Hugh of St. Victor (c. 1096-1141): The remedy of the sick heart

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“The first man was so created that if he had not sinned he would always have beheld in present contemplation his Creator’s face, and by always seeing him would have loved him always, and by loving would always have clung close to him, and by clinging to him who was eternal would have possessed life without end. Evidently the one true good of man was perfect knowledge of his Creator. But he was driven from the face of the Lord, since for his sin he was struck with the blindness of ignorance, and passed from that intimate light of contemplation; and he inclined his mind to earthly desires, as he began to forget the sweetness of the divine. Thus he was made a wanderer and fugitive over the earth. A wanderer indeed, because of disordered concupiscence; and a fugitive, through guilty conscience, which feels every man’s hand against it. For every temptation will overcome the man who has lost God’s aid.

So man’s heart which had been kept secure by divine love, and one by loving One, afterward began to flow here and there through earthly desires. For the mind which knows not to love its true good is never stable and never rests. Hence restlessness, and ceaseless labor, and disquiet, until the man turns and adheres to Him. The sick heart wavers and quivers; the cause of its disease is love of the world; the remedy, the love of God.”

– Hugh of St. Victor (c. 1096-1141), De Arca Noe Morali, Preface

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): Why should God be loved?

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“You wish to hear from me why and in what manner God should be loved. I answer then: the reason for loving God is God [himself]; and there should be no measure [of that love]. Is that enough to say about the matter? For a wise man it most probably is, but I am a debtor to the unwise also. And though I may have said enough for those with understanding, I must have due regard for others too. For those less apt, then, I gladly will explain what I have said more fully, if not with greater depth.

I might have said there was a twofold reason why we are to love God [solely] for himself. Firstly, nothing is more just, and secondly, nothing is more profitable. The question ‘Why should God be loved?’ includes both of these, for it may mean either ‘What is his claim upon our love?’ or ‘What benefit shall we derive from loving him?’. My former answer stands in either case: there is no other worthy cause for loving God except himself.

And firstly, as to his claim upon our love, he surely merits much from us who gave himself to us, unworthy as we were: what better gift could he have given than himself? If, then, it is his claim we have in mind when asking ‘Why should God be loved?’, the first and foremost answer is, ‘Because he first loved us’ (1 Jn. 4:19). Most plainly is he worthy of being loved in return by us, especially if we consider who he is who thus bestows his love on us, who the objects of it are, and how great it is. For who is he, save he whom every soul confesses, ‘Thou art my God, my goods are nothing unto Thee’ (Ps. 16:2). His is indeed that majestic love which ‘seeketh not its own’ (1 Cor. 13:5). But who are they to whom he shows this selfless love? ‘When we were enemies,’ says the Apostle, ‘we were reconciled to God’ (Rom. 5:10). God, then, has loved us freely, while we were enemies. How much has he loved us? John says: ‘God so loved the world the world that he gave his only begotten Son’ (Jn. 3:16). ‘He that spared not his own Son,’ says Paul, ‘but delivered him up for us all’ (Rom. 8:32). The Son, moreover, tells us of himself, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (Jn. 15:13). This is the claim that the Just One has on sinners, the Highest on the lowest, and he who is Almighty on the weak. You say, perhaps, Yes, that is true of men, but with the angels it is otherwise. That I admit: the angels had not our human need. For the fact is that he who helped man in his misery kept them from falling into such a plight at all; and he whose love gave men the means to leave their lost estate, by a like love preserved the angels from sharing in our fall.”

– Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), De diligendo Deo, Chapter 1

Bonaventure (1221-1274) on the Trinity

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In his Breviloquium, Bonaventure (1221-1274), the great medieval Franciscan theologian and Doctor Seraphicus (“The Seraphic Doctor”), offers a succinct description of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The parts in brackets I have added for the sake of clarity. This excerpt is from Part I, Chapter 3:

PART I, CHAPTER 3 – ON THE RIGHT UNDERSTANDING OF THIS FAITH

  1. Sacred doctrine contributes to the right understanding of this faith by teaching that there are, within the Godhead, two modes of emanation, three hypostases, four relations, and five concepts; and yet in all only three personal properties.
  2. This should be understood as follows. The first and supreme Principle [i.e. the Triune God], by the very fact that He is first, is utterly simple; by the very fact that He is supreme, is utterly perfect. Being utterly perfect, He communicates Himself with complete perfection; being utterly simple, He remains completely undivided. Therefore, within the first Principle there are modes of perfect emanation which leave oneness of nature unimpaired. But the modes of perfect emanation are only two, through nature and through will; the first is generation [i.e. the Father generates the Son and the Son is generated by the Father], the second spiration-procession [the Spirit is spirated (breathed-out) by the Father and the Son and proceeds from the Father and the Son].Hence these are the two modes found here.
  3. Now, while two hypostases [i.e. the Son and the Spirit] necessarily result from two substance-producing modes of emanation, we must also posit that the original producing hypostasis [i.e. the Father] does not itself emanate from anything else, for then we should have an infinite series. Hence there are here THREE HYPOSTASES.
  4. Again, because each mode of emanation implies a twofold relation, there are here FOUR RELATIONS: paternity and filiation [between the Father and the Son]; spiration and procession [the Father and the Son spirate or breath out the Spirit, while the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son].
  5. By such relations, the divine hypostases are made known to us. But the original producing hypostasis [i.e. the Father] is shown to have no originator, which is the very reason for its characteristic excellence. Hence there are here FIVE CONCEPTS: the four relations indicated above, and unbegottenness.
  6. Furthermore, each Person enjoys one property through which He principally is made known. Hence there are here but THREE PERSONAL PROPERTIES, characteristically and principally indicated by the names: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  7. The Father is properly the One without an originator, the Unbegotten One; the Principle who proceeds from no other; the Father as such. Therefore, UNBEGOTTEN ONE designates Him by a negation, but also affirmatively through inference, since it implies existence within the Father of fullness at its source. PRINCIPLE WHO PROCEEDS FROM NO OTHER designates Him by an affirmation followed by a negation. FATHER designates Him in a proper, complete, and determinate manner by affirmation and the positing of a relation.
  8. The Son is properly the Image, the Word, and the Son as such. Likewise, therefore, IMAGE designates Him as the expressed likeness, WORD as the expressing likeness, and SON as the personal likeness. Again, IMAGE designates Him as the likeness in the order of form, WORD as the likeness in the order of reason, and SON as the likeness in the order of nature.
  9. The Holy Spirit is properly the Gift, the mutual Bond or Love, and the Holy Spirit as such. In the same way, then, GIFT designates Him as the One who is given through the will; BOND or LOVE, as the One given through the will who is the Gift par excellence; and HOLY SPIRIT, as the One given through the will, the Gift par excellence, who is a Person.

Hence, the three names, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, convey the personal properties of the three Persons.

This is what we must hold if we would rightly understand faith in the Holy Trinity.

Albert the Great (c. 1206-1280) on cleaving to God with naked understanding and will

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The Apostle Paul said to the Colossians (3:1-3):

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

Albert the Great (c. 1206-1280) picked up on this in his De adherendo Deo (On Cleaving to God), chapter 6:

“The more you strip yourself of the products of the imagination and involvement in external, worldly things and the objects of the senses, the more your soul will recover its strength and its inner senses so that it can appreciate the things which are above. So learn to withdraw from imaginations and the images of physical things, since what pleases God above everything is a mind bare of those sorts of forms and objects, for it is his delight to be with the sons of men, that is those who, at peace from such activities, distractions and passions, seek him with a pure and simple mind, empty themselves for him, and cleave to him. Otherwise, if your memory, imagination and thought is often involved with such things, you must needs be filled with the thought of new things or memories of old ones, or identified with other changing objects. As a result, the Holy Spirit withholds itself from thoughts bereft of understanding. So the true lover of Jesus Christ should be so united through good will in his understanding with the divine will and goodness, and be so bare of all imaginations and passions that he does not even notice whether he is being mocked or loved, or something is being done to him. For a good will turns everything to good and is above everything. So if the will is good and is obedient and united to God with pure understanding, he is not hurt even if the flesh and the senses and the outer man is moved to evil, and is slow to good, or even if the inner man is slow to feel devotion, but should simply cleave to God with faith and good will in naked understanding. He is doing this if he is conscious of all his own imperfection and nothingness, recognizes his good to consist in his Creator alone, abandons himself with all his faculties and powers, and all creatures, and immerses himself wholly and completely in the Creator, so that he directs all his actions purely and entirely in his Lord God, and seeks nothing apart from him, in whom he recognizes all good and all joy of perfection to be found. And he is so transformed in a certain sense into God that he cannot think, understand, love or remember anything but God himself and the things of God. Other creatures however and even himself he does not see, except in God, nor does he love anything except God alone, nor remember anything about them or himself except in God. This knowledge of the truth always makes the soul humble, ready to judge itself and not others, while on the contrary worldly wisdom makes the soul proud, futile, inflated and puffed up with wind. So let this be the fundamental spiritual doctrine leading to the knowledge of God, his service and familiarity with him, that if you want to truly possess God, you must strip your heart of all love of things of the senses, not just of certain creatures, so that you can turn to the Lord your God with a simple and whole heart and with all your power, freely and without any double-mindedness, care or anxiety, but with full confidence in his providence alone about everything.”

Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109): Is it proper for God to put away sins by compassion alone, without any payment of debt?

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Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109) systematically set forth his argument for the necessity of Christ’s Incarnation and atoning death in his famous book Cur Deus Homo? A common misconception people have about God’s forgiveness is that He forgives purely out of love and compassion, without any regard to the demands of justice. But God’s justice and mercy are not antithetical; indeed we may receive God’s mercy precisely because of God’s justice against our sins having been satisfied on our behalf in the atonement of Christ. He is both just and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus (Rom. 3:36). Below, in dialogue with Boso (abbot of Bec), Anselm addresses this common misconception. The excerpt is from Cur Deus Homo, Book I, Chapter XII:

CHAPTER XII.

Whether it were proper for God to put away sins by compassion alone, without any payment of debt.

Anselm. Let us return and consider whether it were proper for God to put away sins by compassion alone, without any payment of the honor taken from him.

Boso. I do not see why it is not proper.

Anselm. To remit sin in this manner is nothing else than not to punish; and since it is not right to cancel sin without compensation or punishment; if it be not punished, then is it passed by undischarged.

Boso. What you say is reasonable.

Anselm. It is not fitting for God to pass over anything in his kingdom undischarged.

Boso. If I wish to oppose this, I fear to sin.

Anselm. It is, therefore, not proper for God thus to pass over sin unpunished.

Boso. Thus it follows.

Anselm. There is also another thing which follows if sin be passed by unpunished, viz., that with God there will be no difference between the guilty and the not guilty; and this is unbecoming to God.

Boso. I cannot deny it.

Anselm. Observe this also. Every one knows that justice to man is regulated by law, so that, according to the requirements of law, the measure of award is bestowed by God.

Boso. This is our belief.

Anselm. But if sin is neither paid for nor punished, it is subject to no law.

Boso. I cannot conceive it to be otherwise.

Anselm. Injustice, therefore, if it is cancelled by compassion alone, is more free than justice, which seems very inconsistent. And to these is also added a further incongruity, viz., that it makes injustice like God. For as God is subject to no law, so neither is injustice.

Boso. I cannot withstand your reasoning. But when God commands us in every case to forgive those who trespass against us, it seems inconsistent to enjoin a thing upon us which it is not proper for him to do himself.

Anselm. There is no inconsistency in God’s commanding us not to take upon ourselves what belongs to Him alone. For to execute vengeance belongs to none but Him who is Lord of all; for when the powers of the world rightly accomplish this end, God himself does it who appointed them for the purpose.

Boso. You have obviated the difficulty which I thought to exist; but there is another to which I would like to have your answer. For since God is so free as to be subject to no law, and to the judgment of no one, and is so merciful as that nothing more merciful can be conceived; and nothing is right or fit save as he wills; it seems a strange thing for us to say that be is wholly unwilling or unable to put away an injury done to himself, when we are wont to apply to him for indulgence with regard to those offences which we commit against others.

Anselm. What you say of God’s liberty and choice and compassion is true; but we ought so to interpret these things as that they may not seem to interfere with His dignity. For there is no liberty except as regards what is best or fitting; nor should that be called mercy which does anything improper for the Divine character. Moreover, when it is said that what God wishes is just, and that what He does not wish is unjust, we must not understand that if God wished anything improper it would be just, simply because he wished it. For if God wishes to lie, we must not conclude that it is right to lie, but rather that he is not God. For no will can ever wish to lie, unless truth in it is impaired, nay, unless the will itself be impaired by forsaking truth. When, then, it is said: “If God wishes to lie,” the meaning is simply this: “If the nature of God is such as that he wishes to lie;” and, therefore, it does not follow that falsehood is right, except it be understood in the same manner as when we speak of two impossible things: “If this be true, then that follows; because neither this nor that is true;” as if a man should say: “Supposing water to be dry, and fire to be moist;” for neither is the case. Therefore, with regard to these things, to speak the whole truth: If God desires a thing, it is right that he should desire that which involves no unfitness. For if God chooses that it should rain, it is right that it should rain; and if he desires that any man should die, then is it right that he should die. Wherefore, if it be not fitting for God to do anything unjustly, or out of course, it does not belong to his liberty or compassion or will to let the sinner go unpunished who makes no return to God of what the sinner has defrauded him.

Boso. You remove from me every possible objection which I had thought of bringing against you.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): Sinning against an infinite God is an infinite offense which deserves infinite punishment

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I have often used this argument when doing evangelism to illustrate the immense gravity of sin and the awful punishment due. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to discover that the great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) argued the same way almost 8 centuries before:

“The magnitude of the punishment [of sin] matches the magnitude of the sin. Now a sin that is against God is infinite; the higher the person against whom it is committed, the graver the sin—it is more criminal to strike a head of state than a private citizen—and God is of infinite greatness. Therefore an infinite punishment is deserved for a sin committed against Him.”

– Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Summa Theologica, Ia2ae. 87, 4

Jan Hus (c. 1369-1415): Christ alone is the head of the church

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Tomorrow is Reformation Day, in which we commemorate the traditional start of the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. However, it is crucial to note that there were forerunners of the Reformation in the late Middle Ages who to an extent laid a foundation from which the 16th Reformation built on. While there are quite a number of these forerunners, the two most well-known are John Wycliffe in England and Jan Hus of Bohemia (today’s Czech Republic).

Jan Hus (c. 1369-1415) would end up being burned at the stake for his ideas, which countered the ecclesiology and sacramentology (among other theological issues) of the Roman Church. Hus took up many of Wycliffe’s ideas and in the excerpt below, from his work De Ecclesia (On the Church) argues that Christ (and not the Pope) is the true and only head of the Church. The final condemnation of Hus on 6 July 1415 was based primarily on propositions derived from the aforementioned work. The same morning that Hus was burned at the stake a copy of this work was symbolically destroyed by fire. Martin Luther would later say of Hus, specifically in light of his opposition to the authority of extrascriptural canon law: “I have taught and held all the teachings of Jan Hus, but thus far did not know it. Johann von Staupitz [I’ll get to this guy in my next post] has taught it in the same unintentional way. In short we are all Hussites and did not know it. Even Paul and Augustine…”

The excerpt below is quite long (read it with patience) – it is the entire chapter 7 of Hus’ De Ecclesia:

CHAPTER VII

THE ROMAN PONTIFF AND THE CARDINALS NOT THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH

It has been said that Christ is the sole Head of the holy universal church and all the predestinate, past and future, are his mystical body and every one of them members of that body. It remains now briefly to examine whether the Roman church is that holy universal church, the bride of Christ. This seems to be the case because the holy catholic apostolic church is one, and this is none other than the Roman church. What seemed a matter of question is therefore true. The first part of the statement appears from Pope Boniface’s bull: “By the urgency of faith we are compelled to believe and hold that the holy catholic apostolic church is one.” Likewise, the second statement appears from the same decretal, which says: “Of the one and only church there is one body, one head, and not two heads like a monster, namely, Christ and Christ’s vicar, Peter, and Peter’s successors, even as, when the Lord said to Peter himself, ‘Feed my sheep,’ he spoke in a general sense, not of individuals, of these or those sheep. It is plain that he regarded all the sheep as committed to him. Therefore, if the Greeks and others say that they were not committed to Peter and his successors, they thereby confess that it is not necessary to be of Christ’s sheep; for did not the Lord say, in John: ‘They shall become one fold and one shepherd’?” Is it not evident, therefore, that the holy Roman church is that holy universal church, because all are Christ’s sheep, and the one fold is of one shepherd? This is the meaning of the aforesaid decretal of Boniface, which closes with these words: “Further we declare, say and determine that to be subject to the Roman pontiff is for every human being altogether necessary for salvation”—subesse Romano pontifici omni humanæ creaturæ . . . omnino esse de necessitate salutis. If, therefore, every man is of necessity subjected by this declaration to the Roman pontiff, the aforesaid proposition will follow as true, and, on the other hand, the proposition that the Roman church is the church, whose head is the pope and whose body the cardinals, and these together constitute that church. But that church is not the holy catholic and apostolic church. Therefore, what seemed a matter of doubt is false. The first proposition is made out by the statements of certain doctors—among the statements being that the pope is the head of the Roman church and the body is the college of cardinals. The second is manifest from the fact that the pope with the cardinals is not the totality of all the elect.

For the understanding of this subject the notable passage of the Gospel must be meditated upon, namely, Matt. 16:16-19: “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” In this passage are designated Christ’s church, its faith, the foundation, and the authority. In these words Christ’s church is designated, “I will build my church”; in these Peter’s faith, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”; in these the foundation, “on this rock I will build”; and in these the authority, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” These four are to be touched upon briefly, namely, the church, faith, the foundation, the church’s power.

As for the first point, in view of the things set forth above the proposition is to be laid down that, if we put aside the church, nominally so called and as she is generally esteemed to be, then the church is said to be threefold. In one sense it is the congregation or company of the faithful in respect to what is for a time or in respect to present righteousness alone, and in this sense the reprobate are of the church for the time in which they are in grace. But this church is not Christ’s mystical body nor the holy catholic church nor any part of it. In the second sense the church is taken to be the admixture of the predestinate and the reprobate while they are in grace in respect to present righteousness. And this church is in part but not in whole identical with God’s holy church. And this church is called mixed in character—grain and chaff, wheat and tares—the kingdom of heaven like unto a net cast into the sea and gathering fish of every kind and the kingdom of heaven like unto ten virgins, of whom five were foolish and five wise, as was said above. This church, Tychonius falsely called the bipartite body of the Lord, as appears in de doct. Christi, 3:32 [Nic. Fathers, 2:569]. For the reprobate are not the body of the Lord or any part of it.

In the third sense the church is taken for the company of the predestinate, whether they are in grace in respect to present righteousness or not. In this sense the church is an article of faith, about which the apostle was speaking when he said, Eph. 5:26: “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it, cleansing it by the washing of water in the word of life, that he might present it to himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it might be holy and without spot.”

This church the Saviour calls his church in the Gospel quoted, when he said: “On this rock I will build my church.” And that he means this church is plain from the words which follow: “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” For seeing that Christ is the rock of that church and also the foundation on whom she is builded in respect to predestination, she cannot finally be overthrown by the gates of hell, that is, by the power and the assaults of tyrants who persecute her or the assaults of wicked spirits. For mightier is Christ the king of heaven, the bridegroom of the church, than the prince of this world. Therefore, in order to show his power and foreknowledge and the predestination wherewith he builds, protects, foreknows, and predestinates his church, and to give persevering hope to his church, he added: “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Here Lyra says: “From this it appears that the church is not composed of men by virtue of any power of ecclesiastical and secular dignity, because there are many princes and high priests and others of lower degree who have been found apostates from the faith.” This comment has its proof, in part, in the case of Judas Iscariot, both apostle and bishop, who was present when Christ said: “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” But he himself was not built upon the rock in respect of predestination and therefore the gates of hell prevailed against him.

From the aforesaid words of Christ it is evident that the church is taken to mean all, in a special sense, who after his resurrection were to be built upon him and in him by faith and perfecting grace. For Christ commended Peter, who bore [represented] the person of the universal church and confessed his faith in the words: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Christ said to him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah.” This commendation befits Peter and the whole church, which from the beginning was blessed in the way, by confessing humbly, obediently, heartily, and constantly that Christ is the Son of the living God. This faith in regard to that most hidden article, the flesh—that is, the wisdom of the world—does not reveal; nor does blood reveal it, that is, pure philosophical science—but alone God, the Father. And because the confession was so clear and positive, the Rock—Petra—said to Peter—the rock: “And I say unto thee that thou art Peter,” that is, the confessor of the true Rock—Petra—who is Christ, and “on this Rock,” which thou hast confessed—that is, upon me—“I will build” by strong faith and perfecting grace “my church”—that is, the company of the predestinate who, the probation being over, are appointed to glory. Wherefore, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Up to this point it has been deduced from the Saviour’s words that there is (1) one church—namely, from the very word “church”; (2) that it is Christ’s church—from the word “my”; (3) that it is holy—from the words, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The conclusion, therefore, is that there is one holy church of Christ, which in Greek is katholike and in Latin universalis. She is also called apostolic, apostolike, because she was established by the words and deeds of the apostles and founded upon the Rock, Christ, as Jerome says in the Prologue to his Commentary on the Apocalypse.

Hence I lay it down that it is to be called the holy Roman church, for the Decretum, Dist. 21 [Friedberg, 1:70], says that “although there is only one bridal couch of the universal catholic church of Christ throughout the world, nevertheless the holy Roman catholic and apostolic church is by the decisions of no synods set above the other churches.” This it proves by the passage already cited, Matt. 16—namely: “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.” And a little later it calls this church “the Roman church, the primal seat of the apostle, which has neither spot nor wrinkle.” This church, however, cannot be understood to mean the pope with his cardinals and his household, for they alike come and go. Therefore, the Gloss on this text has this to say: “The argument is, that wherever the good are, there is the Roman church.” And so the Decretum, 24:1 [Friedberg 1:970]: a recta is to be understood. Where the canon on the Roman church speaks in this way: “This is the holy and apostolic mother church of all the churches of Christ, which by God’s omnipotent grace is proved never to have erred from the path of apostolic tradition, nor has ever been corrupted by or succumbed to heretical novelties.” This, it must here be noted, cannot be understood of any pope or the members of his household, on which point the Gloss also says: “I ask, therefore, of which church do you understand that it cannot err?” But it is certain that the pope can err. See Decretum, Anastasius, 19, and Si papa, 40 [Friedberg, 1:64, 146]. Therefore, neither the pope himself nor his family is that church of which it is here said, she cannot err. Hence the Gloss says: “The company of the faithful itself is called this church.” So also is to be understood St. Jerome’s statement, Dist. 25:1,Hæc est fides [Friedberg 1:970]: “The Roman church is holy, which always has remained thoroughly unspotted, will in the future by the Lord’s providence and the blessed Apostle Peter’s care remain without any dent from heretics and abide unmoved and unmovable for all time.” Here no pope with his college of cardinals can be understood. For often these are as soiled with wicked, deceitful depravity and sin, as at the time of pope Joanna, the Englishwoman, who was called Agnes. How, therefore, did that Roman church—that Agnes, pope Joanna with college—remain always unspotted, seeing she bore? And the same is true of other popes who were heretics and deposed on account of their manifold enormities.

Since, therefore, according to the Decretals, the Roman church has the primacy and the dignity, so far as God is concerned, over all other churches, it is evident that she is the whole militant church, which God loves more than any of its parts. And so it is evidently of faith that not that college [of the cardinals] but the whole mother dispersed among all peoples and tongues is that holy Roman church of which the laws [the canon law] accord in speaking with the holy doctors. Hence, in order to impress upon us this judgment by St. Augustine and St. Ambrose, the hymn is ordained for the church, “The holy church throughout the world doth acknowledge thee.” And in the canon of the mass, first and chiefly, we offer prayer for the holy catholic church, that God would condescend to give her peace, to keep her, and to grant her unity in all the world. Hence prayer is undoubtedly offered for the principal—principalissima—militant church, which, I lay down, is the Roman church. And truly among its parts, when we compare in the matter of greatness, the pope and his college are in dignity its chief part, so long as they follow Christ closely and, putting away the pomp and ambition of the primacy, serve their mother diligently and humbly. For in doing the opposite they are turned into the desolation of abomination—into a college at direct variance with the humble college of the apostles and our Lord Jesus Christ.

But it is to be noted that the Roman church was properly called a company of Christ’s faithful, living under the obedience of the Roman bishop, just as the Antiochian church was called the company of Christ’s faithful, under the bishop of Antioch. The same also was true of the faithful in Alexandria and Constantinople. And in this way Peter, Christ’s apostle and Roman bishop, speaks of the church when, addressing the faithful in Christ in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, he says: “The church which is gathered together1in Babylon saluteth you,” I Peter 5:13. Is not the church here taken to mean the faithful of Christ who were at Rome with St. Peter? After the same manner also, the apostle designated particular churches when he wrote from Corinth to the Romans, “all the churches of Christ salute you,” and a little further on: “I, Tertius, salute you, who wrote the epistle in the Lord. Gaius my host and the whole church saluteth you.” Romans 16:16, 23. Here the whole church is taken for all Christ’s faithful, who with Paul were waging warfare in Corinth. Likewise we have the words: “To the church of God which is in Corinth, sanctified in Christ Jesus,” I Cor. 1:2, and “Paul and Sylvanus and Timotheus to the church of the Thessalonians,” I Thess. 1:2. We have the same often in other places, so that those are properly called particular churches which separately are parts of the universal church, which is the church of Jesus Christ.

But the Christian church had its beginning in Judea and was first called the church of Jerusalem, as it is said: “In that day there arose a great persecution in the church which was in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles,” Acts 8:1. The second church was the Antiochian, in which Peter, the apostle, resided, and there, for the first time, the name Christian was employed. Hence, the faithful were first called disciples and brethren, and later Christians, for we read: “The apostles and brethren which were in Judea,” and at the close of the chapter it is stated how Barnabas led Paul to Antioch and they were together for a whole year in the church and taught great multitudes, so that “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch,” Acts 11:1, 26.

In the second sense, the Roman church is taken to mean any pope together with any cardinals, wherever they may happen to reside, whether their lives are good or evil. And in the third sense, it is taken for the pope. These two last senses are wrested by scholars. For there is no good reason for calling the Roman church our mother either (1) on account of its pride or (2) on account of the emperor’s element goodness in endowing the church or on account of the pope’s haughtiness and self-assertion because of imperial rule drawn from the pope’s primacy or dominion, (3) or, again, is this a good reason that men should believe that it is incumbent upon every Christian to have recourse to the pope and that it is of necessity for salvation to recognize him as the head and as the most holy father, but for other reasons than this. For since the term Roman church was established aside from any foundation in sacred Scripture, it is enough to give a probable reason. For the holy church of Christ flourished first in Jerusalem during the days of the apostles, who companied with Christ, and afterwards in Antioch at the time of Peter’s incumbence as bishop—cathedrationis—and afterwards in Rome at the time of the preaching and martyrdom of Peter and Paul. And so is to be understood the Saviour’s saying, Matt. 12:28, “Finally is the kingdom of God come unto you,” and also Luke 17:21, 37, “The kingdom of God is within you . . . for where the body is, thither will the eagles also be gathered together.” For, although the Christian church began in Judea and Christ suffered martyrdom in Jerusalem, nevertheless with reason Christ’s church is called the Roman church in view of a certain pre-eminence and for three causes: (1) Christ knew that the peoples under the Roman empire would be brought in in the place of the unbelieving Jews, as the apostle says, Romans 11:2, 12. (2) A larger multitude of martyrs triumphed there than in any other city, for so, where a man is born from the womb and triumphs gloriously, from that place he takes his name. Inasmuch, therefore, as holy church, so far as many of its parts go, was born in Rome, having been gathered out of the womb of the synagogue, and there triumphed, growing among the nations, so it was thought proper that she should take her name from the metropolitan city which is Rome. Hence Dist. 22 [Friedberg, 1:74] runs: “She is called most holy, because Peter and Paul on the same day and at one and the same time consecrated the whole Roman church and exalted her above all other cities in the whole world by their presence and by their glorious triumph.” (3) Not the locality or the antiquity, but the formulated faith establishes the church of Christ, for, both as regards personalities and time, Christ’s church had existed before in its earlier seats. And in this sense it is said: “The Lord did not choose people on account of the place, but the place on account of the people,” II Macc. 5:19. For this cause, I believe it is permitted to name Christ’s church from any locality which the righteous faithful inhabit, just as Christ was called the Nazarene on account of his conception which occurred in Nazareth, and as he may be called a Bethlehemite from the place of his nativity, and a Capernaumite from Capernaum where he worked miracles, and a Jerusalemite from his most glorious passion in Jerusalem.

In view of these things it is plain what ought to be said with regard to the doubtful statement made at the beginning of this chapter. For it should be granted that the Roman church is the holy mother, the catholic church, the bride of Christ. To the argument in favor of the opposite, by which it is argued that the Roman church is the church of which the pope is the head and the cardinals the body—this is said by way of concession and by defining the church in the second way, that is, as the pope—whoever he may be—in conjunction with the cardinals—whoever they may be and wheresoever they may live. But it is denied that this church is the holy, catholic and apostolic church. And so both parts of the argument are granted, but the conclusion is denied. But if this be said, namely, “I lay down that the pope is holy together with all the twelve cardinals living with him,” this being laid down and admitted as highly possible, it follows that the pope himself in conjunction with the cardinals is the holy, catholic and apostolic church. This conclusion is denied, but it follows well that a holy pope in conjunction with holy cardinals are a holy church which is a part of the holy, catholic and apostolic church. Therefore Christ’s faithful must hold firmly as a matter of faith to the first conclusion and not to the second; for the first is confirmed by Christ’s words: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” But the second is a matter of doubt to me and to every other pilgrim, unless a divine revelation makes it plain. Hence neither is the pope the head nor are the cardinals the whole body of the holy, universal, catholic church. For Christ alone is the head of that church, and his predestinate are the body and each one is a member, because his bride is one person with Jesus Christ.