by Richard A. Shaward
[Just noticed that some of my early posts vanished from my web page when I updated WordPress]
As I have been re-reading Ignatius again and his modern protestant critics, it is simply incredible to me that Protestants hundreds and hundreds of years after the fact try to argue against, deny as important, and discount as modern practical ecclesiastical pattern, the firmly established ecclesial practice of Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons in the early church.
Nobody objected to God-ordained hierarchy existing in the church until the Protestant revolt 1500 years later (and even some earlier Protestants acknowledge this and retained the hierarchy !). The Churches in the West (Rome as the center long before all its corruptions) and the Churches in the East (including the centers of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, and later Constantinople, Russia etc) prior to the protestant revolt have always had Bishops. Against this fact, Protestant writers try to use and quote patristic writings while denying this fact.
One writer (not authoritative by any means) who summarizes the reality of church history and the folly of denying this fact short and to the point :
“The history of the first Christian generations is full of obscurities for us. But the rare documents that do provide information about the situation of the churches towards the end of the first and the beginning of the second century, everywhere indicate the existence of men exercising the office of bishop in full awareness that it was of Apostolic origin, and that it combined presidency over their own church and an active concern for the other churches. No one feels any need to justify this situation by any arguments. And nowhere, either in the early period or for long afterwards, is there the slightest perceptible trace of this state of affairs being disputed in any way.” Henri de Lubac, “The Petrine Office and
The bottom line – I see clearly now that Protestants have to deny historical fact to justify their revolt and justify their existence to this day. You can’t have people revolting against God ordained Bishops !! Just deny their authority !!! To me, after being one of those ignorant protestants for over 20 years, to deny history is an arrogant slap in the face of the Holy Spirit that has built and preserved the Church for 2000 years in light of Jesus’ promise in Matthew 16:18.