Preeminent – the word garners attention whenever it is used, suggesting to the reader or hearer that something or someone is held in the highest regard. And when the word is used by a respected early church father with regard to the church, its meaning demands attention. And when the word is used in connection to a specific church, the church in Rome, attention it will get. Such is the case regarding a certain passage from the works of a beloved second century bishop named, Irenaeus.
Any Roman Catholic that has heard of Irenaeus will tell you that in his works against heresies, he explicitly referred to the church in Rome as being preeminent. “For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church [the church in Rome], on account of its pre- eminent authority.” For Roman Catholics, this statement is proof positive that the second century church regarded the church in Rome as preeminent to all the others. The problem for Roman Catholics, however, is that the “proof” falls apart when the quote is reunited with its context. Read the rest of this entry »