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The reception of St. Cyprian as an authoritative voice on ecclesiology in the East

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#1 Tim Flanders

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 07:38 AM

Dear brethren in Christ,

Christ is risen!

I have just been studying St. Cyprian for the first time, and I was wondering if anyone could help me out with information about the reception of St. Cyprian as an authoritative voice on Ecclesiology in the East. I read an article written by a Catholic (here http://www.bringyou....etics/num44.htm) which spoke of how Latin Fathers (St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Vincent) were reluctant to charge St. Cyprian with heresy concerning his views of re-baptism, even though they acknowledged these views to be in fact themselves heresy. Instead, they said that his glorious martyrdom washed away any of his faults (see the quotations at the bottom esp. that of St. Augustine).

Instead, they maintained, esp. St. Vincent (whose "Believed by all, at all times..." is oft quoted by Orthodox) emphasized how the successors of St. Peter at Rome were the rock of faith untarnished by heresy.

The problem that this apologist (and other Catholic) seem to be bringing up, is the simple fact that St. Cyprian's views, with which he disputed with Pope St. Stephen I, were deemed heretical not only by that Pope, but all after him including Fathers of the Church. This seems to call into question his voice as an authority on the "consensus of the Fathers" concerning ecclesiology.

The question I have is this: considering the fact that St. Cyprian is a Latin Father, what influence did he have on the eastern tradition? Does anyone know when he writings were translated into Greek if ever? There seems to be a lot of Orthodox writers who place this father as an authority, but what about his views on re-baptism? I thought I heard somewhere that an ecumenical council approved his writings on the Church. Is this true?

My desire is for understanding, and fraternal love towards our brethren the Catholics, and that we may seek out what is doubtful together, in order that unity may be strengthened among those who love the name of Christ. Let us, then, act with charity towards the ignorant and humility towards those correcting us. We are all in need of Mercy.

in Christ,


#2 Michael 'Anthony' Cornett

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 05:25 AM


Christ Is Risen! Perhaps it may be helpful for some if you were able to cite particular passages from St Cyprian regarding 're-baptism', as you say. There are a handful, if not all of us on the boards that have access to his writings, so a whittling down of resources would be most helpful.

I haven't dug into the SVS Press books from St Cyprian yet (just arrived in the mail a few weeks ago), but I am thinking the passages in question relate to how we are to receive others into the faith? I would assume that no Father, including St Cyprian, would consider a baptism of someone who formerly confessed some sort of Christian faith to be a 're-baptism', but rather the one and only baptism as our Creed states we are to believe in.

I was received by baptism, even having been 'baptized' as an infant in the Catholic faith, and being involved until about 18 or so (through confirmation).

My Godfather recently related to me a wonderful story about a priest who was received by chrismation into the church. He went to Mt Athos, and a seemingly random monk came up to him and asked, "Where is your angel?". He was quite confused, and asked him to elaborate. "Were you baptized into the faith? I don't see your guardian angel". He went on to tell him that in fact, no, he was baptized in his formerly professed Christian faith, and was received into Orthodoxy through chrismation. The monk (perhaps a priest?) insisted that he be baptized at once. He was baptized in the ocean, and the monk who had the gift of angelic sight was able to see his guardian angel. There happened to be pictures being taken at that time for one of the beautiful Mt Athos photograph books they release every so often. It just so happens that the picture of his baptism was taken, and published in a book. This book was later seen by the priest's bishop, much to the bishop's dismay. As far as I know, there were no ecclesiastical repercussions, but an interesting and entertaining story at that!

If I am off, please correct me.

Thank you,

Edit: Skimming through the indexes of the "On the Church: Select Treatises" and "On the Church: Select Letter" from St Vladimir's Seminary Press, I have found the following chapters/pages of interest:

From 'Select Treatises':
• Chapter 2, Page 24 "Baptism in Heresy or Schism"

From 'Select Letters':
• Chapter 3, Letter 72, Page 189 "Stephen and the Baptismal Controversy"
• Chapter 3, Letter 73, Page 193 "Rebaptism: the Novatian Dimension"
• Chapter 3, Letter 75, Page 217 "Rebaptism: Firmilian's Approving Reply"

Edited by Michael 'Anthony' Cornett, 11 May 2011 - 05:45 AM.
Citing St Cyprian's "On the Church" releases from SVS Press

#3 Michael 'Anthony' Cornett

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 04:34 PM

This article may be of interest: http://orthodoxinfo....khrap_econ.aspx

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