Thursday, February 19, 2004

Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope

A Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope

Treatise Compiled by the Theologians Assembled at Smalcald


1] The Roman Pontiff claims for himself [in the first place] that by divine right he is [supreme] above all bishops and pastors [in all Christendom].

2] Secondly, he adds also that by divine right he has both swords, i.e., the authority also of bestowing kingdoms [enthroning and deposing kings, regulating secular dominions etc.].

3] And thirdly, he says that to believe this is necessary for salvation. And for these reasons the Roman bishop calls himself [and boasts that he is] the vicar of Christ on earth.

4] These three articles we hold to be false, godless, tyrannical, and [quite] pernicious to the Church.

This is the forthright opening to Melanchthon's treatise, and his arguments are worthy of close reading. We shall take the three articles one at a time. I encourage a close (re-)reading of the Treatise by all dialogue participants prior to weighing in on the issues. Let's stay close to Melanchthon's arguments on this one before we enter into more contemporary dialogues around the Petrine office.

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