμος ᾖ κατὰ κύριον καὶ μὴ κατ᾿ ἐπιθυμίαν. πάντα εἰς τιμὴν θεοῦ γινέσθω.
||If anyone is able to honor the flesh of the Lord by maintaining a state of purity, let him do so without boasting. If he boasts, he has been destroyed, and if it becomes known to anyone beyond the bishop, he is ruined. But it is right for men and women who marry to make their union with the consent of the bishop, that their marriage may be for the Lord and not for passion. Let all things be done for the honor of God.
In the updated 20th anniversary edition of his classic work, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, Peter Brown examines the “practice of permanent sexual renunciation—continence, celibacy, life-long virginity” that developed in Christian circles from the first through fifth centuries. In this work, Brown examines a vast array of perspectives within the early Christian context, purposing to clarify notions of the human body and society within Christian renunciation and to examine the effects of those ideas among Christian writers. This review will summarize Brown’s work and offer an assessment of the strength of his claim that there was no mainstream perspective on sexuality and the body in early Christianity. Continue reading
This is the final post is our series examining Protestant Reactions to Vatican II.
Having examined Protestant reactions to the Roman Catholic conceptions of Divine Revelation and the Church, Non-Catholic Churches, the Priesthood, the Liturgy, and Religious Freedom, what may we conclude? As noted before, the initial reactions of many Protestants to the Second Vatican Councils seemed to be generally positive in nature. As we have seen however, critical Protestant reactions to Vatican II are more nuanced. Some reactions are positive, such as that of Marty, who concludes that “for the most part, Vatican II appropriately addressed the anguishing circumstances of its time.” Others are more caution, such as Patterson, who reacts with both joy and concern, especially regarding ubiquitous language about the primacy and infallibility of Rome. Other reactions are more negative, such as those of Sproul and Duncan. The former writes that since Vatican II must be interpreted through Trent, there remain fundamental and dangerous misunderstandings of the council and the acceptability of its teachings for Protestants. While noting that many Protestants view Vatican II positively, Duncan similarly notes that while there may be new levels of understanding between Protestants and Catholics, there are significant barriers to true unity and understanding. Continue reading
This post is part of our ongoing series examining Protestant Reactions to Vatican II.
While we cannot consider every facet of the Second Vatican Council that Protestant scholars have engaged, there are three remaining issues worthy of briefly considering here: reactions to Vatican II’s position on the Priesthood, the Liturgy, and Religious Freedom. It is important to note with Martin Marty that during Vatican II very little was actually said concerning contemporary concerns such as female ordination and clerical celibacy, and thus many Protestant and Catholic differences on these issues are not directly the result of Vatican II. The council did weigh in on several matters pertaining to priests however. In the Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, the council affirmed that celibacy was to be “embraced and esteemed as a gift” among priests. Additionally, priests were called to avoid greediness, to develop their spiritual lives, to engage the sacred scriptures and Church Fathers, to remain aware of current events, and to take vacation every year. Such praxis-oriented concerns, combined with calls for lay participation in the ministry of the church, suggest a commitment to collegiality of all levels of church hierarchy. This collegial view of the church includes the leveling of authority within the official hierarchy, though maintaining the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, including the restoration of the historical office of deacon. However, significant differences continue to exist between Protestant conceptions of the priesthood of all believers and the Roman conception of a celibate clergy. Continue reading