Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

30 October 451 A.D. Romanist v. Constantinople Faceoff

30 October 451 A.D.  Romanist v. Constantinople Faceoff

Dr. Rusten tells the story.

Rusten, E. Michael and Rusten, Sharon. The One Year Christian History. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003.  Available at:

The Roman church was perhaps the largest and wealthieth in the Roman Empire. By the mid-200s, it had a membership of over 30, 000. There was no rival in the west. Certain early writers referred to Paul and Peter’s residence and martyrdom in Rome.  Before Constantine, the bishop or head chairman of Rome had no jurisdictional authority beyond his own limits. The church followed a Constantinian pattern following the Edict of Milan in 313. 

In 325 A.D., Nicea identified the bishops of Alexandria, Anticioch and Rome as chief centers of Christendom.  By 330, Constantine moved his residence and rule to Constantinople, meaning “City of Constantine,” known today as Istanbul.

By 440, Mr. (Papa) Leo I, “elected” as bishop of Rome, was heralding himself as the head of Christendom.  By 451 A.D., Emperor Valentinian III put it into law: “As the primacy of the Apostolic See is based on the title of the blessed Peter, prince of episcopal dignity, on the dignity of the city of Rome, and on the decision of the Holy Synod, no illicit stets may be taken against this See to usurps its authority.” By 451, the Council of Chalcedon met with 450 bishops invited but with no more than 340 attending at any one time.  Leo didn’t attend, but sent a representative.  As if to stick it to the Romanist’s claim to supremacy, the Council gave the see of Constantinople a standing, a co-equal dignity and an authority co-equal with the claims of their counterpart. Leo’s representative protested vehemently, defending with hubris Rome’s centrality.  By 600, Mr. Gregory the Great would deny a claim to Romanist supremacy, but his successor did not hesitate to assert it.  It’s a claim-counterclaim between Rome and Constantinople that has never rested.  Rome claims monolithicity while the Greeks have claimed autocephalous and independent patriarches. That argument began quite early, continued through history, and still exists. Don’t look for changes anytime soon.


Angel, G.T. “Chalcedon, Council of (451).” NIDCC. 208-9.

Clouse, Robert. “Leo II, The Great, St. (c. 400-461).” NIDCC. 590.

Faulkner, Barbara L. “Eastern Orthodox Church.” NIDCC. 322-5.

Shelley.  Church History in Plain Language. 132-51.

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