Friday, November 19, 2010

Donation of Constantine (Part 2)

On BeggarsAll, Mr. Bugay has responded to my “Donation of Constantine” post/response, but has he really done so? Let the reader decide. Mr. Bugay's words below are in green.
I’ve wanted to get back to this topic not merely because I said I would, but because I believe, with Robert Reymond, that Rome’s exegesis of Matthew 16 and its historically developed claim to authoritative primacy in the Christian world simply cannot be demonstrated and sustained from Scripture itself. This claim is surely one of the great hoaxes foisted upon professing Christendom, upon which false base rests the whole papal sacerdotal system.
Now, to be sure, if it is a hoax, and “foisted upon professing Christendom” to boot, then to be sure, it has caused great harm.
Let the reader note – Mr. Bugay has already diverted the topic from the “Donation of Constantine” to “Rome's exegesis of Matthew 16.” I am not overly concerned with a Protestant commentary on “Rome's exegesis of Matthew 16” (which Mr. Bugay does not provide us with, but the link merely points to another blog of his with not much more than what he's quoted above from Mr. Reymond).

Scott Windsor (“CathApol”) takes issue with my statement that The Donation of Constantine was “a complete lie.” Windsor says, The “Donation of Constantine” was indeed a forgery, but it is not a “complete lie” in supporting the papacy. The “lie” is that it came from the 8th-9th century, and not Constantine. Statements regarding the papacy are factual and predate the forgeries, as you will see below.

The “lie” involves not only the actual content of the document, but then, how it was used. First, let’s look briefly at what that document was and how it was used in the late medieval world to assert papal power over secular rulers.
Again, the point I made was that the DofC (Donation of Constantine) was not “entirely a lie.” Yes, it was a forgery, likely from the 6th - 9th century, however, let us look at the parts of the DofC:
First, it opens addressing Pope Sylvester, who was pope at the time of Ceasar Flavius Constantine. This is not a lie.
Second, it states that “we (the Romans) have gone away from the worship of idols, from mute and deaf images made by hand, from devilish contrivances and from all the pomps of Satan; and have arrived at the pure faith of the Christians, which is the true light and everlasting life.” This is not a lie.
Third, it recognizes the power of God. This is not a lie.
Fourth, it essentially affirms the words of the Nicene Creed. This is not a lie.
Fifth, it speaks of Pope Sylvester, the “universal pope.” Since we're acknowledging this is a 6th-9th century work, I will acknowledge that this begs the question from the viewpoint of our Protestant interlocutors.
Sixth, it speaks of events which Pope Sylvester engaged upon – I can neither deny nor confirm these events, but based upon the forged nature of this document, I'm fine with not considering this part.
Seventh and eighth, it speaks of the curing of Constantine's leprosy. I am not aware of anything to support this assertion that Constantine had leprosy. This could very well be a lie, but I cannot confirm it as such.
Ninth, the document decrees and ordains the pope has authority over the “Four Seats” (Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Jerusalem). Here we have a bit of an anachronism – Constantinople was not yet a “chief seat” at the time of Constantine's alleged “donation.” Based on this fact, this part I would concede is a “lie.”
Tenth, it speaks of the construction of many of the great churches, especially that of the Lateran (St. John Lateran), which remains to this day as the official “cathedral” (seat) of the Bishop of Rome. This part is not a lie.
Eleventh, the decree of the clergy “in different orders” - which again would be an anachronism, since the varying “orders” came after Constantine. I must reject this anachronism as well.
Twelfth, the declaration of Pope Sylvester as the “supreme pontiff” and certain rights thereof, is again begging the question. It is not a lie, but cannot be used.
Thirteenth, the giving of secular power over to the papacy, though this does happen, cannot be proved that it happened at the hands of Constantine.
Fourteenth and fifteenth, establishing Constantinople (“in our name”) as the place for the empire to be transferred to. Again, this is anachronism as the moving of the empire to Byzantium came later.
Sixteenth, speaks of the body of St. Peter being there in Rome (not a lie, though is contested by many/most Protestant apologists), but speaks of the decree being made over St. Peter's body – and since the decree itself is a forgery, that it was made over the body of St. Peter is likely fraudulent.
Seventeenth, the closing of the document – which is immaterial.
Eighteenth, “Given at Rome on the third day before the Kalends of April, our master the august Flavius Constantine, for the fourth time, and Galligano, most illustrious men, being consuls.” This is a lie, for the document was the product of (likely) the 6th-9th century.
So, I still maintain what I said to Mr. Bugay intially – the document is NOT “entirely a lie,” as he posited. Yes, portions of it are most definitely falsified – but some of it is quite true. THAT is the point of my statement and Mr. Bugay has not adequately responded to it.

That being said, it must be noted:  "the chief aim of the forgery was to prove the justice of the translatio imperii to the Franks, i.e. the transfer of the imperial title at the coronation of Charlemagne in 800; the forgery was, therefore, important mainly for the Frankish Empire." (Source).  The first place this document surfaced is in Frankish documents - it did not originate in Rome.  Though some claim the purpose for this document was to shore up the papacy - in actuality it was for French political reasons.  Did some use this document later, thinking it was legitimate?  That is not to be doubted, but the original purpose, again, was not for the sake of the papacy nor was it of Roman authorship.


  1. For any lie to work, there has to be an element of truth to it. So it is with DOC. There's falsehood and truth wrapped together in this document. That's why it was such a successful hoax for centuries. Bugay, because of hid anti-Catholic bias, sees the whole thing as a lie. If his discernment skills were not distorted by his hate and bigotry, he would be able to see that Protestantism is also a mixture of falsehoods and truth. But he has apostatized from the faith, and he has lost the ability to tell truth from error. Arguing with one such as him is a waste of time. Until Bugay and his BA budds get knocked off their horses, you can't reason with them. The only reason to post articles like this is to educate people to beware of the knowledge falsely called put out by Bugay and the BA gang.

  2. Well, Mr. Bugay's comment on BA was a bit more civil - so I'm not quite so disappointed as I am with the other blog I've been dealing with. We'll see if his demeanor continues, or if it deteriorates.



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