Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ignatius: "Schism as the Source of Mischief"

We recently commemorated Ignatius, the second bishop of Antioch, martyred in 115. During his march from Syria to Rome as a prisoner, he wrote seven letters to various churches. Some of his quotes seem quite relevant to our current unpleasantness.

For instance, consider this one regarding the authority of written texts:

When I heard some people saying, ‘If I don’t find it in the ancient documents, I don’t believe it in the Gospel,’ I answered them, ‘But it is written there.’ They retorted, ‘That has got to be proved.’ But to my mind it is Jesus Christ who is the ancient documents.
And this one, regarding schism and the authority of bishops:

Flee from schism as the source of mischief. You should all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ did the Father. Follow, too, the presbytery as you would the apostles; and respect the deacons as you would God’s law . . . . Where the bishop is present, there let the congregation gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
You'd think that after 2,000 years we would have learned a thing or two. Apparently not. The same controversies keep on popping up.


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